Bells of Hell

In the LDS book Temple Worship Simplified by Terrance Drake it says,

“It would be an oversight to discuss effective ways to increase temple activity and not offer this word of warning: with every effort to build temples or to increase temple attendance, forces of evil will inevitably arise to destroy these efforts…

“The ‘bells of hell’ will ring to rally evil against any effort to establish a holy temple on the earth or to carry out the sacred ordinances performed therein.” (61)

When I read these words I immediately thought of a passage from the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel 5 the Philistines had captured the ark of God. They brought it into the “house of Dagon,” their god, and set the ark next to their idol.

“And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him… The hand of the Lord was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.” (1 Sam 5:3-4, 6)

The Philistines might have understood this as “the bells of hell” ringing to rally evil against their god Dagon. In fact, though they recognized that the God of Israel was responsible for the afflictions that had come upon them and Dagon, they did not turn away from their false god but merely sent the LORD God of Israel away from their land (1 Sam 6:7-8). They did not heed the warning God so graciously gave them. The Philistines continued to make war against Israel and her God, and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel the prophet (1 Sam 7:13).

While Mormons tend to think opposition to Mormonism and LDS temples is the work of Satan, couldn’t it be something quite different? Couldn’t it be the gracious hand of the LORD outstretched toward the Mormon people, calling them to put away their false gods, and to turn to Him and be saved (Isaiah 45:22)?

Would that the Mormon people would respond to the LORD as the Israelites did when Samuel called them to repentance:

“And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, ‘If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.’┬áSo the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.” (1 Sam 7:3-4)

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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29 Responses to Bells of Hell

  1. iamse7en says:

    "By their fruits, ye shall know them."

    The Book of Mormon has brought millions to change their lives and follow the Savior. If it's a tool of the Devil, then the Devil isn't doing very well.

  2. falcon says:

    OK, and who is that Savior. He is the offspring of a mother father god who lives on a planet somewhere near the star/planet Kolob. This is not God. It is a false god; a pagan god. It is a spirit that has lied to men and told them that they too can become a deity and be worshiped and adored by their own spirit children whom they have procreated.
    The fruits of Mormonism are the adoration of a false god and the replacing of God with this idol. Those are the fruits of Mormonism and by which Mormons will be judged. Mormons see "fruits" as temporal behavior. There are atheists and agnostics who do good works and live moral lives. Their fruits are as legitimate as anyone elses in terms of what they present to the world.
    The Mormons are good at "show time", that is putting forth an acceptable, noticeable behavior. This behavior does not prove if what they believe is true, just that they follow a proscribed and group enforced moral code. The outcome of the spiritual fruits of Mormonism is the rejection of God and a deceit that Mormons will answer at the final Judgment. The works and fruits they boast of will be seen as dirty rags before God on that day.

  3. f_melo says:

    Honestly, let me tell you the fruits of mormonism that i´ve seen in the wards i´ve been.

    1 – Elders Quorm members strive to do as little as possible. Very few are the people who do their home teaching assignment, and they don´t care about it, no matter how many times the bishops try to persuade them with hell fire and damnation(the Book of Mormon kind of hell, not the D&C one).

    2 – As for the temple, i´ve lost count on how many times i´ve heard talks on how the dead are waiting for us to do the ordinances for them, so that they can leave spirit prison and go to spirit paradise, and eventually be exalted as gods. Even then nobody really cares about it, with very few exceptions. It becomes even more difficult when there´s a temple nearby – that´s when members go the least.

    Don´t you think if mormons really believed their dead were miserable on the other side of the veil, they would rush to the temple and do all they can to free them?

    3 – Pride, as falcon already commented.

    4 – Doctrinal illiteracy – that´s due to the fact the members are stuck with their "general authorities" approved books and manuals and are almost officially forbidden to look for their own sources. This is also a major roadblock for missionary work because many members don´t know how to explain the differences between the church and other major religions.

    etc…

    Great post, Sharon!
    It´s interesting also that (if i remember right) the "bells of hell" didn´t ring to rally evil against the building of the temple by Solomon… It was destroyed and rebuilt a few times – but that´s not what happens to LDS temples. When they are destroyed it is by the forces of nature like that temple in Samoa.

