Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Becoming a "Seer"

I have been fascinated for a long time with seership -- in my definition "seeing things the way God sees things." To become a seer is the quest of a lifetime. To see as we are seen and to know as we are known, is the hope the Apostle Paul once offered.

Said he, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. . . For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

I was stopped cold in my tracks while reading last night at Moses Chapter 1 in The Pearl of Great Price. I found myself pondering deeply on the words for a full hour, unable to look away as I was drawn deeper and deeper into the vision of Moses -- seeing.

I reflected again that this vision is one of the "plain and precious parts" (see 1 Nephi 13:26-29, 32, 34) that went missing from the book of Genesis. In fact, the restoration of this vision through Joseph Smith is really the "preface" to all the revelations to all the prophets that follow in our current canon of scripture.

It begins with "The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain. 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." (Verses 1-2).

I suppose were it me in that situation, I would be in rapt attention to whatever came next. "I will show thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease. Wherefore, no man can behold all my works, except he behold all my glory; and no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh on the earth." (Verses 4-5).

I used to refer to this vision, and all the similar visions reported by all the prophets as "the video tape." Roll tape, Moses, I'm going to show you what I'm all about, and what every prophet before and after you has seen. Now, I suppose we would call it a download to an ipod.

The next verses are significant, because God refers to Moses twice as "my son." What reassurance that must have given him! "I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all. And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee." (Verses 6-7).

Up until that moment the only "world" Moses would have known was the vast empire of the Pharaoh's, the vast temple complexes of Luxor and Karnak near the upper Nile River headwaters, and the pyramids of the lower Nile basin. But God proposes now to show Moses something entirely foreign to his understanding. He endows him on that mountain top with something he would call upon later in his confrontations with Pharaoh -- eternal perspective. Like Moses, we need to see so much more than our natural eyes can provide in today's troubled world.

In verse 8, "And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered."

Imagine seeing all that for the first time! Moses, I'm going to show you that the world of Egypt and up into Palestine and Syria is only part of it. The children of Israel you know about are only a small fragment of all my children, and I love them all. Someday, measured by your time keeping, they will fill the whole world, but all things are present with me, so I just want to tell you that I've got children in North and South America, the isles of the Pacific, vast empires of China, Russia, and India. I have children in Australia, Indonesia, and they will someday fill every little corner of this globe. Stunning, but it was just a glimpse compared to was was coming later.

After that initial "peek" into seership, God leaves Moses alone and withdraws. Moses is left to acknowledge this partial knowledge as overwhelming to him: "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." Perspective. He'd seen the glory of Egypt, it was all he knew, and now he knows that the works of men's hands are "nothing" by comparison.

Immediately, as he does with all of us, Satan enters the scene -- he can't stand to be upstaged. But even Satan was no match for a son of God who knew his true identity. First words out of Satan's mouth were "Moses, son of man, worship me." (Verse 12). Note the style, as always -- a taunt with a sneer, probably. If you think you're a son of God, you're not -- you're only a son of man. You're nobody special, just another clod of dirt.

But Moses is not deceived, "Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?" (Verse 13). He has been steeled now, refined with knowledge -- he has stood in the fire of God's glory and he is full of truth, endowed with spiritual power. "I can judge between thee and God." (Verse 15). I can SEE you for what you are, Satan -- a cheap imitation of the genuine article. I am now a SEER!

Four times in subsequent verses Moses commands Satan to depart from him. Four times! Satan is nothing if not persistent, but Moses now has strength beyond his own: "In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan." (Verse 21).

We are then told the original account of this vision included "this thing" -- this account of Moses rebuking Satan -- but "because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men." (Verse 23). But in the temples of the latter days "this thing" is restored once again. Joseph clearly taught, "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not." (TPJS, 181).

Having passed the initial test, Moses is told, "Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God." (Verse 25). Endowment. Strength beyond his own. The same gifts that are extended to all of us. Perhaps our callings differ from the one Moses received, but nevertheless the endowment, the promises, are all the same in our spheres of influence.

I didn't see it until last night -- Moses was told he would be "stronger than many waters," no doubt an allusion to his future destiny in parting of the waters of the Red Sea. "Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground." (D&C 8:2-3).

