Avraham Gileadi, Ph.D, Old Testament Lesson 1
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OLD TESTAMENT GOSPEL DOCTRINE SUPPLEMENTS by Avraham Gileadi
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Lesson 1 – In the Similitude of the Only-Begotten
Because the Old Testament is the foundation of all other scriptures, unless a person has a firm grounding in this book, he can never "put it all together"–he cannot integrate all the scriptures into one. As we near the period in the history of humanity to which the ancient prophets looked forward–the time of the coming of our Lord and Savior–we may no longer have the luxury of biding our time to "catch up" on our understanding of this enigmatic book. And that could bring unfortunate results for those who may misread unfolding events–as unprepared generations did before us–in a time of upheaval and uncertainty mistaking the things that are of God to be of the devil and the things that are of the devil to be of God. If God has given us "a pattern in all things" (D&C 52:14), then shouldn’t we become familiar with that pattern? If not so, the awful consequences that were predicted–when, if it were possible, even the elect will be deceived (Matthew 24:24)–will be on our own
How appropriate, then, to commence study of the Old Testament with the book of Moses, the prophet who wrote Genesis through Deuteronomy! In Moses 1, we gain some background into how Moses–who appeared with Jesus and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration–came to be called of God to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt. The approximate chiastic structure of Moses 1, as follows, highlights important elements in God’s empowerment of Moses:
a. God speaks to Moses on an exceedingly high mountain (1:1)
b. God speaks with Moses face to face (1:2-3)
c. God’s works are without end (1:4-5)
d. God has a work to do for Moses (1:4-7)
e. God calls Moses his "son" (1:4-7)
f. Moses sees the ends of the world and all men (1:8)
g. The presence of God withdraws from Moses (1:9)
h. Moses loses and regains his natural strength (1:9-10)
i. God’s glory is upon Moses (1:11)
j. Satan commands Moses to worship him (1:12)
k. Moses is in the similitude of the Only Begotten (1:13)
l. Moses discerns between God and Satan (1:14-15)
k. Moses is in the similitude of the Only Begotten (1:16)
j. God commands Moses to worship him (1:17)
i. God’s glory is upon Moses (1:18)
h. Moses loses and regains his natural strength (1:20-21)
g. Satan departs from the presence of Moses (1:22-24)
f. Moses sees the earth and all its inhabitants (1:25-30)
e. God "chooses" Moses and empowers him (1:25)
d. God appoints Moses to deliver Israel (1:25-26)
c. God has created worlds without number (1:33)
b. Moses speaks with God face to face (1:31-41)
a. God speaks to Moses on an unidentified mountain (1:42)
We may sometimes wonder–and perhaps feel ourselves inadequate by comparison–why God appears to some of his children in mortality and not to others. One response is that such privileged persons have been chosen from before the foundation of the world for the tasks they are to perform on the earth (Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4), and that God appears to them, as in Moses’ case, to commission them to fulfill his work. However, the question is, Why does God choose them? Alma provides an answer when he says, "This is the manner after which they were ordained–being called and prepared from [before] the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such" (Alma 13:3).
Another explanation comes from the prophet Isaiah, who distinguishes people by the different spiritual levels they are on, each characterized by the observance (or lack of observance) of the law or terms of the covenant pertaining to that level. The only way a person can attain a higher spiritual level, such as that of Moses, is to "ascend" or progress from the lowest, starting level like everyone else. No one is created in a high spiritual category all at once, though–as Isaiah teaches–God "creates," or rather recreates, the person each time he or she ascends a level. Every such rebirth or ascent into a higher category, however, is characterized by the person first experiencing a kind of trial or descent, during which God tests his or her loyalties to the terms of the covenant. (See Avraham Gileadi, Isaiah Decoded: Ascending the Ladder to Heaven, Hebraeus Press, 2002.)
Isaiah identifies the spiritual level on which one sees God face to face, has a cosmic vision, is given power over the elements, and is appointed a prophet to the nations as the level of "seraphim." Moses, who experienced these very things, thus belongs in this category. Other distinguishing characteristics of this level include the sealing power, a translated state (though not all individuals are translated), the ability to perform mighty miracles, and the power to convince others of the truth of their words (Ibid.). The Prophet Joseph Smith identified this spiritual level with "the power of Elijah and the fulness of the [Melchizedek] Priesthood" (TPJS, 337-40), which is a stage beyond making sure one’s calling and election. Persons who fall into this category include Enoch, Moses, Elijah, John the Revelator, Nephi the son of Helaman, and the Three Nephites. Like John and the Three Nephites, such persons are "beloved" of God (3 Nephi 28:6; Mormon 1:13).
There exists no indication that anyone ascends to this spiritual level in this one earthly mortality. Like Abraham, "noble and great" souls had experiences before this life that advanced them to their starting level here on earth (Abraham 3:22-23; D&C 138:55-56), having hitherto undergone a "preparatory redemption" (Alma 13:3). This explain why God appears to some even in their youth, to others in later years as they progress, and to yet others not in this life. In effect, to dwell in the presence of God is an earned blessing or privilege that pertains to each spiritual level or category. Persons may experience the presence of the Holy Ghost, our Savior Jesus Christ, or the Father, depending on which spiritual level they are on. The fact that both the Father and the Son visited the Prophet Joseph Smith in his early years, for example, indicates that he had attained the seraph category even before this mortality.
What Moses 1 adds to our knowledge of this spiritual level is that Moses rejected Satan and worshiped God–a central idea of the chapter–and that he was "in the similitude of [God’s] Only Begotten" Son (Moses 1:6, 13, 16). This doesn’t mean, however, that all God’s children are in this similitude. It does mean that Moses, by rejecting Satan and worshiping God in his life, ultimately came to resemble God’s Only Begotten Son in a particular sense, and that all who attain this spiritual level go through this process and grow into the same similitude. The only other scriptural instances of the above expression appear in a context of sacrifice: Adam’s offering the firstlings of his flock was "a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father" (Moses 5:7); and Abraham’s offering up his son Isaac was "a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son" (Jacob 4:5).
These rhetorical connections suggest that persons who are in the similitude of the Only Begotten have fulfilled what the Prophet Joseph Smith counseled those who would attain such an exaltation to do, namely to "covenant with God by sacrifice," laying our all upon the altar (Psalms 50:5; "Lecture Sixth," Lectures on Faith), with the sure knowledge that this constitutes true worship of God and that anything less than this puts a person in Satan’s power. This, Moses did, upon which God empowered him to command Satan himself to depart. By the law of sacrifice they kept, and by means of sacred ordinances under the terms of the covenant, ancients such as Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, and Moses established "a type of his order [of the Only Begotten of the Father], that [their people] might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord" (Alma 13:16), "which rest is the fulness of his glory" (D&C 84:24). Moses was thus well qualified
to "sanctify his people that they [like him] might behold the face of God" (D&C 84:23) and similarly grow into the similitude of his Only Begotten.
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.
Gospel Doctrine Supplements by Avraham Gileadi is a service of the Hebreaus Foundation and Latter Day Light–www.latterdaylight.com, and distributed by email via the Latter Day Light-Gospel Doctrine Supplement mailing list. This message may be forwarded to individuals if this copyright notice is included. Posting, printing, or any other form of reproduction of this material without the permission of the owner is prohibited. Copyright 2006 The Hebreaus Foundation.
Tags: Avraham Gileadi, Gileadi, LDS, Mormon, OT, Old Testament
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