Saturday, January 29, 2022

Come Follow Me: Genesis 5-11; Moses 8

 Come Follow Me: Genesis 5-11; Moses 8

Map of Utah Cities - Utah Road Map

 

 President Russell M. Nelson encouraged us in the October 2021 General Conference to seek "pure doctrine, pure truth and pure revelation."

In stating this, it opens up several questions. If there is a pure form of these, are there impure forms? What if our doctrine, truth and revelations are only 75 percent pure? More or less? 

Clearly, we seek the pure forms because previous teachings and concepts have occasionally come to us in impure versions, often because the teacher/receiver is not ready for the fullness.

For example, Nephi noted to his brothers that in the Vision of the Tree of Life, Lehi did not notice the filthiness of the waters, because his mind was caught up elsewhere (1 Nephi 15). Our current understanding, our biases, our beliefs can hinder our receiving greater inspiration. Why could God only go to Joseph Smith in the First Vision? Probably because others were already too steeped in traditional Christianity to be able to open their hearts and minds to a radical new revelation.

So it often is with scripture and teachings. In D&C 88:78, we read:

Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand...

Here we learn that we must teach and learn doctrine AND theory. It is okay to learn theory. The problem comes when we confuse theory with doctrine. Humans do it all the time. We theorized why there was a priesthood ban, blaming ancient curses (discussed below). We theorized over whether plural marriage is required for exaltation. We theorize over the age of the earth and of creation. We theorize over how the atonement works.

Theorizing is not a problem. The problem lies in moving theories into the pure doctrine category, when they don't belong there. Members, including some past church leaders, are guilty of doing this. Such was very common in the 20th century. The Church has sought to move away from such theory as doctrine, since then.

Latter-day Saint scholar Ben Spackman asks us to consider a road map. You can use it to plan trips across the country, finding interesting stops along the way. Can you use that same map to determine the altitude of a city? The depth and width of a river? How many trees are in a forest, and what type trees are there? No. The map is a representation of the real thing. It isn't the exact same size as reality. It is flat, while the earth is round. It doesn't really show the height of hills or mountains, nor the depth of valleys. There is a purpose for a road map, and as long as we use it for that purpose, it works well. 

However, we enter into problems when we use the map for other purposes. A state map will not show you how to cross the country. It also won't show the little streets in a small town. It is a representation of the real thing, but doesn't contain all the information found in reality.

So it is with theory. We use a theory from Newton to figure movement and gravity of normal sized things. We use another theory to determine sub-atomic particles, which are not affected by gravity. Currently, we do not have a theory that fits all things, so we use two different maps, understanding neither is complete.

And in the gospel, we find theory, also. In modern scripture and the temple, there are at least 7 differing Creation stories. In seeing the differences, such as Genesis 1 creates a flat earth and all the universe is tiny; to Abraham's Kolob preceding the creation of the earth and heavens, showing a very expansive universe. Each story is a map to show important things of the reality of God's creations. They are not a scientific explanation of how the earth was created, as science completely disagrees with a young earth creation. The religious map does not include science in it, when it comes to the Creation. Also, ancient Hebrews did not understand history and science as we do today. Noah's flood was about 20 feet deep, which would not begin to cover Mt Everest, the Andes, nor the Rocky Mountains. However, for ancient people whose mountains were only a hundred feet high, perhaps it would seem all could be covered up.

And so there are different theories on Noah's flood, which we'll discuss more below. There is nothing wrong with most of the theories, as long as we recognize they are maps or representations of the real thing, often missing key pieces of information.

Examples of actual pure doctrine: God lives, Jesus is the Christ. Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, the Word of Wisdom.

Examples of theory, sometimes taught as doctrine:  How the atonement happened, Joseph Smith and his successors are infallible, Diet Coke is against the Word of Wisdom.

In the end, we find that we have very little pure doctrine, and a lot of theory built up around the doctrine as we attempt to understand it. There's nothing wrong with this, as long as we recognize that theory doesn't equal doctrine, while still being useful as a representation that helps us understand the doctrine.

Background:

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times" or so Charles Dickens described the circumstances in Europe when one compared London to Paris. The peaceful and calm order of London seemed preferable to the chaotic mob violence of revolutionary France. Yet while many fled France for safer shores, others were drawn to the insanity (Dickens, Tale of Two Cities).


So it was in the days of Enoch. Because violent secret combinations were abounding in the world, many sought safety and refuge in the City of Enoch. Over several centuries, Enoch's people had refined themselves spiritually. They found that great faith and obedience brought God's protection and blessings. Finding themselves surrounded by evil men and the Watchers (fallen angels), meant they had to rely on God to survive. Under Enoch's guidance, they put their enemies to flight, even though they were vastly outnumbered. Enoch's city eventually became so righteous as to become Zion, the City of God. In time, Zion was taken from the world, as "God received it up into his own bosom" (Moses 7:18-21, 64-69), where it would remain until it returns to earth at the Savior's second coming.

Moses 8:1-30

With Zion gone, there are few righteous left on earth. Methuselah, Lamech and Noah preach repentance among the people. As additional people believe on their words, the Lord either translates them to the city of Enoch, or allows them to peacefully die prior to the Flood.

Apostate Lifestyle

Satan doesn't have original ideas. In deceiving the world, he convinces them of the rightness of his methods.

We are told that there are two people: the sons of God, and the sons of man (vs. 13-14). The sons of God gave heed to the things of God. Meanwhile, the sons of man focused on the worldly things, such as the physical beauty of their women. More and more of the sons of God were enticed by the pretty daughters of worldly men, and left their holy callings to join the Watchers, fallen sons of God who used holy secrets for wicked purposes.

The Watchers are mentioned in several ancient writings, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. The early texts state that the women stayed fair and comely by taking a potion that terminated pregnancy. For those who did have children, they bore giants. The writings state they were as tall as a tree, consuming and destroying as they went forth. In Moses 8:18, we read that the giants sought to kill Noah. Moses 8 ties in perfectly with the ancient stories of the Watchers.

Apostates always seek to have their methods accepted as part of the norm. They insist they are just as good as everyone else, and attempt to convince all to accept their ways. In vs. 21, the apostates begin by proclaiming they are "sons of God." They have worked hard in order to eat and drink. They married and had children, seeking to multiply and replenish the earth. And while their sons were not active priesthood bearers, they were "mighty men," like the ancient heroes (action figure sold separately). They were convinced that God accepted them on their terms. In reality, "God saw that the wickedness of men had become great in the earth; and every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually (vs. 20-22).

As with France in its revolution, violence became the norm. Mobs and secret combinations ruled, many innocent people were falsely accused and murdered. Spiritual peace was replaced with a frenzied blood lust. God had no choice but to destroy those who were ripened in iniquity.

And today?

Today we see nations, cultures, religions and people, who believe God will accept them on their terms. Our nation is obsessed with selfishness, sex and violence.

 
Potions and pills are used to end unwanted pregnancies. Our heroes are mighty men of renown on the gridiron or on the big screen. You can purchase the action figure. Spirituality is okay, as long as its rules and expectations aren't imposed on everyone.

People eat, drink, marry and are given in marriage. In fact, when marriage bores us, society encourages us to divorce and marry several more times. Marriage becomes just one of many forms of relationship.

Sexual sin is no longer a sin, but a freedom of expression. True intimacy is replaced by a new norm: free sex. It is the norm in media and in most homes.

While the story of Noah briefly notes the apostate version of marriage and intimacy, violence is the big focus of concern. Our society is as addicted to violence as it is to sex. Movie blockbusters are exciting because of the violence. The biggest video games are based on some level of violence. Grand Theft Auto and other extremely violent games are based on glorifying vice and violence.
Our world is quickly resembling Noah's.

The Flood

Several issues come up when discussing the Flood. We’ll look at several of the issues.

Issue #1: Was it a global flood?

Various Christians, including LDS, are divided on this topic. The standard is to believe that the flood covered the entire earth. One of the main reasons for LDS is because it was the baptism of the earth (which will also be baptized with fire/Spirit at the last day). Those who have this view see the earth as a sentient being, taking literally the event in Moses 7, where Enoch sees the earth languish and speak out against the wickedness of mankind. If the earth is a sentient being, can think and speak, and requires baptism, then the world would necessarily have to be fully immersed.

Global flood stories are found all over the world. One of the earliest stories is the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the story, Gilgamesh seeks the secrets of happiness. Through his world travels, he runs across an ancient man, who with his wife survived a global flood. Among the Inca of South America, the great Flood was a major event that occurred prior to their peoples being established.

The opposing viewpoint is that the Flood was a local phenomenon. Several arguments are used. First, there is no geological evidence for a global flood, at least not in human history. With a global flood, one should be able to find a very thick layer of sedimentary rock everywhere in the world dating to the time of Noah (believed to be around 2500-2000 BC). Geology has used such evidence to show major asteroid strikes in the past, including one 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs. This strike left a global layer of iridium dating to that period. So, where is the flood layer?

Second, would be the problem of gathering all of the animals into the ark. With the thousands of species available today, there is no way he could easily have fit them into the ark. Or feed them for 13 months, for that matter. If we suppose there were just a few species that evolved later into other species (black bears into grizzlies, polar bears, etc), then we have a problem with the distribution of animals after the flood. Evolution, according to science, does occur, but not quite that much in just a few thousand years. Also, each of these species would somehow have to repopulate the world, crossing oceans and other barriers. Polar Bears would only go to the Arctic. Penguins only go to the Southern hemisphere. Animals with placentas (kangaroo, koala) would go to Australia.

If Noah were to gather up two of every kind of insect (creeping thing), then the ark would have been filled with just the insects, which are found in the millions of species. And how would earth worms crawl from one continent to the next?

Finally, there is archaeological evidence of civilizations continuing throughout that period. If there were a global flood, we would not see thousands of human and millions of animal remains dating to that time period. If only two bears were on the ark, it would take hundreds of years for them to repopulate even a small portion of the earth.

