Tuesday, May 31, 2011 2 comments

Having a language pure and undefiled

I was studying Moses 6 about Adam and Seth and something struck me about this verse:
And by them their children were taught to read and write, having a language which was pure and undefiled. (Moses 6:6)
The first thing I thought of when I read that was all the things I had heard people speculate about the pure Adamic tongue and how we tend to yearn to know that and speak it and want it brought back. We’ve wondered what it would be like to speak it, what it would be like to have such strength of expression that it would overpower others just for them to read our words, just as Moroni was overpowered by the written words of the brother of Jared. You’ve probably thought this, and I know I have.

But today as I read this I began to wonder, why can’t we make our own language “pure and undefiled”? I started to think about what it would take for that to happen. Yes, English isn’t the Adamic tongue, but it is what we’ve got to work with at the moment, so why can’t we make that pure and undefiled?

So I started to think about what it might take to make our language pure and undefiled. Maybe it’s how we use our words that really makes a language that way. Wouldn’t speaking with both honesty and charity purify our language? Wouldn’t speaking with justice and mercy purify our language? Wouldn’t sharing the gospel purify our language? Wouldn’t expressing faith and trust (instead of doubt and distrust) purify our language?

What kind of things can you think of that we can do to make our language pure and undefiled?
Thursday, May 26, 2011 0 comments

Probing the story of Cain in Moses 5:12-27

There are several things that the Moses 5 account adds that are not in the Genesis version. In Genesis there is no mention of Adam and Eve having any children before Cain. But in Moses 5, we find Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters before Cain and Abel came on the scene, and those sons and daughters had begun to pair off and have children of their own. We find Adam and Eve striving to make all things known to their children, but their children chose not to believe and chose to love Satan more than God. (That phrase about loving Satan more than God is repeated three times in this chapter, which should draw our attention, and I will examine it more closely a little later.)

Poor Adam and Eve! They must have felt like they had failed as parents with all their children going wrong. It is in this context that we get verse 16:
And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God. And Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain, and said: I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words. But behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him?
Adam and Eve prayed unceasingly (probably for their wayward children) and the result of all this praying seems to be that Cain was conceived and born. Eve must have considered Cain an answer to her prayers, since she says, “I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words.” Clearly she hoped that he would give humanity a new start in righteousness or that he would teach and convert his other siblings. What a disappointment it must have been to her when Cain began to resist the duty and worship that he owed to God. Was he going the way of her other unbelieving children or could he yet be saved?

Cain’s words were “Who is the Lord that I should know him?” (There are two other people in scripture who asked this question—the Pharaoh who would not let the Israelites go out of bondage and King Noah in the Book of Mormon—and we know what happened to them, so clearly this isn’t a spiritually healthy question to ask…) But when I translate these into a more modern construction, I come up with “What’s the point of knowing the Lord?” or “Why should I care about knowing the Lord?” or “Why should I care what the Lord thinks?” There were some points in my life when I would ask questions similar to this, but it was before I gained my own testimony and it wasn’t necessarily with the attitude of rejecting the Lord, but more out of the puzzlement of “Why is it important to know the Lord? How can it benefit me?” I heard others testifying to the blessings they had received and I didn’t yet know for myself. At bottom I had a wish to know the Lord as others did. Perhaps Cain's question held a certain amount of contempt with pride at the bottom of it, an attitude of "Why do I need the Lord when I'm doing just fine?"

But back to the story.. After this disappointment with Cain, Eve then bore Abel, with little or no scriptural fanfare.
And she again conceived and bare his brother Abel. And Abel hearkened unto the voice of the Lord.
Abel actually listened to the Lord! I can’t help but wonder if Cain was under such high expectations that he felt he couldn’t deliver on them so he bucked them. And maybe Abel wasn’t under any pressure at all, so he wanted prove better than expected. That’s just me speculating though. We don't know enough about Eve's parenting style to give her the credit she fully deserves as the mother of all living.

It is interesting that the difference between Cain and Abel starts at whether they hearken to the Lord or not. It makes me ponder whether I am someone who hearkens to the Lord or not. I hear the voice of the Lord, but do I hearken? (Ponder, ponder, ponder..) Probably not as much as I should..

Then we are told that Cain loved Satan more than God. That is interesting because it shows that in some ways Cain did love God. Yet he also loved Satan...more. This sets up the tragedy of Cain’s fall as a case of divided loyalties. Cain's love of Satan more than God makes me think of one of those balance scales. From my heart I can say that God weighs more with me than the world, but I still have a liking for the praise of the world and money; that adds some weight to Satan’s side of my heart's scale and sometimes that prevents me from whole-heartedly serving the Lord. (Gotta work on that.) In Cain’s case, his love of the carnal, sensual, and devilish weighed more in his heart than his love of the holy, good, and virtuous. (Kind of makes you ponder about how much God weighs in your heart versus Satan, huh?)

