“The Book of Moses,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2000), 3–27
“The Book of Moses,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, 3–27
Soon after the Church was organized on 6 April 1830, the Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith to begin an inspired translation, or revision, of the King James Version of the Bible. Today this inspired revision, which the Prophet worked on until the time of his death, is known as the Joseph Smith Translation. The Prophet Joseph Smith restored to the Bible “many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord [which were] taken away” (1 Nephi 13:26; see also 1 Nephi 13:39–40). Between June 1830 and February 1831, the Prophet completed Genesis 1:1 through 6:13, which is now contained in the Pearl of Great Price as Moses 1–8.
The book of Moses may be divided into two major sections: Moses 1, which relates experiences from Moses’ life that are not found in the book of Genesis, and Moses 2–8, which contains the inspired and restored account of events described in the Bible, including the Creation of the earth; the Fall of Adam and Eve; the story of Cain and Abel; the ministry, teachings, and visions of Enoch; and the story of Noah up to the time the Lord decreed the destruction of all flesh by the Flood. At this point, one must return to Genesis 6:14 for a continuation of the scriptural record.
In an introduction to Moses 1, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote: “The Lord, who well knew our infantile and delicate situation, vouchsafed for us a supply of strength, and granted us ‘line upon line of knowledge—here a little and there a little,’ of which the following was a precious morsel” (History of the Church, 1:98).
Moses was able to endure God’s presence because “the glory of God was upon Moses” (Moses 1:2); he was transfigured (see v. 11; see also D&C 67:10–12). Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member 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 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, 3 vols. [1954–56], 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, George J. Romney, comp. , 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).
Elder Boyd K. Packer, a member 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” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 85; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 69).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member 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, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “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, who was a member 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’ 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).
Satan’s arrogant claim exposes his basic motivation: to deceive mankind into worshiping him so that they, like him, will be miserable forever (see 2 Nephi 2:17–18; Moses 4:1–4). It also reveals Satan’s basic objectives: to seek Heavenly Father’s power and glory and to supplant and usurp the role of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Satan seeks to displace the Father Himself.
When he felt afraid in Satan’s presence, Moses saw the bitterness of hell. Being in constant rebellion toward God truly is a living hell, and that is the way Satan wants us to live. Yet, there is no need to fear if we are faithful, for we know that the wisdom of God is greater than the cunning of the devil (see D&C 10:43). We also know that Satan will eventually be bound (see D&C 45:55; 88:110), will tremble in fear (see D&C 35:24), and will be cast out from this earth and from among its people (see D&C 76:33, 36). We can, even now, bind Satan through righteous living, so that he has no power over us (see 1 Nephi 22:26).
Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave the following suggestion on how to resist Satan’s temptations:
“The importance of not accommodating temptation in the least degree is underlined by the Savior’s example. Did not he recognize the danger when he was on the mountain with his fallen brother, Lucifer, being sorely tempted by that master tempter? [see Matthew 4:1–11.] He could have opened the door and flirted with danger by saying, ‘All right, Satan, I’ll listen to your proposition. I need not succumb, I need not yield, I need not accept—but I’ll listen.’
“Christ did not so rationalize. He positively and promptly closed the discussion, and commanded: ‘Get thee hence, Satan,’ meaning, likely, ‘Get out of my sight—get out of my presence—I will not listen—I will have nothing to do with you.’ Then, we read, ‘the devil leaveth him.’
“This is our proper pattern, if we would prevent sin rather than be faced with the much more difficult task of curing it. As I study the story of the Redeemer and his temptations, I am certain he spent his energies fortifying himself against temptation rather than battling with it to conquer it” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 216–17).
From the time of Adam, the Holy Ghost has been on the earth inspiring and testifying to God’s children. President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The fact is all the prophets had the Holy Ghost. They were led and directed by him. And without this power they would not have been prophets. Peter said that prophecy itself ‘came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’ [2 Peter 1:21]. The Book of Moses, which is the original and perfect record of a part of Genesis, speaks of the Holy Ghost; so do the Nephite prophets, including those who lived in the era before Christ” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:46–47).
President Brigham Young said: “How many earths are there? I observed this morning that you may take the particles of matter composing this earth, and if they could be enumerated they would only be a beginning to the number of the creations of God; and they are continually coming into existence, and undergoing changes and passing through the same experience that we are passing through” (in Journal of Discourses, 14:71).
Elder Marion G. Romney, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught:
“Jesus Christ, in the sense of being its Creator and Redeemer, is the Lord of the whole universe. Except for his mortal ministry accomplished on this earth, his service and relationship to other worlds and their inhabitants are the same as his service and relationship to this earth and its inhabitants. …
“… In short, Jesus Christ, through whom God created the universe, was chosen to put into operation throughout the universe Elohim’s great plan ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man’—the gospel of Jesus Christ—the only way whereby man can obtain eternal life” (“Jesus Christ: Lord of the Universe,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1968, 46, 48; see also D&C 76:19–24).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Immortality is to live forever in the resurrected state with body and spirit inseparably connected” (Mormon Doctrine, 376). All of God’s children who obtain mortal bodies will eventually be resurrected and obtain immortal physical bodies (see 1 Corinthians 15:22).
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Eternal life is to have the kind of life that God has. All those who become servants will have immortality, but they who become sons and daughters of God will have the additional gift of eternal life, which is the greatest gift of God” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:8). President Spencer W. Kimball taught that “eternal life is to gain exaltation in the highest heaven” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1978, 109; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, 72).
After quoting Moses 1:39, President Marion G. Romney, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, said: “Hence, we see the complete unselfishness of our Father in Heaven. His whole work and glory is to bring eternal life and happiness to his children. Should not our whole purpose in this life, therefore, be made up of righteous service one to another? If not, how can we ever hope to be as he is?” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 132; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 93).
In addition to his calling to free the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, Moses was given the assignment to write about the events that occurred from the Creation of the earth until the final days of his own mission. The first five books of the Bible contain the writings of Moses. However, some of the truths Moses recorded in those five books were removed from the Bible by wicked men who altered the biblical text (see 1 Nephi 13:24–28; Moses 1:23). By revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith restored many truths that were lost (see 2 Nephi 3:6–15; Moses 1:41).
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The account of the creation of the earth as given in Genesis, and the Book of Moses, and as given in the temple, is the creation of the physical earth, and of physical animals and plants” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:75).
Jesus Christ created the heaven and the earth under the Father’s direction (see Moses 1:31–33; 2:1). Others were privileged to assist Him in the Creation, including Michael, or Adam. President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “It is true that Adam helped to form this earth. He labored with our Savior Jesus Christ. I have a strong view or conviction that there were others also who assisted them. Perhaps Noah and Enoch; and why not Joseph Smith, and those who were appointed to be rulers before the earth was formed?” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:74–75).
Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “The earth came into being by the will and power of God. … Chance is ruled out. Latter-day Saints believe that the earth and the heavens and the manifold operations within the universe are products of intelligent action, of the mind of God” (Evidences and Reconciliations, arr. G. Homer Durham, , 150).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
“When a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force. It is by words, instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith. God said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’ … And the Saviour says: ‘If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, say to this mountain, “Remove,” and it will remove; or say to that sycamore tree, “Be ye plucked up, and planted in the midst of the sea,” and it shall obey you.’ Faith, then, works by words; and with these its mightiest works have been, and will be, performed. …
“… The whole visible creation, as it now exists, is the effect of faith. It was faith by which it was framed, and it is by the power of faith that it continues in its organized form, and by which the planets move round their orbits and sparkle forth their glory” (Lectures on Faith, 72–73; see also Matthew 17:20; Jacob 4:6, 9).
Elder John Taylor, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained that God “caused light to shine upon [the earth] before the sun appeared in the firmament [see Moses 2:3–4, 14–19]; for God is light, and in him there is no darkness. He is the light of the sun and the power thereof by which it was made; he is also the light of the moon and the power by which it was made; he is the light of the stars and the power by which they are made” (in Journal of Discourses, 18:327; see also Revelation 21:23–25; D&C 88:7–13).
President Brigham Young, discussing the six days of creation, said that six days “is a mere term, but it matters not whether it took six days, six months, six years, or six thousand years. The creation occupied certain periods of time. We are not authorized to say what the duration of these days was, whether Moses penned these words as we have them, or whether the translators of the Bible have given the words their intended meaning. However, God created the world. God brought forth material out of which he formed this little terra firma upon which we roam. How long had this material been in existence? Forever and forever, in some shape, in some condition” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe , 100; see also Alma 40:8)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that a day, in the Creation accounts, “is a specified time period; it is an age, an eon, a division of eternity; it is the time between two identifiable events. And each day, of whatever length, has the duration needed for its purposes. …
“There is no revealed recitation specifying that each of the ‘six days’ involved in the Creation was of the same duration” (“Christ and the Creation,” Ensign, June 1982, 11).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “‘The waters’ were ‘divided’ between the surface of the earth and the atmospheric heavens that surround it. A ‘firmament’ or an ‘expanse’ called ‘Heaven’ was created to divide ‘the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse.’ Thus, as the creative events unfold, provision seems to be made for clouds and rain and storms to give life to that which will yet grow and dwell upon the earth. (See Moses 2:6–8; Abr. 4:6–8.)” (Ensign, June 1982, 11).
Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “No lesson is more manifest in nature than that all living things do as the Lord commanded in the Creation. They reproduce ‘after their own kind.’ (See Moses 2:12, 24.) They follow the pattern of their parentage. … A bird will not become an animal nor a fish. A mammal will not beget reptiles, nor ‘do men gather … figs of thistles’ (Matthew 7:16)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 83; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 67).
Modern revelation declares that Heavenly Father “has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (D&C 130:22). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts Genesis 1:26 and Moses 2:26 literally. As children of our Heavenly Father, our physical bodies and our spirit bodies are in His image.
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have affirmed: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
An analysis of the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:28 can help us better understand God’s instructions to the man and woman when He said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” The word translated “fruitful” in this verse is parah (paw-raw) in Hebrew and means “to increase, bear, or bring fruit.” The word translated “multiply” is rabah (raw-baw) and means “to become many.” The Hebrew word male (maw-lay) is here translated “replenish” and means “to fill, or be full.” The Lord is telling men and women to bring forth children (multiply, be fruitful).
In 1942 the First Presidency taught: “The Lord has told us that it is the duty of every husband and wife to obey the command given to Adam to multiply and replenish the earth, so that the legions of choice spirits waiting for their tabernacles of flesh may come here and move forward under God’s great design to become perfect souls, for without these fleshly tabernacles they cannot progress to their God-planned destiny. Thus, every husband and wife should become a father and mother in Israel to children born under the holy, eternal covenant” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1942, 12).
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote that to have “dominion” means to have responsibility (see The Way to Perfection, 6th ed. , 221). To have dominion over all living things is a sacred responsibility and should not be misused (see D&C 49:19–21; 59:17–20; 104:13–18; 121:39–46).
Elder Sterling W. Sill, then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “One of the most inspiring messages in all sacred scripture is the story of the sixth day of creation when God made man in his own image. He also endowed him with a set of his own attributes. Then, as the very climax of creation, God gave man dominion over everything upon the earth, including himself. The dictionary says that ‘dominion’ means control or the power to govern. The most important part of the dominion given to man was self-dominion” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 77–78).
Some of the significant events that occurred in the premortal existence were:
Those who chose to follow Heavenly Father’s plan chose to follow Christ and continued to grow and progress; some of them participated in the Creation of the earth (see D&C 138:55–56; Abraham 3:22–24; 4:1).
A paradisical earth was created and immortal, paradisical bodies were prepared for Adam and Eve, the first of all of God’s spirit sons and daughters to come to this earth.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 365).
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
“The Lord informed Abraham that he had chosen rulers from among the intelligences that were organized, to be given in various capacities down the ages; and Abraham was one of these who was so chosen [see Abraham 3:22–23].
“It is reasonable to believe that in the beginning, before the earth was prepared, the Lord would have all things organized from the beginning to the end of time. It is written in the scriptures: ‘Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them.’ This is equivalent to the Lord’s saying that everything was in preparation to be placed on the earth in its due course when mankind should be placed upon it” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp., Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 5:182).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:
“The Sabbath was blessed and sanctified as a holy day, a day of rest (Genesis 2:3; Moses 3:3; Exodus 20:9–11). But this sanctification and commandment of rest was for a purpose—not that man should refrain from work in order to pursue his own pleasure, but that man should serve God and worship him. …
“President Spencer W. Kimball put our teaching on Sabbath observance in a nutshell when he suggested that we ‘measure each Sabbath activity by the yardstick of worshipfulness’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Edward L. Kimball, ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], p. 219)” (Pure In Heart , 27–29; see also Isaiah 58:13–14; JST, Mark 2:26–27; and D&C 59:9).
The Hebrew word for “generations” is towldah (to-led-aw), which in this verse simply means “accounting” or “story.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
“There is no account of the creation of man or other forms of life when they were created as spirits. There is just the simple statement that they were so created before the physical creation. The statements in Moses 3:5 and Genesis 2:5 are interpolations [parenthetical explanations] thrown into the account of the physical creation, explaining that all things were first created in the spirit existence in heaven before they were placed upon this earth.
“We were all created untold ages before we were placed on this earth. We discover from Abraham 3:22–28, that it was before the earth was formed that the plan of salvation was presented to the spirits, or ‘intelligences.’ This being true, then man, animals and plants were not created in the spirit at the time of the creation of the earth, but long before” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:75–76).
In 1925 the First Presidency taught: “Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal body to undergo an experience in mortality” (“‘Mormon’ View of Evolution,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1925, 1090; see also D&C 77:2).
