Today marks the celebration of the Passover. In the Christian faith, this tradition draws upon two significant events: The protection of the Israelites from the final Egyptian plague, and the last supper that Christ held with his disciples before he surrendered to Gethsemane and Calvary.
I remember reading someone’s story recently where they defended their faith in prophets to a skeptic listener. The friend asked, “So if your prophet told everybody they should wear blue shirts, would you do it?” The woman thought for a moment and then responded. “Yes, I probably would.” The friend sneered, “Don’t you think it would be a little strange?,” to which she replied, “The Israelites probably thought it was a little strange when Moses told them to put blood on their doors, but I bet they were glad they did.” I loved that, and I’ve thought of it many times since.
And then a couple weeks ago, I studied this story with my own children in scripture study. And it struck me how such a simple act, when followed, literally saved the lives of God’s people. Similar, too was the story of the fiery serpents killing off folks in the wilderness, and when they just looked at the brazen serpent up on a rod, they would be healed. Life literally preserved because of one simple act of faith. So then I began to think about how many “passover commandments” exist that hold that same kind of power and promise of protection. A couple came instantly to mind and I’ve tried to research out a few more.
Now, at my house, there are definitely some passover commandments– simple rules to live by that will save your life. Here are a few no-brainers:
- Thou shalt not wake up thy mother by opening her eyelids with thy fingers and shining a flashlight directly into her cornea.
- Thou shalt not leave gross, sticky or wet things on the floor and forget to warn daddy when he walks through the room in his socks.
- Thou shalt not lift up the covers and let thy children crawl into bed next to thy wife in the middle of the night; She careth not how “asleep” thou claimest to be when it happeneth.
- If thou art above the age of three and still weareth night-time diapers, thou shalt diligently throw them away in the garage, and hide them not where thou thinkest thy mother will find them not. For behold she shall, and great shall be her wrath.
- Thou shalt not make vain repetitions to thy mother of the same pathetic request over and over, especially if thy voice is a whining siren.
Those are just some examples of life-preserving counsel in our home that I can think of off the top of my head. But seriously, I’ve been very impressed at the many times and ways that our Heavenly Father offers all of us full protection for simple obedience, even against great adversity. Take for example this scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 10:5-6:
Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work. Behold, they have sought to destroy you…
How about tithing? Check out Malachi 3: 10-11:
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy…
The Armor of God scriptures in Ephesians 6 remind us to arm ourselves with faith, the word of God and other Christlike attributes, and then makes a promise that seems to follow this same passover pattern:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
One of the more obvious ones, because of its particular phrasing, is the Word of Wisdom found in Doctrine and Covenants 89. Here is what Elder Russell M. Nelson said about it:
“The final verse of that revelation forges another link back to ancient Israel: “And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” (D&C 89:21). This reference to the Passover shows that the Lord wanted obedient Saints of modern Israel to receive physical and spiritual protection just as He had provided for His faithful followers centuries before.”
Anyway, I could go on and on because there are probably many more examples of passover commandments, but I don’t want to bore you (more). I just think it’s fascinating that a historical event we see as such a poignant miracle is still in effect today as we keep God’s commandments. Our lives and souls are protected. Even at Jesus Christ’s last supper, as He and his dear friends celebrated Passover together, He reminded them of the power of the destroyer: “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. (Luke 22:31)” He taught them that He had power over Satan. This power is accessible to us when coupled with our faith in Christ. I doubt it’s a coincidence that he made this statement immediately after introducing the ordinance of the Sacrament. The power comes from keeping covenants. As we take the sacrament each week, we renew a passover covenant so to speak. And essentially, this is exactly what the children of Israel did on that first Passover long ago. God asked them to do something. They obeyed. And they were preserved.
I think these verses in Isaiah wrap it up so nicely:
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. . . . No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
I just really love the messages of Easter time, don’t you?
(Sorry this is so long. I just told Matt that this was more of an Ensign article than a post, and he assured me that no one will read it. If you made it this far, you deserve a treat. You have my blessing.)