“Abraham 3:1–28,” The Pearl of Great Price Teacher Manual (2017)
“Abraham 3:1–28,” The Pearl of Great Price Teacher Manual
Abraham was a seer and used an instrument known as the “Urim and Thummim” to obtain revelation from the Lord about the planets and stars (see Abraham 3:1–2; see also Mosiah 8:13; Joseph Smith—History 1:35).
Kolob is the name of the greatest of all the stars that God showed Abraham. It is located nearest to the presence of the Lord and governs all the other stars that He showed Abraham (see Abraham 3:3, 9, 16–17; see also D&C 88:7–13).
The Lord’s way of “reckoning” (measuring) time on stars and planets is determined by their relationship to Kolob, the central governing star (see Abraham 3:4–10; see also 2 Peter 3:8; D&C 88:42–45; 130:4–5; Abraham 5:13).
Before Abraham entered Egypt, the Lord appeared to him face-to-face and reconfirmed the covenant He had made with him in Haran. The Lord also commanded Abraham to teach the gospel to the Egyptians (see Abraham 3:11–15; see also Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:11; D&C 76:22–23; Moses 1:2).
Ask if any students like to “stargaze,” or if they have ever looked through a telescope at the stars and other planets. If any answer “yes,” invite them to share their feelings about the vastness of the universe. Then invite several students to take turns reading Abraham 3:1–17 aloud. Make a list on the board with students of what Abraham learned about the stars, planets, and so forth. You may want to refer to the commentary under ”Abraham 3:1–17. The Lord Showed Abraham the Stars” in the student manual for help teaching these verses. Then ask a few students to take turns reading Abraham 3:18–23 aloud. Make a second list on the board with students of what Abraham learned about the Lord and the premortal spirit children of Heavenly Father. (You may want to refer to the commentary under “Abraham 3:18–23. The Spirit Children of Heavenly Father” and “Abraham 3:18–23. The Premortal Existence” in the student manual.) Display the following statement about Abraham 3:1–23, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“At first glance, it may appear that Abraham is dealing with two separate ideas, each deserving a chapter of its own. A more careful reading, however, reveals that the second part of the chapter is a deliberate restatement of the first. Each principle describing the relationship of one star or planet to another proves to be equally descriptive of the nature and relationship of pre-earth spirits one to another. The revelation on planets ends in the eighteenth verse where the revelation on pre-earth spirits begins. The two parts of the revelation are welded at that point with the words ‘as, also,’ which is simply to say what is true of the stars is ‘also’ true of the spirits” (Joseph F. McConkie, “The Heavens Testify of Christ,” in Studies in Scripture: Volume Two, the Pearl of Great Price, ed. Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson , 239–40).
Review the two lists you made and help students compare what they learned about stars and planets to what they learned about premortal spirits. Ask students to search Doctrine and Covenants 138:38–57 and find where they are mentioned “among the noble and great ones.”
Ask a student to read Abraham 3:1–2 aloud. Review with students what the Urim and Thummim is by using the commentary under “Abraham 3:1. What Is the Urim and Thummim?” in the student manual (see also Bible Dictionary, “Seer,” “Urim and Thummim”).
Invite students to find and explain ways that the description of Kolob in Abraham 3:2–9, 16–17 and in the explanations for facsimile 2, figures 1–2, 5 are like Jesus Christ. How do these examples help us understand the Savior?
Ask students where they think some of the more challenging missionary assignments in today’s world might be, and why. Remind students of what happened in Abraham 1:12–20, and ask them why it would have been difficult for Abraham to go preach the gospel in Egypt. How could what Abraham saw and learned in Abraham 3:1–14 have helped him find the courage to go to Egypt?
Each person on earth has a dual nature and is composed of a mortal, physical body born to earthly parents and of an eternal spirit created by our Heavenly Father in the premortal life. Our spirits were organized to receive knowledge and intelligence (see Abraham 3:18–19, 21; see also Hebrews 12:9; D&C 88:15; 93:29–38; Moses 3:7; Abraham 5:7).
Each spirit child of Heavenly Father differs in intelligence. Jesus Christ is more intelligent than all of Heavenly Father’s spirit children, and His wisdom excels them all. As an individual acquires more light and intelligence they may in time become more like Heavenly Father (see Abraham 3:18–21; see also D&C 88:41; 93:36–37).
Noble and great spirit children of Heavenly Father helped Jesus Christ create the earth (see Abraham 3:24).
