Don’t all of us have a secret desire to be on the stage, dressed in amazing costumes, involved in a play with a Director, with our own starring roles, with a character-driven plot and lots of intrigue and excitement in our story? Imagine then that you ARE intimately involved in an award-winning three act play and you are already quite far into Act 2. But here’s the catch, you can only fully understand Act 2 if you have a knowledge of Act 1—and when you finished Act 1, the curtains were dropped and you can not only NOT look back on that part of the play, you can’t even remember it. Do we know anything about Act 1 at all? Yes, we do—quite a bit, actually. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

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Don’t all of us have a secret desire to be on the stage, dressed in amazing costumes, involved in a play with a Director, with our own starring roles, with a character-driven plot and lots of intrigue and excitement in our story? Imagine then that you ARE intimately involved in an award-winning three act play and you are already quite far into Act 2. But here’s the catch, you can only fully understand Act 2 if you have a knowledge of Act 1—and when you finished Act 1, the curtains were dropped and you can not only NOT look back on that part of the play, you can’t even remember it. Do we know anything about Act 1 at all? Yes, we do—quite a bit, actually. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.


Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast. We are Scot and Maurine Proctor and this is the first lesson of the new year as we excitedly jump right in to our wonderful studies of the Old Testament. The Old Testament strikes many as a formidable, unapproachable, hard-to-understand ancient book. The 1,184 pages can seem daunting. The 39 books of the Old Testament can sometimes seem confusing. Getting through 929 chapters can be overwhelming. Leviticus or Isaiah can stop a reader dead in her tracks. So, as we begin this full year of study of the Old Testament, let’s start with a few tools and methods of approach that may help this process of study not only NOT be painful, but be delightful and fulfilling.


The Old Testament might better be named, The Old Covenant. This is the story, from the beginning of time, of God’s dealings with His children and how He binds them to Him by immutable covenants, starting with Adam and Eve, then Enoch, then Noah, then Fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, then Moses. “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations.” (Deut. 7:9) And, as His covenant children obey His words, and live by every word which proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, they are protected, prospered, given promised lands, even given the Divine Presence.


“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Ex. 19:5-6)

Now, as Latter-day Saints or “Latter-day Covenant Israel,” as President Russell Nelson has called members of The Church of Jesus Christ, we should immerse ourselves in the Old Testament, studying, pondering and learning all we can about this ancient and holy covenant which binds us to the God of Israel. As you begin your studies, then, always look for the covenant. Ponder the covenants God has made with His children. Pray about the power of covenants in your own life and in your family. Reflect upon the covenants you have made in the temple and see how they have bound you to the God of the universe and how they keep you safe. Think of yourself, as part of “Latter-day Covenant Israel.”


If we had the original manuscripts of the Old Testament, compiled as dictated by the Holy Ghost, the title page of this venerable book may have read something like this: 

This book is “…to show unto…the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” (See Title Page of the Book of Mormon)

As we study together in the Old Testament this year, let’s look for Jesus Christ in every story, in every pattern, in every book, in all the covenants. As it says in Moses 6:63:

63 And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual…all things bear record of me.


So, we will look for Jesus Christ in the story of the Children of Israel leaving Egypt and going on the wilderness journey. We will look for Jesus Christ in the story of Abraham and his striving to obtain the blessings of heaven. We will look for Jesus Christ in the story of Noah and the flood. AND, we will find Him. The entire Old Testament points to the coming of Jesus Christ. And think of it: Abraham lived about 2,000 years before Christ and we now live 2,000 years after Christ. He looked forward to His First Coming, we look forward to His Second Coming. Abraham made covenants with Jesus Christ in holy places in the wilderness. We make covenants with Jesus Christ in holy temples in our wilderness sojourn upon the earth.


And let us remember that when Nephi recorded “For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them…(See 2 Nephi 4:15), he wasn’t talking about the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants or the Pearl of Great Price or even the New Testament! At this point he only had the Plates of Brass which was similar to our Old Testament only it was much larger. He loved these sacred scriptures and he said: “And I did read many things unto [my brothers] which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” (See 1 Nephi 19:23)

If you wonder whether you and your family can come closer to Jesus Christ through studying the Old Testament, keep in mind that the Savior Himself invites us to do so. When He told the leaders of the Jews, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39), He was talking about the writings of the ancient prophets in the Old Testament.

