Salt Lake Temple Fulfills Biblical Prophecy
I want to share an experience that I had with regard to the opening hymn today [“Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah”]. This hymn has special significance to me now. It was interesting and touching to me that this was the opening hymn. When we were called to this assignment, one of the things that happened was that we had a temple presidents seminar held in the Salt Lake Temple for all the new temple presidents that were called this last fall. And about the middle of October we had a seminar in the Salt Lake Temple. One of the privileges and blessings of that seminar is that on Thursday night, we had a special concert given by the Tabernacle Choir in the Tabernacle for the new temple presidents that had been called. So we all went to the Tabernacle and sat there in the Tabernacle while the Tabernacle Choir sang a special concert to us. The first hymn they sang was “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah.” It was an amazing experience. Can you imagine how you would feel if you had been called as a temple president—especially the president of the Salt Lake Temple—and heard this hymn sung by the Tabernacle Choir?
Guide Us, O Thou great Jehovah,
Guide us to the promised land.
We are weak, but Thou art able;
Hold us with Thy pow’rful hand.
Guide us to the promised land.
We are weak, but Thou art able;
Hold us with Thy pow’rful hand.
It was an amazing experience to hear the Tabernacle Choir sing that to us.
There is a phrase of this hymn that applies to what I want to talk about today:
When the earth begins to tremble,
Bid our fearful thoughts be still;
When thy judgments spread destruction,
Keep us safe on Zion’s Hill.
Bid our fearful thoughts be still;
When thy judgments spread destruction,
Keep us safe on Zion’s Hill.
(Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 83)
Do you know what Zion’s Hill refers to? Zion’s Hill is the temple. That’s what Zion’s Hill is. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.
Isaiah is an amazing prophet. He is the prophet that the Savior referred to more than any other prophet. He referred to the writings and quotations of Isaiah more than any other prophet, by far. And Isaiah has a unique place among prophets in the history of this world.
The book of Isaiah begins with these words: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, o earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me….
“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil …
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
“If ye [are] willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
“ But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:2, 16, 18-20)
Isaiah’s prophecies apply to our time and to his time. The prophet Isaiah, perhaps more than any other prophet, used the principle of dualism—a dual meaning to what he taught. What he taught had application in his time, but it also had application in the latter days. Dualism. He sees the wickedness of our day and his day, and he warns of the destruction that will come. It did come in his day; it will come in our day. And Isaiah was an amazing prophet to see what he saw.
Now the second chapter of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah sees the latter days, and he sees our day, and these are his words: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem….
“ O house of Jacob, come ye, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:2-3, 5)
Isaiah sees the latter days. He sees what he refers to as the “mountain of the Lord, the house of the God of Jacob.” What was he referring to? I think most of you know. President Gordon B. Hinckley, in the October 2000 general conference of the Church where the Conference Center was dedicated, referred to this prophecy of Isaiah, and he stated that that prophecy referred to the Salt Lake Temple.
What does Isaiah see as a result of this great temple in the tops of the mountains? What did Isaiah see? What happens as a result of this “mountain of the Lord’s house” in the tops of the mountains?
In the fourth chapter of Isaiah, we learn what he saw as a result of this temple: “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.
“And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy….
“When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion….
“ And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night.” (vv. 2-5)
That has reference to the portable tabernacle that Moses carried in the wilderness. Do you remember the portable tabernacle? What was over the tabernacle during the day? A cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, signifying the presence of the Lord in that portable temple.
“For upon all the glory shall be a defense. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from the storm and from the rain.” (vv. 5-6)
Isaiah saw this great latter-day temple. He saw what would result from it. He said it would be a place where people would be made holy; they would be cleansed from the filth of this generation. And he said it would be a place of refuge, a place of protection from the storms of the day.
Four days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young came to a spot three blocks east of here. He put his stick into the ground and said, “Here we will build the temple of our God.” That was in 1847. Now the Saints at that time, you remember they came out here from back in Nauvoo and places in the East, and had nothing. It took a few years to plant crops and just be able to survive, but on February 14, 1853, the ground was broken for the building of the Salt Lake Temple. And then on April 6, 1853, the cornerstones of the Salt Lake Temple were laid, and thus began the construction of the Salt Lake Temple.
The Salt Lake Temple took 40 years to build. Forty years. Why did it take that long? It was largely due to the fact that it was decided to build the temple out of solid granite that they obtained in the Little Cottonwood Canyon, which was 20 miles to the southeast of Temple Square. And in order to get the granite here, it was a difficult process. These huge stones of granite—it’s unbelievable what they did. But it took them 40 years to build the Salt Lake Temple. The foundation was originally made of sandstone from Red Butte Canyon, and after a few years, when they had to cover the foundation for a period of time because of Johnston’s Army, who came here to Utah to put down the so-called Mormon Rebellion—which wasn’t a rebellion—when they uncovered the foundation, they found a lot of cracks, and they decided they had to start over. So they took all the foundation out and laid foundation stones of solid granite.