The spirit children of Heavenly Father who “kept their first estate” (were obedient to God in the premortal life) have received additional opportunities by coming to earth as mortal beings, with bodies of flesh and bones. Those who were not obedient in their first estate will not receive such opportunities. Those who keep their second estate, accepting and obeying the gospel in mortality (or in the postmortal spirit world), will receive eternal glory from God (see Abraham 3:26; see also Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:7; D&C 29:36–38; 76:69–74; 138:32–35).
In the premortal life, Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to implement the plan of salvation. The rebellious Lucifer was not chosen and was cast out of heaven, along with his followers (see Abraham 3:27–28; see also 1 Peter 1:19–20; Ether 3:14; D&C 76:25–29; Moses 4:1–4).
Show a picture or illustration of a clear sky at night depicting many astronomical orbs and stars differing in brightness and glory. Invite a student to read Abraham 3:16–18 aloud. Discuss what we learn in these verses about the differences in the heavenly orbs and the differences among the spirit children of Heavenly Father.
To help students understand that the “intelligences” in Abraham 3:22–23 refer to spirit children of Heavenly Father, display the following statement by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:
“God showed unto Abraham ‘the intelligences that were organized before the world was’; and by ‘intelligences’ we are to understand personal ‘spirits’ (Abraham 3:22, 23); nevertheless, we are expressly told that ‘Intelligence’ that is, ‘the light of truth was not created or made, neither indeed can be’ (Doc. & Cov. 93:29)” (“The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition from the First Presidency and the Twelve,” in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 5:26).
Discuss the statement with the class.
Refer students to the statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith under “Abraham 3:18–19. What Does It Mean to Be ‘More Intelligent’?” in the student manual. Ask how one spirit can be more intelligent than another.
Invite a student to read Abraham 3:19, 21 aloud. Ask what it means to be “more intelligent than they all.” Remind students that in Abraham 3 astronomical orbs are compared to each other as to their “greatness.” Invite a student to read Abraham 3:16 aloud. Then ask which is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam (stars) shown to Abraham. Next invite a few students to take turns reading Abraham 3:3–4, 9, 16, aloud, while the rest of the class follows along, looking for phrases describing Kolob that might also figuratively describe the greatness of Jesus Christ.
How can any of Heavenly Father’s children attain more intelligence?
Why is it important to increase in intelligence?
Caution: As already noted, the intelligences mentioned in Abraham 3:22–23 refer to spirits. Inasmuch as questions arise concerning the nature and origin of “intelligence,” it is imperative for the gospel teacher to consider the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith: “Some of our writers have endeavored to explain what an intelligence is, but to do so is futile, for we have never been given any insight into this matter beyond what the Lord has fragmentarily revealed. We know, however, that there is something called intelligence which always existed. It is the real eternal part of man, which was not created nor made. This intelligence combined with the spirit constitutes a spiritual identity or individual” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. , 4:127).
Invite a student to read Abraham 3:22–23 aloud, and then ask students what they think their generation in the Church is expected to accomplish for the Lord—in the world and in the Church. Display the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), and invite a student to read it aloud:
“This is the time when the God of heaven has moved in fulfillment of His ancient promise that He would usher in the fulness of the gospel in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. … You’re not just here by chance. You are here under the design of God” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley , 720).
Invite students to share their thoughts and feelings about being among the noble and great spirits who were preserved to come to earth in the last days.
Ask students how they feel about quizzes, exams, and tests. Write on the board: Life is a test! Ask a student to read Abraham 3:24–25 aloud, and then invite students to share about the ways Abraham and Sarai were tested in Abraham 1–3. What did the Lord command Abraham and Sarai to do? How did they respond to each command?
Ask various students to explain Abraham 3:26 in their own words. Invite a student to explain, as if he or she were teaching a person who is not a member of the Church, how the plan of salvation makes it possible for us to become like Heavenly Father, having “glory added upon [our] heads for ever and ever.”
Invite a student to read Abraham 3:27 aloud, and ask students what Jesus volunteered to do. Invite students to ponder Jesus Christ’s willingness to fulfill the Father’s plan and become our Savior. Display the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which he made in reference to Jesus’s declaration, “Here am I, send me.” Ask a student to read it aloud:
“It was one of those special moments when a few words are preferred to many. Never has one individual offered, in so few words, to do so much for so many as did Jesus when He meekly proffered Himself as ransom for all of us” (Neal A. Maxwell, Plain and Precious Things , 53).
Ask how we can follow the Savior’s example of obedience to Heavenly Father and unselfish service to others.