Old Testament Lesson 01 (Moses 1; Abraham 3)
December 26-January 1
Again and again, throughout the Old Testament, the Messiah’s coming is predicted through profound symbols, compelling stories, and remarkably accurate prophecies. The major purpose of all testaments, old or new, is to bear witness of Christ. As a result, to the spiritual eye and ear, the Old Testament (more accurately, the “First Testament”) is like a giant hand pointing forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are led by the Holy Spirit we will see the unmistakable mark of the Messiah in every book we read in these scriptures.
Brigham Young said, “The Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, . . . are like a lighthouse in the ocean, or a finger-post which points out the road we should travel. Where do they point? To the fountain of light . . . That is what these books are for. They are of God; they are valuable and necessary: by them, we can establish the doctrine of Christ.”1
RESTORING MUCH OF WHAT WAS LOST
The Lord said to Moses, “And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men—among as many as shall believe” (Moses 1:41).
“Nephi . . . explains that many plain and precious parts of the Bible as it was written originally were taken from that sacred volume before it was circulated among the Gentiles. What was it like before it was stripped of so many precious parts? . . . Certainly the Old Testament was not as fragmentary as it is today . . . As originally written it contain[ed] vastly more, and made the Gospel so plain for those ancient peoples that a wayfaring man, though a fool, could not err therein . . . The most striking thing about it was that, as originally written, the Old Testament was a testimony and witness for Christ. If we had the Old Testament as it was originally written, mankind would have a most powerful—an infallible—witness that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Christ, that He gave the Law to Moses, that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. . . .”2
Our Pearl of Great Price is the instrument through which much of that which was lost has been restored. The Book of Moses is an extract from the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible. The Book of Abraham is a translation that the Prophet Joseph Smith made from some Egyptian papyri. While these are similar to the book of Genesis in the Bible, they contain much information that was removed from the Bible account long ago.
What the Pearl of Great Price Restores
1. Nature of God A physical being with passions and compassion.
2. Nature of Man Pre-existence and eternal progression.
3. Reality of Satan Describes his tantrum behavior and devilish delight.
4. Nature of the Cosmos Worlds without number have been created.
5. Preparation of Prophets They were not “born” prophets, but were shaped over time.
6. Mission of Jesus Christ Shows that Christ was central from the beginning.
THE VISIONS OF MOSES
When Did God Reveal Himself to Moses?
● “Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain” (Moses 1:1).
● The vision recorded in Moses 1 took place after Jehovah spoke to Moses at the burning bush (v. 17) but before Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea (vv. 25–26).
● This means that Moses 1 coincides with Exodus 6
How Did God Reveal Himself to Moses?
● Transfiguration (Moses 1:2, 9–11). Moses was able to endure God’s presence because “the glory of God was upon Moses” (v. 2); he was transfigured (v. 11).
Bruce R. McConkie said, “Transfiguration is a special change in appearance and nature which is wrought upon a person or thing by the power of God. This divine transformation is from a lower to a higher state; it results in a more exalted, impressive, and glorious condition. . . . By the power of the Holy Ghost many prophets have been transfigured so as to stand in the presence of God and view the visions of eternity.”3
● Divine Investiture (Moses 1:3–8). The personage who spoke to Moses was the premortal Jesus Christ, who is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. This is known as divine investiture—Christ speaking for and on behalf of the Father (D&C 29:1, 42, 46).
Joseph Fielding Smith said, “All revelation since the Fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament . . . He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the Law of Moses. The Father has never dealt with man directly and personally since the Fall, and he has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son.”4
What Did God Reveal to Moses? (Moses 6:1–8)
● Moses Is a Son of God (v. 4). All of us are spirit children of God, our Heavenly Father.
The First Presidency said, “Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God.”5
● “There is no God beside me” (vv. 4–6).
The First Presidency said, “Moses was reared in an atmosphere of idolatry. There were numerous deities [gods] among the Egyptians. In commencing the work which the Lord said he had for Moses to do, it was necessary to center his mind and faith upon God the Eternal Father as the only Being to worship . . . The sole object of worship, God the Eternal Father, stands supreme and alone, and it is in the name of the Only Begotten that we thus approach Him . . .”6
Boyd K. Packer said, “The Father is the one true God. This thing is certain: no one will ever ascend above Him; no one will ever replace Him, Nor will anything ever change the relationship that we, His literal offspring, have with Him. He is Elohim, the Father. He is God. Of Him there is only one. We revere our Father and our God; we worship Him.”7
● “All things are present with me, for I know them all” (v. 6).
