THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
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Personal Comments by Duane R. Hurst
copyrighted, October 1999
All colored text is copied directly from the Pearl of Great Price. Blue text represents the statements of God or Jesus Christ; Violet text represents the statements of a prophet (such as Abraham or Moses); brown text represents the statements of Satan or a recalcitrant person; and black text represents my own comments, which follow each verse. These comments include my personal ideas, which I qualify with “probably” or are stated as my own opinion. Those learned from research are denoted with proper attribution, including various scripture references. This work began in October 1999. The Pearl of Great Price is copyrighted through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I wrote the comments deliberately in a simplified style, for the benefit of my wife. Although she is fluent in English, it is the fifth of her seven languages. Therefore, I have attempted to present my comments and historical information without becoming bombastic or verbose.
My own comments are copyright protected, and are not to be distributed without written permission. This can be obtained upon request from Duane Hurst at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE BOOK OF MOSES
1. The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain.
This is very typical of God’s actions with his prophets. A vision of eternity often is shown on the top of a mountain. The mountain or a high place serves as a substitute for a temple. The temple represents the middle ground between earth (man) and heaven (God). An important point is that God speaks face to face with Moses. This does not often happen. It happens when God knows that a special service must be performed by His prophet for the benefit of mankind. Some of those who have spoken directly with God include Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph Smith. “Caught up” means to be translated or changed temporarily so that the person can receive the full vision. A normal person could not live while seeing such a heavenly vision; that is why God uses His power to help the person endure the experience. It drains the body of strength, but repeated experiences strengthen the body, according to Joseph Smith.
2. And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence.
Moses spoke with God the same as when we speak to a friend. This clearly shows that God treats people in a humble manner. He does not consider people too low for Him to speak with; people usually do not have enough faith for God or Jesus to visit them or speak with them. Both modern and ancient scriptures clarify that God wants us to speak directly with Him, if we prepare ourselves to be worthy of that experience. The glory of God was necessary for Moses to remain alive while speaking with Him. Without the “glory” (Priesthood power and exalted status), Moses would have died. Note that in the Doctrine and Covenants 84:77 Jesus Christ calls us his friends. A friend will speak face to face with his friend.
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?
Note that God spoke to Moses in the language which Moses best understands. He speaks to people in their own language, so that they will understand. He never leaves us confused when giving a revelation. The concept of endless is difficult for many people to comprehend because we are too much involved with the time of this earth. Some cultures are not time sensitive--they are not concerned with exact times. The western concept of time (especially north Europe and the United States) is very concerned with everything based on a 24 hour system. Moses was brought up in Egypt, which viewed things in a more eternal manner. They certainly understood true principles of astronomy, because Abraham taught them the true concepts of this solar system and its relationship with heaven.
God also is teaching Moses that he had no beginning of existence. God taught Abraham that each person on this earth always existed as a distinct individual. This is a concept which many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints during Joseph Smith’s time had difficulty in accepting. Brigham Young stated that the idea of a previous life in a spirit world caused many members to leave the Church. They did not want to believe that we lived as God’s spirit children. Sometimes the truth is too difficult for people to accept, because it is against the customs or traditions of their country or time.
The Pearl of Great Price is a very short book, but it offers many answers to the “terrible questions.” These are questions such as: why am I here on earth; did I exist before this life; who is God; what will happen to me after death; will I live with my loved ones after I die; can I progress after this life. The books of Moses and Abraham contain teachings originally found in the Bible, but they were taken out by early Christian leaders after the great apostasy. The reason for cutting them out of the Bible is that those leaders did not agree with the teachings of Jesus Christ or his prophets about such things as baptism for the dead and preaching to the spirits of the dead.
God also stated that he has no end. As Joseph Smith said, whatever has a beginning must have an end. Each person had no beginning either. Abraham saw that everyone existed as an individual intelligence, became a spirit son or daughter of God, was born on this earth, will continue as a spirit after death, and finally will be resurrected through the power of Jesus Christ and will never die again. This is endless.
4. And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.
Here is a clear statement that Moses is a son of God. It answers one of the “terrible questions”, one which was of great concern to the ancient Egyptians. Remember, Moses was raised as a prince of Egypt in his youth.
God will show only a small portion of his works to Moses, because all the worlds, stars and galaxies were not what Moses needed to know. Moses lived on this earth, so God only shows him things about this world. An important point to ancient Egyptians was that God’s works and words never ceased. Works and words always went together. First God conceived (thought) an idea or work (creation of a world), then He made it. His word communicated the creative process to mankind, because He wanted to share the joy of creation with people. It is no fun having a world without sharing it with other people. Therefore, God emphasizes the importance of communication. People are the ones who keep themselves from communicating with God; they often prefer to disbelieve because it is easier than working hard to follow God’s commandments. Most people follow the easy path in life, just as most prefer to be a follower than to be a leader.
