Avraham Gileadi, PhD., Old Testament Lesson 4
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OLD TESTAMENT GOSPEL DOCTRINE SUPPLEMENTS by Avraham Gileadi
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ISAIAH DECODED: ASCENDING THE LADDER TO HEAVEN by Avraham Gileadi
LDS scholar Avraham Gileadi shares Isaiah’s “good news” and how the book of Isaiah teaches us God’s higher law and how God enables us to ascend to heaven. By living God’s law, we are reborn on ever higher levels of a spiritual “ladder” until we are privileged to pass through heaven’s gate. Special $1 shipping! http://www.latterdaylightbooks.com/catalog.php?Iit=78&Ict=21
Lesson 4 – The Fall — Descent before Ascent
Some people view the fall of Adam and Eve from an exalted state–from dwelling in the presence of God to being cut off from his presence–as a huge blunder, without which we would all be better off. Without the Fall, however, we wouldn’t be able to progress beyond the most basic level, beyond our “first estate.” In other words, we wouldn’t be here. Although it affected Adam and Eve differently than it did their children, in each case the Fall constituted a descent from a higher plane to a lower one. As primordial spirits, we too dwelt in holier spheres than this earthly habitation. Because God’s plan is based on individual agency, mortality was no doubt something we chose not just with enthusiasm but also with some degree of trepidation because of the hazards inherent in the journey.
Fortunately, Isaiah’s paradigm of “descent before ascent” makes immediate sense of the whole matter, providing a model of spiritual progression all can understand. While salvation and exaltation are as much a part of Isaiah’s theology as they are of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, in the book of Isaiah they appear within a holistic context that provides a clear perspective of how these goals are attained. Thus, key antithetical themes, built into the structure of the book, reveal that ruin comes before rebirth, disinheritance before inheritance, punishment before deliverance, suffering before salvation, and humiliation before exaltation. Just as night precedes day, and chaos precedes creation, so each ascent to a higher plane is preceded by a temporary descent into turmoil during which God puts a person’s loyalties to the test (see Avraham Gileadi, Isaiah Decoded: Ascending the Ladder to Heaven, Hebraeus Press, 2002).
For Adam and Eve and their children, the cauldron of mortality would be a refiner’s fire from which they would emerge either as gold tried and proven or, alternatively, as dross or alloy. When God said to Adam, “Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake” (Moses 4:23; cf. Genesis 3:17), the words, “for thy sake,” let us know there was something to be gained from this telestial experience. The curse of being “made partakers of misery and woe” (Moses 6:48) could turn into a blessing. Although “sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter,” their purpose was to teach God’s children to “prize the good” (Moses 6:55). Descent into mortality, with all its vicissitudes–ruin, disinheritance, punishment, suffering, and humiliation–could serve as the prelude to ascent to something more glorious than we had experienced before. Earth life would provide the optimum conditions under which we could undergo rebirth to a new life, receive a noble inheritance, find deliverance from
damnation, gain salvation from an endless disembodiment, and, ultimately, attain exaltation in the kingdom of God.
Although in mortality both the man and the woman experience “sorrow” (Moses 4:22–23; cf. Genesis 3:16–17)–the Lord’s words to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the midst of his afflictions apply here as well: “Thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7–8). A passage from Isaiah is likewise relevant: “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee” (Isaiah 54:7–8). It is not so important, then, from whence sorrows come–how we got into this mortal mess, why things are so flawed, whose fault something is, who has offended us, etc.–but how we respond. Ultimately, all afflictions are a test from God we volunteered for.
Not only do death and sorrow come into people’s lives with the Fall, so does another enemy: “Satan hath come among the children of men, and tempteth them to worship him; and men have become carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God” (Moses 6:49). A notable angel, who once dwelt in God’s presence (2 Nephi 9:8), has now become “Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Moses 4:4). As a result of Satan’s influence, henceforth “works of darkness began to prevail among all the sons of men” (Moses 5:55), until men’s “hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off” (Moses 6:27).
Satan and his followers adopt the opposite paradigm of that which leads to salvation and exaltation. Instead of experiencing “descent before ascent,” they undergo “ascent before descent.” By proposing an alternative plan that would exalt himself, for example, Satan ends up humiliated. By being unwilling to pay the price of humanity’s salvation–but rather compelling people to behave–he nevertheless ends up suffering. Although Satan didn’t get his chance to “save” anyone by using his methods, he nevertheless still implements controlling tendencies in world religions. Moreover, his “desire” being directed towards Cain–as Eve’s desire is towards Adam (Genesis 3:16; 4:7; Moses 4:22: 5:23)–foreshadows the alternative lifestyle he advocates in a morally corrupt world. No wonder God calls his latter-day people “Sodom and Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10; 3:9), alluding to sexual depravity among many of them and to their ultimate demise (Isaiah 13:1–19).
The cursed condition caused by the Fall–in which all manner of evils and falsehoods are permitted to prevail–is nonetheless the perfect environment in which spiritual growth can occur. As Lehi teaches in his masterful discourse to his son Jacob, “It must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). In this mortal probationary state, people are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27). On the one hand, “redemption cometh in and through the holy Messiah,” who “offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (2 Nephi 2:6–7). On the other, “the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein…giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom” (2 Nephi 2:29).
The redeeming factor of the Fall is the opportunity to rise to new heights by availing ourselves of Christ’s atonement for transgression. To that end–in the midst of and in spite of our disadvantaged state–we must follow the commandments of God and “turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men” (Moses 6:52). In the process, we “must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory” (Moses 6:59).
When Adam, in fulfilling these commandments, “was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man,” God declared, “Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons” (Moses 6:65, 68). Although Adam’s and Eve’s descent from a celestial to a telestial sphere for the sake of their posterity was greater than ours (and consequently their ascent to glory also), nevertheless all follow the same pattern in becoming “sons” of God. Without undergoing a descent into mortality–without experiencing the perils of the Fall–we cannot be called God’s “sons” in the scriptural definition of the term. The sacrifice Adam and Eve made in their descent was nonetheless eclipsed by one even greater. When making the Atonement, Christ “descended below them all” (D&C 88:6; 122:8), thereafter ascending above them all to sit on his Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21; cf. Moroni 9:26) .
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