Then we come to a peculiar twist in the story.
18 …And Satan commanded him [Cain], saying: Make an offering unto the Lord.
19 And in process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
20 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering;
21 But unto Cain, and to his offering, he had not respect. Now Satan knew this, and it pleased him. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Moses 5:18-21)
Satan commanded Cain to make an offering to the Lord. This is particularly puzzling because it seems like Satan is changing sides. However, we see what Satan’s motive was in verse 20-21. Satan meant for Cain to do what would eventually alienate him from God and break the tenuous ties that still held him to goodness. (We see here that just as God isn’t satisfied with only a part of our loyalty, neither is Satan satisfied with a part of our loyalty. It’s an all-or-nothing struggle on both sides.) How did Satan mean for an offering to alienate Cain from God rather than reconcile to God? By inciting Cain to give an offering in a way contrary to that which had been divinely appointed. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
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 as quoted by The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p17)
God would not respect an offering that he had not appointed. Cain offered a sacrifice of plants rather than of flock firstlings and that was not in the similitude of Christ’s sacrifice, so it would not be confirmed by the presence of the Holy Ghost. I keep wondering why Cain didn't think of trading some of his crops for a proper sacrificial animal from Abel. Perhaps Cain had the pride and presumption to think that his offering would be accepted even though not given in due form (as he had been taught).

It is interesting that he had the spiritual perception to know the Lord had not accepted his offering. But instead of repenting, he chose to be angry, which is what Satan wanted.
22 And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen?
23 If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him;
24 For from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world.
25 And it shall be said in time to come—That these abominations were had from Cain; for he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God; and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent. (Moses 5:22-25)
Then we see the great mercy of God in attempting to warn Cain. It is amazing to me that we have this record of the Lord talking to Cain. Even though Cain loves Satan more than God, even though his offering was wrong, even though he is angry, God still talks to him. It shows the love God has for His children and how He tries to reclaim them and warn them when they go astray. It makes me wonder in what manner God spoke to Cain. Was it face to face? Was it through the Holy Ghost? Whatever way it was, Cain heard the voice of the Lord, even if he chose not to respond.

Verse 23 has a very powerful and simple principle. If we do well, we will be accepted. If we do not well, sin lies at the door and Satan wants to have us. Yet I’m not sure I quite understand exactly what it means to “do well.” Does it mean to do what the Lord wants, or does it mean to do one’s best, or is it a combination of those two? If it means to do what the Lord wants, then how would not doing well mean that sin lies at the door? I would think that not doing what the Lord wants would be sin, rather than the next thing to it. But it can’t mean merely to do one’s best because Saul/Paul did his best and yet was persecuting Christ and His church. So it seems doing well means to do what the Lord wants and doing our best.

Some clarification comes in the rest of verse 23: “except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire.” So as long as Cain would listen and do the commandments, Satan would never have his way with him, but if he rebelled, then the Lord would deliver Cain into Satan’s power. “And it shall be said in time to come--…he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God” (v25) This then is the background event that eventually led to Cain embracing murder and secret combinations. He rejected the greater counsel of God (divinely mandated sacrifice), so he was left to himself and fell into darkness and abominations. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith 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 him Perdition. He sinned against the light. And this he did, so we are told, because he loved Satan more than he loved God.” (Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, as quoted by The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p17)
This story shows the true seriousness of rejecting the truth. When the truth is rejected, one has nothing left but to fritter away their time and fall into lies and sin. It also shows how important it is to make our offerings in the divinely appointed way. Any other way leads not to at-one-ment with God, but to alienation from God, and it pleases Satan. We also see that God reaches out in mercy to those making unauthorized offerings and tries to help them learn to do it the right way. And too, our view of Cain becomes more complex. He wasn't totally bad all the way through, at least not in the beginning. Rather, he was a mix of good and evil. He heard the voice of the Lord (good), but he didn't listen. He loved God (good), but he loved Satan more. He offered a sacrifice (good) but it was the wrong kind and contrary to divine commandments. He sensed that his offering was rejected (good), but he chose to get angry about it. This makes the story of Cain into a greater warning for us, as it is a story about the first person to corrupt holy ordinances. He had the greater counsel from God (to sacrifice in similitude of the Only Begotten and to do well in the priesthood) and then he rejected it.

