Moses: Witness of Jesus Christ
April 1998

“Moses: Witness of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 1998, 24–36

Old Testament


Witness of Jesus Christ

Many plain and precious gospel truths once taught by Moses have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Following the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith labored with his “new translation” of the Holy Bible. During this process, the Lord revealed to the Prophet what he had told Moses on Mount Sinai some 3,000 years earlier: “And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take [away] many of them from the book which thou [Moses] 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” (Moses 1:41, emphasis added).

Joseph Smith had been called by the Lord to be a prophet “like unto” Moses who would restore the text of Moses’ writing so his words could be “had again” among the children of men.1 A significant part of this prophecy’s fulfillment was accomplished through the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of the first six chapters of Genesis, now known as the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.

We join with the rest of the world in gratitude for the Bible and the truths it contains; we also rejoice in the additional truths revealed again through a latter-day prophet. From his earlier translation of Nephi’s vision in 1 Nephi 13, the Prophet Joseph Smith learned that many “plain and most precious” parts had been taken away from the Bible before it went forth among the nations of the Gentiles (see 1 Ne. 13:26–29). Nephi had explained that the Lord would mercifully bring forth in his own power much of his gospel which would be plain and precious (see 1 Ne. 13:34) through the Book of Mormon and also through “other books” (see 1 Ne. 13:39). As we look back on the unfolding of the Restoration it becomes apparent that the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) are included in the “other books” Nephi saw in vision. “These last records,” Nephi wrote, “shall establish the truth of the first [the Bible] … and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them” (1 Ne. 13:40). Thus, latter-day revelation corrects the writing of some scholars who would question the historicity of Moses, the Exodus, the Red Sea crossing, and so forth.

By revelation the Lord has made known again, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, truths once known and recorded by Moses that were previously unavailable to the present-day world. Such fundamental LDS doctrines as the premortal existence, the nature of the Godhead and Satan, the Council in Heaven, the plan of salvation, the power of the priesthood with its attendant keys and ordinances, the new and everlasting covenant, and information on Enoch and his Zion are all relatively obscure, nonexistent, or misunderstood in modern Christendom.

The following chart helps condense, clarify, and illustrate the additional truths the Prophet Joseph Smith received concerning Moses and his ministry.2

A Latter-day Saint View of Moses

The left column lists the Bible’s teachings about Moses; the right column lists additional information restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.1

What the Bible Teaches

What Latter-day Revelation Adds



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• Befitting his priesthood assignment to preside over a gospel dispensation, Moses was selected premortally (see Abr. 3:22–23).

• Joseph of Egypt prophesied about Moses and his spokesman, Aaron, several centuries before Moses’ birth. He prophesied that Moses would deliver Israel from Egypt by smiting the waters of the Red Sea and that he would receive the law from the hand of the Lord (see 2 Ne. 3:9–10, 16–21; JST, Gen. 50:24–29, 34–35, Bible appendix).



• Moses was born to Levite parents and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter (see Ex. 2:1–10; Acts 7:20–21; Heb. 11:23).

• His parents saw that he was a “peculiar” (“chosen” or “special”) child (see Joseph Smith Jr., The Holy Scriptures, Inspired Version [1974], Heb. 11:23).

• He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter (see Heb. 11:24).

• It was when Moses came to the years of discretion that he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter (see Inspired Version, Heb. 11:24).

• He slew an Egyptian in defense of an Israelite (see Ex. 2:11–12; Acts 7:24).

• He fled into Midian (see Ex. 2:10–20; Acts 7:24–29).

• He married Zipporah; they had two sons (see Ex. 2:21–22; Ex. 18:2–4; Acts 7:29).

• An angel appeared to Moses in a burning bush, saying his name was I AM (see Ex. 3:2–14; Acts 7:30–34).

• The being who appeared to Moses is Jesus Christ, Jehovah, the Great I AM (see D&C 38:1; D&C 39:1).

• Moses was called to deliver the children of Israel from Egypt (see Ex. 3:10).

• Aaron was chosen as Moses’ spokesman (see Ex. 4:10–16).

• The Lord declared that Israel is his son, even his firstborn. If Pharaoh refused to let Israel go, Egypt’s firstborn would be slain (see Ex. 4:22–23).

• Before Moses returned to Egypt, he was caught up to a high mountain and saw God face to face and was shown the workmanship of God’s hands (see Moses 1:1–4).

