The Book of Abraham tells us about the council in heaven. But did you know the Old Testament also talks about God’s council? Perhaps one reason we don’t hear about this at church is because the Old Testament references paint a different picture of who sits on this council and how it functions than what we are taught in Sunday School. Prepare to have your traditions challenged by the word of God!
Abraham 3:22-24, 4:26, 5:2
Job 1:6, 2:1
1 Kings 22:19-23
1 Samuel 23:1-13
2 Kings 5:17-19
Great content as always.
As you tee up these “lessons” for the coming week, maybe include some reading material so we can study along side you ahead of time. Just a thought.
Also, have you seen the YouTube channel for the Bible Project. There’s some wonderful insight into each of the books of the Bible and why they were written and how they are interconnected.
There’s an overview and of course a deep dive. These writers were WAY more inspired than I ever would’ve thought to give them credit for.
Lastly, can you comment on the two prophets in the last days as found in Revelation 11 and D&C 77.
Jospeh says they’re two prophets. Revelation says they’re two witnesses. But in the following verse in chapter 11 we read that they’re also referred to as two olive trees and two candlesticks.
This is interesting because in Revelation 1:20 it’s shared that the candlesticks are actually churches.
So are the two witnesses prophets as Joseph suggested or are they Churches as the Bible says they are?
Just some thoughts I’ve been weighing in on.
I really enjoyed this weeks podcast. I’ve been searching the scriptures to find justification for the LDS beliefs in our pre-mortal life. The traditions of my fathers have taught me that as spirits we participated in a council in heaven where two plans were presented. We had to choose between them and a war broke out. Those of us who picked the right plan, Christ’s, were allowed to come and live on earth. Those who followed Satan will never be born. After this council, some of us participated in the creation of the earth.
So far in my searching the scriptures I’ve come up empty. I believe the Council in Heaven is as you describe in the podcast and consists of different beings than our pre-mortal spirits. The JST teaches some very different doctrine than the LDS church. According to the JST, man received his agency in the Garden of Eden. I think we would need to have agency in order to pick between two plans, especially if picking the wrong one would damn us to forever remain as spirits and not have an earthly probation. It also teaches that AFTER God gave man his agency, Satan came before God seeking to change God’s plan and save all mankind by taking away the agency God had given man.
One thin thread I’ve found that the LDS doctrine can stand on is in Abraham 3:27-28. It is only recently that I have read this passage in a new light, thanks to some discussions on Watcher’s blog. I had believed it was what the LDS teaches and a description of God presenting the plan of salvation and seeking a Savior. But now I don’t think that’s what these verses are about at all. For one thing, consider that the Only Begotten is the one creation we know of by God the Father. Christ was created as a personage of tabernacle – a place where God may dwell. The Only Begotten was created for the purpose of providing the atonement. God didn’t post a job opening for Savior of all mankind. He had one and only one being for that role.
What is described in Abraham 3:27-28 is, I believe, a calling for a prophet. The language is almost identical to Isaiah 6. I think it is noteworthy that of all the chapters of Isaiah, Nephi included chapter 6 in the Book of Mormon. There’s something important in those verses. As Jesus told the Nephites, Isaiah’s words would have a dual fulfillment. I believe Abraham 3:27-28 is describing part of a dual fulfillment of Isaiah’s description of a calling to be a prophet.
A huge clue that Abraham 3:27-28 is not talking about Jesus and Satan as the LDS see it is with the phrase “at that day”. Watcher had a marvelous article where he showed how the chapters and verses format can cause us to miss the context of what’s being said when he looked at who were “the Gods”. The same thing had been happening to me with that phrase. If we look forward to Abraham 4:5 we see when was the first time “day” was defined. The first time “day” is used is during the creation.
So “at that day” means that, at least, some of what 27-28 is describing is happening some time after the creation. It cannot be during a pre-mortal council where we are choosing sides as spirits, because there were no days yet. Either the entire events described happened “at that day” or after being rejected, the second one sometime later, “at that day”, didn’t keep his first estate and many followed after him. Though there’s not enough to be 100% certain, I believe the entire event is a future event from Abraham’s time.
