Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Fall of Adam and Eve

 




Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog


The fall of Adam and Eve, no other biblical account has been debated more and understood less than that relating to Adam and Eve. Why is that so?  One of the main reasons we believe is because of willful removal when the Bible itself was being translated by men that history tells us, were the leaders of "The Church" at that time.  This surely affirms to us that Satan is hard at work leading the hearts of mean astray into apostasy and it is most imperative that we understand not only the history of Adam and Eve but also the doctrine behind their journey. 

As Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are fortunate in that we have much of what has been removed and/or lost, found in the Pearl of Great Price books of Moses and Abraham. But the world has only the account of the fall found in Genesis in the Old Testament which treats the Fall as an event but does not discuss the doctrine.  The reason for the Fall and how it serves mankind are not discussed.  Thankfully, there is some light shed in the New Testament, but it is very limited. On the other hand, with the Book of Mormon, the doctrine of the fall is taught most clearly, so it is not surprising that the doctrine of the fall is misunderstood in the world for they do not have and sometimes do not want, latter-day scripture to help them. What then can we say, with our knowledge, is the purpose of the events discussed in Genesis 3–4?  It is what we have been taught by Lehi in the Book of Mormon, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” But still, even with this new information, there is yet much more to understand.

Some of the hardest parts about studying the scriptures lie in studying the Old Testament.  It is rich in symbolism and wordy, and oft-times confusing.  We can have many questions as we ponder and try to absorb and understand the stories and information presented.  As we study Genesis 3–4 Moses 4–5 learning of the history and doctrine of the Fall of Adam and Eve, let's try to consider what the Lord is trying to teach us and remember that praying while we study and ponder can enrich our goal immensely and give us a better understanding.  

History and Background

Genesis 3:  This chapter tells of the temptation scene in the Garden of Eden which leads to the Fall of Adam and Eve.  It tells of the tempting of Satan, partaking of the forbidden fruit, and expulsion from the Garden of Eden.  Contrary to popular secular belief, that Fall was good.  It was planned by the Lord as a major step in preparing us for our progression of being born on earth.  With the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price discussed in our last lesson, we learn that Satan though he thought so, did not know everything.  He did not know that tempting Eve would carry out God's plan of salvation.  This is clarified if Moses 4:6.  Other points to ponder from this chapter are that Lucifer (Satan) is speaking to Eve, not a serpent.  This is one of the first symbolisms of the Old Testament that has confused mankind for the ages.  In the scriptures Satan has many names, serpent was one of them and used in this book, this is clarified in Revelation 12:9.

Genesis 4:  When reading Genesis 4 one gets the sense that there is much missing from this chapter. This is a true point clarified by Moses 4 and 5 in the Pearl of Great Price.  The book of Moses provides 15 verses that preclude verse 1 of this chapter. What's in this book?  Adam and Eve have children, the story of Cain and Able.  One point to ponder about this chapter is that there is no mention of other children had by Adam and Eve.  This one problem has left much criticism to the story of Adam and Eve.  Thankfully we know through Moses 5:1-15 Adam and Eve had many children before having Cain and Abel, making the story a great deal more, understandable. 

Moses 4:  From the Pearl of Great Price we can read the book of Moses.  In this chapter we learn how Lucifer becomes the devil and of the temptation in the Garden of Eden, followed by the consequences AND BLESSINGS of the Fall.  Verses 1-4 give us insight into premortal life, unfortunately, these verses are not found in the Bible, aiding in the many misinterpretations. 

Moses 5:  This chapter is the equivalent to Chapter 4 of the book of Genesis in the Bible.  Some of the topics that this chapter explains about Genisis 4 that have been left out are 1, Adam and Eve have children before Cain and Able, 2. Cain was aware of his choices and God was not unfair. 

**Points to Ponder For Study of These Chapters 

What Does the Account in the Book of Moses Restore to the Genesis Account?  Between Genesis 3:24 and Genesis 4:1, fifteen additional verses are added which contain the following important points of information.

