Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Old Testament, An Introduction

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What thoughts first come to mind when you think of studying the old testament?  
For me the first thing that hits my mind is trying to understand.  Its an ancient book, and speaks differently than we do, so sometimes it can be hard to understand.  However, I look forward to it, for my interest is to know from the beginning, I want to know everything I can, and that's where the old testament begins, in the beginning! 

Are you honestly, in all honesty, looking forward to a study of the Old Testament for the next twelve months?  When I was asked shortly to the end of the Doctrine and covenants course, what our curriculum would be for the next year; I got lots of long disappointed faces and a few grumbles saying, "but its so boring, its so hard to understand"  I think sometimes we are afraid of it, and make it harder than it is, so my goal this year is for us not to be afraid, bored or confused, but to make a great study of understanding!

Have you ever read the Old Testament cover to cover at least once?   I can say that I have. And I found that the best way for me to learn, and understand as well as retain was to keep a notebook of my study.  I used it like a diary and wrote down everything I learned every thought that hit my mind and I marked places in the scripture with dates, ideas, and thoughts.  In order for you to have a good experience in studying the Old Testament you have to find a way that fits you, a way that keeps you interested, and that can help you grow.

Why do you think so many procrastinate in reading and studying this scripture?  Simply put, I think it takes extra effort to read and understand, so at times we shy away and go for what we know best.  But really, this should also be one of the scriptures that we know best.

Some people do not study the Old Testament because they feel they cannot understand it. As with all scripture, understanding of the Old Testament may be gained by studying it again and again. President Kimball said: “I am convinced that each of us, at some time in our lives, must discover the scriptures for ourselves—and not just discover them once, but rediscover them again and again. “… We must all of us return to the scriptures just as King Josiah did [see 2 Kings 22–23] and let them work mightily within us, impelling us to an unwavering determination to serve the Lord.” (“How Rare a Possession—The Scriptures!” pp. 4–5.(resident Spencer W. Kimball)

President Marion G. Romney gave the following examples regarding the value of studying the teachings of the Old Testament:

“It seems to me that a study of the Old Testament yields convincing proof of the value and rewards for searching the scriptures.

“The writings of Moses constituted the scriptures for ancient Israel. Included in them was the ‘Book of the Law.’ As the following examples illustrate, over and over again the Lord urged Israel to search these scriptures and live by ‘the law.’

“—To Joshua, who was to lead Israel over Jordan into the promised land, the Lord said: [Joshua 1:7–8].
“Note that Joshua was to ‘meditate therein [upon the law] day and night,’ an important step in understanding the scriptures.

“—The story of Israel is one long series of heights and depths, lights and shadows. Both the people and their civilization rise and fall as they search and obey or neglect and reject the law of the scriptures.

“Following the Babylonian captivity, one of the first things the humbled Jews did upon their return to Jerusalem was gather ‘themselves together [and direct] Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses before the congregation. And he read therein the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading’ (Neh. 8:1–3, 8).

“—Isaiah’s counsel was to test familiar spirits and wizards by the teachings of the scriptures. ‘To the law and to the testimony,’ he said, ‘if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them’ (Isa. 8:19–20).” (“Records of Great Worth,” pp. 3–4.)

So what is the Old testament? 

The Old Testament is the first part of the Christian Bible based on a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites.   It contains thirty-nine books often categorized into four groups: law (Pentateuch), history, poetry or writings, and prophecy. it is a foundation for the New Testament as well as for modern scripture and is in fact  an account of God's dealings with his covenant people from the time of the creation to a few hundred years before the Savior's birth.  

The word testament represents a Hebrew word meaning ‘covenant’” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Bible”; Old Testament contains a record of the history of Abraham and his descendants, beginning with Abraham and the covenant or testament the Lord made with him and his posterity.  It is the writings of ancient prophets who acted under the influence of the Holy Spirit and who over many centuries testified of Christ and his future ministry.  (Guide to the Scriptures, “Old Testament”;

 Understanding the Old testament 
The Old Testament contains images, symbols, and teachings about the Lord Jesus Christ and His role as the Savior of Heavenly Father’s children. As you study daily from its pages, it will increase your understanding of prophets, covenants and ordinances, the scattering and gathering of Israel, and many other doctrines and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

