A Precious and Powerful Witness of Jesus Christ

By John M. Madsen

John M. Madsen, "A Precious and Powerful Witness of Jesus Christ" in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Old Testament, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, and Deseret Book 2005), 18-34.

A Precious and Powerful Witness of Jesus Christ

Elder John M. Madsen

Elder John M. Madsen serves as a member of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Old Testament is a precious and powerful witness of Jesus Christ, even though the sacred name and title Jesus Christ is not found within its pages today. “Many plain and precious things” were indeed “taken away from the book” (1 Nephi 13:28), but the central and fundamental message of the Old Testament, and indeed of all scripture, is that salvation may be found only in and through His holy name.

All Scripture and All Prophets Testify of Christ

Jacob, the brother of Nephi and an Old Testament–period prophet, testified: “We knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name” (Jacob 4:4–5; see also 2 Nephi 11:2–4).

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that “all revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. In all of the scriptures, where God is mentioned and where he has appeared, it was Jehovah who talked with Abraham, with Noah, Enoch, Moses, and all the prophets. He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the Law of Moses. The Father has never dealt with man directly and personally since the fall, and He has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son.” [1]

President Spencer W. Kimball declared 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.” [2]

I know of no more powerful and wonderful summary of the identity and role of the Lord Jesus Christ than the statement published to the world January 1, 2000, by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles entitled “The Living Christ,” from which I quote some key phrases:

[Jesus Christ] was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. . . .

He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. . . .

He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). . . .

He will someday return to earth. . . . He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him. . . .

His duly ordained Apostles [bear testimony] that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. [3]

Jehovah Was Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament. Where can we find this truth in the scriptures? We begin with Father Adam, who learned about salvation through Jesus Christ and was commanded, “Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time” (Moses 6:57; see also v. 52).

Enoch was shown the Crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ: “And the Lord said unto Enoch: Look, and he looked and beheld the Son of Man lifted up on the cross, after the manner of men; and he heard a loud voice; and the heavens were veiled; and all the creations of God mourned; and the earth groaned; and the rocks were rent; and the saints arose, and were crowned at the right hand of the Son of Man, with crowns of glory” (Moses 7:55–56).

When the priests of Elkanah were about to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice to their “dumb idols” (see Abraham 1:7–15), he lifted up his voice to God. And to Abraham the Lord Jesus Christ declared, “Abraham, Abraham, behold, my name is Jehovah, and I have heard thee, and have come down to deliver thee” (Abraham 1:16; see also 2:7–8).

Abraham could forever afterward testify that His Savior and Redeemer and Deliverer was the Great Jehovah. Abraham understood that Jehovah would come to earth and minister among men as their Savior and Redeemer, as we learn from the following:

“And it came to pass, that Abram looked forth and saw the days of the Son of Man, and was glad, and his soul found rest, and he believed in the Lord; and the Lord counted it unto him for righteousness” (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 15:12, Bible appendix; see also Genesis 22:14; Helaman 8:13–23).

To Moses the Lord declared: “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. . . . I Am that I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. . . . Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:6, 14–15).

Then, according to the King James Version, the Lord declared to Moses, “I am the Lord: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them” (Exodus 6:2–3).

The Joseph Smith Translation of this same verse reads differently: “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob. I am the Lord God Almighty; the Lord Jehovah. And was not my name known unto them?” (Exodus 6:3, Joseph Smith Translation in footnote c).

Also in the Joseph Smith Translation, we read, “For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jehovah, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14, Joseph Smith Translation in footnote c).

And in Psalms we read, “Let them be confounded and troubled for ever [speaking of the enemies of God]; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish: that men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth” (Psalm 83:17–18; see also 3 Nephi 11:14).

In the New Testament, John records the words of the Savior, which confirm His identity as the Great Jehovah, or I Am: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:56–58). His testimony so offended the Jews that they took up stones to kill Him (see John 8:59).

In these latter days, the Lord Jesus Christ also has confirmed His identity as the Great Jehovah, or I Am, who spoke to Abraham and Moses. To the Prophet Joseph Smith in September 1830, the Lord declared, “Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I Am, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins” (D&C 29:1).

And in a subsequent revelation through the Prophet Joseph, the Lord again declared, “Hearken and listen to the voice of him who is from all eternity to all eternity, the Great I Am, even Jesus Christ— the light and the life of the world; a light which shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not; the same which came in the meridian of time unto mine own, and mine own received me not” (D&C 39:1–3; see also 38:1).

Then, when the Lord appeared in majesty and glory to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple, Joseph testified: “We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber. His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:2–4; see also Revelation 1:13–18).

The Lord Jesus Christ was indeed the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Messiah of the New. He is the “Living Christ, the immortal Son” of the Living God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. [4]

Salvation Comes Only through Jesus Christ

Let us consider scriptures that reveal the central and fundamental message of the Old Testament—that salvation is obtained only in and through the name of Jesus Christ.