Later, God will show Moses the meaning of his works never ceasing. He continues to make other planets and people on those planets, people similar to us. The concept of eternal creation and other people on those planets caused some people to leave the Church in Joseph Smith’s day. They did not like the idea that God creates many worlds and people.
5. Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth.
God informs Moses that it is impossible for a mortal to see all of his galaxies, stars, planets, and children. Only an exalted person can learn all of this. Note that this is exactly what he promises to each person who lives up to the oath and covenant of the priesthood (explained in D&C 84:34-39). He will share ALL with everyone who is exalted to his level. He does not view things as we do: This is mine and that is yours. He views it as: This is ours.
6. And 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; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.
God gives Moses a warning--he has a specific work for Moses to accomplish. Later, Moses will learn that the work is to be a spokesman for God. Moses will help free the children of Israel from Pharaoh of Egypt.
God answers another of the “terrible
questions”: Moses looks similar to God the Father and Jesus Christ. This is a great comfort because it proves
that God loves Moses, His spirit son.
This verse also clarifies that ancient people knew that Jesus Christ
will be the savior of all people.
God further states forcefully that He will not tolerate any false god or religion. He wants everyone to know that God is our Father in heaven. Again, He wants to communicate truth to us so that we can return to Him after our mortal life is over. He sees all things connected with this earth and every person on it. He can know all this at the same time. It is a difficult concept, but He clarifies it somewhat in D&C 130:6-11 and D&C 88:41. Remember, time is viewed in the context from where the person is located. The time of earth is different from that of a different planet or galaxy. Moses also learns that we all are individuals whom God loves.
7. And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son; for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee.
God wants Moses to see the purpose for this earth because Moses was born on it. It is very important for Moses to understand why he is on earth. The knowledge is a key for future progress and is necessary for Moses to complete a mission to free the people of Israel. Moses already has proved to God that he is ready to learn the truth about this world. That is another reason why he has this vision. A person will receive revelation after successfully passing a test, which proves that he is ready and willing to accept the knowledge. As Nephi said in the Book of Mormon, God only expects what a person can accomplish.
8. And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered.
This is an excellent scripture. It conveys a profound sense of grandeur when Moses sees all of the earth, its many separate lands, and each person who had lived from the time of Adam up to his own time. He “marveled and wondered” because the sight answered the question of why we are here on earth. He also had a better understanding of how God operates; the concern for each person, even though millions of people were shown to Moses.
It is impossible for us to have such a view with the natural eye or mind. We are trained to think of only one thing at a time--to concentrate and see one specific item. Moses experienced a bit of how God sees and understands us and His creations. Orson Pratt, who lived in the days of Joseph Smith, gave a very good talk about how we will see and comprehend things after this life. It is found in the Journal of Discourses, volume 3. He explained that we will be able to learn and remember thousands of things at the same time, use a higher form of language and communication, and not forget any of what we learn. Of course, the more diligent we are in this life, the faster and better we will learn. This is confirmed in D&C 130:18-19.
Joseph Smith explained that the term “create” comes from a Hebrew word which means “to organize.” Thus, the creation of planets, stars, people, animals, and everything else actually means that God organized existing matter into another form. This is in agreement with science. This also is the meaning of D&C 131:7 (There is no such thing as immaterial matter). Matter cannot be created, but it can be reorganized into other objects or places.
9. 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.
This is normal after an intense spiritual experience; the normal strength is weakened and the body must rest until strength returns. The glory (which strengthens Moses and allows him to see God) is taken away and the mortal body is weak. “Left unto himself” means the normal body is on its own again, not receiving special support.
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.
Evidently, the experience was so powerful that Moses had to rest many hours to regain his natural strength. When he did, he immediately thought about what he had seen. After seeing this earth, its people, and some of God’s creation, Moses believed that man was insignificant. All of his life in the court of Egypt, he had been taught that he was extremely special--a future ruler of the land. So, he never had considered man to be of little worth. Now he saw how little power man had compared to God. Note that in Moses 1:39 God will inform Moses that man is of more importance than any other creation. God’s work and glory is to help each of us to advance as far as possible, hopefully to live in the highest kingdom.
11. But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.
This clearly explains the manner in which Moses was able to see God face to face. He had to be transfigured (changed for a short time) in order to live through the experience. As in true visions, the natural eye does not “see” the event--the mind receives the knowledge directly. Too often, people misunderstand that the natural eye must see something to believe that it exists. Blind people can receive knowledge just as clearly, because knowledge of a higher level can be sent directly into the mind.
