Teachings of the Old Testament
Applying the principles, precepts and doctrines to life

As this year's Old Testament course of study in Sunday Schoolcomes to a close, we might ask ourselves "What have I learned?"

Perhaps the Old Testament may be likened to a "school," wherein we learn doctrines, precepts and principles of the gospel. Certainly, the Apostle Paul told the Galatians that the Law of Moses, which is contained in the Old Testament, was "our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." (Gal. 3:24-25.)Following are some highlights of Old Testament teachings:

Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. One of the names by which He is known is "Jehovah," which denotes the "Unchangeable One," "the eternal I AM." (Ex. 6:3; Ps. 83; Isa. 12:2.)

The Lord (Jehovah) created the heavens and the earth and all things in them. (Gen. 1:1; Ex. 31:17; Job 38:4; Ps. 33:6; Ps. 102:25; Isa. 40:28; 42:5; 43:15; 48:13; 51:13; Zech. 12:1; Eccl. 11:5; Jer. 31:22.)

Man is created in the image of God. "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . . " (Gen. 1:26.)

Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and beside Him there is no other. (Isa. 43:11.)

A Messiah is promised as a deliverer. The only place in the Old Testament that the word "Messiah" appears is Dan. 9:25. Isaiah prophesied of the promised Deliverer or Redeemer who would come to earth as a child and "be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." (Isa. 9:6.) Other prophecies of the triumphant reign of the Messiah are contained in Ps. 72 and 100; Isa. 40, 43, 45, 52, 63, 65; Ezek. 37-48; Dan. 12; and Zech. 12-14.)

The Lord gives laws and guidelines for people to follow. An example is the Ten Commandments, as recorded in Ex. 20.

God is patient and merciful, but He requires His children to obey His commandments; He rules with mercy and justice. Obedience brings blessings; disobedience brings suffering. An example of blessings that follow obedience is Joshua heeding instructions before conquering Jericho. (Josh. 6.) Two prominent examples of the Lord meting out justice after having demonstrated great patience are: 1. The Lord sent Noah to call people to repentance; when they refused to repent, He cleansed the earth with a great flood. (Gen. 6-8.) 2. The Lord heeded Abraham's petition to spare Sodom if 50 righteous people could be found therein. When 50 couldn't be found, the Lord agreed to spare the city if just 40, then 30, then 20, and then 10 righteous people could be found. Finally, the Lord caused the city to be destroyed. (Gen. 13-19.)

Miracles are part of the Lord's dealings with His people. The Old Testament is filled with many accounts of many miracles. Among them: Sarah giving birth to Isaac in her old age (Gen. 18, 21); the parting of the Red Sea for the children of Israel to pass safely out of Egyptian bondage (Ex. 14); the provision of manna to sustain the children of Israel and the preservation of their clothing during their 40 years of wandering in the desert. (Ex. 15, 16, Num. 11; Deut. 8.)

The Lord makes covenants with His people. Man does not stand as an equal with God in the process of making covenants; the Lord fixes the terms, which man accepts. "The gospel is so arranged that principles and ordinances are received by covenant placing the recipient under strong obligation and responsibility to honor the commitment." (Bible Dictionary, 1979 LDS edition, King James Bible, p. 651.) The Abrahamic covenant was made with Abraham (Gen. 17; 22:15-18) and renewed with Isaac (Gen. 26:1-4, 24) and again with Jacob. (Gen. 28; 35:9-13; 48:3-4.)

Marriage outside of the covenant can lead to destruction. Adam's sons intermarried with the "daughters of men" (Gen. 6), which means they married non-believers. Other condemnations about marrying outside the covenant are found in Gen. 27:46; Ex. 34:16; Deut. 7:3; Josh. 23:12; Judg. 3:6; 1 Kgs. 11:4; Ezra 9:2; 10:10; Neh. 10:30; and Mal. 2:11.

Through resurrection, man will live again. Job testified that his body would again take on flesh. (Job 19.)

God is with His children in their adversities and provides a way for them to face, endure or overcome trials. The Lord sent an angel to minister to and protect Shadrach, Mesach and Abed-nego when they were cast into the fiery furnace. (Dan. 3.) Help will be provided those who are given "the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction." (Isa. 30:20.)

Tithing is a commandment of the Lord. Paying tithes will open the "windows of heaven" and bring uncontainable blessings. (Mal. 3:8-12.)

Fasting has some essential elements. Among them are repentance from wrongdoing, dealing one's bread to the hungry, clothing the naked and caring for one's own family. (Isa. 58:6-7.)

Proper Sabbath Day observance is a commandment of the Lord. Obedience to this commandment is the promise of temporal blessings and eternal life. (Isa. 58:13-14, Ex. 20:8-11.)

Before the Savior's second coming, Elijah will perform a great work. Elijah's latter-day mission was to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers," foreshadowing family history and temple work. (Mal. 4:6.)

The Lord answers prayers. For example, Samuel was born in answer to the prayers of his mother, Hannah. (1 Sam. 1.)

God makes His will known through His prophets. Amos declared, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7.)

The Lord's Church, restored to the earth, shall stand forever and shall cover all the earth. Daniel prophesied of a stone that "was cut out without hands" that would become "a great mountain" and "fill the earth," to set up a kingdom, which shall not be destroyed, but shall "consume" the kingdoms of the world and "stand forever." (Dan. 2.)

No one is exempt from temptation, even those who have been called by the Lord to fulfill specific purposes. When Samuel was sent to find a king to reign over His people, he was told to select David, despite his young age. The Lord "looketh on the heart" and approved of David. Yet, in later years, David succumbed to temptation as he committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged for Uriah, her husband, to be killed in battle. (2 Sam. 11.) Another example is Samson, who was given extraordinary strength. He followed the course of weak morals in his association with Deliah, whose betrayal led to his downfall. (Judg. 13-16.)

The Lord places certain individuals in positions where they can help His people. One great example is Joseph, who became a ruler in Egypt, a position in which he was able to prevent his people from starving during a famine. (Gen. 37, 42-45.) Another example is Moses, whose life was spared as an infant; he grew up in the household of the pharaoh, and was called to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. (Ex. 1-14, Heb. 11:23-27.) Yet another example is Esther, an orphaned Jew who became queen of Persia and used her influence to save her people from destruction. (Esth. 1-9.)

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