Just as He had done with Moses, the Lord showed Abraham all of His creations and explained the process by which this earth was organized. He also saw the great council in heaven where the Father explained His plan of salvation and exaltation for all of His children. None of this pre-planning for earth and earth-life is found today in the Genesis portion of the Bible. It had to be restored by means of revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, as found in the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price.
Abraham received these visions while he was on his way to Egypt with his family. The Lord then told Abraham to teach the Egyptians about the universe (Abraham 3:15).
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The learning of the Egyptians, and their knowledge of astronomy was no doubt taught them by Abraham and Joseph, as their records testify, who received it from the Lord.”1
THINGS REVEALED IN THE VISIONS OF ABRAHAM
The Universe Is Ordered, Not Random
● Stars Differ in Greatness (Abraham 3:16–17). Kolob is the greatest of all the stars in God’s universe, and is nearest to His throne. It is not size that makes one star or planet “greater” than others, but its proximity to Kolob.
The Grand Council in Heaven
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. The relationship we have with God places us in a situation to advance in knowledge. He has power to institute laws to instruct the weaker intelligences, that they may be exalted with Himself, so that they might have one glory upon another, and all that knowledge, power, glory, and intelligence, which is requisite in order to save them in the world of spirits.”2
● All of Us are Spirit Children of Heavenly Father (Abraham 3:18–19).
● Our Spirits Are Eternal (v. 18). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end.”3
Brigham Young said, “Mankind are organized of element designed to endure to all eternity; it never had a beginning and never can have an end. There never was a time when this matter, of which you and I are composed, was not in existence, and there never can be a time when it will pass out of existence; it cannot be annihilated. It is brought together, organized, and capacitated to receive knowledge and intelligence, to be enthroned in glory, to be made angels, Gods—beings who will hold control over the elements, and have power by their word to command the creation and redemption of worlds, or to extinguish suns by their breath, and disorganize worlds, hurling them back into their chaotic state. This is what you and I are created for.”4
Neal A. Maxwell said, “Admittedly we do not now understand all the implications of the words, ‘spirits . . . have no beginning; they existed before . . . for they are . . . eternal’ . . . Yet we surely understand enough to see a loving and redeeming God at work, striving to help us become as He is—a cause for our deep gratitude and joy, instead of despair and doubt, and for a willing submission to whatever He perceives will further that purpose.”5
● Some Spirits are “More Intelligent” than Others (vv. 18–19). Joseph Fielding Smith said, “We know they were all innocent in the beginning; but the right of free agency which was given to them enabled some to outstrip others, and thus, through the eons of immortal existence, to become more intelligent, more faithful, for they were free to act for themselves, to think for themselves, to receive the truth or rebel against it.”6
● The Lord Is “More Intelligent than They All” (Abraham 3:19–21). Neal A. Maxwell said, “Let us not forget that great insight given us about the premortal world. The ascendancy of Jesus Christ (among all of our spirit brothers and sisters) is clearly set forth. Of Him it was said that He is ‘more intelligent than they all.’.. Moreover, what the Lord knows is, fortunately, vastly more—not just barely more—than the combination of what all mortals know.”7
● The “Noble and Great Ones” (Abraham 3:22–23). Joseph F. Smith also saw in a vision: [Many noble and great spirits] “who were chosen in the beginning to be . . . in the Church of God. Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men” (D&C 138:55–56).
● “Thou Wast Chosen Before Thou Wast Born” (Abraham 3:23–24). 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 I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.”8
THE GREAT PLAN OF HAPPINESS
● Abraham saw the Council in Heaven and the Savior, and heard the Lord propose the creation of an earth and the testing of God’s children (Abraham 3:24–26).
— “One among Them That Was Like unto God” refers to Jesus Christ (v. 24).
— “We Will Prove Them” (v. 25). This life is a probation to test our faithfulness.
— Those Who “Kept Their Estate” (v. 26). The “first estate” refers to the time before we were born on this earth—the premortal life. To “keep” this first estate, the spirit children of God had to use their agency to choose to follow the plan of salvation offered by Heavenly Father.
● The Plan was our Heavenly Father’s Plan (Abraham 3:27–28). The question was “Whom shall I send?” not “Who has plan to present?” Jesus did not present one plan and Satan another one. The Father put forward His plan. Jesus agreed to support it and to be the Savior that was needed for such a plan to work. Satan, on the other hand, put forward a different plan that would force us all to obey while he received all the glory and credit. Satan rebelled against the Father’s plan, not a plan put forward by Jehovah.
Bruce R. McConkie said:
“The plan of salvation is the gospel of the Father. The plan of salvation originated with the Father; he is the author and finisher of our faith in the final sense; he ordained the laws by obedience to which both we and Christ can become like him.
“The Father did not ask for volunteers to propose a plan whereby man might be saved. What he did was ask whom he should send to be the Redeemer in the plan he devised. Christ and Lucifer both volunteered and the Lord chose his Firstborn and rejected the amendatory offer of the Son of the morning.”9
Satan Fell from Heaven with His Angels
● Satan and his angels fell “because of their agency,” meaning that they were free to choose and with that freedom they chose evil (D&C 29:36).
● Lucifer (“light bearer”) was one of God’s most chosen sons, and one of his eldest (he was a “son of the morning”) (Isaiah 14:12).
● He fell from heaven because of his ambitions and his rebelliousness (Isaiah 14:13–14).
● As a result, he and his angels will spend eternity in “outer darkness” with no earth upon which to dwell and no bodies of flesh and bone (Isaiah 14:15–21).
● Because he fell from heaven and became miserable forever, Satan seeks the misery of all mankind (2 Nephi 2:18).
● One-third of God’s children followed Satan into destruction (Revelation 12:3–4). The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The contention in heaven was . . . there would be certain souls that would not be saved; and the devil said he would save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council who gave their vote in favor of Jesus Christ. So the devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down, with all who put up their heads for him.”10
The fact that we are alive upon this earth is evidence that we stood up for our Father’s plan of salvation in the premortal world. Those who rebelled were cast out, and they make it their eternal purpose to try to destroy those of us who remained faithful. The war that ensued in heave (a war of ideas and words) continues here on earth as Satan battles for the souls of as many as he can influence to turn against God and His purposes. Knowing that we were faithful and were chosen in that grand council to be upon the earth at this time should give us greater perspective and greater courage to fight the battle for righteousness and truth.
1. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 251.
2. History of the Church, 6:312.
3. History of the Church, 6:311.
4. Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 48.
5. “Not My Will, But Thine,” 40.
6. Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:59.
7. All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience , 22.
8. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 365.
9. “Our Relationship with the Lord,” Sermon at a BYU Devotional, March 2, 1982.
10. The King Follett Sermon, given by the Prophet Joseph Smith, April 7, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois.