JMS Sunday School Lesson #1

[I plan on posting the notes for my Gospel Doctrine lessons this year; I’ll put my initials in the title so that there won’t be any confusion in the sidebar or archives with my lessons and Jim’s.]

Intro to the OT
(1) Ask: How does the Old Testament differ from our other scriptures?
–transmission/corruption issues
–looks forward instead of backward to Christ
–note that even within the OT, we have many different times, cultures, locations, types of government, genres, etc.
–big point: always look for Christ when you read–types, shadows, symbols, etc.
(2) Convey delight at teaching the Old Testament. An analogy: An archealogist of the future would be bored silly and frustrated trying to read straight through a 21st century phone book. But if that archaelogist were to understand the conventions of its genre, she would realize that she had a great treasure of information about our culture. Similarly, if we can learn a few things about the OT texts, we can have a treasure of information about the gospel.

Intro to the Book of Moses
(1) Note that this is part of the JST:
“I will say, however, that amid all the trials and tribulations we had to wade through, the Lord who well knew our infantile and delicate situation, vouchsafed for us a supply of strength, and granted us “line upon line of knowledge — here a little and there a little,” of which the following [the book of Moses] was a precious morselâ€? (Joseph Smith, HC, vol.1:98).
As we read, think about how what is taught here would be a ‘supply of strength’ to persecuted Saints.
(2) Internal evidence indicates that Moses 1 is after the burning bush (1:17) and before leaving Egypt (1:26).

Moses 1
(1) Background: Moses sees God ‘face to face’ (v2).
(2) Read v3-8.
–v5: you can’t even SEE everything God has done and be mortal—what are the implications of this for our lives?
–other thoughts on this passage?
(3) Read v9-10.
–I don’t think v9 is the result of sin; have you had this experience?
(4) Read v12-23 (quickly!); we shouldn’t be surprised that such a clear guide to repelling Satan was lost from the record (see v23).
–If you consider this a ‘play book,’ what do you learn about fighting Satan? (Satan shows up when Moses is weak; v18—we need to help others have spiritual experiences so they can recognize the counterfeit; note that v4 is paraphrased in v13 (and v6 in v16)—the Lord provided Moses exactly what he would need; in what ways have you taken basic, abstract doctrine and directly applied it to your challenges?; Satan doesn’t leave until the 4th request—when it is made in the name of Jesus Christ:President Hugh B. Brown: “I say to each and every one present, you will be equal to any temptation that may come to you provided you meet it with firmness when it first appears. I repeat, no man goes to hell in a single jump. Be careful with the first appearance of evil.” (Abundant Life, p73))
–What does the emotional outburst in v22 teach us?
–How would you describe Satan based on this passage?
–What do you learn from Moses’ fear in v20? What do you think caused it—and note how he pulled out of it?
(5) Read v25: fulfilled at least four ways: plague on the Nile (Ex 7:20), parting of Red Seas (Ex 14:21), heal poisonous waters (Ex 15:25), water from a rock (Numbers 20:8-11). Note that this promise of power comes after he has been tested.
(6) Summary: v26-29: Moses sees all the earth and all the people on it
(7) Read v30: Moses asks WHY and HOW these things were made.
–Ask: Scan v31-41, looking for the answers to Moses’ questions.
–Do v31 (‘for mine own purpose’) and v39 (‘work and glory’) agree?
–How: v32: “…by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son”
(8) Moses 1:39 is the most-quoted of all scriptures that have come to us through Joseph Smith. I have no idea what it means. Does ‘glory’ mean the same here as in v2 and v31? What does ‘glory’ mean? What does ‘work’ mean in this context? In what ways is this answer different from God saying, “because it is my jobâ€??

Moses 1: The Big Picture
(1) How would we perceive the OT differently if it began with Moses 1?
(2) Structure of this chapter: vision, temptation, bigger vision. (What) do we learn from this?
Elder Holland: “But Moses’ message to you today is, “Don’t let your guard down.” Don’t assume that a great revelation, some marvelous illuminating moment, or the opening of an inspired path is the end of it. Remember, it isn’t over until it’s over. What happened to Moses next, after his revelatory moment, would be ludicrous if it were not so dangerous and so absolutely true to form. In an effort to continue his opposition, in his unfailing effort to get his licks in later if not sooner, Lucifer appeared and shouted in equal portions of anger and petulance after God had revealed himself to the prophet, I wish to encourage every one of you today regarding opposition that so often comes after enlightened decisions have been made, after moments of revelation and conviction have given us a peace and an assurance we thought we would never lose. In his letter to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul was trying to encourage new members who had just joined the Church, who undoubtedly had had spiritual experiences and had received the pure light of testimony, only to discover that not only had their troubles not ended, but that some of them had only begun. (Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence, BYU Devotional, 1999)
(3) There is a paradox between ‘man is nothing’ (v10) and ‘man is God’s glory’ (v39) in this chapter. How can we elucidate that?