Abel is a contrast to Cain in this story. While Cain refuses to hearken to the Lord, Abel chooses to hearken. While Cain tills the soil, Abel tends the flocks. While Cain offers a wrong sacrifice, Abel offers a correct sacrifice. While Cain’s sacrifice is rejected, Abel’s is accepted. While Cain was angry at the rejection of his sacrifice, though the scripture doesn’t say, undoubtedly Abel was filled with joy and the Holy Ghost at the acceptance of his sacrifice. While Cain refused to hearken any more to the voice of the Lord (or his brother Abel), Abel walked in holiness (and seems to have attempted to teach Cain and perhaps his other siblings). Abel, though the younger brother, was an excellent example. Cain could not fail to notice this, and perhaps his envy led him to covet Abel’s flocks.

After studying the story of Cain and the background in Moses 4-5, I can see from looking at Genesis 3-4 the major holes that existed that Joseph Smith was filling in through revelation.

For instance, in Genesis 4:3-4, it says Cain and Abel both brought offerings to the Lord but it is the first mention in the Bible of any ordinance of that kind. This must have puzzled Joseph Smith and he asked for revelation. Then it was revealed to him that if Cain and Abel knew to offer sacrifices to the Lord, their father Adam had to have been commanded and taught to offer sacrifices as well. And further, Adam had to learn the meaning of those sacrifices. And again, Adam and Eve had to have been blessed with the witness of the Holy Ghost for their obedience. Thus, Adam would teach his children the same things he was taught and this could only be the way for Cain to rebel, if he previously knew the right way, was tempted, and decided to go against the right way.

I recommend a careful comparison between Genesis 4 and Moses 5 to fully appreciate the great gift that Moses 5 is to us.

Image 1: http://www.medicalscale1.com/2010/12/03/balance-scale-7/
Image 2: Wikipedia, "Cain and Abel," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cain_and_Abel
Monday, May 23, 2011 5 comments

Temple symbolism to ponder

Here is Paul speaking of the temple:
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (Hebrews 10:19-20, emphasis added)
Consider that little gem. If the temple veil symbolizes Christ’s flesh, then what might that add to our understanding of the marks upon it? (see also John 20:26-27) What meaning does this add to our understanding of the garment?
Monday, May 16, 2011 2 comments

I will boast of my God

“I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things” (Alma 26:12)

This struck me as a great way to begin missionary work to our friends and neighbors. Boasting of our God can show our respect for God and His power and show our enthusiasm for what He has done for us. That can build interest, curiosity, and desire in others to want that for themselves.

So, to try it myself, I have to say that one awesome thing about the Lord is that every time I’ve asked to understand something, He has helped. He’s blessed me to learn so many things about the scriptures. He’s also blessed me with ways to share things I’ve learned so that many other people can learn those things too!

It is really amazing that the Lord is so powerful, He can use the weakest of His servants to do His mighty works. He can even use the opposition to jumpstart His own work. He can bring the greatest blessings out of the greatest sacrifices and make the greatest sinners into the greatest saints when they turn themselves over to Him.

What can you boast of our God?
Wednesday, May 11, 2011 9 comments

Whoso climbeth up by me shall never fall

“whoso…climbeth up by me shall never fall” (Moses 7:53)

This is a very simple idea, but it also has embedded in it some important principles which are taught using the image of climbing to a higher place.

A climber has to grab something to pull on and push off of it to make any progress. They have to be supported by something. In the above line, Enoch learns that in life, Jesus is that support. A climber has to believe that what they hold on to will not move and will fully support their weight. Likewise, we must believe that Jesus can fully support the weight of our sins and sorrows. We must believe that His grace is all-sufficient.

The other thing we learn is that even though Jesus is our support, we make no progress without climbing. Our total effort and commitment is required.

One final thing I learn from this line is how necessary it is to make sure we are climbing by Christ and not by something else. I’ve done some climbing of rocks and (small) cliffs and learned that sometimes what I thought was a secure handhold loosens. (I learned to test my hold before putting my full weight on it.) If we try to climb up by anything besides Christ, those supports will ultimately fail and we will fall.

I'll give you a recent, rather painful example of how real this principle has become for me. For the last year I have been trying to become a seminary teacher. That’s what I wanted to do. Last week I was told that I had not been chosen to become one, and there was no opportunity to try again. I thought a position as seminary teacher would be perfect for me. I could think of so many ways that I had been prepared for something like that. Now I have no idea what to do instead. I’ve been praying for help to know what I should do. I’ve also begun to encounter subtle temptations from Satan; he tries to get me to think that because I’ve been refused, none of that gospel stuff and scripture stuff really matters any more, since I won’t have a job teaching it. Blatantly false, I know, but I still have to resist it. And the non-acceptance into seminary teacher-land has thrown me for a loop to the point that I’ve felt spiritually like I’m falling.

