Visitor’s Center Guide
This exhibit guide includes information from some of the things you will find at The Visitor’s Center Exhibit: Then and Now: The Tabernacle and Modern Day Temple Point to the Messiah. This is included with your ticket free of charge, as well as the tour of the Tabernacle itself and an escorted visit to the modern day Orlando Temple grounds.
The story of mortality began with an act of love. As Adam and Eve stepped out of the sanctity and security of the Garden of Eden and into the unknown perils of a fallen world, God clothed them with coats of skins for protection. He watched them leave His presence, but immediately began showing them how to return. By commanding them to offer up the firstlings of their flocks, God taught Adam and Eve and their posterity that He had prepared a Redeemer, the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), who would bear the punishment for the sins and transgressions of mankind and provide a way for all to regain God’s presence. From that time forth, God met holy men in sacred places to reveal Himself and His plan for their redemption.
“The Garden of Eden was the first sanctuary of earth, for therein did the Lord first speak unto man [and women] and make known the Divine law. So too, Sinai became a sanctuary, for the mount was consecrated as the special abode of the Lord while he communed with the prophet [Moses] and issued his decrees.” (The House of the Lord, James E. Talmage)
When God revealed Himself to the prophets in the Old Testament, He established their relationship with a covenant, or sacred agreement, in which He set the terms or conditions. God offered divine protection and redemption in return for obedience to His will and law.
When God made covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other prophets, He was inviting them to enter into a relationship of trust with Him. An example of such a covenant occurred after the Flood:
“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and with your seed after you . . . neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:9-13)
“And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. . . . And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt . . . “ Exodus 29:43-46
By miraculous means, God delivered the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. During their travels in the wilderness, He fed them, healed them, and fought for them. At Mount Sinai, He covenanted with them that if they would hearken to His voice, they would be His “peculiar treasure . . . above all people . . . a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation“ (Exodus 19:5–6). As part of this covenant, He commanded them to build a tabernacle so that He could “dwell among them“ (Exodus 29:46). The Tabernacle was a tent-like structure made with the finest materials available, where sacred priesthood ordinances were performed. The symbolism of these rituals foreshadowed the way by which God would bring His children back into His presence: through the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah who would come and bear the sins of the world. It served as a constant reminder of the Lord’s love for them and His presence among them.
Altar of Sacrifice: Anciently, sacrifice meant to make something or someone holy. The Law of Moses set forth the sacrifices to be offered on the Altar of the Tabernacle, foreshadowing the Savior and His “great and last sacrifice” (see Alma 34:10). Sacrifice can also symbolize our repentance–giving up our sins and offering a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see 3 Nephi 9:19-20)
Bronze Laver: Before entering the Holy Place, priests used the Bronze Laver of Water to wash their hands and feet (see Exodus 30:19-21), reminding us of our need to be clean as we prepare to return to the Lord’s presence (see 3 Nephi 27:19-20). Later, the Savior set the example for all of us by being baptized to “fulfill all righteousness” (see Matthew 3:13-17).
Table of Shewbread: Twelve loaves of unleavened bread were placed each Sabbath on the Table of Shewbread, a word meaning “bread of the presence” in Hebrew (see Exodus 25:30). The loaves were eaten in the Holy Place every Sabbath as “an everlasting covenant” (see Leviticus 24:5-9). At His last supper, Jesus Christ continued the covenant when He blessed bread and wine and gave it to His Apostles as a memorial of His sacrifice (see Luke 22:19, John 6:54).
Menorah: The seven lamps burned pure olive oil, providing light to the Holy Place (see Leviticus 24:2-4). This can remind us of the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost, the sources of spiritual light.
Altar of Incense: The priests burned incense each morning and night on an altar placed before the veil. The ascending smoke can represent prayers ascending to heaven (see Revelation 5:8).
