Donald W. Parry, "Introduction," in The Jesus Christ Focused Old Testament: Making Sense of a Monumental Book (Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central, 2022).
In April 2007, President M. Russell Ballard affirmed, “The first testament of Christ is the Bible’s Old Testament, which predicted and prophesied of the coming of the Savior, His transcendent life, and His liberating Atonement.” President Ballard then identified the second and third testaments of Jesus Christ: “The second Bible testament of Christ is the New Testament. . . . The third testament of Christ is the Book of Mormon. Those who think that one part is more important or more true than the other parts are missing some of the beauty and completeness of the canon of ancient scripture.” President Ballard’s words—“Those who think that one part is more important or more true than the other parts”—remind us that all three testaments are of great import, especially for those who have considered that one or two of the testaments are sufficient.
The objective of this present volume is to demonstrate the numerous and meaningful ways the Old Testament prevails as the First Testament of Jesus Christ. In point of fact, the Old Testament is a quintessential witness of Jesus Christ! It presents numerous prophecies of Jesus Christ’s first and second comings, scores of names and titles of the Lord, and several straightforward statements that the Lord is our Savior, Redeemer, and Atoner. Furthermore, the Old Testament submits hundreds of symbols, types, and shadows that reveal Jesus Christ and His divine mission. The law of Moses, with its host of commands, ordinances, and regulations, serves to disclose the coming of the Messiah, who is none other than Jesus of Nazareth—to be sure, every whit of the law points to Jesus Christ. During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ cited a multitude of Old Testament passages, applying them to Himself in one way or another.
A simple glance at the Table of Contents of this book demonstrates that there are multiple categories and topics that clearly manifest Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Some topics are straightforward expressions regarding Jesus Christ as our Lord and God; others may be a little more difficult to comprehend and require serious study by students of the scriptures. But God intended that we comprehend all scripture so that we may learn of Him and of His Son, Jesus Christ.
From time to time over the years, I have heard people declare that the Old Testament is irrelevant, because it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. In fact, very recently, I heard someone say to another, “Don’t read the Old Testament! Christ is not found there!” But the Old Testament is indeed relevant to us today—it is exceptionally significant and vitally important! It has everything to do with our Savior, Jesus Christ. As Biblical scholar Hulitt Gloer explained, “The writers of the New Testament were convinced that the true meaning of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ and that He alone provides the means of understanding it. True interpretation of the Old Testament is achieved by reading Old Testament passages or incidents in light of the event of Christ. . . . For the early Christians, all Scripture was to be interpreted by the fact of Christ because it is to Him that the Old Testament Scripture points (John 5:39).”
Let’s sum up, ever so briefly, how the Old Testament pertains to Jesus Christ:
The Old Testament is:
Furthermore, the Old Testament is an indispensable work that
In short, the Old Testament is a scriptural work of authority and divine revelations that focuses on our Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ.
Several New Testament passages reveal that the Old Testament is a Jesus Christ–centered document:
Jesus Christ Himself bore witness that the scriptures (the Old Testament) were about Him. In fact, there are no greater affirmations regarding the scriptures than those that come from Jesus Christ Himself!
The Book of Mormon affirms that “all the holy prophets,” which include the Old Testament prophets, have prophesied of Christ:
Notwithstanding these statements, many individuals have wondered where they can find Jesus Christ in the various books of the Old Testament, especially since portions of the Old Testament are so difficult to comprehend. Many of the ancient prophets presented their teachings about Jesus Christ using complex literary forms. For example, the Old Testament prophets employed rhetorical questions, symbolic forms, similitudes (“I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes” [Hosea 12:10]), types, shadows, figures of speech, poetic parallelisms and other forms of poetry, laments, and many other literary types and figures as they prophesied of Jesus’s ministry, atoning sacrifice, Resurrection, Second Coming, and Millennial reign.
In point of fact, these prophets were literary geniuses in the way they presented scriptural texts, but casual readers often miss the impact and full meaning of their writings. Thus many students of the Old Testament cannot see how “to him [Jesus Christ] give all the prophets witness” (Acts 10:43).