So this is why the above line from the scriptures has struck me as so precious. I’ve thought, If I feel like I’m falling, then perhaps I was not climbing up by Christ and was climbing up by seminary teacher-ness. Somehow, imperceptibly, I got off the real support onto something that could fail me and drop me. I’m trying to learn the difference between a temporal support (job) with spiritual elements and a true spiritual support.

In no way do I fault those instrumental in my rejection as a candidate. I’m not a perfect teacher and I know some of my faults; other candidates were better than I at connecting with teens.

For now and always, I have to climb up by Christ; any other way will drop me.

Will you tell me about a time when you had to learn this through difficult experience?

Image: Watchmojo, http://www.watchmojo.com/blog/health/tag/rock%20climbing/
Monday, May 9, 2011 2 comments

Things pertaining to a higher order

I really like the Maps application on my ipad because it makes it possible for me to zoom in and zoom out on the world. I can look at the world in so many views. I can see satellite images, or I can have street names superimposed on those images, and I can see terrain and buildings. It is almost like going somewhere and getting a bird’s eye view. When I read about different places, I like to go to my Maps application and discover those places so that they can become more real to me. As I've been reading Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, I've looked up some of the places to understand the geography better. (I wish it had the capability of telling me what the scale is of what I am seeing. I also wish I could know longitude and latitude.) Nevertheless, this application is amazing to me. Occasionally when the urge hits, I "wander around" North, South, and Central America, looking for anything that might fit vaguely with Book of Mormon geography. Zooming in and zooming out in satellite view, I feel like I can get a sense of what it must be like for God to see the big picture of what is going on globally and also know on the very small scale of what is going on with each person. (Granted, it is a very limited sense, but still, it teaches me about how vast His vision is, and yet how much He cares for 'the one.') I remember back in 2000 or 2001 when supercomputers were donated to BYU that could render these images so you could zoom in and zoom out on earth smoothly as if you were in a rocket rising or an asteroid falling. The ipad doesn’t zoom in or out quite as smoothly, but it does allow the same kind of global or magnified view.

As I was thinking about this recently, some scriptures came to my mind.
Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer. (Mosiah 8:13, emphasis added)
Computers are starting to remind me of Urim and Thummims these days. They can show us so many things, we just have to be aware that there are some things we should not look for. I’m finding that I get the best use my ipad and my computer when I have a specific purpose to sit down and use them. I suppose this great technology is a gift and also a test to see if we will look for the things God commands us to look for or whether we will look for things we ought not that will spiritually kill us. In a certain sense, it is preparation for this glorious future:
9 This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ’s.
10 Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known; (D&C 130:9-10, emphasis added)
I love that idea that we will have things pertaining to a higher order revealed to us. But I don’t want to wait for that; I want to search for things of a higher order now. I suppose that if that is what I search for, that is what I will find.

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ipadfix/4498992951/
Monday, May 2, 2011 5 comments

Lessons from Moses 1 about resisting Satan

In this chapter we are treated to three great experiences Moses had--seeing God, being tempted by Satan, and seeing God again. Recently I’ve been looking at the encounter he had with Satan and studying it.
10 And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.
11 But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him.
12 And it came to pass that when Moses had said these words, behold, Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.
13 And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?
14 For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely?
15 Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God; for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve.
16 Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.
17 And he also gave me commandments when he called unto me out of the burning bush, saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me.
18 And again Moses said: I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him: for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee. Depart hence, Satan.
19 And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.
20 And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory.
21 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.
22 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.
23 And now of this thing Moses bore record; but because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men. (Moses 1:10-23)
I decided to highlight some of the phrases that are repeated because it indicates a pattern, and when patterns emerge, there is something important to learn.

First, note how many times Moses says something like “depart hence, Satan.” (I highlighted it in orange.) From the very beginning, Moses wants Satan to go away. He says it four times, yet Satan keeps trying to get at him. (Only after the last time, when Moses commands in the name of the Only Begotten, does Satan obey.) So this should tell us that Satan does not take no for an answer and we have to stay firm and not give an inch.