Veil: The high priest entered the Holy of Holies through a veil. Cherubim, or angels, were embroidered on the veil (see Exodus 26:31-33; D&C 132:19). The veil can remind us that as we are now veiled from God’s presence, the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, parted the veil through the Atonement.
Holy of Holies: The high priest entered this most sacred part of the tabernacle once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The Holy of Holies represented the presence of God and contained the Ark of the Covenant, the lid of which was called the “Mercy Seat.” “There I will meet thee,” the Lord told Moses, “and I will commune with thee” (Exodus 25:22).
The Ark of the Covenant: The Ark of the Covenant was the central focus of the Holy of Holies and the place where God met and talked with Moses. It was God’s throne in Israel. The Ark contained a pot of manna, symbolizing God’s mercy and constant provision; Aaron’s rod that budded, representing priesthood authority; and the Testimony (or the Tablets of the Law, containing the Ten Commandments), reminding the people of God’s holy nature and laws.
After the children of Israel settled in the Promised Land, King David desired to build God a more permanent dwelling place to replace the Tabernacle. Although David began gathering building materials for this purpose, God instead chose his son Solomon to build his holy temple. Modeled after the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, by all accounts, was a transcendent edifice, unparalleled in beauty and craftsmanship. It was the crown jewel of Jerusalem and the center of worship to the Lord for nearly 400 years before it was ultimately destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE.
Hundreds of years after the destruction of Solomon’s temple, Herod the Great commenced its reconstruction. Although it was magnificent in size and splendor, it no longer housed the sacred relics of the original Tabernacle. Still, Jesus Christ considered the temple His Father’s house, and many events of His earthly life took place here.
Located within the Old City of Jerusalem, where the Temple of Herod once stood, are many sites sacred to the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths.
Temple Mount / al-Haram al-Sharif
The Temple of Herod was built upon an elevated plaza in Jerusalem, an area known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (“The Noble Sanctuary“) and to Jews as the Temple Mount. As the traditional location where Abraham bound his son Isaac, it has historic and religious significance for all three of the major Abrahamic religions. Currently, the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque stand on this Islamic holy site. The Western Wall nearby is all that remains of the temples that once were the center of Jewish worship of Jehovah and the scene of many important events in the life of Christ.
Western Wall of Herod‘s Temple
The Western Wall, or the Kotel, is part of an ancient retaining wall that surrounded the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Herod the Great began construction of the wall in the first century BCE during his renovations of the Second Temple (originally Solomon’s temple). Although the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 CE, the western portion of the wall remained. The Kotel has become a preeminent holy site for those of the Jewish faith, not because the wall itself is holy, but because of its proximity to the Temple Mount. For centuries, Jews from around the world have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to gather at the Kotel to pray, often writing their prayers to God and placing them between the ancient stones of the wall.
Dome of the Rock / Qubbat al-Sakhra
The Dome of the Rock, with its iconic golden dome, was built in the late seventh century CE by the Umayyad caliph ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān. It is the oldest existing Islamic monument and the third holiest site in the Muslim world behind the Kaaba in Mecca and the Tomb of the Prophet in Medina. The Dome sits atop a large slab of exposed sandstone. Here many believe Abraham covenanted with God and made the altar upon which he was commanded to offer his son as a sacrifice. From this same rock, Muslims profess the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven and communed with Allah after his miraculous Night Journey from Mecca to Jerusalem. Jews refer to the rock as the Foundation Stone, the place from which God created the world. Jewish tradition also places the Holy of Holies of both ancient temples over this rock, representing the location where the Divine Presence dwells.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Also in Jerusalem is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, considered by many to be the holiest Christian church in the world. The church was originally constructed in the 4th century CE by Constantine the Great, who converted to Christianity and declared it the official religion of the Roman Empire. His mother, Helena, traveled to the Holy Land and deemed the church’s site the exact place of Christ’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection – despite several other traditional locations competing for the designations. After multiple destructions and reconstructions over the centuries, the current Church of the Holy Sepulchre is used under complicated legal agreements by several Christian denominations. The three major custodians are the Greek Orthodox Church, the Franciscan Order (also known as the “Latins” or the Italian Catholics), and the Armenian Church.
