The purpose of this lesson is to help us establish in our own minds our eternal worth. Our worth is not based on what we decide about ourselves, but what God, our creator has told us about ourselves.
This will be longer than many of my posts because I am quoting almost the entire chapter of Moses 1. I think we need to look at these verses just a few at a time then talk about what we can gain from them. But first I would like to talk about the world’s perception of who we are.
If you really want to get something out of this post, please take the time to put yourself in the place of Moses and think about how he might have felt and what his perceptions might have been. Moses was raised by the world and knew nothing of God before his experience with Him on the mountain. This was all new information, and was life-changing. My object here is to help you have a change of perspective as well – to help you see yourself as something more than you thought of yourself before today.
Man’s perception of man
The world would tell us that we are an aberration in the universe. We sprang up by accident, and when we die we vanish into the void of space, being recycled by, and like, the worms that eat our dead flesh. But while we are alive we are at the top of the food chain. We are in control of the planet and can do as we wish. We are the only important species alive, because we are the only sentient beings, that is, we are the only living creatures who are actually aware of our own existence.
This view gives us both a false sense of our own importance, and a sense of hopelessness. For being the top dog in the animal kingdom, it still doesn’t amount to anything, because once we die we cease to exist. It really boils down to “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”
What God says of man
Now let’s look at Moses 1 and see how Moses’ interview with Jehovah (Jesus) went. In these verses Jehovah is speaking for the Father. This is not an appearance of the Father to Moses, as the Father only appears to bear witness of His son then let’s the Son take over from there. This is how He supports Jesus in His role as Savior and Redeemer. Our Father is always in control of what happens with His family, but everything is done through Him who has opened the door to salvation for that family.
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.
In the short space of the first eight verses God referred to Moses as “my son” three times. This would have the same effect on Moses that the visit of the Father and the Son had on Joseph Smith. He now knew that God had a body – not a physical body, but he was a man in form and appearance. He also learned that he, Moses, was created in the likeness of God’s favored Son.
Moses was able to discern that God’s glory was great enough that if he hadn’t been transfigured before Him he would have been destroyed in the flesh by that very glory that had upheld him and allowed him to stand in the presence of God.
Moses also learned that there is a limit as to how much can be revealed to a mortal and that mortal still be allowed to stay in the flesh. He learned that God’s works are endless, as is He. He also learned that all things are present and visible to God, for He is in and through all His works. He was then shown the earth on which he stood, as well as the people who lived on the planet. He would be shown more later on.
Change of perspective
Moses had been raised in the most powerful court and family on the earth at that time. He knew what earthly power was all about, as he had been raised around politics and government dealings. He had been taught that there was nothing greater than they were. He now knew better.
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.
11 But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.
Just being in the presence of God had sapped his strength to the point that he lay on the ground after the interview for many hours before he was able to stand again and feel normal. He now knew that man was nothing compared with this being he had been permitted to see. That there actually existed someone so powerful as what he just experienced is something that had never crossed his mind before. His whole view of humanity and his personal potential had drastically changed forever.
What about us?
What does this have to do with us? Because you and I are both descendants of Adam, what happened to Moses could happen to us. What applies to Moses applies to us. We are both from the same family. It is not possible that he could be a son of God and I not be. The lessons learned by Moses need to be learned by me as well. I am – we are – children, sons and daughters of God. We are created in the flesh after the likeness of His only begotten son.
What a departure from the world’s view that we are nothing more than a base animal at the top of the food chain. That we have eternal parents means that we also have the same destiny to live forever, for children can only inherit the traits of their parents. You can’t have a baby lion born of two monkeys. The thought goes against nature and all that we know. If our parents are eternal then so are we. If our parents are glorified beings then there must be a way for us to become like them!
These very thoughts should fill us with hope, with dignity and respect for ourselves and each other. To know that this is where we come from should give us great hope in a bright future. The question remaining is to find out how we can achieve our potential as children of the God of the universe. This changes our whole perspective on why mankind is on the earth in the first place.
We can resist Satan’s temptations
Sometimes we under estimate Satan’s power. Sometimes we over estimate his powers and ascribe to him powers that he simply doesn’t have. Learning that Satan has limits is an important lesson for each of us.
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.
Note that the first thing Satan did was to try to undermine Moses’ perception of who he really was. Instead of calling him a son of God he called him a son of man. What an insult. How degrading to reduce a child of god to just another animal on the planet.
