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How We Taught This Lesson in the Past: Lesson 5: “If Thou Doest Well, Thou Shalt Be Accepted”

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 24, 2010

Lesson 5 is built around two scriptural stories, one (Cain) illustrating the consequences of choosing an evil path, and the other (Enoch) illustrating the rewards of choosing a righteous path. In 1980, those concepts appeared in two successive lessons.

Genesis 4-5; Moses 5:14-6:24

Objective

Class members will more clearly understand the concern the Lord has for each of his children as is shown and thus why he gives them the law of acceptable sacrifice.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

From the very foundation of human history the lord instituted the law of sacrifice. This law has continued throughout the various dispensations, though it appears to have undergone some changes.

In the days of Adam and Moses, as well as today, what has the Lord indicated constitutes an acceptable offering? (While the class responds, develop the following chart on the chalkboard.)

[Chart: “Law of Acceptable Sacrifice Through the Ages”; columns: “The Law of God Given to Adam” (Firstlings of the Flock, First Fruits, Broken Heart, Contrite Spirit); “The Law of Moses” (Cattle, Goats, Grains, Birds, Oil, Wine, Bread, Tithes, Offerings); “The Law of Christ Today” (Tithes, Offerings, Broken Heart, Contrite Spirit, Consecration)]

What is the underlying common factor in making an acceptable offering to God? (Righteous intent.) The law of sacrifice in any age is designed to help the individual come to the Lord and appreciate his mission and atonement. All things are to be done in the name of the Son forever.

Have a class member read Moses 5:6-8.

The Consequences of Evil Intent

One of the earliest tragedies, one which would prove to have great consequences, occurred because of unrighteous intent.

Have the assigned class member report on “The Conflict between Cain and Abel” (Resource Material).

Why was Cain’s sacrifice not acceptable to the Lord? (He did not offer it in faith, with righteous intent.)

Have a student read Moses 5:18, 21, which shows that Lucifer knew the sacrifice would not be accepted.

Why would Satan command Cain to offer a sacrifice to God? (Satan desired to pervert Cain’s priesthood service and destroy his opportunity for salvation. He sought to make Cain miserable like himself.)

Satan desires to cut all people off from God so that he might rule over them in his (Satan’s) kingdom. (Compare with 2 Nephi 2;27-29.) Cain became Perdition, a word meaning utter ruin and destruction.

Have a class member read Moses 5:38-39.

Have a class member read Moses 5:29-31.

What did Satan offer Cain? (Information on how to murder and get gain. Satan himself was even willing to be commanded by Cain in order to assure nothing would go wrong.)

Have a class member read Moses 5:26. In accepting fully the things Satan offered, Cain turned away not only from God, but also from all righteousness. He of course lost his priesthood. According to Joseph Smith, “The power, glory and blessings of the Priesthood could not continue with those who received ordination only as their righteousness continued; for Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice, but not offering it in righteousness, was cursed” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 169).

The Reward of Righteous Intent

How did the Lord show his love for Cain? (He instructed him and gave him warning and counsel. Further, he promised that if Cain did well, he would be accepted just as were Adam and Abel.)

Concerning the law of sacrifice, how has the Lord shown his concern for his Saints right to the present? (He favors and accepts anyone who strives with righteous intent to do his will. Compare 1 Nephi 17:34-35.)

Read Moses 5:33-39 to the class. Cain appears to have believed that no one, including God, would know of his deed. When the Lord asked him of the whereabouts of Abel, he denied any knowledge of it. When the Lord revealed that he was aware of the wrongdoing, Cain agonized “These things are not hid from the Lord” (verse 39).

Have a class member read Hebrews 4:12-13.

Cain of course was deceived by Satan, for nothing is ever hidden from God.

Who was the God who punished Cain? (The premortal Jesus.)

Have a class member read Psalms 89:13-16 and 2 Nephi 27:23. The God of the Old Testament is our God, Jehovah, He who would come to the earth as the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His character and attributes have not changed, neither have the truths of the gospel. He is a God of mercy and love as well as a God of justice and judgment. He was just as loving and merciful in the days of old as today, and is just as strict, judging with the same justice and judgment today as in the days of old. The God of the Old Testament may seem stern and vindictive, because he governed according to law and could not look upon sin and rebellion with anything but abhorrence. Those who had been warned but persisted of course felt his chastening hand. He was, however, quick to turn away his anger from the repentant and humble.

