Snapshots of Life

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stronger Than Many Waters

Almost a year ago I wrote a post entitled 'Moses 1 and the Temple'.  I discussed Satanic style - the patterns of temptation and manipulation by the Adversary - as presented in Moses chapter 1.  The idea in such a discussion was to share a few thoughts and insights that I have learned in striving to be more aware of how Satan interacts with us.  With that awareness we are hopefully in a better position to combat his tactics in a difficult world.  I mentioned that in a future post I would like to outline how Moses, in a most intense interaction with the Evil One, stands as an exemplar of precisely how to do that.  This is finally that post.  Before I get to Moses, though, I will quickly review the Satanic style as seen in Moses chapter 1 and in the temple ceremony.

1)  Satan's influence is exerted both before AND after spiritual experiences.  He attempts to prevent them before and cause us to doubt, forget, or diminish them after.

2)  Satan would have us focus on our carnal nature rather than our divine nature.  He cleverly stresses "son of man" to distract us from the more inspiring truth "son of God".  He would have us embrace our inclinations, tendencies, and proclivities toward the things of the world and of the flesh.

3)  Satan cleverly commands us to worship him, as if we have no choice.  To worship is to love and to follow.  Today it seems this is generally done with subtle forms of authority rather than blatant "devil worshipping", such as:  You are this way so you must act.  You feel this way so you must follow.  You want this so you must obtain.  The world says this so you must agree.

4)  Satan attempts to cause us fear.  Fear leads to loss of confidence and faith that would otherwise lead us to God and His healing and redeeming power.

5)  Satan uses every tactic available, from subtlety to intimidation.  He does not go quietly.  When striving to overcome his tactics, things often get worse before they get better. Furthermore, we might also expect increased intensity in his dealings with us as we grow closer and closer to God.

You will recall that Moses 1 opens with the discussion of Moses having been "caught up" into an exceedingly high mountain where he beheld the glory of God and spoke to Him face to face.  It is a revelatory experience of historic proportions.   The Lord tells Moses that he is His son and created in the similitude of His only begotten.  He informs the future parter-of-seas and deliverer-of-nations that He has a work for him to do, though he does not yet detail what that work is.  Finally, He grants Moses the opportunity to see to "the ends of the earth" and "all the children of men" that were and ever will be created.  The vision closes, we learn, and mighty Moses is "left unto himself".  It is then that Satan comes "tempting him", using the above mentioned strategies.  As that tempting develops in the narrative Moses responds in ways that I believe provide insight for us in our own battles with the Adversary.

1)  As Satan tries to focus on the fact that Moses is a "son of man", that is to view himself from a carnal nature rather than a divine, the prophet counters him with what he had just been told by the Lord Himself.  He reminds himself and the Adversary that he is a son of God, created in the similitude of His Only Begotten, that is Jesus Christ.  Surely, there is a part of all of us that is "carnal, sensual, and devilish" but there is another part of us that yearns for something more, for something higher.  Lucifer would have us consumed in the former to the point that we are blinded to the latter.  We get too caught up in the weakness and struggle of the flesh, of the intellect, and of the world.  But, when we remember Whose we really are we can focus on who we really are.  Knowing who we really are leads us to knowing what we can accomplish and what we can become.  This knowledge gives us the confidence, understanding, and strength to rebuff Satan.  We are willing to "put off the natural man" for a more "eternal weight of glory".       

2)  Moses immediately contrasts what he saw in God and what he is now seeing in Satan.  He interacted with both face to face and he sees the Adversary's weakness.  He says, "Where is thy glory that I should worship thee?"  He further reminds the Evil One that he can look upon him in the flesh, but had to be transfigured to look upon God.  Moses is able to recognize that Satan neither has a body nor any glory at all.  There really is no comparison to the glory of God.  It is like contrasting the buildings and bling of Las Vegas to the majestic mountains and the star-filled heavens.  Attractive, intriguing, and grand in their own right, yet entirely inadequate.  We know that Satan can only have as much power over us as we allow him.  Part of his limitation, of course, is that he does not have a body, does not have any glory or light, and does not have any possibility for progression.  I think we would do well to follow Moses in recognizing the Adversary's lack of real impressiveness.            

3)  Moses has the Spirit of God with him and is able to both recognize it and use it to discern light from darkness.  He declares, "I can judge between thee and God".  The other day in scripture study, Tania and I were reading of the armor of God.  She reminded us that the only offensive weapon as described in the armor is the "sword of the Spirit".  It is, it seems, the only weapon at all.  All of the other pieces are defensive protections.  But the Spirit both pierces and protects.  The Holy Ghost teaches us all things and brings all things to our remembrance.  He will remind us of our divine nature and help us see Satan's weakness.  He will provide us with information that will pierce Satan's clever arguments and divide them asunder.  He will shield us from heavy blows and cheap shots.  If we want to conquer Satan, we need the Spirit as our sword.   

4)  On at least two occasions during the ordeal with Lucifer he-who-was-raised-on-Egyptian-mythology recalls the word and commandments of God and expresses faith in that word.  Later on in the drama of Good versus Evil, Jesus, the Master, uses the same tactic to combat the Great Tempter.  He prefaces each of his responses with, "It is written".  The lesson must be that we need to be familiar with God's word.  We must know his commands and be willing to follow them, no matter how interesting or stimulating the alternatives may be.  If we are familiar with such, we are in a position to counter the Adversary with what God has said on any subject and thereby not be fooled.  If we are not familiar with or converted to His word, we may be easily persuaded.  

5)  Moses casts the Adversary out and away four distinct times by saying such things as, "Get thee hence, Satan"; "Depart hence"; "Depart from me"; and lastly, "In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan".  I think two lessons can be learned from this action.  First, that Satan doesn't leave you alone just because you tell him to or want him to.  In fact, like bad behavior of a toddler when you attempt to curb it, it may be magnified before it is eliminated.  Perhaps the key is persevering with persistence as you push him away.  Second, that it is the efficacy of worthily invoking the power of the Son and driving out Satan in His name that is ultimately successful.  

6)  Meek and mighty Moses acknowledges and resolves to Lucifer that he needs God, he wants God, and he will only worship God.  The great and spacious building can be extraordinarily inviting.  So much so that it skews perspective.  Holding fast to a rod seems so constraining when there is a party going on.  Eating pure white fruit by a tree appears boring and quaint compared to the beckoning calls of the influential and the succulent feasts of the proud.  But those pressing forward see what the wanderer does not, the cracking foundations of a poorly constructed building that will fall with a great and terrible crash.  With the perspective of all that Moses had just discovered, it is only logical that he would express his desire to follow the Lord.  He is ashamed neither of his dependence on God nor his desire to follow him.  He knows this truth, "Behold, and hearken..., saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted".      
7)  The prophet calls upon God throughout the entire episode to receive strength.  Alma exhorted, "But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit..."  The Lord encourages, "Pray always that you may come of conquerer; yea, that you may conquer Satan..."  Prayer is the conduit that keeps us connected to God and demonstrates our faith in His power of deliverance.  I find it interesting that only after Moses feared did he see the "bitterness of hell".  To ascend from the depths of the dark world, he called upon God and cast Satan out.

The outcome, most thankfully, is that Moses overcomes.  It is only then that the Lord reveals to Moses what his foreordained mission will be.  He is told that the Almighty has "chosen" him, that he will be "stronger than many waters", that God is with him, and that he will deliver the Lord's chosen people, Israel.  Moses is then granted an even more extensive vision and greater understanding of God's divine design.  

Perhaps it is a pattern for us all.