Literary DCGD #18: The Temple of God

May 5, 2013 | one comment
By
Eliza R. Snow

Eliza R. Snow

We are a temple-building people.

Today we are more removed from the process than ever. Where Mormons once donated money, materials, time and effort to building temples in Kirtland, Nauvoo, St. George, Salt Lake and elsewhere, we participate less and less in the process, first no longer providing materials, then over time less and less labor, and more recently we no longer even have fundraising specifically for building temples or any other building.

So we might today be excused from understanding completely how much building temples was part of the life of early members of the Church. Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine lesson 18 addresses the doctrine behind temple building, and the poem I’ve chosen for this lesson adds a millennial tone to the doctrine.

This poem is by Mormonism’s best known poet, Eliza R. Snow, who was married to both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and was the second General President of the Relief Society. Selections of her poetry are found in a two-volume work she compiled, Poems, Religious, Historical, and Political, which was published in 1856 and 1877. Ten of her poems are currently in the LDS hymnal, and several others once were in editions of the LDS hymnal, but have since been dropped. She is the first LDS poet to have her complete work collected (Eliza R Snow: The Complete Poetry).

.

The Temple of God

By Eliza R. Snow

“Behold! I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in! behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord, an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.”

Malachi iii. 1-4.

Lo, the Savior is coming, the prophets declare—
The times are fulfilling; O Zion, prepare!
The Savior is coming: but where shall he come?
Will he find the palace of princes, a home?
No! O no, in his temple he’ll surely attend;
But O where is the “temple,” where Christ shall descend?

 

Since the ancient apostles and christians are dead
The heavens have been seal’d—they are brass o’er the head
Of a world of professors, presuming to claim
A belief in the gospel of Jesus’ blest name;
Who profess to believe it, yet boldly deny
Its most prominent feature, the gifts from on high,
And deny that the word of the Lord should come forth,
As it anciently did, to the saints upon earth!
Then, to whom shall Jehovah his purpose declare?
And by whom shall the people be taught to prepare
For the coming of Jesus—a “temple” to build,
That the ancient predictions may all be fulfil’d?

 

When a Moses of old, was appointed to rear
A place, where the glory of God should appear;
He receiv’d from the hand of the high King of Kings,
A true model—a pattern of heavenly things.
The eternal Jehovah will not condescend,
His pure wisdom, with human inventions to blend;
And a temple—a house, to the name of the Lord,
Must be built, by commandment, and form’d of his word,
Or he will not accept it, nor angels come down
In the light of His presence, the service to crown,
O! then who, upon earth, uninstructed, will dare
Build a house to the Lord? But the scriptures declare
That Messiah is coming—the time’s drawing nigh!
Hark! a scheme is divulg’d—’twas concerted on high;
With divine revelation the saints have been bles’t—
Every doubt has subsided—the mind is at rest.

 

The great God, has establish’d, in mercy and grace
The “strange work,” that precedes the concluding of days—
The pure gospel of Jesus again is restor’d;
By its power, thro’ the prophet, the word of the Lord
Is again coming forth; and intelligence rolls
From the upper eternity, cheering our souls.
“Build a house to my name,” the Eternal has said
To a people, by truths holy principles led:
“Build a house to my name, where my saints may be blest;
Where my glory and pow’r shall in majesty rest”
When its splendor will gladden the heavenly choir,
And high Gabriel’s own hand shall awaken the lyre.

 

Oh, ye saints, be admonish’d by Time’s rolling car;
It is rapidly onward! Hear, ye from a afar!
Come, and bring in your treasures—your wealth from abroad:
Come, and build up the city and Temple of God:
A stupendous foundation already is laid,
And the work is progressing—withhold not your aid.
When you gather to Zion, come, not “looking back”—
Let your hearts not be faint—let your hands not be slack,
For great honor, and glory, and grace, and renown,
Shall appear on their heads, whom the Savior will crown;
And the Savior is coming, the prophets declare,
The times are fulfilling—to Zion repair:
Let us “watch and be sober”—the period is near”
When the Lord in his temple, will surely appear.

Times and Seasons, 2 August 1841

.

The Nauvoo Temple wasn’t completed until five years after Snow wrote this poem, and I suspect that she had an undeveloped knowledge of what ordinances in the temple were like, or the poem might have taken a less millenarian tone. Nevetheless, Snow did understand that the temple was more than for the second coming of Christ. She saw that it was also for blessing the members of the Church:

“Build a house to my name,” the Eternal has said
To a people, by truths holy principles led:
“Build a house to my name, where my saints may be blest;
Where my glory and pow’r shall in majesty rest”
When its splendor will gladden the heavenly choir,
And high Gabriel’s own hand shall awaken the lyre.

But the most important message, the one in the final stanza, is the one that would be repeated throughout the next five years in Nauvoo, as well as throughout the Church for the next 150 years:

Oh, ye saints, be admonish’d by Time’s rolling car;
It is rapidly onward! Hear, ye from a afar!
Come, and bring in your treasures—your wealth from abroad:
Come, and build up the city and Temple of God:
A stupendous foundation already is laid,
And the work is progressing—withhold not your aid.
When you gather to Zion, come, not “looking back”—
Let your hearts not be faint—let your hands not be slack,
For great honor, and glory, and grace, and renown,
Shall appear on their heads, whom the Savior will crown;

And that is what thousands of the early saints did—they sacrificed to build the temple of God.

Tags: , , , ,

One Response to Literary DCGD #18: The Temple of God

  1. Allen Lambert on May 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you. I have shared with many.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.