“‘I Am That I Am’: Symbols of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament,” Liahona, December 2018
“I Am That I Am”: Symbols of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament
By Stephen P. Schank
Priesthood and Family Department of the Church
In this ancient record particularly, Jesus Christ must be sought or He might not be found.
As Moses hid his face, the Lord’s merciful words issuing forth from the burning bush must have rung with the echoes of eternity: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people … ; for I know their sorrows;
“And I am come down to deliver them. …
“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
“And God said unto Moses, I am that I am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I am hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:7–8, 13–14).
Known to ancient Israel as the Lord Jehovah, the premortal Jesus Christ identified Himself as the source to which His people should look for redemption. Thousands of years later, the resurrected Jesus Christ reconfirmed His promise of deliverance to modern Israel with these words: “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come” (D&C 68:6; emphasis added).
The scriptures, the words of life, are designed to point the children of God in every generation to Jesus Christ for deliverance from sin and death and all our earthly problems. The Old Testament is no exception; as with every volume of scripture, it is intended to turn our hearts and minds to our Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ. But in this ancient record particularly, He must be sought or He might not be found.
When searching for Christ in any book of scripture, it helps to constantly remind ourselves what we are looking for. Jesus Christ is the source of life! To the fatal problems of spiritual and physical death introduced by the Fall, Christ is Israel’s eternal solution. Lehi declared, “He offereth himself … to answer the ends of the law” (2 Nephi 2:7; emphasis added). It is that answer—the Redeemer of Israel, the Great “I Am”—that we seek when searching the scriptures. Within the poetic and often archaic language of the Old Testament, however, the eternal problems—and Jesus Christ, the solution—are not always readily identifiable. Even so, Jesus Christ is there beneath the surface, waiting to be found in the ancient narratives.
As you keep in mind the name of the Lord shared with Moses on Mount Sinai—“I Am”—consider the many things that Jesus Christ is to those who put their trust in Him. The following examples are symbolic teachings from the Old Testament designed to turn our hearts and minds to the Lord Jesus Christ for deliverance.