OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 2
ABRAHAM 3; MOSES 4:1-4
- Introductory Comments.
- Lesson Highlights.
- The doctrine of foreordination.
- Our responsibility to help build up the kingdom of God and bring souls
- Jesus Christ was chosen in the Council in Heaven to be our Savior.
- The Book of Abraham.
- WHERE DID WE GET THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM?
- Between 1817 and 1821, one Antonio Lebolo was doing excavation work
in Upper Egypt on the west bank of the Nile River. While digging, he discovered
eleven well-preserved mummies in a large tomb.
- Lebolo had these mummies shipped to Trieste, Italy. He authorized Albano
Oblasser, a shipping magnate in Italy, to sell them on his behalf. Lebolo
died in 1830. The mummies were sent to two shipping companies in New York
City. They were to sell the mummies to anyone who would pay the appropriate
sum and the proceeds would be sent to Lebolo's heirs.
- Early in 1833 the mummies were acquired by Michael Chandler, who claimed
to be Lebolo's nephew. Over the next two years Chandler exhibited these
mummies in places such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cleveland (not far
- In July 1835, Chandler visited Kirtland. He had heard of Joseph Smith
and his claim of translating ancient Egyptian. Eventually, the Church purchased
four mummies and at least two rolls of papyrus for $2,400.
- Said the Prophet, "I commenced the translation of some of the
characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the
rolls contained the writings of Abraham, another the writings of Joseph
of Egypt." (DHC 2:236) The Prophet translated the Book of Abraham
from these rolls.
- After the Prophet's death, the artifacts were kept by his mother, Lucy.
Emma took possession after Mother Smith's death in 1856. Shortly thereafter,
they were sold to Mr. Abel Combs, who then sold two mummies with some papyri,
which were sent to the St. Louis Museum. They eventually ended up in the
Chicago Museum where it appears they burned in 1871.
- What happened to the other two mummies and remaining papyri is unclear.
In 1918, the daughter of Abel Comb's housekeeper approached the New York
Metropolitan Museum with papyri she said were once owned by Joseph Smith.
In 1947, the museum finally acquired the papyri from her widower. In 1966,
Aziz S. Atiya, of the University of Utah saw eleven of these fragments
at the museum. He informed Church leaders and in 1967 the Church acquired
the fragments from the museum. One of these fragments is Facsimile No.
1. It appears that, except for the fragment containing Facsimile No. 1,
these remaining fragments come from later religious texts.
- "Thou Wast Chosen Before Thou Wast Born."
- Abraham Learns That In The Premortal Life Many Spirits Were Foreordained.
- Like Moses, Abraham was also given a vision of the Lord's creations.
This vision was given after Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees and prior to
his arrival in Egypt.
- Abraham 3:11-12: "Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face
to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works
which his hands had made; "And he said unto me: My son, my son
(and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And
he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands
had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I
could not see the end thereof."
- Abraham saw in vision the governing stars and learned that the great
one is "Kolob". This star is near the Lord and has been
set by the Lord to govern the order of planets like unto this earth (v2-3).
- In v18, Abraham is told of degrees of intelligence among spirits. Abraham
is then told that these spirits "have no beginning; they existed
before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum,
- WHAT IS ABRAHAM BEING TOLD ABOUT THE NATURE OF OUR SPIRITS?
- The Prophet taught in the King Follett discourse: "I am dwelling
on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the
intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it had a beginning? The
intelligence of spirits had not beginning, neither will it have an end.
That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never
was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal]
with our Father in heaven." (TPJS, p353)
- Bruce R. McConkie: "'There is no such thing as immaterial matter,'
the Prophet tells us. 'All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure,
and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our
bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.' (D. & C. 131:7-8.)
This spirit element has always existed; it is co-eternal with God. (Teachings,
pp. 352-354.) It is also called intelligence or the light of truth, which
'was not created or made, neither indeed can be.' (D. & C. 93:29.)
