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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : The temple and the Aaronic Priesthood » The temple and the Aaronic Priesthood

The temple and the Aaronic Priesthood

Don - March 9, 2005

My wife and I attended the temple last night. Considering my previous post and the comments I listened more carefully than usual.

A question arose in my mind as we were proceeding with the endowment. When Adam was given the first token of the Aaronic Priesthood, in the Garden, why was it called that? It makes more sense to call it the “First token of the priesthood”, since the Aaronic Priesthood didn’t even exist then. The priesthood was a patriarchal priesthood named after Christ. Later the name was changed to Melchezedek. The Aaronic wasn’t introduced until Moses had problems with the children of Israel.

If you were Adam, wouldn’t you wonder what’s the deal with this name, who’s Aaron, why his priesthood?

Have there always been two priesthoods, a lessor and a greater? One part of the other and just never used until it’s needed? And then D&C 13 indicates that the Aaronic priesthood won’t be around again after the sons of Levi offer an offering in righteousness. So what’s the deal?

1 Comment »

  1. We know that the endowment is dynamic, but how dynamic we don’t know. It would seem that the certain things could remain the same, though the names change.

    Maybe, this is simply our version of the endowment.
    J. Stapley | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 2:08 pm | #

    They also didn’t speak English then either. Isn’t it just a way of communicating to us in modern times, something that we’d be familiar with? We always make that distinction now because we’ve always had it.

    Or is your question of whether the token only represented a portion of the overall priesthood? (does any of what I’m saying make sense or would it be better to just say, “blah blah blah blah.”?)
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 2:12 pm | #

    I guess I find it a bit confusing, when thinking about it. It would still make perfect sense to call it the first token of the priesthood, the second token, 3rd and 4th. Why two priesthoods when there is (was) only one?
    Don | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 2:42 pm | #

    One thing that must be kept in mind. The temple is not just a “here’s a story about Adam, just for fun.” It is an ordinance intended for those who are there. It is intended for their context, not Adam’s. I have found that taking the story presented in the temple as an actualy historical account raises more questions than it answers. Questions like what happen to who in what order I don’t think pan out very well when it comes to the temple ceremony.
    Jeffrey Giliam | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 2:52 pm | #

    Never think of the Endowment as literal, NEVER.

    The time line, the people involved ALL ARE SYMBOLIC.

    Adam is not the Adam of the bible, but an archetype of Man, specifically, one man, THE Man of Holiness (Moses 7: 35). Eve represents the archetypical women, specifically the WIFE of the Man of Holiness.

    Try looking at the endowment this way. It makes the temple VERY interesting and serves to strengthen ones testimony IMMENSELY.

    (btw, try and avoid referring to such items as ‘tokens’ and such, remember your covenants )
    Michael S. | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 2:54 pm | #

    Michael, my covenant is never to reveal the tokens etc. Saying that there are tokens, and covenants, in my mind doesn’t break the oath I’ve taken. In fact, we should probably discuss much more to the temple process than we do. We should talk more about what we learn there, the story but more importantly the covenants we make like sacrifice, and consecration.

    You are right though, we do need to be careful.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 3:10 pm | #

    It seems to me that the aaronic/melchizedek division in the Priesthood is not some ad hoc division God came up with at Sinai when the Israelites disobeyed, but rather part of the way God intends to teach us about His service.

    In other words, the priesthood is part of the pathway back to God — it leads us there incrementally, from grace to grace. Let’s say Adam had received the fulness of the Gospel right then at his expulsion. What would he know of the progression from the law of the gospel, to sacrifice, to chastity, to consecration? What would he have learned?

    As for the nomenclature, well, that’s just a weird thing we’re imposing on a divine system, IMHO. No need to get too hung up on it. And the deal with the Levites isn’t that the aaronic priesthood disappears when the Levites shape up and return to the temple, but rather, that one of the purposes of the aaronic priesthood is to return the Levites to this state of grace before the Lord, i.e., missionary work.
    Steve Evans | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 3:20 pm | #

    “Michael, my covenant is never to reveal the tokens”

    Technically, the covenant is to never reveal them with their names and signs.
    Kim Siever | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 3:40 pm | #

    From “Keeping the Temple Holy,” by Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1990. May I speak also of a matter pertinent to temples? I remind you of the absolute obligation to not discuss outside the temple that which occurs within the temple. Sacred matters deserve sacred consideration. We are under obligation, binding and serious, to not use temple language or speak of temple matters outside. I first went to the temple fifty-seven years ago. It was different from any other experience I had had in the Church. A young man of my association went about the same time. Thereafter, he was wont to use phrases from the language of the temple in a frivolous way. It was offensive. It was a betrayal of a sacred trust. I have watched him through the years. Once faithful, he has drifted from all Church activity and forsaken the faith of his fathers. I think that much of what has happened to him began with that small irreverential thing that he did in trivializing language which is not trivial. Please, brethren, do not discuss outside of the temple that which occurs in the temple. While there, you are at liberty to do so. If you have questions, you may speak with the temple president or one of his counselors. But when you leave the doors of the House of the Lord, be true to a sacred trust to speak not of that which is holy and sanctified. Said the Lord, “Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit.” (D&C 63:64.) And again, “Trifle not with sacred things.” (D&C 6:12.)
    Peggy Cahill | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 5:40 pm | #

    absolute obligation to not discuss outside the temple that which occurs within the temple

    You seem to equate “reveal tokens” with “discuss what goes on in the temple”. I can’t make that jump. While I think it’s important to be respectful of what goes on there and to be careful who we discuss these matters with, I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong discussing it here among others who have that same respect. In fact, I’ve learned a great deal from these discussions that have been accompanied by the Spirit.

