“Lesson 5: Jesus Christ Was Jehovah of the Old Testament,” Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel Teacher Manual (2015)
“Lesson 5,” Teacher Manual
In testifying of the Savior Jesus Christ, modern prophets have declared: “He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign or Liahona, Apr. 2000, 2). Jesus Christ, as Jehovah, established Heavenly Father’s everlasting gospel on the earth in every dispensation of time in order to gather in every one of God’s children who were lost. Our faith in Jesus Christ can be strengthened as we come to recognize His unchanging nature and His everlasting gospel.
Russell M. Nelson, “Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 86–89.
“The Abrahamic Covenant,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (Church Educational System manual, 2000), 93–98.
“Enrichment Section A: Who Is the God of the Old Testament?” Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 45–48.
Invite students to share some names and titles of the Savior that they know. List their responses on the board. Tell students that today you will discuss an important name, or title, that Jesus Christ was known by before His mortal ministry. Invite them to read John 8:52–53, 56–59 silently. Then ask:
What questions were the Jews asking the Savior?
What do you think Jesus meant by His response, “Before Abraham was, I am”? (verse 58).
To help students define the phrase “I am,” divide students into pairs and ask them to read Exodus 3:11–14; 6:2–3, looking for how the God of the Old Testament identified Himself. After sufficient time, ask the following questions:
According to these verses, what names did the God of the Old Testament use to identify Himself? (Point out that the Joseph Smith Translation of Exodus 6:3 reads, “I am the Lord God Almighty; the Lord JEHOVAH. And was not my name known unto them?” See also Abraham 1:16.)
How do these verses clarify the significance of Jesus Christ’s statement, “Before Abraham was, I am”? (Students should recognize that Jesus Christ was Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament and the great I AM.)
Display the following statements:
“This is as blunt and pointed an affirmation of divinity as any person has or could make. ‘Before Abraham was I Jehovah.’ That is, ‘I am God Almighty, the Great I AM. I am the self-existent, Eternal One. I am the God of your fathers. My name is: I AM THAT I AM’” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:464).
Jehovah is “the covenant or proper name of the God of Israel. It denotes the ‘Unchangeable One’” (Bible Dictionary, “Jehovah”).
Why is it important to know that Jesus Christ was Jehovah of the Old Testament? (Answers should include the following truth: God has always administered His gospel through His Son, Jesus Christ. See also 3 Nephi 15:5, which records the Savior’s teaching that He was the giver of the law.)
You may want to invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972):
“All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. … The Father [Elohim] 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” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 1:27).
How does knowing that Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, is unchangeable help you to have faith in Him? (Answers might include that the knowledge that Jesus Christ is unchangeable helps us have faith that just as He kept His promises to the people we read about in the scriptures, He will keep His promises to us.)
Point out that by early post-biblical times, the Hebrew name for Jehovah (usually represented as Yahweh in literature) was considered too sacred to be pronounced. For this reason, except for a few exceptions (see Exodus 6:3; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; 26:4), the translators of the King James Version of the Bible rendered the word Jehovah as LORD (in all capital letters). In modern Judaism, it is replaced with the word Adonai, which means “Lord.”
With students still working in pairs, ask them to read Moses 6:51–52, 64–66 and identify what Jehovah taught Adam. Tell them that in verses 51–52, Jehovah was speaking on behalf of the Father. Then ask:
What did you notice about the gospel taught to Adam? (It is the same gospel taught today. [See 2 Nephi 31:10–16 for an example of the same gospel being taught in the Americas.] Consider emphasizing this truth by writing the following statement on the board: The gospel of Jesus Christ is everlasting and unchanging in each gospel dispensation.)
Indicate to students that in a later dispensation, Jehovah renewed His everlasting gospel through a covenant with Abraham known as the Abrahamic covenant. Divide the class in half. Assign half of the class to study Genesis 13:14–16; 17:2–8; Abraham 1:18–19; 2:8–11 and to make a list of the promises the Lord made to Abraham. Assign the other half of the class to study Genesis 17:1–5, 9; Abraham 1:19; 2:8–11 and to make a list of what Abraham was required to do in order to receive the promised blessings. (Note: As students learn how to identify lists in the scriptures, they will be better able to recognize key points the scripture writer intended to emphasize.)
While students are studying, copy the following chart on the board, leaving space to list responses:
Promises Made to Abraham
After sufficient time, invite a few students from each group to come to the board and write their findings under the proper heading. Consider summarizing the Abrahamic covenant by displaying and having a student read aloud the following statement:
“Abraham received the gospel and was ordained to the higher priesthood (D&C 84:14; Abr. 2:11), and he entered into celestial marriage, which is the covenant of exaltation (D&C 131:1–4; 132:19, 29). Abraham received a promise that all of the blessings of these covenants would be offered to his mortal posterity (D&C 132:29–31; Abr. 2:6–11). Together, these covenants and promises are called the Abrahamic covenant. The restoration of this covenant was the restoration of the gospel in the last days, for through it all the nations of the earth are blessed (Gal. 3:8–9, 29; D&C 110:12; 124:58; Abr. 2:10–11)” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Abrahamic Covenant”; scriptures.lds.org).
Emphasize that from the beginning, the Father covenanted with His children to gather them together through the truths, ordinances, and blessings of the everlasting gospel. The Restoration of the gospel includes the restoration of the Abrahamic covenant. That is, the Abrahamic covenant is a significant part of the new and everlasting covenant, which is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask students:
How does knowing that we are descendants of Abraham and heirs to all that God promised to him influence the way you live?
How does the availability of the blessings promised to Abraham and his posterity strengthen families and guide us in the decisions we make?
Invite students to share ways they can secure the promised blessings of this covenant for themselves and their families, past, present, and future.
Tell students that as part of the Abrahamic covenant, Jehovah promised the blessings of the gospel to Abraham’s posterity and those who gathered with them. Invite one half of the class to read Joshua 24:3–13, and invite the other half to read 1 Nephi 17:23–32. Ask students to look for words and phrases that teach what Jehovah did for ancient Israel. You may want to suggest that they mark what they find. After sufficient time, ask students to share what they learned. Paraphrase student responses on the board. For insight into why Jehovah did some of the things He did, ask a student to read Exodus 6:2–6 aloud. Ask the class:
What reason did Jehovah give for doing many of the things you read about in Joshua and 1 Nephi?
What does this tell you about the promises the Lord has made to you? (As students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we live faithfully, the Lord will keep the promises He has made to us.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
“Because God has been faithful and kept His promises in the past, we can hope with confidence that God will keep His promises to us in the present and in the future. In times of distress, we can hold tightly to the hope that things will ‘work together for [our] good’ [D&C 90:24]” (“The Infinite Power of Hope,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 23).
How can knowing about Jehovah’s actions anciently help you during times of trial?
What did He do for ancient Israel that He will also do for you?
Testify that in every dispensation of time, Jesus Christ has blessed God’s children with the everlasting gospel. Just as the covenant people anciently received promised blessings from the Lord, so can we upon condition of our obedience.