So, did the global Flood really occur? Maybe.

It is in issues like this that, at least for now, we must separate science and religion. When God reveals all things, we will see the two work hand in hand. With science as incomplete and religious texts as occasionally literal and occasionally metaphor, it is difficult to know where the facts end and the theories/assumptions of either begin.
If we keep an open mind, we can gain much good from considering any or all theories regarding the Flood (and other Bible stories). For example, there are scientists and Bible scholars today, who suggest the Flood may have been a regional, rather than global, phenomenon. For Noah, such a giant flood would have seemed to engulf the entire world. Think about the tsunami of 2004, which inundated coast lines across the ocean, but primarily around Indonesia and Thailand. Over 100,000 people died that day. For those involved, it would definitely have seemed that the world was drowning in water.

Issue #2: Was it two or seven animals?

In Genesis 6, God commands Noah that the ark was to be loaded two by two. In Genesis 7:2, God commands him that 7 clean animals were to be loaded. Then in Genesis 7:9, only two of each are loaded. So, which is it?

The Documentary Hypothesis, which was discussed in a previous lesson, also applies to the Flood. In his book, Who Wrote the Bible?, scholar Richard E. Friedman shows that we actually have TWO stories of the Flood combined in one story. One story, from the ancient author J tells us that there were two of each animal going aboard the ark, and that “the flood was upon the earth 40 days” (Gen 7:17). The second story, from the Priest (P) source, was only interested in boarding the clean animals, and so updated the story to include 7 clean animals. The seventh animal was for an animal sacrifice. Meanwhile, P’s story had the waters “prevailing upon the earth” for 150 days (Genesis 7:24). In Genesis 8, we see the waters settling both after 150 days (vs. 3) and after 40 days (vs. 6). One story tells of Noah sending a raven out, while the other tells of a dove being sent out. Dr Friedman shows how you can literally pull two separate Flood stories out and have two perfectly good, but different, Flood stories.

We tend to read the Bible as if it were written by one person, or a closely knit group of people, who all had the same information and purpose. According to the Documentary Hypothesis, the Bible had several editor/authors, who took their oral/written version of ancient stories and spun them to meet their religious and political views. As we continue through the Bible, we’ll see more evidence of the DH and how the political winners tried to rewrite history. This is perfect evidence of the LDS teaching, “we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far it is translated correctly” (Article of Faith 8).

Noah and the Jaredites

If the flood were a regional flood, Noah would not have to carry thousands of species with him, and then have them repopulate the entire earth after the Flood. Instead, he would stock the ark, just as the Jaredites stocked their barges (Ether 2). Since the Jaredites did not know where they were going, how long they would be traveling, or if the flora and fauna in their new promised land would be different than what they were accustomed to; they took everything in their own locale with them. They took fish and honey bees with them (vs. 2-3), as well as seeds of plants they were familiar with. Clearly they took their prophet’s guidance on food storage seriously. They had prepared their ark, just as Noah’s ark was prepared (Ether 6:7). In fact, according to Hugh Nibley, some ancient texts teach of an ancient stone/plant, called the Pyrophilus, which shined in the darkness and was used by Noah (http://emp.byui.edu/MarrottR/NoahsArkShiningStone.pdf)

The Rainbow

Whether it was 40 or 150 days, the Flood eventually receded enough for Noah and the animals to disembark. Noah makes a sacrifice, obviously from the spare 7th clean animal. Had he sacrificed one of the two clean animals of J, there would not have been sufficient to repopulate the world. Of course, in Noah’s day, there was no separation of clean and unclean animals. The concept of clean and unclean came with the Mosaic Law, which would not happen for another thousand years. However, the Priest “P” author(s) who updated the Flood story, felt it imperative to ensure Noah was kosher in his sacrifices according to their own laws.

The Lord is pleased by the sacrifice and promises to never flood the earth by flood again. As a token of this promise, God places a rainbow in the sky. Some Christians believe this is the first time a rainbow was ever seen on earth. However, this is an argument from silence, as there is no evidence that rainbows were not seen prior to the Flood.
According to Joseph Smith, the bow does signify a major promise. “I have asked of the Lord concerning His coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said, “In the days of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there should be seed time and harvest during that year; but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, section 6, pg 340).

I have seen a rainbow already this year (2010), so we’re safe for now.

The Noahic Covenant

The covenant of Noah is the covenant given to the Gentile nations, according to the Jews. It is the covenant Gentiles are expected to live by, if they wish to have God’s blessings; while the Jews have the Law of Moses to guide them.
The Noahic Covenant contains the following agreement: God will bless Noah and his children, and not destroy them by flood, if they do the following:

1. Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen 9:1).
2. You can eat meat, but do not eat blood of the animals you kill (9:4).
3. Do not murder (9:5-6).


Each of these commands ties in directly with the sins of Cain and the wicked, prior to the destruction of the world by flood. As mentioned above, ancient texts suggest the Watchers had potions to end pregnancy. The people were not interested in replenishing the earth. The people had blood lust, and were not concerned about eating not only the flesh of animals, but also the blood. And violence and murder had become the norm among mankind.

Curse of Canaan

For many years, traditional Christians and many Latter-day Saints believed that the Canaanites (Gen 9:18) were black skinned. This belief added to the concept of the “curse of Cain” being promulgated through the lineage of Ham (with a black wife descended from Cain). Archaeology has proven that the Canaanites were a Semitic/white group, not black. If there ever were a curse given to Canaan by Noah, or on Cain by God, it was not passed down to black Africans. Sadly, traditions that are based on speculation often hurt groups of people. The ban on the priesthood may have been put in place by God and his prophets, but it had nothing to do with a curse. As mentioned in an earlier lesson, Pres David O. McKay and other prophets researched the priesthood ban, and could not find an original commandment or revelation regarding it. All we know is it took a revelation in 1978 to lift the ban, and I’m thankful to live in this time when we are beyond the ban and embracing people of all races as members in full fellowship (see more at Black LDS Mormons).

 The Church has a list of gospel topics, which includes "race and the priesthood." The essay notes that while earlier church members and leaders believed and taught about the curse of Cain, it is not believed nor accepted today. It was an instance of a theory being taught so much that it became doctrine - until modern revelation showed that it wasn't.

 

So, Noah got drunk and Ham saw him naked. Why curse Canaan, if Ham saw him naked? Why not curse Ham, or why curse just one of Ham’s sons, and not all of them?

 
In the ancient Book of Jasher (Sepir Ha Yasher or Book of the Upright), we find an interesting reason why this occured. The tradition had it that Adam’s garment was a special treasure and keepsake for the sons of God. It was handed down from righteous father to righteous son (Jasher 7:24). Noah received the garments at the death of Methuselah and took them into the ark with him. It is possible  Noah used the garment to attract the animals, and to get them into the ark, just as Adam used them to name the animals in the beginning.

However, some time after leaving the ark, Ham stole the garment from Noah. It is very likely that Ham stole it while Noah was drunk in his tent, and the garment of Adam was replaced with another garment by Shem and Japheth. The Book of Jasher tells us that Ham gave it to his son, Cush, who passed them down through his own lineage. Cush gave the garments to Nimrod (the same one mentioned in the Book of Abraham), who used the garments to create his hunting prowess and power.

Is it possible that Noah cursed Canaan and the other children of Ham, because of this theft?

Jasher tells us:

Quote:

27 And in their going out (of the ark), Ham stole those garments from Noah his father, and he took them and hid them from his brothers.
28 And when Ham begat his first born Cush, he gave him the garments in secret, and they were with Cush many days.
29 And Cush also concealed them from his sons and brothers, and when Cush had begotten Nimrod, he gave him those garments through his love for him, and Nimrod grew up, and when he was twenty years old he put on those garments.
30 And Nimrod became strong when he put on the garments, and God gave him might and strength, and he was a mighty hunter in the earth, yea, he was a mighty hunter in the field, and he hunted the animals and he built altars, and he offered upon them the animals before the Lord.
31 And Nimrod strengthened himself, and he rose up from amongst his brethren, and he fought the battles of his brethren against all their enemies round about.
32 And the Lord delivered all the enemies of his brethren in his hands, and God prospered him from time to time in his battles, and he reigned upon earth.

 
According to this story, due to his use of the garment, Nimrod gained control of the world around him. Just like the Watchers before the Flood, Nimrod was using the powers of heaven for evil purposes. (See: Book of Jasher 7)


The Tower of Babel


Eventually, Nimrod became powerful enough that he ruled everything. The Book of Jasher states:

Quote:
45 And all nations and tongues heard of his (Nimrod’s) fame, and they gathered themselves to him, and they bowed down to the earth, and they brought him offerings, and he became their lord and king, and they all dwelt with him in the city at Shinar, and Nimrod reigned in the earth over all the sons of Noah, and they were all under his power and counsel.
46And all the earth was of one tongue and words of union, but Nimrod did not go in the ways of the Lord, and he was more wicked than all the men that were before him, from the days of the flood until those days.
Nimrod came up with the idea of creating a tower (Ziggurat temple) that could reach heaven. In so doing, he sought to kick God off his throne. Not only did he wish to rule the world, he also wanted to rule the heavens. How did Nimrod suppose he could reach heaven if he could not see it?

Or maybe he could see it. According to George Laub’s autobiography, Joseph Smith taught him the following possible theory:
Quote:
“Now I will tell the story of the designs of building the tower of Babel. It was designed to go to the city of Enoch for the veil was not yet so great that it hit it from their sight, so they concluded to go to the city of Enoch. For God gave him (Enoch) place above the impure air for he could breathe a pure air and him and his city was taken” (George Laub Autobiography, pg 14).
Enoch’s city, as we saw earlier, was taken up to heaven. If George Laub’s account is correct, it was still in the process of being taken up, probably floating in the stratosphere. Nimrod could see it. He knew it was Enoch’s city, as his great-grandfather Noah and grandfather Ham would have told everyone. This was Nimrod’s chance to overthrow the holy city and ascend with it into heaven, where he believed he could toss God out on his ear. After all, Nimrod did possess the powerful garment of Adam, and had so far been invincible against his enemies.

