Chapter Two: The Prophet Moses
In ancient time, when Moses left the children of Israel encamped in the wilderness and ascended the mountain (Moses 1:42), he was transfigured and stood in the presence of God. When he was again restored to his natural self, Lucifer appeared and tried to tempt and deceive him. Lucifer, upon that occasion, proclaimed himself to be the Son of God and declared that Moses should fall down and worship him as the "only begotten" and the God of this world. In doing so he was promised great personal honor and glory.
Lucifer Attempts to Deceive Moses
Lucifer's promises were intended to deceive Moses, but he knew that he was being deceived and told Lucifer how he had perceived the deception and how he knew who he was. Here is the scriptural account of that incident:
And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?
For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were strengthened before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely?
Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God; for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve.
Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.
And he also gave me commandments when he called unto me out of the burning bush, saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me.
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.
And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and rent upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.
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.
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.
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.
And now of this thing Moses bore record; but because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men.
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 (Moses 1:13-24).
The Calling of Michael (Adam) to Hold Lucifer in Check
We are told that as Lucifer tried to overpower and destroy Moses, Michael or Adam, our first father in the flesh, who had been associated with God the Father and his Son in the creation of the earth, appeared to contend with and dispel Lucifer from the presence of Moses. Otherwise he might have come under the control of the evil one. The scriptures give this account of that that incident:
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee (Jude verse 9).And thus by the power of the priesthood Lucifer was dispelled, permitting Moses to be divinely interceded for, as given in the scriptural account of God speaking to Moses out of the burning bush.
Joseph Smith's Experience Similar to that of Moses
This experience with the powers of darkness is similar to that which the Prophet Joseph Smith had in the Sacred Grove in the Spring of 1820 as described in his testimony.
... I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction - not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being - just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, point to the other - This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" (Joseph Smith 2:15-17).
The Evil Power of Lucifer Manifest in Other Dispensations
Not only was the evil influence and person of Lucifer felt in the Sacred Grove upon this occasion, but his presence and person had been felt in attempting to prevent the opening of other dispensations.
In the Dispensation of Adam,
And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish (Moses 5:13).In the Dispensation of Enoch,
And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced (Moses 7:26).In the Dispensation of the Meridian of Time,
Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that preceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple.
And saith unto him, If thou by the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceedingly high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him (Matthew 4:1-11).
Reason Lucifer Tries to Prevent A Dispensation
Lucifer, acting under the knowledge of what the gospel plan of redemption can mean to God's children, has exerted his greatest influence of evil when a dispensation of the Gospel has been given in an effort to prevent it.
The Presence of Light and Its Relationship to Fire
The Light which appeared with such power that it made the bush or shrubs appear as if they were on fire, explained by Moses as a burning bush, was no doubt produced by a condition of light which surrounds God the Father and his Son in their appearances. Moses, out of this phenomena, heard the voice of God speaking as out of the burning bush but actually out of the light that surrounded and encompassed the bush, which was burning but not consumed (Moses 1:2; 1:31; Exodus 3:2; Acts 7:30). It was not a burning in the sense of physical fire. It is a light in which holy personages must be encompassed to appear unto mortal man upon the earth. We have an indication of this manifestation of light in the appearance of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith who relates that suddenly a pillar of light appeared until it rested upon him, which light was brighter than noonday sun.
The very appearance of this light dispelled the power of evil that threatened his life. In the light he saw two Personages, who were God the Father and his Son. Thus it would seem that whenever divine and holy beings appear to others in mortality they do so in the envelopment of this light which apparently is a complete protection against anything that is earthly or carnal.
There are other evidences of this. When Moroni appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, a light was discovered appearing in his room. He describes further that while the room became exceedingly bright, that it was even brighter around the immediate person of the heavenly visitor. What it is that permits these personages from the presence of God or God himself to come and go and to move at tremendous speeds through space in the element of this light is one of the mysteries of Godliness. It was in evidence when the Lord appeared to Saul in the Syrian desert (Acts 9:3,4).
Further Evidences of the Power of Light
Scriptural accounts tell of other occasions of this phenomena of light. When the two Marys returned to the tomb to complete the anointing and to finish the wrappings on the body of Jesus, they told of seeing two men who were guarding the tomb. They were described as two men in "shining garments," whereas it is assumed that the two men sent to guard the tomb stood in this envelopment of light which made it look as if they wore shining apparel (Matthew 28:2,3; Luke 24:4).
There are many other scriptural references which tell of this same manifestation of light. Consider, if you will, the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, where this fire or substance of light was a protection against physical fire (Daniel 3:23-27). Consider further the experience of the multitude in the appearance of angels in the midst of fire (or light) with the children, as described in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 17:24). Another incident is described in the same record concerning a protection of fire, or light, given to Nephi and Lehi (Helaman 5:23-25).
When Moses stood in the presence of God the Father and his Son, for both were present on Mount Sinai (footnote in the book says Old Testament translated correctly says God the Father and Jesus Christ were there with Moses), he was told among other things that the worlds without number had been created to bring to pass his holy purposes in the redemption of man, and that they were created through the Son. At the time he was given tablets of stone upon which was written the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be given to the Israelites. Moses came down out of the mountain, having been in the presence of God for an extended period of time, and having undergone some change in the appearance of his person that permitted this, causing his personage to shine. He stood before them, and as he did so, they couldn't even look upon him because of the radiance of his body. This in some way was caused by the same light in which he had been enveloped. The scriptures simply say that the glory of God was upon Moses.