Conclusion

Cain’s fall began before he killed Abel and even before he offered the inacceptable sacrifice. It began when he loved Satan more than God. Note that he “loved Satan more than God” (Moses 5:18, italics added) not instead of God The time came, however, when he did love Satan instead of God. No man can make continual compromises with evil and finally not love Satan and hate God.

Why can’t we follow both God and mammon at the same time? Our hearts are loyal to ne or the other and this influences our behavior.)

Cain yielded to Satan by degrees. But he did not need to. he could have conquered. He had a body, and as Joseph Smith said, “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181.)

We too have power to resist evil. the devil has no power to force us. “The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.’ (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 181.)

Challenge the class to remember the Lord’s promise to Cain, “If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted” (Moses 5:23), in terms of their own opportunities to sacrifice.

Resource Material

Things to Note

Genesis 4:9. This famous question of Cain’s is an interesting one. Is one man another man’s keeper? A keeper is one who guards over another or keeps him under his control. The Hebrew word shomer which is used here means “guard” or “watchman.” Cain’s insolent question is worded with typical Satanic cunning. No man is rightly another’s guard or keeper in the sense of having him under his control. But to imply that there should be no concern for another, especially for one’s own brother, as Cain’s question does imply, is of course not in harmony with standards of love and concern.

Genesis 4:13-14. Cain’s sorrow is not for his terrible crime but only for his punishment. Compare this with the sorrow of the Nephites just prior to their final destruction (see Mormon 2:12-14).

Genesis 4:16-17. Numerous Bible critics have pointed to these verses to show that the bible record is false, asking: “Whom did Cain marry if Adam was the first man?” However, Moses 5:2-3, 16-17 clearly indicates that Cain and Abel were not the first of Adam’s children but were born far down the line.

Genesis 5:1-3. The implication of bearing a son “in his own likeness, after his image” seems to be that Seth looked remarkably like his father Adam. This of course is reminiscent of Adam and Eve’s creation in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27).

Genesis 5:1-32. In this record of genealogy we find important information on the ages and thus the relationship of the patriarchs to one another, as well as important information on the time span of this patriarchal age.

Moses 5:31-33. These verses reveal the depths of Cain’s wickedness. He “gloried” in that which he had done.

Moses 5:49-50. The secret combination wherein one swears a blood oath in order to protect himself in murder and exploitation now went from Cain to his children. But Lamech deteriorated even one step further: he murdered solely for the sake of the oath.

Moses 5:55-59. The Lord caused the gospel to be preached for many reasons, one of which was apostasy.

Moses 6:13-21. In Seth a new righteous line is established and the patriarchal covenant is extended to future generations. The years given at the birth of each son apparently indicate that the genealogy given here was not that of the firstborn in all cases, but rather that of the righteous son who would continue the covenant.

The Conflict Between Cain and Abel

The conflict between Cain and Abel most likely began long before the dark hour when Cain, believing his actions could be hid from all, slew his brother. Both boys had been raised in an era when the fulness of the gospel was administered by Adam. Both boys apparently received the Melchizedek Priesthood. Of this the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “That he [Adam] received revelations, commandments and ordinances at the beginning is beyond the power of controversy; else how did they begin to offer sacrifices to God in an acceptable manner? And if they offered sacrifices they must be authorized by ordination.” (Teachings, pp. 168-69.)

However, “Cain loved Satan more than God” (Moses 5:18). Thus, he received revelation form the adversary. “Make an offering unto the Lord,” the evil one commanded him (Moses 5:18). Cain obeyed, but in doing so perverted the sacred rite. Sacrifice was instituted as a type or symbol of the great sacrifice, even that of the Son of God (see Moses 5:5-8). Therefore, to be properly done it had to be done in faith. Joseph Smith has further explained Cain’s perversion:

“By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith, he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man; for this was the plan of redemption; and without the shedding of blood [there] was no remission; and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.” (Teachings, p. 58.)

When God rejected his perverted offering, “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.” (Moses 5:26). The fall of Cain was very great. “If Cain had fulfilled the law of righteousness as did Enoch,” the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “he could have walked with God all the days of his life and never failed of a blessing” (Teachings, p. 169-70).

Cain was instructed by Satan to put some of his perverse brothers under an evil covenant wherein they could commit murder and get gain. In this organization Cain became Master Mahan. Falsely secure, he murdered his brother. This act sealed his doom. In contrast, Abel “magnified the Priesthood which was conferred upon him, and died a righteous man, and therefore has become an angel of God by receiving his body from the dead, holding still the keys of his dispensation” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 169).