God had no option but to scatter the people at the tower, for “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Gen 11:6).

Isaiah would prophesy centuries later against Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon in 600 BC, who would seek to restore the glories of Nimrod’s Babylon:
Quote:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations? For thous hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High (El Elyon). Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).

This perfectly describes Nimrod, Nebuchadnezzar AND Satan. Each sought to overthrow God and his kingdom. The stars of God were the divine sons of God. The “mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north” represented the divine council in heaven, all divine sons of El Elyon, God Most High. In overthrowing the city of Enoch, Nimrod sought to do exactly as Satan tried to do in the Grand Council in heaven. He gathered his strength and armies, and sought a war in heaven. Only God could end each rebellion.

Once the people at the Tower of Babel could no longer speak the same language, they were unable to continue in unity, and dispersed. Nimrod’s hopes of overthrowing Enoch’s city and the kingdom of Heaven were thwarted.

Nimrod’s power diminishes as his people disperse. But we will see more of Nimrod and Adam’s garment again.

Satan Seeks Continually to Overthrow Heaven

But a few centuries had past after the destruction of the world by the Flood, and Satan again had created a new set of Watchers, sons of Adam/Noah, who should have used their power and responsibility for good purposes, but used them to get gain and power, instead. Only by a show of great force was God able to thwart Satan’s efforts to unite the world in overthrowing heaven.

During the Millennium, Satan will be bound for a season. At the end of the thousand years of heavenly peace on earth, Satan will be loosed again. He will tempt and sway the sons of God in that day to reject the heavenly plan, and many will join him in the last day as Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38) in a final effort to throw God out of the earthly “heaven”, and to reestablish it as Satan’s throne.

In the temple, we practice ascending to the Celestial Kingdom. In our daily walk, do we seek to ascend in the manner God wants us to, humbly and meekly serving? Or do we seek to gain power and force our way into heaven? 


Indications of Multiple Authorship in the 5 Books of Moses

For many Christians, the idea of multiple authorship of the Pentateuch/Torah is heresy. Yet, it is clearly illustrated, as they now exist, the first five books of the Bible were not written by Moses but by later writers. And while there are many theories that scholars now have to argue against the Documentary Hypothesis, the idea of multiple authors isn’t questioned.

Internal evidence begins with verses that easily demonstrate that portions were written long after Moses’ time. At the end of Deuteronomy, it talks about the death of Moses – something that would be very difficult for Moses to write about. The Pentateuch notes that during the time of Genesis, “Canaanites still dwelt in the land.” Why make such a statement, if Moses is writing this? Of Course, the Canaanites are still in the land! Only later, in King David’s time, do we see an end to the Canaanites.

Scholars began to note that there was special use of the two major names of God: El Elyon and Yahweh/Jehovah. Rarely are they used together in the Torah, but they still create conflict in scripture. God said to Moses that he appeared to Abraham as El Shaddai (God of the Mountain), but never as Yahweh. However, in Gen 4, people are calling upon the name of Yahweh during the time of Enoch, and the name is used frequently in regards to Abraham’s time, as well.

Therefore, we can presume that Exodus 6:3 comes from another source that was not aware of the name Yahweh being used at the time of Abraham and before.

Richard E Friedman, in Who Wrote the Bible?, explains that El was the chief God of the Palestine region, ruling over the council of gods. “The God of Israel was Yahweh. He, too, was male, patriarchal, a ruler, and not identified with any one force in nature.” We will see that early Hebrews saw Yahweh as a member of El’s council, assigned Israel as his kingdom to rule over. Later, the Jews would combine El and Yahweh into one god and remove God’s consort and the divine council.
Doublets and triplets are noted in the scripture – where events and sayings are said twice or even three times. We have Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on both Mt Sinai and Mt Horeb. Moses twice goes to Meribah and brings water out of a rock – in one version, the angel of the Lord stands upon the rock Moses is to strike, while in the other version, Moses is disobedient to God and ends up losing his right to enter into the Promised Land (Nephi only notes the first version in the Book of Mormon).

The story of Noah’s Flood is the perfect example of a doublet that was combined. We have Noah commanded in one story to build the ark, because a flood is coming. In one story, he brings in animals two by two, while in the other, 7 clean animals are brought in (clean/unclean only occurs in the Mosaic law, and shows a later story line development). One story gives 40 days and nights for the flood, while the other floods for almost a year. One has a dove, the other a raven. One story consistently calls God, Elohim, while the other consistently calls him Yahweh.

So, we end up with scholars, such as Wellhausen, suggesting 4 major writers for the Pentateuch. Friedman writes, “There was evidence that the Five Books of Moses had been composed by combining four different source documents into one continuous history. For working purposes, the four documents were identified by alphabetic symbols. The document that was associated with the divine name Yahweh/Jehovh was called J. The document that was identified as referring to the deity as God (in Hebrew Elohim) was called E. The third document, by far the largest, included most of the legal sections and concentrated a great deal on matters having to do with priests, and so it was called P. And the source that was found only in the book of Deuteronomy was called D.”

Friedman suggests that J and E were two rival priestly authors. King David had two priests, Abiathar from the lineage of Moses and keepers of the tabernacle in Shiloh (northern kingdom), and Zadok, who descended from Aaron. When Solomon became king, Abiathar had supported Solomon’s brother, so the new king sent him into exile back to the Northern Kingdom, and created laws that benefited Judah and the southern kingdom, while creating bigger burdens on the north. This political division likely created the sources for J (southern kingdom of Judah) and E (northern kingdom of 10 tribes).

In Genesis 1 and 2, we get two different creation stories. Genesis 1 calls God, Elohim 35 times. Genesis 2 calls God, Yahweh 11 times. They get the orders of things different. Genesis 1 has plants, animals then man and woman. Genesis 2 has man, plants, animals, then woman. While most now think Genesis 1 was a P document, Friedman suggests it was inspired by E, while Genesis 2 is agreed to be by J. Later, Friedman notes that P is clearly influenced by the E source on its writings.
We also see this in the story of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. For J, Judah is the hero of the story, stopping his brothers from slaying Joseph and later offering himself as a slave in the stead of Benjamin. Judah gets the birthright and kingship. Meanwhile, E has Reuben stop the slaying, and Joseph is the hero – receiving the birthright and a double portion (Ephraim and Manasseh) for his inheritance.

Friedman also gives this interesting concept that divides E and J: “In E, Moses’ faithful assistant is Joshua. Joshua leads the people in the battle against the Amalekites; he serves as watchman inside the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) whenever Moses is not meeting with the deity there; he is the only Israelite who is not involved in the golden calf incident; and he seeks to prevent the misuse of prophecy. In J, on the other hand, Joshua plays no role. Why the special treatment of Joshua in E but not in J? Joshua was a northern hero. He is identified as coming from the tribe of Ephraim….”

E never mentions the ark of the covenant, seeing it as made of gold, and therefore, against the 10 commandments. J’s version of the 10 commandments states that things of molten gold are prohibited, and so both the ark and cherubim of the Mercy Seat are allowed, being plated with gold. However, the Tabernacle IS important to E, as it dwells in the northern kingdom in the city of Shiloh. For E, the Tabernacle represents the presence of God.

Meanwhile, J never mentions the Tabernacle. The ark represents God’s presence. It goes before Israel into battle and while the Tabernacle remains in Shiloh, the ark is carried to Jerusalem by David (whom J celebrates).

The Deuteronomists lived during the time of King Josiah. During his reign, the temple priests "found" the book of the law, while renovating the temple. This book, Deuteronomy, charged Israel with removing all altars and places of worship, including any altars to Yahweh, outside the Temple. So, while Hezekiah removed altars to other gods, leaving any high places (Bamoth) dedicated to Yahweh, Josiah removes everything. Josiah's reforms will include changing the Temple, as well. No longer will it have God's consort, Asherah within it (represented by the Tree of Life). No angels, no visions, etc. It is now a place for animal sacrifice, and not much more. Temple centric worship is possibly one of the major issues brought up by the prophets of Jeremiah's day. Lehi would go against the Deuteronomists, by building altars in the wilderness, as will the Rechabites, whom Jeremiah praised.One of Lehi's major visions, that of the Tree of Life, has the Tree representing the love of God, which is shown to be the mother of Jesus. The Nephites understood the importance of God's wife, his Asherah, in the creation of Life and religion.

These are just a few examples of the religious/political divisions that occured in Israel. They were written into their earliest memories, as each side had its heroes and villains, holy laws and beliefs. And this understanding is important for us to understand conflicting scriptures, and conflicts between the various factions in Israel, as it shared with us its story(ies). 

 
Bibliography

Book of Jasher: Book of Jasher 7

 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Come Follow Me: Moses 7

 Come Follow Me: Moses 7

In the last lesson, we began discussing Enoch. We noted that the name Mahujah/Mahijah is only found in one other place in ancient texts: the Enoch fragments found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were discovered over a century after Joseph Smith's death! For me, it is one of the great evidences of Joseph Smith's divine mission as a prophet, seer and revelator.

Since Joseph's day, several versions of the Book of Enoch have come to light - most not translated into English until after Joseph's death. We'll discuss some of the concepts from those in conjunction with this lesson, because they are all connected. While most of the Christian world only knows that Enoch "was not" because he was carried off by God, we find the New Testament references or quotes the books of Enoch about 39 times (see the Book of Jude for an example). 

Enoch was very important to the Jews and Christians of the first few centuries A.D.  When the Jews saw that the early Christians embraced the writings of Enoch, they removed those writings from their commonly used scripture. Later, as St Jerome compiled his list of authorized Biblical texts, he would also dismiss the books of Enoch, because the Jews no longer used them.