  4. f_melo says:

    Question for mormons:

    How was it possible for the entire jewish nation to get their endownments if they only had 1 temple? How did they manage it?

    (I seriously had this question asked to me before)

  5. Enki says:

    Iamse7en, Mary Baker Eddy's Science & Health with Key to the scriptures has drawn a lot of people to follow the Christ of "Christian Science". Its a movement which is considered to be a 'cult' by many, as is the LDS faith. The Sikh religion has become very large in membership in a rather short period of time. I believe that jesus is respected and mentioned, but rather takes a back seat to Guru nanak.

  6. falcon says:

    In the reign of the last Mormon prophet, the Mormon church was building temples at break neck speed. These were down-scaled versions and became known as "McTemples" for there franchise appeal. So this idea that some force was trying to stop the building is a lot of Mormon spiritual gibberish to excite the troops. If the SLC is so fired-up about building temples, why don't they go down to Independence, MO and stick some $$$$$ into building the grand temple.
    I get a kick out of the guy talking about evil forces and Satan and whatever. Let's, just to keep in perspective, remember that Mormonism even has a different Satan. They have, of course, a different God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, scripture and plan of salvation. So why would they not also have a different Satan?
    This boon doggle of a religion is a mish mash of whatever stray though passed through Joseph Smith's mind. It has been updated and changed as per the whim of subsequent "prophets" and also the pressure put on by society.

  7. setfreebyJC says:

    iamse7en said:

    "'By their fruits, ye shall know them.'
    The Book of Mormon has brought millions to change their lives and follow the Savior. If it's a tool of the Devil, then the Devil isn't doing very well."

    The Book of Mormon has brought millions to a different/false/non-biblical god, a different/false/non-biblical Jesus… even a different/false/non-biblical Satan. Many people will steer clear of an outwardly-satanic type (i.e. Marilyn Manson). Satan's masquerading as an angel of light, and getting people to follow something labeled as "God" and "Jesus", who are not really God and Jesus, is much more effective weapon against all sorts of well-meaning people. The Book of Mormon/LDS church IS a tool of the devil; a subtle one that IS working well for him.

  8. Jay K says:

    Millions transformed? Don't forget to includethe people who were transformed into fundamentalist fascists via blood atonement abuse, polygamy (can't escape the FLDS when the standard is whoever uses the BoM), the nature of the communities still under polygamy, Smith's abuse of power in pressuring marriages and allowing polyandry despite the D&C condemnation of it, the Salt sermon, Mountain Meadows Massacre, and many other topics that could've been avoided had the people who were transformed by the BoM due to someone who introduced them to it had been transformed by the Bible instead (which honestly carries at least the same message found in the BoM about Jesus).

    There's no polygamy in Biblical Christianity, and no blood atonement either (other than Christ's blood).

    Sure, there's a pretty ridiculous abuse of power by the Pope in the past (and even in the present, although he's cleaning up now that the stories are out). But the Pope didn't always check his actions against the Bible and follow accordingly.

  9. martinfrombrisbane says:

    At the risk of repeating myself…

    I find it utterly astounding that a Temple-building movement like Mormonism would claim to follow Jesus. I would not believe it was possible, except that it's true.

    The Jesus of the Gospels spearheaded a counter-Temple movement. He shifted the locus of forgiveness and cleanness from the Temple to himself (Mark 2:10-11). He declared himself (not the Temple) to be the source of the Nation's nourishment (John 6:51). He declared that it was a person's relationship with Him (not theTemple) that constituted his or her membership of the family of God/Kingdom of Israel (Mark 3:34 etc).