1.  After they were driven from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve labored together to make a living for themselves and their children by tilling the soil and raising flocks (see Moses 5:1).

2.  Adam and Eve began to have sons and daughters in fulfillment of the command to multiply and replenish the earth. Their children began to marry each other and start their own families (see Moses 5:2–3). This addition in Moses clears up a problem raised by the Genesis account. In Genesis 4:1–2, it appears that Cain and Abel are the first of Adam’s children, yet, a few verses later, Genesis 4:17 talks about Cain’s wife. The Moses account makes it clear that many children were born before Cain and, therefore, his finding himself a wife would not have been a problem.

3.  Adam and Eve called upon the name of the Lord, and though they no longer saw Him as they did in the Garden, He spoke with them and gave them commandments (see Moses 5:4–5).

4. Adam and Eve were obedient to those commandments, which involved sacrificing the firstlings of the flocks as an offering to the Lord (see Moses 5:5).

5.  After “many days” of such obedience, an angel appeared and asked Adam why he offered sacrifice (Moses 5:6). When Adam responded that he did not know but was being obedient anyway (a great insight into the faith of Adam), the angel then taught him that these sacrifices were in similitude of the future atoning sacrifice of the Savior and that they were to repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore (see Moses 5:6–8).

6.  After being taught the plan of salvation and being baptized, Adam and Eve had the Holy Ghost come upon them and they began to prophesy. Both understood the purpose for the Fall and rejoiced in the Lord’s plan (Moses 5:9–11).

7.  Adam and Eve taught these things to their children, but Satan also began to influence their children and sought to persuade them to reject the gospel. From that time forth, the gospel was preached, and those who accepted it were saved whereas those who did not were damned (see Moses 5:12–15).




Part I Moses 4:1–13; 5:1–12 We need agency and opposition in order to grow.

Because agency—the God-given right to make choices—is such a fundamental part of mortal life, we sometimes take it for granted. It is important for each of us to deepen our appreciation for this gift.

1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.

2 But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.

3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;

4 And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

5 And now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made.

6 And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.

7 And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.)

8 And the woman said unto the serpent: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;

9 But of the fruit of the tree which thou beholdest in the midst of the garden, God hath said—Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

10 And the serpent said unto the woman: Ye shall not surely die;

11 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

12 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

13 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they had been naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
 

What do these verses teach about the importance of agency? Moses 4:1–4.

Moses 4:1. The Council in Heaven

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught: “In the former [premortal] life we were spirits. In order that we should advance and eventually gain the goal of perfection, it was made known that we would receive tabernacles of flesh and bones and have to pass through mortality where we would be tried and proved to see if we, by trial, would prepare ourselves for exaltation.” He further stated that when our Heavenly Father presented His plan to His children in a council in heaven, “the thought of passing through mortality and partaking of all the vicissitudes [hardships] of earth life in which they would gain experiences through suffering, pain, sorrow, temptation, and affliction, as well as the pleasures of life in this mundane existence, and then, if faithful, passing on through the resurrection to eternal life in the kingdom of God, to be like him, filled them with the spirit of rejoicing, and they ‘shouted for joy’ [Job 38:1–7]” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie [1954], 1:57–58).

Moses 4:1–2. The Plan of Our Father in Heaven

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that it is “extremely important to get straight what happened in that premortal council. It was not an unstructured meeting, nor was it a discussion between plans, nor an idea-producing session, as to how to formulate the plan for salvation and carry it out. Our Father’s plan was known, and the actual question put was whom the Father should send to carry out the plan” (Deposition of a Disciple [1976], 11; see also John 7:16–18).

Moses 4:1–4. Satan and His Opposition to Heavenly Father’s Plan

In the premortal existence, Satan was called “Lucifer,” which means “the Shining One” or “Lightbringer.” He was a “son of the morning” (see Isaiah 14:12; D&C 76:25–27) and had potential to do much good. But Lucifer sought to obtain the throne, honor, power, and glory of Heavenly Father (see D&C 29:36; 76:28; Moses 4:1). To do so, he proposed to “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1). However, his proposal was based on compulsion and would therefore eliminate the agency of Heavenly Father’s children and the need for a Savior to suffer and redeem them.