From beginning to end, the Savior’s life was bound to the temple, which He regarded as his Father’s house. He frequently taught there, He healed there, and He protected its sanctity. Upon His death, the veil of the temple, through which none but the high priest had previously been allowed to pass, was rent, signifying that all could reach God’s presence. Jesus Christ was the “great and last sacrifice” who fulfilled the law.
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrew 9:11-14
Joseph and Mary presenting Christ at the temple: Luke 2:22 “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord.”
Teaching as a boy in the temple: Luke 2:46 “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions…How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”
Teaching in the temple: Luke 19:47 “He taught daily in the temple.”
Healing in the temple: Matthew 21:14 “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.”
Cleansing the temple: John 2:16 “And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”
And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office. Exodus 40:12-13
From ancient times, men and women have embraced religious clothing as an outward expression of their inner commitment to follow God. The nun’s habit, the Jewish prayer shawl, and the Muslim’s skullcap are examples of such clothing. Some religious clothing is worn publicly; some only in special places or for certain ceremonies.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also wear sacred clothing as part of their worship in holy temples. Simple white clothing worn during temple services symbolizes purity and equality. Many adult members who have made solemn covenants in temples wear a sacred undergarment, often referred to as the “temple garment,” as a daily reminder of their reliance on Jesus Christ and their promise to keep God’s commandments.
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
We can choose to enter into a covenant relationship with Christ through ordinances and covenants, starting with baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost. Although we still face challenges in life, when we devote our lives to Christ, He will strengthen us to overcome them. Jesus Christ shows us the way, and He never leaves us alone along our journey.
The emblems of the Sacrament remind us that Christ gave His life for us. In gratitude, we can give the rest of our lives to Him. As we partake of the Sacrament each week, we recommit ourselves to take His name upon us, keep His commandments, and always remember Him. In return, He promises that we can always have His Spirit to be with us to guide our lives and provide us peace.
In the temple, Latter-day Saints commit to live lives of higher and holier devotion to God. All aspects of worship in the temple point us to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our mortal journey back to God’s presence, made possible by the Savior, is symbolically represented through the temple ordinances and covenants.
Recommend Desk: At the recommend desk, members present a “recommend” from their church leaders affirming their readiness to enter the temple. Members who are not yet ready can prepare themselves to participate in temple ordinances.
Baptistry: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:29) Baptismal fonts in temples are set on the backs of twelve oxen representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Here, baptisms are performed on behalf of our deceased loved ones.
Instruction room: In instruction rooms, members receive an ordinance called the endowment. An endowment is a gift, in this case, a gift of spiritual power and light to those who honor their covenants. During the endowment, members learn about God’s plan and purposes for us here in mortality. They also covenant with God to be selfless; to live clean, pure, and chaste lives; and to develop and dedicate themselves to God’s holy purposes.
Celestial Room: Like the Holy of Holies of the Ancient Tabernacle, the Celestial Room symbolizes the presence of God. It is a quiet, peaceful place where one can ponder, pray, find hope, and seek divine direction.
Sealing Room: Families are central to God’s plan for our happiness. In the temple, families can be united forever.
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. Isaiah 2:2-3
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the temple is the most sacred place of worship on earth—it is the house of the Lord. It is a place set apart from the rest of the world where members find peace and seek to draw closer to God.
Perhaps the most important similarity between modern temples and the ancient tabernacle is that both, if understood correctly, strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and fill us with gratitude for his atoning sacrifice. Heavenly Father wants all of his children to enter into his presence, so He sent Jesus Christ, our “high priest of good things to come” (Hebrews 9:11). He parts the veil for us and empowers all of God’s people to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy” (Hebrews 4:16).