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The Angel of the Lord

Adam continued to sacrifice to God as he had been commanded. We did not know why the sacrifice was important to God but we continued it faithfully knowing that it pleased him.

This continued as the passing time brought us two more children. I bore another daughter, Merab, and a son, Shemaah. I was delighted with each new child, but they were also an added responsibility to me. My life became more restricted as it also was rewarding. Now I began to appreciate the relationship between Adam and Nethanel. They were companions to each other and as Nethanel grew he became more of a help to his father. I was beginning to understand, for the same relationship was developing between Hephzibah and myself. Hephzibah was becoming invaluable to me. She was tender and patient with her little brothers and sister. Even though she was not much older or bigger than they she kept a close eye on them when I was occupied with other tasks. Whenever I felt a little tug on my coat I knew that my immediate attention was needed.

One day I took her on my lap. "Hephzibah, someday you will be a good mother. You are already so much help to me, I am very proud of you. I don't know what I would do without you."

"I like babies, Mother. Do you mean that someday I will have babies of my own?"

"I am almost certain that you will. Someday you will be grown like I am. You started out small like Shemaah, but you have grown to what you are now."

"Father is your husband, who will be my husband?"

"Probably Nethanel or Beninu will be your husband, but time will tell."

"I like Nethanel. Will we live here with you and Father?"

"I don't know, Hephzibah. We don't need to worry about it yet, for you are still just a little girl."

"I hope that Nethanel and I will be just like you and Father." She jumped off of my lap and skipped over to play with Beninu and Merab. My eyes followed her thoughtfully. It was good to be so admired by a daughter. I hoped that I would never seriously disappoint her.

Shemaah was screaming to be fed. I hurried to where he lay and picked him up and put him to my breast.

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I didn't always get to be there for the sacrifice. Sometimes even the short distance between the cave and the place of the altar seemed like a long journey. When children were fretful and there was more work to do than anyone could do sometimes I did not make it to the sacrifice. I felt cheated on such occasions, but I did not really miss many.

There came a day for another sacrifice. Everything was going badly. Even Hephzibah had lost patience with Beninu and Merab and given them both slaps. Children were crying and I was frustrated with my life. I resented the fact that Adam and Nethanel roamed free. In my mind I pushed aside the fact that they also worked very hard. I would miss the sacrifice today. How could I possibly go?

Adam and Nethanel came home leading a lamb. My emotions were seething like a pot of soup on the fire.

"I won't be at the sacrifice today. I will have to miss it," I announced. I turned my back on Adam and marched into the cave. I could feel my head threatening to burst open and the tears gathering to be spilled. I sat on my bed and leaned my back against the cool rock wall. I didn't want Adam to see me this way but at the same time I did want him to come. He appeared in the doorway.

"What is wrong, Eve?"

"Everything!"

"Do you want to take it out on me?" He sat next to me.

"Yes!" The tears came, I felt so ashamed. Here I was acting this way to a husband whom I adored. He was so patient with me. He worked so hard.

"I am sorry, Adam, It isn't your fault. Sometimes I am so tired that I cannot be a good wife. I am so tired that I resent the whole world. I see the birds flying free in the sky and the clouds rolling in the wind. I imagine that everything is carefree except for me. I know the birds must feed their young and the clouds are ruled by the wind but still I see them as being free. If I had not eaten that fruit I would still be free in the garden." Tears streamed down my face as I was helpless to control them.

"But there are many things you would not have either. Perhaps we have given up being carefree for something more satisfying," Adam suggested.

"Most of the time I believe that is true, but I have lost more than you have, Adam."

"How do you suppose that?"

"Well, you are not a prisoner of this place!" I extended my hand and gestured with a sweeping motion to the walls of the cave.

"You may be right, Eve. And to remedy that in a small way, I insist that you go to the sacrifice today. We will all be there and the children will be happy to have a change of scenery also."

I dried my tears. "Maybe someday when the children are older life will be a little easier. For today nothing has changed but I feel a little better now."

We walked out into the daylight, the children were now playing contentedly, the world seemed like a little better place than it had just moments earlier. Adam went to the fire and scooped live coals into a container. I picked up Shemaah and Adam picked up Merab with his free arm. Hephzibah took Beninu by the hand and Nethanel led the lamb. We walked slowly to accommodate our children's short legs.

We arrived at the place of the altar. As I wistfully gazed at God's garden which was across the separating distance I was glad that Adam had insisted on my coming. The peace which always came to me here softly stole through my body calming me and giving me strength. At times like this I felt that I was capable of enduring anything. I sat on my favorite rock with my children close. Adam went through the accustomed ritual of killing the lamb and putting it on the dry wood on top of the altar. He then said a prayer as he always did before he set the wood on fire. As Adam put the coal into the wood the children were quiet.

The flames rose quickly toward the sky. Adam had just come to stand near us to avoid the heat and watch the flames. I was watching the flames and thinking how pretty they were. It always amazed me that fire was so beautiful and yet consumed wood and flesh. As my eyes watched spellbound I began to see the shape of a person emerging in the flames. Was it the Lord come to us after all this time?