12 comments for “JMS Sunday School Lesson #1

  1. Randy B.
    December 28, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    This is great Julie. Thanks.

    Now you all need to recruit someone to do the same thing for the RS/MP lessons!

  2. December 28, 2005 at 6:50 pm

    I appreciate this Julie. I was hoping the Sunday School Lessons were going to continue here. Though I think many of your questions would receive blank stares from the particular ward I attend, these are excellent thoughts/questions. Thank you.

  3. December 29, 2005 at 10:20 am

    One important difference to notice with the OT is that it is far longer than any other book of scripture we have. There is much more material to deal with.

  4. Wilfried
    December 29, 2005 at 10:25 am

    Thank you so much, Julie. This is going to be very helpful.

  5. Mike Parker
    December 29, 2005 at 11:58 am

    Yay! The Sunday School lesson notes return!

    Some additional thoughts:

    It’s interesting how “temple-like” Moses’ vision is:
    * He’s taken to a mountain (mountains and temples are frequently used for the same purposes in scripture; the temple in Jerusalem is called “the mountain of the Lord’s house” and actually sits on a hilltop).
    * He sees God “face to face” (does this mean looking at God, or actually face touching face in a ritual embrace?).
    * He talks with God (receiving diving instruction; being shown the history of the world and given an explanation of the plan of salvation).
    * Moses is not glorified himself (this would require that he be translated; v. 5), but “the glory of God was upon Moses” (like he’s wearing a garment; the scriptures frequently speak of being “clothed with glory”; e.g., Moses 7: 3).

    Unlike Abraham’s vision (in Abr. 3), Moses’ vision is “only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof” (v. 35).

    The pattern of {great spiritual experience — temptation/testing — great spiritual experience} seems common in human experience with God. We see it in our own lives (just not the same degree) and in the lives of other prophets (Joseph Smith’s experience with James 1:5 and his decision to pray — his wrestle with Satan — his First Vision) and even Jesus himself (fasting and praying alone in the wilderness for forty days — Satan’s three challenges — ministering of angels).

  6. Anita
    December 29, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    Great to read someone else’s notes as I prepare my lesson too! I’m also going to stress that Jehovah of the OT is Christ, which I think some of my class members might not have straight. And I’m considering challenging them to read it (3 pages a day to finish this year)–do you think anyone would? :-)
    Interesting to note how Moses’ Egyptian upbringing was a contrast to the concept that man was nothing–here he had been raised to believe the pharoahs were divine. And you can go through and find all of the YW values in that Moses 1 chapter–interesting to see how there are statements to correspond with each one. Too much to cover in one lesson!

  7. Mike Parker
    December 29, 2005 at 7:41 pm

    I’ve finished my handout for this lesson. Feel free to use any part of it.

    PDF file

  8. December 29, 2005 at 8:46 pm

    Just out of curiosity. How many of those teaching this will get into the nature of the JST? (i.e. inspired expansion vs. restoring of texts)

  9. Julie M. Smith
    December 29, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    Mike Parker–

    That’s very useful, thanks. One item that you might want to add is the Bible study tools at My favorite is the lexicon, interlinear, and ability to pull up a list of every OT verse that includes the word that you are considering.

    Clark, that is an issue that I will probably take up later in the year, perhaps when all of those “God repented” verses occur. There’s just so much going on in Moses 1 that I don’t think this is the best week for it.

  10. Jim F.
    December 29, 2005 at 11:36 pm

    Mike, that is an excellent handout. Thanks for making it available.

    Clark, I agree with Julie. There is so much going on in the creation story that I don’t see it as a good time to have the discussion of the JST. I’m sure it will come up, but later.

  11. Mike Parker
    December 30, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    One warning on the handout — I just discovered that on the first page it says there are 27 books in the Old Testament. There are, of course, 39. I got confused with the 27 books of the New Testament.

  12. Julie M. Smith
    December 31, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    One other resource I wanted to mention: Dr. Constable’s study notes are a good resource. They are on the conservative side, but within reason. It is rare to find a full text available online that is comprehensive but not overwhelming.

Comments are closed.