Because of the absolute centrality of Jesus Christ and His Atonement to God’s perfect plan, God has given us a “great . . . cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) of His Son’s Atonement—a thousand witnesses, ten thousand witnesses, or more. Both the ancient prophets and the Apostles have revealed Jesus Christ to us. They are all notable, outstanding, special witnesses of the Savior.
In the following ways, the Old Testament focuses on Jesus Christ:
1. Prophecies of Christ. The Old Testament presents hundreds of prophecies of Jesus Christ concerning His birth, name, childhood, disposition, ministry, teachings, miracles, triumphal entry, betrayal, trial, sufferings, Atonement, Crucifixion, death, burial visit to the spirit world, Resurrection, exaltation, and blessings. For example, Isaiah prophesied of His birth (Isa. 7:14; 9:6) and Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would be betrayed for “thirty pieces of silver” (Zech. 11:12). Other prophecies set forth Jesus’s trials and sufferings: False witnesses would rise up against Him (Ps. 35:11); He would be silent before His accusers (Isa. 53:7); He would not hide His “face from shame and spitting” (Isa. 50:6); His visage would be marred (Isa. 52:14); He would be “despised and rejected” (Isa. 53:3); He would “[bear] our griefs and carr[y] our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4); He would be “wounded” (Isa. 53:5) and “bruised” (Isa. 53:5); He would receive “stripes” (Isa. 53:5); He would give His “back to the smiters” and His “cheeks to them that plucked off the hair” (Isa. 50:6); He would hide not His “face from shame and spitting” (Isa. 50:6); He would be “oppressed and . . . afflicted” (Isa. 53:7); He would “[open] not His mouth” (Isa. 53:7); He would be “stricken” (Isa. 53:8); and He would be smitten (Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31).
2. Types and Shadows of Jesus Christ. The Lord through His prophets used a great number of types and shadows to teach us of Jesus Christ. The prophets drew on the natural world, including things in the heavens, geographical places, plants, and the animal kingdom; everyday clothing and sacred vestments; civil and religious positions; building and architectural components; common women and men, as well as prophets, priests, and kings; ordinances, both ancient and modern; historical events; cities; and such ordinary things as colors, liquids, numbers, and foods.
Here are four brief examples: (1) the brazen serpent was a special object lesson that pertained to the lifting up of Jesus Christ on the cross (Num. 21:6–9); (2) the blood sacrifices and symbols of the Day of Atonement held special significance to Christ’s atoning sacrifice (Lev. 16; Heb. 7–9); (3) the high priest of ancient Israel served as a figure of “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus Christ (Lev. 21; Heb. 3:1; 4:14); and (4) Jesus compared Jonah’s three days and nights in the fish’s belly to His own “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:39–41).
3. The Name Jehovah. The sacred name Jehovah, derived from the Hebrew YHWH, is found more than 6,800 times in the Old Testament; most English translations of the Bible, however, use Lord in place of Jehovah. It is crucial to recognize that the name Jehovah is “the covenant and proper name of the God of Israel” and that Jehovah Himself is none other than “the premortal Jesus Christ.” Church authorities have affirmed the truth that Jesus Christ is Jehovah: President Gordon B. Hinckley (2008): “Jesus was in very deed the great Jehovah of the Old Testament.” President Russell M. Nelson (2017): “Commence tonight to consecrate a portion of your time each week to studying everything Jesus said and did as recorded in the Old Testament, for He is the Jehovah of the Old Testament.” “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” (2000): Jesus Christ was “the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New.” There are many similar statements by Church authorities. Those who accept the teaching that Jesus Christ’s premortal name was Jehovah will have a completely different view regarding the prominence of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament scriptures.
The 6,800 straightforward attestations of Jesus in the Old Testament under the name Jehovah are highly significant! Jesus is found 6,800 times in the Old Testament—not as the name Jesus but as Jehovah! Each attestation of Jehovah belongs to a context that provides us with understanding regarding His mission, character, or attributes.