President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Man became a living soul—mankind, male and female. The Creators breathed into their nostrils the breath of life and man and woman became living souls. We don’t know exactly how their coming into this world happened, and when we’re able to understand it the Lord will tell us” (“The Blessing and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 72).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Those natural elements that make up the physical earth are sometimes referred to in the scriptures as dust. Thus Adam was created from the dust of the ground meaning that the physical body which he received was created from the elements of the earth. (Gen. 2:7; Moses 3:7; Abra. 5:7; D&C 77:12.) Similarly all men are created from the dust of the earth; that is, the elements organized into a mortal body are assembled together through the birth process (Moses 6:69)” (Mormon Doctrine, 209).
In the physical creation, man became a “living soul” (see Moses 2:26–27; see also D&C 88:15). This means his spirit body gained a physical body of flesh and bones. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that the bodies of Adam and Eve were at first “quickened [made alive] by spirit and not by blood. … After the fall, which came by a transgression of the law under which Adam was living, the forbidden fruit had the power to create blood and change his nature and mortality took the place of immortality, and all things, partaking of the change, became mortal” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:77). Thus, in the Fall, Adam and Eve became the first beings upon the earth who were mortal flesh, or subject to death.
In 1909 the First Presidency stated: “It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was ‘the first man of all men’ (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race” (“The Origin of Man,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, 80).
President Brigham Young taught: “In the beginning, after this earth was prepared for man, the Lord commenced his work upon what is now called the American continent, where the Garden of Eden was made” (Discourses of Brigham Young, 102).
President Heber C. Kimball, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, said: “The spot chosen for the garden of Eden was Jackson County, in the State of Missouri, where [the city of] Independence now stands; it was occupied in the morn of creation by Adam” (in Journal of Discourses, 10:235).
Moses 3:9 indicates that “every tree … became also a living soul.” Man, animals, and birds “were also living souls” (see Moses 3:7, 19). Doctrine and Covenants 88:15 teaches that a soul is a spirit and a body combined. On the subject of living things having souls, President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The idea prevails in general, I believe, in the religious world where the gospel truth is misunderstood, that man is the only being on the earth that has what is called a soul or a spirit. We know this is not the case, for the Lord has said that not only has man a spirit, and is thereby a living soul, but likewise the beasts of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea have spirits, and hence are living souls” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:63).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “The scriptures set forth that there were in the Garden of Eden two trees. One was the tree of life, which figuratively refers to eternal life; the other was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which figuratively refers to how and why and in what manner mortality and all that appertains to it came into being” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith , 86).
When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, He commanded him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He also told Adam that he could choose for himself, “for it [agency] is given unto thee” (Moses 3:17). But if Adam ate it, he would “surely die.” President David O. McKay explained that to man “is given a special endowment not bestowed upon any other living thing. When the Creator ‘breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul,’ God gave him the power of choice. ([Genesis] 2:7.) Only to the human being did the Creator say: ‘… thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee. …’ (Moses 3:17.) As God intended man to become as [H]e, it was necessary that He should first make him free.
“Thus man was endowed with the greatest blessing that can be given to mortal beings—the gift of free agency. Without this divine power to choose, humanity cannot progress” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 5; see also 2 Nephi 2:11–16).
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Now this is the way I interpret [Moses 3:16–17]: The Lord said to Adam, here is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you want to stay here, then you cannot eat of that fruit. If you want to stay here, then I forbid you to eat it. But you may act for yourself, and you may eat of it if you want to. And if you eat it, you will die” (“Fall—Atonement—Resurrection—Sacrament,” in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. , 124).
In their proclamation on the family, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared: “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102; see also Hebrews 13:4; D&C 49:15). A fullness of joy in this life and the highest degree of exaltation in the celestial kingdom are obtained by entering into the new and eternal covenant of marriage (see 1 Corinthians 11:11; D&C 131:1–4; see also Boyd K. Packer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 27–31; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 21–24). God joined Adam and Eve together in marriage before the Fall. President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “Marriage as established in the beginning was an eternal covenant. The first man and the first woman were not married until death should part them, for at that time death had not come into the world. The ceremony on that occasion was performed by the Eternal Father himself whose work endures forever. It is the will of the Lord that all marriages should be of like character, and in becoming ‘one flesh’ the man and the woman are to continue in the married status, according to the Lord’s plan, throughout all eternity as well as in this mortal life” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:71).
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in their proclamation on the family, taught: “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, Nov. 1995, 102).
President Howard W. Hunter said the following about the relationship between a husband and wife: “A man who holds the priesthood accepts his wife as a partner in the leadership of the home and family with full knowledge of and full participation in all decisions relating thereto. … The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal)—that is, a companion equal and necessary in full partnership” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 68; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 50–51).
God gave Adam dominion over all living things (see Moses 2:26–28). As an example of his righteous dominion, Adam named all of the animals, male and female. Unlike the animals he named, Adam did not have a companion.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that Eve was not literally created from Adam’s rib. He said: “The story of the rib, of course, is figurative” (“The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 71).
The word cleave means to be closely united. Adam and Eve were commanded to be “one flesh,” meaning to be one mentally, socially, sexually, and spiritually. This oneness was a command with which they could not fully comply until after the Fall. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained:
“Human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God. From the Garden of Eden onward, marriage was intended to mean the complete merger of a man and a woman—their hearts, hopes, lives, love, family, future, everything. Adam said of Eve that she was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and that they were to be ‘one flesh’ in their life together [see Genesis 2:23–24]. This is a union of such completeness that we use the word seal to convey its eternal promise. The Prophet Joseph Smith once said we perhaps could render such a sacred bond as being ‘welded’ [see D&C 128:18] one to another.
“But such a total union, such an unyielding commitment between a man and a woman, can only come with the proximity and permanence afforded in a marriage covenant, with solemn promises and the pledge of all they possess—their very hearts and minds, all their days and all their dreams” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 100; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 76).
Referring to the charge for a man to leave his parents and cleave to his wife, President Spencer W. Kimball said: “Do you note that? She, the woman, occupies the first place. She is preeminent, even above the parents who are so dear to all of us. Even the children must take their proper but significant place” (Ensign, Mar. 1976, 72).
Adam and Eve were innocent in the Garden of Eden, not knowing good and evil and not feeling any shame or embarrassment over their nakedness. These are emotions that came after the Fall. Adam and Eve were much like little children who are naturally naive and trusting and lacking self-consciousness and knowledge of good and evil because they are innocent.
This phrase refers to a previous confrontation Moses had with Satan (see Moses 1:12–22). Moses had commanded Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ, to depart.
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “In the former [premortal] life we were spirits. In order that we should advance and eventually gain the goal of perfection, it was made known that we would receive tabernacles of flesh and bones and have to pass through mortality where we would be tried and proved to see if we, by trial, would prepare ourselves for exaltation.” He further stated that when our Heavenly Father presented His plan to His children in a council in heaven, “the thought of passing through mortality and partaking of all the vicissitudes [hardships] of earth life in which they would gain experiences through suffering, pain, sorrow, temptation and affliction, as well as the pleasures of life in this mundane existence, and then, if faithful, passing on through the resurrection to eternal life in the kingdom of God, to be like him, filled them with the spirit of rejoicing, and they ‘shouted for joy’ [Job 38:1–7]” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:57–58).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said that it is “extremely important to get straight what happened in that premortal council. It was not an unstructured meeting, nor was it a discussion between plans, nor an idea-producing session, as to how to formulate the plan for salvation and carry it out. Our Father’s plan was known, and the actual question put was whom the Father should send to carry out the plan” (Deposition of a Disciple , 11; see also John 7:16–18).
