Verse by Verse, the Old Testament

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(This is an excerpt from Verse by Verse, the Old Testament by D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner, and Ellis T. Rasmussen.)

Eliza R. Snow was an exceptional writer in the latter-day Church. She was a poetess and wrote some of our best known and best loved hymns, for example, “O My Father,” “Behold the Great Redeemer Die,” “Truth Reflects upon Our Senses,” and “How Great the Wisdom and the Love.” In verse 3 of “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Sister Snow wrote: “By strict obedience Jesus won The prize with glory rife” (Hymns, no. 195). Even Jesus, the greatest person ever to live on this earth, won the prize of eternal glory by strict obedience to the will of his Father. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Elders and sisters in the missionary training centers are encouraged in talks, handbooks, bulletins, and memos to be “exactly” and “strictly” obedient. Those two adjectives are critical. The first law of heaven is obedience, and it is vital that those going out to represent the Lord Jesus Christ be exactly obedient and strictly obedient. Those two words may not be very popular out in the world these days. Young people demand freedom; they don’t want to be restricted with mountains of rules. Yet hundreds of thousands of missionaries over the decades have been taught to be exactly and strictly obedient in all things. In the holy Temple everything is also done in a specific and exact way, in clothing and ordinances. All things need to be in their proper place. The Lord is teaching us that his House is a house of order. He is teaching us to prepare to live in the most refined society in the heavens—to learn exact obedience to the God of heaven, because that is the only way we will become like he is. To Moses, and to all Israel, the Lord said, “Ye shall be holy . . . for I the Lord am holy” (Leviticus 20:26).

We have a host of examples preserved in sacred records of those who have demonstrated their willingness to obey all things the Lord commands. We have already seen that Adam was offering sacrifices to the Lord one day when a messenger from heaven appeared to ask him why he was doing it (Moses 5:5–7).

Even though he didn’t know why, Adam was willing to do exactly what the Lord asked of him. Of course, the Lord ultimately wanted Adam to understand the sacred symbolism involved in offering blood sacrifices, so he sent his angel to explain the meaning of the ordinance to Adam. But first he tested Adam’s obedience, to see if he was willing to do precisely what the Lord asked, even without knowing the reasons up front. Adam strictly obeyed the commands of God and received the corresponding blessings. From the beginning, he and Eve provided an abiding example to their posterity. . . .

Sometimes the Lord tells us why we are to obey a commandment—although other times he does not—but we learn to trust him and carry out his will even if we don’t understand why.

President Brigham Young said: “Truth is obeyed when it is loved. Strict obedience to the truth will alone enable people to dwell in the presence of the Almighty” (Journal of Discourses, 7:55).

Of Jesus verse 3 of Sister Eliza Snow’s hymn says: “‘Thy will, O God, not mine be done,’ adorned his mortal life.” Strict obedience is simply a matter of daily diligence; it is a habit of daily discipline. [pp. 283–86]

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