"Adam," I whispered.

I glanced at Adam, did he see what I was seeing? His face had a look of incredulity and hope. I looked back at the fire. The image was becoming firmer as the flames began to weaken.

Adam knelt and bowed his head.

"Stand, Adam, for I am not worthy to be worshipped," said the person in the flames. "I am an angel and a servant of the Lord."

Adam stood gazing intently at this personage. He was bright and his skin shone like the sun or like the flames of the fire. I remembered the four beings from the distant past which had barred our way back into the garden. This angel had the majesty and power of those but was like us in appearance.

"Do you live in the same place as our God?" Adam asked.

"Yes. Adam, why do you offer sacrifices to the Lord?"

Adam was taken aback for a moment by this question. Finally he said, "I do not know, only because God has commanded it."

"You are blessed for your obedience, Adam. I have been sent by the Lord to teach you the meaning of the sacrifice."

At this point I looked at the faces of my children. They were not afraid of this powerful being from God's home. They watched him with rapt attention, almost as if he were an adored friend of theirs. I turned to look back at him. Suddenly some of what had been bothering me all day came to focus in my mind. I realized that Adam and I were very alone. I was sure that in the place where God lived there were other beings such as this. They lived in harmony with God and all he had created. But how was it that Adam and I had been alone in the garden? Only God had visited us there. We had been alone there also. Why were we alone and would we someday share the companionship with others such as this?

The angel was speaking, his voice was rich like the sighing of the wind and the powerful flow of the river.

"This sacrifice is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. All that you do do in the name of the Son. And repent and call upon God in the name of the Son always."

After he had delivered this message the angel vanished into a shaft of light which tore toward the sky and disappeared into the clouds. Adam and I looked toward the sky with our mouths gaping open in astonishment.

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When I could gather my thoughts together again I remembered from a long time ago hearing of the Only Begotten. I remembered having asked Adam about the Only Begotten and that he could not answer me. I looked at Adam questioningly. He was very still, he continued to stare at the sky as if it held him. His face was shining as if understanding were dawning in his mind for the first time concerning some mystery.

I remained very quiet, so did the children. Instinctively I knew that words could only destroy this moment. I lost all sense of the passing of time. I watched Adam, he seemed larger, although his surroundings still retained their proper proportion. What was happening?

Merab gave a little whimper. I noticed that the shadows were much longer than when we had arrived. The children had been still for a very long time, the spell was finally broken. Adam was as he always had been, except that his smile was more radiant than it ever had been as he stretched and relaxed. He picked up the container which had held the coals and came to pick up Merab.

As she reached her arms to him and he bent close to us I asked, "What happened after the angel went, Adam?"

"After the children have gone to bed tonight I will tell you everything. We won't want any interruptions and I have much to tell you."

I was burning with curiosity but I could see the sense in Adam's decision. I would wait a little while and then ask many questions.

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It seemed that the evening meal and the preparations for the children to go to bed lasted forever. For some reason, or perhaps it was my imagination, the children would not settle down for sleep. In my anxiety to hear what Adam had to tell me I could feel that I was becoming irritable with them. I controlled my words and actions with great effort.

Finally Adam and I had managed to get them all asleep.

"Now tell me," I demanded.

"Come here and sit with me and calm yourself first."

I went to sit with him as he leaned against a large rock. He was gazing out at the river and the moonlight and starlight. He gently put his arm around my shoulder and kissed the top of my head. My heart was pounding to be told his experience, but I knew that he could not be hurried. He would tell me when he was ready.

We sat for some time. The silence which had been enforced became companionable. I was relaxed and could have fallen asleep. It felt so good to simply sit here with my husband.

"We have been very alone, haven't we Eve"' he finally ventured.

I looked at him. So he felt the same way that I did.

"Yes, Adam. When I saw the angel today in the flames I felt very strange. I had always thought of the garden as the home we had lost, but when I saw the angel I wondered if our home was somewhere else still. I love you, Adam. And I love the children. But there are beings like us which live with God."

"Yes, I always wondered why we were here. But now I think I understand. When the angel disappeared, something else happened to me. When I looked up at the clouds where he went it was as if I could hear God's voice again. And not only could I hear his voice but my eyes were opened."

"What do you mean? Aren't your eyes always open when you are awake?"

"I don't know how to explain it to you. My eyes are open when I am awake. But you know that our eyes see when we are asleep. Even though our eyes are closed for sleep they see in our dreams. Today I was awake, but my eyes saw things which are new to me. While God spoke my eyes saw things that cannot be seen."

My mind struggled to understand. "You mean, it was like you were dreaming while you were awake?"

"Maybe that is a good way to put it. But my dreams are confused and don't make sense. When I am awake I know that. This made more sense than anything I have ever experienced. It was as if the vision of my eyes was made more powerful to cause me to see and make sense of our very lives."

