In the life of Joseph Smith, it is clear that revelation came frequently, and unexpectedly. Certainly from a very young age instruction and knowledge poured into his mind as he passed through his life, sometimes sparked by things he read or saw. While there are many such instances documented in the history of the church, few are as fruitful as the revelations that attended him while he did the work of translating the bible.
Yes, after translating the Book of Mormon from golden plates, Joseph Smith was commanded to go back and re-translate the Bible. This is known in the church as the Joseph Smith Translation of the King James Version of the Bible. For the most part, the record was left untouched save a few valuable clarifications here and there. The truly spectacular revelations came at the very beginning. As Joseph began his translation effort in Genesis, a whole new book of scripture poured out: the Book of Moses, now a part of The Pearl of Great Price in LDS scripture.
The Book of Moses contains many treasures for the diligent student. Of them, one I treasure most is a brief glimpse into what we mormons call “the Pre-existence.” It is a bit of the story of the human family before the world was organized, where we learn a bit about ourselves, our savior, and our adversary.
In the first chapter of the book of Moses, we find Moses caught up in a high mountain where he speaks with the Lord. The Lord tells Moses about his divine heritage as a son of God, about the plan of salvation, and even shows him everything on the whole earth. Soon after this divine experience, Moses finds himself confronted by old scratch himself, who teaches him something about fear and faith. Here are the words from the scriptures:
What happens next would be almost humorous if it weren’t so terrible.
I don’t know that Moses thought it would by any means be easy to rid himself of his foe, but I feel certain that at this point he knew that on his own he would be unable to conquer his enemy. The story continues:
Now here’s the important part: “…Nevertheless, ccalling upon God, he received dstrength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of eglory.
“And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan.
And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses, that he beheld him not.”
Moses is then blessed to be shown much more of the plan of salvation, including that precious glimpse of the pre-existence. It is during this vision that the Lord chooses to reveal an important pattern of the behavior of Lucifer. Here is the first verse of the fourth chapter:
“And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.”
It is important to try and visualize this to some degree. Here is God, and he has created a plan whereby his children can experience life, grow, and return to live with Him. However, the plan also involves risk. There is a chance that nobody would be able to return at all. A redeemer is needed to secure the safe return of God’s children. Now here comes Lucifer.
Lucifer chooses to try and draw the attention of God Himself to what? To everything he stands to lose. In essence he says “Look here over your children. It would be so painful to lose any of them. My way, you will be certain to see them all again.” Isn’t that amazing? From the beginning, the adversary tried to use fear to get what he wanted – pointing out the chance of failure in order to recieve the glory of being the redeemer.
No pride, no arrogance, nor any fear. Instead we find faith in the plan of the father, meekness, and humility. Traits he exemplified then and now.
In the pre-existence a great many of our brothers and sisters found they could not develop faith enough in that savior, Christ, to give life on earth a chance. They gave into the fear that Satan preached, and were called the sons of perdition. This knowledge gives new meaning to the words of Paul, when he says: “we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
Truly, the antidote to fear is faith – belief to the saving of the soul.
When Moses began to feel fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. What an appropriate description, seeing as it is hell that the adversary would lead us to, and it is fear that he uses to guide us there. Without faith in Christ and his atoning power, we will surely fall. But with faith in Christ, and by calling on his name for our salvation, both temporal and spiritual, even Satan can not stand against us. Our Heavenly Father knew his Son would be strong enough to carry the load for us all, strong enough to overcome the adversary. Moses learned it in a high mountain. Joseph learned it in a grove of trees. We can put the promise, and our faith, to the test every day in small and simple ways.
Is your fear that you might lose your soul? Or is it a bit more humdrum? Do you fear making that important life change? Is there something you’ve felt you should do but have been afraid to? Do you worry that your children might end up down paths you don’t want them to go down? Are you afraid of leaving a bad relationship because you worry you won’t find anything better?
Fear is from the adversary. I am convinced that it never comes from our Father. I testify that Jesus Christ is the perfect love of the Father, and that perfect love casts out all fear. Council with Him. Trust that what He wants for you is really what is what will deliver you from fear and temptation and carry you to true happiness. Whatever trial you may face, even if it feels like you are staring into the depths of Hell itself, trust that Christ can and will deliver you as you seek to call on his aid. I know he will.
I welcome your thoughts, questions and comments.