In the premortal existence, Satan was called “Lucifer,” which means “the Shining One” or “Lightbringer.” He was a “son of the morning” (see Isaiah 14:12; D&C 76:25–27) and had potential to do much good. But Lucifer sought to obtain the throne, honor, power, and glory of Heavenly Father (see D&C 29:36; 76:28; Moses 4:1). To do so, he proposed to “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1). However, his proposal was based on compulsion and would therefore eliminate the agency of Heavenly Father’s children and the need for a Savior to suffer and redeem them.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “Satan’s method of assuring ‘that one soul shall not be lost’ (Moses 4:1) would be to ‘destroy the agency of man’ (Moses 4:3). Under his plan, Satan would have been our master, and he would have ‘[led us] captive at his will’ (Moses 4:4). Without the power of choice, we would have been mere robots or puppets in his hands” (“Free Agency and Freedom,” in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr. , 4).
President Joseph F. Smith taught: “Let it not be forgotten that the evil one has great power in the earth, and that by every possible means he seeks to darken the minds of men and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth. Satan is a skillful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine. Beware of his spurious currency, it will purchase for you nothing but disappointment, misery and spiritual death” (“Witchcraft,” Juvenile Instructor, 15 Sept. 1902, 562).
President Brigham Young said: “Every person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here when Lucifur [sic] fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and departed from them. … Those spirits are never idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and are continually prompting them to do wrong” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:239).
Elder James E. Talmage explained that Satan actually “furthered the purposes of the Creator by tempting Eve; yet his design was to thwart the Lord’s plan. We are definitely told that ‘he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.’ [Moses 4:6.] Yet his diabolical effort, far from being the initiatory step toward destruction, contributed to the plan of man’s eternal progression” (The Articles of Faith, 69).
God told Adam that he would die if he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan’s statement that Adam would not die was an evil exploitation and illustrates the pernicious nature of Satan, “the father of all lies” (Moses 4:4), for he attempted to show God as a liar. But God is a God of truth and cannot lie (see Ether 3:12). Soon after Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, they were forced to leave the garden and the presence of the Lord, thus suffering a spiritual death. Additionally, when they fell, their bodies changed from a nonmortal state to a mortal state and thus became subject to physical death. (See D&C 29:40–43.)
When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit they became mortal and, in the sense of knowing good and evil, began to become like God. But Satan implied that God’s forbidding them to partake of the fruit was because God did not want them to become as the Gods, trying to make it appear that God’s motives were selfish. The truth is that God’s work and glory is to help all of His children to one day become as He is (see Moses 1:39).
Neither Adam nor Eve partook of the fruit because they loved Satan more than God or because they wanted to rebel against God. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught:
“It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same. And thus Eve and ‘Adam fell that men might be’ [2 Nephi 2:25].
“Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode, called the Fall. … Brigham Young declared, ‘We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least’ (in Journal of Discourses, 13:145). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: ‘I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!’[Doctrines of Salvation, 1:114–15]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 98; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said that the “contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: ‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression’ (italics added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 98; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73).
Another meaning of the word transgress is “to go beyond established limits or conditions.” Adam and Eve went beyond the limits that would have kept them in the Garden of Eden forever, and in so doing helped provide the opportunity of mortality for all of us.
Moses 3:25 tells us that before the Fall Adam and Eve were not ashamed, despite their nakedness. Once they gained knowledge of good and evil, they became conscious of their disobedience and unworthiness before God. It may be said that they became aware and ashamed of their spiritual “nakedness.” As fallen beings, they had to face God with a sense of their own guilt. As Alma explained to his son Corianton, “Ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day” (Alma 39:8; see also 2 Nephi 9:14).
God “knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it” (2 Nephi 9:20). Why then did God ask Adam and Eve the questions in Moses 4:15–19? Because, as Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “personal accountability for all of one’s acts underlies the whole gospel plan and is the natural outgrowth of the law of free agency” (Mormon Doctrine, 15).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Since the day in which Satan spoke by the mouth of the serpent to entice Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit (Moses 4:5–21), Satan has been called ‘that old serpent.’ (Rev. 12:9; 20:2; D&C 76:28; 88:110.) Choice of the name is excellent, indicating as it does a cunning, sly, subtle, and deceitful craftiness” (Mormon Doctrine, 704).
“Being cursed is the very opposite of being blessed; God’s blessing graciously invokes good, whereas his curse justly invokes evil upon one deserving it. Thus Satan was informed through symbolic terms that he would not have the privilege of earth life that even cattle and beasts have” (Ellis T. Rasmussen, A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament , 16).
President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 3; or Ensign, May 1989, 4).
Elder James E. Talmage wrote: “Adam, the patriarch of the race, rejoiced in the assurance of the Savior’s appointed ministry, through the acceptance of which, he, the transgressor, might gain redemption. Brief mention of the plan of salvation, the author of which is Jesus Christ, appears in the promise given of God following the fall—that though the devil, represented by the serpent in Eden, should have power to bruise the heel of Adam’s posterity, through the seed of the woman should come the power to bruise the adversary’s head. It is significant that this assurance of eventual victory over sin and its inevitable effect, death, both of which were introduced to earth through Satan, the arch-enemy of mankind, was to be realized through the offspring of woman; the promise was not made specifically to the man, nor to the pair. The only instance of offspring from woman dissociated from mortal fatherhood is the birth of Jesus the Christ, who was the earthly Son of a mortal mother, begotten by an immortal Father. He is the Only Begotten of the Eternal Father in the flesh, and was born of woman.” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 43).
The Hebrew word for “multiply” is rabah (raw-bah), meaning to repeat over and over. It does not suggest greater sorrow, but rather repeated sorrow. The Hebrew word for “sorrow” in the Genesis account (Genesis 3:16) is from atsab (aw-tsab), which means “labor” or “pain.” While these words suggest that toil and suffering would be a part of Eve’s life, Eve did not view the conditions that came upon her through the Fall to be a curse (see Moses 5:11). Moses 4:22“is a great revelation to women. Eve and her daughters can become cocreators with God by preparing bodies for his spirit children to occupy on earth and later in eternity. Mothering would entail inconvenience, suffering, travail, and sorrow; these the Lord foretold as natural consequences and not as a curse” (Rasmussen, Latter-day Saint Commentary, 17).
Concerning this phrase, President Spencer W. Kimball said: “I have a question about the word rule. It gives the wrong impression. I would prefer to use the word preside because that’s what he does. A righteous husband presides over his wife and family” (Ensign, Mar. 1976, 72). In Ephesians 5:22–31 and Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–46 the Lord gave clear instructions on how husbands should preside.
President Marion G. Romney taught: “Note that the curse was not placed upon Adam, but upon the ground for Adam’s sake. Rather than a curse upon Adam, it was a blessing to him” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 168; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 125).