"Speaking of pre-existent spirits, Abraham calls them 'the intelligences
that were organized before the world was.' (Abra. 3:22-24.) Thus, portions
of the self-existent spirit element are born as spirit children, or in
other words the intelligence which cannot be created or made, because it
is self-existent, is organized into intelligences." (Mormon Doctrine,
- READ ABRAHAM 3:22-23.
- WHAT IS THIS GATHERING OF SPIRITS ABRAHAM IS BEING SHOWN?
- We refer to it as the "Council in Heaven" that was held before
the creation of the earth.
- Bruce R. McConkie: "There were many meetings, conferences,
councils and schooling sessions held among the Gods and their spirit offspring
in pre-existence. Among other things, at these various assemblages, plans
were made for the creation and peopling of this earth and for the redemption
and salvation of the offspring of Deity." (Mormon Doctrine, p163)
- WHO WAS PRESENT AT THIS COUNCIL?
- Heavenly Father and his spirit children.
- WHO ARE "THE NOBLE AND GREAT ONES" DESCRIBED IN THESE VERSES?
- The prophets and church leaders through the ages.
- D&C 138:53&55 indicates some of those who were among the "noble
and great ones: "The Prophet Joseph Smith, and my father, Hyrum
Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and other choice spirits
who were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in
laying the foundations of the great latter-day work.... I observed that
they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning
to be rulers in the Church of God."
- In v23 Abraham was told that these "noble and great ones"
would be made rulers. The Lord informed Abraham that he had also been "chosen"
before he was born.
- WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT ABRAHAM WAS "CHOSEN" BEFORE HE WAS
- He was foreordained to be a Prophet and to father a righteous people.
- WHAT IS FOREORDINATION?
- Bruce R. McConkie: "To carry forward his own purposes among
men and nations, the Lord foreordained chosen spirit children in pre-existence
and assigned them to come to earth at particular times and places so that
they might aid in furthering the divine will. These pre-existence appointments
made "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Pet.
1:2), simply designated certain individuals to perform missions which the
Lord in his wisdom knew they had the talents and capacities to do. The
mightiest and greatest spirits were foreordained to stand as prophets and
spiritual leaders..." (Mormon Doctrine, p290)
- Joseph Smith: "Every man who has a calling to minister to the
inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand
Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained
to this very office in that Grand Council." (Teachings, p. 365.)
- DID FOREORDINATION GUARANTEE THAT ABRAHAM, JOSEPH SMITH, AND OTHERS
WOULD BECOME PROPHETS? WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FOREORDINATION
- Even though a person is foreordained to a calling, that calling is
dependent on the person's worthiness and willingness to accept it.
- Consider these teachings by Alma to the wicked people in Ammonihah:
"And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the
time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I
would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after
his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things
unto the people. "And those priests were ordained after the order
of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner
to look forward to his Son for redemption. "And this is the manner
after which they were ordained--being called and prepared from the foundation
of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their
exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose
good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly
great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling
which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for
such. "And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account
of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account
of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while,
if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as
their brethren." (Alma 13:1-4)
- Neal A. Maxwell: "Predestination, once so powerful an influence
on the human scene (and not without its residual presence today), is overturned
by the doctrines of premortal existence and of foreordination. Instead
of an arbitrary, unmerited 'chosen-ness,' the merits of individuals meet
the beckoning call of God." (Not My Will, But Thine, p.39)
- As the Prophet stated, "Every man who has a calling to minister
to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the
Grand Council of heaven before this world was."
- DOES THAT INCLUDE US? WHAT MIGHT WE HAVE BEEN FOREORDAINED TO DO?
- D&C 138:56: "Even before they were born, they, with many
others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared
to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for
the salvation of the souls of men."
- Might these include:
- A Primary teacher.
- A Scout leader.
- A home teacher or visiting teacher.
- A missionary.
- A parent.
- Any of these callings may impact the "salvation" of soul
or many souls.
