This year members of the Mormon Church will be studying the Old Testament in Sunday school. We thought it would be interesting and informative to our readers for us to take a look at what they’re being taught each Sunday and then compare that to the word of God.
Sunday School Old Testament Lesson 1
One might think if you’re going to begin a study of the Old Testament you would begin with Genesis chapter one, right? Not so with the Mormon Church. They begin with the book of Moses. What’s the book of Moses you might be asking yourself? It’s the first book in an additional set of scriptures in the Mormon cannon called the Pearl of Great Price.
Lesson one focuses on the first chapter in the book of Moses. The chapter details a conversation Moses has with God, he’s transfigured, learns of the work God has for him, is confronted by Satan, and sees the many inhabited worlds the Lord has created.
For this lesson I’m going to pick out verses and events from the chapter, then give a biblical rebuttal to them. Based on the text we can surmise that this event took place before Moses was sent to Egypt to free the Israelites from captivity. Verse 26 of Moses 1 reads:
“And Io, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen.”
This chapter refers to Moses being “transfigured” during this conversation and speaking with God “face to face”. Verse 2 reads:
“And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence”.
In Exodus 33:18-20 we learn that Moses’ desires to see God’s glory, but God could only respond to part of Moses request. He tells Moses,
“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (v. 20)
In John 1:18 we also learn that no man can stand face to face with the living God and live, His glory would consume them.
“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
1 John 4:12 also confirms what God said to Moses in Exodus.
“No one has seen God at any time, if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (emphasis mine)
And yet there’s an apparent contradiction in Exodus 33:11 where Moses’ conversation with God is described as a “face to face” meeting. The phrase “face to face” in this instance is a figure of speech, it shows that Moses and God had a close relationship and spoke to each other as one friend to another.
However, in Mormon terms they would say Moses actually saw God’s face because they believe God has a physical body of flesh and bone. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)
In this chapter of Moses God also reveals to Moses that he is His son.
“And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show thee the workmanship of min hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.” v.4 (emphasis mine)
When God first speaks to Moses He addresses him by his name, and He reveals to Moses who He is, but never refers to him as His son. (Exodus 3:4:6)
God addressing Moses as “my son” is in reference to the Mormon teaching that all of us are children of God from the very beginning.
Yet we learn from Galatians 3:26 that it’s through Jesus we are called the children of God.
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
At the end of Moses 1 God is showing Moses all the worlds He’s created and the people who live on them. God commissions Moses to give “only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants” (v.35)
As I began going over this chapter it was hard for me to picture this conversation between Moses and God happening in light of the biblical account of their initial meeting. In this short article I’ve only scratched the surface of what we know and can learn from God’s word in comparison to what we read in Moses.
While most Bible scholars believe that it was Moses who wrote the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), the conversations Moses has with God and Satan found in the book of Moses aren’t found in the Bible. If the information given to Moses from God was so important why wasn’t it included in the Pentateuch?
Mormons would have you believe “evil men” removed this vital knowledge, and so there needed to be someone like Joseph Smith to restore it. But given God’s love for His people and His esteem for His word why would He have allowed this to happen in the first place?
We don’t find God showing Moses all the worlds he has made and making the exclamations the book of Moses claims, nor do we find Satan approaching Moses in an attempt to get him worship him.
Melissa Grimes firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pearl of Great Price- Book of Moses Chapter 1: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/moses/1?lang=eng
The Old Testament Lesson Manual – Lesson 1: http://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-class-member-study-guide/lesson-1-this-is-my-work-and-my-glory?lang=eng