The book of Moses, which is Joseph Smith’s translation of Genesis, reveals that all of the prophets from Adam to Noah understood the plan of salvation, or the gospel (see Moses 5:58–59). They understood that salvation is “only in and through the name of Christ” (Mosiah 3:17). For example, the Lord said to Adam, “If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you” (Moses 6:52; see also 6:57–62; 7:45–47; 8:19–24). [5]

The Book of Mormon, most of which is essentially an Old Testament record, confirms that prophets in Old Testament times knew the plan of redemption and knew that salvation is only in and through the name of Jesus Christ. Nephi, son of Lehi, said:

“According to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt,. . . there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved” (2 Nephi 25:19–20; see also 10:3; 31:2–21).

King Benjamin testified:

Salvation cometh . . . through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them. . . .

And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. (Mosiah 3:12–13, 17; see also 5:7–8; 13:32–35; 1 Nephi 6:4; Alma 38:9; Helaman 5:9–11)

Before turning again to the Old Testament, we should note that ancient prophets referred to Jesus Christ by various names or titles, including God, Jehovah, Messiah, Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel, and many others. We should also note that the Hebrew word for the name Jehovah was almost always translated in the King James Version of the Old Testament as “Lord,” or “the Lord.” [6] It appears thousands of times in the Old Testament.

A few representative passages from the Old Testament indicate that salvation is to be found only in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we have shown to be the Great Jehovah. In most of the passages that follow, we may appropriately add the sacred name and title Jesus Christ after each use of the title Lord or the Lord.

From Psalms we read:

“The Lord [Jesus Christ] is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower” (Psalm 18:2; see also 27:1).

“O come, let us sing unto the Lord [Jesus Christ]: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation” (Psalm 95:1).

“I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord [Jesus Christ]” (Psalm 116:13).

“I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord [Jesus Christ]; and thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:174).

“For the Lord [Jesus Christ] taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

From the prophet Isaiah we read:

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:2–3).

“The Lord [Jesus Christ] is our judge, the Lord [Jesus Christ] is our lawgiver, the Lord [Jesus Christ] is our king; he will save us” (Isaiah 33:22).

“I, even I, am the Lord [Jesus Christ]; and beside me there is no saviour” (Isaiah 43:11; see also vv. 3, 15).

“For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Isaiah 54:5; see also 41:14; 44:24; 48:17; 60:16; compare 3 Nephi 11:14).

Other Old Testament prophets bore similar testimony (such as we find in Job 19:25; Jeremiah 50:34; Hosea 13:4; Jonah 2:9; Micah 7:7; Habakkuk 3:8; Zechariah 9:9), for they knew, as have all the prophets from the beginning, to whom they should look for salvation.

In the New Testament, we read these powerful words of testimony spoken by the Apostle Peter, who had just healed a man in the name of Christ: “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:10–12; see also 10:43; Psalm 118:22; Matthew 16:13–16).

John the Beloved, our Savior’s disciple, summarized the purpose of his own writings and of all scripture when he testified, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31; see also 2 Nephi 11:2–4; Jacob 7:10–11; Alma 33:14; Moses 6:63).

In Doctrine and Covenants, section 18, the Lord declares: “Take upon you the name of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness. And as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved. Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved” (D&C 18:21–23).

And from section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, we read:

As many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved—

Not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time, in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life,

As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son; . . .

And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. (D&C 20:25–27, 29; see also 76:1; 109:4)

From the foregoing passages (as well as others that could be cited), we see that the central and fundamental message of the Old Testament, and indeed of all scriptures, is that salvation is only in and through the name of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament Bears Witness of Jesus Christ

Let us consider how the Old Testament bears further witness of Jesus Christ. Perhaps the following account of the resurrected Lord speaking with two of His disciples as they journeyed to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–27) will illustrate: “Then [Jesus] said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25–27).

That the Old Testament bears witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and His great mission of redemption is further illustrated in the account of what occurred when the risen Lord appeared to His disciples later that same evening. Luke records: “And [Jesus] said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:44–46; see also vv. 33–43).

These words spoken by Peter on the day of Pentecost indicate that he understood that the Old Testament bears clear and powerful witness of Jesus Christ: “Those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled” (Acts 3:18).

The Apostle Paul also confirms that the Old Testament bears clear and certain witness of Jesus Christ. He wrote to the Corinthian Saints, saying, “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4; emphasis added).

The Law of Moses, The Prophets, and the Psalms

We can only imagine what it would have been like to be among His disciples when the resurrected Lord appeared and “opened . . . their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures” (Luke 24:45). The Lord reminded His disciples that all things had to be fulfilled that were written “in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms” (Luke 24:44). Let us briefly consider what is written in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms concerning Jesus Christ.