4. Jesus, Not the Father, Spoke to Old Testament Prophets. There is an essential, but often misunderstood, matter that requires illumination. It was Jesus Christ, not God the Father, who spoke to each and all of the Old Testament prophets—Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and many others. Jesus Christ, using His premortal, proper name, Jehovah (or Lord), was the Revealer of His word. In fact, the Old Testament includes over 1,100 formulaic expressions that present Jehovah revealing His word to His servants, His prophets. These expressions include “the Lord said” (more than two hundred times), “thus saith the Lord” (about eight hundred times), and “the Lord spake unto [various prophets]” (more than one hundred times). All 1,100 expressions refer to Jesus Christ, not the Father. Jesus Christ was the Supreme Being who spoke in each of these 1,100-plus instances. Stated differently, we might substitute Jesus Christ for Lord in each of the 1,100-plus expressions under discussion: “Jesus Christ said,” “thus saith Jesus Christ,” and “Jesus Christ spake unto . . . ,” and so on.
President Joseph Fielding Smith’s words are clear on these matters: “All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is 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.”
5. Names and Titles of Deity. The Old Testament sets forth more than one hundred names or titles of the Lord, such as King of Israel (Isa. 44:6), Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6), King of glory (Ps. 24:7), Lord of Hosts (Isa. 54:5), Hope of Israel (Jer. 17:13), and Judge of Israel (Micah 5:1). Many of these names or titles pertain to the Atonement—Redeemer (Job 19:25; Isa. 49:7), Savior (Isa. 43:3), Lamb (Isa. 53:7), Messiah the Prince (Dan. 9:25), and Salvation (Isa. 12:2); other names or titles are metaphors—Stone of Israel (Gen. 49:24), Horn of David (Ps. 132:17), Rock (Deut. 32:15), and Sceptre (Num. 24:17). The Lord’s multiple names provide appreciable instruction regarding who the Lord is and what His mission is.
(6. Personal Names That Include the Name God or lord. Attentive readers of the Old Testament may have noticed personal names that include the element –el (Hebrew, signifying “God”). Sometimes –el appears at the beginning of names, such as Eldad, Eliab, Eliakim, and Elimelech; on other occasions, –el appears at the end of names, such as Gabriel, Immanuel, Daniel, Joel, and Michael. Such names that include the name of God are called theophoric names, or names that bear the name of God. The fact that there are scores of –el names in the Old Testament underscores their importance and relays the fact that many ancient Israelite parents desired that their children’s names bear the name of God.
Each –el name has a special meaning that teaches us something about the Lord. Here are several examples: Elkanah (“God has purchased”), Elisha (“God is salvation”), Elishua (“God is salvation”), Paltiel (“God is my deliverance”), Meshezabel (“God saves”), Eliakim (“May God raise up”), Mehujael (“God causes to live”), and Raphael (“God has healed”). There are also scores of –iah names (with the suffixes –iah, –jah, –ai, or –jahu or the prefixes Ho-, Jo-, Jeh-, and Jeho-, including Jeremiah (“the Lord raises up”), Isaiah (“The Lord is salvation”), Elijah (“The Lord is my God”), and Uriah (“the Lord is my light”).
There are approximately 450 theophoric names in the Bible, of which about four hundred are personal names and the other fifty are place names.
7. Law of Moses. The law of Moses (see especially the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) testified of Jesus Christ; as Paul wrote, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Gal. 3:24). And several Book of Mormon prophets plainly stated that the law of Moses was focused on Jesus Christ, including Alma, who said, “And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal” (Alma 34:14; see also 2 Ne. 11:4; Jarom 1:11). The regulations, directives, ordinances, temple rituals, system of sacrifices, feasts, and festivals of the law of Moses teach us of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. Ancient sacrifices, for example, prefigured Christ’s roles as the sacrificial offering, the offerer of the sacrifice, and the priest who conducted the sacrifice (Lev. 1–7). The ancient sacrificial meal (Lev. 7:11–36), which was eaten by the offerer and the priests in the temple, anticipates the Sacrament; the former (the sacrificial meal) looked forward to Christ’s sacrifice, and the latter (the sacramental meal) recalled it.