Neal A. Maxwell said, “God does not live in the dimension of time as do we. We are not only hampered by our finiteness (experiential and intellectual), but also by being in the dimension of time. Moreover, God, since ‘all things are present’ with him, is not simply predicting based solely on the past. In ways that are not clear to us, he sees rather than foresees the future, because all things are at once present before him.”8
Moses Saw the Universe and All its Earths
● Moses saw the entire earth and all of its inhabitants (Moses 1:27–28).
● Moses was shown many inhabited worlds (Moses 1:29–34).
● God told Moses that He would only tell him about this Earth (Moses 1:35–39).
Brigham Young said. “How many earths are there? I observed this morning that you may take the particles of matter composing this earth, and if they could be enumerated they would only be a beginning to the number of the creations of God, and they are continually coming into existence, and undergoing changes and passing through the same experience that we are passing through.”9
Moses’ Reaction to the Vision
● “Man Is Nothing” (Moses 1:10). After his tour of the universe, Moses was exhausted and dismayed. He realized that puny man is “nothing” in comparison to God.
● The Purpose of All God’s Creations (Moses 1:39). God wanted Moses to keep things in perspective. All of His creations have only one purpose—the exaltation of his children.
Marion G. Romney said, “We see the complete unselfishness of our Father in Heaven. His whole work and glory is to bring eternal life and happiness to his children. Should not our whole purpose in this life, therefore, be made up of righteous service one to another? If not, how can we ever hope to be as he is?”10
● Jesus Christ Redeemed All of God’s Creations (Moses 1:35–39).
Marion G. Romney said, “Jesus Christ, in the sense of being its Creator and Redeemer, is the Lord of the whole universe. Except for his mortal ministry accomplished on this earth, his service and relationship to other worlds and their inhabitants are the same as his service and relationship to this earth and its inhabitants. . . . In short, Jesus Christ, through whom God created the universe, was chosen to put into operation throughout the universe Elohim’s great plan ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’—the gospel of Jesus Christ—the only way whereby man can obtain eternal life.”11
Satan Commanded Moses to Worship Him
● Satan’s Temptations and Moses’ Reaction (Moses 1:12–22).
— Satan calls Moses “son of man” (vv. 12–13). Moses says, “I am a son of God”.
— Moses could tell by the Spirit and also by the way Satan looked that he was not a glorified personage (vv. 13–18).
— Satan claimed to be “the Only Begotten (v. 19).” Satan’s arrogant claim exposes his basic motivation: to deceive mankind into worshiping him.
— “Ranting” upon the ground means essentially that he took an angry tantrum (v. 19).
— “Moses Began to Fear Exceedingly (vv. 20–22).” When he felt afraid in Satan’s presence, Moses saw the bitterness of hell. Being in constant rebellion toward God truly is a living hell, and that is the way Satan wants us to live.
● Moses was Filled with the Holy Ghost (Moses 1:24–26).
Joseph Fielding Smith said, “The fact is all the prophets had the Holy Ghost. They were led and directed by him. And without this power they would not have been prophets. Peter said that prophecy itself ‘came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’ [2 Peter 1:21]. The Book of Moses, which is the original and perfect record of a part of Genesis, speaks of the Holy Ghost; so do the Nephite prophets, including those who lived in the era before Christ.”12
● Moses Was Assigned to Write about This Earth (Moses 1:40–41).
— In addition to his calling to free the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, Moses was given the assignment to write about the events that occurred from the Creation of the earth until the final days of his own mission.
1. In Journal of Discourses, 3:129.
2. Old Testament Student Manual, CES Institute student manual for the Old Testament, 22.
3. Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 803.
4. Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:27.
5. Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 81.
6. “Only One God to Worship,” Improvement Era, Apr. 1912, 484–485.
7. In Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 85; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 69.
8. Things As They Really Are , 29.
9. In Journal of Discourses, 14:71.
10. In Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 132; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 93.
11. “Jesus Christ: Lord of the Universe,” Improvement Era, Nov.1968, 46, 48.
12. Doctrines of Salvation, 1:46–47.