“If Thou Doest Well, Thou Shalt Be Accepted”
Lesson 5 - Moses 5 – 7
In today’s lesson, it will be illustrated that choices to follow Jesus Christ lead to liberty, happiness, and eternal life, while choices to follow Satan lead to misery and captivity.
Cain covenanted with Satan, killed Abel, and was cursed by the Lord. Moses 5:16-41.
As parents, Adam and Eve hoped that Cain, their son, would choose to follow the Lord, doing as they did. Cain, however, “hearkened not” to his earthly parents or the Lord. He asked, “Who is the Lord that I should know him?” (Moses 5:16). Obviously, Cain’s attitude toward the Lord was prideful, irreverent, dismissive, arrogant, and foolish. Alma 22:17-18 teaches us one of the things we must do to come to know God—desire to know Him and give away all our sins.
· Moses 5:18 tells us why Cain made an offering to the Lord—because Satan commanded him.
· Moses 5:19 informs us that Cain’s offering was the “fruit of the ground”.
· Moses 5:5, 20-23 records that the Lord received Abel’s sacrifice but rejected Cain’s. Why? Because Abel had obeyed the Lord’s commandment and Cain had followed Satan’s command. It was important to make the sacrifice in the manner specified by the Lord.
· The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “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…Shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man…was the plan of redemption; …and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to order a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised…; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 58).
· Moses 5:21, 26 record Cain’s reaction when the Lord rejected his offering and called upon him to repent. He was “wroth”, meaning “forceful, vindictive anger”. As we review the attitude and actions of Cain, we see that it was hard –very hard—for him to be called to repentance. That is a common failure of the natural man, so we need to be sure that we do not fall into a similar attitude or pattern of behavior. To assure that, the key is to be humble and have a contrite heart.
· Moses 5: 33 records Cain’s boast that, after having killed Abel, he was “free”. He obviously thought that he was free of having to listen to his brother’s counsel (“voice”, verse 26) and would now have dominion over his brother’s flocks. In truth, Cain’s disobedience had limited his freedom because he would have to live with the consequences of his evil action. Obedience actually increases our freedom since no limitations are placed upon us by sin.
· Moses 5:34 contains Cain’s infamous reply to the Lord’s inquiry about Abel’s whereabouts. We, in the gospel, know full well that we are indeed our brothers’ (and sisters’) keepers. Bishop Robert L. Simpson said: “The world today tells you to leave your friend alone. He has the right to come and go as he pleases. The world tells you that persuasion to attend church or priesthood meeting or to discard a bad habit might lead to frustration and undue pressures; but again I repeat the word of the Lord: You are your brother’s keeper, and when you are converted, you have an obligation to strengthen your brother” (Ensign, Dec. 1971, 103).
· Moses 5:23-25 and 36-41 emphasize the results of Cain’s choices. He was cast out and became a fugitive. He became known throughout history as the one who introduced lies and murder into mortality because he chose to hearken to Satan and disobey the Lord.
· Moses 5:41-43, 49-52, 55 show how Cain’s choices affected his family. Your choices about whom you will follow and the choices you make about right and wrong are never isolated to you.
Enoch preached repentance to the people. Moses 6:26-63.
Moses 6:31 let us see how Enoch felt when he was called by the Lord to preach repentance. He questioned why the Lord would call a “lad” who was hated by the people and slow of speech.
Moses 6:32-34 assures Enoch that—if he is faithful and does as commanded—he will be protected, inspired in his speech, his words will be justified, he will walk with the Lord and have power over the mountains and rivers (the power to work miracles). From this we learn that the Lord chooses his leaders based on their heart, not outward appearances. (See 1 Samuel 16:7).
In addition, we learn that even when we do not feel confident and capable, we should trust the Lord’s judgment and serve him willingly in whatever calling he sees fit to extend to us.
Moses 6:37-39 tells us that all the people took offence at Enoch’s preaching, but even so, they were curious and assembled to hear this “wild man”. They became fearful of him and his prophecies. In our day, there are those who find the prophet’s words insulting and offensive, but if they had a testimony of his calling, they could learn to follow him even when they disagree.
Moses 6:47-63*. (These scriptures were also referenced in Lesson 4). Enoch taught the doctrines of the gospel to the people.
Moses 6:56 teaches that the Lord has made us “agents unto ourselves”, meaning that he has given us the power to choose for ourselves. Agency is necessary to the Plan of Salvation because with the power to choose comes the responsibility and accountability for those choices and the results of our choices. Obviously, there are vastly different consequences that accompany the choice to follow Satan versus the result of choosing to follow Christ. See 2 Nephi 2:25-27.
The City of Enoch was taken to heaven when the people were of one heart and one mind.
Moses 7:13 records how literally the Lord fulfilled his promises to make Enoch powerful over the mountains and rivers and capable of miracles. In our day, the prophets possess that same power of performing miracles as necessary under the inspired direction of the Lord.
Moses 7:17-18 tells us that the Lord’s glory was upon his people, their land, their places in the mountains, and their high places. The Lord called their city “Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind and dwelt in righteousness.” As a people we need to become one in the Church and in our families, so in class, suggest ways in which this might be accomplished.
Moses 7:19-21, 69. In time, the Lord translated the City and its people.
Moses 7:28-33, 36-37 gives us insight into the Lord’s feelings as he watches his children choose sin and reap the consequences thereof.
Moses 7:41, 44-47 record that Enoch also wept over the people, but he was comforted by the Lord.
Future lessons will discuss the reestablishment of Zion in the latter days, the Second Coming, and the Millennium that were seen in Enoch’s vision.
Cain chose to follow Satan and teach his evil practices to his children and followers. Consequently, Cain’s descendants increased in their wickedness and God cursed them for their unrighteousness. Enoch, on the other hand, chose the way of the Lord in his life. Enoch’s choice to be obedient and spread the gospel to anyone who would listen and accept the teachings allowed an entire city to become so righteous that they were taken from the earth to dwell with God.
Attitudes that lead us to God or Attitudes that lead us to destruction
Enoch’s attitudes and the consequences: Moses 7:59; 6:31; 6:43; 6:39; 7:44; 7:18 (=Dwell with God).
Cain’s attitudes and the consequences: Moses 5:16, 5:25; 5:34; 5:33; 5:31; 5:41 (=Spiritual destruction)
Despite the teachings of their parents, some children choose not to live in righteousness
Elder Richard G. Scott counseled: “Many of you have heavy hearts because a son or daughter, husband or wife, has turned from righteousness to pursue evil. My message is for you. Your life is filled with anguish, pain, and, at times, despair. I will tell you how you can be comforted by the Lord. First, you must recognize two foundation principles: 1) While there are many things you can do to help a loved one in need, there are some things that must be done by the Lord. 2) Also, no enduring improvement can occur without righteous exercise of agency. Do not attempt to override agency. The Lord himself would not do that. Forced obedience yields no blessings (see D&C 58:26-33). I will suggest seven ways you can help. First, love without limitations. …Second, do not condone the transgressions, but extend every hope and support to the transgressor…Third, teach truth…Fourth, honestly forgive as often as is required…Fifth, pray trustingly, ‘The…fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:16)…Sixth, keep perspective…When the things you realistically can do to help are done, leave the matter in the hands of the Lord and worry no more. Do not feel guilty because you cannot do more. Do not waste your energy on useless worry…In time, you will feel impressions and know how to give further help. You will find more peace and happiness, will not neglect others that need you, and will be able to give greater help because of that eternal perspective… One last suggestion—Never give up on a loved one, never!” (Ensign, May 1988, 60-61.)
These lessons are posted on the Internet at http://www.neumanninstitute.org