    Elsewhere in the NT, we read that God has established an "unshakable" Temple, following the removal of what "can be shaken", which was a Temple that "could be touched" (Heb 12:18, 27). When I read this, and consider the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD70 (Hebrews was probably written soon after), I have to wonder where God's Name and his "eyes and his heart" reside, given the promise to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:16. It cannot be the Temple in Jerusalem, or any other physical temple for that matter – it has to be something "unshakable" and "eternal" and the best solution I can think of is the eternal Son of God, who made his tabernacle among us (John 1:14).

    Again, in Hebrews and in Paul's epistles, we see that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the system of sacrifice that revolved about the Temple. The two equally valid ways of interpreting this is to say that the NT looks back at the OT Temple system in the context that the OT had done it's job and had come to a conclusion in Christ (Romans 10:4), or that the OT Temple system looked forward to it's future fulfilment in Christ (Heb 10:1-10 etc).

    At a community level, God's followers are recognised as a culturally diverse crowd (12 tribes – see Gen 49:1-28), but whereas they were previously unified in their worship of God in the Temple, now they are unified in their worship in Christ (Gal 3:28 etc). This unity in worship is illustrated nowhere better than Rev 5:13. Note that it is not cultural, racial, or even ontological uniformity – the thing that unites is the worship of the Lamb (forget the WASPs or whatever the equivalent of white mid-western Mormons is).

    Then, there's my favorite verse where John writes

    I did not see a Temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

    (Rev 21:22). Speaks for itself, really.

    Then, we can talk about where we meet God – no longer in the Temple, but in Christ (see John 4:21).

    Get it? Whatever the Temple was, or however it functioned, or whatever it meant to Israel is fulfilled and complete in Jesus Christ. That's why God calls us to put our faith in Him, and not in any system of Temple-works (which is the context, IMO, of Eph 2:8-10 etc).

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The Temple-building mission of Mormonism seeks to undo the work of Christ.

    The "bells of hell" are coming against the Temple-building efforts of Mormonism? No! It's the One who leads the armies of heaven (Rev 19:11-16).

  10. setfreebyJC says:

    Martin, you are always so "right on"! Thanks for being out here

  11. falcon says:

    I was just reading an article on another website by someone with the handle of Polygamy Porter. PP quotes an article from a 2007 Ensign which states: "Did Joseph Smith reinvent the temple by putting all the fragments-Jewish, Orthodox, Masonic, Gnostic, Hindu, Egyptian, and so forth-together again." PP makes the point that there's an attempt to obfuscate (one of my favorite words when discussing Mormonism) the heavy masonic influence by throwing a whole bunch of other belief systems into the mix. His further point is that Smith basically ripped-off the Masonic ceremonies and incorporated them in his own religion.
    This next part is one of my favorites. PP talks about how BYU scholars try to make the point that "Joseph inquired of the Lord concerning the matter and He revealed to the Prophet true Masonry, as we have it in our temples. Owing to the superior knowledge Joseph received, the Masons became jealous and cut off the Mormon lodge."
    The Ensign article does the Mormon circular reasoning routine and states: "The temple is not to be derived from them, but the other way around….That anything of such fullness, consistency, ingenuity, and perfection could have been brought forth at a single time and place-overnight, as it were is quite adequate proof of a special dispensation."
    So here's the deal, Joseph Smith also restored the Free Masonry rituals because of course they had been lost. These people are really professionals at what they do which is flip, massage, trim, mold and recast everything in such a way that the faithful can continue to believe what is false.
    The Ensign goes on to say basically these temple rituals started with Adam and were handed down but became corrupted and needed to be restored. OK folks, Adam, who according to BY was really God, had the true rituals. So let me get this right, did Jesus then restore the true rituals to his followers and then they (rituals) were lost again and then….TA TAH…….restored by Joseph Smith?
    Ya gotta love these people!

  12. enki says:

    "The Book of Mormon has brought millions to change their lives and follow the Savior. If it's a tool of the Devil, then the Devil isn't doing very well. " I remembered a friend of mine who practiced the wiccan religion, she told me that she changed her life after doing rituals associated with particular gods and goddesses. She quit drugs, drinking, and sexual addiction after find wicca. I don't know what wicca says about jesus, but I imagine they aren't opposed if it helps someone.