We may each have a time in our lives when we have to "part the waters" that threaten to swamp our little boats on life's vast ocean of fear and doubt. We all need to be reminded, as I was last night, that we have exactly the same gifts from God that Moses had. You can smite the threatening waves before you! God has endowed you with His power.

Then this glorious assurance: "And lo, I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days; for thou shalt deliver my people from bondage, even Israel my chosen." (Verse 26). Again, each of us is a deliverer, a savior on Mount Zion in these last days to deliver God's children from their various forms of bondage. If not us, then who? If not now, then when? And God is in it all.

Then the vision expands further. Now it includes "all of it; and there was not a particle of it which he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God." Not only particles, but "he beheld also the inhabitants thereof, and there was not a soul which he beheld not; and he discerned them by the Spirit of God; and their numbers were great, even numberless as the sand upon the sea shore." (Verses 27-28).

Now he sees what God sees -- "many lands; and each land was called earth, and there were inhabitants on the face thereof." (Verse 29). Every country, every creed, religion, every individual child of God in all their various habitations on this earth. Stunning!

Moses is fully engaged, because he's curious. He asks God two questions: "Tell me, I pray thee, WHY these things are so, and BY WHAT thou madest them?" (Verse 30).

Once again, we are reminded in the account that Moses is standing in the glory and the presence of God, and that "he talked with him face to face."

As to the answer to the first question, "Why?" Moses is simply told, "Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me." (Verse 31). More than once in my life I have asked the "Why?" question, and it has for the most part remained unanswered. I have come to understand later in my life that it isn't that God doesn't want to tell me -- He always wants to because He loves me so much -- but He is probably saving the answer until I am wise enough and mature enough to receive it. That's because the answers to all the WHY questions are probably so marvelous and so integral to His revealed plan of happiness that I simply wouldn't have the capacity to take it all in at once.

When I was a young missionary, I always wondered how it was possible, or fair, or just, or merciful, or, I wondered, how it is that young children who died before reaching the age of accountability could be saved in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. How, why, by what means, and so forth. Then our thirteenth child, Adrienne, was snatched from us in death as a "SIDS" baby at age seven weeks, and I was better prepared because I'd had a life experience to add to my simple curiosity. The answer He gave to me had to wait for more seasoning. Like Moses, I suppose, I wasn't ready to know everything at that earlier formative time in my life. I couldn't believe it was possible -- now I do.

Recently, many of my associates in the unemployment lines have also wondered how unemployment can be possibly be fair -- WHY? dear God, they ask. Most await that answer though perhaps more fiery heat will still singe our toes. Some days the fire seems to consume us.

I remember something I saw years ago on the office wall of Elder Marion D. Hanks: "To believe in God is to believe that He will be fair, and that there will be some wonderful surprises." And I continue to hope in dark lonely nights that an answer will emerge from His "wisdom, [even when] it remaineth in me."

In the next verse comes the answer to the HOW question. It is a composite and complete answer, one that Moses will come to appreciate in the fiery days that lie ahead for him: "By the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth. And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten." (Verses 32-33).

Moses, I've shown you everything there is to see on this earth, but oh, by the way, there are so many earths like this one that they can't be counted. I know them all "for they are mine and I know them." But only, "an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand and innumerable are they unto man." (Verse 35).

If Christ is "the Word" (see John 1), then the creation and the resurrection all come through the Only Begotten Son. All these worlds, Moses, some that have passed away, some that now are, and many more to come -- countless worlds like this one -- I have caused to exist because of my Only Begotten Son as my instrument of creation and redemption. No wonder Moses concluded "man is nothing." That's a God Moses could believe and exercise faith in! So can we. He's greater than any unemployment line on this earth, and he knows who's in it! And He will succor them all because He loves us.

Then this conclusion to the tutorial of Moses: "The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words. For this is my work and my glory -- to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:37-39).

Becoming a "seer" is seeing what God sees -- it is truly seeing as we are seen. I wonder if we truly can see it yet. . . I pray that I do, even if only through a glass darkly now. God grant that my vision may improve day by day.

I pray that I may see myself and all His children as He sees us -- as His beloved sons and daughters. I think He loves us most when we love each other.

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