God Revealed Himself to Moses and Abraham

Today’s Reading: Pearl of Great Price Introduction; Moses 1:1-5; Abraham 1:1-5

From the introduction of the Pearl of Great Price – we read that it is a selection of choice materials touching many significant aspects of the faith and doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We also learn that it was translated and produced by the Prophet Joseph Smith. These were originally published in Church periodicals of his day.

Historical Background

Based on Church history and records – we learn the following about the Pearl of Great Price:

  • Elder Franklin D. Richards, a member of the Council of the Twelve and president of the British Mission, made the first collection in 1851
  • Was made available to as membership in the Church grew in Europe and America
  • Became a standard work of sacred Scripture at the October 10, 1880, General Conference
  • 1878 Edition saw portions of the Book of Moses added
  • 1902 editions had certain parts of the Pearl of Great Price omitted as they were duplicated in the Doctrine and Covenants
  • 1902 edition also saw arrangements into chapters, verses, and footnotes
  • 1921 edition was the first publication to have double-column pages and an index
  • 1976 saw two items of revelation added and then in 1979 those revelations were omitted and added as sections 137 and 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants

The Pearl of Great Price contains the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith – Matthew, Joseph Smith – History, and the Articles of Faith. All inspired and brought forth for our learning and understanding (Proverbs 1:7; Romans 15:4). All scripture contains the word of God and have been preserved to come forth by His power (2 Timothy 3:14-17) where we are invited to come unto Christ (D&C 20:59).

Key Principles, Doctrines, and Events – Moses 1:1-5

Key Principles, Doctrines, and Events – Abraham 3:1-5

Theophany and Revelation Given unto Moses

Moses 1 is considered a prologue to the creation accounts we find in Genesis 1-2; Moses 2; and Abraham 4. According to E. Douglas Clark, the Book of Jubilees records a similar type of prologue:

Throughout the history of ancient Israel, much of the sacred literature of the Hebrews was recorded and compiled into the Pentateuch.13 Many books were in circulation from the Jewish return from Babylon until the time of Jesus, a number of which books were not included in the Hebrew canon nor in later Christian canons. These unpublished books now comprise a large collection of works generally thought to date from about 200 BC to AD 200, but often preserving traditions far older. One of these extracanonical books is the book of Jubilees, whose title derives from the book’s divisions of time from Adam until the Exodus into forty-nine-year periods of Jubilee. The entire book is extant only in medieval Ethiopic texts, although a large portion of a Latin text survived. These texts were likely originally translated directly from Hebrew manuscripts. Fifteen older Hebrew fragments of the book were also discovered in the Qumran collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scroll fragments of the Book of Jubilees include chapter one, providing an important textual witness to the medieval Ethiopic text.

A Prologue to Genesis: Moses 1 in Light of Jewish Traditions

When we go to this apocryphal work of scripture – we find the following being stated:

And it came to pass in the first year of the exodus of the children of Israel out
of Egypt, in the third month, on the sixteenth day of the month, [2450 Anno
Mundi] that God spake to Moses, saying: ‘Come up to Me on the Mount, and I will
give thee two tables of stone of the law and of the commandment, which I have
written, that thou mayst teach them.’ And Moses went up into the mount of God,
and the glory of the Lord abode on Mount Sinai, and a cloud overshadowed it
six days. And He called to Moses on the seventh day out of the midst of the cloud,
and the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a flaming fire on the top of
the mount. And Moses was on the Mount forty days and forty nights, and God
taught him the earlier and the later history of the division of all the days of the
law and of the testimony. And He said: ‘Incline thine heart to every word which I
shall speak to thee on this mount, and write them in a book in order that their
generations may see how I have not forsaken them for all the evil which they
have wrought in transgressing the covenant which I establish between Me and
thee for their generations this day on Mount Sinai.

The Book of Jubilees – Chapter 1

Clark illustrates numerous consistencies and differences between Moses 1 and Jubilees 1. The profound impact both have on our present understanding of the Creation, history, and future of our world and existence gives us greater insight into the nature, power, and glory of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Another aspect is that this theophany is consistent with other theophanies we find within scripture. A theophany is the physical appearance of God to man. And the Old Testament describes several theophanies. Not only is this theophany consistent with other theophanies, but Moses also experienced multiple theophanies during his prophetic career and administration. Amy Blake Hardison has a wonderful essay on Moses Theophany on Sinai.

As we study the Old Testament, one will discover three different types of theophanies. These differing appearances are: (1) non-Anthropomorphic appearances – such as the theophany of Moses and the Burning bush, the pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night that went before the nation of Israel, appearance in a dream/vision to King Solomon, and appeared as a whisper unto Elijah, or a voice from Heaven – as in Christ’s baptism. (2) Anthropomorphic appearances include the famous revelation of God at Peniel where Jacob wrestled with a man all night, Moses seeing and speaking with God “face-to-face”, (3) Appearance as an angel is the most common theophany we find within the Old Testament where God appeared as the angel of the Lord. This term occurs approximately 60 times in scriptures. Most Scholars tend to agree that these appearances were also Christophanies – or the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. Latter-day teaching and revelations concur that all such theophanies are also Christophanies where Jesus Christ appeared and spoke with Moses, Abaraham, and other patriarchs of the Old Testament. These theophanies also coincide with visions of the Divine Council where individuals are privileged to see God sitting on his throne and surrounding him are angels.

