This has been a period of separation. Separation isn’t unique in our histories. Separation stories fill our religious history.
From the very beginning, Adam and Eve were separated from God. We have exoduses of the House of Israel from Canaan and Egypt, tribes to the North, and saints driven from Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. People separated themselves because of faith and fear, envy and conviction. Brothers were sold and killed, divided and lived. People separated themselves from lepers and prophets. Covenants and authority separated groups of people from each other.
As the struggle between Pharoah and Moses climaxed, Moses prophesied the death of Egypt’s firstborn. The Lord gave a strict commandment of what and how the Passover meal should be administered, down to the clothing and eating positions.
And what would save the people from imminent destruction?
And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. … And the blood shall be to you for a upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
The lamb’s blood separated those homes to be spared from the condemned homes in Egypt. This symbol of separation became a great symbol for the Lamb of God who sacrificed Himself for all who would wash themselves in His blood.
Other stories of separation, regardless of the cause of separation, can be viewed through the lenses of Passover. I picked nine stories that quickly came to mind when I thought of separation. Do you see a connection between the separation in the stories and Passover?
Separation Commanded by the Lord
Nephi on the Ship
Lehi, Ishmael, and their families left Jerusalem because of the Lord’s promise to lead them to a promised land. After isolated living in the wilderness for eight years, the Lord commanded Nephi to build a ship. Despite some family struggles, the ship was built and the family loaded up themselves and their provisions onto the boat. Nephi said they sailed for many days to reach the promised land. Nephi rejoiced and worshipped the Lord throughout the journey in spite of severe persecution and storms on the ship. The Lord commanded Nephi to separate again, this time from the disgruntled part of his family, to preserve the lives of his righteous family members. Both sections of the family became great nations.
Noah on the Ark
The Lord warned Noah to build an ark to save specific animals, himself, and a few family members from a flood. The time it took to build the ark was lengthy. He spent seven days gathering animals. They all boarded the ark and it rained for 40 days. After 150 days, the water began to subside. They spent time waiting for the water to subside. Some scholars theorize that Noah, his family, and the animals were on the ark for a lunar year, so 360 days. Then they stepped out of the ark onto their promised land and worshipped the Lord and then became a great nation.
Brother of Jared in a Barge
During the chaos at the tower of Babel, the Lord separated a small group of family and friends out of Mesopotamia towards a promised land. They traveled off and on under the Lord’s direction for many years. At the sea, the Lord commanded the Brother of Jared to build barges and sail to their promised land. The people built eight barges and prepared themselves and their cargo as much as possible and “they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.” The Lord drove them to the promised land by furious winds, mountainous waves, and tempests. They survived these conditions 344 days until they reached the promised land. Then they worshipped the Lord. They became a great nation.
Esther in a Palace
Initially, Esther’s situation doesn’t seem quite as dire as others, but circumstances required her to live separately in the palace for a year before she became queen. After she became queen, it seems the only contact she had with her family in the outside world was by messenger. She even lived separated from her husband the king unless he requested her presence. She approached the king despite the threat of death! Yet, in spite of her separation, she saved her nation from annihilation.
Separation Through the Actions of Others
Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego in a Fiery Furnace
King Nebuchadnezzar built a massive image of himself and commanded everyone to bow down and worship it. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego remained standing. The furious king gave Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego the ultimatum to bow or burn. They chose the furnace. In that declaration, they worshipped God. Expecting them to combust in isolation, the king was shocked to see something extraordinary.
I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no ; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Daniel in the Lion’s Den
Daniel found himself separated from others because he prayed. King Darius, as counseled by advisors, legislated that no one could pray to anyone but him for thirty days. Daniel continued praying to God three times a day as usual. The advisors brought Daniel’s rebellion to the king who had obligated himself by law to toss Daniel into the lion’s den.
Before the stone rolled over the entrance of the lion’s den, Darius proclaimed that Daniel’s god would save him. The next morning, Daniel confirmed it.
My God hath sent his , that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. , and hath shut the mouths
David in Adullam Cave
After Saul’s fall from grace, Samuel anointed David as king. This enraged Saul who began a series of assassination attempts on David’s life. David fled from Saul’s presence and lived in separation for eight years! Some of that time he spent in a place of refuge called Adullam. David’s family joined him there.
And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
While in that place, David had opportunities to kill Saul, but refused to slay the Lord’s anointed. During his difficult circumstances, the Lord strengthened David and prepared him for the time he would become king.
Ether in the Cavity of a Rock
Ether also retreated to a cave for refuge on the eve of the Jaredite nation’s complete destruction. Ether descended from Orihah, son of Jared, who was the Jaredite’s first king. The kingdom was wrested from Ether’s grandfather. Instead of seeking to reclaim the throne, Ether became a prophet of the Lord. He cried repentance boldly in an environment of abject wickedness.
He foresaw and prophesied about the people’s forthcoming doom, but
they esteemed him as naught, and cast him out; and he , and by night he went forth viewing the things which should come upon the people.” His last recorded words were: “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, himself in the cavity of a rock by dayit mattereth not, if it so be that I am . in the kingdom of God
Moroni Wandering For Safety
The next verse after Ether’s farewell in the Book of Mormon contains Moroni’s state of isolation. He emerged from the desolating wars which decimated his people. He’d just finished abridging the Book of Ether and he was in hiding.
I make not myself known to the Lamanites lest they should destroy me. For behold, their I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life.are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their they every Nephite that will not deny the Christ. And I, Moroni, will not the Christ; wherefore,
We don’t know Moroni’s fate, except that he sealed his book and the Book of Moroni with an electrifying invitation
From Separation to Gathered
In the midst of the centuries’ whirlwinds of scriptural separation, a solitary figure stands. Like the serpent lifted on the staff to heal the dying Israelites who would look, the Savior, lifted on a cross, heals the nations.
As the world continues to separate and divide, we can come and be gathered into the fold of the Lamb, never to go out again.
“Come unto me,” He cries. “[W]ith great mercies will I gather thee.”
Who shall separate us from the ? of Christshall , or distress, or , or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able tous from the of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.