"But, what did you see and hear?"

"When the angel went into the clouds it was as if I followed him. But he went beyond the clouds and I could go no further. I was surrounded by the mist of the clouds, but I wasn't afraid. The mist parted and I knew that I was not alone. God was there, but I couldn't see him."

"I heard a voice, it said, 'I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever; that, as you have fallen, you may be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.'"

"All this time we have given the sacrifice to God. It has been of the firstlings of our flocks. We have not understood, but God is giving us understanding now. Our sacrifices are small, God will offer the greatest sacrifice. His Own Son, the Only Begotten, will die in order to make right the wrong that we have done. Only this great sacrifice can pay the price."

"Then I saw our children grown. We will have many more children, Eve. They will in turn have children of their own. There will be many families of children which will fill the earth. The Only Begotten will pay the price for all of them. But only with repentance and obedience to God may they be redeemed."

"But I don't understand yet," I said. "Why is the sacrifice of the Only Begotten necessary?"

"When we ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil we condemned ourselves to be separated from God and to die. We could not be with God and disobey him. God loves us, and even though we will die, he has made it possible for us to live again and be with him again. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I think I do," I said somewhat doubtfully. But new hope was welling up within me. "But if the sacrifice is to benefit us we must repent and follow God's teachings the best we can. What would have happened if we had never eaten the fruit?"

"We would still be in the garden, just as we were. When we ate the fruit we showed God that we would make our own choices. Now we have the opportunity to choose to serve God or to turn away from him. 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."

Joy welled up in my heart also and burst from me, "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 gives to all the obedient."

For the very first time I was at peace and free from guilt. I had blamed myself all this time for the terrible thing I had done. I had with resignation borne the frustration and loneliness which I felt I deserved. Many times I knew that God loved me. Hadn't he helped Adam and myself? Hadn't he given me my beautiful children? Now I knew that God had given me the opportunity to have everything. I could have the rich experiences of having and raising children and loving my husband. And I could make the choice myself to serve and obey God. I was not a child anymore, for I knew good and evil.

"The serpent tried to hurt us didn't he?" I asked.

"The serpent had it put into his heart to hurt us," agreed Adam. "There is an enemy to God and his name is Satan. Satan thought to destroy the world when he beguiled the serpent, and the serpent in turn beguiled you. Satan does not know the mind of God."

"Satan?" A cold feeling possessed me. I moved closer to Adam for protection. "It is very fortunate for us that he doesn't."

"I have also learned of him. Satan was once an angel of God. His name was Lucifer, a son of the morning. He said to God, 'Here I am, send me, I will be your Son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it. For this, give me your honor.'"

"But Adam, isn't it good that all of us should be saved?" I asked.

"But Eve, when you took the fruit, and I took the fruit, we were showing God that we wished to choose for ourselves. Would you have a powerful angel now take away that right to choose?"

"So you mean that this angel called Lucifer would force us to follow God?"

"Yes, and we could not choose for ourselves."

"Then to follow God would mean nothing, would it?" I reasoned. "I follow God because I love him. That is the way it is supposed to be, is that right?"

"Yes, that is the way it is supposed to be. We are to obey God out of love for him, not because we are forced by a power stronger than we are."

Adam continued, "But God's beloved Son, who was chosen from the beginning for the great task of redeeming us, said, 'Father, your will be done, and the glory be yours forever.'"

"God's Son respects our right to choose, and gives all glory to his Father. Lucifer would force us to follow God and would take the glory and power of God for himself."

"But why did he want to trick me?" I asked.

"Because Lucifer could not have his way he rebelled against God. He turned one third of all in heaven against God. Lucifer and the third of all in heaven who followed him were thrust down, away from the presence of God. They are now Satan and his angels. They live in a place called 'hell', which God prepared for them."

"It must be close to here," I shivered.

"Now Satan wishes to turn us away from God as well. It would be our destruction if he succeeded. But If Satan had not tempted us how could we choose? It is necessary that we know of the evil if we are to choose the good. But he is still our enemy and very dangerous, he will try to convince us that evil is good."

I was very tired now, but I didn't want to go to sleep with the thought of Satan in my mind. I clung to Adam. "I will always try to be obedient to the Lord. I love him. I am glad you have told me everything. It is hard to understand it completely. But I am very happy."

"I think it is time to go to bed," Adam rose and helped me to rise also.

We went into the cave. I could hear the breathing and the funny little snores of our children. I walked to each one and made sure all was well with them. I quickly and silently prayed that each one would choose to serve the Lord and come to know the joy that Adam and I felt.

Follow along in the scriptures (links to Center Place Library)

Inspired Version of the Bible
Genesis Chapter 3:1-10 and Chapter 4:5-12
Revelation Chapter 12:4-8

Book of Mormon
Alma Chapter 19:82-97
Mormon Chapter 4:71-74

Doctrine and Covenants
Section 28:10-14

forward to chapter 9

Copyright 1991 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: September 5, 2001