Lesson 1: “This is My Work and My Glory”
Purpose: To help class members understand that (1) we are children of God, (2) we can resist Satan’s temptations, and (3) God’s work and glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.
Scripture Discussion and Application
[1. God teaches that Moses is a son of God.
2. Satan confronts Moses; Moses casts him out.
3. God appears again and teaches of his work and glory.]
[1. “Moses was left unto himself”
2. All are children of God.
3. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.]
On the day the Church was organized – April 6, 1830 – the Lord formally called Joseph Smith to lead the newly organized Church. Let’s read the first part of that formal calling,
Doctrine and Covenants 21:1-2
1 Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,
2 Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith.
Let’s look at the roles that are assigned to Joseph Smith in these lines. First, he is called as a “seer.” What is a seer? [Go through all roles in verse 1, briefly defining each, with an example of how they applied to Joseph Smith.]
These are familiar titles – we regularly sustain certain Church leaders as prophets, seers and revelators; we have elders in every ward, and a quorum of apostles among the General Authorities. How about that assignment as “translator,” though – we don’t sustain Church officers as translators. Yet in these verses we see Joseph assigned that role; and we know from his writings that he considered that one of his primary spiritual roles.
In the ordinary sense of the term, a translator is one who reads two languages, and is able to take a text written in one language, and write the equivalent words in the other language. But where Joseph Smith is concerned, the word has a more extensive meaning. When Joseph began his work, he did not read any language but English. He did not read the language of the ancient Nephites, so when he translated the Book of Mormon, he could do it only by the gift and power of God.
What do you know about the process Joseph used in translating the Book of Mormon? [Allow brief class discussion, partly for class information and partly to assess awareness of difficult issues and familiarity with Gospel Topics essays, as a help in planning future lessons. State that the Church has, within the past few days, posted a new essay at lds.org with fascinating information about Joseph’s translation of the Book of Mormon. Write on board: “lds.org –> Resources –> Gospel Topics –> Browse alphabetically –>Book of Mormon Translation.” Do not spend more than a couple of minutes on Book of Mormon translation, but segue to the more on-topic translation of the Bible as quickly as possible.]
Another of Joseph’s translation callings was to translate the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. But again, in this instance the word “translate” must be understood in a broader sense than the usual narrow meaning. Although Joseph later did study Hebrew to some extent, when he began his translation of the Bible in the spring of 1830, he knew no Hebrew, or Latin or Greek or Aramaic, or any other language used in the Bible, so his translation was more than a simple rendering of text from one language into another.
Joseph did not leave a detailed description of his Biblical translation process, but we do know some things: He apparently read from a copy of the King James Bible purchased especially for this project. He marked that Bible with his changes, sometimes crossing out or adding a few words, more often dictating revisions to scribes who wrote that dictation, eventually resulting in an almost 500-page manuscript.
But that translation process is just what would have been visible to the human eye had we been standing in a corner watching Joseph and his scribe at work. What’s more interesting to us is how he knew what to dictate to his scribe, when he read only English and didn’t even have a Bible in Hebrew in the first place. What do you know about that work of translation? [Allow class to state what they know. Emphasize that in this case, “translation” was “revelation,” with Joseph adding, deleting, and changing phrases and whole verses and chapters, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost and his in his role as prophet. Quote from Bible Dictionary:
The translation process was a learning experience for the Prophet, and several sections of the doctrine and Covenants … were received in direct consequence of the work.]
One of these sections is Section 76. Read from headnote:
Upon my return from Amherst conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body, the term ‘Heaven,’ as intended for the Saints’ eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one. Accordingly, while translating St. John’s Gospel, myself and Elder Rigdon saw the following vision.
So we can see from this example how Joseph’s efforts to understand the Bible and produce a more perfect record led to revelation – either a restoration of knowledge that had been lost over the centuries, or perhaps additional knowledge that had never yet been given to mankind in as full detail as it appears in Section 76.
Significant excerpts from Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible are easily available to us today. Where can we find them? [Solicit class contributions.]
1. Footnotes in LDS Bible marked “JST” (most recent printings have more than earlier printings)
2. Longer excerpts in LDS edition following Bible Dictionary (beginning p. 797)
3. Pearl of Great Price (Moses, Matthew)
4. Outside publications
All of this is prologue to our study of the Old Testament this year. Rather than starting with Genesis, we start with the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Moses is Joseph Smith’s translation of the first part of Genesis, down to the beginning of the story of Noah.
Joseph’s work on Genesis began in the spring of 1830. He translated, or revised, the account of Creation, of Adam and Eve, and of the ancient Biblical figures down to Noah. But beyond making brief corrections to the text under the influence of the Holy Ghost, Joseph also dictated long passages of scripture that do not appear in the King James Bible in any form. By far the most important of these additions is found as Chapter 1 of Moses – nothing like it appears in the Bible that has been transmitted through the ages.
While working on the translation, the Lord gave Joseph Smith a vision, much like he would do later on with Section 76 and other revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. This vision was one that the Lord had earlier shown to Moses, at the beginning of Moses’s mission as a prophet.
Can you think of another occasion when one prophet was given a sort of repeat performance of another prophet’s vision? [Nephi asked for and received Lehi’s vision – are there other examples?] What might have been the Lord’s purpose in “rerunning” such a vision?
We will now read as much of Moses 1 as we have time to read in class. As we do, watch for points that we might not understand today, were we limited to the Genesis account in the King James Bible.
[Read from the scripture, pausing to ask questions and provoke class discussion.]
[As time runs out, tell class that in most classes we will be reading and discussing scripture, but that there will never be enough time to read and discuss even the small portions that have been assigned. Encourage them to read these scriptural sections before class, so that we can spend our time discussing their insights and questions, rather than mine.]
God reveals Himself to Moses—Moses is transfigured—He is confronted by Satan—Moses sees many inhabited worlds—Worlds without number were created by the Son—God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
1 The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain,
What role do mountains often play in sacred history?
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.
Some people quote John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time” to refute Joseph Smith’s account of his First Vision. How do you resolve the apparent discrepancy? [D&C 67:11: For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God. Matthew 5:8: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Also, wait for additional verses below.]
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.
What does “similitude” mean? Does that refer only to the physical body, or also to other characteristics? Why might such knowledge be valuable to us?
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.
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.
“Man is nothing”? What does that mean?
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.
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.
Why would Satan come so soon after this vision? Why would he think he had a chance of getting Moses’s worship? When you have had an unexpected spiritual experience, are you prone to begin to doubt it, to wonder if you interpreted it correctly, or whether it was, after all, a natural event?
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?
How did Moses’s knowledge of his likeness to Jesus Christ prepare him to withstand Satan’s temptation?
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.
When doubts and temptations come, how can the memory of testimony and spiritual events still rescue us?
16 Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.
Again, the strength Moses takes from that knowledge! How often do we think of this similitude? Are we individually getting out of this knowledge as much as Moses did? Should we? How can we?
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.
Moses had had a taste of what God could teach him, and as glorious as it was, it was not enough! He had “other things to inquire of him”! Have you ever been so eager to know more? (If not, should you?) How do you satisfy that craving when it comes?
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.
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.
40 And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest; and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak.
41 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.
42 (These words were spoken unto Moses in the mount, the name of which shall not be known among the children of men. And now they are spoken unto you. Show them not unto any except them that believe. Even so. Amen.)