BLOG: (May 2-8) Exodus 35-40, Leviticus 1, 16, 19, "Holiness to the Lord"
Oh those Israelites! They had just witnessed several amazing and beautiful miracles that saved them, and yet, they were still struggling! They seemed to have forgotten the Lord; they made an idol and worshiped it. It’s so easy for us to judge them from where we’re sitting in our time. And yet, the Lord’s hand was stretched out still. His love is infinite. He is full of light and has infinite patience and long-suffering with us. As Paul declared,”Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35). The Lord reiterates to Isaiah the strength of His love, “For I have graven you upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). “I stand all amazed” by that! It is truly wonderful and humbling to be loved by someone that way.
So the Lord, in His infinite love and wisdom, met the Israelites where they were. He had led them out of Egypt through Moses, but Egypt and the traditions of their fathers still had root in their hearts. They hadn’t completely cast off those traditions and mindsets yet. Maybe this was due to them not understanding what to fill those gaps from casting off old ideas and traditions with. You know how you can’t really get rid of bad habits unless you fill that space in your life with something else? I’m guessing this had something to do with the Israelites’ struggle. They didn’t yet have the eyes to see what to fill their lives with and wanted to stick with what was familiar. The Lord helped them out with some baby steps. You could say that He taught them line upon line to help them eventually transition to the higher law several centuries later.
These baby steps were necessary for their growth. They needed help transitioning their mindset to understand and keep the covenants offered to them. The Lord was merciful and made it easy on them. Easy in that He was very specific with what was required and they didn’t have to guess and dispute how to go about building the tabernacle and how to do the sacrifices. Specific! When to offer sacrifice, how to offer sacrifice, what day you should eat it if you were to eat it, how wide the curtains of the tabernacle were to be, what colors to use in crafting it, what materials to use - very specific. No guesswork. The Lord knew that they needed some baby steps to make progress and grow. That was where they were and the Lord worked with them. “Baby steps [out of the Red Sea], baby steps [into the wilderness], baby steps [in building the tabernacle]” (Movie: What about Bob).
The Israelites needed to elevate their thoughts and focus on Christ to help them become who they needed to be. The “law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ” (Alma 25:16). It was “the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal” (Alma 34:14). Taking into account the various ways of learning, there are laws for your actions (kinesthetic), laws for reading the scriptures (auditory), and laws for exactly how things need to look (visual) etc. The Lord covered it all and met their needs.
All this was done to help them remember the Lord their God and to look to Him in all things. Remembering is super important! But not just remembering anything, but specifically the goodness of God, the wonderful things He’s done for us. It’s so important, it’s mentioned several hundred times in the scriptures (406 to be exact) and it’s mentioned several more hundred times in our modern day scriptures found in General Conference. Why is remembering so important? Elder Renlund teaches us, “Our Heavenly Father wants us to recall His and His Beloved Son’s goodness, not for Their own gratification but for the influence such remembrance has on us. By considering Their kindness, our perspective and understanding are enlarged. By reflecting on Their compassion, we become more humble, prayerful, and steadfast” (emphasis added). Like everything in this wonderful Plan, it’s for our benefit! Something so simple, and we know that “by small and simple things great things are brought to pass” (Alma 37:6). Yes, we’ve been given much and where much is given, much is required, but the baby steps we’re given are so simple. Study your scriptures, go to church, pray, remember the goodness of God - these are all small and simple things and yet sometimes they seem difficult and challenging to us at various times in our lives. [random side note and potential rabbit hole: reflect on the times that these things have been difficult for you, do you notice any patterns for you? What do they teach you about yourself and how the Lord’s working with you?]
Why is it so difficult for us to remember? Our finite minds are so easily distracted. We are not alone in our struggles. Those Israelites are right there with us. Those Nephites are right there with us. We’re all in this together. If you think you're doing better at remembering than the rest of us, I challenge you to think about the last thing you were prompted to change or delivered from a hardship. How long ago was it? What were you counseled/prompted to do? Did you do it? How long did you do it? What about the time before that? Can you remember the time before that? If we’re not fighting for that remembrance, then it leaves us until we fight to regain it.