As our lesson states this week: If you seek greater faith in the Savior as you study the Old Testament, you will find it. Perhaps this could be the aim of your study this year. Pray that the Spirit will guide you to find and focus on passages, stories, and prophecies that will bring you closer to Jesus Christ.

So, we need to liken all that we study and all that we read this year unto ourselves in our times and circumstances, in this dispensation—in this day and time and pray that the Spirit will bring us closer to Jesus Christ.


Lastly, we need to have a firm understanding of the three act play we talked about in the beginning: that we have finished Act 1, that we are currently in Act 2 and that how we do in Act 2 will determine the outcome and story of Act 3. Let’s talk about Act 1 for a few minutes and lead through today’s lesson.

We used to often sing to our children the Angel Lullaby from Carol Lynn Pearson and Lex de Azevado’s “My Turn on Earth”:

You came from a land where all is light
to a world half day and a world half night.
To guide you by day, you have my love,
To guard you by night, your friends above.

That whole idea of coming from a land where all is light—a pre-mortal existence—is one of the great restored truths of the ongoing Restoration.


Yes! There was a Grand Council in Heaven and all of us were there. Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother were there. “All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.” (The Origin and Destiny of Man,” Improvement Era, 12 (November 1909): 78.) The Great Jehovah—who would become Jesus Christ in mortality was there. Michael, the one who was like unto God and is the mighty archangel was there. Gabriel, the great angel whose very name means man of God and who would become Noah in mortality was there. Abraham records:

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. (Abraham 3: 22-23)

And I have to say here how deeply grateful I am to the Prophet Joseph Smith for bringing us the Book of Abraham and for his translation of the Bible. These eight chapters of Moses we have in the Pearl of Great Price are from the Joseph Smith Translation. And with great anticipation for learning in this coming year, we will often be drawing from excerpts and quotes from his inspired translation—for he gave us 3,410 verses of change, modification or addition to the King James Version of the Bible.


As to that premortal world, we read in Jeremiah:

And the Lord said to the Prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

We know there were “many of the noble and great ones” in that pre-mortal realm, and we stood with them. This is not just metaphorical, this is literal. This is our true home where we were nurtured and known by Father and Mother.


“In the premortal spirit world, God appointed certain spirits to fulfill specific missions during their mortal lives. This is called foreordination. … The doctrine of foreordination applies to all members of the Church, not just to the Savior and His prophets” (Gospel Topics, “Foreordination,”


Many years ago, Scot and I went to the Middle East, and on the plane ride over I had a long, heartfelt prayer. I felt so empty and barren, much like a dried leaf blowing along the gutter in a restless wind. I hadn’t felt the Spirit for a long time. It was not that there was anything particularly wrong in my life, but I was frankly overwhelmed with work in taking care of the needs of our growing family. At the time we had ten children under 18, and the challenges and work were relentless. I was just so tired.

On this trip we climbed Mt. Sinai, and when you do that you start hiking in the middle of the night at 1:00 am to be able to see the 6:20 am sunrise from the top so you can capture gorgeous photos. We loaded up all of our gear, all of Scot’s heavy field camera equipment and started hiking by the light of the stars. We had done this before, but this time I carried with me the heaviness of my responsibilities and feelings. 

Does God know I am here? Does He know how hard I am trying? Does He care about my work and my efforts? Is He aware of me? Does He see me? All of these things were going through my mind with each step towards the summit. 

We took longer than we planned to get to the top and Scot had to take off running with the essential gear to set up and capture the sunrise on film. He got there with less than five minutes to spare and shot some beautiful pictures. As he was shooting, I was studying and praying and pondering the first few verses of Moses chapter 1. They struck me with such power as if I were seeing them for the first time and they were being delivered just for me.