Moses states the fact that a mortal cannot see God and live, unless his mortal body is changed temporarily. He also states plainly that a person can see God if that is what he wants to happen. This further proves that man has a body similar to God, which answers another of the “terrible questions”--what is God like.
12. And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.
This is a very interesting verse. It shows that Satan, like a good tactician,
always attacks and tempts someone when he is weak. He also resorts to both a lie and an insult. The lie here is that he demands worship/honor from Moses, pretending
to be worthy of such honor. He knows
that he is unworthy of any respect and honor, but demands it. Note that in this event, Satan makes a
demand rather than using subtlety.
The insult is in calling Moses a son of man, meaning only a mortal man. Moses 6:57 shows the correct name for God--Man of Holiness. The verse also says that Jesus Christ is the true son of God--the Son of Man. We use capital letters to distinguish between “man” the mortal and “Man” our Father in heaven. Satan insults both Moses and God. His accusation is that God is no more important to Satan than any mortal man; both are Satan’s hated enemies.
It is also interesting to see that God chooses to call Himself “Man”, indicating that it is an honor to be a true man. This is another reason why throughout the history of the earth, during all periods and in all lands, Satan and his followers encourage support of a matriarchal system. The patriarchal order is the correct method of using priesthood for the benefit of all people. Foolish men and women throw away the system of God (it is difficult to follow), preferring to follow the system of Satan (it is easy).
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?
Moses can see Satan with his natural eyes. He refuses to worship Satan, bluntly pointing out that Satan has no glory and is not worthy of worship. Moses now has a perfect knowledge of God. He also knows that his mortal body is in the same shape as both God and Jesus Christ.
14. 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?
Moses continues to state the obvious, that Satan is unworthy of worship. There is no glory and the natural eye can see Satan. In contrast, a wondrous glory surrounds God.
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.
Moses easily distinguishes between the
light of truth and darkness of Satan’s lies.
This is explained very well in D&C sections 84:45 and 88:7,
11-13. These sections show the
relationship between light, life, truth, knowledge and Jesus Christ. Through the priesthood authority, Christ is
able to create and sustain worlds. He
organizes the stars, the lights which give light and life to all living plants
and animals. Light lets us see things
clearly--the more light, the better we see.
Light shows us the truth of something, giving us knowledge. A fullness of light/truth/knowledge is
possible through Christ. That is why He
is “the way” and is the “life of the world”--he intertwines these principles. This is deep doctrine. It answers all of the “terrible questions”
(the questions about life that most people fear) about why we are here; where
we came from; where we go after death; who made us; will we exist as families;
how the universe and all things were created.
Satan always works in the dark, because light/truth are his opposite. His goal is to destroy God’s plan for us. Moses is not tricked. He still experiences the glory of God. This verse also indicates that we have a duty to judge. We are expected to judge (to choose) between light and darkness; truth and falsehood. Today, many urge us not to be “judgmental”, but this is foolish. We always judge things in life, but the key is to judge correctly (righteously). Those who refuse to judge will follow anyone who has a stronger character. Too many people follow after leaders into the darkness.
Moses restates God’s command to worship only God. These verses reveal that Moses understands and accepts God. This is in contrast to his earlier life in the court of Egypt, where he had been taught to worship many idols. Indeed, he had been taught to view Pharaoh as a god.
16. Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.
This is the first attempt that Moses makes to order Satan away from him. It has no effect since Moses actually is not using the priesthood or invoking the name of Christ. Without such proper authority, Satan ignores the command. Of course, the order to “deceive me not” also is ignored.
Moses affirms his knowledge that he has a physical shape similar to Christ. The term “Only Begotten” always refers to Jesus Christ, because he is the only physical son of our Heavenly Father. We all are his spirit children, but Christ is both his spiritual and physical son. This, of course, leads to a very interesting and ignored relationship of God, Mary, and Jesus. Christ is fully legitimate.
17. 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.
Moses states the legitimacy of his calling and position. He informs Satan that God gave him commandments. A key commandment is to know God and show Him proper respect. The burning bush reference is to the time when Moses was at the base of a mountain in Sinai (he was chasing a lost sheep). He saw a strange sight and went to investigate it. It was a bush that “burned” with an unusual light, one which did not burn the bush. At that time, he first heard the voice of Christ calling him. (The name Jehovah is another name for Jesus Christ. It actually means “Unchangable One" (I am) and indicates His eternal nature--no beginning and no end.)
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.
Here is the second time that Moses orders Satan to leave. Again he is unsuccessful because he does not use the priesthood or the name of Christ as authority.
He also is honest in stating that Satan
has no glory, and that Moses has more to ask God. His recent vision encourages Moses to seek more revelation. He has a higher faith. The lower level of faith can be compared to
the belief I had that I could build a basement room. I had not done it before, but believed that I could do it. After I did it, the next time I build such a
room, it will be done with a higher faith.
One that is based on knowledge.
I have faith that I can build again, based on knowledge that I did it in
Joseph Smith explained that God operates on the higher faith. He knows that He can make a world or complete an action, because He has done it many times in the past. We also can operate in this higher faith. First must come a belief, so that we can seek faith based on knowledge. This is why Jesus said it is our duty and privilege to know God. (D&C 93:19 says: “I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.”)
19. 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.
This sounds very similar to the crying of a spoiled child. Of course, Satan lies again--with a false claim of him being the “Only Begotten”. He knows that it is a lie. When he cannot get his way, the spoiled liar has a temper tantrum. It is an old ploy to get parents or an adult to give the child what he wants. In this case, Satan wants honor and respect from other people (Moses in this event).
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.
This is the third unsuccessful attempt by Moses to order Satan away. Again, it is a failure because the priesthood and name of Christ are not used. However, note that Moses overcomes the fear, as he uses faith and calls upon God. He gains strength through this faith and proper exercise of it.
Moses sees the “bitterness of hell”--this is explained quite well in D&C 76:30-48. He begins to fear as he sees the power of Satan. Actually, as Brigham Young and Joseph Smith often taught, Satan only has power over us when we give him that power. Faith is the key. Either we have faith in God or we have faith in the world (and Satan has been granted temporary influence over the world).
This experience is very typical of ancient epics. According to myths and stories throughout history, the king or hero must face a near-death combat with evil before he is saved by God. Those who faced such a severe test include: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Alma, and Joseph Smith. The ultimate example of this, of course, was Jesus Christ. Indeed, the concept of the king/ hero epic came from Adam’s understanding and teaching his children about the sacrifice of Christ. Later people corrupted this atonement of Christ, making it part of their own false religion but also changing the names and exact meaning.
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.
Finally, success comes. Moses orders Satan away through the priesthood and name of Christ. Although it is not explicitly stated, Moses used the priesthood. He already had the higher priesthood given to him through his father-in-law, Jethro. Remember, in D&C 84:19 gives the reason for the higher (Melchizedek) priesthood being on earth. It states: “And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.” Melchizedek was Shem, the son of Noah. He also was the king of Salem (now called Jerusalem), which he organized into a city of Zion after the flood. The higher priesthood was named after him, as explained in D&C 107:2-4. Abraham received this priesthood directly from Melchizedek. (The first Zion was the city of Enoch.)
The earth probably shook for two reasons. One-- Satan received a temporary ability to “rule” over the earth (which means, he can influence mortal people). So, his anger and frustration could cause some earth tremors. Two--the earth actually is under the control of Christ. It quaked in recognition of the true ruler and in rejection of Satan. As Satan trembled in fear, the earth symbolically tried to shake off Satan’s corrupt influence.
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.
So, Satan finally goes away from Moses. His departure is very much as a spoiled, crying boy. This is not the action of a man. In the past, gnashing meant more than just grinding the teeth. It was biting something in anger, similar to a mad or crazy animal. Satan’s anger is so deep that it is totally irrational.
Although he has great intellect, Satan operates more on misguided emotion than he does on rational thought. Most people who follow his teachings in this world often operate on emotion also. They cannot see the logic of the gospel plan. A lesser number of people choose to follow evil as a thoughtful, although misguided, choice. Both types of people are dangerous. The first usually are followers and zealots. They are the mob. The second lead others to destruction. They cause misery and death to billions of souls.
23. And now of this thing Moses bore record; but because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men.
Moses wrote about his vision and it was part of the early scriptures. Lehi had a copy of this record; it was on the brass plates of Laban. Many years later, Israelites cut out or changed much of what Moses wrote. Most of these things were cut out by Christian scholars and priests--mostly because of Greek philosophers who joined the Christian faith. Such men did not like the teachings about our previous life as spirit children of God. They also did not believe that anyone could see God. Likewise, many of them rejected the idea of a resurrection. In truth, they received membership in the church but did not accept the gospel.
This is why the Pearl of Great Price was restored through Joseph Smith. God wants us to know about Him and our purpose in life.
