Overheard in Primary – Twelve temple oxen because . . .

Temple work. It’s tough to get a Primary-aged mind around it, but there’s a lot that children can understand about the temple.

During a Sharing Time lesson about the temple, I talked about my joining the church when I was sixteen years old, only ten days after first setting foot in an LDS chapel. I spent eight consecutive days with the missionaries hearing eight discussions (the required number in those days). I talked about my Swedish great-grandmother, who had to wait a lot longer than my 10 days to be baptized. I talked about a baptism  last year in the Boston Temple for a Chinese woman born in 1181 BC, and how long that sister had to wait to be baptized. We sang “I Love to See the Temple.”

I showed the children a picture of the temple baptistry. “What do you notice?”

The children identified that there were animals under the font, and eventually we established that they were not donkeys, sheep or cows, but oxen. “Do you know how many oxen?” Not four, or five, or eight, but twelve. “Why twelve oxen?”

A little boy on the front row said, “Because you have to be twelve years old to be baptized for the dead.” A teacher chimed in about the twelve tribes of Israel, whatever “tribes” and “Israel” mean to a Primary mind, and why in the world there are twelve of them. But twelve oxen for twelve years old? I’m going with it.

It isn’t the first time God has used a symbol to mean different things. Take the baptismal font itself, which can symbolize a grave (Colossians 2:12), a bath (Acts 22:16), or a womb (John 3:5).

Baptismal font on the back of twelve oxen for twelve tribes of Israel AND twelve years old? Absolutely, my little Primary brother.


Photo of the Nauvoo Temple baptistry courtesy of http://www.moroni10.com/LDS/Temple_Tour/baptistry.html

Thanks to S. Michael Wilcox’s House of Glory for the scriptural insight about baptismal font symbolism.


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