God Made His Will Clear

As we read and ponder Moses 1:1-5, we begin to see that God’s will is made quite clear. Here, he calls Moses his son. He also reveals unto Moses the workmanship of his hands and that such works are without end. We also learn that God reveals his word and that they never cease. In Greek, word is Logos and means it is something as embodying an idea, a statement, a speech, divine utterance, or analogy. It further refers to an expression of thought or saying – specifically expressing the thoughts of the Father through the Spirit. More importantly, it is a term used to describe Christ’s preeminence. Along with this, logos also is where we get our understanding for the term logic and reason.

When we look at the Hebrew for word, we find that it is davar (daw-baw’) and merely refers to speech, word, discourse, saying, or the sum of that which is spoken. This includes, word of command, royal edict, word of counsel, and request. It also refers to report or message. The root Hebrew term for davar is DR and means order.

Thus, what we come to understand is that when God spake unto Moses, he was revealing reason and order pertaining to the things of His creation and this world. Things that also pertain to His divine glory and attributes. Such idea becomes clearer when we read Abraham 3:1-5 where God reveals to the Patriarch the order, glory, and attributes of the various planets and stars of His own creation.

Revelation given Through a Divine Instrument unto Abraham

While God reveals to Moses His workmanship and purpose – Abraham receives revelation through a divine instrument known as the Urim and Thummim. What we do know is that this device was known as an oracle used on different occasions for different purposes. The oracle itself appears to have a namesake of Light and Truth. What is interesting is that Jesus Christ himself is called the bearer of Light and Truth (John 8:12, John 14:6).

As pertaining to what Abraham saw – we may want to consider that this was not a vision. It was more of God speaking through the Urim and Thummim and revealing to Abraham what he was able to see from a natural perspective. In the work And I Saw the Stars – The Book of Abraham and Ancient Geocentric Astronomy by John Gee, William J. Hamblin, and Daniel C. Peterson we read:

First and most important is the fact that nowhere in verses 1 through 11 is there any mention of a supernatural vision. On the other hand, there are many statements that imply an ordinary view of the sky from earth. Although Abraham used a Urim and Thummim, it is not described as a visionary instrument but rather as an instrument by which God talked to Abraham (“the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim” [Abraham 3:4]). No vision through the Urim and Thummim is mentioned. Likewise, in verses 3, 5, and 6 the Lord is talking to Abraham. Again, no supernatural vision is implied. Verse 11 confirms this interpretation, where Abraham summarizes his experience up to that point, “Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of [his] works” (emphasis added).

The authors also further state that this conversation took place while Abraham observed the night sky. As a youth growing up, many nights I had spent on campouts where I’d sit outside the tent and look up into the night sky. The wonderous and amazing stars. Seeing the meteor showers. And even having an opportunity to see the rings of Saturn through a telescope. A humbling and awe-inspiring experience beyond any description.

Restored that which was lost

The more one studies the restoration of the Gospel – the more one becomes acquainted with the reality that Joseph Smith not only brought forth new revelations, teachings, and principles of truth; he also restored those things that were once lost and in obscurity. Specifically, the nature of Moses and Abraham’s visions and revelations. Both accounts of Moses 1 and Abraham 3 gives us greater insight into God’s divine purpose, glory, and plan. As such, certain doctrines and teachings were once lost and hidden in obscurity. Today, we are blessed with their restoration. These teachings give us better insight into the creation and plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. We learn of our divine origin, our divine purpose, and our divine destiny.

Such truths, as the Come Follow Me – Old Testament manual teaches – revealed unto Moses and Abraham, and restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, may have a powerful influence on our choices and ability to face challenges in life. One of these truths is that we know of a surety God continues to speak through Prophets, providing them with insight, visions, and spiritual experiences necessary to guide His Church in order to advance the Kingdom of God. And while most of us may not have the privilege of seeing and speaking to God face-to-face; we are able to know that through the Scriptures, thoughtful prayer and meditation, He will reveal unto us the truth of His Gospel.

Scripture: Moses 1:1-5 and Abraham 1:1-5

  • Write out each passage by summarizing what each verse is saying

Observation: Moses 1:1-5 and Abraham 1:1-5

  • What are some of the things you notice in both passages?
  • What are some things you had not noticed before? Or what are some things do you notice initially?
  • What is interesting about these passages? What is unusual about them?
  • Do you see any repetition, comparison, or contrast?

Application: Moses 1:1-5 and Abraham 1:1-5

  • How do these passages of scripture apply to you personally?
  • Any specific action that calls to your attention?

Pray – Responding to God’s Word: Moses 1:1-5 and Abraham 1:1-5

  • Worship God and show gratitude for all that he has created
  • Describe the blessings received in knowing that God reveals his light and truth to all of us – in varying ways and degrees
  • Seek His guidance and wisdom in continually grow and transform your life

Purchase January’s Devotion – Feast Upon the Scriptures

Feast Upon the Scriptures challenge us to read, ponder, and study the Old Testament. This devotional is the first volume and follows the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Come Follow Me Curriculum for 2022. These daily devotions challenge us to read the scriptures. Meditate upon them and apply the spiritual truths and insights into our daily lives. The power of scripture study brings encouragement, lifts our spirits, comforts us, guides us, chides us, builds us up, provides hope, and brings us closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Therefore, the month of January – these devotions focus our attention on God’s plan and purpose, our divine heritage, our sense of purpose and meaning, our identity, and our eternal destiny within the scope of God’s plan of salvation. From the creation to the Patriarch Enoch the reader will discover gems of doctrinal truth, spiritual application, and thoughtful questions to ponder.

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