 The prophet Jacob taught that "none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ" (Jacob 7:1 1). Jesus Christ is Jehovah. As you  learn to know Jehovah through the message of the Old Testament, you will love him more and draw nearer to him and thus to our Father in Heaven. you will see that the God of the Old Testament, who created the earth under the direction of the Father, covenanted with Abraham, gave the law to Moses, and loved and led his people, was the premortal Christ. You must learn that his work is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1 :39). His purpose is the same in all ages. Christ taught: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Your challenge is to learn to use the Old Testament as an aid in the quest for eternal life

The Old Testament testifies of Jesus Christ
Although the Old Testament may seem to focus on topics such as covenants, prophets, repentance, the law of Moses, and commandments, there is one theme that weaves through them all: Jesus Christ.  It demonstrates that all things given of God point to Christ, and as we learn to see how the Old Testament testifies of Jesus Christ, our faith in Jesus Christ will increase.

When Jesus said to the Jews, "Search the scriptures; for ... they .. testify of me" (John 5:39), he referred to the books of the Old Testament, the scriptures at the time. They do indeed testify of Christ and of the path to eternal life, which he has made available to all. Similarly, Paul spoke of the Old Testament when he observed to Timothy that from his youth Timothy had learned the scriptures, which were "able to make [him] wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3: 15). One of the purposes that guided the writers of the Old Testament should guide you develop faith in Christ, for "salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ" (Mosiah 3: 17). Too few people understand that the Old Testament scriptures testify of Christ and his work and mission, by which we are enabled to return to the Father.  (Religion 301-2 BYU Manual)

The Old Testament Is a Book of Prophecy

The Old Testament was written by “holy men of God [who] spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost(2 Peter 1:21). Those who were thus moved spoke the mind and will of God (see D&C 68:4). By the power of the Spirit of God they were able to speak the truth concerning things that to them were past, present, and future (see Mosiah 8:15–17). Being given a knowledge of all these things, these men of God were able to proclaim to the people of their time, as well as those future to them, the conditions, challenges, and blessings that would come:
  1. The Old Testament foretold the wickedness and consequent destruction and scattering of the house of Israel (see Leviticus 26:14–39; Jeremiah 13:19; 15:1–4; 29:16–19; Ezekiel 22:15; Amos 9:8–9).
  2. Old Testament prophets foretold many details about the future history of nations and their impact upon the world (see Isaiah 15–21; Ezekiel 25–32; Daniel 2).
  3. The Old Testament prophets knew that the Messiah would come into mortality to save us from our sins, and they foretold many important details about His mortal ministry (see Isaiah 7:14–16; 9:6–7; 42:1–9; 53; Jeremiah 33:14–26; Micah 5:2).
  4. Old Testament prophets predicted the rejection of the Messiah and the subsequent apostasy that would sweep the earth (see Isaiah 53; 24:1–5; Amos 8:11–12).
  5. Old Testament prophets prophesied that the gospel would be restored in the last days and that a record preserved by the hand of God would play an important part in that restoration (see Isaiah 2:2–4; 29; Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 37:15–21; Daniel 2:44–45; Malachi 4:5–6).
  6. Old Testament prophets foretold the gathering of Israel in the last days and the reestablishment of the covenant with Israel, including the gathering into their promised lands (see Deuteronomy 30:1–5; Isaiah 11:11–12; Jeremiah 3:12–18; 12:14–15; 16:15–16; 23:3; 30:3; Ezekiel 11:17; 28:25–26; 34:13; 37:21–27).
  7. The Old Testament foretells many of the events connected with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His millennial reign on the earth (see Isaiah 2:4–5; 11:1–9; 40:3–5; 66:15–24; Daniel 7:13–14; Joel 3:15–17; Zechariah 12:8–11; 13:4–6; 14:1–9).

Learning of the numerous prophecies made by Old Testament prophets that have been fulfilled provides powerful witness of the truth of the book as well as of the existence of God and the truth that He does indeed deal directly with mankind. The Old Testament is of particular value to the Saints of this dispensation, for it includes many prophecies concerning our time. By it, in great measure, the Saints are able to see their part in the Lord’s plan for the house of Israel and the earth’s inhabitants in general.

The Old Testament and the Nature of God
The Lectures on Faith, compiled under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, state:

“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. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful.” (3:2–5.)
The Old Testament, when seen in its correct perspective and when properly interpreted, reveals to humanity the character and attributes of God. It shows that He is a God of love and compassion who has a fatherly care for His children. He has provided the means by which they can become like Him and is seeking continually to bring to pass their immortality and eternal life (see Moses 1:39).