  13. wyomingwilly says:

    Thanks Martin. I echo Set Free's comment.

    ww

  14. rvales says:

    Can something look like a fruit yet not be a fruit?

  15. falcon says:

    From beginning to end we can see that the Mormon temples and the rituals carried out there in, have nothing to do with either the Jewish or Christian religions. It doesn't take a whole lot of curiosity to ascertain the truth of the matter. There wasn't anything lost that needed to be restored in Christianity because Jesus, as the Bible tells us, is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Jesus is the priest, as believers we are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Jesus death on the cross put to end all that was needed in terms of atonement for sin. His shed blood was the perfect sacrifice, nothing can be added to it.
    Only those who don't know Christ or the pathway to salvation that the Father provided, need to create a series of works related rituals that they suppose has meaning. What Mormons tell us is that Jesus is not the manifestation of the invisible God and that His sacrifice was only a part of salvation. The rest must be made up for by meaningless rituals and works.
    Once someone knows who God is and discovers what He has done for us through Jesus, they will put away their foolish striving and accept through faith what God is offering through His grace.

  16. Verne Brown says:

    Martin – given ALL the things mormons believe in and yet still claim to follow Jesus, one more on the list shouldn't be too much more. But I agree with your observation!

  17. falcon says:

    So how much evidence does it take to convince a TBM that Mormonism is not true? There isn't enough! The reason? Mormonism is "felt" to be believed. We can pile up evidence to reach the heights of the highest mountain on earth and it cannot over come the desire of the TBM to want to believe that Mormonism is really true. Mormonism is a psychological hook and spiritual deception that engulfs the TBM and encumbers all logic and straight thinking.
    Just look at the magnificent spin the Ensign and the BYU types can place on the Masonic rituals that Smith stole and made a part of Mormonism. The Mormon spin? Smith restored Free Masonry because it had been lost and corrupted over the years. Yup, that's it folks! The magic glasses that Smith used to translate his buried golden plates, which by the way were never present when he did his translation and, come to think of it, got displaced for Smith's magic rock, serve to blind Mormons.
    This is a case for deliverance I'm afraid, not logic.

  18. f_melo says:

    "The magic glasses that Smith used to translate his buried golden plates, which by the way were never present when he did his translation and, come to think of it, got displaced for Smith's magic rock, serve to blind Mormons."

    If you can call that a "translation" – If Joseph received it throug a magic rock it isn´t a translation, but a revelation straight from god.
    Besides, at the the end of the "translation" Joseph didn´t use either the magic glasses or the seer stone, he was receiving it directly from god and just dictating it to his scribe.

  19. olsenjim says:

    fmelo,

    Do you understand that the Law of Moses functioned under the Aaronic Priesthood and that the ordinances and blessings of the Melchizedek Priesthood were not generally available to Israel during the 1st and 2nd temple periods?

    Minor detail, but one with which you should be familiar.

  20. olsenjim says:

    Martin,

    Yours is the argument made by most evangelicals.

    But you must find it difficult to explain the Biblical references to a temple of the Lord to be built in the last days before the second coming of Christ. And no, those verses don't refer to the vague body of believers, etc.

    Look up Malachi 3 and Isaiah 2 for starters.

    Almost every argument from the EVs ultimately comes down to extremely vague and almost worthless statements that are not grounded upon anything. This is one such argument. The trinity is another. The purpose of life is another. The justice of God in choosing who will be saved and who will burn in hell is another. I could go on and on and on.

    The Bible is very clear that there will be at least one temple built before the second coming and that the temple will play a critical role in the Lord's work.

  21. f_melo says:

    Oh, that´s right – i forgot that the first stone tablets that Moses received from God contained the law of the Melchizedek priesthood – but after Moses got angry with the people of Israel and broke the tablets, god gave him another set of commandments, containing the lower laws of the aaronic priesthood – sure.

