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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.()
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”; ) The 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)
- 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).
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).
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.
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?
D&C 76:3-4. What implication does the message of these verses have for a study of the Old Testament?
The Lamb without blemish
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)