Tabernacle of Moses a type for Latter-day Temples
The Tabernacle of Moses is an Aaronic Priesthood temple fashioned according to the lesser law. To it belongs specific:
- Washing and Anointing
- Temple Clothing
- Blessings and cursings
The Latter-day Temples are Melchizedek Priesthood temples fashioned according to the higher law. To them belongs specific:
- Washing and Anointing
- Temple Clothing
- Blessings and cursings
(References: Heb. 7-9:1; Gen. 17:1-11; Ex. 29; Lev. 26; Deut 28; Jer. 31:31; Mosiah 5:5; Mosiah 18:8-11; 3 Ne. 9:19-20; D&C 42: 66-67; D&C 124 47-48; D&C 130:20-21; D&C 132:4-6)
The world thinks Mormons are weird because of the strange way we worship in the temples. It used to be that they didn’t know what went on, but it is all on the internet now. Accordingly, the washing and anointing language was changed to show that our temples are really following the ancient pattern—a pattern that the rest of Christianity has forgotten.
Leviticus 8 and Exodus 29 show that the washing, anointing, and clothing ordinances are very similar, “And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water. And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron… Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head and anoint him.” (Ex. 29:4-7) The ancient pattern is now followed according to the Melchizedek Priesthood in today’s temples.
Temple worship is meant to bring us away from this wicked world. The clothing and ordinances are different because the ways of God are higher than the ways of man. To some it may seem odd. To the Israelites, it was unusual as well. Evidence for this is seen in the language describing the “curious girdle,” which probably was the equivalent of our temple apron. To them, it was curious. To us, temple clothing is curious, especially at first. Detractors and unbelievers want God and his ways to conform to their own worldly norms. They won’t accept what doesn’t make sense to the carnal mind, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7)
Exodus 28:1 Take thou unto the Aaron thy brother… that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office
Consider how merciful the Lord is to Aaron. He had acted as a wicked priest in representing the people making the golden calf. This was the epitome of evil leadership, enabling idolatry against the God who had just delivered the Israelites. The Lord could have destroyed him for his wickedness, but instead, he gets a full pardon. Not only does the Lord forgive him, but he ordains him to be the first high priest, an office in which he represents the people before the Lord, an office which foreshadows the Christ as the great high priest, an office which allows him once a year to enter the holy of holies, i.e. the presence of the Lord. That is some amazing forgiveness! The Lord has the same mercy for us if we will but believe and repent.
Exodus 28:2 make holy garments… for glory and for beauty
These were the temple garments the priests would wear. Interestingly, temple robes are “for glory and for beauty.” It is not necessarily a worldly beauty but a celestial one.
Exodus 28:15-29 thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work
Exodus 28:30 thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim
There were 4 known Urim and Thummims: the brother of Jared’s, Abraham’s, Mosiah’s, and Aaron’s. (Ether 3:21-28; Abr. 3:1-4; Mosiah 21:26-28; and Ex. 28:30) Presumably Moses received these stones from the Lord while on Sinai. Modern revelation is responsible for our knowledge of three of these four. In the Bible, Exodus 28 and Leviticus 8 introduce to us the idea of special revelatory stones whose literal meaning is “lights and perfections” although a better translation for our purposes is “revelation and truth” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, p. 77 footnote). Latter-day saints are well aware of the role of prophets, the importance of seers, and the relationship between divine instruments and revelation since “possession and use of these stones were what constituted ‘seers’ in ancient or former times” (JS-Hist. 1:35).
It is interesting to consider what Jewish and Christian traditions say about Aaron’s Urim and Thummim.
“The Urim and Thummim was a device for obtaining God’s decision on important questions on which human judgment was found inadequate such as military, actions, allocations of land, legal verdicts in the absence of evidence and choice of leaders.” (The Jewish Study Bible, ed. by A Berlin & MZ Brettler [New York, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2014], 164)
The idea of the stones being used to receive direct revelation is preserved, but some have thought use of the stones was like drawing lots. If the priest were to draw out one stone from a pocket in the breastplate, it would mean “yes”, and if the other, it would mean “no.”
“…the Urim and Thummim, [was] a device for casting lots (see Num. 27:21; I Sam. 14:41-42; etc.). Such a device could answer only ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to questions, but from earliest times, as the traditions of Moses imply, it was the duty of the keeper of the shrine to declare the will of the Lord or to teach his law.” (The Interpreter’s Bible, ed. by G. A. Buttrick et al [New York, Abingdon Press, 1952] vol. 2, 40)
Josephus, on the other hand, preserves the miraculous and revelatory function of the stones;
“For as to those stones, which we told you before, the high priest bare on his shoulders, which were sardonyxes, (and I think it needless to describe their nature, they being known to every body,) the one of them shined out when God was present at their sacrifices; I mean that which was in the nature of a button on his right shoulder, bright rays darting out thence, and being seen even by those that were most remote; which splendor yet was not before natural to the stone. This has appeared a wonderful thing to such as have not so far indulged themselves in philosophy, as to despise Divine revelation. Yet will I mention what is still more wonderful than this: for God declared beforehand, by those twelve stones which the high priest bare on his breast, and which were inserted into his breastplate, when they should be victorious in battle; for so great a splendor shone forth from them before the army began to march, that all the people were sensible of God's being present for their assistance. Whence it came to pass that those Greeks, who had a veneration for our laws, because they could not possibly contradict this, called that breastplate the Oracle. Now this breastplate, and this sardonyx, left off shining two hundred years (circa 135 BC) before I composed this book, God having been displeased at the transgressions of his laws.” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 3, 8:9)
It was a gift (gift of being a seer/prophet) that was exercised in the days of Moses, among the house of Israel: it was a gift specially given to Aaron… The reason of this was that Aaron was appointed to be a judge among the children of Israel, occupying a similar place among that people that the President of the Bishopric occupies in the Church. But he was blessed above those who have been ordained to the same calling in this dispensation, for he was in possession of the Urim and Thummim, and by virtue of this instrument he could inquire of the Lord in relation to every case that should be brought before him for adjudication. The judgment of man is naturally very weak and imperfect, and inasmuch as Aaron was required to judge the people of God, it was of the utmost importance that all his decisions should be given in righteousness, that there should be no imperfections connected with them, and for that reason the Lord gave express instructions to Aaron, through his brother Moses, to have a breastplate. In this breastplate were twelve stones, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Ex. 28:15-21 and in the center of these rows of stones the Urim and Thummim was placed, and when he was required to render judgment upon any matter, he inquired of the Lord through it, and was enabled to give decisions according to the word of the Lord. (Journal of Discourses, 19:206)
Exodus 28:36 thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it… HOLINESS TO THE LORD