Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when there is a temple in their vicinity. It seems that whenever The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds a temple, the real estate surrounding the temple increases in value. The reason is that a temple blesses the whole community, not just members of the Church of Jesus Christ.
Some years when I was visiting my daughter who was living in Spring, Texas, I decided to drive over to the temple for an endowment session. This was my first time to visit the Houston, Texas Temple, so I did not know exactly where to go. However, I had some general directions from my daughter, and I knew what the temple looked like.
When I arrived in the area where I thought that the temple should be, I could not see it. I stopped at a convenience store to ask for directions. There were several people in the store, so I just threw out a general question. A black lady knew exactly where the temple was and how to get there. She gave me directions and then indicated that the entire community claimed the temple as their own.
Temples are always beautiful buildings with lovely landscaping surrounding them. However, it is the spirit of Elijah in the temple that attracts members and non-members to it. When we direct our lives towards the temple, we receive blessings.
In ancient America, there was a prophet-king by the name of Benjamin. When he was aged, he decided to ordain his son Mosiah to be the next king. He sent a notice to all his people to come to the temple, and the people came to hear their king because they loved him. In Mosiah 2, we read that the people pitched their tents around the temple because the king would be speaking from the temple.
5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.
6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.
We do not know all the reasons why the people pitched their tents with the doors toward the temple. They might have done so because they wanted shade from the hot sun. The important thing is that the door was towards the temple, so the people could hear the words of the king. Contrast this experience of real people in the scriptures to another scriptural story of real people, the story of Lot and his family.
We read in Genesis that Abraham and his nephew Lot had too many animals for all of them to be able to graze. The two men decided to divide the land of Canaan. Ted Gibbons explained that “Abraham stayed in the rocky hills of upper Canaan, but Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom in the Jordan River Valley” (see Genesis 13:12). Some years later, Lot and his family were living in Sodom when the Lord told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom because the people were so wicked. It is only natural that Abraham was concerned about his family members. He bargained with the Lord. Would the Lord destroy Sodom if there were 50 righteous people? No. How about 45? No. How about 40? No. Abraham continued until he got down to 10 righteous people, and the Lord agreed that he would not destroy Sodom if there were ten righteous people living in it. (See Genesis 18:20.)
When the three messengers of the Lord came to destroy the city, they went to Lot’s house. Lot sent messengers to call his children and their families to come, but they did not. The wicked men of the city wanted to use and abuse the three messengers and Lot’s two unmarried daughters. The three messengers took hold of Lot, Lot’s wife, and their two daughters and took them to the area outside Sodom. They told Lot and his family to not look back. The story says that Lot’s wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt. She may have turned around and headed back to Sodom to find her children. At any rate, Lot’s wife died with the rest of the inhabitants of Sodom. Lot’s daughters, thinking that the three of them were the only people left on earth, got their father drunk on two separate nights, and both became pregnant by their father. So, how many righteous people were living in Sodom?
Lot’s problems started when he decided to live near Sodom – he pitched his tent “toward Sodom” (Genesis 13:12.) Something drew him into Sodom, and his family was destroyed. Parents must be careful where they “pitch their tent.” Those who orient their “door” toward the temple will bring great blessings upon their family, community, and nation.