“Moses 1:1–11,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2017)
“Moses 1:1–11,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual
Moses was able to endure God’s presence because “the glory of God was upon Moses” (Moses 1:2); he was transfigured (see verse 11; see also D&C 67:10–12). Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote:
“Transfiguration is a special change in appearance and nature which is wrought upon a person or thing by the power of God. This divine transformation is from a lower to a higher state; it results in a more exalted, impressive, and glorious condition. …
“By the power of the Holy Ghost many prophets have been transfigured so as to stand in the presence of God and view the visions of eternity” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 803).
The personage who spoke to Moses was the premortal Jesus Christ, who is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament. Being one with Heavenly Father, Jesus at times speaks as if He were God the Father (see Moses 1:6). This is known as divine investiture, whereby Christ is invested with authority to speak for and in behalf of the Father (see also D&C 29:1, 42, 46).
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) wrote: “All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. … He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the Law of Moses. The Father has never dealt with man directly and personally since the fall, and he has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie , 1:27).
All people on earth are spirit children of God, our Heavenly Father. In a 1909 discourse titled “The Origin of Man,” the First Presidency wrote: “Man is the child of God, formed in the divine image and endowed with divine attributes, and even as the infant son of an earthly father and mother is capable in due time of becoming a man, so the undeveloped offspring of celestial parentage is capable, by experience through ages and aeons, of evolving into a God” (Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 81; see also Acts 17:27–28; Hebrews 12:9; Marion G. Romney, Learning for the Eternities, comp. George J. Romney , 31–32).
The phrase “there is no God beside me” should not be interpreted to mean that mankind does not have the eternal potential to become like God. In a 1912 discourse on Moses 1:6, the First Presidency gave the historical context to help us understand this phrase:
“Moses was reared in an atmosphere of idolatry. There were numerous deities [gods] among the Egyptians. In commencing the work which the Lord said he had for Moses to do, it was necessary to center his mind and faith upon God the Eternal Father as the only Being to worship. …
“… The sole object of worship, God the Eternal Father, stands supreme and alone, and it is in the name of the Only Begotten that we thus approach Him, as Christ taught always” (“Only One God to Worship,” Improvement Era, Apr. 1912, 484–85).
President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “The Father is the one true God. This thing is certain: no one will ever ascend above Him; no one will ever replace Him. Nor will anything ever change the relationship that we, His literal offspring, have with Him. He is Elohim, the Father. He is God. Of Him there is only one. We revere our Father and our God; we worship Him” (“The Pattern of Our Parentage,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 69).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “God does not live in the dimension of time as do we. We are not only hampered by our finiteness (experiential and intellectual), but also by being in the dimension of time. Moreover, God, since ‘all things are present’ with him, is not simply predicting based solely on the past. In ways that are not clear to us, he sees rather than foresees the future, because all things are at once present before him” (Things As They Really Are , 29; see also Alma 40:8; D&C 130:4–7).
Concerning God’s knowledge of all things, Lectures on Faith states: “Without the knowledge of all things God would not be able to save any portion of his creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which he has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables him to give that understanding to his creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him” (Lectures on Faith , 51–52; see also D&C 88:41; 93:8–36).
God’s foreknowledge of all things does not hinder or limit our freedom to choose good or evil. Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote: “Many people have been led to regard this foreknowledge of God as a predestination whereby souls are designated for glory or condemnation even before their birth in the flesh, and irrespective of individual merit or demerit. This heretical doctrine seeks to rob Deity of mercy, justice, and love; it would make God appear capricious and selfish, directing and creating all things solely for His own glory, caring not for the suffering of His victims. How dreadful, how inconsistent is such an idea of God! It leads to the absurd conclusion that the mere knowledge of coming events must act as a determining influence in bringing about those occurrences. God’s knowledge of spiritual and of human nature enables Him to conclude with certainty as to the actions of any of His children under given conditions; yet that knowledge is not of compelling force upon the creature” (The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. , 191).
Moses had lived for forty years as a royal prince of Egypt and was revered as a renowned military leader. After having experienced the power and glory of God, however, he humbly acknowledged that in comparison, “man is nothing.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote that Moses’s statement “surely was not a reflection on man, ‘God’s greatest miracle,’ but a placing of man in the vast perspective of God’s creations and a realizing, even so, that we are God’s exclusive work and his greatest glory” (Notwithstanding My Weakness , 75). Latter-day scripture affirms the truth that with and through God man can fulfill his divine potential to truly become even as God (see D&C 76:55–59, 92–95; 88:107; 121:29; 132:20).