The Old Testament: A Foundation for Other Scriptures

When the family of Lehi were traveling in the wilderness after their escape from Jerusalem, the Lord commanded Lehi to send his sons back to obtain the “plates of brass” (1 Nephi 3:3). This record contained “the words of all the holy prophets since the world began, even down unto this present [Lehi’s] time” (1 Nephi 3:20). The plates were considered to be of such value that the Spirit of the Lord told Nephi that without them his nation would “dwindle and perish in unbelief” (1 Nephi 4:13). These records correspond in great measure to the Old Testament record from Genesis to the time of Jeremiah. Lehi prophesied that “these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed” (1 Nephi 5:18) and that they “should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time” (1 Nephi 5:19). Such is the case, for much of their content has been preserved in the Old Testament and has been quoted, recorded, and used as a source of inspiration and knowledge in all other scriptural books. In the New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price there are hundreds of passages quoted from the Old Testament. Many other passages in these other scriptures show parallels to Old Testament passages.
The Old Testament was Lehi’s guide and stay.
A listing of New Testament passages with Old Testament origins is given in the Bible Dictionary under “quotations.” Large blocks of scripture quoted from the Old Testament record are found in 2 Nephi 6–8; 12–24; 3 Nephi 22, 24–25. References connecting the Book of Mormon and the Old Testament are listed in Monte S. Nyman, “Two Sticks: One in Thine Hand,” Symposium on the Old Testament, pp. 246–51. Doctrine and Covenants references to Old Testament passages are given in a presentation by Robert J. Woodford (see “Doctrine and Covenants References That Aid in an Interpretation of Old Testament Scriptures,” Symposium on the Old Testament, pp. 276–91). The Old Testament connection with the Pearl of Great Price is obvious, for it contains the books of Moses and Abraham. Several other Old Testament passages are found in the writings of Joseph Smith in the Pearl of Great Price.

The Teachings of the Old Testament Are Applicable Today

The Old Testament contains many prophecies about today, and teaches the blessings of righteousness and the consequences of sin.  It demonstrates that the words of the prophets are vindicated by God.

D&C 1 :37-38.   How does the principle described in these verses apply to the Old Testament?
Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
D&C 76:3-4. What implication does the message of these verses have for a study of the Old Testament?
His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand.  From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.
How can the Old Testament be a guide to us in facing current challenges?
President Marion G. Romney said: “In all dispensations holy men have been taught and instructed from heaven with respect to the gospel of Jesus Christ. These teachings and instructions have been preserved in the scriptures so that all who will may learn whom to worship, how to worship, and how to live in order to accomplish the purpose of mortality and thereby gain the promised rewards.” (“Records of Great Worth,” Ensign, Sept. 1980, p. 3.)
President Romney also said that “the Old Testament, like other scriptures, is a handbook on how to proceed in times of threatened adversity. Because of the sharp and graphic contrasts that have been preserved in it, the lessons become unmistakable.” (“Records of Great Worth,” p. 6.)

The Lamb without blemish

The details of sacrifice in the Old Testament were meant to teach of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.  
Elder Russell M. Nelson taught:  “The Old Testament has many references to atonement, which called for animal sacrifice. Not any animal would do. Special considerations included:
“• the selection of a firstling of the flock, without blemish [see Leviticus 5:18; 27:26],

“• the sacrifice of the animal’s life by the shedding of its blood [see Leviticus 9:18],
“• death of the animal without breaking a bone [see Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12], and
“• one animal could be sacrificed as a vicarious act for another [see Leviticus 16:10].
“The Atonement of Christ fulfilled these prototypes of the Old Testament. He was the firstborn Lamb of God, without blemish. His sacrifice occurred by the shedding of blood. No bones of His body were broken—noteworthy in that both malefactors crucified with the Lord had their legs broken [see John 19:31–33]. And His was a vicarious sacrifice for others” (“The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 35)
The offerings and sacrifices explained in the book of Leviticus are part of what was known as the law of Moses.  The Law of Moses was given to prove the truth of the coming of Christ.  2 Nephi 11:4
Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.
What does the word “typifying” mean? To symbolize or represent therefore we see that the law of Moses was given to represent the Savior and his sacrifice to all.  

