Grand Old Testament of Our Lord…
Throughout my life I have heard the Old Testament spoken of by some with dismissal, as if it is of lesser value scripturally. I believe that to dismiss the Old Testament in favor of exclusively reading other scripture is to fail to recognize its purpose, which is found in its very name. On the title page of the King James Version of the New Testament the title is shown as such: The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Although the Old Testament title page simply reads: Old Testament — as a precursor or forerunner to the New Testament, the title page might more accurately state: The Old Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament is what it exactly claims to be, a testimony of the coming Christ, He who created the world, He who made everlasting covenants with Abraham and the House of Israel, He whose breath parted the Red Sea and whose finger carved the Ten Commandments. The Old Testament is a witness of He whose glory was seen in His Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. The Old Testament contains the foundational support of prophecy that would be fulfilled by the Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh from His mortal birth in Bethlehem to His atoning sacrifice in Gethsemane, in the tribunals of Jerusalem, and on Golgotha — even unto resurrection at that Garden Tomb, revealed by the pre-mortal Jehovah to His prophets, and realized by Himself as the Son of God. As a witness of Christ, the Old Testament should in nowise be dismissed.
The primary purpose of the Old Testament is like unto the New Testament, and all other scripture, and the prophets — to testify of Christ. As Elder Tad R. Callister taught, “The atonement is the burden of all scripture.” Having spent the last year studying every page and word of this book of scripture I personally declare that the Old Testament bears up in supreme fashion under its burden.
“The atonement is the burden of all scripture.”
Elder Tad R. Callister
The prophecies and witness of Christ are contained in nearly every book of the Old Testament. From the very first pages of Genesis we learn of the law of sacrifice, which was in anticipation and symbolic of the infinite sacrifice and atonement that the Savior Jesus Christ would embrace to save us all. Tokens of the Redeemer were seen throughout the sacred record, from the brazen serpent raised up to be looked upon for the children of Israel to be saved, to the testimony of Isaiah: “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to His own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).
Although there were a lot of people in Old Testament days who rejected the idea of a coming Lord, of a Savior who would redeem His people, there were many who faithfully followed, abiding by all the laws and ordinances of the gospel, and whose examples are shown in that witness. Like many faithful, the prophets of the Old Testament believed in Jesus Christ and His redeeming mission without ever seeing Him in the flesh, while the majority who met the mortal Messiah, as recorded in the New Testament record, rejected Him outright, even after witnessing His miracles.
I believe that people of a different time observing our day might have a similar feeling as those thoughts some have when looking upon various behaviors of people during Old Testament days. Against reason and logic, against all that is good, there are people in both eras that insist on doing wickedly, that insist on doing wrong in spite of what is obviously truth and reason.
The world of the Old Testament is very much like the world in which we live today. For those who struggle to believe and follow gospel paths, or even actively choose to disbelieve and disobey God’s commands, the struggle, the act, is against the light of miracles past and even the voices of prophets living. People in the days of Moses stood against a living prophet while quoting in disobedience the words of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In our day, while we hear and adhere to sweet stories of Jesus, distortions of His teachings call into question divine immutable law. People minimize the importance of His commandments and ordinances in a modern age. They fail to acknowledge His all encompassing Redeeming power, His Lordship over all things, and His love and ability to be all present, speaking through living prophets today in preparation for His glorious second coming. Our day sounds very familiar to the reception received by Moses, Elijah, and Jeremiah who taught to prepare the children of Israel for the coming of their King in the meridian of time.
And the prophets of old did not just testify of the Lord’s mortal ministry, His miracles, and His infinite atonement and resurrection, but they also testified that He would come again in the latter times, our day. “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 40:4-5).
I love the words of a prophecy of Zechariah yet to be fulfilled, from the second to last book of the Old Testament. This prophesies the hour when the children of Israel will see the resurrected Lord for the first time following His glorious second coming, recognizing their Messiah finally having come and then accepting that He had been here before, one of their own, the crucified Jesus. “And one shall say unto Him, ‘What are these wounds in thine hands?’ Then He shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends’” (Zechariah 13:6).
Truly the Lord has always been mindful of His children, preparing the way that all mankind might have access to His grace, His infinite atonement. From the fall of our first parents Adam and Eve, down through the ages, nurturing His people Israel, preparing every needful thing, walking this earth Himself even unto death and resurrection, that He might have power to cleanse and forgive sin. The gospel of Jesus Christ was carried forward by the Gentiles, Old and New Testaments in hand, who also became His people and assisted in the gathering of Israel once more with the gospel and the power of God restored to the Earth. His call to His children has not changed from Old to New, from ancient prophets to living, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isaiah 45:22-23).
The prophecies of the Old Testament are inexorably tied to their fulfillment in the life of Christ as recorded in the New Testament, and those prophecies yet unfulfilled to which we look and await for the joyous day of His glorious second coming and millennial reign on Earth.
I believe when I think of 2022 in the years to come, one of the things that will stand out most clearly in my gratitude list will be the time I spent reading, studying, and writing from my spiritually endowed understandings of The Old Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It has brought me closer to Christ, and I pray you the same gift. It is my personal witness that Jesus Christ, Jehovah of the Old Testament, is the Son of the Living God, He who I recognize as “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), and He lives. May we all come to know Him from every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, through every prophet, through every scripture. This I declare in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.