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Relationship to Genesis and Moses. Moses 1 consists entirely of new content added by the Joseph Smith Translation that does not appear in Genesis. It can be understood as a preface to Genesis relating Moses's call to be a prophet. The relationship of Chapter 1 to the rest of Moses is discussed at Moses.
Story. Moses 1 relates three episodes:
- Moses 1:1-11: Moses's first vision of God.
- Moses 1:12-23: Moses is confronted by Satan.
- Moses 1:24-42: Moses's second vision of God.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 1 include:
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- It is interesting to compare this chapter to Joseph Smith's account of his own First Vision in Joseph Smith History 1:14-20
Moses 1:1-11: Moses's first vision of God
- Moses 1:2: Therefore. The word therefore suggests that there is something about God's glory being upon Moses that allowed Moses to endure God's presence, and that Moses couldn't have endured God's presence otherwise. Compare this to verse 14 where Moses says to Satan "I can look upon thee in the natural man."
- Moses 1:3: Names of God. Almighty and Endless may be names God chooses to set up as a contrast to Satan who will soon appear (verse 12ff). God is almighty whereas Satan has very limited power (and glory). God is endless in that he has eternal increase and declares lasting truths whereas Satan cannot have eternal increase and declares lies that do not last.
- Moses 1:6: Full of grace and truth. The phrase "grace and truth" in the scriptures is only used to describe God (the Father or the Son). Grace and truth are set up in contrast to the law which was given by Moses in John 1:17.
- Moses 1:6: But there is no God beside me. Although it seems the Father and the Son are being described here as distinct personages, perhaps God is concurrently making it clear that the Father and the Son are one God, perhaps in anticipation of the problems the children of Israel would face in worshiping other gods (e.g. Ex 32:1-6). See more on Jesus Christ as Jehovah and Father here on RobertC's subpage.
- Moses 1:7: One thing. If the "one thing" that God shows Moses is the world that Moses is in, then this stands in contrast to all the works of God (v. 5), and in contrast to the numberless worlds mentioned in verse 33. The "one thing" also clarifies "the workmanship" that God promises to show in verse 4. By focusing on "one thing" and later clarifying "for thou art in the world," the work that God says he has for Moses (in v. 6) may be alluded to: rather than showing Moses other things, God will focus on the "one thing" that is most needful (cf. Luke 10:42), namely this world that Moses is reminded (later in v. 7) that he is in. This shift from the many works of God ("works without end" in v. 4; "all my works" in v. 5; "all things" in v. 6) to "one thing" seems also to function as a means of setting up the epiphany that Moses has in verse 10 that "man is nothing." By getting only a glimpse of the many glorious works of God, Moses seems to be overwhelmed in verse 9 and then, when he comes to, Moses then realizes the (relative?) nothingness of man in (at least) a way that he had never before supposed.
- Moses 1:7: My son. The addition of the phrase "my son" may be a way of reassuring Moses that the reason Moses will be shown only one thing, is not because God is not a loving father or that Moses is an ontologically inferior being to God, but rather because Moses has a work to do (v. 6) and this work pertains to the world that Moses is in.
- Moses 1:7: For thou art in the world. After stating that God has a work for Moses (v. 6) and that God will only show Moses "one thing," an additional phrase of seeming explanation is added: "for thou art in the world." This may be giving an explanation for why God is not revealing things about other worlds to Moses. It may also be emphasizing the work mentioned in verse 6 that Moses has to perform.
- Moses 1:11: Natural. Natural is used here in a way similar to 1 Cor 2:14 and Mosiah 3:19. It stands in contrasts to what is spiritual. The fact that natural is used in the phrase natural man in verse 14 is especially suggestive of Mosiah 3:19 where we are told that the natural man is an "enemy to God." There the natural man is described as the person who is not yet willing to submit to the Lord.
Moses 1:12-23: Moses is confronted by Satan
- Moses 1:11: Son of man. The term "son of man" as used in Ezekiel (see Ezek 21:2) is used to emphasize our mortalness and lowliness. Satan seems to be doing the same thing here. Interestingly Jesus also uses this title to refer to himself, see Matt 26:2 possibly also to emphasize his own lowliness. (Note that Jesus uses this title for himself but none of his disciples use it for him.)