• He was told he was in the similitude of Jesus Christ (see Moses 1:6).

• He beheld, by the Spirit of God, all the children of men on earth (see Moses 1:8, 28–29).

• He was transfigured to see God (see Moses 1:10–11).

• He was confronted by Satan (see Moses 1:12–23).

• He began to fear exceedingly and saw the bitterness of hell (see Moses 1:20).

• He beheld God a second time during this experience (see Moses 1:25).

• He was told he would be a deliverer of Israel and that he would be made stronger than many waters (see Moses 1:25–26).

• He was shown the earth and every particle of it and discerned it by the Spirit of God (see Moses 1:27).

• He was shown many peopled earths (see Moses 1:29–33).

• He learned that all these worlds were created by the power of the Only Begotten Son (see Moses 1:32–33).

• He learned that the work and glory of God is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (see Moses 1:39).

• He was told the time would come when one like him would be raised up to bring forth the words delivered to him at that time (see Moses 1:41).

• Moses departed for Egypt (see Ex. 4:19–20).

• “I [the Lord] will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (see Ex. 4:21).

• “Pharaoh will harden his heart, and he will not let the people go” (see JST, Ex. 4:21).

• Moses assembled Israel (see Ex. 4:29–31).

• He asked Pharaoh to free Israel (see Ex. 5:1–5).

• He was reproached by the people of Israel (see Ex. 5:20–21).

Ex. 6:3 seems to indicate that the name of Jehovah was not known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

JST, Ex. 6:3 clarifies: “I am the Lord God Almighty; the Lord JEHOVAH. And was not my name known unto them?”

• Moses said to the Lord, “I am of uncircumcised lips” (Ex. 6:30).

• Moses said, “I am of stammering lips, and slow of speech” (see JST text in Ex. 6:30, footnote a).

• The Lord told Moses, “I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet” (Ex. 7:1).

• “I have made thee a prophet to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy spokesman” (JST, Ex. 7:1).

• Moses’ miracles were imitated by sorcerers (see Ex. 7).

• The Egyptians came to understand that Moses’ miracles were done by God’s power while the magicians’ miracles were not.2

• Moses led Israel through the Red Sea (see Ex. 14:15–31).

• The people of Israel murmured against Moses (see Ex. 15:24).

• He smote the rock at Horeb, and water came out of it (see Ex. 17:5–6).

• Israel was fed by manna from heaven (see Ex. 16:14–36).

• Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law (see Ex. 18:1).

• Moses had received the Melchizedek Priesthood from Jethro, a high priest who had received it in a priesthood line that went back to Adam (see D&C 84:6–16).

• Moses received the law (see Ex. 19).

• The law of Moses typified Jesus Christ (see 2 Ne. 11:4). The Father was worshiped in the name of the Son by keeping the law of Moses (see Jacob 4:5). Salvation does not come through the law alone but through the Atonement (see Mosiah 13:28).

• Moses returned with tablets of stone (see Ex. 32).

• Moses received the higher law and ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood during his first 40 days with the Lord (see JST, Ex. 34:1–2, Bible appendix; D&C 84:23–24; JST, Deut. 10:2).

• Moses broke the tablets and destroyed the golden calf (see Ex. 32:19–20).

• The Lord said if Israel would repent of the evil they had done in worshiping the golden calf, he would forgive them (see JST, Ex. 32:14, Bible appendix).

• “The Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do” (Ex. 32:14).

• Moses was a leader in God’s stead (see Ex. 33:1–3).

• Moses and Aaron governed as God’s representatives. They taught the people in both civic and ecclesiastical affairs.3

• The Lord spoke with Moses face to face (see Ex. 33:11).

• No man hath seen God at any time in the flesh unless quickened (transfigured) by the Spirit (see D&C 67:11).

• The Lord told Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live” (Ex. 33:20).

• “Thou canst not see my face at this time, … neither shall there be any sinful man at any time that shall see my face” (see JST, Ex. 33:20, Bible appendix).

• Moses obtained two new tables of stone (see Ex. 34:1–4, 27).

• The second set of tablets contained the lesser law and was associated with the Aaronic Priesthood (see JST, Ex. 34:1–2, Bible appendix; JST, Deut. 10:2).

• Moses was with God another 40 days (see Ex. 34:28).

