Thursday, December 26, 2013

OT #1: This is My Work and My Glory

Amazing how four years go by and we again begin the Old Testament. For those who did not read my last go around on the Old Testament lessons in 2010, you can read lesson #1 here.

This first lesson in the Old Testament actually starts us in the Book of Moses, chapter one. The Book of Moses is a part of Joseph Smith's "Translation" of the Bible. Rather than an actual translation, however, we are benefited by a revelation given to Joseph Smith of things revealed to Moses. Beginning the Old Testament with Moses 1 gives us a truly Mormon taste of what the gospel throughout the ages is all about.

El Elyon
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? (Moses 1:3)
In the original sense, "Lord God Almighty" denotes God the Father. God Almighty is El Elyon or Elohim in Hebrew. Many LDS leaders have suggested that it was Christ that appeared to Moses in the stead of the Father. This is possible, for "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:19). However, we are to understand by the terminology used that Moses is in the presence of the Father.
The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain, 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. (Moses 1:1-2)

In a time when there are no temples or tabernacles, God spoke to mankind in secluded, special places. Often the secluded place would be at the top of a mountain. To speak to God on a mountain top meant a climb. The person would ascend towards the heavens and God's throne. One ascends out of the common world and into a world that is starkly different and set apart.
As a preparation to speak to God, Moses is then transfigured by the glory of God. No one can see God and still live, unless he is first changed so he can withstand the glory of God. Still, we will see that Moses does not see the full glory of God, but only a part of it. In the ancient text, Ascension of Isaiah, the prophet sees Christ descend through the heavens to the earth. As he descends, he empties himself of his glory, so that the angels and beings on the lower levels of the heavens/cosmos may bear his presence. So we see the Lord explain to Moses:
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. (vs 5)
God revealed what he could to Moses. It is possible that Moses, in awe of the things he saw, would not fully understand all that was shown to him.
Satan the Deceiver
And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me. 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? 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? 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. Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten. (vv 12-16)
Once the Lord departed and left Moses alone and weak, the Tempter showed up. Satan demanded that Moses worship him. He is, after all, the god of the fallen world, and claims it as his own. Moses noted that only because he has experienced the glory of the true God can he determine the deceit of Satan. Where Moses was filled with glory and light, now all he experiences is an emptiness and darkness.
This is an important concept for us today. Many people cannot tell the difference between God and Satan, simply because they have not tasted the glory of God, or have forgotten the spiritual experiences they have had. Satan can also climb exceedingly high mountains and provide stimulating experiences to humans, whether through drugs, sex, pride, power, wealth, or other methods.
The differences lie in these concepts: 1. the real God tells us that we are "after the similitude of mine Only Begotten", meaning we are made of the same substance as God himself is. 2. God's glory is an experience that can help us determine the light from the dark. 3. It doesn't matter what logic Satan uses with us, there is only one God.
Finally, Satan's desire is to rule and reign over us as he sees fit, using us as chattel. God has a different goal:
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (v 39)
For those who believe that God is the "Unmoved Mover", who does not feel emotion towards the children of men, we see here and will see through the Book of Moses and the Bible that God is the "Most Moved Mover". He is glorious because of his purpose, which is to save and exalt his creation. In this he gains his glory. To be a being with great power does not necessarily merit worship and devotion from mortals. There are those who see God as a cruel and vengeful God, whose desire is to save only a few, and condemn the rest of his creation to hell fire. Where is the glory in being that kind of God? So were the gods of Egypt, where Moses was born. So is Satan, who was willing to use fear and power to cause Moses to obey and follow.
But the Lord God Almighty, who has created us in the similitude of the Only Begotten, has placed us in a special place. We are his children, and he has determined that true glory comes from focusing on glorifying his own creation.

No comments: