Friday, January 15, 2010

Old Testament Lesson #3 The Creation

(Moses 1:27-42; 2-3)


There are three scriptural accounts of the Creation:  Genesis 1-2, Moses 2-3 and Abraham 4-5.  The same sequence takes place in all three.  (A fourth account of the creation, in the temple ceremony, puts the days in a different order, and Elder Bruce R. McConkie said the reason for that is obvious to any student of the gospel.  Except for me.  If you know, put it in a comment at the bottom!)  Moses and Abraham verify the truth of the King James Version, as well as clarifying it with additional information.  Some examples follow:

  • Although Genesis uses the singular word "God" as the Creator of the earth, it switches to plural, letting us know it may have been a committee of gods. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"(Genesis 1:26).  In addition to revealing the story of the pre-earth existence and the plan of salvation, the Book of Moses gives a preface that clarifies who the Creators were.  "And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest" (Moses 2:1).  Abraham uses the plural all the way through: "And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth." (Abraham 4:1).
  • Moses and Abraham both make it clear that the earth was not created from nothing; rather it was organized from existing matter.  "They, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth" (Abraham 4:1).
  • Abraham and Moses emphasize that the creation was done by the power of God's word.
  • While Genesis reads that each day was pronounced "good" by God, Moses reads that each day God said that all He had created so far was good, and Abraham reads, "The Gods saw that they were obeyed" (Abraham 4:10), giving us an interesting insight into what it is to be "good."
  • Abraham uses the word "times" rather than "days."
  • All three state that there was a plan first, a spiritual creation before the physical.  (See Gen. 2:5Moses 3:5Abr. 5:5.)

General Relief Society President Mary Ellen Smoot taught, "Creation is one of the characteristics that defines God.  He takes matter without form and molds it into stars, planets, and solar systems...Brothers and sisters, we are children of God.  Shouldn't we be about our Father's business?  Shouldn't we be creators as well?...The raw materials of creation are all around us.  President David O. McKay taught: 'Sculptors of life are we, with our uncarved souls before us...' Do we prize the gifts, talents, and choice spirits that God has given us?  Do we share the creations of our hearts, minds, and hands with others?"

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said that creating contributes to our Heavenly Father's perfect happiness, and can increase our happiness as well. "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul...Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before--colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter...Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it...The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create.  That is your opportunity in this life and your destiny in the life to come...Trust and rely on the Spirit.  As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you."

When we realize from the scriptural accounts that creating is reorganizing what we find or what we have into something better, we can see that every day, as we work to build the Kingdom of God, to raise our families, or to better the world around us by doing our daily work, we can be on a creating committee with Deity.  God has guided all good creations, and continues to do so, co-creating the Bible, the printing press, the lightbulb, the Internet, an effective Primary lesson, each individual infant, a spiritual home environment, a beautiful fireworks display, an inspiring Girl's Camp.  He guides us in how to create a spiritual giant out of a 12-year-old girl or an effective missionary out of a 19-year-old boy.  The account of the creation of the world teaches us that God's abilities are limitless.

Despite the overwhelming disadvantage of functioning during the Great Apostacy, the translation of the King James Version of the Bible (see my previous blog entry), was successful because it followed a pattern similar to that used in the creation of the world.  We can use the same pattern for creating on a day-to-day basis:
  1. Remember that Heavenly Father is able to create anything by the power of His word. (See Jacob 4:8-10.)  Stay worthy of the Gift of the Holy Ghost and He can counsel you as to what to create and how.  A feeling of great enthusiasm and drive for a project is how the Spirit often manifests itself, as it did to King James.  Relentless nagging thoughts about the importance of a particular work that you normally wouldn't want to do can also indicate a prompting of the Spirit.
  2. With this divine guidance, make a plan and carefully evaluate it.  Spiritual creation always comes first.
  3. Use a committee if appropriate and possible.  King James enlisted 47 great men, and sought the insight and aid of any learned man in the country of England.
  4. Trust in the Lord and follow through on the inspiration given to you.  Don't hesitate or be afraid.  Knowing you have never done it before, thinking it is beyond your ability, or realizing you don't know how, are all irrelevant because "[you] can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [you]" (Philip. 4:13).
  5. Pause to evaluate along the way, and seek the opinions of others.  After every segment of God's creation, he paused and said his work was "good."  Every chapter of the King James Bible was translated by multiple people and reviewed by multiple committees to make sure it was the very best it could be.
  6. At the end of the creation, God looked it over and pronounced it "very good."  The King James translators wrote a lovely dedication to their work, which follows the title page of the Bible.  When you reach the outcome of your inspired project, stop, look it over, and rejoice in it.  Whether it is a home repair, a musical performance, a Primary lesson, or a conversation with a new friend, go over in your mind what went well, and thank Heavenly Father for allowing you to jointly create with Him.  This will make you more likely to succeed the next time. 

Sources:  Mary Ellen Smoot, Ensign, May 2000; Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, November 2008.


    Anonymous said...