• Moses’ 40-day preparation in the wilderness can be compared to Jesus’ 40-day preparation (see Moses 1:6; Moses 6:63).

• Moses’ face shone when he came down from the mount (see Ex. 34:29–35).

• In a separate experience, Moses was transfigured to behold the Lord (see Moses 1:11). Being transfigured would explain the illumination of his countenance when he returned from Mount Sinai.4

• He constructed the tabernacle (see Ex. 40:17–38).

• The tabernacle was to provide ordinances necessary for exaltation (see D&C 124:38–40).5

• He consecrated Aaron and his sons (see Lev. 8).

• Moses, being an authorized minister, called Aaron by revelation and ordained him (see Lev. 8:6–9, 12).6

• Moses took the census of the Israelite tribes (see Num. 1).

• He raised the brazen serpent on a pole (see Num. 21:8–9).

• Looking at the serpent symbolized looking to the Savior to live (see Hel. 8:14–15). Because of the “simpleness of the way,” many did not look (see 1 Ne. 17:41). Moses raised up a “type” (foreshadowing) of Christ; few understood and because of hard hearts would not look (see Alma 33:18–20).

• He appointed Joshua to lead Israel (see Num. 27:15–23).

• Moses prophesied of a prophet like unto him (see Deut. 18:15–19).

• The prophet of which Moses spoke was Jesus Christ (see 3 Ne. 20:23; 1 Ne. 22:20–21).

• Moses blessed the 12 tribes (see Deut. 33).

• Moses died (see Deut. 34:5–7).

• Moses was translated, or changed so he would not experience death (see Alma 45:19).



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• Moses returned as a translated being to give priesthood keys to Peter, James, and John during the Savior’s mortal ministry.7

• He was “among the great and mighty ones who were assembled” in the spirit world whom the Savior instructed and prepared as messengers to “carry the message of redemption” to those in prison to whom the Savior did “not go personally, because of their rebellion and transgression” (D&C 138:37–38, 41; see also D&C 128:22).

• Moses returned as a resurrected being to restore the keys of the gathering of Israel and the restoration of the 10 tribes to the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 110:11; 133:54).


  1. For a more complete list of the events of Moses’ ministry, see Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Moses.”

  2. See Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 202.

  3. See Teachings, 252.

  4. See Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. (1992), 4:1484–85.

  5. See Teachings, 307–8.

  6. See “Copy of a Letter from J. Smith Jr. to Mr. Galland,” Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, 54.

  7. See Teachings, 158.

Moses’ Teachings

The reader may conclude by comparing columns one and two that a wealth of additional understanding on Moses has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith; what follows is an elaboration of some of these points. The King James Version of the Bible begins with “The First Book of Moses Called Genesis.” Verse 1 commences, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” However, the JST of Moses’ writings supplies an additional chapter prior to the creation account of the biblical text in Genesis 1. This additional chapter renders a major contribution to what we know about Moses’ understanding and perspective of the Lord’s purposes, thereby expanding our understanding as well. We learn that Moses was transfigured and “caught up into an exceedingly high mountain” (see Moses 1:1). There he beheld God and a vision of this world and everyone that either had lived, was living, or was yet to live upon it.

Moses was raised as a prince in Egypt. He was well educated and revered as a great organizer and leader (see Acts 7:22; JST, Gen. 50:24–36, Bible appendix).3 However, as a result of his mountaintop experience he comprehended new concepts that he had never before considered: “For this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). This transfiguration and vision that the Lord gave to Moses elevated his view of many things. He saw a new eternal perspective with “spiritual eyes” (Moses 1:11). He understood that worlds without number were created by the Father’s Only Begotten Son, that many worlds had passed away, many now stood, and other worlds would yet come into existence (see Moses 1:35, 38). The vistas of Moses’ vision were expanded to behold God’s intended purpose for mankind’s existence: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Blessed with this broader vision, this panoramic perspective, this “God’s eye view” of the Lord’s entire plan and purpose, Moses was better prepared to lead covenant Israel from spiritual darkness and Egyptian bondage into light and freedom in the land of their fathers.

Before This World and Beyond This World

President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated, “No more profound truth has been conveyed to us in the restoration than the knowledge of our premortal existence. No other church knows or teaches this truth.”4 Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, we learn that the doctrinal scaffolding of this principle was revealed to Moses when the Lord said, “For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth” (Moses 3:5).

