“Moses 5:1–15,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2017)
“Moses 5:1–15,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual
The significance of Moses 5:1–2 is profound in light of the many attacks and challenges being made today regarding marriage and family relationships. In their proclamation on the family, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:
“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. …
“… Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129; italics added).
“The word ‘firstlings’ puts certain qualifications and restrictions and even determines the quality of faith that is used in offering the sacrifice. ‘Firstling’ does not necessarily denote the oldest of the flock, but the firstborn of its particular mother. A ‘firstling’ is a male, the ‘first to open the matrix’ of its mother (Ex. 13:2; 34:19). Each mother in her lifetime could produce only one firstling, but a flock of sheep could have several firstlings born each year. In order to know which lambs were acceptable for sacrifice, the owner would have to know his flock. Some notice would have to be made of mothers and of young. Otherwise, how could anyone know which mothers had produced offspring for the first time? There is no way that a man, Adam or anyone else, could know which males were firstlings unless a record and some identification of mothers and offspring were kept. This requirement removes the element of chance and of haphazard obedience, or sometime obedience. Not only is one’s faith shown in the willingness to offer a sacrifice but also in the care required and the preparation needed beforehand in making the selection of the proper animal.
“This particular passage of scripture illustrates the concept that the commandments of God require the intelligent and deliberate attention of those who are seeking salvation. It gives a reason for Paul’s observation that ‘without faith it is impossible to please’ God (Heb. 11:6). For without faith one would not have kept a record and marked (at least mentally) which animals were proper for sacrifice” (Robert J. Matthews, “The Doctrine of the Atonement,” in Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Volume Two: The Pearl of Great Price , 118–19).
President David O. McKay (1873–1970) said: “Let us never lose sight of the principles of obedience. Obedience is heaven’s first law” (Gospel Ideals , 484). President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught, “The great test of life is obedience to God” (“The Great Commandment—Love the Lord,” Ensign, May 1988, 6).
Elder Henry D. Taylor (1903–87) of the Seventy said: “I like the beautiful lesson taught and the impressive example set by our first parent, Father Adam. He was commanded by the Lord to offer the firstlings of his flocks as a sacrifice. He did not know the reason for the request, but without hesitation he was obedient to the commandment: ‘And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?’ Adam responded with this magnificent, trusting reply: ‘I know not, save the Lord commanded me.’ (Moses 5:5–6.) To Adam it was not a matter of blind obedience, but rather it displayed his complete and unwavering confidence and faith in the word and instruction from the Lord” (“Faith,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 44).
The elements of animal sacrifice pointed to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “From Adam to Moses, and from Moses to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, either as part of the gospel or of the Mosaic law, as the cases might be, all of the saints offered sacrifices in similitude of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. … For a pastoral people whose lives depended on their flocks and herds, there could have been no better similitude than this” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 114–15).
“One of the most important concepts of [Moses 5:8] is the clear declaration that Adam was to do all that he did ‘in the name of the Son,’ to repent, and ‘call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.’ This is the same doctrine taught in many other passages, of which the following are a few: [Acts 4:12; 2 Nephi 31:20–21; Mosiah 3:17; 4:8; D&C 18:23–24; Moses 6:52].
“Thus we see that this most fundamental of all doctrines—that there is only one plan of salvation, with only one Savior—was taught to Adam right from the start. These passages also specify that there were no alternate plans nor alternate saviors” (Matthews, in Studies in Scripture, Volume Two, 119–20).
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) said: “Some say the kingdom of God was not set up on the earth until the day of Pentecost, and that John [the Baptist] did not preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; but I say, in the name of the Lord, that the kingdom of God was set up on the earth from the days of Adam to the present time. Whenever there has been a righteous man on earth unto whom God revealed His word and gave power and authority to administer in His name” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 82).
Adam knew that “in the flesh,” or as a resurrected being, he would see God. Eve testified of the joy of their redemption. She knew that through Jesus Christ’s Atonement they would receive eternal life if they remained obedient.
For more on joy, see 2 Nephi 2:25. For more on resurrection, see 2 Nephi 9:6–14. The benefits Adam and Eve received because of their Fall and the Atonement of Jesus Christ are summarized in 2 Nephi 2:22–28.
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “Whenever the God of Heaven establishes by revelation his design, Satan always comes among men to pervert the doctrine, saying, ‘Believe it not.’ He often establishes a counterfeit system, designed to deceive the children of men” (“A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion” [Brigham Young University devotional, Apr. 12, 1977], 3, speeches.byu.edu).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “After the fall of Adam, man became carnal, sensual, and devilish by nature; he became fallen man. (Moses 5:13; 6:49; Mosiah 16:1–4; Alma 42:10; D&C 20:20.) All accountable persons on earth inherit this fallen state, this probationary state, this state in which worldly things seem desirable to the carnal nature. Being in this state, ‘the natural man is an enemy to God,’ until he conforms to the great plan of redemption and is born again to righteousness. (Mosiah 3:19.) Thus all mankind would remain lost and fallen forever were it not for the atonement of our Lord. (Alma 42:4–14.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 267–68).
The following quotations from Elder Bruce R. McConkie help us understand the terms carnal, sensual, and devilish:
“In this fallen state [all men] are subject to the lusts, passions, and appetites of the flesh. They are spiritually dead, having been cast out of the presence of the Lord; and thus ‘they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God.’ They are in a ‘carnal state’ (Alma 41:10–11); they are of the world. Carnality connotes worldliness, sensuality, and inclination to gratify the flesh” (Mormon Doctrine, 113).
“That which is sensual is carnal and base; it relates to the body rather than the Spirit. Thus sensuality embraces free indulgence in sensual, fleshly pleasures—lewdness, licentiousness, lasciviousness. Since the fall, men in their natural state have been carnal, sensual, and devilish” (Mormon Doctrine, 702).
“Any persons over whom the devil has power, who subject themselves to him, who submit to his enticements (following the carnal and sensual allurements of the world), are devilish” (Mormon Doctrine, 195).