The Law of Moses

What was the spirit and intent of the law of Moses, as recorded in the Old Testament? Nephi, son of Lehi, explains:

Notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.

For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away. (2 Nephi 25:24–27)

King Benjamin testified: “The Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses. And many signs, and wonders, and types, and shadows showed he unto them, concerning his coming; and also holy prophets spake unto them concerning his coming; and yet they hardened their hearts, and understood not that the law of Moses availeth nothing except it were through the atonement of his blood” (Mosiah 3:14–15; see also 2 Nephi 11:4; Jacob 4:5).

Abinadi declared:

And now I say unto you that it was expedient that there should be a law given to the children of Israel, yea, even a very strict law; for they were a stiffnecked people, quick to do iniquity, and slow to remember the Lord their God;

Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.

But behold, I say unto you, that all these things were types of things to come.

And now, did they understand the law? I say unto you, Nay, they did not all understand the law; and this because of the hardness of their hearts; for they understood not that there could not any man be saved except it were through the redemption of God. (Mosiah 13:29–32)

In Alma 25 we read:

Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.

Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses; but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come. (Alma 25:15–16; see also 34:10–14)

We learn more about the law of Moses from the risen Lord, who declared to the Nephites: “Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses. Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfill the law; therefore it hath an end” (3 Nephi 15:4–5).

The Prophets

As we have seen, all prophets—including Old Testament prophets—testify of Jesus Christ. Representative of all their words are passages from Isaiah. Let us consider a few of them. For example: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew testifies that the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary is in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy regarding Immanuel: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:21–23; see also D&C 128:22–24).

Now we turn to the immortal words of Isaiah that are familiar to unnumbered millions through the music of Handel’s Messiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Who is this “child”? “Whose Son is He?” (Matthew 22:42). Who is this “mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” spoken of by Isaiah? The scriptures reveal clearly who He is.

He is Jesus Christ, born into this world as the “Only Begotten Son” (Jacob 4:5, 11) [7] of God “the Eternal Father” and the son of Mary “after the manner of the flesh” (1 Nephi 11:21, 18). [8]

He is Jesus Christ, the long-awaited “Messiah,” the “Savior” and “Redeemer of the world” (1 Nephi 10:4–5), [9] of whom all “the prophets testified” (3 Nephi 11:10). [10]

He is Jesus Christ, the “Lamb of God,” who was “judged of the world; . . . lifted up upon the cross” (1 Nephi 11:32–33) [11] and “crucified” (1 Nephi 19:10) [12] to “atone for the sins of the world” (Alma 34:8). [13]

He is Jesus Christ, who, before condescending to “come down from heaven” to dwell “among the children of men” (Mosiah 3:5), [14] was none other than the Great Jehovah, who gave “the law” unto Moses on the mount (3 Nephi 15:5).

He is Jesus Christ, “the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning” (Mosiah 3:8), [15] whose “infinite atonement” (2 Nephi 9:7) [16] brings “the resurrection of the dead” (Helaman 14:15). [17]

He is Jesus Christ, “the Eternal Judge of both [the] quick and [the] dead” (Moroni 10:34). [18]

He is Jesus Christ, “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity” (Mosiah 3:5). [19]

Isaiah 53 is another glorious prophecy. It fulfills the very purpose and spirit of prophecy as explained by the Apostle John when he declared, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Isaiah eloquently describes and bears testimony of the life and mortal ministry and of the infinite Atonement wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ. He prophesies that Christ will be “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3), that He will “[bear] our griefs, and [carry] our sorrows” (v. 4) and heal us with His “stripes” (v. 5). Isaiah also foresaw that despite being “oppressed, and . . . afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth, . . . as a lamb to the slaughter” (v. 7). Latter-day prophets and New Testament writers alike testify that Isaiah’s prophecy refers to the mission and death of Christ. [20]

Perhaps the most compelling evidence confirming that Isaiah 53 is a prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ is the testimony of Abinadi, which, like the Book of Mormon itself, cries from the dust to all the world (see 2 Nephi 26:12–17; 33:4–13; Mormon 8:14–24; Moroni 10:27).

Abinadi, facing a martyr’s death at the hands of King Noah and his priests, quoted the whole of Isaiah 53 (see Mosiah 14) and explained its meaning (see Mosiah 15), thus confirming his witness that the Messiah who would come and atone for the sins of mankind was the very same Lord of whom Isaiah bore such powerful and prophetic witness!

It is noteworthy that Abinadi, in the face of death, testified of Christ, who would come to break the bands of death, as if He had already come. Abinadi declared:

And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption.

And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.

But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.