The name Jehovah

The name Jehovah is “the covenant or proper name of the God of Israel. It denotes ‘the eternal I AM’ (Ex. 3:14; John 8:58). Jehovah is the premortal Jesus Christ and came to earth as a son of Mary (Mosiah 3:8; 15:1; 3 Ne. 15:1–5). Usually, when the word Lord appears in the Old Testament, it means ‘Jehovah.’ Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “In general, in the King James version of the Bible, the name Jehovah has been translated Lord (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 392)
Jehovah is Christ: Jehovah was known to the ancient prophets (Ex. 6:3; Abr. 1:16). The Apostle Paul taught that Christ was the Jehovah of the Old Testament (Ex. 17:6; 1 Cor. 10:1–4). The brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon saw the premortal Christ and worshiped Him (Ether 3:13–15). Moroni also called Christ ‘Jehovah’ (Moro. 10:34). At the Kirtland Temple, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery saw the resurrected Jehovah (D&C 110:3–4)” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Jehovah”).
In the King James Version of the Bible, the word LORD in small capital letters was used in place of the Hebrew letters that represented the name of Jehovah in the Hebrew Bible. Those letters are called the tetragrammaton and are represented in English by the letters YHWH, pronounced “Yahweh” by some and “Jehovah” by most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Other Names for Jesus
We know that Jehovah is the name of Jesus Christ, but also he is refered to with many descriptions through the scriptures such as: Anointed One, Creator, we study the Old Testament we will learn to recognize additional names and titles for Jesus Christ.  Find a complete list and reference here:  Topical Guide, “Jesus Christ.”
Become familiar with  some of his names here:  Job 19:25, Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 49:26
 The course this year also includes the books of Moses and Abraham from the Pearl of Great Price, which is part of Joseph Smith’s translation of the book of Genesis.  These books provide important additions and clarifications to some of the material in the book of Genesis. The book of Moses is an extract from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. The book of Abraham is a translation that the Prophet Joseph Smith made from some Egyptian papyri. For additional information about the Joseph Smith Translation, see “Joseph Smith Translation,” Bible Dictionary, page 717. Note also that selections from the Joseph Smith Translation are included after the Bible Dictionary in the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Bible.
 The Book of Moses is an extract of several chapters from Genesis in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST) and constitutes one of the texts in the Pearl of Great Price. The Prophet Joseph Smith began an inspired revision of the Old Testament in June 1830 to restore and clarify vital points of history and doctrine missing from the Bible.
As for other ancient books, the original title of the first chapter of Moses may have been its opening line, "The words of God" (Moses 1:1). The account deals with Moses' revelation, and beginning with chapter 2 largely parallels Genesis 1:1-6:13. The revelation came to Moses after his call to deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt (Moses 1:26). Much of it concerns God's dealings with Adam and Eve and their immediate posterity following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, a topic on which the current text of Genesis is silent. Structurally, a series of orienting visions (chap. 1) is followed by a revelation of the Creation and its aftermath (2:1-8:1). Embedded within this revelation is an extended account of Enoch (6:25-51; 7:1-8:1), which itself quotes from a record of Adam (6:51-68). A narrative concerning Enoch's descendants, chiefly Noah, appears next (8:2-30)....
A comparison of the Book of Moses with Old Testament pseudepigraphic texts shows parallels not found in the present text of Genesis. For example, Adam and Eve were to offer sacrifices to God after being driven from the Garden (Moses 5:5-7; cf. Life of Adam and Eve, 29.4), and Satan rebelled against God and was expelled from heaven (Moses 4:3-4; cf. Life, 12-16).
A major point of doctrine restored by the Book of Moses is that the gospel of salvation was preached "from the beginning" (Moses 5:58), an idea echoed both by Paul's statement that the gospel was preached to Abraham (Gal. 3:8) and by the Book of Mormon (Jacob 4:4-5; 7:10-11; cf. D&C 29:41-42). Similarly, Eusebius (c. A.D. 263-339) maintained that the teaching of Christianity was neither new nor strange and that the religion of the Patriarchs was identical with that of the Christians (Ecclesiastical History 1.2.1-22).
In this connection, the Book of Moses clarifies the fact that Adam and Eve understood the coming mission of Jesus Christ (Moses 6:51-63). Sacrificial offerings, Adam learned, were "a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten" (5:6-8). Further, Adam was baptized in water, received the Holy Ghost (5:9; 6:64-68), and was taught the Plan of Salvation (6:62). Adam and Eve and their posterity were also taught the purpose of the Fall and rejoiced in the Lord's plan for redemption (5:10-12).
The Book of Moses augments the biblical account of Enoch, who is briefly referred to in Genesis 5:22-24 as one who "walked with God." This restoration of Moses' account includes the fact that Enoch beheld in a vision the Savior's ministry (Moses 7:55-57), the spirit world (6:35-36; 7:56-57), the restoration of the gospel in the last days (7:62), and the second advent of the Savior (7:60, 65). Enoch's importance in the Book of Moses parallels his significant role in other Enoch texts (Nibley, p. vii)(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 216-217)
What Is The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible? (please click the video below for a wonderful answer)