As I mentioned before, the beginning of the passage has the Lord asking “Whom shall I send?” just like in Isaiah 6. God wasn’t looking for a Savior. There was never a question about that. But He does seek out messengers who will call the people to repentance, like in Isaiah. The first one to respond is chosen by the Lord, and the second one is rejected. While I don’t know exactly what is going on, my current guess is that we looking at the calling of the end-time servant (Joseph Smith) and the rejected one becomes the anti-Christ.
The next thing to check is to compare this brief description against the account of Satan’s proposal in the JST. In JST Genesis 3:2 Satan comes before God and speaks first. He proposes that God send him and he will save everyone. Then God’s beloved Son speaks and tells the Father, “Thy will be done”. The Only Begotten is the second one who speaks. The order is switched if we are to believe Abraham’s account is of Jesus and Satan.
I think there are enough differences in order and timing and purpose to show that Abraham 3:27-28 cannot be describing Jesus and Satan. It is something different. While I may not be certain of exactly what is going on, I can be certain of what is NOT. I no longer see this passage as being in conflict with other scriptures and the order of creation.
I appreciate all the work you guys are doing. It’s been eye opening to me to read the scriptures for what they really say and not what I’ve been taught my whole life. I’m sure I’m making new mistakes trying to grasp God’s message, but it’s better than blindly following the traditions I’ve inherited.
I read about 17 years ago an interesting article by Cleon Skousen that describes the difference in order and councils as found in Moses 4:1-4 and Abr. 3:27-28.
His interpretation is that in the Moses account it’s the choosing of a Savior. Lucifer wants the glory and speaks first and Jesus speaks second and is chosen.
So taking note of what happened, Lucifer at the next council decides to go second. That this second council was where the first man or Adam was chosen.
It could go either way earth created and Adam chosen then council of Savior or council for Savior and then earth finished and Adam chosen.
The order difference leads us to conclude it’s not the same event spoken of in both accounts.
As a side note it looks like God talks about agency in Moses 4:2 as already being granted in that council before the world.
Interesting take that the Abraham account is about Adam. However, the huge error I see the LDS making is believing there were pre-earth councils involving/including us as spirits. We don’t actually believe the scriptures Joseph Smith gave us, because in the JST we learn that our spirits were created on the 6th day, while the earth was created on the 1st day.
The notion that there was either a vote or job interview for savior is one that I reject. I believe it stems from our indoctrination that Jesus is merely our elder brother, the first spirit child of a heavenly father and mother. The LDS view of Jesus is not scriptural and is one reason why we are considered to only have started to believe in Christ. We don’t accept that Jesus is God, was God, and is a unique creation of God the Father. He is not a spirit child of God. He is a personage of tabernacle (see Lectures on Faith), the Only Begotten of the Father.
I don’t see anything in Moses 4:3 that would indicate agency was given to man before the world was.
“Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;”
However, the scripture does not say that this was pre-earth. It’s our indoctrination getting in the way again. If we read the scriptures for what’s really there, we see a much different picture.
I’m going to use JST Genesis instead of Moses. In JST Genesis 7:40 the Lord tells Enoch:
“And in the garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency;”
We can find exactly when He gave us agency in JST Genesis 2:21:
“Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but remember that I forbid it;”
Chronologically in the scriptures, Satan challenges God in Chapter 3 after the creation account in Chapters 1-2, and that is also chronologically the order in which the events happened. God gives man agency in the Garden of Eden. Then Satan comes before God seeking to take that agency away:
JST Genesis 3:4 “Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the LORD God, had given him, …”
We have to contort the scriptures to change the order and place the events in JST Genesis 3 before the creation of the world. If we actually read what the scriptures say, the events in Genesis 3 must happen after agency is given to man in the Garden of Eden. The scriptures are actually written in the correct order of events.
I don’t believe the scriptures support that there was a selection of a Savior. I think our indoctrination gets us to misunderstand this passage JST Genesis 3:3
“But behold, my beloved Son, which was my beloved and chosen from the beginning, said unto me, Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.”
We see the word ‘chosen’ and think there was a contest for who would be Savior. What I see it really saying is that God’s beloved Son was designated from His creation to serve this purpose. There was NEVER any other name under Heaven by which the atonement would be done. It was always to be through the Only Begotten.
Satan rebels against God and against God’s plan. He wants to replace Christ and do things differently. It isn’t part of a council where God asks for proposals about what He should do to redeem mankind. No, God already knew what He was doing. Instead, Satan openly rebels against God.