2 And [Moses] saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence. [Then God introduced Himself to Moses, with this mighty, unmatchable, moving description of Himself. Moses had seen false gods in Egypt, but now He was talking to the great Creator, the God of all things, whose presence in such light would be unendurable unless Moses was transformed. Listen to who God says He is.]

3 And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?

4 And, behold, thou art my son…(Moses 1:1-4) What? This mighty God of Universe just said he was Almighty, that his name was Endless. He said that He is without beginning of days of end of years, therefore it is clear that He sees and knows all things and that nothing is lost or overlooked before Him. He would go on to show Moses the “world upon which he was created…and all the children of men which are, and which were created.”

And it is this God, this being of light who in the same breath, says, “behold thou art my son.” You, Moses, are personally beloved. You are not an unknown orphan in the universe. You are a son of the mighty one, with My attributes in embryo.

I was so struck with the Lord introducing Himself to Moses in this magnificent way and then revealing that he was a son.

And at that moment, it was as if I could hear the voice of God saying to me, “And, behold, thou art my daughter.” It was a whisper that thrilled my soul. I knew that He knew I was there. I knew that He knew how hard I was trying. I knew that He did care about my work and my efforts. I absolutely knew that He was aware of me and that He could see me. And most importantly, I knew in every fiber of my being that He claimed me as His daughter. I will never forget my personal revelation as I sat on the top of Mt. Sinai, and I have valued these verses as personal scripture to me ever since.


Maurine, it was like as I was shooting that sunrise, the light of the Son was dawning in your whole soul and filling you with light. I love that experience and I love what that did for both of us. That has been a foundational part of our testimonies and our witnesses of Him all these many years. And this is an essential part of our understanding as we read and study the Old Testament this year. We need to know that we are His sons and His Daughters and that we lived with Him and that He is aware of each of us now and He knows us and sees us. That name in Hebrew is El Roi—the God who sees me. And we will learn many names of God this coming year and often times we will look deeper into the meaning and significance of those names.

You know, Maurine, every time I begin a serious study of the Old Testament, I think about the Silver Ketef Hinnom Scrolls—two silver amulets that date to the seventh century B.C. We have sometimes seen them displayed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. They contain the oldest extra-biblical reference to YHWH or Yahweh or we would say Jehovah of anything yet discovered. As researchers carefully unrolled and translated these scrolls, they found the priestly blessing recorded in the Book of Numbers:

“May Yahweh bless you and keep you OR The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. May Yahweh cause his face to shine upon you and grant you peace OR The Lord make his face shine upon thee…the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” (See Numbers 6:24-26)

When I see those tiny scrolls from about the time of Lehi, I marvel that we have the Old Testament at all. It is a miracle that these sacred records have been preserved and so as I study these ancient texts, I always do so with a feeling of awe and gratitude.


Oh, I do too, and I think of that when we are in Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. You remember, Scot, that 21 copies of the Book of Isaiah were discovered, most dating to the 2nd Century B.C. and those that were completely intact contained all sixty-six chapters of that venerable book! And I read Isaiah today and there it is in my Old Testament—all sixty-six chapters. That really is something to be so grateful for.

So, why did God preserve all these ancient records? Maybe He preserved them because He knows each one of us and what we would be experiencing in our times. Through the people and the stories of the Old Testament He has prepared numerous spiritual messages for us to help us draw closer to Him and to build our faith in Him.

Let us always pray that the Holy Ghost will be with us as we study these ancient truths—that He might lead us to all truth, that He will lead us to those passages and insights that will help us bless our friends, family members and fellow Saints.


I depend on the help of the Holy Ghost in leading me to all truth in the Old Testament.

The Holy Ghost guides us to the truth and bears witness of that truth (see John 16:13). He enlightens our minds, quickens our understandings, and touches our hearts with revelation from God, the source of all truth. The Holy Ghost purifies our hearts. He inspires in us a desire to live by truth, and He whispers to us ways to do this. Truly, “the Holy Ghost … shall teach [us] all things” (John 14:26).