There are some places where it is easy to think that Moses is starting to wander in his reasons for resisting Satan’s demand for worship. He starts out by comparing Satan’s lack of glory with God’s glory. We can grasp that; he’s just seen God after all. But then he says, “deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten.” (v16) I didn’t see how this was connected to Satan’s demand for worship. After a while I began to suspect that it wasn't meant to be connected; maybe it indicates that Satan was also tempting Moses in other ways that Moses did not record. If Moses recalled God’s words that he was in the similitude of the Only Begotten, perhaps Satan had also tried to get Moses to doubt what God had told him about his similitude and even denigrate his body because of the weakness Moses had been left in. Then Moses says, “[God] also gave me commandments when he called unto me out of the burning bush, saying: Call upon God in the name of mine Only Begotten, and worship me” (v17). This shows that Satan must have been trying to convince Moses that he didn’t need to pray any more after having had such a glorious vision of God and seeing so great things. (Insidious, huh?)

Moses is able to resist by remembering the commandments he had been given and remembering what he had been told about his identity. He had been told by God that he was a son of God, so he held to that.

Up to this point, Moses has been using logic according to the commandments to unveil Satan’s deceptions. And too he can judge Satan’s lack of glory compared with God’s. This is when Satan drops all pretense of politeness and tries to manipulate with spiritual abuse and strong emotional displays. (I highlighted this in red.) He cries with a loud voice, rants on the earth, and commands Moses to worship him as the Only Begotten. I looked up “rant” on my dictionary widget and it said “speak or shout in a wild, impassioned way.” All this to try to make Moses think he was wrong to resist and that he’s in spiritual danger. (To some extent, Moses does begin to feel he’s in danger; he begins to fear and senses the bitterness of hell, but he calls on God for strength.) Satan also tries to make Moses think Satan has power over the elements; Satan trembles at the same time that there is an earthquake, hoping Moses will think the two coinciding events are connected somehow. (Moses still resists with prayer and commands Satan to leave in the name of the Only Begotten.) Satan has to leave, but not before he vents all his frustration with weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.

I have a few observations about this.

First, I notice that Moses resists Satan’s temptations and attacks by remembering to pray and continuing to call on God. (I highlighted in green all the prayer stuff.) Using logic and the commandments works at the beginning, but when Satan started attacking, Moses resorted to prayer for strength. This shows us that it is true that if we pray always, we will come off conqueror and conquer Satan (and his servants). It might be easy to look at this story and say that prayer didn’t work because each time Moses prayed Satan kept trying stuff. The truth is that each prayer Moses prayed helped him resist the particular tactic Satan was trying at that time, so little by little, Moses was conquering Satan through prayer. At the end, Moses commanded Satan to depart in the name of the Only Begotten, using his priesthood. Clearly priesthood has power over Satan.

I notice that Moses knows exactly who this entity is who is after him and he never ceases to call him “Satan,” even when Satan demands to be worshipped and identified as the Only Begotten, trying to usurp Christ’s identity.

I really think that this story ranks in value next to the account of Satan tempting Jesus in the Bible. The value of Moses’s record arises from the great detail about Satan’s different attempts to snare Moses and the ways that Moses resists and overcomes Satan. As I studied this, I found that the same attacks that Satan used on Moses, Satan has used on me—the loud voice, the ranting, the commanding, the fear, the bitterness, the weeping, the wailing, the teeth-gnashing. (Not that Satan appeared to me, but he still used these tactics on my spirit.)

The tricky thing is, when Satan makes you think he is from God and tells you to do what he says, it makes you feel like you can’t pray because you fear that the prayer’s answer will just be the same thing again. So it makes you feel like you can’t pray, that you’re stopped in your progression, and resistance will bring about your apostasy and you’ll go to hell. It’s really hard to pray then, but pray we must. That’s what Moses did, and he received strength. That’s what I must do, instead of being pulled down into depression, guilt, fear, and self-loathing about my resistance.

I anticipate that this story will help me discern such tactics in the future and I have faith that the Lord will help me conquer Satan through prayer and the priesthood.

Update: The question that we all end up asking ourselves about this story is, "Why did Satan come so immediately after Moses had seen God?" I happened to stumble upon the answer quite by accident tonight.

Satan comes in our moments of weakness. Moses was in a moment of physical weakness after having seen God. Furthermore, he had been overwhelmed by the glory of God and said, "Now I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." It is at this moment that Satan jumps in and tries to use Moses's insight against him. If Moses thinks man is nothing, perhaps he will be sufficently impressed with Satan and worship him. Anything ought to be better than man, right? This shows that it does not do to think too little of ourselves, just as it is harmful to think too much of ourselves. Satan will use either against us.