It is interesting how Christ responds. He says “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” This isn’t Christ volunteering to be the Savior. Instead, He is rejecting Satan’s plan and reaffirming God’s plan. God’s will was already set, and Christ agreed to it and rejected Satan.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, part or all of the Abraham account is also happening after the creation of the earth because of the phrase “at that day”. ‘Day’ didn’t exist until the creation started.
I still get tripped up by the traditions of my fathers. It’s so hard to break from the indoctrination and just read what the scriptures say.
I’m really enjoying this conversation, and don’t want to derail it by inserting myself too much. But I can’t help myself on this one issue! Another problem with the “voting for a Savior” concept is that it quickly gets followed up with the idea that there is a different Savior for each planet, and then someday we can build our own planet and become a Savior ourselves. So Christ’s sacrifice is not infinite and eternal, it’s just limited to this one planet (even though God created worlds without number by the Son, and there is no end to his works), and just for the finite period of time that this world is in its mortal existence versus…eternal. Your comment about just beginning to believe in Christ seems to fit. Or perhaps, just barely believing in Christ!
@Thirsty – you give us too much credit with our preparation. We start the week with a topic, frantically search, study, and try to piece together a logical flow, and then start recording and only when we’re done do we really know what the podcast is going to cover!
@Thirsty – I learned about the Bible Project through Heiser’s podcast – he’s had the creators on a couple times. I’ve only watched two or three videos (which I liked). I should go back and watch more..and I just saw they have their own podcast, so now I have something to listen to on my next roadtrip.
@Paul – It is interesting how our search for truth seems to be covering similar territory.
@MD, the YouTube animated videos are excellent. They expound so much.
@Mike I’m liking your line of thought. I wonder if ALL of this, the Garden of Eden, took place near we’re God dwells and when Adam and Eve fell the earth fell into its current orbit as well. I know this is a strong BY doctrine and not supported by scripture other than if we’re to be brought back into God’s presence the stars might look like they’re being hurled from heaven. Purely unfounded speculation on my part.
The one thing that really perplexed me about Watcher’s description of the LDS church as the latter day kingdom of Israel was how we were described as only beginning to believe in Christ. It didn’t fit with my view, because I believed the LDS view of Christ and that we were fully believing in Christ. We were as Christian as any other religion.
It was on Gazelem’s blog where I finally came across a post of his that described why we were considered to only have begun to believe in Christ. He described it in a way that finally made sense to me. I’ll probably do it injustice here, but it pretty much is that we believe in Christ only as the Son of God. We differentiate and focus on the separateness of the Father and the Son. We emphasize that they can be in two separate personages and we forever force them there.
We reject the unity of the Father and the Son. That they are One God, the way they are described in the Lectures on Faith and other scriptures. So we only have a partial view of Christ and who He is. We have begun to believe, but we don’t have the full belief.
Once I had that “ah-ha” moment, I could see how many doctrines are dependent on viewing Christ as separate and distinct from the Father. Some are obvious while others more subtle. It made me go back and question just about every doctrine I had been taught. It’s tough to have to start from scratch, but it’s rewarding to take the scriptures literally and see what they really say.
I thought through a little more the idea that Abraham 3:27-28 is regarding Adam. The timeline could work. We have the first seven days of creation, and it’s possible that all the spirits of man are created. Then a council is called to select which spirit will be the first. Adam offers to go and someone else, possible Satan, also offers. Adam is selected and Satan gets angry.
He waits until Adam is placed in the Garden of Eden
Browser submitted before the post was finished…I’ll try to finish my thoughts…
Satan waits until Adam is placed in the Garden of Eden, then tries to thwart God’s plan with his own. This fits the language in Abraham 3:27-28 where the second being is angry, and at THAT day, he doesn’t keep his first estate and many follow after him. Satan then goes from having his plan and rebellion rejected to tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden to further disrupt God’s plan.
Adam can fit the description of one like unto the Son of Man. He was the first man on earth, his actions would have a profound effect on the rest of mankind, though in the opposite manner as that of Christ’s. So it is a decent fit in that regard.