    I forgot also that Jesus restored the Melchizedek priesthood and its ordinances too.
    Wait, wasn´t the temple destroyed? Why wasn´t the early church commanded to build many more temples then?

    Man, you´re going to have a ton of work to do in the millenium baptizing all those Israelites that died without the temple ordinances. Some people are practicing to those times today. When i did baptism for the dead, i saw some baptizers read the prayers so fast and dunked people so quickly that i believe the church will be able to baptize the entire human race that hasn´t been baptized since the days of Adam(or whenever the first apostasy ocurred).

  22. f_melo says:

    before the baptism sessions the temple president gives a short talk. Here the temple president wanted the kids being baptized by proxy to remeber to have a spiritual experience, and to think about the people they were being baptized for.

    Then i watched how fast those guys were doing everything(to make sure to baptize as many people as possible), i wondered how is it those teens could have any sort of spiritual experience or focus on anyone. All they got out of the temple were swollen eyes.

  23. f_melo says:

    Malachi 3 is refering to John the Baptist, and that was fulfilled when Christ went "suddenly" to the temple when He was 12 years old.(read matthew 17:12)

    In Isaiah 2, he´s talking about the MOUNTAIN of the Lord´s house, and that all nations would flow to that mountain that would be stabilished on the top of the mountains – It has nothing to do with the building of a temple, let alone that everyone would flow to it in the Winter Olympics.

    Even if it refers to a temple of the "last days" the mormon temples are not public places of learning as that chapter refers to.

    You didn´t even read those passages at all, you´re just parroting what you heard from your "apostles".

    "Almost every argument from the EVs ultimately comes down to extremely vague and almost worthless statements that are not grounded upon anything."

    WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!! – all those arguments were made by Paul the Apostle himself and also by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation (note the capital "A") and are grounded on scripture! Read your Bible before posting such horrible statements!!!!!!!

    "The Bible is very clear that there will be at least one temple built before the second coming and that the temple will play a critical role in the Lord's work."

    What role? The people will go there to get their endownments, is that it? Who will be the special chosen few that will get their covenants with god in it? It will be a shock to jewish authorities who never heard of masonic rituals being done in a temple before.

  24. martinfrombrisbane says:

    Jim,

    Thanks for your response. I don't know if mine is the argument made by "most evangelicals", but I'll take your word for it.

    (Actually, I've rarely heard it talked about amongst my church colleagues, and I got the idea from N T Wright, Bishop of Durham whom I've never met or heard, except by Internet. When I heard it I thought 'that's intriguing, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the Biblical story as a whole').

    I just looked up Malachi 3, as you suggested. I agree with f_melo that "The Lord who you are seeking" did, in fact, suddenly come to his Temple. You can read all about it in Matt 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-46, John 2:13-22.

    Incidentally, it's a good idea to take particular notice of something when it appears in all four Gospels. I hadn't notcied this before, but Jesus' cleansing of the Temple registers in all four Gospels, like his crucifixion and resurrection. The Gospel-writers must have seen it as something of remarkable importance. That's not surprising when you realise that there was a prominent expectation at the time, based on Mal 3 and other traditions, that the "Year of the Lord" would kick off with the Lord appearing at his temple and cleansing it. The message of the Gospel-writers to first century Jews, then, was that the arrival of Jesus at the Temple heralded the arrival of the "Last Days".

    (PS, before we leave Mal 3, did you notice "I, the Lord do not change" in Mal 3:6. It doesn't sit well with the LDS doctrine of a god who changes by a process of eternal progression, does it?)