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,
Now that Satan is forced to leave (by correctly using the priesthood and name of Christ), Moses is rewarded with another witness. The Holy Ghost gives him a sure testimony. Note that this action and the visit of Jesus Christ constitute what is called the Second Comforter. It also reminds us of “having your election made sure.” This is a condition which Joseph Smith said happens to those in this life who demonstrate full faith. They receive confirmation from God that they will be exalted and receive a fulness of all promised blessings. These blessings were explained to Abraham (see Abraham 2:9-11). This scripture also clarifies that the ancient prophets understood the correct relationship of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost (a better English translation should be the “Holy Spirit” rather than a “Ghost”).
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.
Here again is the principle of “seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened”. Moses asks and he receives another talk with God. He already proved that he has faith enough to have an open vision.
God blesses Moses by giving him a work to accomplish. The work is to free the people of Israel from Pharaoh, king of Egypt (Sethos I; his son, Ramesses II, was pharaoh during the exodus). I think it is important to know why the Egyptians made the Israelites into slaves. Joseph, the son of Jacob (also called Israel, the prophet who had 12 sons--the future 12 tribes of Israel), was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. They were angry with Joseph, especially after Jacob gave a special coat to Joseph. The Bible calls it a coat of many colors; however, a correct translation of the ancient Bible language shows that the “coat” actually was a garment with special markings. According to tradition and old writings, it was the same coat of skins that Adam received in the garden of Eden. It was the garment of the priesthood. It also represented Joseph receiving leadership over his brothers. (This is explained by professor Hugh Nibley, a BYU professor and well known expert of ancient languages and history.)
The jealous brothers sold Joseph into slavery and lied to their father, saying that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Egypt at that time already had been conquered by the Hyksos. They also were called “the shepherd kings” and were Semitic people (similar to those in the middle east, including the Israelites). This explains why Joseph later could teach them about the priesthood, because they were not descendants of Cain. (Cain was cursed because he killed his brother and chose to follow Satan. He also rejected the priesthood.)
Joseph eventually became the number two
leader in Egypt. He taught the Hyksos
rulers and married Asenath. She was the
daughter of Potipherah. Potipherah was
the chief priest of On. On was the old
name for Heliopolis, a city on the Nile river.
This city was the same place where Moses lived at one time; Mary and
Joseph also took baby Jesus to this city to avoid the evil king Herod of
After Joseph taught Pharaoh and his people, some of them believed in the true God. According to Jewish teachings, Pharaoh ordered that all temples of false gods be closed. The true Egyptian people already hated being conquered by the Hyksos. They hated the Hyksos even more because the temples were closed. Of course, the Egyptians hated the Israelites because Pharaoh took good land from Egyptians and gave it to Joseph’s people. They also hated Joseph for his influence in closing the temples.
About 1700 B.C. (years before Christ), the Egyptian leader Kamose, and later his brother Amosis I, defeated the Hyksos and became Pharaoh of a new Egyptian dynasty. He enslaved the Israelites. They were slaves for several hundred years before Moses received the task of freeing God’s people. (Historical note: Avaris was the capital of the Hyksos’ kingdom. During their reign, Joseph built a long canal named after himself, the Bahr Yusef. It parallels the Nile river even today--between Asyut and El Faiyum.)
This verse indicates that God knows that Moses will part the Reed Sea (erroneously thought to be the Red Sea) waters. Indeed, Moses later commands the water to separate so that the Israelite people can walk through the sea. At this time, however, Moses had no idea that he would perform this miracle. It is interesting to see that God sometimes gives us partial knowledge of what we can do in life, but we do not understand it at the time. Later, we see it happen.
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.
Moses has a difficult job. He knows Pharaoh, who once was called a brother of Moses. He knows that the Egyptian ruler will not agree to free the slaves. Here, God says clearly that He will never abandon Moses. This is similar to a promise to Joseph Smith in D&C 121:7-8 and D&C 122:9.
27. And it came to pass, as the voice was still speaking, Moses cast his eyes and beheld the earth, yea, even all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God.
Here is an awesome event. Moses is allowed to discern (to see and understand in the mind; to comprehend) everything in or on this earth. This is something which a mortal mind cannot do. It can be understood only through a direct vision from God. According to Hugh Nibley’s opinion, Moses did not see every atom or molecule of the earth. Moses did receive a total understanding of all principles of creation. He could comprehend the purpose of the earth.
This also reveals to us that we can understand each principle of creation and the gospel of Jesus Christ in a manner similar to what Moses experienced. This is true revelation. It is instant. Time means nothing here. God can pour more knowledge into our mind in a minute than it would take for us to learn in our entire life. This is not my opinion; many prophets and modern Church authorities have said this, including an excellent talk by Orson Pratt in Journal of Discourses (volume 3).