Moses 4:3. The Agency of Man

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Satan’s method of assuring ‘that one soul shall not be lost’ (Moses 4:1) would be to ‘destroy the agency of man’ (Moses 4:3). Under his plan, Satan would have been our master, and he would have ‘[led us] captive at his will’ (Moses 4:4). Without the power of choice, we would have been mere robots or puppets in his hands” (“Free Agency and Freedom,” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure [1989], 4).

Moses 4:4. Satan’s Desires

President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) taught: “Let it not be forgotten that the evil one has great power in the earth, and that by every possible means he seeks to darken the minds of men and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth. Satan is a skillful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine. Beware of his spurious currency, it will purchase for you nothing but disappointment, misery and spiritual death” (“Witchcraft,” Juvenile Instructor, Sept. 15, 1902, 562).


Why would God’s plan be destroyed if we did not have agency?

Elder Dale G. Renlund taught:

“Our Heavenly Father’s goal in parenting is not to have His children do what is right; it is to have His children choose to do what is right and ultimately become like Him. If He simply wanted us to be obedient, He would use immediate rewards and punishments to influence our behaviors.

“But God is not interested in His children just becoming trained and obedient ‘pets’ who will not chew on His slippers in the celestial living room. No, God wants His children to grow up spiritually and join Him in the family business” (“Choose You This Day,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 104).


Why does Heavenly Father allow us to experience “opposition in all things”? 2 Nephi 2:11–16

Why are Satan’s temptations are necessary for God’s plan? How do Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ help us when we face temptation?  Doctrine and Covenants 29:39–40

Part II Moses 4:4–12; 5:13–33 Satan seeks “to deceive and to blind” us.

Moses 4:4–12; 5:13–33 can help us identify some ways in which Satan tempts us to do evil.


4 And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

5 And now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made.

6 And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.

7 And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.)

8 And the woman said unto the serpent: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;

9 But of the fruit of the tree which thou beholdest in the midst of the garden, God hath said—Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

10 And the serpent said unto the woman: Ye shall not surely die;

11 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

12 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat.


13 And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.

14 And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent;

15 And as many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved; and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned; and the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled.

16 And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him?

17 And she again conceived and bare his brother Abel. And Abel hearkened unto the voice of the Lord. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

18 And Cain loved Satan more than God. And Satan commanded him, saying: Make an offering unto the Lord.

19 And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.

20 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering;

21 But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. Now Satan knew this, and it pleased him. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

22 And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen?

23 If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him;

24 For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world.

25 And it shall be said in time to come—That these abominations were had from Cain; for he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God; and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent.

26 And Cain was wroth, and listened not any more to the voice of the Lord, neither to Abel, his brother, who walked in holiness before the Lord.

27 And Adam and his wife mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren.

28 And it came to pass that Cain took one of his brothers’ daughters to wife, and they loved Satan more than God.

29 And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.

30 And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret.

31 And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness.

32 And Cain went into the field, and Cain talked with Abel, his brother. And it came to pass that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him.

33 And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands.

In what ways did Satan try to tempt Adam and Eve and their children. 

God told Adam that he would die if he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan’s statement that Adam would not die was evil exploitation and illustrates the pernicious nature of Satan, “the father of all lies” (Moses 4:4), for he attempted to show God as a liar. But God is a God of truth and cannot lie (see Ether 3:12). Soon after Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, they were forced to leave the garden and the presence of the Lord, thus suffering spiritual death. Additionally, when they fell, their bodies changed from a nonmortal state to a mortal state and thus became subject to physical death. (See D&C 29:40–43.)  

What is the difference between being deceived and being blinded?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that the “contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: ‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression’ (italics added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall” (“The Great Plan,” 73).

Another meaning of the word transgress is “to go beyond established limits or conditions.” Adam and Eve went beyond the limits that would have kept them in the Garden of Eden forever, and in so doing helped provide the opportunity of mortality for all of us.