Yet, some Christian groups, including the Ethiopian Christians continue to use Enoch in their Bible. Also, as noted, Enoch appears in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is clear that the prophet Enoch and his story are pertinent to the last days, as Joseph Smith also had important concepts revealed to him regarding Enoch.

Enoch’s Ascension

In Moses 6:35-36 and 7:2-4) Enoch has two major visions. In the first, Enoch beholds the Spirit World, perhaps having a similar vision of the Grand Council in heaven that Abraham had (Abraham 3). From the things revealed to him, he was called a “seer.”


In the second vision, Enoch is told to climb a mountain. Ascension stories often begin on mountain tops, including Nephi, Moses, the Brother of Jared, and the apostle John (1 Nephi 11:1, Moses 1:1, Ether 3:1, Revelation 21:10). It seems that gentiles, such as Enoch and the brother of Jared, must climb the mount themselves, while Nephi and other Israelites are carried up to the mountain by the Spirit.

Ascension stories are also tied directly to the temple experience. In the Latter-day Saint temples, we symbolically ascend into God’s presence, which is what each of these individuals experiences.

Once upon the mountain, the vision began, and Enoch states, “I beheld the heaven open, and I was clothed upon with glory.”

In the ancient book, Secrets of Enoch, Enoch ascends through the many levels of heaven. Some of these levels include the physical cosmos, as Enoch describes passing by the planets and stars. However, the higher levels are actual heavens in which angels dwell. The higher the heaven, the greater the glory.

Enoch tells us:

Quote:
ON the tenth Heaven, Aravoth, I saw the appearance of the Lord's face, like iron made to glow in fire, and brought out, emitting sparks, and it burns.
2 Thus I saw the Lord's face….
4 And I fell prone and bowed down to the Lord, and the Lord with his lips said to me:
5 'Have courage, Enoch, do not fear, arise and stand before my face into eternity.'
6 And the archistratege (archangel) Michael lifted me up, and led me to before the Lord's face.
7 And the Lord said to his servants tempting them: 'Let Enoch stand before my face into eternity,' and the glorious ones bowed down to the Lord, and said: 'Let Enoch go according to Thy word.'
8 And the Lord said to Michael: 'Go and take Enoch from out his earthly garments, and anoint him with my sweet ointment, and put him into the garments of My glory.'
9 And Michael did thus, as the Lord told him. He anointed me, and dressed me, and the appearance of that ointment is more than the great light, and his ointment is like sweet dew, and its smell mild, shining like the sun's ray, and I looked at myself, and was like one of his glorious ones (Chapter 22).

In the Book of Secrets, Enoch is given a book to read. This also is a common ascension experience, when a person sees God. Lehi was given a book to read and prophesy from (1 Nephi 1:11-12), the apostle John was given a book to swallow and prophesy (Revelation 10:8-11), Isaiah was given a book to read and prophesy from (Ascension of Isaiah 9:22), Moses saw God and was given a book of 10 Commandments (Exodus 20), and Joseph Smith saw God and later was commanded to translate the ancient gold plates containing the Book of Mormon text.

God then explains the Creation story, the story of Adam and Eve, and the Fall to Enoch. This is a key experience that ties us to our understanding of God. Lehi and Nephi saw a version of this, as they learned of the Tree of Life in vision (1 Nephi 8-15). Lehi clearly explained all of it in 2 Nephi 2. Moses had the Creation revealed to him, as have many other ancient and modern prophets. Joseph Smith designed the temple endowment around the concepts of the Creation, Fall and Redemption, knowing through divine means that it is intricately tied to the ancient ascensions of Enoch, Moses and others.

As I've noted before, much of the covenant of Adam (and others after him), is one of Relationship. In the Fall, we have fallen from God's presence. We will physically die, and we are spiritually dead (out of God's presence). Through the Redemption of Christ, we return into God's presence. So far in the Book of Moses, we've seen Moses, Adam and Eve, and now Enoch return to God's presence. The relationship of Heavenly Parent/child is reestablished. The world and Satan, again, try to teach the world they are sons of men and are to worship worldliness. God teaches us our true nature as his sons and daughters.

Enoch is given the responsibility of being God’s scribe, a position held traditionally by Metatron, one of the archangels. In the tradition, Enoch is clothed in robes of glory and given the name Metatron. He is allowed to sit down on God’s throne– normally only allowed to God, this representing God’s sharing of His divine power with Enoch. Enoch becomes a symbol of Christ, and equal to God in many respects. Upon returning to earth, Enoch begins to teach the children of men the heavenly things he has written down.

Interestingly, Enoch mentions this in talking with God: “Forasmuch as thou art God, and I know thee, and… thou hast made me, and given unto me a right to thy throne, and not of myself, but through thine own grace…” (Moses 7:59). Enoch has a right to the throne, which God shared with him.


The Watchers

Enoch tells us more about the Watchers in the First Book of Enoch. They are a group of fallen angels who seek to destroy Adam’s children. They use all of their knowledge to cause destruction. In some ancient stories, they are the children of Cain. In others, they are fallen angels, who have children with mortal women - offspring that are described as giants.

Still, in 1 Enoch, the Watchers fear Enoch and ask him to talk to God on their behalf. Enoch returns telling them that their insincerity will do them no good.


Quote:
Before these things Enoch was hidden, and no one of the children of men knew where he was hidden, and where he abode, and what had become of him. And his activities had to do with the Watchers, and his days were with the holy ones. And I Enoch was blessing the Lord of majesty and the King of the ages, and lo! the Watchers (the righteous angels) called me -Enoch the scribe- and said to me: 'Enoch, thou scribe of righteousness, go, declare to the Watchers of the heaven who have left the high heaven, the holy eternal place, and have defiled themselves with women, and have done as the children of earth do, and have taken unto themselves wives: "Ye have wrought great destruction on the earth: And ye shall have no peace nor forgiveness of sin: and inasmuch as they delight themselves in their children, The murder of their beloved ones shall they see, and over the destruction of their children shall they lament, and shall make supplication unto eternity, but mercy and peace shall ye not attain."' (12:1-6, see also ch 15).
The Watchers married women and the women
Quote:
“became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones” (7:1-6)
.

The giants could either be mighty men of war, or as this and other traditions suggest, they were as tall as trees. Interestingly, this is also supported in the Book of Moses, where Enoch fights against the giants of his day (Moses 7:15), and later the giants attempt to assassinate Noah (Moses 8:18).

The Watchers used their secret knowledge to train mankind in the use of weapons, extravagant clothing, and to live excessively and violently (1st Enoch 8). This connects with the Book of Moses, as the secret combinations of Cain grow widespread, using the resources of the world to get gain and power.


Enoch Builds Zion

Contrast this with Enoch and his people.

In such a day as the Watchers and giants, God prepares the world for destruction by Flood, which will be discussed in a later lesson. The preparation had to do with preparing a new land of promise, even a holy city, wherein the people of God could dwell in safety.

Enoch was an amazing missionary. He went everywhere, “save it were the people of Canaan” and call them to repentance (7:12). Why not the people of Canaan? Again, some presume they were the cursed race. But a closer reading of the Book of Moses shows that the land of Canaan/Cainan was the promised land of Enoch’s fathers. They were already righteous, and had no need to have missionaries call them to repentance (6:41). The term “Canaan” commonly was used for a group of Semitic people (not black nor African), who lived in Moses’ day, but not in Enoch’s pre-flood days. Enoch could not have been referencing them as the people he did not preach to.


As a note, as Enoch continues to preach, he stopped preaching to the children of Cain “for the seed of Cain were black” (Moses 7:22). The term “black” here most likely refers to their wickedness, and not their skin color. Once again, 19th century Protestant beliefs affected the modern Church’s understanding of some verses, causing them to be read in ways that, on the surface, made sense, but in depth study did not agree. The Lamanites had “skin of blackness” as a curse. Yet the American Indian does not have black skin. Once again, it suggests a deeper reading for the actual context is needed. See blacklds.org for more information on this topic.

 
Over several centuries, Enoch was a thorn in the side of the Watchers and their secret combinations. In Moses 7:13-17, we see that Enoch and his righteous people were feared greatly. The City of Enoch was built upon the mountains, as it represented sacred space (a high place). This people, their city and the land they dwelt upon, became Zion. It was a people who had learned to live a Celestial Law, in stark contrast to the wicked individuals living in the land below.

Eventually, God took Zion up and out of the world. Why? Because the world was being prepared for the Flood. Even after Zion’s fleeing from the world, as people repented of their sins and became righteous, they would be translated and lifted up to the holy city, to receive their blessings with Enoch, and to escape the great destruction below (Moses 7:18-21).

The God who Weeps

Just as Moses sought to see God a second time, as he had further things to inquire of him (Moses 1:18), so Enoch has more to learn, as well.

God takes Enoch into his confidence, to show him just how much power Satan had over the world. God wept as he pondered the terrible destruction he was about to send upon the earth. Interestingly, the earth also groans and weeps, as it is shown to be a living being. Enoch is at first unsure why God would be so moved by such a small thing as destruction. Remember, Enoch has destroyed armies, and experienced the fear of his enemies in mortality. The Lord explains that these are the “workmanship of mine own hands.” They are his children.

Unlike most of Christianity, which believes God is the "Unmoved Mover," one who is never moved by his creations, without passion or parts, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that God is the "Most Moved Mover." God weeps at destroying the world. Jesus will weep at Lazarus' tomb, and later as he prays with the Nephites. God is moved by our suffering. It changes him. It fills him with love, mercy, tenderness, patience and other uplifting virtues.

All God has asked of us is that we “should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father….” Sadly, most of the people in Enoch’s day had chosen Satan as their father, and to hate one another as they sought to get gain through their secret combinations, lust, and greed. We see this increasingly in the world today, as people justified their hatred and anger against the "other." We often dehumanize people, or worse, convince ourselves they are not worthy to be children of God, in order to justify our hatred of those different than us. This is true between nations, cultures, races, political parties, siblings, spouses. Satan thrives by dividing and conquering. To do this, he must make us less than what we truly are.

