“Come, Follow Me” – July 2022

 In Come, Follow Me

June 27 – July 3

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Anonymous Russian Icon, Prophet Elijah and Scenes from His Life, c.1820, tempera on panel, 12 1/2 x 9 3/4 x 5/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Richard and Nadene Oliver, 1972.

Elijah boldly cried repentance to King Ahab and the people of Israel’s Northern Kingdom, who were moving away from covenant worship. Though at times, his ministry entailed personal risk and weariness, the Lord miraculously protected and sustained him. This Russian icon highlights the prophet’s direct connection with the Divine and moments of heavenly aid and godly power: God sending ravens to feed Elijah while in hiding, Elijah invoking fire from heaven to prove Jehovah’s might over the powerless priests of Baal, angelic messengers offering Elijah life-giving instruction, and the prophet being taken into heaven while his successor, Elisha, looks on. For individuals in the Orthodox Church, this devotional icon could remind them of God’s power and support and the possibility of Elijah mediating on their behalf before the Lord.

What can we learn from Elijah’s commitment to the Lord? In what ways has God supported you as you strive to follow Him?

July 4 – 10

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Edmund Blair Leighton (1852-1922), The Blind Man at the Pool of Siloam, 1879, oil on canvas, 40 1/4 x 50 5/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Jack R. Wheatley, 2014.

The scriptures offer numerous accounts of miracles, and they characterized Jesus Christ’s ministry. Whether large or small, each is an instructive type of His power to encourage, redeem, heal, and illuminate darkened lives. This painting references Jesus’ healing of a man who was born blind. After Christ anointed the man’s eyes with clay, the sightless man followed the Savior’s instructions to wash at Siloam, a prominent pool containing fresh spring water. Here, the artist depicts people from various circumstances surrounding the pool, each whose downcast eyes reflect an internal heaviness. As the blind man approaches, his eyes look upward—aligned to the sunlight beyond—foreshadowing his reception of sight. The man’s faith in his unseen Healer resulted in physical and spiritual blessing as he gains sight and a firm testimony of the Savior as “the light of the world” (John 9:5).

President Nelson has asked us to anticipate miracles in our lives. How can you be more attuned to such moments?

July 11 – 17

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James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), Michel Simonidy (1870-1933), ‘The Slaying of the Assyrians’ c. 1896-1904, gouache on board, 8 1/5 x 11 1/5 in, The Jewish Museum, New York. Image provided by the Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of the Heirs of Jacob Schiff. On display in the exhibition Prophets, Priests, and Queens: James Tissot’s Men and Women of the Old Testament.

The Lord’s destroying angel circles Jerusalem, having protected its inhabitants from the threatening Assyrian army. Situated at the crossroads of power, Jerusalem frequently found itself in peril of foreign invasion. When the mighty Assyrian king Sennacherib declared war against the Israelites and spoke against Jehovah, the righteous King Hezekiah immediately called upon God and sought counsel from the prophet Isaiah. Assured that the Lord would protect them, Israel waited on the Lord’s promise. In one night, 185,000 Assyrian troops died, prompting Sennacherib’s retreat to Ninevah and sparing the righteous Israelites a fight.

When difficult moments come, what can you do to focus on faith above fear?

July 18 – 24

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James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), Michel Simonidy (1870-1933), Nehemiah Looks Upon the Ruins of Jerusalem, c. 1896-1904, gouache on board, 9 1/4 x 7 7/16 in, The Jewish Museum, New York. Image provided by the Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of the Heirs of Jacob Schiff. On display in the exhibition Prophets, Priests, and Queens: James Tissot’s Men and Women of the Old Testament.

An Israelite living in the Persian empire, Nehemiah held an esteemed position as the king’s cupbearer. Though he had never lived in Jerusalem, reports of the city’s destruction grieved the faithful Nehemiah and inspired his desire to return to the city and rebuild its walls, providing security and galvanizing cultural heritage. Because of his favored status, the Persian king permitted him to return to Jerusalem and appointed him as governor of Judah.

Tissot depicts Nehemiah on an evening sojourn, somberly assessing the wrecked colonnades, collapsed walls, empty storehouses, and dried aqueducts of the city. Nehemiah’s righteous intentions met significant opposition, yet also found providential assistance that enabled the fulfillment of their inspired work.

What kind of work are you presently feeling inspired to do in your life? How can Nehemiah’s example strengthen you?

July 25 – 31

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Henry Nelson O’Neil (1817-1880), Esther, 1850, oil on canvas, 40 1/4 x 29 3/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funding provided by Thomas R. and Diane Stevenson Stone, 2017.

The Old Testament tells of Queen Esther, a Jewish woman who was divinely placed to save her people from destruction. In this painting, Esther stands in the Persian royal court, preparing to address her husband, King Ahasuerus, and appeal to spare the Jewish people. She stares ahead, pale but resolute, bolstered by her two attendants. The columns, decorated with scenes of peoples enslaved by the mighty Persian kings, are sober reminders of the Jews’ possible fate.

As it has for centuries, this 19th-century retelling of Esther’s role as a steadfast biblical heroine aimed to inspire viewers as purveyors of righteousness, willing to sacrifice to uphold family and faith.

What message does Esther’s story have for you in the 21st century? Where might your voice and example be needed?

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