Thursday, May 2, 2019

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on sacrifice and sacrament

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"In the premortal councils of heaven, God had promised Adam and Eve (and all the rest of us) that help would come from His pure, unblemished Firstborn Son, the Lamb of God 'slain from the foundation of the world' (Revelation 13:8), as the Apostle John would later describe Him. By offering their own little symbolic lambs in mortality, Adam and his posterity were expressing their understanding of and their dependence upon the atoning sacrifice of Jesus the Anointed One. (See Bible Dictionary, 'Anointed One'.) Later, the wilderness tabernacle would become the setting for this ordinance and, after that, the temple that Solomon would build.
"Unfortunately, as a symbol of genuine repentance and faithful living, this ritualistic offering of unblemished little lambs didn’t work very well, as so much of the Old Testament reveals. The moral resolve that should have accompanied those sacrifices sometimes didn’t last long enough for the blood to dry upon the stones. In any case, it didn’t last long enough to preclude fratricide, with Cain killing his brother Abel in the first generation.
"With such trials and troubles going on for centuries, no wonder the angels of heaven sang for joy when, finally, Jesus was born—the long-promised Messiah Himself. Following His brief mortal ministry, this purest of all Passover sheep prepared His disciples for His death by introducing the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, a more personal form of the ordinance that had been introduced just outside of Eden. There would still be an offering, it would still involve a sacrifice, but it would be with symbolism much deeper, much more introspective and personal than the bloodletting of a firstborn lamb."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Behold the Lamb of God," General Conference April 2019
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Holland's tender talk discussed our roles as lambs in the fold of the Shepherd, and His role as the Lamb of God offered up for the sins of the world. The importance of the anticipatory ordinance of sacrifice can't be overstated, even though it was so often misunderstood by those who practiced it.

When the responsibility to offer up blood sacrifices was completed with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, we instead were asked to adopt the sacred ordinance of the sacrament. And through it, we offer up our own hearts on the alter to God with a sacred covenant and promise to obey and follow Him. How grateful we should be for the sacred privilege of participating in that ordinance regularly!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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