The result of the first interview with the Lord was that Moses could now judge between light and dark, and better judge between good and evil. He remembered the glory of the Lord, and when he looked at Satan he saw only darkness, or lack of glory.
In resisting Satan Moses relied upon the words and instructions of God, and he quoted those words to Satan. He said that God had told him he was a son of God, and that God was the only one he should worship. He commanded Satan to leave. In fact, he told Satan to leave twice, but he didn’t. Why not?
In verse 19 Moses learned an important lesson. Satan can make demands as well, and his demands can seem overpoweringly important. He demanded that Moses recognize him as the only begotten of the Father and that he worship him, Satan.
In verse 20 we learn that these demands frightened Moses. As he looked upon Satan and began to consider his demands, because he feared him, suddenly he saw Satan for who he was, and he realized and felt the bitterness of hell. What was his escape from the bitterness of hell he saw in Satan? It was to turn to God and call upon Him for support.
As Moses called upon God he received strength, and once again he commanded Satan to depart. And again, Satan ignored him. As Moses declared to Satan that the God of glory is the only one he would worship, Satan became enraged and began to tremble. As he did so the earth itself also began to shake under him. This demonstrates some of the power he has.
Moses persisted, and calling upon God told Satan that in the name of the only begotten son of God he commanded him to depart. This is Satan’s limit. He cannot remain when he is commanded in the name of the Son to leave. This caused him to weep and wail, and gnash his teeth. (Look up the definition of gnash.) He was vanquished. By this command all his options and opportunities to convince Moses to worship him were ended. If he wanted to win over Moses it would have to be at another time, and in another place, for he no longer had a choice to remain, he had to leave.
What can we learn?
Just as Moses had a direct confrontation with Satan, and he learned how to vanquish him, so too are we able to get rid of Satan in our lives. Moses commanded that Satan leave three times, but to no avail. It wasn’t until he invoked the Savior’s power that he was able to make Satan leave.
We won’t normally have to go to such an extreme when we are tempted, but the principle is the same. We are only in Satan’s grasp when we allow ourselves to stay on his turf. If we want to be safe from his temptations and influence, we must stay in the realm of righteous behavior and stay close to the Lord. When the temptations of this world become heavy and difficult to resist or to bear, the only recourse we have for relief is to turn to the Savior. Does this mean that good people should never be tempted? Of course not. But finding relief from Satan’s wiles can only be found by turning to the Savior.
One of the lessons we learn from this encounter is that Satan is not happy, and can’t be, as he is always subject to the laws of God. As much as he would like to circumvent them and get us to do his bidding, when we turn to the Savior and follow Christ, Satan loses all power over us.
The truth about man
The verses that follow show us what happens when we embrace who we really are as children of eternal parentage.
24 And it came to pass that when Satan had departed from the presence of Moses, that Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son;
25 And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God.
26 And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen.
27 And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the Spirit of God.
28 And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore.
29 And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.
30 And it came to pass that Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?
31 And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.
32 And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
33 And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.
34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.
35 But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.
36 And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.
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.
The vision described in small part by verses 27-29 is sometimes referred to as “The Vision.” It seems to be a common vision among those who receive their calling and election.
Verse 39 is the one we need to focus on. This is the place where the Lord definitively declares the purpose behind creating an earth for us, and our purpose in coming here. He lives to create more people like himself. He loves his children. He wants us to experience life as He does, from the very best vantage point. The whole plan of salvation is geared to give us the best possible opportunities to become like our Father in Heaven. This is the driving force behind the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. If God didn’t want us to progress to become more like Him we would have never needed to leave His presence and come to an earth to learn the lessons we have been tasked with learning in mortality.
The purpose of this lesson is to help us see and understand three things:
- We are children of God
- We can resist Satan’s temptations
- God’s work and glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.
As we enter on our studies of the Old Testament this year, keep these things in mind. These are very current topics for the last days. We talk to investigators about this all the time. Yet as current as this news is, Moses was having these revelations thousands of years ago. This just goes to show that the gospel of Christ doesn’t change. The trappings of the gospel change, based on the needs of that generation, but the truths of the gospel are eternal.
Our eternal joy depends on our acceptance of who we are, of our eternal parentage, of our ability to resist Satan and his temptations, and our understanding of why we are here and our glorious potential to become like God and His Christ.