A Testimony of Christ
Like all scripture, the Old Testament is a witness and testimony that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men, and that we must worship Them and live Their teachings to obtain peace in this life and eternal life after death.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament, and it was He who [spoke] 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” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 113; or Ensign, May 1977, 76).
After His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to two men walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. He quoted Old Testament prophecies about Himself that filled the men with the Spirit and caused their hearts to burn with testimony (see Luke 24:13–32). As you study the Old Testament, look for truths that can teach you more about Jesus Christ and how to apply His gospel in your life. As part of your study, you will keep a notebook of insights and assignments. You may want to make a special place in your notebook for what you learn that specifically teaches about or testifies of Christ. You may also find your heart filled with testimony about Jesus Christ as you look for Him in the Old Testament.
The Old Testament Story
The Old Testament begins with the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. It then briefly tells the history of Adam and Eve’s posterity down to the time of Noah when a great flood destroyed all people and animals except Noah and his family and the animals on the ark. After telling Noah’s story, the Old Testament briefly records events leading up to the life of Abraham, who entered into covenants (sacred promises) with God and received special promises from God concerning his posterity. The promises God made to Abraham are called the “Abrahamic covenant” (see Bible Dictionary, “Abraham, covenant of,” p. 602). The Abrahamic covenant continued with Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob, whom the Lord renamed Israel. The Old Testament then records God’s dealings with His covenant people, the descendants of Jacob, who are called the “house of Israel” or the “children of Israel.”
Previewing the Old Testament—the Table of Contents
Look at “The Names and Order of All the Books of the Old and New Testament” in the front of your Bible. When the Old Testament was put together, the books were not always placed in chronological order. It would be a good idea to mark your table of contents so you can remember the different kinds of writings in the Old Testament. For example, put the following four names next to the books they refer to in your table of contents.
The Law. The books from Genesis to Deuteronomy are often referred to as “the law.” Because Moses wrote them, they are sometimes called “the five books of Moses.” Genesis begins with the creation of the world and Adam and Eve, and Deuteronomy finishes at the end of Moses’ life. These five books tell about covenants God made with man and about the commandments men must live as their part of the covenant.
The History. The books from Joshua to Esther tell the continued history of the children of Israel for over six hundred years after Moses. These books are commonly called “the history.” They are generally placed in chronological order; however, 1–2 Chronicles are essentially another writer’s version of the same history found in 1–2 Kings.
The Poetry. The books from Job to Ecclesiastes are filled with teachings and revelations that are written in poetic form; thus, this section is known as “the poetry.” The Song of Solomon is also contained in the poetry section although, according to the Prophet Joseph Smith, it is not an inspired writing (see Bible Dictionary, “Song of Solomon,” p. 776) . The book of Psalms contains words to sacred music of that time.
The Prophets. The books from Isaiah to Malachi contain the teachings of different prophets during the time the children of Israel had kings. They are not in historical order. We do not know the reason they are in their current order.
Why Is a Study of the Old Testament Important to Me?
The Old Testament stories are some of the most well known in history. If we did not know them, much of the New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants would not be as meaningful. But we must do more than just know the stories. We must learn true doctrine from them and apply that doctrine in our lives.
As you diligently study the Old Testament, you will find times when the Spirit will touch your heart and help you become more Christlike. For thousands of years the Old Testament has helped people with faith follow Heavenly Father’s plan.