- Moses 1:14: Look. Note that "look" is used here in the case of looking upon God and looking upon Satan. This suggests that although Moses was transfigured when seeing God, he still saw God in some sense that is comparable to his seeing of Satan. This suggests that if one is to interpret Moses' vision of God as "in the mind only", it would also have to apply to the vision of Satan. Such an interpretation begs the question of why the word "look" is used in these verses without modification if in either case it does not carry the typical connotation (which is not "in the mind only").
Moses 1:24-42: Moses's second vision of God
- Moses 1:31: God's purpose. Clearly there is more to God's purpose than simply what is implicity in verse 39, for the Lord states here that he will not reveal his purpose. (At least, not at that time.)
- Moses 1:39: Work and glory. Here God explains that "this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." This can be fruitfully compared with Alma 29:9 where Alma the Younger states that "this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."
- Moses 1:42. This verse picks up on the theme of Moses speaking to the Lord matching verse 1 of this chapter. Chapter 4 similarly begins by reverting from the narrative in order to refer to the fact that the narrative is coming from the Lord to Moses. And just as this verse ends a segment of narrative giving specific instruction as to who can see the record, chapter 4 ends with a similar parenthetical restriction sandwiching the chapter with the theme of the Lord speaking to Moses.
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Prompts for life application
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- Verses 1:16-22: Telling Satan to depart. Moses tells Satan three times to depart. Have we made the commitment to sincerely do that in our own lives? But Satan does not leave until Moses calls upon the name of Christ. Do we sometimes try to overcome relying only upon our own strength?
- Verse 1:39: God's work and glory. Here God says that his work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind. Alma the Younger says in Alma 29:9 that his joy and glory is to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance. As indoor plumbing frees us from the necessity of retrieving water every day from the river, and as other modern conveniences and wealth increase the amount of time and resources that we can choose how to spend, do we choose to spend them on the same things as God and Alma, or do we choose to work at and seek happiness in other things? What do our choices say about what we really want to do for the rest of eternity compared to what God does?
Prompts for further study
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- Moses 1:1. How does the phrase "words of God," which appears in this verse, differ from "word of God"? Is this first phrase, which occurs much less frequently in scripture, linked to rebellion against God, as suggested by Ps 107:11, Alma 1:7 and Alma 3:18? Does that make it appropriate for this passage about the premortal Satan?
- Moses 1:1. Was God starting a conversation with Moses about the plan of salvation, as was his custom at the beginning of each dispensation? Does Alma 12:30 suggest this pattern started soon after Adam and Eve left the garden of Eden?
- Moses 1:1. If God "spake unto Moses," who exactly was the audience for this message? Why does the final verse of this visionary chapter contain a comment in parentheses, presumably to Joseph Smith, that says "Show them not unto any except them that believe" (Moses 1:42)?
- Moses 1:1. Did Moses approach God "at a time when" he was ready to reveal? Was David talking about the importance of timing when his psalm to God said "every one that is godly" shall "pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found" (Ps 32:6)?
- Moses 1:1. If "Moses was caught up," which senses of the words "catch" and "caught" are at work in this chapter? Does it echo the language about being lifted up at the last day and suggest a invisible hand will "catch" the righteous and carry them to some heavenly destination? Was Moses about to learn that standing in the presence of God was like "catching" on fire and that only the righteous could endure his presence?
- Moses 1:1. If Nephi was the only other prophet who used identical language to describe his time around "exceedingly high mountain(s)" (1 Ne 11:1 and 2 Ne 4:25), what parallels can we draw between the experiences of Nephi and Moses? How does Nephi's description of how his body was "carried away" on "the wings of his Spirit," as well as his explanation that as he "sat pondering" he "was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord," echo the language used by Moses? Could Moses relate to Nephi's exclamation that the words he received from God were "too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them"?
- Moses 1:1. Was the preposition intentional when Moses said he went "into" and not "onto" a mountain to talk with God? Do we find confirmation of this language and visionary pattern, if not exactly the same participants, during the temptation of Christ, when "the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them" (Matt 4:8)?
- Moses 1:1. Of what significance are mountains in scripture? For example, why do revelations so often occur on mountains?
- It is my understanding that prior to Moses building the Tabernacle, and after that prior to the Temple being built, and again after the desecration of the Temple, the only place the Lord could appear to his servants that had not been completely desecrated was the top of the mountains. In other words the mountains were Holy Places.
- Moses 1:2. Why is it important that we know Moses spoke with God face to face?
- Moses 1:2. What does it mean to say “the glory of God was upon Moses”? What is his glory? What does verse 5 tell us about what we read here? How about verse 39? Do D&C 29:36 or D&C 88:19 help us understand these verses?
- Moses had received the Holy Ghost, and was transformed, or purified by the power of the Holy Ghost, until he was able to endure the presence of the Lord. Once in that state, God being a perfect glorified man spoke to Moses, the same way that any man speaks to another man who is in his presence. When we read or hear the Glory of God is on someone it means that that person has been transformed, or purified by the Holy Ghost, so they can endure the presence of deity.
- In verse 5 God is about to show Moses a portion of his work and how he is going to accomplish it. Especially as it pertains to Moses, and what Moses’ roll in that portion of his work will be. God is also telling Moses, that this is a small portion of what his work is. It is sufficient for Moses to know at this time. He is also explaining to Moses, that to know all that God knows, would make him a glorified being like unto God, and that giving him that much knowledge would be more than he Moses, could endure.
- Moses 1:3. Why does God tell Moses his name? He has many names, why does he here use this particular name, Endless?
- Moses 1:4-5. In what sense or senses are the works of God without end? In what sense or senses are his words without end?
- The Lord all ways uses titles that are descriptive of Himself. The name Endless fits in well with an understanding of the eternal and things without end that God is showing to Moses.His words are eternal as they are truth and truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
- Moses 1:6. This verse suggests that God the Father is speaking to Moses, since he refers to "mine Only Begotten". However, Jesus Christ has stated that he was the God of Abraham (John 8:58), and gave the law to Israel (3 Ne 15:5). Who is talking to Moses, God the Father, or Jehovah? Does it matter?
- Moses 1:6. Why does God tell Moses that Moses is in the similitude of the Only Begotten? In what way or ways is he in that similitude? Why does God say that the Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior? God says that the Only Begotten is and will be the Savior because he is full of grace and truth. How can we explain that? What does it mean to be full of grace and truth? Why does being full of them make one the Savior?
- Moses 1:6. Why does the Father add “but there is no God beside me” immediately after telling Moses of the Savior?
- Moses 1:6. What does it mean to say that all things are present? What does it mean for something to be present? The last clause of the verse says that Father’s knowledge makes all things present to him. To say that knowledge is what makes things present is an unusual way to speak. What can we make of that? Does it suggest anything about how things are present before God?
- Moses 1:7. What is the “one thing” that God shows Moses? Why does he explain what he shows Moses by saying, “For thou art in the world”?
- Moses 1:7. The 'one thing' that God shew to Moses was the Mission and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ; event that would occur in the distant future. And showed to Moses because he 'was in the world' in which such event will take place. [[email protected]]
- Moses 1:8. The word “end” can mean “final point” and it can also mean “purpose.” Which meaning do you think is used here when the scripture says that Moses beheld the ends of the world? The meaning here is 'final point' Moses was able to see the end of the earth and its civilization beyond the Second Coming of the Lord. [[email protected]]
- Moses 1:9. What does it mean to say that Moses was left to himself?
- A: natural man, in other words, God glory was withdrew from him and Moses was left only with the power(strength) of a human man.
- Moses 1:10. What does Moses mean when, having had this vision of the ends of the world and all the children of men, he says, “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed”?
- Moses 1:32: Which is mine Only Begotten. What does the word which refer to in this phrase? The "word"? "my power"? "the word of my power" (in toto)? something else?
- Moses 1:39. Work. Does God work by small and simple means (see Alma 37:7) or by great ones (see 1 Ne 14:7)?
- Moses 1:39. My glory. Is God possessive about his glory or can it found throughout the earth (see Isa 6:3) and within human intelligence (see D&C 93:36)?
- Moses 1:39. To pass. If one of the definitions of this phrase is "to accomplish, to complete, to decide," then why should there be any completion to life in an everlasting state of goodness and perfection?
- Moses 1:41. Is the Lord speaking of a time when actual words will be removed from the Bible or of the loss of his teachings, whether that involves removing words or just losing the understanding of them?
- Moses 1:41. Brigham Young is frequently compared to Moses, but here the Lord compares Joseph Smith to him. How was Joseph Smith like Moses? (See also 2 Ne 3:7-9)
- Moses 1:42. Did Moses write this verse or is this an editor's note?
- Moses 1:42. Why are the words of Moses to be shown only unto them that believe?
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