Temples are the most sacred places of worship on earth. Each one is literally a house of the Lord—a place where He and His Spirit may dwell, where He may come or send others to confer priesthood blessings and to give revelation to His people.
Elder John A. Widtsoe (1872–1952) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote, “I believe that the busy person on the farm, in the shop, in the office, or in the household, who has his worries and troubles, can solve his problems better and more quickly in the house of the Lord than anywhere else … , for at the most unexpected moments, in or out of the temple will come to him, as a revelation, the solution of the problems that vex his life” (“Temple Worship,” Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, April 1921, 63–64).
Temples built especially to the Lord have been erected in all ages. Moses built a tabernacle, a sort of portable temple, in the wilderness for the children of Israel. Solomon built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem. The Nephites built sacred temples. Joseph Smith (1805–44) built houses of the Lord in Kirtland and Nauvoo, and later prophets have built temples throughout the world. These have all been built under the direction and revelation of God.
The Jewish people have looked forward to the return to the earth of the prophet Elijah, as promised by the prophet Malachi. Each year faithful Jews observe a Passover feast at which they leave a door open so that Elijah might come in and celebrate with them.
“It was … on the third day of April, 1836,” said President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972), “that the [Jewish people], in their homes at the [Passover] feast, opened their doors for Elijah to enter. [However,] on that very day Elijah did enter—not in the home of the Jews … , but he appeared in the House of the Lord” (in Conference Report, April 1936, 75).
At Kirtland, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph: “And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thing to come into it, … my glory shall rest upon it;
“… and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God” (D&C 97:15–16).
It is true that some have actually seen the Savior there, but other meanings of the word see show us that the scripture also means that we can come to know Him and understand His work better when we are in the temple.
The Prophet Joseph said that the main object of the gathering of the Jews, or the people of God in any age of the world, “was to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation” (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith , 307–8).