Most of us recall the delightful feeling of walking up to a door and being received with great warmth and hospitality.
As the door swings open, a smile greets you. Peering beyond the open door, you may see a comfortable chair, catch the aroma of warm bread, and in the background hear a crackling fire or strains of music.
“Welcome to our home,” says the person at the door. A hand is extended in friendship. You enter with the assurance of having a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
In a sense that is the role the Ensign plays this month. Of all the standard works of the Church, the Old Testament is perhaps the least known, least read, and most confusing in the minds of most readers.
As with good friends and neighbors who are cultivated through constant association, many members of the Church are well acquainted with the Old Testament and have become fast friends. Others, as with an occasionally seen neighbor, do not know as well the faces and potential friends residing within this scripture; still others, as with rarely visited neighbors, are hardly aware that the Old Testament is even nearby, much less understand that it could become a close and enduring companion.
To one and all, the Ensign wishes to figuratively open the door and with great warmth call out, “Welcome to the Old Testament.”
We hope that the pages of this magazine will help forge a friendship between you and this often-overlooked body of sacred, powerful, and significant scripture.
We hope that as you read and browse through the pages of this issue, becoming acquainted with the people and places in the Old Testament, that the sights and sounds of the past will present themselves before you, that of the sandy and hot Sinai Desert and of the rocky and hilly Promised Land, the sounds of creaking leather on camels and horses, of bleating sheep, and of happy people of another day living and growing as they apply gospel truths in their lives.
As members throughout the Church will recognize, this issue of the Ensign correlates with the scripture now being studied in the Sunday School Gospel Doctrine class.
1. It is more than a magazine—it is booklet, supplement, and reference aid all in one.
2. It concentrates on the early lessons in this year’s Gospel Doctrine curriculum.
3. It features “I Have a Question,” a regular department which this month presents questions dealing with the Old Testament.
4. It includes articles on David and Isaiah, to which readers will want to return later in the year when they are discussed in Sunday School.
5. It includes maps and charts that correlate with the Sunday School discussions. Additional articles, maps, and charts will be published throughout the year to expand the material presented in class.
This issue also features art of the Old Testament events described. Countless photographs of biblical art were reviewed and the works of the masters were studied. It was an interesting exercise because the events described in the Bible have rarely been painted to convey the understanding that Latter-day Saints have come to expect from their religious art. Artists of the restoration have enormous contributions yet to make.
We hope that through this issue you will sense the promise of a warm friendship between you and the Old Testament, a companionship that will be lasting, life fulfilling, and life changing.
Welcome to the Old Testament!
Jay M. Todd, Managing Editor