    On to Isaiah 2. Yes, "the mountain" (Isaiah 2:2) does refer to the Temple Mount, however if you're going to insist that the language is not figurative, then you'll need to resort to plate tectonics and deal with questions like 'how do worshippers go up a mountain higher than Mount Everest without oxygen cylinders?' Given the concluding remarks in Isaiah 2:22, the message is plainly an appeal to look to the Lord to 'teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths' (Isaiah 2:3). The 'lifting up' of the Temple speaks of the vindication of God in contrast to the corruption (what's the word I'm trying to find here – slow decay, inexorable disintegration, fading into darkness, descent into chaos, losing one's grip on life?) of humanity in its arrogance (Isaiah 2:17).

    I note your objections to "extremely vague and almost worthless statements". Fair enough. I'm always interested in what the Christian Gospel means in terms of tangible, worthwhile expression. The way I'd describe it is that we have the Word, and we need to find a way to make it flesh because that's the Way of God (after John 1:14). However, I'm puzzled that, as someone who has expressed a desire to follow Jesus, you appear to treat these ideas with such disdain. If they were important to the Gospel-writers, shouldn't they be important to you too?

    I had a further thought on Jesus as the leader of a counter-Temple movement that might be worthy of further consideration. It relates to the accusations that were brought against Jesus at his trial, in particular Matt 26:60b-61

    Finally two came forward and declared, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.' "

    What intrigues me here is that Jesus' enemies saw him as a threat to the Temple, and they were right (Matthew is recording the irony of the accusation). We have no reason to think that the accusers were misrepresenting Jesus' message, so what was he saying? In hindsight, Christians have rightly interpreted this to mean that Jesus would destroy his own body and rebuild it at his resurrection.

    But, if we put ourselves in the shoes of the accusers for a moment, without the benefit of knowing how this was all going to turn out, our concern is that Jesus is claiming to supersede the Temple – he is a direct rival to it. From this perspective, Jesus is a threat (and he must be stopped). If he had spearheaded a Temple-building movement, he would not have got this reaction.

    You're right in one thing, Jim. You said that the Temple will play a critical role in the Lord's work. It does. We gather into it to worship God and to meet with him. It is at the center of life in the New Jerusalem. From it flows the river of life, which brings light and healing to the nations. It's a heavenly Temple, though, and it cannot be touched (Heb 12:18). It is the Body of Christ.

  25. 4fivesolas says:

    f_melo,

    I think you point out one of the problems associated with false doctrine.

    At first the doctrine appears compassionate and makes the follower of the religion feel like they are contributing to eternity, helping the less fortunate – it makes them feel good. I am sure when Joseph Smith introduced baptism for the dead it made his followers feel wonderful – we can bring our dead family members into the Mormon faith! It's not too late for them to have the fullness of the gospel! I am helping my family. Okay, now take this false doctrine down the road a bit. Massive lists generated, individuals dunked over and over again in the names of multiple individuals read off as quickly as possible so as to get in as many as you can. Vicarious works performed in a never ending turnstile – working through an unending list of people, never able to get ahead of the world growth in population. A religious duty of obligation that never ends, performed in rote by bleary eyed individuals bored with the unending monotony.

    Forever families – sounds great – I will spend eternity with my wife and kids as a god over my own kingdom. My son will also be a god over his own kingdom and we will all be sealed to our families. My father and mother sealed to me, I'm sealed to my wife and kids, my son will be sealed…hey, wait a minute. How can I be forever with my family and rule over my own solar system, and yet be with my son who is ruling over his solar system and so on and so on? We're all sealed to each other in forever families (and in some cases including my ex-wife or ex-husband!).

    False doctrine always breaks down when examined.

  26. olsenjim says:

    Martin,

    Notice the context of the verse in Malachi regarding the Lord coming to His temple.

    “Who may abide the day of His coming?” This is a clear reference to the second coming, not the first.

    “Who may stand when he appeareth?” Do you not see this as applying to His great appearance when all the world shall see Him like the rising of the sun?

    And “suddenly” coming to His temple? Why the emphasis on a sudden appearance, as if unexpected. That, too, suggests the author is referring to the second coming. It adds nothing if the author is speaking of the visit to the temple when Jesus was 12.