    Additionally, most of what is said in the temple can be found in the scriptures (minus the names, signs and tokens). Are you suggesting that we avoid discussing ANYTHING in the temple or just those things not found in the scriptures? I sincerely would like to know where you draw the line.
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 6:19 pm | #

    I agree with you Rusty. Do we quit quoting the Book of Moses because the wording is the same as the temple? Do we not talk about the covenant to keep the law of sacrafice, the law of obedience, or the law of consecration? I don’t think so.

    I agree we should not disrespectfully discuss, or use temple terms in or out of the temple. We obviously shouldn’t discuss the tokens etc. that we are under sacred obligation not to talk about.

    It is interesting how much more we are encouraged to talk about the temple. That’s why we have temple prep classes. The first time I went thru it was so foreign, “weird”, “different” that I didn’t know what to think, or how to act. No preparation made it difficult. I would have gained so much more if I had been properly prepared by discussing what to expect and and overview of what was going to transpire.
    don | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 6:43 pm | #

    Last month I went to the Temple. I showed my recommend to BLANK. Then I went to the BLANK to do BLANK. Afterwards I got changed to do a BLANK session. In the BLANK we watched a BLANK. Then we dressed in BLANK. We took upon ourselves certain BLANKS, which were introduced to us via certain BLANKS, BLANKS, and BLANKS. We then went through the BLANK to the BLANK room.

    If we’re not allowed to to talk about what happens in the Temple then it is no wonder that so many people are freaked out by what transpires.
    Ronan | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 8:14 pm | #

    Sorry for that rant.

    What I meant to say (sober voice) is that we should be circumspect not secretive, apart from in the very specific details.
    Ronan | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 8:28 pm | #

    It’s not me that said it, it was a Prophet of God. I believe he speaks for the Lord. If you don’t agree, that’s your prerogative. But it’s not me you are disagreeing with.
    Peggy Cahill | Email | Homepage | 03.09.05 – 10:33 pm | #

    If we look at the first two covenants in the Temple, they deal more with things we associate with the Aaronic priesthood, or at least things we deal with at an Aaronic priesthood level of understanding. I.E. keeping the commandments, obeying God, lightmindedness, loud laughter and such. The Melchizedek covenants are more mature and involve deeper commitment.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 03.10.05 – 2:13 am | #

    Peggy, I’m not in disagreement with you….or the prophet for that matter. I just interpret what he said a little different than you do.
    don | Email | Homepage | 03.10.05 – 3:01 am | #

    I’m with Don, Peggy. I do not believe that the Prophet wishes for a shroud of secrecy to fall over the Temple, only that we are circumspect and respectful in what we say.

    I too believe that the Prophet speaks for God, I just understand what he is saying here differently than you. That is the prerogative I am exercising, not a refusal to obey God as you suggest. That was unfair.
    Ronan | Email | Homepage | 03.10.05 – 7:37 am | #

    A few ideas.

    First, Joseph Smith talks about three priesthoods- Aaronic, Melchizedek, and Patriarchal. Note that the terminology is derived from two distinct periods.

    Second, regarding the use of the terms “sign and token,” Brigham Young said the following on April 6, 1853.

    “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell. ” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 416)

    This has been quoted in full in the Ensign multiple times, in General conference, in books written by General Authorities (such as “The Holy Temple” by Elder Packer), and appears in both the student and teachers manual for the Temple Preparation class. furthermore, we have been told that whatever is in the scriptures is legal for discussion, and the Bible mentions both the rainbow (Gen 9:13) and circumcision (Gen 17:11) as token(s) of the covenant.

    (There’s more on this on a long nauvoo thread. My comments come from “Dillfest.” http://www.nauvoo.com/ubb/forum/…=5;t=000144; p=1 The rest of my take is on http://home.uchicago.edu/ ~spackm…pleprep#outside )

    As to the question, why is it called Aaronic if it predates Aaron- I think grades or divisions have always existed, though the terminology may change.
    Ben S. | Email | Homepage | 03.10.05 – 9:23 am | #

    Don, One resource which is very interesting and bring new understanding from the scriptures is Fred Collier. Yes, he is a Mormon fundamentalist, but his way of piecing together different ideas and doctrines pertaining to the priesthood is, to put it mildly, impressive and in many cases exciting. Here is his website:

    Jeffrey Giliam | Email | Homepage | 03.13.05 – 2:59 am | #

    This is probably a better link:

    Jeffrey Giliam | Email | Homepage | 03.13.05 – 3:04 am | #

    Peggy, you may be interested to know that President Hinckley was still an apostle when he made that statement. For what it’s worth.
    Kim Siever | Email | Homepage | 03.14.05 – 3:46 pm | #



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