It’s a fairly coherent reading of the passages, however I believe there are still problems with this view. (Also, reading it this way still does not support the LDS view of us deciding which plan to follow as spirits before the creation or the world. One might be able to say we had to choose sometime after the 6th day when man’s spirit(s) were created and then when Satan presents his plan. But this means that Adam and Eve were not there in heaven as spirits, they were already in the Garden of Eden. So it doesn’t salvage the LDS view.)
I believe there are many passages in the scriptures where Joseph Smith is referenced but are hidden/concealed from us by our traditions. It’s possible that I see things that aren’t really there when looking for these cases, so I try to keep my mind open to other possibilities.
The problem with Abraham 3:27-28 referring to a contest between Adam and Satan for the role of first man is why would those identities not be stated when Joseph Smith translated it? I believe when events have already taken place and names are known, God has the scriptures fill it in. That is why we see Jesus Christ by name in the Book of Mormon. There’s no need for a pseudonym, we know the name the Savior is called here on earth, so God puts it in there and there’s no confusion on our part.
When the events have not yet taken place on earth, then God will often use placeholders or descriptions of the future fulfillment. Sometimes God will call out by name someone or someplace so we see His foreknowledge. But many times he will use words that are either placeholders or ambiguous, leaving it for us to see the connections.
That’s one reason why Babylon and Egypt are used in regards to the worldly kingdoms of the last day, where that is really referring to the United States of America and/or the global world orders. God wants us to pick up on what He means by following the Spirit, rather than having it spelled out to us.
So it seems odd to me that in the 1800s, God wouldn’t have Joseph spell out who the two beings are in Abraham 3:27-28. If they are Adam and Satan, why wouldn’t God say it?
In JST Genesis 3, God has no problem identifying Satan when he rebels against him and tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden. God tells us this, I believe, because it is a past event and there’s no need to keep the identities from us.
So when we read Abraham 3:27-28 and try to place the events around the creation timeline and link one of the actors to Satan, why wouldn’t God spell it out?
My belief is that this is one of those cryptic passages that is referring to a future event either at the time of translation or from Abraham’s perspective, and because it involves latter-day players, God keeps the identities hidden from us. We need to discern who these entities are.
I haven’t been able to find enough in the scriptures to really nail down what Abraham 3:27-28 is describing. It looks like there is a way to link it to events around the time of creation and Satan’s rebellion. I also think there’s a good possibility that it is referring to something else altogether.
Joseph Smith had studied some Hebrew by the time Abraham was translated, so I think he was using literal English translations of the underlying Semitic roots. However, I agree that it’s impossible to know for sure as multiple interpretations seem valid to me. For example:
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
Michael in Hebrew = one who is like God so is this Michael speaking here? The book of Daniel has Michael described as a Prince so perhaps he played as big a role as the endowment suggests.
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
Here LORD would be YHWH so the Father/Christ
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
This verse is interesting because as far as I know only Jude uses the term estate as used here, when he mentions the fallen angels who kept not their first estate.
27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
Son of Man refers to Christ however it says one like unto the Son of Man so perhaps this isn’t Christ but another servant being chosen for something. Is this Joseph? Or some other prophet? It’s hard to say for sure.
28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.
Is this Satan, or is this some other fallen angel? Again hard to say perhaps these verses happened multiple times hence the names aren’t given.
Apparently we really are on the same wavelength. I learned about Michael Heiser several years ago when he was interviewed by another evangelical, Joel Richardson, that I like to watch. I’ve seen several other things by Heiser since then so I decided to finally read his book which I just finished yesterday. It really is quite amazing how much truth is in the Bible, but like Heiser says in his book it’s a mosaic that is hard to see since it’s scattered all over the place. Thanks for another great podcast and I too would recommend that everyone at least watch some of Heiser’s presentations, or even better read his book.
@Paul – I agree with you that Joseph’s study and understanding of Hebrew played a role in the Abraham translation, even though it was based off Egyptian. I’ve had a lengthy discussion on Watcher’s blog about the Book of Abraham. There’s a really good article here:
This covers options as to when and what may have been translated. The only record we have of the 1835 translation covers Abraham Chapter 1 to Abraham Chapter 2:18. We don’t have any other historical documents except what was published in the Times and Seasons in 1842. While there isn’t hard evidence, I believe the bulk of the translation was done in 1835. I believe in 1842 when Joseph went to publish it he made a few tweaks and adjustments based on his learning and understanding of Hebrew.
