“Finding Jesus Christ in the Old Testament,” For the Strength of Youth, Jan. 2022.
Pop quiz: Which books of scripture are about Jesus Christ? Hmm. Let’s see:
The Book of Mormon is another testament of Him.
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of messages from Him to Joseph Smith and other prophets.
The New Testament describes the events of His life.
But what about the Old Testament? Does it teach us about Jesus Christ, too?
Yes! In fact, the Savior put extra effort into helping His disciples understand His role in the Old Testament: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
Here are three ways you can find Jesus Christ as you explore the Old Testament this year.
In the Old Testament, Jesus is often called “Lord” or “God.” Versions of the Bible published by the Church include footnotes that can help you understand when a verse is referring to Jesus Christ. For example, when Moses spoke with God in a burning bush (see Exodus 3:6), the footnotes clarify he was talking to the Savior.1 President Russell M. Nelson has encouraged us to study the different names and titles of Christ used in the scriptures.2
Many Old Testament scriptures include symbols that can teach us about Jesus Christ and remind us of the help He offers us. For example:
Many scriptures describe times where faithful people were commanded to sacrifice animals as part of their worship. For example, if the children of Israel marked their door with lamb’s blood, they were protected from a terrible plague. These sacrifices remind us that Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be killed as part of His Atonement to overcome spiritual and physical death. (See Exodus 12:13.)
Once a prophet named Elijah had to hide in the desert. He felt sorrowful and said that he wished he were dead. While he slept, bread and water miraculously appeared, strengthening him physically and emotionally enough to carry on. This can remind us that Jesus Christ is the Living Water and Bread of Life, the ultimate source of hope and life. (See 1 Kings 19:1–8.)
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,” one psalmist wrote (Psalm 119:105). And Micah testified, “When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me” (Micah 7:8). Their words remind us that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World, guiding us back to our heavenly home.
As you read, you may even discover other things that remind you of Jesus Christ and His ability to save us. For instance, when Noah’s family was saved from the flood in the ark or when Jonah was given time to repent while in the whale. These events may remind us that the Savior can carry us through the storms of life and give us opportunities to get back on the right course. (See Genesis 7:1; Jonah 1:17.)
Today we are looking forward to and preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In a similar way, the prophets of the Old Testament looked forward to and wrote about His first coming, when He was born on the earth. For example:
A prophet named Balaam described how “there shall come a Star out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17). This means the Savior would be born in the lineage of Jacob (or Israel).
A prophet named Nathan told King David that Jesus Christ would be one of David’s descendants—that his lineage would establish “the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:13).
The prophet Isaiah wrote some of the most well-known Old Testament descriptions of the Savior. Some of his words were used as lyrics in Handel’s Messiah, which is often sung at Christmastime. (See Isaiah 7; 9; 40; 53.)
With a little practice, you’ll be able to find Jesus Christ throughout the Old Testament this year. He loves you specifically, just as He loved Adam and Eve, Aaron and Miriam3—and many others He personally ministered to in these ancient, inspiring accounts. With faith in Jesus Christ, and with help from each other, this will be an amazing year of scripture study!