I started reading a book on Temple Mysticism by Margaret Barker, wherein she writes that the Kingdom of God was considered to be the Holy of Holies (Temple Mysticism.) I found this interesting since many people are confused about the Kingdom of God. Is it belonging to a certain church, or is it being Christian, born again, or what? Early Christian writers claimed that Jesus, the High Priest shared the secret mysteries of the Kingdom of God — Peter saying,
‘We remember that our LORD and teacher, commanding us, said: “Keep the mysteries/secrets for me and the sons of my house.” Wherefore also he explained to his disciples privately the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.’
There are hints of this in the Gospels, when Jesus explained to his inner circle why he taught in parables: ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables’ (Mark 4.11). The kingdom, as we shall see, was the holy of holies and what it represented. Jesus then quoted the oracle to Isaiah about the punishment for rejecting Wisdom: they would see and not perceive, hear and not understand. They would not see the kingdom. [Barker, Margaret (2012-06-08). Temple Mysticism: An Introduction (pp. 23-24). SPCK. Kindle Edition.]
The high priest went through the veil of the temple to converse with the Lord at the holy of holies — where the mercy seat was kept with the ark of the covenant. This then was the place to meet God — this would be the Kingdom of God or at least the entrance to his kingdom, where holy men could commune with God. Margaret Barker expounds on the experiences of Isaiah and Moses as two examples:
Let us begin with Isaiah’s vision. The prophet saw the LORD enthroned and heard him speak. This must have been in the holy of holies, whose other name was the debir (1 Kings 6.5, 16 etc.; 2 Chron. 4.20; Ps. 28.2). As often happened with temple terms, the first Greek translation (the Septuagint, hereafter LXX) simply transliterated the word as dabeir, but later versions translated it as ‘oracle’, the place where the LORD spoke. The LORD appeared to the high priest in the incense cloud above the mercy seat (Lev. 16.2), and the LORD spoke to Moses ‘from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony’ (Exod. 25.22; also Num. 7.89).
In the desert tabernacle, which is the setting for these verses, the mercy seat with its two cherubim was behind the veil, that is, in the holy of holies (Exod. 40.20–21), and it had the same function as the throne which Isaiah saw in the temple. His contemporary Hezekiah prayed ‘O LORD of Hosts, God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim …’ (Isa. 37.16). The ark under the mercy seat was the footstool of the throne. David had planned to build a temple ‘for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God’ (1 Chron. 28.2); and the psalmist sang of bringing the ark to Jerusalem, ‘Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool’ (Ps. 132.7). [Barker, Margaret (2012-06-08). Temple Mysticism: An Introduction (pp. 2-3). SPCK. Kindle Edition.]
The Holy of Holies = Debir = Dabeir = Oracle = the place where God speaks = Kingdom of God. Perhaps when we talk of the Kingdom of God on earth, it is more accurate to think of it as the most holy place in the temple — the Holy of Holies. And if there is no temple then it is a mountain top (such as when Moses communed with God and received the Ten Commandments.) The oracles of God would then be those things that God reveals to man in that holy place.
Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and only once a year on the Day of Atonement. In Isaiah’s vision, he recounts his experience in the Holy of Holies, at the Mercy seat where he receives what appears to be the baptism of fire when an angel (seraph) places hot coals on his mouth:
Then one of the seraphs flew to me carrying an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 Touching it to my mouth, he said, See, this has touched your lips: your sins are taken away, your transgressions atoned for.(Isaiah 6)
Isaiah sees the Lord Jesus Christ in that same experience:
In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw my Lord seated on a throne, highly exalted, the skirt of his robe filling the sanctuary. 2 Seraphs stood by him overhead, each having six wings— with two they could veil their presence, with two conceal their location, and with two fly about. (Isaiah 6)
Joseph Smith recounts an experience on March 8, 1833 when the Lord confirms that his sins are forgiven in connection with receiving the keys of the kingdom and oracles of God:
Thus saith the Lord, verily, verily I say unto you my son, thy sins are forgiven thee, according to thy petition, for thy prayers and the prayers of thy brethren have come up into my ears.Therefore, thou art blessed from henceforth that bear the keys of the kingdom given unto you; which kingdom is coming forth for the last time.Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come; Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church. And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house. (D&C 90: 1-5)
This verse seems to identify the keys of the kingdom with the oracles, which oracles are symbolic for the Holy of Holies — the Kingdom of God, the place where God appears and speaks to man. This is also the place where God reveals the mysteries of His kingdom, behind the veil that separates the Holy of Holies and the Mercy Seat from the rest of the temple and the earthly kingdom.
Joseph Smith also had the keys of the School of the Prophets, which God commanded him to organize for perfecting those who would minister for the salvation of Zion. Only those whose sins were forgiven through the baptism of fire were invited.
As also through your administration the keys of the school of the prophets, which I have commanded to be organized; That thereby they may be perfected in their ministry for the salvation of Zion, and of the nations of Israel, and of the Gentiles, as many as will believe; That through your administration they may receive the word, and through their administration the word may go forth unto the ends of the earth, unto the Gentiles first, and then, behold, and lo, they shall turn unto the Jews. And then cometh the day when the arm of the Lord shall be revealed in power in convincing the nations, the heathen nations, the house of Joseph, of the gospel of their salvation. (D&C 90: 7-10)
Joseph was to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom:
And when you have finished the translation of the prophets, you shall from thenceforth preside over the affairs of the church and the school; And from time to time, as shall be manifested by the Comforter, receive revelations to unfold the mysteries of the kingdom; And set in order the churches, and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people. (D&C 90:13 -15)
The oracles are further connected to the receiving of the mysteries of God within the Holy of Holies during the period of history when Joseph was in Nauvoo and commanded to build a temple there:
For, for this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness, and to build a house in the land of promise, that those ordinances might be revealed which had been hid from before the world was.
Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments, for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory, honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. (D&C 124:38-39)
In the Old Testament, Solomon built the temple with the oracle (Holy of Holies):
So Solomon built the house, and finished it. And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the ceiling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir.
And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place. And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long. (1 Kings 6: 14-17)
The candlesticks of pure gold were placed, five on the right side, five on the left side, before the oracle, with the flowers, and the lamps and the tongs of gold..
And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above. And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. (1 Kings 8:6-8)
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