I also believe that the Book of Abraham has not been a blessing to the saints, but a cursing. I think in 1842 it was given to them as part of the process of being delivered over to Satan. However, I believe the root of the book was inspired work in 1835. So there is value in studying it and trying to discern the original truths that were in it.
That’s why when I find mistakes and odd phrases in it, I will study them as best as I can but if I can’t resolve the passage, I will discount it until I can harmonize it with the word of God. I see the reversal in order of the separation of Eve from Adam and the creation and naming of the animals in Abraham as one of these instances where an error was introduced.
Abraham 3:27-28 could be an event that has multiple fulfillments and that could explain the ambiguity in identifying who the two involved are. As long as the one like unto the Son of Man is someone other than the Only Begotten, I can make some sense out of it. It could be Adam, it could be Joseph, or both.
Abraham 3:24 is a little more difficult for me to make sense of. I don’t believe it can be Michael speaking, but it needs to be the Only Begotten. There are enough scriptures to show that all things were created by the Son. There is a genuine lack of scriptures showing that the Son delegated the creation.
JST Genesis 1:
2 I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God. By mine Only Begotten I created these things.
3 Yea, in the beginning I created the heaven and the earth upon which thou standest.
29 And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.
JST Genesis 2:
3 And I, God, blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because that in it I had rested from all my work, which I, God, had created and made.
5 For I, the LORD God, created all things of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth; for I, the LORD God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth.
JST Genesis 7:
39 The LORD said unto Enoch, Behold, these thy brethren, they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their intelligence in the day that I created them.
JST Isaiah 45:
18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
JST Ephesians 3:
9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
JST Collosians 1:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
1 Nephi 17:
36 Behold, the Lord hath created the earth that it should be inhabited; and he hath created his children that they should possess it.
2 Nephi 14:
14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
9 For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?
9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
3 Nephi 9:
15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.
9 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, a light which cannot be hid in darkness;
31 For by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal—
32 First spiritual, secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, first temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work—
These are just scratching the surface of all the scriptures that identify all of creation being done by God. I don’t think the scriptures support that he delegated any of creation. It was all done by the Son.
The Abraham 3:24 timeline still gives me trouble. In verse 22 He shows to Abraham intelligences created before the world was. These could be the members of the Divine Council, creations prior to this world. These could be the sons of God. But then in verse 23 He tells Abraham that he was one of them, chosen before he was born. If this account is correct, is Abraham created before the world was? Or is Abraham one who is foreordained to be part of this council after he lives out his life on earth?
Verse 24 gets really murky. Now one like unto God speaks to those who were with him – who are these? Are they the sons of God, members of the Divine Council? Are these the intelligence created before the world was?
Next He says there is space to make a world for these to dwell. Who are “these” who are referred to? Mankind’s spirits are made on the 6th day of creation while the earth was made on the 1st. If they are just talking about making the earth, then “these” are not man’s spirits but something else. Who are they?
Verse 25 has the intent to prove if these beings will follow God’s will. Well, that sure sounds like us, but how is it that we could be around prior to the 1st day of creation?
I cannot figure out who are all these spirits and created intelligences. It doesn’t match the timeline given to us in the JST. To me, I’m not sure how accurate this part of the translation of Abraham is or if this is part that Joseph may have altered prior to publication in 1842.
I think the book of Abraham is much like a sealed book to the LDS. It’s meaning is not clear and we have built up traditions based on our interpretation of it that have led us astray from the true word of God. But I believe it’s root is inspired and if we look deep enough we may be able to discern that truth.
In 2 Nephi 2: 17-18 it reads:
“17 And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.
18 And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil”
This seems to put Lucifer’s ‘fall from heaven’ before Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. How do you see this squaring with the position and scriptures of Satan being cast down during the Morley farm experience and his being part of the Divine council?
Here’s a scripture for you:
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret [SOD] unto his servants the prophets.
Looking up the word “SOD”: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h5475/kjv/wlc/0-1/
SOD: council, counsel, assembly, council (of familiar conversation), divan, circle (of familiar friends), assembly, company, counsel, counsel (itself), secret counsel, familiar converse, intimacy (with God).
That’s a great find. And it links to Jeremiah 23. When speaking about false prophets:
18 For who among them has stood in the council [SOD] of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?…
21 “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran;
I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in my council [SOD], then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.