The LDS Temple Instruction and Ordinance Rooms
An ordinance is a sacred rite or ceremony involving acts that have corresponding spiritual meanings. There are various priesthood ordinances that are part of LDS Church worship; including baptism, confirmation, administering the sacrament, etc. In the ordinance and instruction rooms in the temple, patrons attend a ceremony called the endowment. The word endowment means the bestowal of a gift. The endowment patrons receive in the temple is the blessings necessary to return to God's presence. In the endowment patrons learn about where we've been, why we're here, the redemption of mankind through Christ's atonement and God's plan for us to return to Him. Each person also makes covenants with God, under the administration of Christ's Priesthood, that reinforce their faith and discipleship to Jesus Christ.
During the ceremony, temple attendees learn about the six days of creation wherein Christ created the Earth under the direction of God The Father. They learn about God's plan of happiness for us. The events that transpired in the Garden of Eden are reviewed; including Adam and Eve and their creation, their life in the garden, Lucifer tempting them with the fruit and their fall and expulsion from the garden. Temple attendees learn of Heavenly Father's Plan of Redemption and the role of Jesus Christ as Savior of the World. They also learn of faith, integrity, resisting temptation, and living as Christ would have us live.
As part of the ceremony in the temple ordinance and instruction rooms, the patrons also make covenants to keep the laws of God, such as obedience, charity and chastity. The associated blessings with the covenant, which include Eternal Life in God's Kingdom, will be realized by remaining faithful and true to God and the covenants made with Him. If you don't keep your end, there's nothing binding God to keep His.
Just like Christ's parables, the temple incorporates a lot of symbolism to teach eternal principles to the participants. For example, people wear white clothing in the temple. This represents purity and that we are all equal before God. The altar in the instruction and ordinance rooms is also a symbol representing Jesus Christ. As people kneel at the altar they're figuratively kneeling before Christ. It also is a reminder that Christ is ever present, and that He presides over all covenants and promises made in the temple.
Earlier temples built by the church presented the endowment ceremony in a series of four ordinance rooms, representing the progression of God's children from the creation, to the Garden of Eden, to the fallen Earth, to the elevated Terrestrial Kingdom; and it culminated with the entrance into the Celestial Room. Each room was decorated to reflect the function of that room. For example, the creation room had murals depicting the creation of Earth, and the Garden Room had murals depicting Eden. In the mid 20th century the church began building temples that presented the endowment in two rooms-an ordinance room and the Celestial Room. Murals had also ceased to be a part of temple design. This continued until 2002 when the Nauvoo Temple was rebuilt using the original four room progression pattern complete with murals. Since then the church has built temples using a two room progression, entailing one instruction room with murals depicting the earth, an elevated room and then an ascension to the Celestial Room.
An Ordinance Room in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida Temple
The murals in temples built this century are painted to reflect the local landscape and scenery. You'll notice palm trees and glades on this mural in the Fort Lauderdale temple.
An Ordinance Room in the Tegucigalpa, Honduras Temple
These ordinance rooms are sometimes called the World Room, because they represent the world we live in.
An Ordinance Room in the Cebu City, The Philippines Temple
These rooms are also known as The Telestial Room, in reference to the Telestial Kingdom; the lowest of God's three kingdoms of glory. The scriptures compare the Telestial Kingdom to the glory of the stars.
The Garden Room in the Nauvoo, Illinois Temple
As was mentioned, the Nauvoo Temple was the first temple since the 1950's to use the progressive four room design. The Garden Room is the second room in the progression and represents The Garden of Eden. To see an example of the five progression room style, please check out my tour of the Salt Lake Temple.
Click on the picture above to read an interesting article about artists that are called as missionaries to paint the murals in temples.
An Ordinance Room in the Boise, Idaho Temple
Built in 1984, the Boise Temple is an example of the one ordinance room pattern.
An Ordinance Room in the Gilbert, Arizona Temple
An Ordinance Room in the Brigham City, Utah Temple
The Brigham City Temple was dedicated in 2012, uses the contemporary two ordinance room pattern. Temple patrons begin in the first instruction room, similar to one in the previous pictures, and progress into this room. The room is more ornate and is lit brighter than the previous room to epitomize the concept of ascension from fallen to redemption and salvation. This ordinance room is also known as The Terrestrial Room, typifying the Terrestrial Kingdom of God. In LDS Theology the Terrestrial Kingdom is the 2nd highest of God's Kingdoms and in the Bible, its glory is analogous to the glory of the moon.
An Ordinance Room in the Kansas City, Missouri Temple
The curtain you see in the ordinance room is comparable to the veil in the biblical Temple of Solomon. It has multiple symbolic meanings, including our temporary separation from God.
An Ordinance Room in the Ogden, Utah Temple
An Ordinance Room in the Draper, Utah Temple
The curtain is also another emblem of Christ, who is referred to as "the veil" in Hebrews 10:20. After leaving this room, patrons enter The Celestial Room of the temple, which represents figuratively entering into the Kingdom and presence of God The Father. Since the curtain separates the two rooms you can't get to God The Father without going through Jesus.
"There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory."
1 Corinthians 15:40-41