    And what of the messenger coming before the Lord was to visit the temple? At the time Jesus was 12, John the Baptist had probably at least 15 years left before he even started his ministry. It really doesn’t make sense. John had not “prepared” anything at that point.

    Joel also used this phraseology: “And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” Joel 2:11

    Gotta run- will finish with Isaiah later.

  27. olsenjim says:

    f_melo,

    I agree that some officiators perform ordinances too quickly in my opinion. I believe it is a sacred and beautiful moment for each individual. When I am involved, I try to reflect a spirit of respect, love, and reverence for the Lord and the individual.

    People are flawed, and some do see it as a race to do the work as fast as possible. But I believe their intentions are good. I find it hard to be too critical when you consider those motives.

    Of course there will always be armchair quarterbacks to criticize everything and everybody. Always has been, always will.

    You can ridicule my answer to your observation that there was no temple marriage among ancient Israel, but there is an answer and rationale, whether you believe it or not. Your initial observation sounded as if we had no answer for the question.

    By the way, do you believe in the mellenium- the period of 1,000 years between the second coming of Christ and the end of the world? If so, what is the purpose of that mellenium? Any ideas?

  28. Enki says:

    Wax, glass or plastic fruit can really look like fruit, yet not be. On the other end, there are things which are fruit which don't seem to be. Cucumbers, avocados, olives, tomatoes. Most people don't immeditately think of these as being fruit.

  29. MartinFromBrisbane says:

    Jim,

    I might disagree with f_melo here, in that I see the fulfilment in Mal 3 more in Jesus' "sudden" appearance at the Temple to cleanse it in his adult life than his visit when he was 12. If this is the case, then your objections about John the Baptist not having prepared the way are immaterial.

    We could argue the finer details further but, to tell the truth, I get uncomfortable when I see people try to map out scripture too precisely. I'm not raising the objections of the skeptics here, rather I'm wary of losing sight of the rhetorical nature of prophetic and apocalyptic language in the Bible.

    Also, it's important to remember that the Bible is not a monolithic, homogeneous block of text (contra much current urban myth) but it was written over a long period of time by many different people. It should not be a surprise, then, if a later author picks up ideas and metaphors from an earlier text and applies them in an unexpected way. Possibly the most challenging example of this is when Jesus re-arranges Isaiah 61:1-2 and Isaiah 58:6 in Luke 4:18-19 (here, Jesus stands Jewish expectations on their head about what the Messiah was supposed to do, btw – no wonder they didn't like what he said – Luke 4:29).

    So, I think it is entirely reasonable to read the Gospels in terms of the Gospel writers interpreting the rhetoric of Malachi. What I mean is, they see the irony of the Lord, whom Israel was ostensibly seeking actually turning up on the doorstep (yes, heralded by John the Baptist, as it is written). As John writes "He came to that which is his own, but his own did not receive them" (John 1:11).

    Which leads to a rather curious aspect of the Gospel story. In Malachi 3, and elsewhere, I get the sense that the (first) arrival of the Lord heralds the judgment of God ("Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap" Mal 3:2). What if this judgment has already occurred, or at least has begun? I'm thinking particularly of Christ's crucifixion here. We typically regard it as the propitiation of God's wrath, and I'm not disputing this important aspect. But I also wonder if the cross of Christ is God's judgment on humanity. This might provide a more satisfactory solution to Matt 24:34 than the more common substitution of "race" for "generation".

    Now, I'm not suggesting that we should abandon all hope of a final judgment at Christ's parousia (return). If we do that, we would stray too far from the understanding of scripture that gave rise to the classic Creeds which include the statement "We believe that he will come again to judge the living and the dead". However, considering the cross in terms of God's judgment on Israel does resonate with the tenor of Malachi 3 and elsewhere.

    How can this possibly work? I suggest that when we perceive God's judgment in terms of a withdrawal of His presence among us (sealing up the heavens, if you like), and as a public exposure of our sin in all its gory detail, then the cross of Christ fits the profile more than adequately.

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