Moses 8

Moses 8:2-3 Methuselah, the son of Enoch, was not taken

If you were the prophet of the city of Zion, wouldn't you want your entire family with you when the city was translated?  Would you want to leave anyone behind?

While the record doesn't tell us why Methuselah was left behind, we know that it was the Lord's doing that the covenants and promises might be fulfilled.  Enoch was shown Noah and his posterity (Moses 7:42-43), and he must have also learned that Noah would be his descendant.  Indeed, he was his great grandson through Methuselah and Lamech.

Methuselah is famous for living longer than any other man in Biblical history-a mere 969 years.  He correctly prophesied that the entire inhabitants of the earth would come through his lineage but apparently wasn't very humble about it.  "He took glory unto himself."  This is the fatal flaw of so many. 

"We... vaunt ourselves if we take credit for what we haven't earned. Some people blame God when things go badly in their lives and take the credit when things go well, overlooking the fact that their talents, skills, and possessions are gifts from the Lord.

"The scriptures say that 'in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.' (D&C 59:21.) True humility comes when we acknowledge our dependence on him in every act-indeed, in every breath." ("Charity Vaunteth Not Itself, Is Not Puffed Up," Ensign, Mar. 1988, 53)

Moses 8:7 all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine

The Book of Mormon reminds us that anciently, "the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents." (2 Ne. 2:21)  Methuselah sure had plenty of time to repent of his personal pride.

Brigham Young

It is recorded, you are aware, that in former days mankind lived to a great age-to over nine hundred years. It is written the Methuselah lived to the greatest age-969 years; and perhaps many others lived to a like age. And would not you like to live long upon the earth, with power to overcome diseases, to overcome your enemies, to enjoy life, to plant gardens, build cities, and adorn and make them beautiful, set out shade trees, orchards, and vineyards, make walks, parks, and ornamental grounds, and have schools, academies, and universities, living six, seven, or eight hundred years and more to enjoy these blessings?

A few thousand years ago mankind outlived many of the present generations. Could you live to see twenty, thirty, or more generations come and go, see kings rise and fall or pass away, for many hundred years observe the rise and fall of governments, and enjoy all the pleasure and comfort of making a portion of this earth bloom as the garden of Eden, would you not like it? You would; for even now you cling to the earth, insomuch that if you thought you were going to die before to-morrow morning, it would be, "Send for the Elders!-run for a doctor and some medicine!"

It is written that in the latter days the age of man shall be as the age of a tree, when the Lord shall bring again Zion. The Prophet understood that what had been would be again. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 8: 283)

Moses 8:12 Noah was four hundred and fifty years old, and begat Japeth.

The great thing about the Book of Moses (Joseph Smith's Translation of the first chapters of Genesis) is that it expands upon our understanding of the Patriarchs.  No other book in scripture is as abbreviated, condensed, or cryptic as Genesis.  Some confusion is caused when the record gets too brief.  For instance, Genesis 5:32 says "Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japeth."  That might leave one the impression that all three of Noah's sons were born in his 500th year.  Well, they must have been triplets!  Or maybe, Noah had three wives that all gave birth the same year!

Joseph Smith helps us to understand that these three brothers were born by Noah's 500th year not in his 500th year.  He was 450 with Japeth, 492 with Shem, and 500 with Ham.  Imagine having a child at the age of 500! The mere thought is exhausting.

Moses 8:14 the sons of men... took them wives, even as they chose

This is another example of how the Joseph Smith version of Genesis clears up confusion.  One of the greatest misconceptions-perhaps one of the worst interpretations of the Bible-comes from the early chapters of Genesis: "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old men of renown." (Gen 6:4)  Wresting the scriptures, some have said that the "sons of God" were angels in heaven, who looked down upon the earth and saw such beautiful women that they decided to come to earth and take them as wives.  Their children were, of course, a special race of half-angel giants.

The Book of Moses expands the abbreviated text to explain that the righteous sons of Noah were called "sons of God."  There weren't angels lusting over human women from above.  The "sons of men" took them wives and their descendants began to disobey God. Indeed, there was a race of great stature, termed giants in the scriptures, but they were not a product of some superhuman union of angel and man.

Moses 8:15 The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves

Noah's granddaughters married poorly.  In marrying wicked men, they sold themselves.  The result was death both physical and spiritual. How often do we see great young women sell themselves for less when they marry for "love" without regard for the gospel and covenants of the Temple?  Sadly, none of Noah's granddaughters nor their husbands would survive the Flood.