I have seen those foundation stones. It’s amazing what these pioneers did. But then they commenced to build the temple, and it took them 39 years. One of the things people don’t know is that not only are the outside walls of the Salt Lake Temple granite, but all the inside walls are granite as well. If you go into the temple and see the actual walls of the temple inside, they are all granite. It took them 39 years to build the walls up to the top.
On April 6, 1892, the capstone was laid, which is the stone on the top spire of the east central tower of the temple, upon which Moroni sits. The capstone was laid on April 6, 1892. Fifty thousand people attended the capstone ceremony on Temple Square. During that ceremony, President Wilford Woodruff, the president of the Church, asked the Saints if they would finish the rest of the temple in one year, the whole inside of the temple—the outside and the walls were finished—but all the inside. If you have ever been in the temple and seen all the workmanship inside the Salt Lake Temple, it was all done in one year. And the Saints agreed to the proposal of President Woodruff that they would finish the rest of the temple in one year.
And so on April 6, 1893, the temple was ready to be dedicated. A few weeks prior to the dedication, the First Presidency sent an epistle to prepare the Saints for the dedication. I’m going to read a bit from that epistle. This is what they said: “But for forty years, the hopes, desires, and anticipations of the entire Church have been centered on the completion of this edifice in the principal city of Zion. Its foundation was laid in the early days of our settlement in these mountains, and from that day until the present, the eyes of the members of the Church in every land have been lovingly directed toward it. Looking upon it as the temple of temples, the people during all of these years have labored with unceasing toil, undiminished patience, and ungrudging expenditure of means, to bring it to its present condition of completion. And now that the toils and sacrifices of forty years are crowned so successfully and happily, now that the great building is at last finished and ready to be used for divine purposes, need we say that we draw near an event whose consummation is to us as a people momentous in the highest degree? Far-reaching in its consequence as that occasion is certain to be, what remains for us to say in order to impress the entire Church with a sense of its tremendous importance?”
Can you imagine how you would have felt if you had been working for 40 years to build that temple, and now that it was ready to be dedicated? Can you imagine the feelings that would be in your hearts?
Well, the temple was dedicated on April 6 th. It was an amazing experience. The Spirit of the Lord was poured out in powerful ways in the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple. I have developed an amazing sense of appreciation for those pioneers who built this magnificent building here in the Salt Lake Valley, for their sacrifice and dedication. It is an amazing monument to their faith and determination. Many of them were living in mud huts or log homes—hardly had anything to live with—and yet they gave of their time and means to build this amazing building.
Now I’d like to return to the prophecy of Isaiah. He said that “out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” He talks about these latter days, and he talks about Zion being here in America, and he talks about Jerusalem. Let me tell you a little bit about the physical setting of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a city that sits 2600 feet above sea level. It’s built on a series of mountains, and it’s surrounded by deep valleys. The temple was built on what’s called the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and sat for many hundreds of years, and was the most magnificent structure in the world at that time. It was a magnificent building.
To the east of Jerusalem sits the Mount of Olives, and east of there is the Judean Desert. Now the Judean Desert is a very barren desert. Have you ever been out to the west desert here, past Tooele and out toward Wendover? Have you ever been out there? The Judean Desert makes the west desert in Utah look like the Garden of Eden. The Judean Desert is a very barren desert. Nothing grows there. As you continue to go out east, you eventually come to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is 1400 feet below sea level, the lowest point on the face of the earth. It’s called the Dead Sea, because nothing lives in the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is so salty there are no animals or plants that live in the Dead Sea. That is the physical setting of Jerusalem.
Now let me refer to a vision that the prophet Ezekiel had of the latter-day Jerusalem, and the temple which will be built again in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. This is what we read, in the 47 th chapter of Ezekiel: “Afterward, he brought me again unto the door of the house”—that means the temple, the door of the temple, and the “he” is an angel. An angel is showing Ezekiel this vision. “He brought me unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood towards the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.” (v. 1)
So water was coming out from this latter-day temple in Jerusalem, and flowing towards the east. “And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river”— the river that is formed by the water coming out from underneath the temple.
“Now when I returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.
“Then he said unto me, These waters issue out towards the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.
“And it shall come to pass that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” (v. 6-9)
Now do you have the picture? There is a temple to be built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the temple used to be. Water is coming out from under the temple, and everywhere the water touches, it heals the barren desert. Trees are growing alongside the river. The water flows out to the Dead Sea and heals the Dead Sea. Many fish are found in the Dead Sea as these waters from the temple go to the Dead Sea.
“And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaves shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” (v. 12)
Now Ezekiel sees this temple, he sees the water running out, he sees that everywhere the water goes there are beautiful trees, luscious vegetation. The trees are good for fruit, for meat, for food, and for healing, and it even heals the Dead Sea.