President Brigham Young said that the effects of the Fall were universal: “Then came the curse upon the fruit, upon the vegetables, and upon our mother earth; and it came upon the creeping things, upon the grain in the field, the fish in the sea, and upon all things pertaining to this earth” (in Journal of Discourses, 10:312). From the time of the Fall, thorns and thistles have grown spontaneously from the ground. Only through persistent labor could Adam plant, nourish, and harvest crops from the ground and thereby assure his survival. Before the Fall, he had been charged to “dress” and “keep” the Garden of Eden (Moses 3:15). After the Fall, he was told that he would have to work by the sweat of his brow to obtain his sustenance.
“If Eve must labor to bring forth, so too must Adam labor (Genesis 3:17–19; Moses 4:23) to quicken the earth so it shall bring forth. Both of them bring forth life with sweat and tears, and Adam is not the favored party. If his labor is not as severe as hers, it is more protracted. For Eve’s life will be spared long after her childbearing—‘nevertheless thy life shall be spared’—while Adam’s toil must go on to the end of his days: ‘In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life’! Even retirement is no escape from that sorrow” (Hugh Nibley, Old Testament and Related Studies, John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton, eds. , 90).
Pointing out the falseness of what Satan had said to Eve (see Moses 4:10), the Lord told Adam, “Thou shalt surely die” (v. 25). Adam and Eve experienced a spiritual death when they were driven from the Garden of Eden and from the presence of the Lord. They also became mortal and thus subject to physical death.
The phrase “coat of skins” could also have been rendered “garments” or “tunics” (see Genesis 3:21, footnote a, in the LDS edition of the King James Bible).
Cherubim are “figures representing heavenly creatures, the exact form being unknown. They are found in the Holy of Holies, on the Mercy Seat of the Ark (Ex. 25:18, 22; 1 Kgs. 6:23–28; Heb. 9:5), and in the visions of Ezekiel (Ezek. 10; 11:22)” (Bible Dictionary, “cherubim,” 632).
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 to the world regarding 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, Nov. 1995, 102; 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 Studies in Scripture, Volume Two: The Pearl of Great Price, ed. Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson , 118–19).
President David O. McKay said: “Let us never lose sight of the principles of obedience. Obedience is heaven’s first law” (Gospel Ideals , 484). President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “The great test of life is obedience to God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 3; or Ensign, May 1988, 6).
Elder Henry D. Taylor, who was an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 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 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 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 the Prophet Joseph Smith, 271).
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 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, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 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,” 1977 Devotional Speeches of the Year , 75).
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, 267–68).
The following quotations from Elder 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” (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” (195).
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, 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, 97–98).
The Prophet Joseph Smith 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, holding still the keys of his dispensation” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 169).
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 the Prophet Joseph Smith, 58).
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 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 of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181). Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “As Adam represented the Lord on earth, so Cain acted for and on behalf of Lucifer. Indeed, this first murderer of all murderers is himself Perdition—he was so designated in preexistence—and he 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, 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, 6 vols. [1965–75], 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 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?’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 25; or 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 of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 169).
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. A parallel that illustrates the difference between a mark and a curse might be the account of the Lord placing a mark and a curse upon the Lamanites and their posterity (see 2 Nephi 5:20–24; Alma 23:16–18). It should be noted that the curse was based on individual disobedience and that by obedience to God the curse was removed, although the mark may not have been removed immediately. Eventually, however, the mark was also removed from some (see 3 Nephi 2:12–16).
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.” Elder Boyd K. Packer 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” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 27; or Ensign, May 1987, 24).
President Wilford Woodruff 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” (in Journal of Discourses, 24:239–40).
Abel had been chosen to carry the responsibilities of the priesthood to succeeding generations. But after he was murdered, Seth, who was born 130 years after the Fall of Adam and Eve, was selected as the chosen son to carry this sacred priesthood responsibility (see D&C 107:40–42). He was ordained when he was 69 years old and lived a total of 912 years. The scriptures refer to him as a “perfect man, and his likeness was the express likeness of his father” (see D&C 107:43).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated:
“In the beginning God gave Adam a language that was pure, perfect, and undefiled. This Adamic language, now unknown, was far superior to any tongue which is presently extant. For instance, the name of God the Father, in this original language, is Man of Holiness, signifying that he is a Holy Man and not a vague spiritual essence. (Moses 6:57.)
“This first language spoken by mortals was either the celestial tongue of the Gods or such adaptation of it as was necessary to meet the limitations of mortality; and Adam and his posterity had power to speak, read, and write it” (Mormon Doctrine, 19).
Elder McConkie said the following about the book of remembrance mentioned in Moses 6:5: “From the beginning, the Lord provided a language and gave men the power to read and write. … The thing which they first wrote, and which of all their writings was of the most worth unto them, was a Book of Remembrance, a book in which they recorded what the Lord had revealed about himself, about his coming, and about the plan of salvation, which plan would have force and validity because of his atonement. This was the beginning of the Holy Scriptures” (The Promised Messiah, 86; see also Moses 6:46).
The priesthood “is without beginning of days or end of years” (D&C 84:17). From the time of Adam and Eve, the priesthood, the gospel, and the ordinances were available as we have them today (see Moses 5:58–59; see also D&C 107:40–42). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
“The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed. …
“The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven, it is by Adam’s authority” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157).
There were twenty generations of the priesthood from Adam to Abraham, being passed from father to son. Eight generations are listed in Moses 6:8–25(from Adam to Methuselah); in Moses 8:5–12, three more generations (Lamech, Noah, and Shem) are given, and Genesis 11:10–26 records the nine generations from Shem to Abram (Abraham). (See also D&C 107:40–52.)
This verse mentions the earliest righteous people (“the people of God”) who moved from a land filled with wickedness to a land of promise (see also Moses 6:40–41). This is a pattern that is repeated many times in scripture (for example, see 1 Nephi 1–18; Omni 1:12–19; Ether 1–4).
The Bible contains only a few verses about Enoch (see Genesis 5:19–24). The book of Moses greatly increases our understanding of Enoch’s life, ministry, and teachings: Moses 6:26–36 tells of Enoch’s call, verses 37–47 record his words against the works of men, verses 48–68 contain his message of salvation, and Moses 7 is a record of his remarkable visions of God and of future events on this earth. Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam. He was born 620 years after the Fall, was ordained to the priesthood at 25 years of age, and at 430 years old he and his people were taken into heaven without tasting death (see D&C 107:49). An additional quotation from the prophecies of Enoch is found in Jude 1:14–15, and more information on his life is found in Luke 3:37 and Hebrews 11:5.
Because of the wickedness of the people in the days of Enoch, the Lord called upon Enoch to preach repentance. The Lord told Enoch, “A hell I have prepared for them, if they repent not.” This “hell” refers to the part of the spirit world known as the spirit prison where the wicked suffer torment because of their unrepented sins (see Alma 40:11–14).