Disobedience of Ancient Israel
He held in his arms the tablets of stone, ready to reveal to the Israelites the sacred and redeeming principles of the gospel. But in the meantime, the children of Israel had forgotten the God of Israel, and had gone over to pagan worship, openly committing acts of adultery, drunkenness, and all manner of licentiousness. Spurred on by false and weak leaders, who had lost the faith, they put to shame the counsel of Moses, and renounced the noble heritage of their chosen lineage. The extent of their sins against God brought upon them a judgment of destruction. by destruction, it was meant that they were to be destroyed in not being permitted to go into the promised land. Many were stricken with death immediately, while the others, in consequence of this judgment, were driven into the wilderness there to roam until their bodies were wasted away, and until a new generation had been raised up. The history of this tragic event concerning ancient Israel, is contained in the writings of Moses.
A New Generation of Israel
After the children of Israel had wandered for thirty-eight years and six months in the desert, every single one of them had died except two, Joshua and Caleb. Joshua was a descendant of Ephraim, Caleb a descendant of Judah; Moses continued with them during this time of exile but did not himself enter the promised land. Thus, at this period there were only three who survived the great number of people who had come out of Egypt. In the meantime, the Lord, of their children, had raised up a new generation, who were more obedient to God's laws, to enter into the promised land.
After their many wanderings and as the wasting processes continued, they came to the gateway of the promised land, a place called Kadesh-barnea. Here was found the southernmost gateway into the promised land which may still be identified in that land today. This much desired area, the most fertile and productive in all that land, had been given unto Abraham and his posterity by covenant. Abraham had come upon it as he traveled out of the north by commandment from the Lord from the city of Haran. (The location of this ancient place, still bearing the same name, is found today in southern Turkey). He was en route to Egypt, when he received the commandment by the Lord to go there, and as he passed through this land, the Lord gave it to him by covenant. And now the children of Israel, his posterity, were prepared after all these many hundreds of years, to go into and possess it, as the Lord had proclaimed they would.
And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning that which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord (Exodus 6:8).
The Children of Israel Prepare to Enter the Promised Land
The Lord commanded Moses to gather the children of Israel, who were the sons and daughters of those who had come out of Egypt, in one vast multitude at this gateway to Caanan, for as such it was known. They had previously sent spies from each of the twelve tribes into the land to see how they could best take it, for the occupants of that land would not yield without conflict. They came back with reports, most of which were negative. Their pronouncements were to the effect that the land could not possibly be taken. One reason given was that the giants of Anak occupied it and that these were men of great stature and were great warriors who would destroy them. They complained that the Lord had preserved the children only now to bring them there to be destroyed. But Joshua and Caleb, the descendants of Ephraim and Judah, favored the taking of the land. They had the faith that the Lord God would preserve them, proclaiming that it belonged to them by covenant. It was upon this occasion that Joshua courageously declared:
And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephenneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not (Numbers 14:6-9).And thus, upon this most important occasion of readiness, Moses called all the Israelites together in conference and as instructed by the Lord, appointed Joshua to be their leader and prophet, conferring this authority by the laying on of hands (Numbers 27:18).
The Translation of Moses
The Old Testament scriptures record that Moses died and was buried, but we have come to know by latter-day revelation that Moses was translated and was not buried, even though the scriptures identify the tomb where he was buried. Moses had to live in order to give the keys of the gathering of Israel, which could not be transmitted unless he was still able to do it through the flesh, the same as Elijah, with regard to the keys of sealing who was translated for the same purpose. Concerning the conferring of the keys which they held, we have this comment:
From that we understand why Elijah and Moses were preserved from death - because they had a mission to perform, and it had to be performed before the crucifixion of the Son of God, and therefore it could not be done in the spirit. They had to have tangible bodies (Joseph Field Smith, Elijah the Prophet, p. 28).
Moses Reminds the Youth of Israel
The words of Moses to the youth of ancient Israel, as they stood on the threshold of obtaining their promised heritage, concern one of the great events of the history of God's dealings with his children in mortality. It is one of the great scripture lessons of the Old Testament.
These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on the side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red Sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.
(These are eleven days' journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea) [Deuteronomy 1:1-2].Here they stood reminded that from Mount Sinai, which was also called Horeb, it took only eleven days by camel train going along the base of the ridge of mountains known as Mount Seir. The camel trains followed this course to avoid the heat of the desert yet it required only eleven days to make the journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea which was the gateway into the promised land. But because of disobedience, it had taken Israel thirty-eight and one-half years to travel that same distance. (An automobile today could travel the same distance in three hours, and by plane it would take one hour). Here was the great lesson that Moses was impressing upon these young Israelites, not to make the same mistakes of their parents for whom the wanderings were necessary because they lacked faith and vision.
A Daily Application of This Lesson
One can well make application of that story in the happenings of modern Israel. It can take a whole lifetime to learn lessons, if they are learned at all, when there is a lack of faith and the desire to serve the Lord with singleness of heart. Many times we go through hardships and sorrows the same as the Children of Israel did because we lack the faith to do what the Lord wanted us to do in the first place.