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The God of the Old Testament

Mormons believe that when God speaks in the Old Testament, it is the voice of Jehovah, who would come to earth as Jesus Christ.Prophets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have always upheld the original biblical knowledge that God, the Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, are two separate beings, and that together with the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost, are one God in purpose and action.

“The hardhearted pharaoh, impudent and proud, asked, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice . . . ? I know not the Lord” ( Exodus 5:2 ). Many people today are just as ignorant of the God of the Old Testament as the pharaoh was. They regard Him as a being created by the minds of the ancients, a God of wrath and low religion who would destroy people with floods and plagues. Could this be the same God as the being of love in the New Testament revealed through the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ? Others contend that the Jehovah of Old Testament times was the same as God the Father in the New Testament. Why all this confusion? Who, really, was the God of Adam, of Enoch and Abraham, of Israel and Moses?

“Although for many it seems a paradox, Jehovah of the Old Testament was none other than the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He created the world under the authority and direction of God the Father. Later, Jehovah came to earth as the Savior and Redeemer of the world. This truth is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in the history of the world, despite the fact that the Old Testament and the other standard works are filled with evidence to support it.

“Before looking at the scriptural evidence, it may be wise first to better understand the names and titles for God the Father and His Only Begotten Son. Generally, two Hebrew words for God are used throughout the Old Testament. These are Elohim and Jehovah, as it is presently pronounced. (Since the original Hebrew was written without vowels, scholars disagree on the original pronunciation of the name written YHWH in Hebrew. In modern revelation, however, Jesus accepted the title Jehovah [see Doctrine and Covenants 110:3 ].)

“Jehovah was the premortal name-title given to the Firstborn Son of God. He is now referred to as Jesus Christ. The meaning of the name Jehovah was explained by Elder Talmage:

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 L ORD 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.)

Traditionally, Jews have avoided uttering the name of Jehovah, out of reverence.  They call Him adonai — the Lord, or HaShem — the Name.  The word “lord” in the Bible is capitalized when it refers to Jehovah. (See 2 Samuel 15:21  for an example of both uses of the word lord. )

Latter-day Saints call God, the Father, Elohim.  This is a plural word, with a singular form that could be eloha.  Mormons have often been accused of believing in a “plurality of Gods,” and Joseph Smithspoke upon the matter.  One thing he addressed is the occurrence of heavenly councils in the pre-extistence wherein many of the pre-existent beings prepared to live as mortals on earth had a hand in its creation, especially those who would be its spiritual leaders, like Adam.  Realizing that Jehovah, who would be Jesus Christ during His mortal ministry, created the earth under the direction of God the Father, already introduces a sort of “plurality of Gods.”

“It is vital to remember the place of God the Father: He is the Father of our spirits (see Hebrews 12:9 ) and is our God. The existence of other Gods cannot alter that fact. He is the author and sponsor of the eternal plan of salvation. It is equally essential to note, however, that the agent by whom He administers His affairs on this earth is His Firstborn Son, known as Jehovah in the Old Testament. He gave Jesus the full ‘Fatherly’ authority to organize and govern the earth, then through the Atonement Jesus became the Father of the faithful. The Savior thus became the chief advocate of the Father’s plan.

“Because Jesus is one with God and is also God, the Old Testament prophets sometimes referred to Him as “Jehovah Elohim,” which the King James translators rendered “LORD God.” To avoid awkward repetition, “Lord GOD ” was used to translate the Hebrew phrase “Adonai Jehovah,” which otherwise would translate as “Lord LORD ” (see Genesis 15:2, 8 ; Deuteronomy 3:24 ). Thus, in the King James Version of the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for Jehovah is almost always translated just this way: L ORD or G OD .”

Isaiah prophesied of Christ mormon“By the time Christ came, the Jews had lost the knowledge of the three distinct members of the Godhead. They had lost the truth that Jehovah, who had given them the law of Moses, would come into the world as the Redeemer of all mankind, even though the prophets had clearly taught this principle (see 1 Corinthians 10:4 ; 3 Nephi 15:10 ; Isaiah 41:14 ; 44:6 ). They yearned for the appearance of the promised Messiah as a political savior to free them from Roman rule. But Matthew testified that John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus, was “he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, . . . Prepare ye the way of the Lord” ( Matthew 3:3 ). This is a reference to Isaiah 40:3 , where the word L ORD is used to mean Jehovah. Christ Himself told the Jews in Jerusalem that ‘before Abraham was, I am’ ( John 8:58 ). The people considered this blasphemy and picked up stones to kill Him, because they realized that His using the phrase I am in this way was another way of saying ‘I am Jehovah’” (see v. 59 ).

There was a prophet among the Book of Mormonpeoples named Abinadi, who prophesied to a portion of the people who had fallen into wickedness and corrupted their religion.  He testified to a wicked king named Noah that all prophets since the beginning of time had prophesied that God (“Jehovah”) would “come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man” ( Mosiah 13:34 ; see also v. 33 ).  This is God incarnate, but it is not Elohim; it is His Son, Jehovah.

“But many in the Christian world have not carefully considered the evidence found in the Bible, which clearly teaches that Jehovah is the premortal Jesus. The following scriptures are only a sampling of the biblical evidence. (Remember that L ORD means that Jehovah is the Hebrew word used.)

Old Testament New Testament
1. Jesus (Jehovah) was the Creator of the world. “Thus saith the L ORD , . . . I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” ( Isaiah 45:11–12 ). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” ( John 1:1, 3 .)
2. Jehovah is the Savior. “Yet I am the L ORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me” ( Hosea 13:4 ). “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” ( Luke 2:11 ).
3. Jehovah is the Redeemer. “Thus saith the L ORD , your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” ( Isaiah 43:14 ). “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” ( Galatians 3:13 ).
4. Jehovah will deliver men from death. “I [Jehovah] will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction” ( Hosea 13:14 ). “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” ( 1 Corinthians 15:20–22 .)
5. The Jews will look upon Jehovah who was pierced. “And I [Jehovah] will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” ( Zechariah 12:10 ). “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. . . . For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.” ( John 19:34, 36–37 .)
6. Jesus followed Israel in the wilderness during the Exodus. “And the L ORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: he took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” ( Exodus 13:21–22 ). “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” ( 1 Corinthians 10:1–4 ).
7. Jehovah is the husband or bridegroom. “For thy Maker is thine husband; the L ORD 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 ). “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” ( Revelation 19:7–8 .)
8. Jehovah is the first and the last (alpha and omega). “Thus saith the L ORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the L ORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” ( Isaiah 44:6 ). “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” ( Revelation 1:8 ).

Some people wonder why God seems so loving in the New Testament and so vengeful in the Old Testament.  It is helpful to understand the bigger picture, part of which will come to light in further lessons.  Much of the loving actions of God has been lost from the Old Testament and revealed in other scriptures and through modern prophets, including the nature of the Plan of Salvation.  It helps to see the Exodus of the Children of Israel as a walk through the Plan of Salvation, the high holy days ordained in the wilderness as types of the Savior to come.  It helps to see that Adam, Enoch, and Noah testified of Christ and understood His identity as Creator and Savior.  If one would get to know Christ better, one must study the Old Testament, for in His role as Jehovah He permeates the whole record. Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament just as He is the God of the earth today. Keeping this important fact constantly in mind is one of the keys to understanding both the Old Testament and the nature of God.

(Old Testament Student Manual, Enrichment A, LDS Institute.)

The Loving God of the Old Testament

Go to Adam and Eve in the Lone and Dreary World.

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