False Temples – Part 2

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The Tower of Babel, as it is commonly referred to today, was a false temple where people tried to makes for themselves a name (see Genesis 11:4). Instead of taking upon them the name of Christ, the builders of the Babel tower sought their own name. Tradition holds that Nimrod built the tower:

“Early Jewish and Christian traditions reported that Nimrod built the Tower of Babel, referred to as a pagan temple, in an attempt to contact heaven. Among the Jews, Nimrod’s name has always been a ‘symbol of rebellion against God and of usurped authority’: he ‘established false priesthood and false kingship in the earth in imitation of God’s rule and ‘made all men to sin” (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, volume 5 of The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley [1980], 156).

Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian, provided additional insight. He noted that Nimrod had tried to gain power over the people. Nimrod probably felt this counterfeit temple would add to his control (see Antiquities of the Jews, book 1, chapter 4, paragraph 2).” (Liahona, March 1998).

The authors of this article continue:

“The account in Genesis provides further insight regarding the significance of the building of the tower. First, the impetus in building this temple was to make themselves a name (see Gen. 11:4). In other words, Nimrod was proposing that they build a temple to receive the name of God without making eternal covenants. Second, they wanted to build this tower-temple so they would not be ‘scattered’ (Gen. 11:4). Latter-day revelation ties the sealing power to preventing the earth from being wasted at the Second Coming (see D&C; 2:3). One meaning of the word wasted in Joseph Smith’s day was ‘destroyed by scattering’ (Webster’s Dictionary [1828]). Finally, the word Babel in Hebrew meant ‘confusion,’ but in Babylonian, the meaning was ‘gate of God.’ Nimrod and his people were building their own temple, their gate to heaven, without divine approval or priesthood keys.

The Babylonians, an apostate people, had some understanding of temple ordinances and temple purpose, so they constructed an edifice symbolizing to them their connection to God. And using their own contrived ceremonies to imitate true temple worship, they attempted to duplicate the process of preparation for the hereafter.

Further, the word Babel in Hebrew is the same word translated elsewhere in the Old Testament as ‘Babylon.’ Thus, in biblical terms, the people in this story were building Babylon—a city that has come to represent the world or worldliness (see D&C; 1:16).”

Again, it is clear that the Tower of Babel was built as a false temple in the city that represents the antithesis of Zion. On one side we have the holy temple of the Lord built to reveal unto His people His salvation and power; on the other side we have a false temple created by a people trying to copy and usurp God’s power.

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