Enoch is wholly moved by the tender feelings of the Master. As he looked upon the true misery of mankind, he “wept and stretched forth his arms (towards them), and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.” Enoch refused to be comforted (Moses 7:23-44). At that moment, there did not seem to be any way to save such a lost group of people. There was no hope for all those who had fallen into Satan’s snare.

Enoch Sees the Redemption

God showed Enoch the hope of mankind. The Messiah is proclaimed. Whosoever comes in through the gate, or climbs up by him “shall never fall” (Moses 7:53). Like Nephi in the Vision of the Tree of Life, Enoch sees the life and death of Christ. As Christ resurrected, many of the spirits in prison (Spirit World) also came forth. The others would await the day of judgment, but would still receive as much blessing as God could possibly give them. Through Christ, God seeks to maximize the blessings, and minimize the punishments. Even those who end up in the Telestial Kingdom, after they have suffered a time for their sins, will be redeemed in Christ in a kingdom of glory and goodness (D&C 76).

Enoch sees the world’s history, including the Restoration of the Gospel in the latter days. He sees that a new Zion will be established on the earth. Finally, he sees “even unto the end of the world; and he saw the day of the righteous, the hour of their redemption, and received a fullness of joy” (Moses 7:62-67).

Bibliography:
Conflict of Adam and Eve With Satan, Book One: http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/fbe005.htm

 
Conflict of Adam and Eve, Book Two: The Forgotten Books of Eden Index

 
The First Book of Enoch (Ethiopian): Book of Enoch

 
The Secrets of Enoch: https://sacred-texts.com/bib/fbe/fbe107.htm

 
Ascension of Isaiah: Ascension of Isaiah


On information regarding the priesthood ban:


Ardis Parshall’s lesson: Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog “The Long-Promised Day”

 
Website for black LDS members run by FAIR: http://www.blacklds.org/priesthood
 

 


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Come Follow Me: Genesis 5, Moses 6

 Come Follow Me: Genesis 5, Moses 6

Previous Gospel Doctrine lessons I've posted relating to these chapters can be found here:

http://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com/2010/01/gospel-doctrine-old-testament-lesson-5.html

https://joelsmonastery.blogspot.com/2014/01/ot-5-if-thou-doest-well-thou-shalt-be.html

As we move into Genesis and the 5 books of Moses (also known as the Pentateuch or Torah), it is important we consider some scholarly theory regarding it. Much of the following section comes from college textbooks, such as John Collins, an Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.

Indications of Multiple Authorship

For many Christians, the idea of multiple authorship of the Pentateuch/Torah is heresy. Yet, it is clearly illustrated, as they now exist, the first five books of the Bible were not written by Moses but by later writers. And while there are many theories that scholars now have to argue against the Documentary Hypothesis, the idea of multiple authors isn’t questioned.

Internal evidence begins with verses that easily demonstrate that portions were written long after Moses’ time. At the end of Deuteronomy, it talks about the death of Moses – something that would be very difficult for Moses to write about. The Pentateuch notes that during the time of Genesis, “Canaanites still dwelt in the land.” Why make such a statement, if Moses is writing this? Of Course, the Canaanites are still in the land! Only later, in King David’s time, do we see an end to the Canaanites.

Scholars began to note that there was special use of the two major names of God: El Elyon and Yahweh/Jehovah. Rarely are they used together in the Torah, but they still create conflict in scripture. God said to Moses that he appeared to Abraham as El Shaddai (God of the Mountain), but never as Yahweh. However, in Gen 4, people are calling upon the name of Yahweh during the time of Enoch, and the name is used frequently in regards to Abraham’s time, as well.

Therefore, we can presume that Exodus 6:3 comes from another source that was not aware of the name Yahweh being used at the time of Abraham and before.

Richard E Friedman, in Who Wrote the Bible?, explains that El was the chief God of the Palestine region, ruling over the council of gods. “The God of Israel was Yahweh. He, too, was male, patriarchal, a ruler, and not identified with any one force in nature.” We will see that early Hebrews saw Yahweh as a member of El’s council, assigned Israel as his kingdom to rule over. Later, the Jews would combine El and Yahweh into one god and remove God’s consort and the divine council.
Doublets and triplets are noted in the scripture – where events and sayings are said twice or even three times. We have Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on both Mt Sinai and Mt Horeb. Moses twice goes to Meribah and brings water out of a rock – in one version, the angel of the Lord stands upon the rock Moses is to strike, while in the other version, Moses is disobedient to God and ends up losing his right to enter into the Promised Land (Nephi only notes the first version in the Book of Mormon).

The story of Noah’s Flood is the perfect example of a doublet that was combined. We have Noah commanded in one story to build the ark, because a flood is coming. In one story, he brings in animals two by two, while in the other, 7 clean animals are brought in (clean/unclean only occurs in the Mosaic law, and shows a later story line development). One story gives 40 days and nights for the flood, while the other floods for almost a year. One has a dove, the other a raven. One story consistently calls God, Elohim, while the other consistently calls him Yahweh.

So, we end up with scholars, such as Wellhausen, suggesting 4 major writers for the Pentateuch. Friedman writes, “There was evidence that the Five Books of Moses had been composed by combining four different source documents into one continuous history. For working purposes, the four documents were identified by alphabetic symbols. The document that was associated with the divine name Yahweh/Jehovh was called J. The document that was identified as referring to the deity as God (in Hebrew Elohim) was called E. The third document, by far the largest, included most of the legal sections and concentrated a great deal on matters having to do with priests, and so it was called P. And the source that was found only in the book of Deuteronomy was called D.”

Friedman suggests that J and E were two rival priestly authors. King David had two priests, Abiathar from the lineage of Moses and keepers of the tabernacle in Shiloh (northern kingdom), and Zadok, who descended from Aaron. When Solomon became king, Abiathar had supported Solomon’s brother, so the new king sent him into exile back to the Northern Kingdom, and created laws that benefited Judah and the southern kingdom, while creating bigger burdens on the north. This political division likely created the sources for J (southern kingdom of Judah) and E (northern kingdom of 10 tribes).

In Genesis 1 and 2, we get two different creation stories. Genesis 1 calls God, Elohim 35 times. Genesis 2 calls God, Yahweh 11 times. They get the orders of things different. Genesis 1 has plants, animals then man and woman. Genesis 2 has man, plants, animals, then woman. While most now think Genesis 1 was a P document, Friedman suggests it was inspired by E, while Genesis 2 is agreed to be by J. Later, Friedman notes that P is clearly influenced by the E source on its writings.
We also see this in the story of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. For J, Judah is the hero of the story, stopping his brothers from slaying Joseph and later offering himself as a slave in the stead of Benjamin. Judah gets the birthright and kingship. Meanwhile, E has Reuben stop the slaying, and Joseph is the hero – receiving the birthright and a double portion (Ephraim and Manasseh) for his inheritance.

Friedman also gives this interesting concept that divides E and J: “In E, Moses’ faithful assistant is Joshua. Joshua leads the people in the battle against the Amalekites; he serves as watchman inside the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) whenever Moses is not meeting with the deity there; he is the only Israelite who is not involved in the golden calf incident; and he seeks to prevent the misuse of prophecy. In J, on the other hand, Joshua plays no role. Why the special treatment of Joshua in E but not in J? Joshua was a northern hero. He is identified as coming from the tribe of Ephraim….”

E never mentions the ark of the covenant, seeing it as made of gold, and therefore, against the 10 commandments. J’s version of the 10 commandments states that things of molten gold are prohibited, and so both the ark and cherubim of the Mercy Seat are allowed, being plated with gold. However, the Tabernacle IS important to E, as it dwells in the northern kingdom in the city of Shiloh. For E, the Tabernacle represents the presence of God.

Meanwhile, J never mentions the Tabernacle. The ark represents God’s presence. It goes before Israel into battle and while the Tabernacle remains in Shiloh, the ark is carried to Jerusalem by David (whom J celebrates).

The Deuteronomists lived during the time of King Josiah. During his reign, the temple priests "found" the book of the law, while renovating the temple. This book, Deuteronomy, charged Israel with removing all altars and places of worship, including any altars to Yahweh, outside the Temple. So, while Hezekiah removed altars to other gods, leaving any high places (Bamoth) dedicated to Yahweh, Josiah removes everything. Josiah's reforms will include changing the Temple, as well. No longer will it have God's consort, Asherah within it (represented by the Tree of Life). No angels, no visions, etc. It is now a place for animal sacrifice, and not much more. Temple centric worship is possibly one of the major issues brought up by the prophets of Jeremiah's day. Lehi would go against the Deuteronomists, by building altars in the wilderness, as will the Rechabites, whom Jeremiah praised.One of Lehi's major visions, that of the Tree of Life, has the Tree representing the love of God, which is shown to be the mother of Jesus. The Nephites understood the importance of God's wife, his Asherah, in the creation of Life and religion.

These are just a few examples of the religious/political divisions that occured in Israel. They were written into their earliest memories, as each side had its heroes and villains, holy laws and beliefs. And this understanding is important for us to understand conflicting scriptures, and conflicts between the various factions in Israel, as it shared with us its story(ies). 

 

God Reveals Himself

And God revealed himself unto Seth, and he rebelled not, but offered an acceptable sacrifice, like unto his brother Abel.  (Moses 6:3)

 God sets a pattern in the scriptures. He revealed himself to Adam in the Garden. He revealed himself to Abel, Cain and now Seth. In doing so, God offers mankind the opportunity to return to His Presence and establish a covenant relationship. We will see this pattern continue through the Old Testament, as God continues to establish and reestablish an eternal relationship of Parent/Child.

And He seeks to establish that eternal covenantal relationship with each of us.