28. And he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore.
Here is a small measure of how God sees us. He can know each of us at the same time. We cannot view people, things or events in this manner. Moses can see each of the millions of people who then lived on this earth. In a similar way, God sees each galaxy, star, planet, and person which he created. This does not mean that Moses could know what the future of each person or animal would be.
29. And he beheld many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof.
Moses saw the various continents of this earth. People lived on those continents. The Book of Mormon people (Jaredites) lived in North America at the time that Moses had this vision. They probably were located in the area of modern Mexico, in the vicinity of Oaxaca, San Lorenzo and near Mexico City (Teotihuacan).
30. And it came to pass that Moses called upon God, saying: Tell me, I pray thee, why these things are so, and by what thou madest them?
Seeing this wonderful vision, Moses asks God why everything was made. He also wants to know what power God used to create everything. These are good questions, especially since Moses learned false explanations while he lived in the court of Egypt. The questions are polite.
This again brings up the important issue of authority. The Egyptians did not have the true priesthood. The creative process hinges upon proper use of the higher priesthood. See facsimile number 2 in the Book of Abraham for mention of the “medium of Kae-e-vanrash” (this probably is the Melchizedek priesthood).
31. And behold, the glory of the Lord was upon Moses, so that Moses stood in the presence of God, and talked with him face to face. And the Lord God said unto Moses: For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me.
God again appears face to face with Moses. During the next few verses, Moses is told that it is not his business to know about all things. He only needs to understand the purpose of this world. See the following scripture for a better understanding of truth: D&C 93:24 (“And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come”). Moses also follows a common commandment--seek the Lord. See D&C 88:63 (“Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”)
32. And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.
God clearly states that this earth (and all things/people on it) was created by Jesus Christ. Here is that important principle of works/words again, as emphasized by ancient Egypt. I think it is an interesting use of the phrase “word of my power.” Since Christ is called the “word” in the Bible, and the power of God is the priesthood, this seems to indicate the following ideas: 1. He is the spokesman of God, who uses the priesthood to create and rule; 2. He accomplishes work in a systematic way: conceive (think of an action), prepare (plan how to do the work), organize (get the necessary materials and people--this can include both spirit or mortal beings), know (have a perfect understanding of all principles of creation, such as the electromagnetic spectrum and mathematics), power (have and use all physical and spiritual power to complete an action--the priesthood), work (the actual action of creation), and supervise (direct the work of all who help him).
Being full of grace refers to Christ’s ability to give the gift of salvation and exaltation. Of course, this is dependant on two things: 1. Christ’s triumph over death and hell, accomplished in the garden of Gethsemane and His resurrection; 2. a person’s own obedience to God’s law, and by his true repentance. He has a true desire to see each person progress in life and live with Him and our Father in the celestial kingdom. Many will succeed, but most people will go to lower kingdoms, due to their decision not to obey all commandments. For whatever reason, many people choose not to be follow Christ, even after they have a total knowledge and testimony that it is true.
33. And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is Mine Only Begotten.
Another interesting verse, which clarifies that God created many worlds by Himself and directed his son, Jesus Christ, to create many worlds. This probably refers both to planets which have no population (such as Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc.) and which have people (earth and planets in other solar systems--ones which man is not aware of yet). All of these are created to fulfill God’s purpose. His purpose is to help others progress and become as He is. That is the great secret of eternity. Joseph Smith explained this in the King Follett discourse, one of his last public speeches before a mob killed him in Carthage, Illinois.
King Follett was a member of the Church in Joseph’s day. The man died in April 1844, when he was digging a well. Joseph said, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret.” Later in the talk he said, “Here, then, is eternal life--to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.”
His statements basically mean: As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become. The reference to “dwell in everlasting burnings” means to abide a celestial glory and on a world of that level. D&C 131:6-9 describes such a world.
34. And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.
The meaning of Adam actually means “red earth”, according to Nibley. Ancient Egypt had many stories which are similar to ones in the Bible. Egyptians called the first man on earth, Atum. They called the first woman, Hathor. Adam was the first man on this planet. Obviously, other populated planets have their own first man and woman. Adam and Eve (her name in Hebrew language is Isha, the mother of all living) were supposed to populate the earth with “many”--spirit children of our Father in heaven.
35. But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man, but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.
Here is one of the most important revelations about God’s creative power and purpose. He clearly explains that this earth is only one of many such planets. These planets and their people go through the same plan of progress. It is the impetus (reason) behind creation. The plan is one of eternal progression for all spirits--no matter what world they go to--no matter who is their creator. It is based on the same principles; it is done through the same priesthood power; and it is done to help others attain their full potential.