8. Symbols of Jesus Christ. Hundreds of Old Testament metaphors, similes, and implications produce images that reveal Jesus Christ and His eternal mission: the Messiah is the cornerstone (Ps. 118:22; Matt. 21:42), the “fountain of living waters” (Jer. 2:13; 17:13), the rock (Deut. 32:4; Ps. 28:1; 62:2; 1 Cor. 10:1–4), a fortress (2 Sam. 22:2–4), a shield that protects His people (Gen. 15:1; Ps. 28:7; Prov. 30:5), a branch (Isa. 11:1–5; Jer. 23:5–6; 33:15–17), dew (Ps. 110:3; Hosea 14:4–5), and more.
9. The Ancient Temple and Its Components. Various components of the ancient temple foreshadowed aspects of Jesus Christ’s divine ministry and atoning sacrifice, including the temple furniture (laver of brass, altars, lampstand, ark of the covenant), sacrifices (burnt, peace, sin, trespass offerings), foods (portions of sacrificial offerings, shewbread), sacred objects (jar of manna, tablets of the law, rod of Aaron), and diverse parts of the temple (veil, horns of the altar). For example, the jar of manna was kept in the Ark of the Covenant; manna, which saved the children of Israel temporally, represented Jesus Christ, the “living bread,” who saves His people everlastingly (John 6:48–51).
10. Ancient Ordinances. All of the sacrifices, rituals, and ceremonies that were part of the Mosaic law code were ordered as symbols of Jesus Christ’s divine mission and atoning sacrifice. These include baptism, anointings, washings, sprinkling of blood, laying on of hands, and sacrificial offerings.
11. Hosea’s Family and Isaiah’s Family. The Lord called His people to repentance by using a number of symbols or similitudes (Hosea 12:10). These similitudes included Hosea and his wife Gomer (Hosea 1) as well as Isaiah and his family (Isa. 8:18). Hosea, for example, represented the Lord Himself.
12. Prayers: The Righteous Seeking Divine Favor. The Old Testament features about nineteen prayers, uttered by Abraham, Moses, David, Hannah, Daniel, and others. When individuals said prayers, they addressed them to the Lord (Hebrew = Jehovah), to God (Hebrew = Elohim), or to the Lord God (Hebrew = Jehovah Elohim). For example, Abraham began his prayer with “Lord God” (Gen. 15:2). King Hezekiah uttered, “O Lord God of Israel” (2 Kgs. 19:15), and Ezra implored, “O my God” (Ezra 9:5). Such prayers are focused on God and His divine abilities to help those in need.
13. Prophetic Speech Forms. Time and again, the Old Testament prophets, when they revealed God’s word to their audiences, used a number of speech forms, or formulaic expressions. These speech forms, indicative of prophetic authority and prerogative, invoked the Lord ’s name as well as His power and authority. That is to say, such expressions as “Thus saith the Lord,” “Hearken to the word of the Lord,” and “As the Lord liveth” are not common to the world of government, law, commerce, or trade or to everyday speech. Rather, these expressions are unique to prophets and indicate their authority to speak in the Lord’s name.
14. Psalms and Hymns. The book of Psalms is an ancient hymnbook (150 hymns) that features praises about God and His majesty, omnipotence, love, and mercy. Many of the psalms focus on Christ. The resurrected Jesus taught His Apostles, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44; emphasis added).
15. Historical Narratives. Various narratives instruct us regarding the Lord, His divine ways, and His character, nature, and mission. For example, the narrative regarding Eve (Gen. 2) foreshadows Jesus Christ as both Life and Help; the account of Isaac (Gen. 22) prefigures the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ; the life of Joseph of Egypt contains many elements that teach us of the coming of Jesus Christ; Job, the suffering servant, was a similitude of Christ’s suffering; the book of Ruth defines what it means to be a redeemer; 1 Samuel 1 shows God’s power in the lives of individuals and families; and the text regarding Abigail provides images that point to Jesus Christ (1 Sam. 25).