How would leading us “captive at his will” achieve for Satan his main objective in obtaining the Father’s honor and power? D&C 29:29, 36

How can Heavenly Father help us resist Satan’s deceptions?

Part III Genesis 3:1–7; Moses 4:22–31; 5:4–15  Jesus Christ’s Atonement offers hope and redemption from the Fall.

The more we understand the effects of the Fall, the more we appreciate the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What are the effects of the Fall?  

God cursed Satan  Moses 4:20–21

The Fall of Adam and Eve brought many consequences, including mortality, work, and the opportunity to have and raise children (Moses 4:22–26, 29; see also John 16:21; Ephesians 5:22–24; see also 1 Timothy 2:14–15; D&C 75:28; 83:2).

After the Fall, God made coats of animal skins to clothe Adam and Eve’s nakedness. He also sent angels and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life (see Moses 4:27, 31), thus preventing Adam and Eve from partaking of the fruit of the tree and living forever in their sins (Alma 12:21–26; 42:2–4).


1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.



What is God’s plan to redeem us from the effects of the Fall?  
Moses 5:4–12, 14–15

4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.

5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.

6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

7 And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.

8 Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.

9 And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.

10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

12 And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.

13 And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.

14 And the Lord God called upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commanded them that they should repent;

15 And as many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved; and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned; and the words went forth out of the mouth of God in a firm decree; wherefore they must be fulfilled.

What impresses you about Adam’s and Eve’s testimonies of Jesus Christ found in verses 10–12

How do we feel about God’s plan after reading these scriptures?

Adam and Eve’s story of hope and redemption can encourage us when life is difficult. Consider the words and phrases in Moses 5:7–12 that express the hope that Adam and Eve felt when they learned that the Savior could redeem them. 

When have we felt hope similar to what Adam and Eve felt?  

Conclusion

Adam and Eve were the first Christians. Most people think Christianity did not exist until Jesus Christ lived on the earth however animal sacrifice in Old Testament times and the sacrament in our day all point to Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve knew Jesus Christ, they were taught the plan of salvation and knew that their transgression was meant for a divine purpose.  Adam and Eve knew they could be saved and this gave them hope, the same hope each of us can have.  

“We can picture the plight of Adam and Eve. They had been condemned to sorrows, woes, troubles, and labor and they were cast out from the presence of God, and death had been declared to be their fate. A pathetic picture, indeed. But now a most important thing happened. Adam and Eve had explained to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. What would be their reaction? When the Lord explained this to them, that a redemption should come through Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, Adam exclaimed: ‘Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh shall I see God.’ “And what was the response of Eve, his wife? She ‘heard all of these things, and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and … eternal life.(Ibid., 5:11.)

“There is the key to the question of evil. If we cannot be good, except as we resist and overcome evil, then evil must be present to be resisted.  So this earth life is set up according to true principles, and these conditions that followed the transgression were not, in the usual sense, penalties that were inflicted upon us. All these that I have named to you that seem to be sad inflictions of punishment, sorrow, and trouble are in the end not that. They are blessings. We have attained a knowledge of good and evil, the power to prize the sweet, to become agents unto ourselves, the power to obtain redemption and eternal life. These things had their origin in this transgression. The Lord has set the earth up so we have to labor if we are going to live, which preserves us from the curse of idleness and indolence; and though the Lord condemns us to death—mortal death—it is one of the greatest blessings that comes to us here because it is the doorway to immortality, and we can never attain immortality without dying.” (George Q. Morris, in Conference Report, Apr. 1958, p. 39.)

Resources

Bible
Doctrine and Covenants
Pearl of Great Price
Pearl of Great Price Made Easier David Ridges
Old Testament Made Easier David Ridges
Old Testament Student Manual
Pearl of Great Price Student Manual
Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual
BYU Religious Studies
Pearl of Great Price Teacher Manual
Conference Reports
Ensign

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

“This Is My Work and My Glory”

 




Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org

Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog


Many of us have had wonderful experiences reading the books of Moses and Abraham, particularly Moses 1 and Abraham 3.  Both chapters open up doors giving information and clarity to age-old questions that plague the minds of man.  As we read and study these books this week, let us keep our minds and hearts open that we may recieve inspiration, thoughts and ideas that will help us in our daily lives, with the questions we ponder, and the ability to help teach others, that they too may have wonderful experiences. 