Moses is told not to be concerned with other worlds or other people. It is none of his business at this time. In the future, he may be told more about them. For now, he receives more information about this world than most people. Only a few others mentioned in scripture have had such a magnificent revelation as Moses received here. Some of them include Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Mahonri Moriancumer, and Joseph Smith.
This verse also emphasizes the concept of “word of power.” This combines the process of thought with active use of priesthood to create all things in the universe. Note that “passed away” does not mean destruction. It indicates completion of a process. This means that many worlds already have gone through the same experience of this earth. The difference is that some worlds are celestialized, that is, the people on them have gone through their testing period. Their people have been resurrected, judged, and been assigned to a kingdom.
The verse further states that other worlds
are in a similar stage as this earth.
That is, they have mortal people on them. Eventually, each world must finish a mortal stage, then be
judged, and become immortal. This is
the meaning of eternal progress. Each
person may be compared to the progress of a world. We always existed as an intelligence. We accepted an offer from God to be His spirit son or
daughter. We developed as a spirit,
then chose to be born on earth with a mortal body. We now go through a period of testing to see if we will be faithful
to the gospel of Jesus Christ. After
death, we go to the spirit world for more development. A correct judgment follows that phase of
life. Finally, we go to one of four
major kingdoms (celestial--3 levels; terrestrial--an undetermined number of
levels; telestial--numerous levels; outer darkness--with Satan and all spirits
who chose to follow him). See D&C
sections 76 and 131 for details on these kingdoms.
This revelation from God is quite impossible for many people to accept. They prefer to deny what God explains about His purpose for us. A similar rejection of these teachings happened about 200 years after Christ and the apostles. Greek philosophers were baptized and held positions of authority. They eventually changed the teachings by throwing out truth about baptism, resurrection, the nature of God, work for the dead, priesthood authority, and other important doctrine. This is why Jesus chose Joseph Smith Jr. to restore what had been lost. It also explains the need for the Pearl of Great Price. This book restored many things which originally were in the Bible. One of the lost teachings was this clear understanding that God created other planets and people similar to this one.
Moses finally is told that God “numbers” (knows and has possession) all of His creations. Each world and person is important to Him. Too often, someone thinks that God is not concerned with an individual. He might think, “Why should God think of me? I am only one of billions of people.” But if one person is not important, why should a group be? Here, God states that each one is His and He counts them as important. His way of thinking is not the same as ours because He has advanced further than us. But, we have the hope of becoming like him by following His plan.
As Hugh Nibley pointed out, this is the best possible view of man’s purpose. It is a light-light-light view. That is: happy previous life with God as a spirit son or daughter; chance for a happy mortal life; promise of a happy life after death. No other religion in ancient or modern time offers this view.
36. And it came to pass that Moses spoke unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.
Moses is respectful to God after learning that he has no business asking to know all things at this time. He requests what God wants him to know--only things about this earth. Wanting to know about “the heavens” refers to this earth’s atmosphere and probably about this solar system. He also wants to know about people of this earth. Actually, this is an act of responsibility. Since Moses will receive a calling from God to lead the Israelites, Moses needs to know about them. Learning about all other people on earth is something God offers to share with Moses. He accepts the duty, thus he is able to gain the knowledge which goes with it. In a sense, this is similar to when a man receives the priesthood. He also gains all rights, privileges, keys and authority which go with that particular office in the priesthood.
37. And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
It seems that the Lord again must get Moses to focus on what he can learn. In this verse, it appears to be a reference to the many levels of “heaven”--galaxy, solar system, and atmosphere of individual planets. All are known and considered valuable to God.
38. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come, and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
Again, here is clear description of God’s creative process. When a world completes the final phase of its mortal experience (what we now have), that world and its atmosphere are changed to a celestial or other final level. Once that world is changed, God starts another world and places people and all things on it. This is the work of God--to create worlds for spirit children--to help others advance as He has. Note also the use of works/words. There is no end to either, because they always go together. There is no work of value without sharing it with others. As the Egyptians emphasized, the word indicates true communication. Communication is sharing truth with other people. Of course, there are many ways to communicate--voice, gesture, music, writing, touch, etc. God and Jesus Christ always choose the best method to teach a person. That is why people have different spiritual experiences. Some see angels, have a vision, get a warm feeling in the heart, or get a testimony in some other way. Each person has an individual style of writing, art, and way to compose music. Our experiences also are individual. No one is exactly the same as another. This variety is one of the great beauties of life, both on earth and during each phase of our existence (spirit world and final judgment life). There always will be an infinite variety in life, no matter where we go.
