“Moses 5:16–59,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2017)
“Moses 5:16–59,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught:
“Cain had the great honor of being Adam’s son, and he, too, was privileged with the same blessings as his father. What a mighty man he could have been! How his name might have stood out with excellent luster as that of one of the valiant sons of God! How he might have been honored to the latest generation! But he would have none of it!
“Cain’s great sin was not committed in ignorance. We have every reason to believe that he had the privilege of standing in the presence of messengers from heaven. In fact the scriptures infer that he was blessed by communication with the Father and was instructed by messengers from his presence. No doubt he held the Priesthood; otherwise his sin could not make of him Perdition. He sinned against the light. And this he did, so we are told, because he loved Satan more than he loved God.
“From the Bible one might infer that Cain was the first born child of Adam, but the Bible gives only a meager history. In the Book of Moses we obtain a more extended view and a better insight into conditions in that early day. Adam and Eve were the parents of numerous children, sons and daughters, even before Cain and Abel were born, as we gain the information from that story” (The Way to Perfection, 6th ed. , 97–98).
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) taught that Abel “magnified the priesthood which was conferred upon him and died a righteous man, and therefore has become … an angel of God by receiving his body from the dead, therefore holding still the keys of his dispensation” (“Instruction on Priesthood, 5 October 1840,” 4–5, josephsmithpapers.org).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith: he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man, for this was the plan of redemption, and without the shedding of blood was no remission. And as the sacrifice was instituted for a type by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared, to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 48).
One meaning of countenance is the expression on a person’s face, which may reveal the mood, emotion, or feelings of the heart.
President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) taught: “God has given to all men an agency and has granted to us the privilege to serve him or serve him not, to do that which is right or that which is wrong, and this privilege is given to all men irrespective of creed, color or condition. The wealthy have this agency, the poor have this agency, and no man is deprived by any power of God from exercising it in the fullest and in the freest manner. This agency has been given to all. This is a blessing that God has bestowed upon the world of mankind, upon all his children alike. But he will hold us strictly to an account for the use that we make of this agency, and as it was said of Cain, so it will be said of us; ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door’ (Gen. 4:7). There are, however, certain blessings which God bestows upon the children of men only upon the condition of the rightful exercise of this agency” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 49).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “all beings who have bodies have power over those who have not” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 211). Because Cain came to earth and received a body, he has greater power than Satan. Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that Cain “will rule over Satan himself when the devil and his angels are cast out everlastingly” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 658).
Perdition means “a perishing destruction” or “lost.” Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Two persons, Cain and Satan, have received the awesome name-title Perdition. The name signifies that they have no hope whatever of any degree of salvation, that they have wholly given themselves up to iniquity, and that any feeling of righteousness whatever has been destroyed in their breasts” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 566; see also D&C 76:30–38, 43–49).
Cain was the first man on earth to enter into a covenant with Satan and to use covenants to prevent others from disclosing sinful acts. However, he was not the last. In the scriptures this kind of covenant relationship is called a secret combination. For more on the history of secret combinations, see Helaman 6:21–30; Ether 8:13–25.
In 1885 the First Presidency made the following statement, speaking about the righteous who are afflicted by the wicked: “For a wise purpose in [God’s] providence He permits the wicked, in the exercise of their agency, from time to time to afflict His followers. Since the days of our father Adam this has always been the case, and it will continue to be, so long as Satan has any power over the hearts of the children of men” (in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 3:5; see also Alma 14:8–11).
Cain’s rejoicing is both ironic and tragic, manifesting how complete his rebellion against God had become. Did he think he was free from future work? (see Moses 4:23–31). Did he consider himself free from the righteous example of Abel? (see 1 John 3:12). Or did he feel he was free because he was rich? The scriptures make it clear that instead of true freedom, Cain was in total bondage and damnation (see 2 Nephi 2:27).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“Are we our brothers’ keepers? In other words, are we responsible to look after the well-being of our neighbors as we seek to earn our daily bread? The Savior’s Golden Rule says we are. Satan says we are not.
“Tempted of Satan, some have followed the example of Cain. They covet property and then sin to obtain it. The sin may be murder, robbery, or theft. It may be fraud or deception. It may even be some clever but legal manipulation of facts or influence to take unfair advantage of another. Always the excuse is the same: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” (“Brother’s Keeper,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 20).
Part of the curse Cain received for killing Abel was that the ground would no longer “yield unto [Cain] her strength,” and that he would be a “fugitive and a vagabond” (Moses 5:37). A fugitive is a person who is running from the law, and a vagabond is someone who has no home. Cain was also driven out “from the face of the Lord” (Moses 5:39). The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The power, glory and blessings of the Priesthood could not continue with those who received ordination only as their righteousness continued; for Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice, but not offering it in righteousness, was cursed. It signifies, then, that the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed; otherwise their Priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 108).
It must be noted that the mark that was set upon Cain was not the same thing as the curse that he received. The mark was to distinguish him as the one who had been cursed by the Lord. It was placed upon Cain so that no one finding him would kill him.
The sons of men were the wicked, in contrast to the sons of God, who were the covenant followers of God (see also Moses 8:13–15).
After the Fall, God revealed the plan of salvation to Adam and Eve so they would know how to return to His presence and have eternal life. Moses 5:4–9 explains that God gave the gospel to Adam and Eve by His own voice, through angels, and by the Holy Ghost. (See also Alma 12:27–33.)
In Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language (which reflects usage in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s day) the word confirmed is defined as “made more firm; strengthened; or established.” President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into [God’s] presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality” (“Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 24).
President Wilford Woodruff (1807–98) said: “Now, any man acquainted with the Scriptures can clearly understand that there is but one true Gospel. There never was but one Gospel. Whenever that Gospel has been upon the earth it has been the same in every dispensation. The ordinances of the Gospel have never been changed from the days of Adam to the present time, and never will be to the end of time. While there were many sects and parties in existence in the early times, Jesus gave his disciples to understand that there was but one Gospel. He told them what it was. He declared unto them its ordinances” (“Discourse,” Deseret News, Sept. 19, 1883, 546).