For these reasons, we should first and foremost seek the companionship of the Spirit. This goal should govern our choices and guide our thoughts and actions. We should seek after whatever invites the influence of the Spirit and reject whatever drives that influence away—for we know that if we can be worthy of the presence of the Holy Ghost, we can also be worthy to live in the presence of Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Now let’s get back to the first chapter of the Book of Moses:

Moses was shown a great vision. And he is told who he was, that he was “in the similitude of [the] Only Begotten; and [that the] Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth.” (See Moses 1:6) And Moses is told that “there is no God beside me.” (ibid). Moses was raised in the courts of Pharaoh where there were as many as 400 gods in their pantheon, but none of those so-called gods had ever talked to or interacted with Moses!

And the presence of God withdrew from Moses, that his glory was not upon Moses; and Moses was left unto himself. And as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth.

10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.

That statement makes all the sense in the world. As we stand today in the midst of the kingdoms of Egypt, for example in the Temple of Karnak, in the Hypostyle Room, which is 54,000 square feet, featuring 134 enormous columns, one would think, as Moses did, that man is something—but now he knew that man is nothing, which thing he never had supposed.


And at this moment when he is just recovering and receiving his strength back again, Satan comes to him.

“…saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.

Now, Moses has just been told that there was just one God and now this imposter, this counterfeiter is trying to tempt him:

13 And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?

14 For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely?

We learn a really important pattern here. We absolutely have to remember who we are if we are to successfully thwart the temptations of Satan. It’s like my experience on the top of Mt. Sinai, I have to remember that I am a daughter of the Most High God, and I cannot be deceived unless I forget or give up that sure knowledge.


Well, and I think a good question to even ask out loud, when you feel darkness of temptation, like Moses did, is: Who are you? It’s a great question to discern Satan’s presence as he is always near.

Now, Satan did not want Moses to fulfill his mission—and his mission was to become the deliverer for the Children of Israel who were in Egypt in bondage. Satan wanted them to remain in bondage—in prison—kept from a full knowledge of the one true God. That’s what he wants for all of us—BONDAGE.

Moses says:

15 Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God; for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve.

16 Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.

18 And again Moses said: I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan.


I love that Moses said to Satan that he was not done inquiring of God. He had other things he wanted to find out about. Is there anything more exciting than to find out truths and eternal things from God.

But Satan was getting more and more angry and more and more frustrated and insistent:

19 And…Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.

Really? Satan now just out and out lies—remember: He is the father of lies—and he says that he is the Only Begotten.

Now, watch carefully what happens here:

20 And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory.

As fear grips us, we will, at times, see the bitterness of hell. And what is the bitterness of hell—well, we know the fruits of it: Darkness, despair, depression, discouragement, hopelessness, disappointment, dismay, degradation of our own standing and spirit, anxiety—you know the routine, and this is all because we have let fear take over. Then watch what finally happens:

21 And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan.

22 And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses, that he beheld him not.


Right after this, Moses has a tremendous spiritual experience:

24 And it came to pass that when Satan had departed from the presence of Moses, that Moses lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being filled with the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son;

25 And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God.

26 And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen.

So, Moses is chosen to become the deliverer of his people. He has overcome this attempt of Satan to deceive him. He then is told that God is the creator of worlds without number—so many that man cannot number them “but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine,” saith the Lord. (See Moses 1:37

And then Moses learns this fabulous insight into the Lord’s own mission:

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (See Moses 1:39)

Amidst a planet where Moses is shown billions of the Lord’s children, amidst the unnumbered worlds without end, amidst all the creations of the universe, God says His work is to bring to pass our immortality and our eternal life!

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said it this way:

“Therefore, in the expansiveness of space, there is stunning personalness, for God knows and loves each of us! (See 1 Nephi 11:17). We are not ciphers in unexplained space! While the Psalmist’s query was, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4), mankind is at the very center of God’s work. We are the sheep of His hand and the people of His pasture (See Psalms 79:13; 95:7; 100:3). His work includes our immortalization—accomplished by Christ’s glorious Atonement! Think of it, brothers and sisters, even with their extensive longevity, stars are not immortal, but you are.” (Our Creator’s Cosmos, Neal A. Maxwell, Religious Studies Center)


Years ago, I was writing a television series on the family for the Church and we were going to do a show on the struggle so many have with shame and a sense of worthlessness—two of the fruits of fear. I consulted with a psychologist for ideas. and he told me something I have never forgotten. He said, we experience ourselves not as a whole, but as bits and pieces. You can tell that is true because you have to admit that you talk to yourself. You argue with yourself. You give yourself things to do while another part of you resists that list.

