John Taylor (President)
Some people think that [Abraham] was a kind of a shepherd with very few more ideas than a mushroom; that he lived in the dark ages and did not comprehend much; that he was not intelligent and had a species of what we term nowadays “old fogyism.” But if we examine into his character and the position he occupied, and if we understand something about the principles he promulgated, we shall find that he was another character entirely. In giving his history he tells us that “He sought for the blessings of the Father and the right whereunto he should be ordained to administer the same.” He further says—“Having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a great follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace; and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God I became a rightful heir; a high priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers; it was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time. Yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundations of the earth, to the present time, even the right of the firstborn, on the first man, who was Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.” Times and Seasons, vol. iii, p. 704.
His father, however, was an idolater; but had probably possessed a record of his genealogy, for Abraham in his record continues—“I shall endeavor hereafter to delineate the chronology, running back from myself to the beginning of the creation, for the records have come into my hands, which I hold until the present time.” And having found out that he had a right to the priesthood, he, therefore, sought an ordination, and he was ordained by Melchizedek to the Melchizedek priesthood. And the Lord gave unto him certain privileges and powers that were very great; not only did he have an ordination in the way I refer to, but he sought more information from the Lord. And the Lord communicated with him and gave him a Urim and Thummim by which he was enabled to interpret, to read and comprehend the mind and will and the laws and purposes of God.
And, furthermore, I would state that he went still further. He asked God for certain blessings and privileges and powers which belonged to him and which he considered were within his reach, and which were his privilege to obtain. And the Lord revealed himself to him and communicated unto him certain eternal principles—that no man can comprehend unless God does reveal them—and many other things—the motion of the planets, and the planetary system of the earth on which we live, and the sun and the moon and the stars and the various bodies that compose our solar system; and then of other suns, and other heavenly bodies and the laws governing them. Abraham wrote those things, and was well versed in those great principles; and some men affirm today that he was the founder of certain abstruse principles which they allege are discovered in what is called the Great Pyramid of Egypt—principles that not only pertain to the planetary systems but to events yet to transpire on the earth. I am not going to say anything about the truth or the untruth of these latter statements, as I have not investigated them sufficiently to comprehend them; but I merely give the opinion of a great many men respecting him and the intelligence he possessed. But suffice it to say, that the Lord himself instructed Abraham in things pertaining to this and other worlds, and that he in his day possessed more light and intelligence on the principles alluded to than all the combined wisdom of the world of today.
Now, this was the kind of a man that Abraham was. And his heart and feelings and affections were drawn out after God. And God blessed him and said unto him, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thee and thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven,” &c. And further the Lord told him, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my word.” And hence he occupied a very important position. And, as I before said, being a patriarch he had the gospel and the priesthood belonging to it, namely, the Melchizedek priesthood.
I do not propose today to show how these things have all been literally fulfilled that are here spoken of; that I will leave for you to hunt up for yourselves. But the promises made to that man of God have been literally fulfilled, even to the present day to the coming forth of this work with which we are associated. (Journal of Discourses, 21:245-246)
Neal A. Maxwell (Quorum of the Twelve)
Abraham … desired greater knowledge, greater righteousness, greater happiness in his life; much more than he found in his father’s household. And he records, “And finding there was greater happiness in peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, … having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess greater knowledge, … and desiring to receive instructions, … I became a rightful heir” (Abraham 1:2). He really wanted to be righteous. He had a lapsing father, but his desires overcame the poor example that he had before him. Some of you may have that challenge too; that is, a lapsing parent…. But what [he] desired then controlled what happened subsequently. No wonder, as President Joseph F. Smith said, “You and I must take great care concerning the education of our desires.”…
If like Abraham of old you desire even greater happiness, then you too must also be desirous of being further instructed in the ways of the Lord and in the grammar of the gospel. You must seek to comprehend not only the structure of the plan of salvation but also its substance including the schooling that must come to each of us concerning the wintry doctrines of the gospel, such as those about the role of adversity [see for example D&C 136:31; Mosiah 23:21]…. The implications of those scriptures can only be managed by our desiring, and then developing, a deep trust in our Heavenly Father, in his purposes and in his love of each of us.
When we have a genuine desire for him to instruct us—as did Abraham—and to tutor us—as did Abraham—then either the onrushing and sometimes crushing events of life or its deceptive ordinariness will be seen realistically and developmentally by us. Either way, one will then allow for the divine design and the pattern which is present even when we cannot see it….
Abraham, if he had not early on had a deep desire to be instructed in the ways of the Lord, could not have done what he did on Mount Moriah. The one followed the other….
We cannot of course, you and I, frustrate the overall purposes of God for us, [nor for] mankind generally. But we can surely fail to rise to our personal possibilities because we fail to desire as did Abraham, that which is possible within us. Around us all the time there are people settling for less than they are, for less than they have the possibility to become. And I believe so much of that stems from an intrinsic failure for them to educate their desires. (“The Education of Our Desires,” University of Utah Institute of Religion Devotional, 5 January 1983)
George Q. Cannon (First Presidency)
Why did the Lord ask such things of Abraham? Because, knowing what his future would be and that he would be the father of an innumerable posterity, he was determined to test him. God did not do this for His own sake; for He knew by His foreknowledge what Abraham would do [Abr. 1:22-23]; but the purpose was to impress upon Abraham a lesson, and to enable him to attain unto knowledge that he could not obtain in any other way. That is why God tries all of us. It is not for His own knowledge for He knows all things beforehand. He knows all your lives and everything you will do. But He tries us for our own good, that we may know ourselves, for it is most important that a man should know himself.
He required Abraham to submit to this trial because he intended to give him glory, exaltation and honor; He intended to make him a king and a priest, to share with Himself the glory, power and dominion which He exercised. (CR, April 1899, 66-67)
Jacob 4:5 (Jacob)
Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.