The questions are not on God's part of the covenant. It is on our part. Do we embrace the covenant and keep it? Or do we choose to rebel to some extent or another? Do we offer an acceptable sacrifice today? Or, as with Cain, do we love Satan more than God, seeking for another relationship with a different parent?

God reveals himself today. He visits people through scripture, prophets, nature,parents, angels,  and sometimes in personal visitations. All of these visits are accompanied by the Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead - a personal visit by God.

Names and Places

In today's reading assignment we learn the names of descendants of Adam and Eve. Last week's assignment included those descending from Cain. Comparing the two, you'll note a correlation. Many of the names are the same. Descendants from both Cain and Seth even build a city of Enoch!

Such dualism is a form of ancient Hebrew poetry, allowing us to compare and contrast the two societies. We begin by contrasting Abel/Seth with Cain and continue down to the two cities. Later, we'll compare the city of Enoch with the city of Nimrod, Babylon.

One possible difference is literacy. Seth's descendants kept a book of remembrance and were taught to read and write. Whether God taught them literacy, or whether they may have learned it from other peoples living on the earth at the time (others not descended from Adam), we do not know.

In ancient texts, such as the Book of Jasher, we read that Cain's descendants learned techniques for music, weaponry, etc. These were known as the Watchers. I discuss them in detail in the lesson links at the top. 

What's the difference between the two? Perhaps the reading the book of remembrance, like Lehi reading the Brass Plates, reminded him of the things of God. Meanwhile, the focus for the children of Cain was on the things of this world. Of course, that focus would become one of getting gain through any means necessary, while the children of Adam and Eve would focus on their covenant relationship with God.

In fact, the efforts of the wicked to get gain is described in Moses 6"15,

And the children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land. And in those days Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power.

 Does God bring peace to our souls, or do we allow Satan to rage in our hearts? When peace is taken from the earth, it isn't just between nations. It is within families. In the Old Testament, as in the Book of Mormon, we will see sibling rivalry again and again, as brothers seek power and advantage over one another.

We find that Enos takes his children to a "land of promise." Later, Enoch will build a land of promise in the City of Zion. Noah's land of promise will be beyond the Flood, as the Jaredite and Nephites find their land of promise in the Americas. Abraham and Israel will find their land of promise in the Middle East. Today, we also seek a land of promise, as we are encouraged and commanded to build and establish Zion and her stakes.

The only thing keeping us from building our own land of promise? Us. We fail to keep our covenantal relationship with God and with each other. Instead, we seek to get gain and power for ourselves, often leading us to justify an often uneasy relationship with Satan. Sometimes that relationship is not uneasy.

God commanded us to "renounce war and proclaim peace" (D&C 98:16). Yes, there are times of defense. However, how often do we choose to declare war, whether as a nation or as a family member? How often do we seek or even applaud violence as a solution to the injustices and problems we see in the world? There are Church members who believe Zion will be defended with guns and tanks. Yet, God has stated often that HE will defend Zion, even if by fire.

We justify our grudges, our hatred, our anger. We fall into Satan's trap when we do so. 

In most of scriptural history, the righteous leave the wicked and find a new land of promise. The wicked force themselves upon others.

And they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men. (Moses 6:23)

Contrast this to the secret combinations taught to Cain's descendants. When God called Enoch to preach repentance, he explained,

And for these many generations, ever since the day that I created them, have they gone astray, and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations have they devised murder, and have not kept the commandments, which I gave unto their father, Adam.

Wherefore, they have foresworn themselves, and, by their oaths, they have brought upon themselves death; and a hell I have prepared for them, if they repent not... (vs 28-29)

We teach righteousness, or we teach evil. This dualism is an important facet in scripture. We see it here in the Book of Moses, in the Book of Mormon, in the story of Moses vs Pharaoh, Abraham vs Pharaoh, Nephi vs Laman, Christ vs Satan.

Zion vs Babylon.

Where do we stand?


For us, a seer is someone who can reveal ancient texts. However, for Enoch, there were no ancient texts. He would write them!  For him to be a seer meant he could see the invisible things: the spirits God had created, the creation, the past and near future of things (like the coming Flood).

Pres Nelson prepared us for the current Covid pandemic by presenting us Come Follow Me, Home centered/Church supported teaching, reorganizing the priesthood, etc.  President Hinckley prepared us for the 2008 Great Recession in a General Conference priesthood talk he gave in Oct 1998. Others have prepared us in many other ways against the deceits and teachings of Satan. These are seers, who see invisible things.

The names Mahujah/Mahijah are very important to this story. They are not found in the Bible. However, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, a fragment of the Book of Enoch contains the name Mahujah. I previously wrote on it in the links at the top.








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Come Follow Me: Genesis 3-4; Moses 4-5

 Come Follow Me: Genesis 3-4; Moses 4-5    The Fall of Adam and Eve

Background: 

The Creation is complete. God instructed his Only Begotten, Jesus Christ, and other divine sons to create the earth (Abraham 3:24) from materials already present. Once completed, Elohim and Jehovah (Father and Son) form man from the earth. Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden of Eden, where they live in a state of complete innocence. They are only given a few commandments: to multiply and replenish the earth, and to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The war for simple agency is over, as Satan was cast out of heaven, and mankind was given agency in God’s plan. On earth, the war will be over how each individual uses that agency. This will determine who keeps their second estate (Abr 3), or earth life, and returns in glory to God.

Satan's Role in the Divine Council: Agency vs Security


the Book of Moses 4:1-4, the Lord shows to Moses the Divine Council. In it, God presents his plan, and Jesus offers to be Savior: "But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever" (Moses 4:2). While God asked, "whom shall I send?", he had already decided his "Chosen"from the beginning.


He explains to Moses who Satan really is, as Moses has just struggled with the devil (Moses 1).

"That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor" (Moses 4:1).

In dissecting this statement, we can consider some important issues. First, Lucifer is not giving another plan, but rather is offering to replace God's plan. This plan suggests he will save everyone - a completely universal salvation, where none are lost. Such a plan requires forcing people to be saved. Freedom of choice is replaced with security. Instead of three levels of heaven and Outer Darkness for people to choose, there will be a one-size-fits-all salvation. For 1/3 of the host of heaven, this was tempting. God's plan included tests. Abraham heard the Lord say they would all be "proved" to see where they would end up. Satan was not requiring any trials, temptations, or tests. All would be saved. Period. Such security is tempting even today, as many people here in mortality prefer government security over individual freedom. Satan would offer us vanilla ice cream, regardless of whether anyone wanted chocolate or strawberry (or Rocky Road).

What wasn't understood by Satan's crew is that Christ DID offer security in conjunction with the test. All would be saved in a kingdom of heaven, except for those who totally rejected and rebelled against the plan of God.

In 2 Nephi 2, Lehi explains that opposition is necessary "in all things" so that we have agency. For us to learn and grow, we must have opposition and choices. Without exercise, muscles grow flabby. Without effort and risk of falling, children cannot learn to walk or run. Without trials, we could not learn to be like God. Because I am a parent, I understand in a small way what it must be like for God as parent. Because I have suffered loss, I know in a small way how God feels when he must destroy. Later in the Book of Moses, Enoch will see God weep, because he has to destroy the earth by Flood. While some Christians believe that God is the "unmoved mover", Mormons believe God is the "Most Moved Mover."

In Moses 1:39, God tells us, "This is MY work and MY Glory, to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man." God receives his glory through exalting his children. He wants them to be, even as He is. The scriptures and early Christian Fathers are clear that mankind was meant to be "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17, Galatians 4:7).

But we could not learn to be like God without opposition. Satan's plan would have left us as little more than saved servants. Since we would not be able to be like God under Satan's plan, Lucifer recommended that he replace God as King of Heaven.

"12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 12:12-20).

While Isaiah directed this statement at the Kings of Babylon (Nimrod/Nebuchadnezzar**), it definitely also symbolized what occurred before the earth was formed. The stars of God and congregation of the north were the Divine Council, or spirit children of Elohim.

Only under God's plan could we have a fullness of joy. "Adam fell that men might be (bringing opposition into the world), and men are that they might have joy" (2 Ne 2:25), as compared to Satan, who "seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Ne 2:27).

As mentioned, Lucifer's plan was not voted upon. Abraham shows us that God chose his own plan and Jesus as Savior. Angered because his plan was not even considered (but probably planning to rebel even with a hearing), Lucifer starts a war in heaven. He and his angels are cast out and become Satan and his devils.

"And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice" (Moses 4:4). God uses Satan's temptations to try us in this earth. Unintentionally, Satan became a key part of our exaltation, as he provides much of the opposition we need to learn and grow up to be like our Heavenly Father.



**Nimrod is traditionally known as the king who built the Tower of Babel, a tower to overthrow God's heaven. Nebuchadnezzar (600 BC) sought to rebuild the great tower and be the second Nimrod.


What does it mean that Eve was “beguiled”?

We find in the Book of Moses that Satan has corrupted the serpent, and chooses to use the beast for his bidding. Obviously, Satan does not just show up in the Garden, but has spent the time to see what was going on, and determine his best opportunity to destroy Adam and Eve. We see that Satan seeks also to “beguile Eve”, not because she is weaker than Adam, but as we’ll see later, she sees the world from a very different perspective than Adam. Adam is told to obey, and he does so without question. Eve considers each proposition presented to her, and determines what is best.

Was she tricked by Satan? Of course. She was still innocent and na├»ve. His sophistry was very intriguing and tempting, just as it was for the third part of the host of heaven who followed him. The difference is, the spirit children who followed Satan knew things, including the gospel plan. Eve did not know anything, so innocent that she didn’t realize she was naked. How easy is it today to trick a small child, who has yet to understand the importance of wearing clothing in public? So it was for Eve.