To the spiritual eyes of Moses also came a vision of a premortal council held in heaven, wherein the Father presented the plan of salvation. Jesus Christ was willing to come to earth, give his life for us, and take upon himself our sins while preserving the honor for the Father and the agency of man. Satan’s reaction to this plan was one of rebellion: “Lucifer sought to dethrone God, … and to save all men without reference to their works.”5 The Father chose Jesus Christ. Satan rebelled and “kept not his first estate” (see Moses 4:1–3; Abr. 3:24–28).

As Latter-day Saints, we have learned that it was Jesus Christ in his role as Jehovah who gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the law (see 3 Ne. 15:5). Through the Prophet Joseph Smith it has been made clear that since the Fall of Adam, Jesus Christ is the being from whom revelation is received by prophets.6

The Nature of God

The true nature of God has unfortunately become clouded and confused throughout much of the world because of the creeds of men and misinterpretation of the biblical text. Without the restored light and truth afforded the Saints through the book of Moses, many have made incorrect assumptions as to the nature of God—that God is a formless spirit or that he is without body, parts, or passions. These incorrect perceptions have been perpetuated for centuries when the revelatory correcting tongues of prophets have been silenced due to apostasy.

The Christian world in general interprets Moses’ wording of Genesis 1:26 [Gen. 1:26] as figurative, not literal: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” However, to Moses, the original revelation came with greater clarity: “In the image of his own body, male and female, created he them” (see Moses 6:9, emphasis added). Further clarification of this doctrine was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith with unmistakable plainness: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost … is a personage of Spirit” (D&C 130:22).

The Plan of Salvation

As part of his preparation between his call recorded in Exodus 3 and his leading the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage recorded in Exodus 12, Moses was trained in a vision by the Lord himself. A panoramic overview of the Lord’s entire plan and purpose was beneficial for Moses to have before functioning as the Lord’s servant to deliver his people from bondage. If a person is to make sense of a myriad of disassembled puzzle pieces, a picture of the completed puzzle adds immeasurably in guiding one’s efforts.

He was taught of worlds and the purposes or plan for which they had been made. This plan, revealed to Moses, is variously called the “plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), the “plan of redemption” (Alma 12:32), the “plan of salvation” (Jarom 1:2), and the “plan of mercy” (Alma 42:15).

Unfortunately, the clear picture of the plan of exaltation has been lost from the Bible. The phrase “plan of salvation,” so frequently used in Latter-day Saint vocabulary, is not found in our current Bible.

One of the major contributions restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith is that Moses knew that the entire plan was known even before the world was created. The concept that there would be a creation, a fall, an atoning savior, prophets, dispensations, ordinances, and so on was all known before the world began.7 Unknown to much of the modern world is the fact that all prophets from the time of Adam onward testified of Jesus Christ, his Atonement, and his plan of salvation (see Mosiah 13:33; Jacob 7:11).

Each of the dispensation leaders, including Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Prophet Joseph Smith, had the entire plan of salvation revealed to them (see Alma 12:30–32; D&C 22:1). Part of that plan includes covenants and ordinances that are eternal or everlasting. Hence the term “the new and everlasting covenant” is used—new because it is revealed anew in each dispensation and everlasting because the doctrines and truths that form its foundation are eternal. The central or core doctrine of the plan is the infinite and eternal Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Fall and the Atonement

President Ezra Taft Benson observed: “Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

“No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon mankind.”8

Moses’ account of the Fall as recorded in Genesis 2 and 3 gives a brief account of what took place in Eden almost six millennia ago. Yet from the restored account of Moses and other revelations provided us by Joseph Smith, the answer to why the Fall occurred gives welcome enlightenment. We come to understand more fully the necessity of this central event in the plan of salvation.

In contrast to the Genesis text, the Moses text emphasizes the agency accompanying the Lord’s instruction to Adam and Eve. Unlike other commandments where the Lord forbids certain actions, on this occasion he added, “Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself” (Moses 3:17). If they wanted to remain as they were (i.e., no death, no children, no sorrow, no joy, etc.) they should not partake of a particular fruit. But if they desired to partake, they were free to do so. In this way Adam could use his agency so that “man might be” (2 Ne. 2:25) and have the resultant joy for which the plan was originally intended.

