Week Fourteen: Exodus 7–13
The last plague of Egypt was conditional. The house of Israel could be spared the death of their first born if they would follow the instructions of the prophet. Moses told the people to sacrifice a lamb without blemish and put its blood “…on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” (Exodus 12:7-9) The feast beginning that night would last for a week and would be a memorial of the miracle the Lord had done on their behalf “therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever.” (Exodus 12:17). The best part of this passage of scripture is in verse 28 which reads, “And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.” The Passover was so important, it was considered the beginning of the Hebrew new year.
In addition to the Passover or Pesach, celebrated in the spring throughout all biblical times, ancient Israel celebrated another holy day known as Sukkot or the Feast of the Tabernacles six months later, in the fall. Established with the law of Moses in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, “it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.” Covenant Jews would come to the temple at Jerusalem and bring tents or huts that they would face to the temple to listen to instructions from the high priest. They would eat and were given other instruction. Again, this day “shall be a statute forever in your generation; ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.” (Leviticus 23:41) Since April was the first month, the seventh month would be October today.
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we still celebrate as a body of Christ at these two times of year, in April and October, in what we refer to as General Conference. Although we do not follow the ancient rules of sacrifice which we believe were fulfilled with Christ’s atonement, still we come together to renew our covenants and listen to those with the Holy Priesthood of God who share his revealed truth. It is an exciting time where families and friends gather and often feast as they watch. As a child growing up near New York City, my family and I would dress in our Sunday clothes and listen on the radio for most sessions because only one was televised. Saints in Utah went to the Tabernacle or watched more than we did because local stations were more apt to carry it. For those two days, life stopped and as the talks concluded, we would discuss together the things we learned as a family.
This past weekend this tradition continued. I gathered with many of my children and grandchildren to share a meal and watch together while beautiful truths were shared, and doctrine was clarified. The last address was from our beloved prophet, Pres. Russell M. Nelson, who encouraged us to do five things to Maintain Positive Spiritual Momentum in our lives:
- Get on the covenant path and stay there
- Discover the joy of daily repentance
- Learn about God and how He works
- Seek and expect miracles in our lives
- End conflict in your personal life.
Regarding conflict, Pres. Nelson said, “My call today, my dear brothers and sisters, is to end the conflicts that are raging in your heart, your home, and your life. Bury any and all inclinations to hurt others – whether those inclinations be a temper, a sharp tongue, or resentment for someone who has hurt you… We are followers of the Prince of Peace. Now more than ever, we need the peace only He can bring. How can we expect peace to exist in the world when we are not individually seeking peace and harmony?”
He encouraged each of us to reach out with forgiveness if there is someone who we hold anger towards by Easter. That’s only two weeks away!
I’m grateful that just as in ancient times, today we can receive guidance and strength as we turn to the word of the Lord and his direction. I’m going to do a better job, pausing before I speak because sometimes my words can be biting or a little harsh, especially when my sons haven’t cleaned their room, or my husband drives a little too aggressively or someone expresses a political view that I consider completely “brain-dead.”
See? I still have a little way to go.