- I don't know if my mission was a foreordained calling, but I have a
feeling anytime we are in instrument in the Lord's hands in the work of
salvation, we are fulfilling carrying out a foreordained calling.
- <Share parts of a letter from a convert from my mission>
- Ezra Taft Benson: "God has held you in reserve to make your
appearance in the final days before the second coming of the Lord. Some
individuals will fall away; but the kingdom of God will remain intact to
welcome the return of its head-even Jesus Christ. While our generation
will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed
the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time. It is that God
has saved for the final inning some of His strongest children, who will
help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. That is where you come in, for
you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.... "...Make
no mistake about it-you are a marked generation. There has never been more
expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of
us." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pp104-105)
- HOW CAN WE BE SURE WE ARE FULFILLING OR PREPARED TO FULFILL OUR FOREORDAINED
- Keep the commandments.
- Strive to live a divinely centered life by staying in tune with the
will of God through scripture study, pondering, communication with the
Father through prayer, and service.
- Study our patriarchal blessings.
- One of my greatest personal concerns is that I have not lived my life
in sufficient righteousness to be worthy to fulfill my foreordained callings.
I hope we are not like those who Alma mentioned when he said, "others
would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts
and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might
have had as great privilege as their brethren."
- Jesus Christ Was Chosen In Council In Heaven To Be Our Savior.
- READ ABRAHAM 3:24-28.
- WHAT IS BEING DESCRIBED IN THESE VERSES?
- READ MOSES 1:1-4.
- HOW DID THE OFFERS OF JESUS CHRIST AND LUCIFER DIFFER?
- Jesus: "...we will prove them herewith, to see if they will
do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them"
- Lucifer: "...I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall
not be lost, and surely I will do it" (Moses 4:1). He "sought
to destroy the agency of man" (Moses 4:3).
- WHY IS THIS AGENCY SO IMPORTANT?
- To answer this question, one must first understand Our Heavenly Father
and our eternal destiny. We can only become like him as we work our way
through the experiences of our existence.
- How successful are we when force is used. Consider the success we have
enjoyed in this country in contrast to the failures of the Soviet system
of big brother and coercion.
- D&C 29:39: "And it must needs be that the devil should
tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves;
for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet--"
- Bruce R. McConkie: "Lucifer, in the Grand Council when the
Great God presented the plan of agency and salvation, proposed instead
to save all men. 'I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be
lost and surely I will do it,' he said. (Moses 4:1.) That is, none would
be damned; damnation would not be a viable alternative to salvation; there
would be no agency -- no freedom of choice, no election to serve God or
to flee from evil and turn to righteousness. But if there is no freedom
of choice between damnation and salvation, how can either exist? They are
opposites; without one you cannot have the other. Lucifer's proposal to
amend the Father's plan could not be; it was philosophically impossible
to accomplish. He could not save all mankind, because unless some were
damned, there would be no salvation, for nothing can so much as exist unless
it has an opposite. Agency and freedom of worship are just that basic and
important in the eternal plan of salvation." (A New Witness for
the Articles of Faith, p.655 - p.656)
- Neal A. Maxwell: "If the Lord were to show His power as some
expect power to be used-which is virtually unthinkable-mortals would experience,
among other things, prompt punishment rather than divine long-suffering.
God would then stop all human suffering and silence all opposition to His
work. In countless ways He would control the adverse effects of agency
merely to prove that He was all-powerful. But He would not be all-loving
for in effect He would have derailed His plan of happiness! The enforced
cooperation would not produce illuminated individuality but an indistinguishable
'compound in one' (2 Nephi 2:11). We would then be back to that proposal
of enforced "salvation" rejected so long ago (Moses 4:1)."
(Not My Will, But Thine, p.91)
- The will of The Father.
- Jesus: "Father, thy will be done" (Moses 4:2).
- Lucifer: "Satan rebelled against me" (Moses 4:3).
- Who receives the glory?
- Jesus: "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever"
- Lucifer: "...wherefore give me thine honor." (Moses
- DO YOU THINK THE FATHER WAS CONCERNED WITH WHO RECEIVED THE GLORY?