Enoch was not the only prophet who felt inadequate when the Lord called him. Read about Moses’ and Jeremiah’s reactions in Exodus 4:10–12 and Jeremiah 1:4–9. Elder James E. Faust, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “Most of us who are called to leadership in the Church feel that we are inadequate because of inexperience, lack of ability, or meager learning and education” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1980, 52; or Ensign, Nov. 1980, 36; see also 1 Corinthians 1:26–27; Ether 12:23–27; D&C 1:19–20; 33:8–10).
Elder John A. Widtsoe stated: “A seer is one who sees with spiritual eyes. He perceives the meaning of that which seems obscure to others; therefore he is an interpreter and clarifier of eternal truth. He foresees the future from the past and the present. This he does by the power of the Lord operating through him directly, or indirectly with the aid of divine instruments such as the Urim and Thummim” (Evidences and Reconciliations, 258; see also Mosiah 8:13–18).
Because of Adam’s Fall, all mankind suffer physical death (the separation of the immortal spirit from the mortal body) and spiritual death (separation from the presence of God). Furthermore, because people yield to the temptations of Satan, they become “carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God” until they repent (Moses 6:49). The good news of the plan of salvation is that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind will overcome physical death and can overcome spiritual death (see Romans 3:23; Mosiah 16:3–4; Alma 11:42–43; Helaman 14:14–18; Moses 6:52).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained: “We are not haunted with an overhanging sense of ‘original sin’ about which we can do nothing. (Moses 6:54; Moroni 8:15–16.) By revelation, we know that the Lord told Adam: ‘Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden.’ (Moses 6:53.) Thus, we are accountable for our ‘own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression’ (Article of Faith 2.)” (Meek and Lowly , 42–43).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie indicated that the phrase “conceived in sin” means “born into a world of sin” (see A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 101).
God gave us the great gift of agency in the day He created us (see Moses 7:32). Moral agency enables us to choose between good and evil and to experience the consequences of our choices (see 2 Nephi 2:14–16, 25–29; D&C 101:78).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:
“Two births are essential to salvation. Man cannot be saved without birth into mortality, nor can he return to his heavenly home without a birth into the realm of the Spirit. … The elements present in a mortal birth and in a spiritual birth are the same. They are water, blood, and spirit. Thus every mortal birth is a heaven-given reminder to prepare for the second birth. …
“In every mortal birth the child is immersed in water in the mother’s womb. At the appointed time the spirit enters the body, and blood always flows in the veins of the new person. Otherwise, without each of these, there is no life, no birth, no mortality.
“In every birth into the kingdom of heaven, the newborn babe in Christ is immersed in water, he receives the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and the blood of Christ cleanses him from all sin. Otherwise, without each of these, there is no Spirit-birth, no newness of life, no hope of eternal life. …
“… These elements were again present in [Christ’s] death. He sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane as he took upon himself the sins of all men on conditions of repentance. This same agony and suffering recurred on the cross. It was then that he permitted his spirit to leave his body, and it was then that blood and water gushed from his riven side” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 288–89).
“Baptism is not optional if one wishes the fullness of salvation. Jesus said a person must be born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:3–5). When he sent the twelve apostles forth to teach the gospel he told them that whosoever believed and was baptized would be saved; and whosoever did not believe would be damned (Mark 16:16). …
“Baptism in water has several purposes. It is for the remission of sins, for membership in the Church, and for entrance into the celestial kingdom; it is also the doorway to personal sanctification when followed by the reception of the Holy Ghost” (Bible Dictionary, “baptism,” 619; see also D&C 76:51–52).
To be justified is to be made just, or free from guilt and sin. The Holy Ghost is the member of the Godhead whose power acts as a cleansing agent that removes guilt and sin from our lives (see 2 Nephi 31:17). President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Through the shedding of the blood of Christ, we are cleansed and sanctified; and we are justified, through the Spirit of God” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:324–25).
To be sanctified is to be holy and worthy of eternal life and immortal glory (see Moroni 10:32–33). Through His perfect Atonement, Jesus Christ shed His blood and made it possible for all who have faith and repent to be sanctified (see Mosiah 3:11, 18; Alma 34:10–16). Thus, we are ransomed and made holy by the blood of Christ. President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught:
“The atonement by which men are redeemed, was made by one without blemish and without spot. He had to be one who had life in himself, and therefore all power over death. No mortal man could make the atonement. Moreover, the atonement had to be made by the shedding of blood, for blood is the vitalizing force of the mortal body. …
“The Scriptures are replete with passages teaching us that there could be no remission of sins without the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1956, 127).
Elder Russell M. Nelson explained that the plan of salvation “is also called the plan of happiness, … the plan of redemption, the plan of restoration, the plan of mercy, the plan of deliverance, and the everlasting gospel. Prophets have used these terms interchangeably.
“Regardless of designation, the enabling essence of the plan is the atonement of Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 45; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 33).
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, the Lord used physical symbols to teach us doctrines and principles of Jesus Christ and His gospel (see also 2 Nephi 11:4). Understanding gospel symbols requires the uniting of an earthly or concrete dimension with a transcendent, spiritual dimension. The prophet Alma taught that “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44). These things not only testify of the existence of a Supreme Being, but also that He is Jesus Christ, the Creator of all.
The Lord taught His disciples to look upon the contents of the scriptures and see things concerning Himself (see Luke 24:44–45). To search for and discover symbols of Christ in the scriptures is to open a wellspring of new thoughts and emotions relative to the Atonement. For example, the earthly ordinance of baptism by immersion is symbolic of the death, burial, and Resurrection of Christ (see Romans 6:3–5; D&C 76:51–52).
Enoch showed how Adam set the example for all of us by exercising his faith in Christ through baptism by water and the Spirit. Therefore, by his obedience, Adam became “one in [Christ], a son of God” (Moses 6:68). In like manner, all may become sons and daughters of God (see Mosiah 5:7; 27:24–27; D&C 25:1; 39:4).
See the insights and commentary for Moses 6:7.
Enoch had an experience similar to that of Moses and Abraham (see Moses 1:31; Abraham 3:11). President Brigham Young added detail to this point: “Man is made in the image of his Maker, … he is His exact image, having eye for eye, forehead for forehead, eyebrows for eyebrows, nose for nose, cheekbones for cheekbones, mouth for mouth, chin for chin, ears for ears, precisely like our Father in heaven” (in Journal of Discourses, 13:146).
Enoch was told at the beginning of his ministry that he would do great things (see Moses 6:34). Enoch’s faith in Jesus Christ enabled him to do those things. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Faith is power; by faith the worlds were made; nothing is impossible to those who have faith. If the earth itself came rolling into existence by faith, surely a mere mountain can be removed by that same power” (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 3:73; see also Jacob 4:6; Ether 12:13–22).
Enoch’s city had two names, Zion and City of Holiness. The second name becomes more meaningful when we remember that Heavenly Father’s name in the language of Adam is Man of Holiness (see Moses 6:57).
Those people who were taken up into heaven without tasting death were translated. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “Translated beings are still mortal and will have to pass through the experience of death, or the separation of the spirit and the body, although this will be instantaneous, for the people of the City of Enoch, Elijah, and others who received this great blessing in ancient times, before the coming of our Lord, could not have received the resurrection, or the change from mortality to immortality, because our Lord had not [yet] paid the debt which frees us from mortality and grants to us the resurrection” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:165).
