Old Testament prophets foretold the birth and ministry of the Savior

When Moses and Aaron commanded Pharaoh in the name of the Lord to free the captive Israelites, the hardhearted, proud Pharaoh asked, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go." (Ex. 5:1-2.) There are many who are just as ignorant today of the God of the Old Testament as Pharaoh was anciently. Those who know of Him are divided in their understanding and opinions.

Some consider Him to be a mythical being created in the minds of the ancients; to others He is a God of indignation, one who would destroy with scourges, famines, and floods. Some wonder, "Is the God of the Old Testament the same God of love, mercy and long-suffering found in the New Testament?" Others declare that the Jehovah of the Old Testament was God the Father in the New Testament.Who was the God of the Old Testament people? Two Hebrew words are generally used for God throughout the Old Testament. These are Elohim and Jehovah.

Elder James E. Talmage explained: "The name Elohim . . . is expressive of supreme or absolute exaltation and power. Elohim, as understood and used in the restored Church of Jesus Christ, is the name-title of God the Eternal Father, whose firstborn Son in the spirit is Jehovah - the Only Begotten in the flesh, Jesus Christ. (Jesus the Christ, p. 38.)

Jehovah was the name/title given in premortality to the Firstborn Son of God. Elder Talmage also explained the meaning of Jehovah:

"Jehovah is the Anglicized rendering of the Hebrew, Yahveh or Jahveh, signifying the Self-existent One, or The Eternal. This name is generally rendered in our English version of the Old Testament as LORD printed in capitals. The Hebrew, Ehyeh, signifying I Am, is related in meaning and through derivation with the term Yahveh or Jehovah. (Jesus the Christ, p. 36.)"

The name Jehovah is not mentioned in the Old Testament because the Jews regarded the name as sacred and not to be pronounced. They therefore substituted the word Adonai, which signifies "the Lord." (See Jesus the Christ, p. 37.) This inspired clarification helps the modern student of the Bible understand that Jehovah (Jesus) was the creator of the world (Isa. 45:11-12; John 1:1,3), the Savior of all mankind (Hosea 13:4; Luke 2:11), the Redeemer of the world (Isa. 43:14; Gal. 3:13), the deliverer from death (Hosea 13:14; 1 Cor. 15:20-22), the one who the Jews will look upon who was pierced (Zech. 12:10; John 19:34, 36-37), the one who followed Israel in the wilderness during the Exodus (Ex. 13:21-22; 1 Cor. 10:1-4), the husband or bridegroom (Isa. 54:5; Rev. 19:7-8), and the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega (Isa. 44:6; Rev.1:8).

From modern-day scripture we learn that "all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him." (2 Ne. 11:4 and Moses 6:63.) Faithful Nephites viewed the law of Moses as a "type" for it was of the great and last sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (See Alma 34:14.) The teachings, rituals, ceremonies, and ordinances of the law of Moses pointed the children of Israel to Christ and His atonement.

For those anciently who possessed this perspective, the annual feast of the Passover, which began at the time of the Exodus, served as a reminder that deliverance from spiritual death would be provided by the Firstborn Son of God, Jehovah. The Israelites who sacrificed a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, and sprinkled the blood of the lamb on the lintel and two sideposts of the doors of the houses, would remember the Lamb of God (see John 1:29), Jesus Christ, who would deliver mankind from their sins on conditions of repentance. (See 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet.1:19.)

Long before the time of Moses, Adam was taught the sacrifices he offered were in "similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father." (Moses 5:7.) The practice of sacrificing animals was continued among the Lord's covenant people until the completion of the mortal ministry of Christ. These animal sacrifices helped the children of Israel look forward to the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God. Today the sacrament reminds Latter-day Saints of this infinite sacrifice.

The very lives of Old Testament prophets were "types" of the ministry of the Son of God in the flesh. The name Melchizedek means "king of righteousness" or "my king is righteous." Melchizedek became great because he patterned his life after the teachings of the premortal Christ. (See JST Gen. 14:25-40.) Jesus Christ is the great king of righteousness and peace (see Jer. 23:5-6; Isa. 9:6-7) of whom Melchizedek was a "type."

There are many similarities between the life of Joseph who was sold into Egypt and of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. For example, Joseph was loved by his father "more than all his children." (Gen. 37:3.) Jesus is the "beloved Son" of the Father. (Matt. 3:17.) Both Joseph and Jesus were betrayed by their brethren and sold. (See Gen. 37:26-27; Matt. 26:14-16.) Both Joseph and Jesus were falsely accused. (See Gen. 39:13-18 and Matt. 26:57-66.) Both were saviors to Israel; Joseph saved his father's family from starvation and death by providing them with bread. (See Gen. 45:4-7.) Jesus is "the bread of life." (John 6:35.) He gave Himself to save Israel from spiritual death. Joseph's brothers bowed to him in fulfillment of his prophetic dream. (See Gen. 37:5-8; 43:26.) The day will come when every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ and acknowledge His divinity. (See Philip. 2:10-11 and D&C 76:110.)

Joshua led Israel into the promised land. It is significant that Joshua, not Moses, led Israel into the promised land. The English form of the Hebrew name Yehosua or Joshua is "Jesus." As Joshua led the Israelites into their land of promise, so does Jesus bring faithful Israel into their eternal promised inheritance. The exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, their wanderings in the wilderness of Sin (see Ex. 17:1), and their entry into the promised land symbolized the freedom from the bondage of sin that all may obtain through Jesus Christ and the means He has provided for us to obtain eternal life.

The name and position of King David testifies of Jesus Christ. The name David means "beloved." The reign of King David was but a foreshadowing of the reign of Jesus, the "Beloved Son" (Joseph Smith-History 1:17) of the Father. Jesus will return again as the second "David" and will reign on the throne of Israel forever. (See Ezek. 37:24-25; Isa. 9:6-7).

Perhaps one of the greatest similitudes of the Savior found in the Old Testament is the story of Abraham being commanded to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. (See Gen. 22:1-14.) Isaac was to have his blood shed (see Gen. 22:10); Jesus' blood was shed. (See John 19:34; Luke 22:44.) Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice (see Gen. 22:6); Jesus carried the cross. (See John 19:17.) The sacrifice took place in the land of Moriah or Jerusalem (see Gen. 22:2; 2 Chron. 3:1); Jesus' sacrifice took place at Jerusalem. (See Mark 15:22.) Isaac was Abraham's only covenant son (see Gen. 22:2); Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God. (See John 3:16.) Abraham loved God and was willing to sacrifice his son (see Gen. 22:12); God loved the world and willingly sacrificed His Son. (See John 3:16). Isaac did not refrain, he was a willing sacrifice (see Gen. 22:9); Jesus Christ was willing to do the will of the Father. (See Luke 22:42.)

President Spencer W. Kimball taught that the Old Testament prophets from Adam to Malachi are testifying of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament, and it was He who conversed with Abraham and Moses. It was He who inspired Isaiah and Jeremiah; it was He who foretold through those chosen men the happenings of the future, even to the latest day and hour. (Conference Report, April 1977, p. 113.)

Numerous similitudes of Jesus Christ are found in the Old Testament, which, if understood, can assist us as Latter-day Saints to deepen our love and appreciation for Heavenly Father for sending us His Only Begotten Son, the Savior of all mankind. The Old Testament is an affirming declaration of the coming and atonement of Jesus Christ.

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