After their transgression, Adam and Eve found themselves in a different world with very different conditions from their previous existence. Procreation, children, aging, pain, sorrow, joy, death, and corruption all attended the telestial world. Although this changed world now included opposition and negative contrasts to their former paradisiacal environment, both Adam and Eve rejoiced realizing the progress this new world would bring:

“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:10–11).

Although the promised consequences resulted from the partaking of the fruit, the book of Moses reveals that a Savior would redeem mankind: “That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, … even so ye 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).

The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that “God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God” (D&C 93:38). The physical death brought about by Adam’s Fall is overcome by the reuniting of the body and spirit, which began with the Resurrection. The spiritual death brought about by Adam’s Fall is overcome by the Atonement and the priesthood ordinances of the gospel and also when all are returned to the presence of God to be judged according to their deeds in the flesh (see Hel. 14:16–17; Alma 42:23; 2 Ne. 2:9–10).

The teachings so prevalent in the world that the results of “Adam’s sin” are incumbent upon his posterity born into this world are also corrected in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of Moses’ writings: “The Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world” (Moses 6:54).

We are still, however, accountable for our own sins, which result in an alienation from God, called spiritual death (see D&C 29:41). The Atonement provides a way back from spiritual death. Moses’ writings teach that the way of redemption from the sins we commit in this fallen state is through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through this process we can be redeemed from our sins and regain God’s presence (see Moses 6:48–62).

The Law Given to Moses

After spending 40 days upon Mount Sinai and receiving instructions from the Lord for his people, Moses returned to a scene of wickedness and idolatry (see Ex. 32:19–28). In response to the Lord’s command to execute judgment on unrepentant Israel, Moses broke the original tablets of stone and returned to the mount to receive further instructions (see JST, Ex. 32:14, Bible appendix). Although Exodus 34 explains the Lord’s directions to Moses to “hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first” (Ex. 34:1), details are absent as to the difference in content between the two sets of tablets. The Prophet Joseph Smith learned that the first set of tablets Moses received contained information on the Melchizedek Priesthood, the Holy Order associated with it, and the ordinances that appertain to it, as well as some material that was retained in the second set of tablets (JST, Ex. 34:1–2, Bible appendix; JST, Deut. 10:2).

In the Doctrine and Covenants we learn that the Lord intended Israel to have the ordinances of the higher priesthood to enable them to enter into his presence. But due to their rebellion, the Lord took the greater priesthood out of their midst:

“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. …

“And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; …

“Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

“But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

“Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also;

“And the lesser priesthood continued, which priesthood holdeth the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel” (D&C 84:19, 21, 23–26).

Under the law of Jesus Christ, Israel was to commune with the Father, with Jehovah as Mediator. As a result of Israel’s unwillingness and unworthiness to see the Lord’s face and enter his rest, Moses then communed with Jehovah in their behalf at their own request (see Ex. 20:18–19).9 The principles operative in the Mosaic law were explained by the prophet Abinadi to the wicked priests of King Noah in about 150 B.C.; these principles provide added understanding as to why the lesser law of carnal commandments was required for Israel. Said Abinadi:

“And now I say unto you that it was expedient that there should be a law given to the children of Israel, yea, even a very strict law; for they were a stiffnecked people, quick to do iniquity, and slow to remember the Lord their God;

“Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.

“But behold, I say unto you, that all these things were types of things to come” (Mosiah 13:29–31).

The Postmortal Ministry of Moses

The Savior promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter as recorded in Matthew 16:16–19 [Matt. 16:16–19], keys that would give Peter authority to “bind” things on earth and have them “bound in heaven.” Six months before Jesus’ Crucifixion he took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain to have these priesthood keys conferred upon them. It was then and there that Moses and Elijah appeared and gave to those Apostles the keys of the kingdom. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith we understand that Moses and Elijah returned as translated beings with bodies of flesh and bone, to confer the priesthood keys to Peter, James, and John. Translated beings are personages of a terrestrial order, preserved for a period from death.10

This same Moses and Elijah, now resurrected (see D&C 133:54–55), also appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple on 3 April 1836. Priesthood keys which they held were once again restored to mortals on earth. Moses conferred upon the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the “keys of the gathering of Israel … and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north,” while Elijah restored the keys of the sealing power (see D&C 110:11–15). Hence, Moses’ ministry did not end in the wilderness as he watched Joshua lead Israel over Jordan. Some have interpreted from Bible texts that Moses died in disgrace; the restored gospel teaches us that he was translated in honor for an important future mission.