History and Background


The Pearl of Great Price

The books of Moses and Abraham come from a compilation of scripture known as the "Pearl of Great Price."  This compilation consists of revelations and texts received and named by the Prophet Joseph Smith.  He said it would be “a source of much instruction and edification to many thousands of the Saints, who will by an acquaintance with its precious contents, be more abundantly qualified to set forth and defend the principles of our Holy Faith before all men” (“The Pearl of Great Price,” Millennial Star, July 15, 1851, 217).  

On October 10, 1880, the Pearl of Great Price became a standard work of the Church. Several revisions have been made in the contents as the needs of the Church have required. In 1878 portions of the Book of Moses not contained in the first edition were added. In 1902 certain parts of the Pearl of Great Price that duplicated material also published in the Doctrine and Covenants were omitted. … [In 1976] two items of revelation were added. In 1979 these two items were removed from the Pearl of Great Price and placed in the Doctrine and Covenants, where they now appear as sections 137 and 138” (introduction to the Pearl of Great Price). Its present contents include selections from the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham (with three facsimiles), Joseph Smith—Matthew, Joseph Smith—History, and the Articles of Faith.

The Book of Moses

The book of Moses is the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 6:13  It concerns the identity and purpose of being a child of God as well as crucial doctrines of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  As a bonus included in this book are events and principles from the ministries of Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Moses himself.  

The book of Moses contains “the words of God, which he spake unto Moses” Moses 1:1 and commanded Moses to record Moses 1:40; 2:1. However, “because of wickedness” many of the words and plain and precious truths he recorded were obscured or lost and are thus not preserved in the book of Genesis as it has come to us (Moses 1:41; 1 Nephi 13:26–28). Consequently, the Lord promised to raise up another prophet in the latter days to restore Moses’s words so they would be “had again among the children of men” (Moses 1:41; see also 2 Nephi 3:5–11; Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50:26–33 [in the Bible appendix]). In fulfillment of that promise, the Lord revealed the writings of Moses to the Prophet Joseph Smith.  We do not know exactly when Moses received the revelations recorded in the book of Moses or where he was when he recorded them. However, we know that the experiences recorded in Moses 1 occurred after Moses encountered the burning bush, but before he returned to Egypt to deliver the children of Israel from bondage and the writings contained in the book of Moses were revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he was working on his inspired translation, or revision, of the King James Version of the Bible between June 1830 and February 1831.

Moses 1 is particularly distinctive because it has no counterpart in the Bible and because it serves as a preface to the Creation and all of Moses’s writings (the Pentateuch, or first five books of the Old Testament). In this book, Moses sees the Lord and learns he is a son of God. The Lord shows Moses a vision of the earth and its inhabitants. After this vision, Satan appears to Moses, but Moses commands him to depart in the name of the Only Begotten. The Lord again appears to Moses and reveals the purpose of His creations.

The Book of Abraham

The book of Abraham came forth at a time when the study of the ancient Egyptian language and culture was just beginning. It reveals truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ that were previously unknown to Church members of Joseph Smith’s day. It also casts a bright light upon difficult passages found in other scriptural texts.  In particular, chapter 3 of the book of Abraham, teaches us that the Lord showed Abraham His creations and taught him about the premortal existence, something of which we all long to know more about.  

