On this occasion, we have the pleasure of conferring and and you have the privilege of receiving the crowning Degree of Masonry, that of the Royal Arch. This degree is founded upon the building of the Second Temple, which was by no means a rebuilding of the renowned Temple of Solomon.
History records that the Temple of Solomon stood for 420 years when it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Chaldeans. The second Temple erected by Zerubbabel stood nearly 500 years when it was taken down by Herod, and replaced by a third. The Temple of Herod, after standing about 100 years, was destroyed by the Romans under Titus. The Mosque of Oman now occupying the same site has stood about 1,200 years.
With all these changes of possession, the ravages of war, time and the elements of thirty centuries, the foundations built by Solomon remain unmoved. Those massive stones so durably laid are still in place, each said still to bear the marks of the quarrymen.
In the Royal Arch Degree you will meet characters and conditions at the time of the destruction of the first Temple, when the people of Jerusalem were taken by thousands as captives to Babylon. You will witness the return of some of those captives over a long sojourn to help rebuild the Temple under the direction of Zerubbabel.
King David was by heritage in possession of the Sacred Ark of the Covenant and Tablets of Moses called the Book of the Law, which for safety he kept under strong guard at the King’s House. In his instructions to Solomon, he desired that a secret apartment be built in the Temple as an invulnerable protection to the Ark.
In the character of workmen you will discover these sacred articles among the ruins together with an accompanying discovery with which you will be vested with gratifying satisfaction.
As you go along as a sojourner in this degree may we urge your closest attention to its significant symbols. The destruction of the Temple reminds us that in the destruction of an ambition of most cherished possession, we should with courage replace the loss and thus share the reward of an equal achievement. The route taken by the return of the captives signifies the journey of life. The desert paces representing periods of depression when even the giving of a drink shows that kindness comes in unexpected times and places. The rich valleys of plenty refers to prosperous times when we should ourselves extend kindness to the less fortunate. In life’s journey we have bridges to cross and we sometimes lose our way into abandoned paths, but the God of our Fathers — the Eternal God that is — the Great I Am — will guide us to our greatest objective — the long lost Master’s Word.