Unit 1: Day 1, Introduction to the Old Testament

    “Unit 1: Day 1, Introduction to the Old Testament,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)

    “Unit 1: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide

    Unit 1: Day 1

    Introduction to the Old Testament


    As you begin your study of the Old Testament, this lesson will help you learn how the Bible came to be. This lesson can also help you understand more about Jesus Christ—the God of the Old Testament—and some of the major gospel themes that are woven throughout the Old Testament.

    The First Presidency has stated the following about which of the English Bible versions Latter-day Saints should use: “While other Bible versions may be easier to read than the King James Version, in doctrinal matters latter-day revelation supports the King James Version in preference to other English translations” (“First Presidency Statement on the King James Version of the Bible,” Ensign, Aug. 1992, 80).

    Prophets, Apostles, and Inspired Writers Preserved God’s Word

    1. journal icon
      In your scripture study journal, list as many miracles that have occurred in the history of the world as you can think of in 60 seconds.

    Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles identified one such miracle. As you read his statement, mark the miracle he identified:

    Elder M. Russell Ballard

    “My brothers and sisters, the Holy Bible is a miracle! It is a miracle that the Bible’s 4,000 years of sacred and secular history were recorded and preserved by the prophets, apostles, and inspired churchmen. …

    “It is not by chance or coincidence that we have the Bible today. Righteous individuals were prompted by the Spirit to record both the sacred things they saw and the inspired words they heard and spoke. Other devoted people were prompted to protect and preserve these records” (“The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 80).

    How do you consider the Bible a miracle?

    Read the first two paragraphs of the “Bible” entry in the Bible Dictionary. As you read, look for the following (you may want to mark what you find):

    • What does the word Bible mean?

    • Who is responsible for writing the Bible?

    • How did they know what to write?

    Look at the following time line and circle the person or people you think wrote the first book in the Bible. (All of the dates are approximate.)

    time line

    Open your Bible to Genesis 1, and look in the title to see who wrote the book of Genesis.

    Although Moses wrote about the Creation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, and the lives of earlier prophets, most of his writings contain information and revelation from his own lifetime. Read Moses 1:40 in the Pearl of Great Price, and look for one way that Moses learned about events like the Creation and the Fall, which occurred thousands of years before Moses’s time.

    Elder M. Russell Ballard

    The writings of Moses and other inspired writers have been a blessing to Heavenly Father’s children throughout the ages. Elder M. Russell Ballard declared how we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feel about this sacred book: “We love the Bible and other scriptures. … [We believe] in the Bible as the revealed word of God. It is one of the pillars of our faith, a powerful witness of the Savior and of Christ’s ongoing influence in the lives of those who worship and follow Him” (“The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 82).

    1. journal icon
      Write the following truth in your scripture study journal: The Bible contains the word of God. Ponder experiences you have had reading or studying the Bible (or hearing and learning about Bible stories), and write down some scripture passages or Bible stories that have helped you know that the Bible contains the word of God.

    The Bible is composed of two main parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word testament means agreement or covenant. In addition to doctrine and historical information, the Old Testament contains God’s agreement or covenant with His children as they looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The New Testament contains a record of Jesus Christ’s ministry and Atonement, as well as the teachings and ministry of His Apostles, and again records God’s covenant with His people. Between A.D. 300–400, Christian leaders decided which books to include in the Old Testament and the New Testament and combined them to form the Bible that we know today.

    Jesus Christ Is the God of the Old Testament

    Who do the following names or titles refer to: Anointed One, Creator, Deliverer?

    These are some of the titles of Jesus Christ. As you study the Old Testament, you will learn to recognize other names and titles that refer to Jesus Christ. These titles can help us remember the doctrine that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament. Read the following scripture passages, and identify the names or titles that refer to Jesus Christ. Write the names or titles in the space provided.

    Read Genesis 2:4, and notice the title “LORD God.” When the word LORD (notice the capitalization) appears in the Old Testament, it is usually referring to Jehovah. Jehovah is the name of the premortal Jesus Christ, who is the God of Israel. (See 1 Nephi 19:10; Guide to the Scriptures, “Jehovah”;

    A Brief Overview of Major Themes in the Old Testament

    Can you think of a time, perhaps when you were a young child, when you were separated from your family and lost in a strange place? How did you feel during the separation?