A revision or translation of the King James Version of the Bible in English, which the Prophet Joseph Smith began in June 1830. He was commanded by God to make the translation and regarded it as part of his calling as a prophet.
Although Joseph completed most of the translation by July 1833, he continued until his death in 1844 to make modifications while preparing a manuscript for publication. Though he published some parts of the translation during his lifetime, it is possible that he would have made additional changes had he lived to publish the entire work. The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints published the first edition of Joseph Smith’s inspired translation in 1867. They have published several editions since that time.
The Prophet learned many things during the translation process. Several sections of the Doctrine and Covenants were received because of his translation work (such as D&C 76; 77; 91; and 132). Also, the Lord gave Joseph specific instructions for the translation, which were recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 37:1; 45:60–61; 76:15–18; 90:13; 91; 94:10; 104:58; 124:89). The book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew, now included in the Pearl of Great Price, were taken directly from the Joseph Smith Translation.
The Joseph Smith Translation has restored some of the plain and precious things that have been lost from the Bible (1 Ne. 13). Although it is not the official Bible of the Church, this translation does offer many interesting insights and is very valuable in understanding the Bible. It is also a witness for the divine calling and ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  (Joseph Smith Translation Information)
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism contains the following information regarding the disposition of the manuscripts:  After Joseph Smith's death in June 1844, the marked Phinney Bible and the 477-page manuscript were kept by his widow, Emma Smith. She permitted Dr. John M. Bernhisel to examine the materials in the spring of 1845 at Nauvoo, Illinois. Bernhisel later reported that he made a complete copy of the markings in the Bible and an extensive but incomplete copy of the manuscript entries (Matthews, 1975, p. 118). The Bernhisel manuscript is in the Historian's Library of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, but the location of the Bernhisel marked Bible is not known. Emma Smith gave the Phinney Bible and the original manuscript to a publication committee representing the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS Church) in 1866. These are now in the custody of the RLDS Church at Independence, Missouri. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 766.)

The RLDS Church (now the Community of Christ) first published the Inspired Version (JST) in 1867, with numerous subsequent printings. I picked up my copy of the Inspired Version at the RLDS bookstore in Independence, Missouri, in 1973. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never published the full JST. It is my understanding that the Community of Christ (RLDS) owns the copyright. Only excerpts from the JST are included in the LDS Bible.Where can you obtain a copy of the full Joseph Smith Translation?
Online versions
Online LDS library hosted by Deseret Book (annual fee required for access)

Hosted by Restoration RLDS Church (break off group from the RLDS Church).  Access is free.  I have made a limited comparison of the text to both my hardcopy and my Gospelink copy and there appears to be no difference.
Hardcopy version
Community of Christ bookstore (RLDS)

A study of the Old Testament should strengthen our testimony and understanding of the creation, of the Savior, of who he was, His Atonement, and what is to come as well as strengthen our commitment to live his gospel. 
Daily scripture study:  It is important in the course of study this coming year to set aside time every day for personal study of the Old Testament and to share what you are learning and feeling through a journal, study notebook, a blog or commentary in class.  Finding a way to share will help you not only remember what you are studying but will also help you to find meaning and understanding.  
The online store at contains several items to assist in your study of the Old Testament. The two volume Old Testament Student Manual is an excellent resource. but it is important also to remember that the messages of the Old Testament are best understood through the Spirit.
President Gordon B. Hinckley:  "I hope that for you [studying the scriptures] will become something far more enjoyable than a duty; rather, it will become a love affair with the word of God. I promise you that as you read, your minds will be enlightened and your spirits will be lifted." (Ensign, May 1995, p99)
Religion 301 student manual, 1-1
Religion 301 student manual 1-2 
Religion 301 Teacher manual 

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The Fall of Adam and Eve

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