Where did the information come from?  
In 1966 eleven fragments of papyri once possessed by the Prophet Joseph Smith were discovered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They were given to the Church and have been analyzed by scholars who date them between about 100 B.C.and A.D. 100. A common objection to the authenticity of the book of Abraham is that the manuscripts are not old enough to have been written by Abraham, who lived almost two thousand years before Christ. Joseph Smith never claimed that the papyri were autographic (written by Abraham himself), nor that they dated from the time of Abraham. It is common to refer to an author’s works as “his” writings, whether he penned them himself, dictated them to others, or others copied his writings later (Pearl of Great Price Student Manual)

The book of Abraham was originally published a few excerpts at a time in Times and Seasons, a Church publication, beginning in March 1842 at Nauvoo, Illinois (Introductory Note at the beginning of the Pearl of Great Price). The Prophet Joseph Smith indicated that he would publish more of the book of Abraham later, but he was martyred before he was able to do so. Concerning the potential length of the completed translation, Oliver Cowdery once said that “volumes” would be necessary to contain it (Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1835, 236).  After the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the four mummies and the papyri became the property of Joseph’s widowed mother, Lucy Mack Smith. At Lucy’s death in 1856, Emma Smith, the Prophet’s wife, sold the collection to Mr. A. Combs. Several theories have been offered regarding what happened subsequently to the mummies and the papyri. It appears that at least two of the mummies were burned in the great Chicago fire of 1871 (B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. [1909–11], 2:380–382). In the early spring of 1966, Dr. Aziz S. Atiya, a University of Utah professor, discovered several fragments of the book of Abraham papyri while doing research at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. These fragments were presented to the Church by the director of the museum on 27 November 1967. The current whereabouts of the other mummies and the other portions of the papyri are unknown (H. Donl Peterson, “Some Joseph Smith Papyri Rediscovered (1967)” in Studies in Scripture, Volume Two, 183–85).

The Doctrine


Part I:  As children of God, we have a divine destiny. Moses 1:1–10, 37–39; Abraham 3:22–26

If you are like me, then you look constantly for help in making the right choices, and strength for facing adversity and life's challenges.  The truths revealed in Moses’s and Abraham’s visions can have a powerful influence on our choices and on our ability to overcome life’s challenges.  How can we find these truths?  The following verses may give us guidance and help.  


1 The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain,

2 And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.

3 And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?

4 And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.

5 Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.

6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.

7 And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee.

8 And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.

9 And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.

10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.

Moses was an Israelite (a member of God’s covenant people) by birth but he was adopted by a royal Egyptian family. Eventually, he had to flee from Egypt and leave those who raised him. He was known to be slow of speech, or what we would consider a speech impediment.  

Considering this background, how might Moses have described himself up to this point in his life?   

How might our thoughts about ourselves influence our behavior?
.  
What did Moses learn in Moses 1:1–6. that could help his perception of himself and strengthen him?  1 The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain,

2 And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.

3 And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?

4 And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.

5 Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.

6 And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.

What did Moses learn about himself that can help us understand who we are?  We are children of Heavenly Father.

How do you think knowing that he was a son of God might have affected Moses?

What does it mean to you to know that you are a child of Heavenly Father?

What experiences have helped you to know that you are a child of Heavenly Father?

“You are something divine—more beautiful and glorious than you can possibly imagine. This knowledge changes everything. It changes your present. It can change your future. And it can change the world. …

“Because of the revealed word of a merciful God, … you have felt the eternal glory of that divine spirit within you. You are no ordinary beings, my beloved young friends all around the world. You are glorious and eternal. …

“It is my prayer and blessing that when you look at your reflection, you will be able to see beyond imperfections and self-doubts and recognize who you truly are: glorious sons and daughters of the Almighty God”
(“The Reflection in the Water” [Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Nov. 1, 2009]; LDS.org).

Knowing these things about Moses and yourself as a child of God, how would you answer the following question? 

“Why am I here?” and “Who does God want me to become?” Moses 1; 37–39

37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.

38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.

39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

We are each the children of God created in his express image.  We came to this earth to dwell in mortality and prove ourselves worthy through keeping the commandments to return to the presence of God with the potential to become Gods ourselves. 

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught about the importance of what Moses discovered about mankind: “This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing, yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it” (“You Matter to Him,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 20).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:

“In the expansiveness of space, there is stunning personalness, for God knows and loves each of us! (see 1 Nephi 11:17). We are not ciphers in unexplained space!