Additional Scriptures

Sons of Perdition

Moses 5:23-24; D&C 76:25-38; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Mosiah 2:36-39; D&C 84:40-41; D&C 88;34-35; Hebrews 6:4-8; 1 John 5:14-18.

Genesis 5:18-32, Moses 6:23-45, Moses 7

Objective

Class members will better appreciate the historical significance of Zion as they familiarize themselves with the scriptural accounts of Enoch and his people and will thereby strive to live worthy of the blessings promised to the people of Zion.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Read Moses 7:63-64

Who will be involved in one of the greatest “family reunions” of all time? (Enoch, his city, the Lord – “the Son of Man” [see Moses 7:59-60] – and the elect from the earth [see also D&C 84:100-1]).

Viewing this as well as other things to be realized in this last dispensation, Wilford Woodruff stated that there “‘never was a generation of the inhabitants of the earth in any age of the world who had greater events awaiting them than the present. … And an age fraught with greater interest to the children of men than the one in which we live never dawned since the creation of the world.: (In Journal of Discourses 18:110-11.)

Have the assigned class member read “Bringing Forth Zion” (Resource Material).

The Ministry of Enoch: A Model for the Establishment of Zion

All the prophets have desired to establish Zion, but Enoch and his people actually did it. In doing so, they provided us with an excellent model for our own work today.

What do the book of Genesis, Moses 6:26-45, and Moses 7 tell us about Enoch? (Responses should focus on the following points. Use an overhead transparency or write comments on the chalkboard to facilitate discussion.)

1. Enoch was Adam’s fourth great grandson (Genesis 5:18-024). Noah, in turn, was Enoch’s great grandson.

2. Enoch was called by God to preach (Moses 6:26-27).

3. Apostasy set in from the beginning (Moses 6:28).

4. Enoch was overwhelmed by the task and by his inadequacies (Moses 6:31).

5. God promised to help Enoch overcome his weaknesses (Moses 6:32-34, compare with Ether 12:27).

6. Enoch became a prophet and a seer (Moses 6:35-36).

7. In spite of his spiritual power, men feared and rejected Enoch (Moses 6:37-39).

8. Enoch preached the fullness of the gospel to his fellow men (Moses 6:37-68).

9. Enoch and his people kept a book of remembrance (Moses 6:45-46).

10. Enoch saw the Lord face to face (Moses 7:2-4).

11. Enoch was shown the people with whom he would work (Moses 7:13-16).

12. With great faith, Enoch led his people in battle (Moses 7:13-16).

13. Enoch established Zion among his people (Moses 7:16-23).

14. Enoch saw the future destiny of the earth in vision, including –

a. Zion translated (Moses 7:21-23).
b. The nations of the earth (Moses 7:22-24).
c. Satan’s power and the ministry of angels combating it (Moses 7:24-27).
d. The compassion and righteous anger of God (Moses 7:28-40).
e. Noah and the flood (Moses 7:42-45).
f. The coming of Christ in the flesh (Moses 7:45-57).
g. The second coming of Christ (Moses 7:58-67).

15. Enoch and Zion were translated (Moses 7:68-69).

Enoch and His People – of One Heart

The greatness of Enoch is particularly apparent in his spiritual power and marvelous vision of the future. His covenant-keeping people are an example to us of a people surrounded, but not overcome by wickedness, who learned to live the gospel so perfectly that “God received [them] up unto his own bosom” (Moses 7:69).

How did Enoch’s people eventually become “of one heart”? (They found unity, not in any secret formula but by daily living the plan of salvation, the same plan we enjoy today. They shared common values and goals.)

Have the assigned class member summarize “Becoming the Pure in heart” (Resource Material) to emphasize how we, in our time, also can become the pure in heart.

Conclusion

How would a ward or branch be different if unselfishness were a habit with each person?

How would family life change if everyone cooperated and worked in harmony with each other?

How would a community be affected if all were willing to sacrifice whatever was required by the Lord?

Christ said: “… if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). Enoch and his Zion are the striking example of the fruits of righteousness – peace.

Challenge class members to evaluate their desire to become pure in heart and to work actively to purify themselves in preparation for Zion.