In summary, a most significant truth revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that expands our horizons immeasurably is recorded in Moses 6:63 and centers on the Lord Jesus Christ: “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me.”

If we can but comprehend that Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe, is the master teacher, that the universe is his classroom, and that his curriculum is the Atonement and all things pertaining to it, then the rich symbolism of the scriptures can come alive for us. In such a study, Moses’ life and ministry are excellent examples that “all things” testify of Christ. Moses’ life is a type, or symbol, of the Savior’s life, and Moses’ ministry is a symbol of Jesus Christ’s teachings and the plan of salvation, the avenue by which we may return to our Father’s presence.

Mount Sinai as a Pattern for the Tabernacle

When the children of Israel arrived at Mount Sinai, the Lord reminded them, “I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself” (Ex. 19:4). Even though God dwelt in the heavens, he spoke from Mount Sinai, the Mountain of the Lord’s House. He brought them there to make a covenant with them and to create “a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Ex. 19:6).

The tabernacle the Lord commanded Moses to build bears similarity to Mount Sinai (see Heb. 8:5). Both had a three-level structure. First, an altar was constructed at the base of the mountain where all of Israel could sacrifice to the Lord. Similarly, the tabernacle had an outer court where Israel could make their sacrifices at the altar.

The next level was higher up the mountain. There, after their sanctification (see Ex. 24:4–8), Moses took Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders. There they saw and conversed with the “God of Israel” and ate in his presence, even as the priests were only allowed to eat the shewbread while in the Holy Place (see Ex. 24:9–11).

The highest level was the top of the mountain, where only Moses could go and where he received the law (see Ex. 24:2, 12–18). Similarly, the tabernacle contained the Holy of Holies, which represented the presence of the Lord. Only the high priest was allowed to enter these quarters, once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The tablets of the law of Moses were kept in this holy room.

Mount Sinai was the first sanctuary for the children of Israel. It was there that Moses received direction to build the tabernacle, which became a second sanctuary. One can also see that the three levels that comprised both sanctuaries may represent the telestial, terrestrial, and celestial levels in the plan of salvation.

An understanding of temples and the vital work that takes place within them is one of the great blessings enjoyed by Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the purpose for gathering the people of God in any age of the world is “to build unto the Lord a house whereby He could reveal unto His people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation; for there are certain ordinances and principles that, when they are taught and practiced, must be done in a place or house built for that purpose” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 308).


  1. Moses and the exodus pattern became a foreshadowing of the prophet’s role in the Lord’s kingdom. In the latter-day restoration of the gospel, the Prophet Joseph Smith was likened to Moses, and Oliver Cowdery was likened to Aaron (see D&C 28:2–3; see also Moses 1:41; 2 Ne. 3:9). Further, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses—

    “Behold here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church” (D&C 107:91–92).

  2. Short quotations from the JST are in the footnotes of the LDS edition of the King James Version of the Bible. Longer quotations are in the Bible appendix. Some JST passages are quoted from the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. In addition, two references are to the Inspired Version, which contains all of the Prophet’s revisions.

  3. See Mark E. Peterson, Moses, Man of Miracles (1977), 39–40.

  4. Our Father’s Plan (1994), 14.

  5. Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah (1982), 666–67.

  6. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. (1957–66), 3:58.

  7. See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 220.

  8. “The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 85.

  9. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (1954–56), 1:27.

  10. See Teachings, 170–71; see also 3 Ne. 28.

  • Todd B. Parker is an associate professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.

  • Robert Norman is an instructor at the Salt Lake University Institute of Religion.

“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 1:36). (Illustrated by Joseph Brickey.)

Moses Parting the Red Sea, by Robert T. Barrett

Moses and the Tablets, by Jerry Harston

Moses and the Brass Serpent, by Judith Mehr

Though the Israelite spies brought back grapes, pomegranates, and figs, they gave “an evil report of the land,” telling only of the strength of its inhabitants (Num. 13:32).

“And the Lord spake unto Moses … : Get thee up … and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession” (Deut. 32:48–49).

Moses Calls Aaron to the Ministry, by Harry Anderson

Illustrated by Jerry Thompson

As his ministry ended, Moses testified to Israel, “I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; … I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply” (Deut. 30:15–16). (Moses Reading the Book of the Covenant, by Clark Kelley Price.)