Ezra Taft Benson

If someone wants to marry you outside the temple, whom will you strive to please-God or a mortal? If you insist on a temple marriage, you will be pleasing the Lord and blessing the other party. Why? Because that person will either become worthy to go to the temple-which would be a blessing-or will leave-which could also be a blessing-because neither of you should want to be unequally yoked (see 2 Cor. 6:14).

You should qualify for the temple. Then you will know that there is no one good enough for you to marry outside the temple. If such individuals are that good, they will get themselves in a condition so that they too can be married in the temple. (Ensign, May 1988, 6)

Moses 8:17 My Spirit shall not always strive with man

What is amazing is how long the Spirit of God will strive with man!  Only when divinely decreed destruction is God's only alternative, the Spirit stops striving.  This is a remarkably comforting thought.  While a small sin might drive the Spirit away for a moment.  The Holy Ghost quickly returns seeking opportunity to help.

We forget how quickly the Spirit returns when we are penitent.  Perhaps there have been too many "hellfire and damnation" discourses from the pulpit.  Perhaps it is Satan who has convinced us that the smallest of sins make us forever unworthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  Perhaps, we have been told too many times that one of the consequences of sin is that it drives away the Spirit.  That may be true, but the Spirit doesn't stop striving with us for those sins.  He comes right back into our life as soon as we will let Him.  Striving is a powerful word; it connotes strenuous effort against opposition.  Great effort is expended regularly on our behalf.  Indeed, the Spirit is always striving with us as long as we are striving to improve.  He only gives up when it's a hopeless case.

Spencer J. Condie

The Book of Mormon prophets make it very clear that the Holy Ghost is willing to exert a very powerful influence in our lives when we are responsive to his promptings. Nephi, Mormon, and Ether explained that the Spirit strives with us to guide our lives on righteous paths (see 2 Ne. 26:11; Morm. 5:16; Ether 2:15). Moroni proclaimed that the Spirit persuades us to do good (see Ether 4:11-12). Amulek taught that the Holy Ghost contends with us to do that which is right (see Alma 34:38), and King Benjamin explained that the Holy Ghost entices us to be righteous (see Mosiah 3:19).

The promptings of the Spirit were never intended to supplant our moral agency, but the Spirit will underscore preferable options in our behavior and clarify a certain course of action in our hearts and minds. ("Agency: The Gift of Choices," Ensign, Sept. 1995, 21)

Spencer J. Condie

The words strive, entice, contend, and persuade are all very strong action verbs indicating a positive influence which the Holy Ghost can have in our lives by actively helping us in our quest for perfection. ("A Mighty Change of Heart," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 15-16)

Moses 8:19 the Lord ordained Noah after his own order

The Lord Jehovah ordained Noah to "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God" (D&C 107:3). Noah lived before Melchizedek, so the name of the priesthood was after the Lord's own order. Now this passage should not be construed to mean that the Lord ordained Noah directly, but rather that he received it from his grandfather, "Noah was ten years old when he was ordained under the hand of Methuselah" (D&C 107:52).

Noah's place in the priesthood is greater than we commonly understand. In a way, he was like Adam. Every human on the earth traces his lineage back to Father Noah. His place in history is unique; his place in the priesthood order is equally unique. Identified by Joseph Smith as the Angel Gabriel, Noah announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zacharias. He announced the birth of Jesus to Mary (Luke 1:11-38). He is the first and premiere Elias, especially the Elias who was to restore all things, "Elias [is the prophet] to whom I have committed the keys of bringing to pass the restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, concerning the last days" (D&C 27:6, see also D&C 110:12). The next verse identifies this Elias as Gabriel, or Noah.

Joseph Smith

The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the first Presidency... He is Michael the Archangel spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in this day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157)

Moses 8:22 God saw that the wickedness of men had become great in the earth

"These people were so wicked that they were no longer allowed to pollute the earth by their presence on it or to bring innocent spirits into its decadent environment. The Lord decreed that all living things would be destroyed by flood, with the exception of a faithful few who would be spared so that God could begin anew his creative work and reestablish his covenant among men.

"The Flood was an act of mercy, not an act of vengeance. The generation of Noah was so wicked that only an act of cleansing of immense magnitude could allow the next generations a chance to live by higher principles. As will be necessary at the second coming of Christ, evil must be eliminated, whether it be through repentance or through destruction." (Kent P. Jackson, "An Age of Contrasts: From Adam to Abraham," Ensign, Feb. 1986, 29)

Neal A. Maxwell

It is chilling, therefore, to learn that the days preceding the second coming of the Savior will produce conditions parallel in many ways to those in the time of Noah. (Luke 17:26.) It will take living prophets to keep us from sliding into parallel insensitivity.

