Clyde J. Williams: How Moses gained divine perspective of ‘things I never had supposed’

The revelations and insights contained in Moses 1 were given to Moses some time following the Lord’s appearance to him in the burning bush (see Moses 1:17, 25; Exodus 3:2). Being raised in an Egyptian home had not provided him with the opportunity to have a full understanding of God and his ways. This was apparent for when the Lord first appeared, Moses “hid his face for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:6). 

Once the Lord had called Moses to be His instrument in delivering the children of Israel out of bondage, Moses’ response indicated his need for divine perspective. He wanted to do the Lord’s will, but he did not yet understand fully the Lord and His capabilities. Moses could not conceive at this time how he could possibly be any match against Pharaoh (see Exodus 3:11).

The Lord further tried to reassure Moses of the power he would be given, by turning his staff into a snake and by causing his hand to be leprous and then healing it (see Exodus 4:1‑9). Moses’ response still indicated the tremendous gap which existed between his own limited perspective and the divine perspective which the Lord would ultimately help him to attain (see Exodus 4:10‑16).

Moses saw himself as a humble shepherd, one who was not eloquent, but was slow of speech. Pharaoh, who commanded millions, who had caused great buildings and temples to be constructed, was awesome and imposing in the mind of Moses. It was from this frame of reference, that the Lord eventually took Moses “up into an exceedingly high mountain” (Moses 1:1). For Moses to successfully meet the challenges he would face, spiritually, physically and intellectually, it was necessary for him to have his perspective enlarged.

One definition for the word perspective is: “The aspect of a matter or object of thought, as perceived from a particular mental point of view” (see the Oxford English Dictionary). Divine perspective can be described as the perspective given to man from God.  It is seeing things as God sees them. It is knowing “things as they really are and as they really will be” (Jacob 4:13).

Moses initially viewed his assignment, to deliver the Israelites, with a mortal perspective based on his limited experiences. The Lord knew he needed to see things from a much loftier point of view. One can imagine the Lord, figuratively putting His arm around Moses and saying, ”[Moses] thou art my son; look, and I will show thee the workmanship of my hands” (Moses 1:4). He was given a view which few in this life have enjoyed. He saw that with God “all things are present” (Moses 1:6). Though it may have been impossible for Moses to explain, yet he came to know as the scriptures testify, that God knows all things past, present, and future and that they are present before His eyes (see Doctrine and Covenants 38:2, 2 Nephi 9:20, Doctrine and Covenants 88:41, Doctrine and Covenants 130:7).

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In some marvelous manner, Moses was permitted, on at least two occasions, to see the world upon which he was living and behold all its inhabitants (see Moses 1:8, 27‑29). For Moses this vision took place, not over a period of months or weeks, but in a few hours. It may very well be that the time to recover from his first vision took longer than the actual vision itself (see Moses 1:10). By the power of the Spirit, Moses had been enabled to see as God sees and comprehend things that otherwise would have been beyond human understanding.

In short, Moses had received divine perspective, the results of which caused him to reply in awe, “Now, I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). This was in no way intended to denigrate man nor deny his divine potential. It was Moses’ realization that man alone, with all his own knowledge and power, would ultimately be nothing without God.

The profound effect of this newly acquired perspective was at once evident when Satan appeared to him and commanded Moses to worship him. With divine perspective, Moses could easily discern the adversary for he radiated no glory and Satan’s command violated the Lord’s instructions to Moses (see Moses 1:13-18). Eventually, Moses called on God and, through the power of His Only Begotten Son, cast out Satan (see Moses 1:21).

Moses then received another vision from God. In this vision he learned that God had created worlds without number and yet that He was aware of each individual soul on those earths (see Moses 1:27-35). He also learned that it was our Father in Heaven’s prime objective to bring as many of His children back to His presence as were willing (see Moses 1:39). For Moses, the effect of these visionary experiences was invaluable. He had come to understand in a most dramatic way that the power of God far exceeds the power of man and the power of Satan. This divine perspective would enable Moses to become a very powerful instrument in the hand of God. 

A question that should be asked at this point is why these experiences of Moses would make such a difference in his life and his performance? Moses needed greater knowledge to exercise greater faith in God. Concerning this point, we learn:

Three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation. First, the idea that He actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of His character, perfections and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to His will (see “Lectures on Faith” 3:2-5).

Moses now had a perfect knowledge of God’s existence. From the visions opened to his mind, he was beginning to understand more clearly the character and attributes of his Heavenly Father. 

As the Spirit bears witness to us the truth of these events described by Moses, we will come to understand more clearly the love of God for us, His children. We will also comprehend more fully how His omnipotence and omniscience can help us progress along the covenant path to return to Him.

— Clyde J. Williams is a retired Church employee and volunteer with the Evaluation Division of the Church’s Correlation Department.