    Hi Nancy, I was just reading about lesson 3 The Creation, I did a search because I'm sposed to be teaching it tomorrow in our branch in Merimbula, Australia, and haven't got a manual I can find. I notice you are into reading books and also was reading about the lesson and what you have toward the end about being creative etc following the pattern of the creation, which is quite an interesting perspective, esp number 4.
    What i've been trying to build or create is a movie series based on a little bit of the Book of Mormon that would be popular to a world audience that would bring many people to the Book of Mormon and so to God and salvation, at least open the door to the latter and assist missionaries. Thats the project I've been told is pretty much impossible, One movie from an unknown writer is near impossible enough let alone a trilogy. But a movie out year by year over three years would be a much better tool both to tell the story and make sure the general public do not miss it, its interesting what could be shown. If the Twilight series was based on characters from the Book of Mormon and also the storyline, both are more or less about imortality and the persuit of eternal life (sort of) anyway. If a Book of Mormon series was as popular, I expect teenagers all over the world searching out the book its based on, especially during the time between the release of the sequels.
    So to your #5 in the pattern; 'evaluate, and seek opinions,' would you and maybe your reading group like to help me with that? With opinions? You would need to bear in mind the movies are aimed at a world mainstream audience and they need to attract that audience, I may not have it quite right yet but am sure its possible.
    And so help me with: 'Relentless nagging thoughts about the importance of a particular work that I normally wouldn't want to do'. Being a mechanic and part time screenwriter for this project.
    Mark Parker.

    April said...

    Nancy, your insights are invaluable. :) April

    Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

    Thank you, April!

    Anonymous said...

    Hi Nancy, I wasn't suggesting the Twilight characters were derived from the Book of Mormon, just that if you had a series as popular as the Twilight series with characters and story that 'were' base on the BofM, I expect the Book of Mormon would be read by a lot more people, there is no reason the Book of Mormon shouldn't be a very popular book.
    What I am working on isn't like the Gary Rodgers movie, I have a copy of that, its more like 'Gladiator or 'Brave heart' its done as an action/romance film, based around a character in Alma. I have contacted some film people, and I have done quite a bit of study and research, realistically it would probably need the association of a major studio.
    Looking at #3;
    "sought the insight and aid of any learned man in the country of England.'
    Knowing about Movie making isn't the main thing in this.
    Anyway thanks to your blog my lesson went well this morning. Also had an Ensign magazine that had a quote of Numbers 12;3 which I found very interesting; the most powerful man in Egypt, and I guess the world, at the time described that way.
    all the best and thanks Mark

    pdwheeler said...

    Nancy, In "From The Pearl of Great Price a Verse-by-Verse commentary" by Richard D. Draper, S. Kent Brown, Michael D. Rhodes. page 189. There is a small section on the Sequence of Events and they mention the temple and quote Bruce R. McConkie. This is the paragraph:"Those familiar with the temple account of the Creation will recognize that there are some differences both in sequence of events as well as what is done on a given "day." As Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated, "The temple account [of the Creation], for reasons that are apparent to those familiar with its teachings, has a different division of events. It seems clear that the 'six days' are one continuing period and that there is no one place where the dividing lines between the successive events must of necessity be placed" (McConkie, 1982, 11). The divisions into days or periods may, in a sense, be artificial, since in this view the Creation is really one continuous event."
    I don't know if this helps answer your question.

    pdwheeler said...

    Another comment from Hugh Nibley in "Old Testament and Related Studies" p.64 is that all these versions are from the view of the individual observers who tell the story and that we cannot see it with the eye of God.

    Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

    Mark, I see what you're saying. I agree that many Book of Mormon scenes would make terrific movies. And, yes, if people love a movie, they'll often read the book. I hope it works out for you! And I'm so glad your lesson went well!

    Diane, thanks a lot for those points. That makes sense to think that although events are related in a linear order, they probably weren't linear.

    Anonymous said...

    If you know how to contact or email Mark Parker, please have him email me. I served my mission Australia and was in his branch when it was called the Bega Branch.

    Kent Power

    Sheryl Bullock said...

    How is the order of days of creation different in the temple? I have never realized that.

    Gary Woodward said...

    Found this insight on Gospel Doctrine

    The Temple sequence is a bit different. Most notably, the sun and moon are created before the vegetation is created. This seems intuitive since plants require sunlight for life and photosynthesis. Furthermore, the process of producing the grass, herbs, and trees was done by "placing seeds of all kinds in the earth." Secondly, the concept of a spiritual creation preceding the temporal is emphasized in this account, "For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth" (Moses 3:5). Lastly, the only project of the sixth day, according to the temple, is the creation of man. This rendering emphasizes mankind as the climax and purpose of God's great work.

    Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

    Thanks, Gary, for providing that concise description and explanation of the differences. Much better than I could have done. is a great source.

    Sheryl Bullock said...

    Wow, that is very helpful and interesting. Thank you!

    Taffy said...

    Moses and Abraham had Israel as their audience and wrote in a symbolic parallel order cause that’s their prose style. The order in Temple is directed towards Westerners who like things in a more chronological order.

    Nancy Wyatt Jensen said...

    Taffy, that's a great comment. I didn't think about Hebrew writing style, but that totally makes sense! Thanks!