Symbolism of the LDS Baptismal Font

Glen Leonard in his book, Nauvoo: a Place of Peace a People of Promise, explains how before the Nauvoo Temple was built, "in his letters and sermons on baptism for the dead, Joseph Smith pointed out that the objective of the doctrine was to offer salvation to all of humankind. This one great union of all of God's righteous children was not just between generations but from one gospel dispensation to another and between this life and the next." (D&C 128:15-18; Hebrews 11:40; Malachi 4:5-6.)
"In the rite of baptism and in the use of the temple font, Joseph Smith described a religious symbolism that further united the living and the dead. The baptismal font, he explained, was placed below ground to remind the Saints of the grave. In both baptism and the resurrection, the corrupt body rises to a new spiritual life. (D&C 128:12-13; 1 Corinthians 15:29.)
The Nauvoo Temple font consisted of a basin supported on the backs of twelve life-sized oxen, a reference to a similar basin, or "molten sea," in Solomon's temple. (1 Kings 7:23-26.)
For the Latter-day Saints, the oxen represented Israel's twelve tribes, whose physical and spiritual gathering was being accomplished through missionary preaching and the rite of baptism." (1 Peter 3:18-21; 1 Peter 4:6; 1 Corinthians 15:29.)
(by Glen M. Leonard, Nauvoo: A Place of Peace, a People of Promise; Ch. 10-The House of the Lord. Link at - subscription required.)