What is interesting is to compare the latter-day temple in Jerusalem with the Salt Lake Temple. Do you know that there is one place on the face of the earth where a river flowed from where the (Salt Lake) Temple is out to the Jordan River and then to the Great Salt Lake, which is comparable to the Dead Sea, a very salty body of water? There is only one place in the world that could be like it is in Jerusalem. The Salt Lake Temple was built right over what is called City Creek, a little stream flowing out of City Creek Canyon. The stream originally came out of City Creek Canyon, it divided into two forks in what is now where the Brigham Young Park is. One stream flowed down through what is now the City and County Building; the other flowed right through what is now Temple Square. Did you know that? It flowed out North Temple and eventually went to the Jordan River and then to the Great Salt Lake. That’s an interesting parallel between the temple that Ezekiel saw, which would be built in Jerusalem, and the Salt Lake Temple.
Now in this vision, the angel took Ezekiel to the bank of the river, and he had him walk into the river a thousand cubits. Do you know how far that is? It’s about 500 yards. It’s quite a ways into the river. And he said the water was up to his ankles. And then he had him go into the river another 1,000 cubits, another 500 yards, and the water was up to his knees. And then he had him walk into the river another 1,000 cubits and the water was up to his waist. And finally he went another 1,000 cubits and the water was over his head. “And it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.” (v. 5, see also vv. 3-4)
There is a major message in this vision of Ezekiel about the latter days. If we go to the temple a few times, once or twice, or a few times, we will be in the water to our ankles. If we go more, and appreciate the blessings of the temple, the water will be to our knees. If we go more, the water will be to the waist. And if we go often enough and spend enough time in the temple and the work that supports the temples, the water will encompass us. Now remember what the water is. It’s living water that comes from the temple. It heals everything it touches. It makes a difference. It makes life beautiful, sweet, delicious. That’s what happens. Do you understand?
You’re here at LDS Business College to get an education. It is vitally important. Many prophets have talked about the importance of education. While you are here, don’t neglect the spiritual education from the Lord’s university, which is just down North Temple Street. Do you realize many of you come from all places of the world, all parts of this country, and you are here next to the Salt Lake Temple? Do not miss the opportunity of going to the Lord’s university often.
Someday, when the history of this world is told, and you are able to see the significance of this great latter-day temple that Isaiah saw and its place in the history of this world, you will feel greatly unhappy if you haven’t taken opportunity to participate in the blessings of the Salt Lake Temple, living basically next door to it. If you understood what an opportunity you have, you would be amazed.
Elder F. Enzio Busche, who was a member of the Seventy, and then was called, while he was a member of the Seventy, to be the president of the Frankfurt Temple, made this statement in general conference: “Since our first visit to the temple thirty years ago, we have always revered and cherished the temple as a sacred place—a place of learning and a place of service—but now, after having been permitted to consecrate our minds and hearts for two years solely upon the purposes and holiness of the house of the Lord, it seems as if our souls have come to a new awakening. Our first awakening came when the gospel of Jesus Christ was manifested to us through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, giving us an understanding of faith, repentance, and baptism.” (“University for Eternal Life,” Ensign, May 1989, https://www.lds.org/ensign/1989/05/university-for-eternal-life?lang=eng&query=enzio+busche+first+awakening+gospel)
Elder Busche grew up in Germany. He was conscripted into Hitler’s army when he was a young man, and he served in Hitler’s army during World War II. After World War II, he found the Church and joined the Church. This is what he is talking about, his “first awakening” was when he joined the Church after being in the German army as a young man. “This time it is as if a veil has been removed from our spiritual minds and we see the same gospel, but in sharper focus, with clearer colors and with added dimensions of understanding. …
It has become my conviction that the temple is the only ‘university’ for men to prepare spiritually for their graduation to eternal life.” (See reference above)
Do you understand what he said? The temple is the Lord’s university, and it’s the only university the Lord has prepared so that people can graduate to eternal life.
I would just like to invite you, as students of the LDS Business College, one of the Lord’s colleges and schools, I would like to invite you to His real university, the temple. That’s where you will learn the things you really need to learn to help you, to prepare you for eternal life. If you want to have eternal life, come to the Lord’s university. Don’t stop at the ankles. Don’t stop at the knees. Don’t stop at the waist. You come and participate until the temple totally encompasses you.
I know you have tremendous schedules here; I know you have a lot of demands on your time. I understand that, having been through education myself. But I have an added understanding now of the Lord’s university, the temples. If you want to have blessings and help in your life, you come to the temple.
I had a letter from one of the young single adults who was in the ward I was in the bishopric in, and I invited her, my last Sunday there, to come to the temple and to spend time there often. I wish I had the letter, to read it to you. She made a commitment to come every week to the temple. I don’t have time to explain what happened, but her life has been immeasurably blessed. As a result of the invitation to come to the temple, her life has been unbelievably blessed. For one thing, she found her eternal companion.
I bear you my witness of the Lord’s university, the holy temple. I have learned a great deal in four months as president of the Salt Lake Temple. [I] never had a period of greater learning in my life than these last four months. I have learned much about the Lord Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice. I testify that He lives, that He is our Savior and Redeemer. This I know. I know that the temple is His holy house. I know that you can get closer to Him there than anywhere on the face of the earth. I commend you for your studying here at one of the Lord’s colleges, and plead with you to make the temple the focus of your membership in the Church, and know that if you do, you will be blessed above measure. And I leave you that witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.