13 October 2006

Abraham Part V: Commandments as Rewards

...continued from Part IV:

4) Abraham understands the purpose of commandments: Many people mistakenly think that a relationship with God should progress in the same way as a relationship with parents; ie. in childhood there are numerous rules to follow, but as one grows older and proves oneself more responsible, fewer and fewer rules are imposed as they eventually become unnecessary. Abraham, however, desires to more "instructions." Rather than view commandments as restrictions, Abraham sees them as rewards for good behavior.
Adam and Eve exemplify this pattern (Moses 5:1-11):

"And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him. And Adam knew his wife, and she bare unto him sons and daughters, and they began to multiply and to replenish the earth."
They were obedient to the commandments they had been given (Moses 4:22, 25, 28) and then pray to God:
"And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord..."
And what did they pray for? We do not know, but we see how they were rewarded for their obedience:
"...And he gave unto them commandments..."
Once again, Adam and Eve were obedient:
"...that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord."
And how were they rewarded this time? With knowledge:
"And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam…saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth."
...and more commandments:
"Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore."
Which ultimately leads to the greatest (in my opinion; because it was without precedent) moment of revelation in human history:
"And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam...saying: I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.

"And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

"And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient."


RobertC said...

Hmmm, interesting b/c this is opposite the move we seem to see from the law of Moses to Christ's gospel (at least I would argue). I tend to read this slightly differently, that the relationship is less commandment-focused here than under the law of Moses, but the idea of sacrifice is still prominent--that is, it is not the idea of commandments per se, but the notion of consecrating oneself to God (through sacrifice). There's a lot more here I need to think about....

BrianJ said...

I'm not sure we disagree, Robert. Throughout time, God has made it clear that he wants our trust, not our compliance. Christ's gospel I think was a response/reaction to the misunderstanding of the day: viz. that the Law was soooo important in and of itself. Christ forces us to seek the Spirit, not the Law.

But what is it that the Spirit does? One of the results of the testifying and teaching that the Spirit provides is that we know in whom to trust and we understand what is required of us.

Help me understand if I am reading you wrong, or if perhaps I am just making more sense now.

Robert C. said...

I'm wondering about your description of the Spirit, that it helps us "understand what is required of us." Of course I agree with this in one sense, but there seems a tension in scripture in terms of being "anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do[ing] many things of [our]own free will." (I think this is closely related to the issue I tried to articulate in the comment I just made on the previous thread about prayer and our will vs. God's will....)

I think these issues can be thought about at least partially through the law of Moses vs. Christ fulfilling the law.

If you want a really deep take on issues which I think are related to this, see this essay by Jim F. on Adam and Eve. I don't claim to understand the essay, but what the essay got me thinking about is that perhaps in order to truly be agents for ourselves, we had to choose something different than what God desired. But in doing so, we were cut off. For some reason the Atonement makes it possible for us to take our newly discovered/born agency and choose to follow God's will (in a way that wasn't possible before we rebelled).

My views on this are not very clear, so don't try too hard to make sense of them. Also, after reading Jim's essay, I read 2 Ne 2:11 with new eyes--here is a brief note at the wiki on my reading (under the exegesis section).

Robert C. said...

After rereading my comment, I don't think I really addressed your question very well. So, to restate a bit: I wonder if the Spirit, rather than simply telling us what God wants us to do (in a being-obedient sense), I'm wondering if it isn't more accurate to think of the Spirit as helping us find our own creative aspect of agency that is in accordance with God's will but not derived from God's will per se. I'm not proposing our righteous desires are completely independent of God's will, but that perhaps they are not completely derived from God's will alone, as the word obedience suggests (at least to my mind). I think that obedience is indeed the first law of heaven in the sense that we first prove our obedience to God (which is what the law of Moses does a good job of testing us on), but that Christ is pointing to something beyond just obedience, the same something that D&C 58 is pointing toward--something about finding our own creative voice for good (or something to that effect)....

BrianJ said...

Robert: that's very, very helpful. I've tried in the past to ponder some of the ideas you bring up, but my thoughts were too fuzzy. I especially liked what you said:

"I'm not proposing our righteous desires are completely independent of God's will, but that perhaps they are not completely derived from God's will alone, as the word obedience suggests."