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order, and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 170).
Satan promotes works of darkness and seeks to bind, captivate, and destroy mankind (see 2 Nephi 26:22; 28:17–23; Alma 12:11; Moses 4:4). God does not work in darkness, and He seeks to save mankind (see 2 Nephi 26:23–24, 33). Furthermore, in stark contrast to Satan and his angels, who laughed at the wickedness of mankind, Moses 7:28 tells us that God wept over the wickedness of His children.
The righteous people described in Moses 7:27 were translated and “caught up” to join those in the city of Zion. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “After those in the City of Holiness were translated and taken up into heaven without tasting death, so that Zion as a people and a congregation had fled from the battle-scarred surface of the earth, the Lord sought others among men who would serve him. From the days of Enoch to the flood, new converts and true believers, except those needed to carry out the Lord’s purposes among mortals, were translated” (The Millennial Messiah, 284).
Elder Marion D. Hanks, a former member of the Seventy, explained:
“God, from whom all blessings come, asked of his children only that they should love each other and choose him, their Father.
“But as in our day, many neither sought the Lord nor had love for each other, and when God foresaw the suffering that would inevitably follow this self-willed, rebellious course of sin, he wept. That, he told Enoch, was what he had to cry about” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1980, 40–41; or Ensign, May 1980, 29).
Satan’s goal is to deceive and to blind all mankind; to lead every one of God’s children captive at his will, if they will not hearken to the voice of the Lord (see Moses 4:4). Satan thereby becomes “father” to those who choose to follow him, and they experience his misery (see 2 Nephi 2:18; D&C 10:22, 26–27).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Men in Noah’s day rebelled, rejected the Lord and his gospel, and were buried in a watery grave. Their spirits then found themselves in that prison prepared for those who walk in darkness when light is before them” (The Promised Messiah, 330).
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “From the time of their death in the flood until the time of the crucifixion of the Savior, they were shut up in the prison house in torment, suffering the penalty of their transgressions, because they refused to hear a prophet of the Lord—and so it will be with every man who rejects the gospel, whether he lived anciently or whether he lives now; it makes no difference” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:229).
The pronoun That refers to Jesus Christ. He was chosen in the premortal existence to be the Savior of the world (see D&C 38:4; Moses 4:2). After completing His mission on earth, and while His body lay in the tomb, Christ visited the spirit world as a spirit being (see 1 Peter 3:18–20). Once there, He organized the spirits of the righteous to go among the spirits of the wicked in prison and declare the gospel to them (see D&C 138).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained:
“If Enoch had not looked and been spiritually informed, he would have seen the human condition in isolation from the grand reality. If God were not there, Enoch’s ‘Why?’ would have become an unanswered scream of despair!
“At first, Enoch refused ‘to be comforted’ (Moses 7:44). Finally, he saw God’s plan, the later coming of the Messiah in the meridian of time, and the eventual triumph of God’s purposes” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 36; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 30–31).
“The Righteous,” Jesus Christ, also called “the Lamb of God,” was sacrificed on a cross in the meridian of time, just as lambs without blemish had been sacrificed on altars of stone since the time of Adam.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote: “The Lord here [in Doctrine and Covenants 88] informs us that the earth on which we dwell is a living thing, and that the time must come when it will be sanctified from all unrighteousness. In the Pearl of Great Price, when Enoch is conversing with the Lord, he hears the earth crying for deliverance from the iniquity upon her face. … It is not the fault of the earth that wickedness prevails upon her face, for she has been true to the law which she received and that law is the celestial law. Therefore the Lord says that the earth shall be sanctified from all unrighteousness” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 1:366–67).
“But with thee will I establish my covenant, even as I have sworn unto thy father, Enoch, that of thy posterity shall come all nations.
“And thou shalt come into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with them.”
Jesus Christ is “the Rock of Heaven.” The “gate” is faith in Him, repentance, and baptism by water and the Holy Ghost (see 2 Nephi 31:17–18). Jesus Christ is the only way by which we return to the Father (see John 14:6). He is the Messiah, “the Anointed One” who was chosen from the beginning to save God’s children (see Moses 4:2; Abraham 3:27), the King of Zion, the Ruler over the pure in heart (see D&C 97:18–21), and the sure foundation upon which we can build our lives and obtain eternal life (see Matthew 7:24–25; Helaman 5:12).
Enoch saw that the earth would mourn and groan and its rocks would be rent when Christ was crucified and resurrected. Nephi, son of Lehi, and Samuel the Lamanite also prophesied of this (see 1 Nephi 19:10–12; Helaman 14:21–22). The Book of Mormon contains an account of great earthquakes in the western hemisphere (see 3 Nephi 8:18), while the Bible tells of earthquakes in the eastern hemisphere (see Matthew 27:51). Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “These earth spasms [were] a revolt by the created earth against the crucifixion of its Creator” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1963, 65).
Enoch saw that the Saints who died before Christ would arise and be crowned at the right hand of God. Samuel the Lamanite also prophesied of a resurrection that would take place in America following the Resurrection of Christ (see Helaman 14:25). Accounts of this first resurrection are found in Matthew 27:52–53 and 3 Nephi 23:9–13.
Concerning the Resurrection, President Howard W. Hunter, then Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:
“The doctrine of the Resurrection is the single most fundamental and crucial doctrine in the Christian religion. It cannot be overemphasized, nor can it be disregarded.
“Without the Resurrection, the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes a litany of wise sayings and seemingly unexplainable miracles—but sayings and miracles with no ultimate triumph. No, the ultimate triumph is in the ultimate miracle: for the first time in the history of mankind, one who was dead raised himself into living immortality. He was the Son of God, the Son of our immortal Father in Heaven, and his triumph over physical and spiritual death is the good news every Christian tongue should speak” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 18; or Ensign, May 1986, 16).
Enoch heard the earth asking when it could rest and be cleansed from the wickedness of its children (see Moses 7:48). Enoch then saw that the earth would not rest in the days of Noah nor in the days of Jesus Christ’s mortal ministry. The time when the earth would finally rest would be at Christ’s Second Coming (see D&C 133:46–52; Articles of Faith 1:10).
The Lord called Enoch to be a preacher of righteousness (see Moses 6:26–36). To help Enoch accomplish his mission, the Lord told him, “My Spirit is upon you … and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me” (Moses 6:34). Enoch did indeed walk with God (see Moses 6:39) and gained the confidence to say, “I know thee.”