The psychologist said, “You know what I mean because there is part of you that says, ‘You should do this. You must do that. You are a loser if you don’t do well on that. You never measure up. Your work doesn’t make any difference. You haven’t done enough. You have disappointed me again. Run faster, harder, more frantically because you lack so much.


“It is this noisy critic who constantly has a better idea for you, who brings up your past to discourage and incriminate you. This critic on your shoulder (or better yet, in your head) has all kinds of suggestions for your improvement, which are so demanding you could never quite fill the bill. The critic may remind you that you are unlovable and have never really been loved. The critic may remind you of your failures and your rejections. This critic just never lets you off the hook. Yet, what is worst of all is that the critic claims that its voice is there to bless you and keep you progressing. The voice says, ‘I am only thinking of you.’

“What hurts most of all, when we get right down to it, is we think that this voice is God. After all, doesn’t this critic just want our improvement? Isn’t this voice just demanding a greater level of excellence from us?”


Then the psychologist asked the most important question of the night. “Who is this voice? What is the source of this voice? Who is speaking to you with such regular disdain?”

I remember sitting in my office taking notes as he talked, and a realization was dawning upon me. I, too, had that demanding voice in my head which was never satisfied with who I was. I knew what it meant to think I always had to be competent and see quickly how to do things or I was stupid. He was describing something familiar to me. “Who is this voice? To whom does this voice belong?”

When he asked, I knew the answer. I had just never confronted it before. I answered him. “It is Satan’s voice, pretending to be God.” I could see it so clearly now.

Who wants to make you miserable? Who wants you to believe you are never doing enough? Who wants to make you feel small? Who wants to make you believe your efforts are not worth it? Who wants you to be haunted with shame? Who, in the Garden of Eden, told Adam and Eve to run? Hide?” Not the Father. Not the Son. It is the Adversary. You can tell because he makes you feel bad and then delights in it. Shame is his currency.


Satan is called the accuser in Revelation 12:10, which is an apt name for him. “The accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” He is your accuser, too. Don’t mistake his voice and call it God’s. It is a travesty to do so. Think of the millions of voices through the centuries raised in a shout of blame toward God, when Satan was the cause of their misery. God does not teach his children with disdain for them as unworthy creatures. That mean voice in your head that induces shame and guilt is not His.

Satan likes to masquerade as God. He likes to start movements in God’s name. He pretends he is the one watching out for you. “Abandon the gospel. You’ll feel so much better,” he advertises. “Trust me,” the untrustworthy says.


Moses was not so easily fooled, and what he says is significant for this very issue of guilt and shame.

When Satan comes, Moses is able to stand so unwaveringly strong, because in actuality, he knows who he is as never before: “For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?” He knows his identity because he has seen God—and God told him: Behold, thou art my son.

Moses becomes clear about his inheritance as a son, because a son or daughter can grow to attain their Father’s attributes. He has more in him than he can possibly comprehend. While he feels like “nothing” after his great vision, this is not a negative, self-deprecating thing, but a sense of humility before all he has seen. Humility should not be confused with shame, for the first can help exalt us, while the second corrupts.

I always say, we can have anxiety living with its accompanying grief, or we can have atonement living where we breathe deeply and in gratitude. It’s not on me. It never was all on me. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). This is not for some future time, but for the day to day living of right now.


That’s all for today. We have some very exciting things to study this year in the Old Testament and are happy you have invited us into your homes and hearts. Next week the lesson will cover Genesis 1 and 2; Moses 2 and 3 and Abraham 4 and 5. We will discuss The Creation. Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music that accompanies this podcast and for Mariah Proctor Scoresby who produced this show. Have a wonderful week. Happy New Year and see you next time.