Evil people often think, as did Cain, that they are free. No doubt Noah's contemporaries regarded themselves as liberated and sophisticated. The perceptive columnist George F. Will observed of false freedom, "If you accept the modern notion that freedom is just the absence of restraints, then Hitler was a radically free man, a man operating on society from outside, unrestrained by any scruples or ties of affection." (The Pursuit of Happiness and Other Sobering Thoughts, p. 16.)

It is the living prophets who can tell us of true freedom. (Things As They Really Are [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 76)

Moses 8:22 the imaginations of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually

Hartman Rector Jr.

I believe that families are under a more serious attack today than at any time since the beginning of the world, with the possible exception of the days of Noah. It must have been bad then too. Maybe we today are not quite as bad as they were. Moses recorded in the Book of Genesis: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Gen. 6:5.) I don't believe I have ever known anyone quite that bad, whose "every thought was evil continually." ("Turning the Hearts," Ensign, May 1981, 73)

Moses 8:23 Noah continued his preaching unto the people

John Taylor

Let me ask, what did the Lord do before He sent the flood? He sent Noah among them as a preacher of righteousness; He sent Enoch; He sent many Elders among the people, and they prophesied to them that unless they repented, judgment would overtake them; that God would overwhelm the earth with a flood and destroy the inhabitants thereof...

Thus we see the dealings of God with those people. Noah had nothing to do but to preach the Gospel, and obey the word of the Lord. We have nothing to do but attend to the same things. We then leave the inhabitants of the earth in the hands of God. It is not for us to judge them; for the Lord says: "judgment is mine and I will repay." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 24: 292-293)

Moses 8:24 Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized

"This text is significant in that it confirms that Noah, like his predecessors, understood the gospel covenant, including the baptismal ordinance and Jesus Christ's role as Savior." (Donald W. Parry, "The Flood and the Tower of Babel," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 37)

Moses 8:25 it repented Noah... that the Lord had made man on the earth

In the Genesis version, God says "it repenteth me that I have made them" (meaning man, see Gen. 6:7).  Is God admitting he made a mistake? Is it true, he wished he had never created man?  One must pause and remember that of all His glorious creations, none had been so wicked (Moses 7:26).

The Prophet Joseph could not stand the idea.  Can God repent?  No, He cannot.  There are several times in the Old Testament in which the text says that God "repented," usually meaning he changed his mind. In each instance, the Joseph Smith Translation changes the text so that God is not the one repenting. 

Joseph Smith

It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth.-Genesis v: 6.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent.-Numbers xxiii: 19...

It ought to read: It repented Noah that God had made man. This I believe, and then the other quotation [meaning the second] stands fair. If any man will prove to me by one passage of holy writ one item I believe to be false, I will renounce and disclaim it as far as I have promulgated it. (B. H. Roberts, The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1900], 166)

The text brings up an interesting question.  If God cannot repent, can he change his commands?  On this issue, the Prophet says, "yes."

Joseph Smith

A man would command his son to dig potatoes and saddle his horse, but before he had done either he would tell him to do something else. This is all considered right; but as soon as the Lord gives a commandment and revokes that decree and commands something else, then the Prophet is considered fallen. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 194)

Moses 8:27 Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord

"Scriptural text says that Noah 'found grace in the eyes of the Lord' because he was 'a just man, and perfect in his generation,' one who 'walked with God,' as did Enoch (Moses 8:27; see also Moses 7:69; Gen. 5:24). The quality of perfection in these contexts is similar to that achieved by Abraham and Job, meaning that Noah righteously did all he was supposed to do in mortality and was 'made perfect through Jesus the Mediator' and through the Atonement, not that Noah was exalted (see Gen. 17:1; Job 1:8; D&C 76:69)." (Joseph B. Romney, "Noah, The Great Preacher of Righteousness," Ensign, Feb. 1998, 25)

Russell M. Nelson

James gave a practical standard by which mortal perfection could be measured. He said, "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man." (James 3:2)

Scriptures have described Noah, Seth, and Job as perfect men. (Gen. 6:9, D&C 107:43, Job 1:1) No doubt the same term might apply to a large number of faithful disciples in various dispensations. Alma said that "there were many, exceedingly great many," (Alma 13:12) who were pure before the Lord.

This does not mean that these people never made mistakes or never had need of correction. The process of perfection includes challenges to overcome and steps to repentance that may be very painful. There is a proper place for chastisement in the molding of character, for we know that "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth."

Mortal perfection can be achieved as we try to perform every duty, keep every law, and strive to be as perfect in our sphere as our Heavenly Father is in his. If we do the best we can, the Lord will bless us according to our deeds and the desires of our hearts. ("Perfection Pending," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 86)