Lucifer first questions her (vs 7), to test her knowledge base. She responds with the correct answer, though there is no full awareness of why. Note that in Moses 3:15-25, Adam is given the commandment from the Lord to not partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve is not yet formed, until AFTER the commandment is given. I would imagine, if this sequence is correct, that Adam mentioned the warning to Eve, but the command was not as impressed upon her mind by Adam, as it was on Adam by God.

The serpent explained to her that she would not die that day (which we see is true in the physical sense) and that the fruit would bring knowledge, making her as God, knowing good and evil. Still Eve did not take the serpent’s philosophy easily. She researched it, and determined that what the serpent told her was true. In verse 12, she finds that the fruit was “good for food” or that it was relatively safe to eat. It wasn’t bad looking on the breakfast table, and it was a “tree to be desired to maker her wise.”

How would it make her wise? If for no other reason in that it would taste differently than all the other fruits in the garden. It was something different to experience and experiment upon. Adam might not be interested in experiencing something new, but she was. And so she ate of the fruit. And since she was in charge of preparing breakfast, he ate of the fruit she placed on the table. Or she convinced him that choosing wisdom was better than living all alone in ignorance in the Garden.

How did the fruit open their eyes? Perhaps it was just a matter of a big difference. Imagine if all the other fruit in the garden was bland, sweet or sour. Then imagine the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was opposite taste. It would suddenly show them there is a difference, opening the door for learning. In other words, imagine if everything you ate was vanilla flavored. It wouldn’t be a bad existence, but vanilla flavored food for every meal does not provide for any sensory experience. Now, imagine one day having a chocolate, strawberry, jalapeno, or a Rocky Road ice cream. Suddenly there is a major difference in flavor. One can now appreciate the vanilla, because there is something to compare it with.

And they now notice that unlike the animals clothed in fur, they are naked. This new experience somehow gives them the drive and know-how to sew together fig leaves as aprons. Had God taught them how to sew? Did they learn to tie knots and weave by accident? It obviously was not the best sewing job, as God will prepare clothing for them.

Where Goest Thou?
When Adam and Eve hear God’s voice, they hide themselves. In Genesis, God calls to Adam asking, “Where art thou?” Here in Moses 4:15, God asks, “Where goest thou?” This suggests that God knows where Adam is, but wants to know why Adam is walking away from God, rather than towards him. Adam has, after all, heard God’s voice, and in times past would have walked to God.

In answering why they partook of the fruit, no one was anxious to admit blame. Adam blamed his wife. Eve blamed the serpent. In dishing out sanctions, God begins with the one being that is not questioned in the scriptures: the serpent. The serpent symbolizes both the snake and the devil. Traditionally, this is when the snake lost his legs and was left to slither on his belly. It is also the time when God explains the relationship between God, Satan and man. Satan would also slither on the ground as a subspecies, as man walked above the earth in the image of God.

Verse 21 has great symbolism. While the serpent would have seed that would attack people (often biting them on the heel), Satan never would have true seed. He would only have those who would choose evil over goodness, darkness over light, the dirt over the heavens. His followers would be his seed.

It is significant that the verse does not say that the serpent would have enmity with Adam’s seed. Instead, he would have enmity with the woman’s seed. Only one person has ever been born without a mortal father: Jesus Christ. While Satan would have power to bruise Jesus’ heel; Jesus would bruise or crush Satan’s head, providing salvation for all mankind.

Adam and Eve had been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. When they were innocent, they were incapable of having children, if for no other reason than that they didn’t understand. They did not realize they were naked until after partaking of the fruit. Only then were they able to realize that their bodies were different from one another and from the other animals in the Garden.

In being blessed to be the bearer of the Savior, the Lord chose to also make it a great burden for Eve and future women. Childbirth is painful, and is fraught with danger. Many women over the centuries have lost their lives in childbirth. It is painful, draining, and can be affected by a multitude of complications. This, however, is not considered a curse by God. He simply states that since Eve chose a life with knowledge, she would also have the natural consequence of pain in childbirth. When you pick up one end of a stick, you pick up the other end, as well.

For Adam, however, there was a curse. But he was cursed for his sake (verse 23). With struggle comes sorrow, bringing experience and knowledge – the exact things Adam and Eve wanted in partaking of the fruit. Adam would learn to work, fight thorns and thistles, and eventually die. There would no longer be an easy life in the Garden.

The Tree of Life
In the Garden was another tree: the Tree of Life. This great tree is the focus of many ancient cultures and religions in the Middle East, Central America, and other locations. The Tree of Life becomes a major focus for the Nephites, as both Lehi and Nephi receive a vision with the Tree in the center of all things (1 Nephi 8-15). They are both aware of the importance of the Tree of Life, as there was one in Solomon’s Temple, until it was removed during King Josiah’s reign. Lehi would have remembered the Sacred Tree in the temple of his youth. The ancient Tree of Life represented the wife of God, sometimes called Asherah. She represented wisdom, understanding and fertility – all of which point to Eve as the “mother of all living” (vs. 26). In Nephi’s vision, the tree represents Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and the Savior is the fruit. It is an interesting study to compare Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Eve, the mother of mankind.

In verse 28, God admits that “the man is become as one of us to know good and evil” (see Genesis 3:22). Adam has taken the first step towards being like God. He is no longer forced to stay in ignorance. He has used his agency to choose between two competing commandments: not eat of the fruit and remain in eternal innocence, or partake of the fruit to multiply and replenish the earth.

God has not stricken anyone, except the serpent. He has just pronounced upon Adam and Eve the natural consequences of their choice.

Adam and Eve are not ready to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life. They have just disobeyed God and have brought a change to themselves. They are no longer fit to stand in God’s presence. If they remained in the Garden and ate of the fruit of the Tree of Life, they would never have a chance to repent and return to God’s presence. Therefore, they had to be tossed from the Garden.

Conflict of Adam and Eve against Satan
Early Christian texts tell interesting stories regarding Adam and Eve’s experiences once cast from the Garden. In the First book of Adam and Eve (also called: the Conflict of Adam and Eve Against Satan), Adam and Eve are cast out from the Garden. They dwell on a mountain in the Cave of Treasures. The cave becomes the first holy place on earth outside of the Garden of Eden. They experience many things, some very frightening. For example, their first sunrise terrifies them. They’ve never seen a sunrise before, because it was always light in the Garden before the Fall (chapter 16).

Often, they plead with God to return them to the Garden, but to no avail. On a few occasions, they even consider suicide as an alternative to the bleak experience they now are going through. The stark difference between the Garden of Eden and life on the mountain is sometimes overwhelming to them.

After some time, they begin to accept the new world they live in. But they ask God for some tokens from the Garden as a blessing they can have in the Cave of Treasures. God feels for them and sends three angels to the Garden to get gold, frankincense and myrrh. When the angels (Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael – the three main archangels) come to Adam, they find Satan is with them. Satan is tossed out on his ear, and the angels give the tokens to Adam and Eve. The Lord tells Adam,


Quote:
1 …"You asked Me for something from the garden, to be comforted therewith, and I have given you these three tokens as a consolation to you; that you trust in Me and in My covenant with you.

2 For I will come and save you; and kings shall bring me when in the flesh, gold, incense and myrrh; gold as a token of My kingdom; incense as a token of My divinity; and myrrh as a token of My suffering and of My death.

3 But, O Adam, put these by you in the cave; the gold that it may shed light over you by night; the incense, that you smell its sweet savor; and the myrrh, to comfort you in your sorrow." (Ch 28-31).

Later, the Lord explains to Adam that Satan “has deprived you of the Godhead, and of an exalted state like Me, and has not kept his word to you; but has, after all, become your enemy” (ch 45:5).

Moses 5:1-15

Where did all these children come from?
Here we learn that Adam and Eve had many children prior to the birth of Cain and Abel. Except for a few commandments given in the Garden, Adam and Eve are now on their own. They do not have a fullness of the Gospel yet. They are now “shut out from his (God’s) presence” (vs. 4). They are in a fallen state.

Let's now discuss a couple facts. First, there was death before the Fall of Adam and Eve. Second, there were humans before Adam and Eve.

To expand on these facts, we can see that science and history show they are true. So, how do we understand them in light of the story in Genesis and Moses?  In establishing a theory that fits both scripture and science, I suggest the following.

God used evolution to develop the world over billions of years. This included proto-humans and early humans. Adam and Eve were taken out of the presence of other humans into the Garden, where they were alone. Having forgotten everything, they would not be aware of other peoples that preceded them. After the Fall, Adam and Eve were brought out of the Garden and back into world. Here, they would experience death, as did everything that existed previous to them. This would include other humans. So, what would separate Adam and Eve from other humans or pre-Adamites?

In the Book of Moses, Adam would receive the fullness of the gospel and be given a covenant, which the rest of the world did not have. This covenant would make them the first peoples with the covenant, and as with the Abrahamic covenant, the world would be blessed through them. We see this happen many times in scripture: Abraham's land of promise already has people in it. Moses takes Israel to a land already populated. Lehi and Nephi would receive a promised land that already had others living there. There is a pattern that can also be applied to Adam and Eve: they are the first parents through the Priesthood and covenant (see Abraham 1).

The fullness of the gospel
In verse 6 of Mose 5, we find something interesting. “After many days,” or decades after they were cast out of the Garden, an angel comes to Adam and asks him “why are you offering sacrifice?” Adam has no idea. He’s been doing this since before his children were born, and now he has grandchildren having children. As in the Garden, Adam tries to obey simply because he was commanded.

The angel explains the fullness of the Gospel to Adam and Eve. They are sacrificing animals as a “similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.” What is “full of grace and truth”? The Father? The Only Begotten? The sacrifice? I would suggest that all three are full of grace and truth.

Christ would become the great sacrifice of all. Through him, mankind would be saved. In the Conflict of Adam and Eve Against Satan, Satan attempts to kill Adam and Eve by dropping a boulder down a mountain on top of them. God saves them by causing the boulder to turn into a cave over them. They are trapped inside for three days, as a symbol of God also being in the sepulcher for three days. In another story, Satan slays Adam as he offers sacrifice on the altar. God raises Adam from death, and tells him that His Only Begotten will be sacrificed in like manner for all mankind.