Enoch saw the Saints arise with resurrected bodies, receive crowns, and stand at the right hand of Christ (see Moses 7:56). He then foresaw his own glorious future (see Moses 7:59). God has promised all of His worthy children this same reward (see Romans 8:16–17; Revelation 3:21). Enoch also saw that this glorious future was “not of myself, but through thine own grace” (Moses 7:59). Exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God is obtained as a gift from God, by grace, after all we can do (see 2 Nephi 25:23; D&C 6:13). Regarding grace, the Bible Dictionary states:
“The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
“… It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
President Ezra Taft Benson explained that the Lord promised “that righteousness would come from heaven and truth out of the earth. We have seen the marvelous fulfillment of that prophecy in our generation. The Book of Mormon has come forth out of the earth, filled with truth, serving as the very ‘keystone of our religion’ (see Introduction to the Book of Mormon). God has also sent down righteousness from heaven. The Father Himself appeared with His Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The angel Moroni, John the Baptist, Peter, James, and numerous other angels were directed by heaven to restore the necessary powers to the kingdom. Further, the Prophet Joseph Smith received revelation after revelation from the heavens during those first critical years of the Church’s growth. These revelations have been preserved for us in the Doctrine and Covenants” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 102; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 79–80).
President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
“The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to ‘sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect’ (Moses 7:62). This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work. …
“The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of Mormon for the many reasons which the Lord has given. …
“We have the Book of Mormon, we have the members, we have the missionaries, we have the resources, and the world has the need.
“The time is now!” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 3–4; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 4–5).
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained: “And now, I ask, how righteousness and truth are going to sweep the earth as with a flood? I will answer. Men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city” (History of the Church, 2:260; for more on the latter-day Zion [the New Jerusalem], see 3 Nephi 20:22; 21:20–25; Ether 13:2–8; D&C 45:65–71; 57:1–3).
Concerning this meeting of the two Zions, President John Taylor said: “When the time comes that these calamities we read of, shall overtake the earth, those that are prepared will have the power of translation, as they had in former times, and the city will be translated. And Zion that is on the earth will rise, and the Zion above will descend, as we are told, and we will meet and fall on each other’s necks and embrace and kiss each other. And thus the purposes of God to a certain extent will then be fulfilled” (in Journal of Discourses, 21:253).
During the Millennium the earth will not be a celestial world. It will be in a terrestrial, or paradisiacal, condition, cleansed from wickedness. As the Millennium is ushered in, there will still be people of various religious beliefs residing on the earth. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:
“When the reign of Jesus Christ comes during the millennium, only those who have lived the telestial law will be removed. It is recorded in the Bible and other standard works of the Church that the earth will be cleansed of all its corruption and wickedness. Those who have lived virtuous lives, who have been honest in their dealings with their fellow man and have endeavored to do good to the best of their understanding, shall remain. …
“The gospel will be taught far more intensely and with greater power during the millennium until all the inhabitants of the earth shall embrace it. Satan shall be bound so that he cannot tempt any man. Should any man refuse to repent and accept the gospel under those conditions then he would be accursed. Through the revelations given to the prophets we learn that during the reign of Jesus Christ for a thousand years, eventually all people will embrace the truth.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:108, 110–11; for more on the Millennium, see Isaiah 11:5–9; 65:17–25; D&C 101:26–34).
Enoch’s people lived on earth for many years before they were taken into heaven. Concerning this period of time, President Brigham Young said: “Enoch had to talk with and teach his people during a period of three hundred and sixty years, before he could get them prepared to enter into their rest, and then he obtained power to translate himself and his people” (in Journal of Discourses, 3:320).
Many generations of prophets foresaw Noah as the prophet in the days of the cleansing of the earth by flood (see Moses 8:2, 9). Noah was ordained to the higher priesthood when ten years old by his grandfather Methuselah (see D&C 107:52). He became a preacher of righteousness, even as Enoch. He, his wife, and his sons—Japheth, Shem, and Ham—and their wives were the only people to survive the Flood. Noah holds the keys of his dispensation and stands next to Adam in authority (see History of the Church, 3:386).
Noah is the angel Gabriel (see History of the Church, 3:386), who appeared to Zacharias to announce that he would be the father of John the Baptist and to Mary to announce that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ. Noah also functions in the calling of an Elias (see D&C 27:6–7), meaning one who prepares or restores. Through his various appearances, Noah has performed both of these functions.
A list of the “sons of God,” which began in Moses 5:8–25, continues in Moses 8 with the addition of Lamech (v. 5), Noah (v. 9), and Noah’s three sons (v. 12). These brethren were all holders of the higher priesthood (see D&C 107:40–52; for more information about Methuselah, see D&C 107:50, 52–57).
President Joseph Fielding Smith applied the lessons from Moses 8:14–15 to our day, saying:
“Because the daughters of Noah married the sons of men contrary to the teachings of the Lord, his anger was kindled, and this offense was one cause that brought to pass the universal flood. … The daughters who had been born, evidently under the covenant, and were the daughters of the sons of God, that is to say of those who held the priesthood, were transgressing the commandment of the Lord and were marrying out of the Church. Thus they were cutting themselves off from the blessings of the priesthood contrary to the teachings of Noah and the will of God. …
“Today there are foolish daughters of those who hold this same priesthood who are violating this commandment and marrying the sons of men; there are also some of the sons of those who hold the priesthood who are marrying the daughters of men. All of this is contrary to the will of God just as much as it was in the days of Noah” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 1:136–37).
President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained: “From the days of Father Adam to the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his successors, whenever the priesthood has been on the earth, a major responsibility has been the preaching of the saving, eternal principles of the gospel—the plan of salvation. Father Adam taught these things to his own children. (Moses 5:12.) Consider Noah’s long years of missionary effort and the preachings of all the ancient prophets. (Moses 8:16–20.) Each in his day was commanded to carry the gospel message to the children of men and call them to repentance as the only means of escaping the pending judgments” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, 153; or Ensign, May 1974, 105).
President Harold B. Lee stated, “This means the withdrawing of that vital light which all could have enjoyed if they had kept the commandments” (Stand Ye in Holy Places , 119; see also 1 Nephi 7:14; 2 Nephi 26:11; Mormon 5:16; Ether 2:15; 15:19; Moroni 8:28; 9:4; D&C 1:33).
Note that this verse is an important and inspired correction to Genesis 6:6, which reads: “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” The Hebrew word used here, and translated repented in the Bible, is nacham (naw-kham), which literally means “to sigh,” “to breathe strongly,” “to be sorry,” “to pity.”
Elder Mark E. Petersen, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote:
“Noah, who built the ark, was one of God’s greatest servants, chosen before he was born as were others of the prophets. He was no eccentric, as many have supposed. Neither was he a mythical figure created only in legend. Noah was real. …
“Let no one downgrade the life and mission of this great prophet. Noah was so near perfect in his day that he literally walked and talked with God. …
“Few men in any age were as great as Noah. In many respects he was like Adam, the first man. Both had served as ministering angels in the presence of God even after their mortal experience” (Noah and the Flood , 1–2).
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “So the Lord commanded Noah to build an ark into which he was to take his family and the animals of the earth to preserve seed after the flood, and all flesh that was not in the ark perished according to the Lord’s decree. Of course this story is not believed by the wise and the great among the children of men, any more than was Noah’s story in his day” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:39).
President John Taylor taught: “God destroyed the wicked of that generation with a flood. Why did He destroy them? He destroyed them for their benefit, if you can comprehend it” (in Journal of Discourses, 24:291; see also 19:158–59 for President Taylor’s view of the Flood as an act of love).