    Ever since Adam and Eve were cast out from the Garden of Eden, Heavenly Father’s children have lived in a fallen condition and are physically and spiritually separated from God.

    Ponder the following questions: How does Heavenly Father let us know that we are not forgotten? How does Heavenly Father help us find our way back to Him?

    Old Testament prophet preaching

    One of the ways Heavenly Father helps us know we are not forgotten and that we can return to Him is by calling prophets. The blessings of having prophets is one of the major themes of the Old Testament. Think about what prophets do to help us return to Heavenly Father.

    As you study the Old Testament, you will see many examples of the following doctrine: God calls prophets to preach the gospel and administer His ordinances and covenants.

    Read the “Ordinances and Covenants” section in the Basic Doctrines document in the introductory materials of this manual. In the spaces provided, use your own words to write definitions for ordinance and covenant.

    • Ordinance:

    • Covenant:

    President Henry B. Eyring

    Read what President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency taught about one of the purposes of covenants, and mark what he said covenants provide an opportunity for us to do:

    “Heavenly Father has always helped his children by offering them covenants and empowering his servants to offer ordinances. …

    “… Every covenant with God is an opportunity to draw closer to him” (“Making Covenants with God” [Brigham Young University fireside, Sept. 8, 1996], 2–3;

    The importance of ordinances and covenants is another important theme that appears throughout the Old Testament. As you study the Old Testament, you will see examples of Heavenly Father inviting His children to make and keep covenants with Him (see Genesis 17:1–8; Exodus 34:27–28).

    1. journal icon
      In your scripture study journal, list some ordinances that have covenants associated with them. Write some ways that the ordinances you have participated in and the covenants you have made have helped you draw closer to God.

    Abraham and Isaac

    Read Genesis 17:1–2, and identify who entered into a covenant with God.

    Abraham entered into a covenant with God in which he was instructed to “walk before me, and be thou perfect” (Genesis 17:1).

    What do you think the result was of Abraham making this covenant? Read Doctrine and Covenants 132:29, looking for the result of Abraham making and keeping his covenants with God. Mark what you find.

    Like Abraham, we can make and keep covenants with God. If we are faithful to our covenants, then God will bless us in this life and in eternity.

    The Old Testament also includes examples of what happens when people choose to break their covenants. Read Deuteronomy 29:25–28, looking for what would happen to God’s covenant people if they chose to break their covenants.

    Consider writing the following truth next to these verses: God’s covenant people were scattered because they broke their covenants with Him.

    Even though God’s covenant people turned away from Him and were scattered, God promised that He would not forget them. Read Ezekiel 36:24–28, looking for what the Lord promised to do for His scattered people if they would repent and turn to Him. Mark what you find.

    Ponder how you might relate the Lord’s words in these verses to yourself.

    From these verses we learn that God has promised to gather His covenant people. The term gather refers not only to a physical gathering of God’s people but also to the spiritual condition of being gathered to the Lord. We gather to Him as we receive sacred ordinances and covenants and worship the Lord at church, in temples, at home, and in our daily lives. Through our program of full-time missionaries and the responsibility that every Church member has to share the gospel with others, the opportunity to receive these ordinances and covenants is being offered to more and more people throughout the world. Prophets of all ages have gathered their people in order to build temples where they could enjoy the ordinances and covenants of the Lord.

    missionaries praying with investigator

    Ponder times when you have been able to help someone else gather to the Lord. What feelings did you experience in that process?

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      Think about people you know who are currently not active in or not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In your scripture study journal, write down a plan for how you will invite them to attend church, seminary, or other Church activities with you.

    As you study the Old Testament this year, you will gain a deeper understanding that the Bible contains the word of God and that it can help you draw closer to the Savior Jesus Christ. You will also gain a greater appreciation for some of the themes that are taught so powerfully in this book of scripture, including those of prophets, covenants and ordinances, and the scattering and gathering of Israel.

    1. journal icon
      Begin your study of the Old Testament today by spending the next 10 minutes reading Moses 1 in the Pearl of Great Price. In your scripture study journal, write any insights and questions you have as you study this chapter. (The book of Moses is part of the book of Genesis from the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inspired translation of the Bible, which he began in June 1830.)

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      Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

      I have studied the “Introduction to the Old Testament” lesson and completed it on (date).

      Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: