Old Testament Lesson #1; Moses 1
Our first lesson of the Old Testament concentrates on Moses 1 found in the Pearl of Great Price. A lot happens in this chapter: Moses speaks with God face-to-face. He learns that he is a son of God and the majesty of the Almighty. God shows Moses the creation of the world and humanity throughout the ages. Moses refutes Satan’s temptations. God declares the salvation and exaltation of humanity to be the Divine’s work and glory.
I’m going to focus this commentary on the divinity of humanity and divine work.
A Child of God
A foundational teaching of our gospel is the divinity of humanity. We are the literal children of a Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. I Am A Child of God as a phrase and song is so prevalent in our culture it’s almost a cliche. And yet, it’s a truth that is readily turned to at various moments in our lives. After giving birth to her son prematurely, a friend sang this song while laying in the operating room as the doctors worked to attach lifesaving IVs and wires to his fragile body. My father’s friend tells of singing I Am A Child of God on the side of the road in Iraq while holding a friend and comrade who had been fatally injured in an explosion. This song gives us comfort because it reminds us of our divinity and the love our Heavenly Parents have for us.
And then there’s the opening line of the Young Women’s theme: “We are daughters of a Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him.” I’ve said this sentence countless times as a young woman and as a Young Women’s leader. It has given me perspective, courage and comfort as I work to become like our Heavenly Parents. Former Young Women President Susan Tanner when speaking about the theme’s impact and importance referenced this chapter in Moses,
“Moses learned who he was through a powerful spiritual experience. He talked with God face-to-face and learned that he was God’s son, with a special mission to perform. After having this experience, Moses was then buffeted by Satan. But because Moses had felt of God’s glory, he recognized that Satan did not have any glory. Because Moses knew that he was God’s son and that God had a mission for him, he had the power and ability to resist Satan, to make righteous judgments, to call upon God for strength, and to continue to have His Spirit to be with him. (See Moses 1.) The same pattern applies to us. As we come to know and feel who we really are, we are enabled to recognize the difference between good and evil and are empowered to resist temptation.”
Work & Glory
God begins by saying to Moses, “…I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth…” (v6). There are three significant messages here: God has work for Moses specifically to do; Moses is a spiritual and physical being like the Savior; and the Savior is full of grace and truth.
God starts by telling Moses that there’s a specific work for him to do. This gives Moses’ ministry and life purpose. God concludes with, “For mine own purpose have I made these things…all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them…For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (vs 31, 35, 39). We all have work to do. Our divine relationship makes our work inextricably linked. We work in tandem with God to bring about our own salvation and the exaltation of humanity.
The relevance of God telling Moses that he is in the similitude of the Savior is to affirm that the human condition is inherently closer to the likeness of the divine than a mere spirit. In fact, when Satan tempts Moses, Satan downgrades Moses by calling him “son of man” (v12). In his rebuff, Moses points out the very difference in their divine evolution. Moses counters, “ 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 transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man…I can judge between thee and God…Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not…” (vs 13-16).
We learn that Christ, the Only Begotten, as chosen to be the Savior because “..he is full of grace and truth.” As disciples of Christ, our work is to become like him, full of grace and truth. What does it mean to be full of grace and truth? For generations, women have been taught that grace is demore and truth is the work of men. It is inappropriate and hinders growth when we genderize virtues. It appears that a necessary step to becoming as the gods, is to be a better human. We must learn how to be full of grace and truth. Not in a gendered way, in a godly way, as whole people. Notable foremothers in and out of our faith such as Emmeline Wells, Jane Manning James, Mary Wollstonecraft and Susan B. Anthony have exemplified this in the face of much adversity.
Our current auxiliary presidencies and boards are made up of women working for our salvation and exaltation. In October 2017, Sister Sharon Eubank beseeched us to turn on our light. She provides ways we can that are full of grace and truth. For example, she entreats us to be articulate. “Being articulate means to clearly express how you feel about something and why…Use your voice and your power to articulate what you know and feel—on social media, in quiet conversations with your friends, when you’re chatting with your grandchildren. Tell them why you believe, what it feels like, if you ever doubted, how you got through it, and what Jesus Christ means to you.” She testifies that be turning on our lights, “[God] can use you in His work. His work and glory is the exaltation and eternal life of women and men.”
Our late beloved Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, also testified of our divinity and how this knowledge prepares us for our own great mortal work,
“To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility. You ask, ‘How might we achieve these goals?’ I answer, ‘By getting a true perspective of who we really are!’ We are sons and daughters of a living God, in whose image we have been created. Think of that truth: ‘Created in the image of God.’ We cannot sincerely hold this conviction without experiencing a profound new sense of strength and power, even the strength to live the commandments of God, the power to resist the temptations of Satan.”
We must know our divinity, claim our birthright and get to work.