Lesson 1
“This Is My Work and My Glory”
Moses 1
by Philip Allred

Introduction to the Old Testament
A few years ago while visiting with a member of our ward, I happened to mention my excitement about some study I had been doing on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) recorded in Leviticus 16. She looked horrified as I began to share my discoveries regarding the symbolic use of the two goats on ancient Israel’s most holy day. The fact that one goat was sacrificed was abhorrent to her sensitivities. My friend expressed that she viewed the Old Testament as a terrifying book about a terrible (and “thankfully past)” time in the earth’s history. She seemed deeply troubled about the Lord’s commandments in the Law of Moses specifically. She could not understand how a loving God would require such behavior, which, in her eyes, was nothing but wasteful and cruel. In the course of our conversation she stated that she had quit studying her scriptures. I have always remembered one of her comments: “Why doesn’t the Lord just come out and tell us what to do instead of giving us page after page of gory ancient history?”

As I left my conversation that day, I contemplated the decidedly different feelings my friend and I had about the Old Testament. Her feelings and concerns were logical. I had experienced similar questions and wonderings myself. Yet, my recent study had been opening up new worlds for me. Most striking of all to me was the frequency of Christ-centered insights that poured into my soul. I had not seen the Savior so much in these historical passages before. Again, why was I getting Christ out of the same book that my friend was so violently opposed to?

Then I remembered that I had been consistently asking for this to happen in prayer. Unlike previous attempts, this time I had been making a concentrated effort to allow the Spirit to become my teacher by specifically asking the Lord to be my teacher. Simple, but incredibly effective-I literally asked the Lord to guide me as I read. It was working. This time, under the Spirit’s tutelage, the normally oblique words on the pages seemed to come alive. They spoke volumes to my yearning understanding. A strange kinship with ancient Israel commenced as their history was beginning to materialize in the theater of my mind. Scene after scene began to play upon my mental stage-each with growing familiarity and increasingly poignant power. I was finally beginning to receive this book as a witness of Jesus Christ. It was marvelous. It is still marvelous!

Of course, these experiences did not, and have not, answered every Old Testament question I have. Those answers await further study and revelation. But I am more joyfully appreciating this collection of the initial chapters in the Lord’s unfolding saga of salvation. The book, for me, has become one my most prized possessions. Truly the Old Testament can and does illuminate and testify of the character and mission of Jesus Christ-the Redeemer of Israel and Savior of the world.

Jesus is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament
A classic over-generalization of the Bible is to say that the God of the Old Testament is unpleasantly strict and severe, while the Lord Jesus in the New Testament is nothing but caring and compassionate. Some question whether there might be two Gods operating in the Bible-the Father in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New; or maybe that Jehovah’s personality softened when he experienced mortality as Jesus.

However, both ancient and modern revelations declare that Jesus is Jehovah-the same God who gave Moses the Ten Commandments also broke bread with the apostles at the Last Supper. In fact, the name “Jehovah” means “Unchangeable One” (LDS Bible Dictionary, 710). The Lord himself declared, “Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course in one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever. I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name” (D&C 35:1-2). Also, “I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me. I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verity, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them” (D&C 38:3-4; see also 3 Nephi 11:10, 14).

Another writer has marshaled helpful evidence of Jehovah’s true and consistent personality attested to in both the Old and New Testaments. “The same person who said, ‘Love your enemies’ (Matthew 5:44), said of the Canaanites in the land of promise, ‘Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: but thou shalt utterly destroy them’ (Deuteronomy 20:16-17). The same Savior who said to forgive ‘seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:22) destroyed the entire population of the earth with the exception of eight souls (see Genesis 7-8). On the other hand, the Jesus of the New Testament who said that one who refuses to forgive another’s trespasses will be ‘delivered . to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due’ (Matthew 18:34-35) is the Lord of the Old Testament who said, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool’ (Isaiah 1:18). And the Christ depicted in the book of Revelation, who is shown with the great sickle ready to reap the grapes of the earth and tread them in the winepress (see Revelation 14:14, 20), is the same God of the Old Testament who said to Micah, ‘What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?’ (Micah 6:8)” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel, 1981, 48). Other examples of the sameness of Jehovah’s character could be multiplied (see also D&C 76:1-11).

Consider the significance of this fact for our development and exercise of faith in God. Joseph Smith clearly detailed the requirements to have “faith in God unto life and salvation” as “first, the idea that he [God] actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes. [And] Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will” (Lectures on Faith, Deseret Book, 1985, 38). Thus the only way to have productive faith is know God (see John 7:17). In this way, “to know that the Lord of the Old Testament was the premortal Jesus Christ has tremendous implications . [and] not only for a correct understanding of the Old Testament and the New Testament, but also for a correct understanding of the nature and purposes of God and of man’s relationship to each member of the Godhead” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis-2 Samuel, 1981, 48). Though imperfect and incomplete, nevertheless the Old Testament is an amazingly helpful history of the Savior’s ancient dealings with man that sheds precious perspective on the nature of God (see Article of Faith 1:8).

Background to the Book of Moses
The book of Moses is a product of direct revelation from the Lord to Joseph Smith. We naturally assume that Moses wrote the words of this book (Moses 1:23), however, Joseph was not in possession of that record, and hence did not ‘translate’ the book (unlike the Book of Mormon plates and the papyri of Abraham and Joseph obtained from M. Chandler’s sarcophagi). Very soon after the Church was organized, Joseph received revelations and instructions concerning a ‘translation’ (technically a revision) of the King James Bible (see LDS Bible Dictionary, 717).

During this time the Saints were subjected to severe persecution. “At one time a mob of about fifty men assembled, intending to harm the Prophet. On another occasion, Joseph was arrested on a charge of being a disorderly person. He was taken to a tavern where he was abused and ridiculed by men who spat upon him saying, ‘Prophesy, prophesy,’ ignorantly imitating those who had crucified the Savior of the world (see Luke 22:64). Twice he was subjected to court trials in front of a multitude of spectators who were convinced of his guilt and anxious for maximum punishment to be meted out. After two acquittals, he was released, but the hateful mobs continued to hinder the work” (H. Donl Peterson, The Pearl of Great Price: A History and Commentary, 1987, 27).

The Lord revealed to the Prophet the book of Moses in the midst of these afflictions (June 1830). Joseph records, “I will say, however, that amid all the trials and tribulations we had to wade through, the Lord who well knew our infantile and delicate situation, vouchsafed for us a supply of strength, and granted us “line upon line of knowledge-here a little and there a little,” of which the following [the book of Moses] was a precious morsel” (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol.1:98). Little wonder the Lord chose to reveal the book of Moses to Joseph, it details some of the most remarkable visions in holy writ, along with the key to overcoming the temptations and influence of Satan.

“Behold, Thou Art My Son” (Moses 1:1-11)
Sometime after the burning bush and before the Exodus (see Moses 1:17, 25-26), Moses was spirited up to “an exceedingly high mountain,” where he received two visions from God and one visitation from Satan. Here the Lord introduced Himself, declaring to Moses: “thou art my son” (Moses 1:4), and further clarified that Moses was “in the similitude of [the] Only Begotten” (1:6). What comfort and inspiration! In fact, this knowledge would be particularly sweet to one like Moses who had been estranged from his biological family for most of his life. The prophet was then shown the other children of God from the time of Adam and Eve until the “ends thereof” (Moses 1:8). The Lord then departed, allowing Moses time to contemplate and process what he’d learned from the experience.