He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death. (Mosiah 16:6–9; see also vv. 10–15)

We would all do well to examine our own testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ in light of the testimony of Abinadi.

Finally, from Isaiah 61 we read, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (Isaiah 61:1–2).

Jesus leaves absolutely no doubt about the meaning of these prophetic words. Having commenced His mortal ministry, He returned to Nazareth and “went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” He then read Isaiah 61:1 and 2. Then, having closed the book, He sat down and said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (see Luke 4:16–21).

The Psalms

Now we shall consider a few selected passages from the Psalms. It is significant to note that the Savior and other New Testament writers quoted more frequently from the Psalms than from any other book in the Old Testament.

We begin with the psalm containing some of the very words spoken by the Savior from the cross, as He hung in unspeakable agony: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” (Psalm 22:1; see also Matthew 27:46).

Now consider these prophetic words which so graphically describe the feelings, the humiliation, the suffering, and the agony endured by the Savior during His Crucifixion:

“All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him” (Psalm 22:7–8; see also Matthew 27:39–43).

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (Psalm 22:14–18; see also Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24–25; John 19:37).

“Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (Psalm 69:20–21; see also John 19:28–30).

In the following psalm, we see clear reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9; see also 55:12–13; Matthew 26:20–23; John 13:18–19).

Verses from the Psalms also give us references to scenes from the ministry and teachings and Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

“He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11–12; see also Matthew 4:5–6; 26:53; Luke 4:10–11).

“Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still” (Psalm 107:28–29; see also 89:8–9; Matthew 8:24–27).

“The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner” (Psalm 118:22; see also Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:10–12).

“And [God] had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven” (Psalm 78:24; see also vv. 25–27; John 6:31–35).

“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalm 82:6; see also Matthew 5:48; John 10:34–36).

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:9–10; see also Acts 2:22–32).

“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1; see also Matthew 22:41–45).

Conclusion

From the passages cited, and a host of others that could be, we can see that the Old Testament is a precious and powerful witness of Jesus Christ. Prophets ancient and modern bear solemn witness that salvation is possible only in and through His holy name.

 


[1] Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (1954–56), 1:27.

[2] In Conference Report, April 1977, 113; or Ensign, May 1977, 76.

[3] Ensign, April 2000, 2–3.

[4] Ensign, April 2000, 3.

[5] It should be noted that in Moses 6:52 and 59 (as also in D&C 29:1, 41–46), the Lord Jesus Christ speaks as if He were God the Father. By the law of divine investiture, the Son represents the Father in all matters here upon the earth, so He may speak as if He were God the Father. For a better understanding of this principle, see “The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Twelve,” in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965–75), 5:26–34; reprinted in James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. (1924), 465–73.

[6] See James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. (1916), 36–37.

[7] See also John 1:14, 18; 1 John 4:9; 2 Nephi 25:12; D&C 49:5; 76:13; 93:11; Moses 5:57.

[8] See also Galatians 4:4; 2 Nephi 32:6; Mosiah 3:8.

[9] See also John 1:41; 4:42; Revelation 5:9; 1 Nephi 1:19; 10:6–17; 2 Nephi 2:6–10; D&C 13; 18:47; 43:34; 93:7–9.

[10] See also Mosiah 3:13; Helaman 8:13–23.

[11] See also John 1:29; Moses 7:47.

[12] See also Matthew 28:5; Acts 2:36; 1 Nephi 19:9, 13–15; 2 Nephi 6:9; Mosiah 3:9; 15:7–9; D&C 20:23; 45:52.

[13] See also 1 Peter 3:18; Mosiah 3:11–18; Alma 22:14; 33:22–23; D&C 35:2; 46:13; 53:2.

[14] See also John 1:14; 6:38; Hebrews 2:9; Mosiah 3:6–8; D&C 88:6.

[15] See also John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2; 2 Nephi 9:6; Alma 11:39; Helaman 14:12; 3 Nephi 9:15; D&C 38:1–3; 76:24; Moses 1:33.

[16] See also 2 Nephi 2:6–10; Alma 34:8–16; 36:17–18; D&C 76:40–42, 69.

[17] See also Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2; 2 Nephi 9:9–13, 21–22; Jacob 4:11–12; Alma 11:42–45; 40:23; Helaman 14:16–19; D&C 88:16–17.

[18] See also John 5:22; Acts 10:34–42; Romans 2:16; 14:10; 2 Nephi 9:13–17, 41; Mosiah 3:10, 18; 3 Nephi 27:13–15; Mormon 3:20–22; Moses 6:57.

[19] See also Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:22; Revelation 19:6; Mosiah 3:6–8, 18; 5:15.

[20] See Doctrines of Salvation, 1:23–25; Jesus the Christ, 47, 655; Matthew 8:17; John 12:38; Acts 8:27–35; 1 Peter 2:24–25.