Resource Material

Things to Note

Genesis 5;22-23. Genesis records that Enoch lived a total of 365 years, but the Moses account makes it clear that he lived 65 years before he established Zion, and Zion existed 365 years before it was translated, meaning a total of 430 years for Enoch’s life on earth (see Moses 6:25; Moses 7:68; Moses 8:1).
Genesis 5:25-26. Methuselah, son of Enoch, “was not taken” into heaven with the city of Enoch. He remained so that the Lord’s promise could be fulfilled that Enoch would have a posterity which would remain on the earth (Moses 7:51-52; 8:2-3). This promise was further fulfilled through Methuselah’s grandson, Noah, who preserved Enoch’s lineage on the earth through the flood.

Bringing Forth Zion

“The powers of earth and hell have striven to destroy this kingdom from the earth. The wicked have succeeded in doing so in former ages; but this kingdom they cannot destroy, because it is the last dispensation – because it is the fulness of times. It is the dispensation of all dispensations, and will excel in magnificence and glory every dispensation that has ever been committed to the children of men upon this earth. The Lord will bring again Zion, redeem his Israel, plant his standard upon the earth, and establish the laws of his kingdom, and those laws will prevail.” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 8:36.)

Zion Is Established

“And now, I ask, how righteousness and truth are going to sweep the earth as with a flood? I will answer. Men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 2:260.)

“In the day of regeneration, when all things are made new, there will be three great cities that will be holy. One will be the Jerusalem of old which shall be rebuilt according to the prophecy of Ezekiel. One will be the city of Zion, or of Enoch, which was taken from the earth when Enoch was translated and which will be restored; and the city Zion, or new Jerusalem, which is to be built by the seed of Joseph on this the American continent.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:105.)

Becoming the Pure in Heart

“We wish to remind all the Saints of the blessings that come from observing the regular fast and contributing as generous a fast offering as we can, and as we are in a position to give. Wherever we can, we should give many times the value of the meals from which we abstained.

“The principle of promise, when lived in the spirit thereof, greatly blesses both giver and receiver. Upon practicing the law of the fast, one finds a personal well-spring of power to overcome self-indulgence and selfishness. …

“For many years we have been taught that one important end result of our labors, hopes, and aspirations in this work is the building of a Latter-day Zion, a Zion characterized by love, harmony, and peace – a Zion in which the Lord’s children are as one. …

“This day will come; it is our destiny to help bring it about! Doesn’t it motivate you to lengthen your stride and quicken your pace as you do your part in the great sanctifying work of the kingdom? It does me. It causes me to rejoice over the many opportunities for service and sacrifice afforded me and my family as we seek to do our part in establishing Zion. …

“As important as it is to have this vision in mind, defining and describing Zion will not bring it about. That can only be done through consistent and concerted daily effort by every single member of the Church. No matter what the cost in toil or sacrifice, we must ‘do it.’ That is one of my favorite phrases: ‘do it.’ May I suggest three fundamental things we must do if we are to ‘bring again Zion,’ three things for which we who labor for Zion must commit ourselves.

“First, we must eliminate the individual tendency to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the mind. …

“Second, we must cooperate completely and work in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions and unity in our actions. …

“If the Spirit of the Lord is to magnify our labors, then this spirit of oneness and cooperation must be the prevailing spirit in all that we do. …

“Third we must lay on the altar and sacrifice whatever is required by the Lord. We begin by offering a ‘broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ We follow this by giving our best effort in our assigned fields of labor and callings. We learn our duty and execute it fully. Finally we consecrate our time, talents, and means as called upon by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of the Spirit. …

“Let us unite and pray with all the energy of heart, that we may be sealed by this bond of charity; that we may build up this latter-day Zion, that the kingdom of God may go forth, so that the kingdom of heaven may come.” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Apr. 1968, pp. 121, 122-24; or Ensign, May 19678, pp. 80-81.)

Additional Scriptures

Zion

Moses 7:27, 31, 34, 47, 69; D&C 38:4; D&C 45:11, 12; D&C 84-96, 98-100; Moses 7:6-69; D&C 97:21; 4 Nephi 1:2, 3, 15, 16.



2 Comments »

  1. Genesis 4:16-17. Numerous Bible critics have pointed to these verses to show that the bible record is false, asking: “Whom did Cain marry if Adam was the first man?” However, Moses 5:2-3, 16-17 clearly indicates that Cain and Abel were not the first of Adam’s children but were born far down the line.

    That one made me laugh.

    Comment by Hunter — January 24, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  2. Yeah … the things we obsess over!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 25, 2010 @ 6:20 am

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