16. Legal Texts. Various legal texts foreshadow Jesus and His divine mission, including Numbers 19 (law of the corpse), Numbers 35 (cities of refuge), Leviticus 15 (law of flows), Leviticus 13–14 (laws regarding lepers), Leviticus 16 (laws regarding the Day of Atonement), Leviticus 1–7 (laws regarding sacrificial ordinances), and many others.
17 Other Texts. The Old Testament presents more than 250 texts (literary units, not verses) on the last days, Jesus’s Second Coming, and His Millennial reign. For example, the Lord gathers Israel, cleanses the people, and saves them (Jer. 16:14–21; 23:3–8; 31:1–40; 33:1–26, etc.); the Lord comes with fire, vengeance, and mercy (Nahum 1:1–15); the Lord’s temple is established, and the Lord reigns in Zion (Micah 4:1–13); the Lord rebuilds Zion and appears in glory (Ps. 102:13–22); and the Lord returns in power and glory (Isa. 66:14b–18a).
Issues That Pertain to the Present Volume:
1. Scriptural symbols, types, and shadows. Students of the scriptures who are unfamiliar with types, shadows, similitudes, and symbols will find many books that explain these concepts, a handful of which are named in the bibliography.
2. Approximate dates. Few dates from the Old Testament period can be established with certitude because ancient peoples used different calendrical systems—lunar, solar, religious, political, a combination of two or more calendrical systems, and others—than we use in modern times. Even Jewish sects of the late Second Temple period, such as Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, had different understandings of the calendrical dates and how the calendar should operate in their respective sects. Not surprisingly, modern biblical scholars do not always agree on ancient dates for kings and queens, prophets, peoples, narratives, and so forth.
The dates on the accompanying chart are adapted from two of the standard works in the field of dating and chronologies in the Bible: Jack Finegan’s Handbook of Biblical Chronology and Edwin R. Thiele’s The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Both Finegan and Thiele deal with the difficulties involving dates and chronologies in the Old Testament. For example, regarding the single years (e.g., 930) rather than dual symbols (931/930), Thiele wrote, “Since regnal years in Judah began with Tishri in the fall, and in Israel with Nisan in the spring, Hebrew regnal years always overlapped two January years, and for this reason a dual symbol such as 931/930 would be more accurate than the single 930 date here used. In the interests of simplicity, however, single dates are here given.” These scholars also write concerning co-regencies, overlapping reigns, and many other challenges that pertain to biblical chronologies.
3, Representative information. Not a single chart included in this volume represents a comprehensive listing or approach. Rather, each chart is representative. The chart that compares Joseph of Egypt with Jesus, for example, has about two dozen parallel items. These items provide the reader with a general idea or impression that Joseph of Egypt was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ. More parallels, of course, could be added to that particular chart as well as to the other charts.
4. Representative scriptural citations. Scriptural citations that are listed throughout this volume are also representative, not comprehensive. Additional scriptures to support this or that item or data could have been added.
5. The authority of scripture. As the author of this volume, I am convinced that the Holy Bible is the word of God, written by ancient prophets, Apostles, and inspired writers. I also believe in the historicity (the historical authenticity) of the Bible.
 M. Russell Ballard, “The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” General Conference April 2007.
 M. Russell Ballard, “The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” General Conference April 2007.
 Personal correspondence, August 24, 2019.
 Gloer, “Old Testament Quotations in,” 1047.
 LDS Bible Dictionary, 710–711.
 Hinckley, “We Testify of Jesus Christ,” 1.
 Nelson, “Prophets, Leadership, and Divine Law,” Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, January 8, 2017, Brigham Young University.
 “The Living Christ.” 2.
 See, for example, “And the Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron” (Ex. 9:8), “And the Lord said unto Joshua” (Josh. 7:10), and “the Lord said unto Samuel” (1 Sam. 16:7).
 See, for example, “Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord,” ( 2 Kings 7:1); “And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the Lord,” (2 Kings 19:6); and “The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God” (Obad. 1).
 See, for example, “And the Lord spake by his servants the prophets, saying” (2 Kings 21:10); “And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying” (Josh. 4:15); and “the Lord spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying” ( 1 Chron. 21:9).
 Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:27.
 Thiele, Mysterious Numbers, 13.