Adam and Eve prophesy
Clearly, Adam learned about the atonement of God. In Moses 5:9, Adam and Eve are filled with the Holy Ghost and prophesy.

One can see that their perspective on life had not changed much since the Garden. Now, Adam focused on how the atonement affects him: “because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God” (vs. 10). He sees the joy he will receive in the resurrection and in this life, because of hope in Christ’s atonement. The Fall, though difficult, was a good thing, because it allowed for the atonement to save Adam.

Eve sees things from her perspective as a mother: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (vs. 11). She sees how the atonement will affect both Adam and her, as well as their posterity.

While much of Christianity condemns Adam and Eve for the Fall, LDS have the perspective that it was necessary. They could not have had children/seed while in their innocent state. They could not have left that state without first falling from God’s presence. With the Fall, the Atonement, which was planned before the creation of the world, could be put in effect for all.

Plan of Salvation

Adam and Eve seek to share the fullness of the gospel with their grown children. Sadly, many listen to Satan, who taught them to not believe in Christ’s atonement. But the Lord also called upon people through the Holy Ghost to repent and believe.

The plan of salvation is based upon 4 key points: Have Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Repentance (vs. 15), Baptism for remission of sins, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost (6:51-61). Nephi and Jesus Christ called this the “doctrine of Christ” (2 Nephi 31, 3 Nephi 11).

It is that as we develop faith in Christ, we will desire to repent/change our lives. As we do this, we seek to be born again in Christ, which is done by immersion in water (also represented by the sacrament communion). Finally, we are changed by the Holy Ghost, which fills us from within with a greater infusion of spirituality and righteousness.

Because of transgression, whether Adam’s or our own, comes a fall from innocence and God’s presence. The fall brings death, both physical and spiritual death. And even as we had to be physically born into this earth by water, blood and spirit; so we will have to be born again. The water (baptism) opens the gate to the kingdom of heaven. Christ’s blood cleanses us in the atonement. The Holy Spirit purifies us and makes us holy (Moses 6:59).

In Christ’s blood, we are sanctified, or made clean. The Holy Spirit justifies us, or makes us just/holy. The water represents our portion of the covenant – keeping the commandments through faith on Christ (vs. 60).

This is not something we do just once. It is a cycle. As we develop faith and repent, Christ’s atoning blood cleanses us. We can be baptized or partake of the sacrament as a covenant that we will accept Jesus’ atonement and follow him through faith. The Holy Ghost then becomes our companion, justifying us and establishing us as righteous to the level we have become righteous.
As we seek to more closely follow Jesus, we feel the need to repent of additional things. He then cleanses us again, and we are endowed with spiritual power to live even a higher way of life in Christ. As Jesus prayed to the Father, that his disciples may be one, even as Jesus and God are one (John 17), and that as followers, we may become one with Jesus.

As LDS we believe that Christ fully paid for Adam’s original sin (vs. 54). We will all resurrect and all will stand again before God, because of Christ’s atonement (Alma 11-12). The wicked will be judged, and will not want to stand in His presence, and so will be sent elsewhere. But Christ’s atonement will have paid for Adam’s sin, so that none will forever have to suffer because of it.

Man of Holiness
In Moses 6:57, we find out that God is called, “Man of Holiness.” This explains Jesus’ title of Son of Man (of Holiness). It also explains better our relationship with God. We are made in “his image” (Genesis 1:26-27). It would not do for God to create us in his image, if we did not look like his image. We are his children, because he is our Father. Jesus taught us to call God, “Father” for a reason. The Savior understood our true nature and role as God’s spirit children. Jesus understood that, as Adam and Eve did, we would all fall from God’s grace and presence. And He understood that only through His great and infinite sacrifice could we be brought back into God’s presence and be like Him.

Because we all fall, we know good from evil. And because of our personal falling, we all become agents unto ourselves (vs. 56, see also 2 Nephi 2). Only in experiencing a fallen state, can we realize how much we need the atonement of Christ. King Benjamin stated that because of our fallen state, we are less than the dust (Mosiah 2-4), yet we are also sons of God, because Christ has redeemed us. 

 What is Literal and What is Legend?

Because of the revelations of Joseph Smith, we know that Adam and Eve are literal and historic beings. 

However, beyond that fact, we can only assume which parts of the stories are literal and which parts are parable. We have at least 7 differing versions of the Creation within scripture, as I mentioned last week. There are differences among the Garden stories, as well. Was Eve deceived, or not? Did they sin or transgress a law they didn't fully understand? Was it the serpent that tempted Eve, or was it Satan? Was Eve literally formed from Adam's rib, or is it symbolic of the importance of man and woman being "of one flesh?"

What is most important regarding the story in the Garden is that man once had a relationship with God, that relationship was severed due to disobedience, and it requires a Savior to restore the relationship between God and mankind. Each of us goes through the innocence of childhood. Each of us experiences choices that cause us to sin. Each of us falls out of synch with parents, family, friends, and most importantly, with God. No animal sacrifice, such as Adam and Moses did, could restore the relationship. Those sacrifices placed mankind in a servant relation with deity, but not a family relationship. However, the animal sacrifices did point towards the great and last sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father. This sacrifice would break the bonds of physical and spiritual death - the two things separating us from God. Because of Christ, we will resurrect. Because of Jesus, we can be born again spiritually.

The Fall of Cain - A Study in Rebellion

Cain was the first of Adam's children to be born after the full gospel was on the earth. It seems that for a time, he must have been a faithful follower of God, given that God speaks with him on several occasions and Cain seems comfortable enough to question God. However, Cain became more interested in worldly things. He began to question God's methodology.

Perhaps his younger brother, Abel, was smarter, better looking, and played center on the high school basketball team; while Cain struggled to get "C's", had acne, and sat on the bench. Clearly, sibling rivalry and jealousy played into Cain's fall.

Since Abel excelled in spiritual things, Cain searched for an alternative wherein he could excel. This opened the door for Satan to entice Cain with a new and different philosophy. This new belief system was radical, with Satan slowly guiding Cain away from God and towards worshiping him.

That Satan encouraged Cain to offer sacrifice, suggests the Adversary was carefully guiding him to disappointment. Cain offered the first fruits of the field. While not the normal animal sacrifice expected, it was not the main reason the offering was rejected by God.

God rejected Cain's offering because it was made without the key ingredient: faith and repentance.
In explaining to Adam the purpose of sacrifice, the angel explained it "is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father....do all thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent..." (Moses 4:6-8).

Satan knew that Cain neither had faith in Christ, nor desired to repent.

Somehow it was communicated that Abel's sacrifice was accepted, while Cain's was not. Once again, Abel, the golden boy, triumphed. Cain became angry, and when God attempted one last time to reach out to him, Cain refused. God told him, he could be equal with his brother, Abel. But Cain wanted to best his brother, not just be even.

This was a competition between brothers. Such a competition predated earth life, when Lucifer sought to best Jehovah in a struggle for ultimate power. Lucifer did not want to be equal, but to reign supreme: "...surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor" (Moses 4:1-4, Isaiah 14:12-15).

The story of Cain and Abel is an earthly version of Lucifer and Jehovah. When Cain does something, we see Lucifer doing the same. Both Cain and Lucifer's offered sacrifices were rejected, because they were not done with faith nor real intent, but with a personal and not-so-hidden agenda.

Both "rejected the greater counsel which was had by God" (Moses 5:25), and in a final act of rebellion, both Cain and Satan slew their brother. Each made a human sacrifice of the righteous sons (of Adam and God).

Satan endows Cain in his own apostate endowment. While God's temple involves covenants of love, faith, brotherhood and service to others; Satan makes Cain and his followers make secret oaths, under penalty of death, to promote his apostate combinations (Moses 5:28-30).

In the temple, we are sealed up to be like God in eternal families (D&C 132:19-20).
Lucifer's apostate endowment also offered a special promise. Cain rejoiced in his new title: "Mahan, the master of this great secret" (Moses 5:31).

In his new role as Master Mahan, Cain meets Abel in the field (of battle). Cain seeks to challenge Abel's God and methods with the new secrets he has learned from his new god, Satan.

The meek Abel is no physical match for Cain's trickery. Cain slays Abel. He has finally triumphed over his brother. "I am free!" His sacrifice is acceptable before his new god, Lucifer. And there is a perceived additional benefit: "surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands" (Moses 5:33).

Satan could say the same things, as he sought to defeat the mortal Jesus. In the early Christian book, Gospel of Nicodemus, Satan happily goes to see Death, the guardian of hell/Spirit World. He brags about defeating Jesus, by nailing him on the cross. For a moment, Satan felt free and certain that the "flocks" of Jesus in the Spirit World now belonged to him.

The desire for power and the happiness felt by Cain and Satan was short-lived, as both are shown that their evil acts were temporary victories. They had not succeeded in stopping God's plans. Both were driven out of God's presence. Neither received the flocks of his brother. They were not free, but trapped in an existence built on poor and selfish choices. They lost their own place and standing before God.

The Curse of Cain

Protestant tradition held that Cain's curse was passed down through those with black skin, and justified the trafficking of black Africans as slaves.

There is no evidence that Joseph Smith neither believed nor taught this. In fact evidence shows the opposite. Joseph ordained blacks to the priesthood, including Elijah Abel.

It is possible the issue did not arise until the move West. Near Winter Quarters, a black member began a community where he engaged in polygamous marriages with several white women. Such a 19th century scandal began a big discussion among Church members on what to do. The end result was the priesthood ban with the Protestant belief in the curse of Cain to justify it.

(see more at these websites:
Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog “The Long-Promised Day”
Blacks and the Priesthood | Blacklds.org )


 Links:

The Conflict of Adam and Eve Against Satan