39. For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
This probably is the best statement ever made. It explains the purpose of God and of mankind. The work and glory always go together. There is no glory (no reason for admiration, no justification for pride) if there is no successful good work. The good work is such because it is designed to help others. This is a key to knowing God for whom He is and always will be. He does everything to help others. He wants each person to advance and become like He is. Of course, we will be immortal through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Resurrection is a free gift. However, eternal life is something that only comes to us through the grace of Jesus Christ. D&C 19:11 states that eternal is synonymous with God (“Eternal punishment is God’s punishment”). Therefore, eternal life is life with God. That is a description only of those who live in the celestial kingdom (all 3 levels).
40. And now, Moses, my son, I will speak unto thee concerning this earth upon which thou standest, and thou shalt write the things which I shall speak.
Now, Moses is instructed to write all that he sees about this earth and its people. Originally, this was in the Book of Moses, which became part of Genesis (in the Old Testament of the Bible). However, many of his words were cut out of the Bible. That is why God revealed the Pearl of Great Price information to Joseph Smith--to return what had been lost.
It is the right and responsibility of mankind to know about these teachings. It is our right, because we live on this earth and promised to obey God (in the spirit world) before we came here. Without correct instruction from God, we might be able to blame Him for not helping us overcome the many problems we face in this life. It is our responsibility, because God has given us what is necessary to overcome our problems. A person who receives knowledge is duty bound to use that knowledge to teach and benefit others. That is exactly why Abraham sought the higher priesthood--to administer (teach and help) other people. We are expected to do the same thing.
41. And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men--among as many as shall believe.
Note that God knew that in the future many of Moses’ words would be lost. These words were cut from scripture by people who claimed to follow God. Actually, they did not agree with doctrine and historical facts (such as creation of the earth, preexistent life, and many other teachings), so they deliberately cut them from scripture. This action denied truth from billions of people. A restoration was necessary.
This verse referred to Joseph Smith. God and Jesus Christ chose him to restore the lost church and all related ordinances and teachings. Joseph was compared with Moses. Both men led a “lost” people from a form of slavery and ignorance. In the time of Moses, it was an actual slavery in Egypt and ignorance of the God of Israel. Often, Moses chastised them for following the ways of Egypt, such as when they built a gold calf. That was typical of Egyptian idolatry. The cow represented Hathor, the mother cow (this also was an ancient Egyptian reference to Eve, the first woman). Such idolatry was repudiation (rejection) of the patriarchal order, and acceptance of a matriarchal order. Satan and his followers continually urge man to reject a patriarchal order of priesthood.
In the time of Joseph Smith, many millions throughout the world claimed to follow Christ, but their various churches rejected the true gospel. They denied modern revelation, the actuality of God, priesthood authority, temple work, and many other necessary parts of Christ’s gospel plan. Therefore, Joseph was called to lead people out of idolatry and the “slavery of ignorance and hell.” Jacob in 2 Nephi 9:4-13 (Book of Mormon) gives an excellent explanation about the meaning of death and hell. Basically, death refers to a physical separation of the body and spirit. Hell refers to a separation of the spirit from God. Christ’s atonement overcame both. Of course, a person must follow His commandments to be freed from hell (called the second death--separation of spirit from God after life on this earth).
Note that this verse says that these teachings of Moses will be available to everyone in the future, if they will believe in them. Many people will reject the teachings, just as others in the past rejected them and cut them out of scripture.
42. (These words were spoken unto Moses in the mount, the name of which shall not be known among the children of men. And now they are spoken unto you. Show them not unto any except them that believe. Even so. Amen.)
This verse contains instruction to Joseph Smith. He was not to share this information to people, except those who believed in the restored gospel. The teachings were compared to the pearl of great price mentioned by Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 13:45-46). It also can be compared to his statement in Matthew 7:6 (“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you”). The books of Abraham and Moses contain precious information which answers the “terrible questions.” They teach truth about the purpose and creation of man and star systems. Such teachings are worthless to many people. Therefore, the information should be taught only to those who are believers. As mentioned in scripture, we do not give meat to children until they are prepared to eat it. Deep doctrine (complex instruction) is not for beginners. But, we also are told to seek the mysteries of God (D&C 42:61 — “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things--that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal”).
Each person is expected to study as much as possible in this life (D&C 130:18-19). In the King Follett discourse, Joseph Smith emphasized the need to learn step by step. He said, “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the Gospel--you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them.” So, we continue to learn in the spirit world after our mortal death.
Joseph also emphasized the need to understand God, saying: “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.”
(This is the end of chapter one.)