“… Mankind is at the very center of God’s work. … His work includes our immortalization—accomplished by Christ’s glorious Atonement! Think of it, brothers and sisters, even with their extensive longevity, stars are not immortal, but you are. …

“We know the Creator of the universe is also the Author of the plan of happiness. We can trust Him. …

“… As some experience daily life situations in which they are or feel unloved and unappreciated, they can nevertheless know that God loves them! His creations so witness”
(“Our Creator’s Cosmos” [Church Educational System conference, Aug. 13, 2002], 4, 6, 7; si.lds.org).

How can this knowledge affect the way you view yourself? How can it affect the way you view others?

How might remembering that we are Heavenly Father’s children help us to make better choices each day?


Part II: We can resist Satan’s influence. Moses 1:12–23

After his confrontation with Satan, Moses was filled with the Holy Ghost and heard the voice of the Lord. He learned that he was chosen to deliver Israel from bondage. He also beheld the earth and its inhabitants and learned the purpose of God’s many creations. Moses was then instructed to write God’s words concerning the Creation of the earth.  This confrontation with Satan holds lessons that can help us as we face temptations, adversity, and deception from the adversary. 

12 And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.

13 And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?

14 For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely?

15 Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God; for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve.

16 Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.

17 And he also gave me commandments when he called unto me out of the burning bush, saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me.

18 And again Moses said: I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan.

19 And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.

20 And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory.

21 And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan.

22 And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses, that he beheld him not.

23 And now of this thing Moses bore record; but because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men.

What did Satan call Moses? Moses 1:12

Why do you think Satan wanted Moses to think about his earthly parentage rather than his heavenly parentage?  Satan did not want Moses to think of himself as a son of God and does not want us to believe that we are children of God.

In what ways do Satan and others try to tempt us to think of ourselves as something other than sons or daughters of God?

What was Moses' response to Satan's attempt to deceive him?   Moses 1:13–15

How did Moses use his previous spiritual experience with God to detect Satan’s deception?

What does Moses’s response teach us about what we can do when Satan tries to deceive us? We can resist Satan’s deceptions as we remember our previous spiritual experiences and have faith in them.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught this about Moses’s experience in Moses 1: “Moses’ message to you today is: Don’t let your guard down. Don’t assume that a great revelation, some marvelous, illuminating moment, the opening of an inspired path, is the end of it. … Once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence’ [Hebrews 10:35]. Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you” (“Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” Ensign, Mar. 2000, 7, 9).

One lesson from Moses’s experience is that Satan tempts us with counterfeits of God’s truth and power. What are some of the counterfeits Satan uses today to tempt us? Moses 1:13–18.

How can we recognize and reject them?  Moses 1:24–26  When we have the Spirit with us, we are better able to discern between good and evil, when we are faithful and call upon God, we will receive strength to overcome Satan’s influence.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. … When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. … The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 93–94).

**Point to Ponder:  What can we learn from the fact that Satan appeared to Moses just a short while after Moses had spoken with God face to face? After we have a spiritual experience, Satan may seek to tempt us or discredit our experience.


Part III: This life is our opportunity to show that we will do what God commands. Abraham 3:22–28

Heavenly Father chose His noble and great children before they were born to become leaders in His kingdom on the earth. Each of us too was chosen, or foreordained, to fulfill certain responsibilities on the earth. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 511).

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.

28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

How can we better see and understand that our lives are an opportunity to prove our faithfulness to God? The following statement from True to the Faith, which explains foreordination may help us: 

“In the premortal spirit world, God appointed certain spirits to fulfill specific missions during their mortal lives. This is called foreordination. …

“The doctrine of foreordination applies to all members of the Church, not just to the Savior and His prophets. … Although you do not remember that time, you surely agreed to fulfill significant tasks in the service of your Father”
(True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 69, 70).

What experiences have you had when you had to demonstrate proficiency in a skill? 

How are these experiences similar to what is described in Abraham 3:24–26? 

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.

How are they different? 