What do I mean by fighting for that remembrance? An example can be found in the Book of Mormon by studying the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. They were Lamanites who didn’t follow the Lord or even really know Him until Ammon and his brothers came to teach them and show them a “more excellent way” (Ether 12:11). They became converted to the Lord and when the other Lamanites were stirred up to anger against them, they refused to fight back. They remembered their covenant and remembered the mercy of the Lord in forgiving them for their past sins. Their remembering had a profound effect upon them. To help them be successful, they changed their environment to make it difficult to fall back on old habits. They buried their swords. We can do likewise. What has the Lord prompted you to change in your life? What baby steps has He given you lately as the next line, the next precept? What can you do to your environment to help you be successful in creating that new habit, that new and improved you? It takes more than just a desire or wishful thinking. Those Anti-Nephi-Lehis fought to remember. We need to fight to remember. Remember what Elder Renlund taught: doing so has a profound influence on us and we become more Christlike as a result.
The Lord wants us to become holy as He is. We do this by doing like He does, by following Him. “Come, follow me,” He says to us over and over again. He set the example so we could have a visual for what it looks like to be holy. He’s led the way so we don’t have to guess at what we need to do. He’s given us the steps. He meets us where we are and magnifies our widow’s mite, whatever that may be.
I’ll admit that I’ve been somewhat lax in my scripture study and prayers lately. I’m not sure why, but it’s been a real struggle and challenge for me to do them in an effective manner rather than just checking off a box if I do them at all. I mentioned to a couple of friends that my normal remedy for when I get this way is to do a quick read through of the Book of Mormon, which came about from remembering a time when I was feeling the opposite and what I was doing that gave me that spiritual boost. Being such awesome friends, they decided to support me by joining me in a 30 day read through. It’s my turn for writing the blog this week and I needed some inspiration. I was worried that my children’s behavior was being affected negatively because I wasn’t being a light to them because I wasn’t feeling it. My widow’s mite was to sacrifice more of my free time to read and listen to the Book of Momon. Such a small and simple thing. I’ve fought it a few times, desiring to be lazy and scroll through social media or read a fluff novel. However, the Lord has magnified my widow’s mite and helped me feel more motivated to spend my time in other ways - reading, listening, and I even got a few more powerful than rote prayers in there. It’s easier than when I first started (not always though), and by remembering that, I see His hand in my life more readily. I received the inspiration for this blogpost because I chose not to be idle like counseled in the Doctrine and Covenants and was putting away laundry while listening to the Book of Mormon instead of reading a fluff novel. I even held a good devotional with my girls instead of a lackluster one like they’ve been lately. This might not be significant to you, but it’s miraculous to me. You may think I’m exaggerating my struggles or comparing them with your bigger ones, but the Lord knows me and He’s meeting me where I am, entreating me to follow His example. He’ll do the same for you, every time you need it.
I don’t pretend that once I fully get out of this challenging state that I’ve been in that I’ll be out for good, but I do know that I’ve been there before and He’s helped me get out every single time and will continue to do so in the future if I let Him. He’s leading us towards holiness. He baby-stepped the Israelites with their tabernacle and way of life. He’ll do the same for us. We need to fight for our remembrances and like Elder Renlund taught, “Alma understood that by remembering deliverance from bondage and support during ‘trials and troubles of every kind,’ we come to know God and the surety of His promises.” The Lord is actively delivering me from my challenging state. He delivered the Israelites and Nephites from all sorts of trials and troubles many times. Remembering His goodness is taking time to be holy. Reminds me of a song. Read the lyrics below or listen to the Tabernacle Choir sing it.
Take Time to Be Holy
Take time to be Holy, speak oft with thy Lord.
Abide with Him always and feed on His word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on.
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone;
By looking to Jesus like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let Him be thy guide
And run not before Him whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow still follow they Lord,
And looking to Jesus trust in,
Trust in the Lord.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul.
Each thought and each motive beneath His control;
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shall be fitted for service above.
Thou soon shall be fitted for service above.
I'm Tiffany and I live in sunny Arizona (love me some sunshine!). I have 5 beautiful daughters. I know what you're thinking, that's A LOT of estrogen! and you'd be right, but we have some of the greatest times known to mankind through our adventures in learning (we homeschool), loving, playing, and growing together. In my spare time, I love to read (I own literally thousands of books) and hike in the beautiful mountains near my home.