This is a time of separation.  This separation, however, isn’t unique in our histories.

Separation stories especially 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. Some separated themselves from lepers and prophets.  Covenants and authority separated groups of people from each other.

One powerful story of separation and its consequences is Passover.separation

As the struggle between Pharoah and Moses climaxed, Moses prophesied the death of Egypt’s firstborn. The Lord gave strict commandment of what and how the meal should be prepared, down to the clothing, and eating position. 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 token 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 sentenced homes in Egypt. This separation became the great symbol for the Lamb of God who sacrificed Himself for all who would wash in His blood.

I see other stories of separation, regardless of the cause of separation, 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

jaredite barge separation

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 living isolated 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. Nephi was commanded to separate again, this time from the disgruntled part of his family, to preserve the lives of the righteous. 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 was even isolated from her husband the king unless he requested her presence. She approached the king on threat of death! Yet, in the midst 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. Brought to the furious kind, they were given an 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 hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

Daniel in the Lion’s Den

lion daniel

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 angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, 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.”  Daniel prospered in Darius’ kingdom.

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 out of 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.

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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 hid himself in the cavity of a rock by day, 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, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved 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 wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ. And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life.”  We don’t know Moroni’s fate, except that he sealed his book and the Book of Moroni with an electrifying invitation “to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.”

From Separation to Gathered

In the midst of the centuries’ whirlwinds of scriptural separation, a solitary figure stood. Like the serpent lifted on the staff to heal the dying Israelites, the Savior, lifted on a cross, will heal the nations.  “Come unto me,” He cries.  “[W]ith great mercies will I gather thee.”

As the world separates and divides, we can come and be gathered into the fold of the Lamb, never to go out again.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christshall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, 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 to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

About Delisa Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.

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