Elder Rex C. Reeve Sr. (1914–2005) of the Seventy said: “This life is a time of testing. It is not the reward time. That will come later. We are here being tested. The test is going on now!” (“Look to God,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 26).  The experiences we have had to demonstrate our proficiency in a skill are like that of our proficiency to live the gospel.  We learn from Abraham 3:26 that we must now keep our “second estate” if we want to live with God again. We keep our second estate by accepting and living the gospel of Jesus Christ and obeying the commandments. If we do all that Heavenly Father commands us to do, then we “shall have glory added upon [our] heads forever and ever.”


How do we include Heavenly Father and the Savior in our efforts to “prove” ourselves? Abraham 3:25 

The “first estate” refers to the period of time before we were born on this earth, also known as the premortal life. To “keep” this first estate, a spirit child of God in pre-earth life had to use his or her agency to choose to follow the plan of salvation offered by Heavenly Father. A third part of the spirit children of Heavenly Father followed Lucifer (the devil) and rebelled against God and the plan of salvation, thereby failing to keep their first estate. They were, therefore, cast out of heaven, with no more opportunity to progress.

The “second estate” refers to mankind’s mortal existence on this earth. This estate is a probationary period in which individuals “prepare to meet God” (Alma 12:24). All who accept and obey the saving principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ will receive eternal life, the greatest gift of God, and will have “glory added upon their heads forever and ever” (Abraham 3:26). Those who do not have the opportunity to accept and live the gospel in mortality are given that opportunity in the spirit world after they die.

Additional insight on the first and second estates is offered by Elder Neal A. Maxwell: “Premortality is not a relaxing doctrine. For each of us, there are choices to be made, incessant and difficult chores to be done, ironies and adversities to be experienced, time to be well spent, talents and gifts to be well employed. Just because we were chosen ‘there and then,’ surely does not mean we can be indifferent ‘here and now.’ …

“In fact, adequacy in the first estate may merely have ensured a stern, second estate with more duties and no immunities! Additional tutoring and suffering appears to be the pattern for the Lord’s most apt pupils. (See Mosiah 3:19; 1 Peter 4:19.) Our existence, therefore, is a continuum matched by God’s stretching curriculum. …“Agreeing to enter this second estate, therefore, was like agreeing in advance to anesthetic—the anesthetic of forgetfulness. Doctors do not deanesthetize a patient, in the midst of what was previously authorized, to ask him, again, if it should be continued. We agreed to come here and to undergo certain experiences under certain conditions”
(“Premortality, a Glorious Reality,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 17).

How does knowing that we are here to prove ourselves obedient affect the way we respond to life’s challenges?


Conclusion


We learned in this lesson that Jesus Christ is the greatest and most intelligent of all Heavenly Father’s children, Heavenly Father chose His noble and great children before they were born to become leaders in His kingdom on the earth, and the test of life is to determine if we will do whatever God commands us.  Additionally, we learned that we are sons and daughters of God with divine purpose, but can be thwarted by Satan.  Elder Dallin H Oaks gives us a concluding thought to help us meet the challenges of our existence and remember that we are in fact divine and can fight off Satan with the help of the Lord:  



“Be careful how you characterize yourself. Don’t characterize or define yourself by some temporary quality. The only single quality that should characterize us is that we are a son or daughter of God. That fact transcends all other characteristics, including race, occupation, physical characteristics, honors, or even religious affiliation. …

“We have our agency, and we can choose any characteristic to define us. But we need to know that when we choose to define ourselves or to present ourselves by some characteristic that is temporary or trivial in eternal terms, we de-emphasize what is most important about us and we overemphasize what is relatively unimportant. This can lead us down the wrong path and hinder our eternal progress” (“How to Define Yourself,” New Era, June 2013, 48).


Resources

Pear of Great Price Student Manual
Old Testament Seminary Manual
Old Testament Student Manual
The Pearl of Great Price Made Easier David J Ridges
Ensign 
Conference Reports


The Fall of Adam and Eve

  Scriptures are hyperlinked to Scriptures at ChurchofJesusChrist.org Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end...