- This was not a battle of egos, except in the case of Satan.
- Webster's College Dictionary gives one of the definitions of glory
as "a state of absolute happiness".
- The Father's glory or happiness comes as we follow the plan of happiness.
Happiness cannot be forced upon us. We must follow the path. We must make
- We Chose To Follow Jesus Christ.
- WHOM DID WE CHOOSE TO FOLLOW IN THIS COUNCIL IN HEAVEN?
- HOW DO WE KNOW WE CHOSE TO FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST?
- We were born here on earth and received physical bodies. The third
of Father's children that followed Satan will not receive a physical body.
- In Abraham 3:26, the Lord makes reference to the "first estate"
and the "second estate".
- WHAT DO THESE TERMS MEAN?
- First estate: Our premortal life.
- HOW DID WE KEEP OUR FIRST ESTATE?
- We chose to follow Jesus Christ.
- WHAT WAS THE REWARD?
- Second estate: Our mortal life.
- HOW DO WE KEEP OUR SECOND ESTATE?
- By following Jesus Christ. We do that by keeping his commandments and
seek to do his will until the end of our days.
- WHAT IS THE REWARD?
- We "shall have glory added upon" our "heads
for ever and ever" (Abraham 3:26).
- What is that glory? What is the glory of the Father? Eternal happiness
which comes as we follow in the footsteps of the Father.
- Lucifer/Satan And His Followers Cast Out Of Heaven.
- WHAT HAPPENED TO LUCIFER AND THOSE WHO CHOSE TO FOLLOW HIM?
- Revelation 12:7-9: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and
his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And
the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and
Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth,
and his angels were cast out with him."
- They were eternally damned: they were prohibited from following the
Father's plan of eternal happiness.
- Cast from heaven.
- Denied mortality and the physical body necessary for eternal progression
- "The rebellious spirits followed Lucifer and with him were
cast down to the earth and became devils or evil spirits, never
to receive physical bodies on earth (Moses 4:1-4; D&C 76:25-27; cf.
Rev. 12:4, 7-9; D&C 29:36). Satan and his followers remain spirit beings
made in the image of God but are still rebellious and evil." (Encyclopedia
of Mormonism, Vol.3: SPIRIT)
- WHAT ARE SATAN AND HIS FOLLOWERS DOING NOW?
- Lucifer, son of the morning, "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."
- Ezra Taft Benson: "There is a conspiracy of evil. The source
of it all is Satan and his hosts. He has a great power over men to 'lead
them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken' to the voice
of the Lord (Moses 4:4). His evil influence may be manifest through governments;
through false educational, political, economic, religious, and social philosophies;
through secret societies and organizations; and through myriads of other
forms. His power and influence are so great that, if possible, he would
deceive the very elect (see Matthew 24:24). As the second coming of the
Lord approaches, Satan's work will intensify through numerous insidious
deceptions." (CR April 1978)
- WHAT ARE SOME SPECIFIC WAYS THAT SATAN TRIES TO LIMIT OR DESTROY OUR
- Use of harmful substances.
- Governmental controls.
- Brainwashing by the media: books, movies, TV, music.
- WHAT CAN WE DO TO RECOGNIZE AND RESIST SATAN'S EFFORTS TO DESTROY OUR
- Live by the Spirit - as we do so, we will be able to detect these attempts.
- As we live unrighteously, we lose the Spirit, and surrender our agency
to other forces.
- HOW CAN PARENTS TEACH AND TRAIN THEIR CHILDREN WHILE PRESERVING CHILDREN'S
- As the Prophet said: "I teach them correct principles and let
them govern themselves."
- This is a process. As little children we must restrict their agency,
but as they grow and learn we must become like Heavenly Father and allow
them their agency. It is our responsibility to teach correct principles.
- Next Week.
- Lesson 3: Moses 1:27-42; 2-3.
- Additional Reading: Abraham 4-5; Genesis 1-2.