Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are taught from a larger canon of scriptures than most Christians. The canon includes the Old and New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. Often times, members and missionaries are asked why we need so many books. One of the most common answers that we give is that the books beyond the Bible restore some of the plain and precious truths that were lost from the Old and New Testament throughout time. This phrasing comes from a scripture from the Book of Mormon where the prophet Nephi explains what would happen to the Bible over time.
…thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have takenaway from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. (1 Nephi 13:26)
This scripture does not refer to any one church, but refers to the trend of the scriptures being changed over time.
Church members will use the words “plain and precious” truths often, but what does that actually mean? What truths are missing from the Bible? My religion teacher gave his students a handout outlining the truths missing, and I would like to use his outline and fill in the blanks to show what truths are missing specifically from the Old Testament.
1. A Witness Of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the center of Christian religion. His atonement is the central act in history and from that our religion gets its foundation and direction. However, it is curious that Jesus Christ is never mentioned by name in the Old Testament.
We know that he was around at that point according to the Gospel of John.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
Here, the Word is a title of Jesus Christ. The scriptures teach us that Christ has existed since the very beginning. In the Old Testament he is referred to as Jehovah or the Messiah , but is it curious that none of the prophets seem to be aware that the Messiah would be Jesus Christ. This is especially interesting when comparing the Old Testament records to the Book of Mormon record, where around 600 BC the inhabitants of this continent seemed to be familiar with the name of the Messiah.
Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God. (2 Nephi 10:3)
The New Testament also teaches us that the Spirit of Prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.
I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)
Thus, the Old Testament prophets must have at least been aware of Jesus Christ in order to prophesy. So what happened? It seems that over time, direct references to Jesus Christ were systematically removed from the Old Testament text by accidental or purposeful means. Fortunately, restoration texts show us that the prophets of old had a clear witness of Jesus Christ.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe in ordinances. Ordinances are rituals set forth by God that confer rights and privileges among those worthy to partake of them. In Catholic tradition, examples of ordinances include the Eucharist and baptism. Latter Day Saints practice baptism, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, priesthood ordinations, temple ceremonies and marriage ordinances. We do not believe that a man is saved by ordinances alone, but we do believe that they are necessary for a person to enter the kingdom of God.
It is interesting that ordinances are almost never mentioned in the Old Testament. Beyond animal sacrifices we are unaware of any of the ordinances that the ancient people observed. Since we believe that God is unchanging, version of modern ordinances must have existed back then as well. There is an interesting example in the Book of Mormon. In the book of 1st Nephi, Nephi quotes a verse from Isaiah. Here is the verse as our current Old Testament has it:
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swearby the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel,but not in truth, nor in righteousness. (Isaiah 48:1)
The Book of Mormon version (which did not go through centuries of translation) states the same verse in this way (emphasis added):
Hearken and hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, or out of the waters of baptism, who swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear not in truth nor in righteousness.
We can see her that the reference to baptism was present in the Isaiah text, but the clearness was lost through translation. The Book of Mormon restores the original, and makes the importance of ordinances much more plain.
There are very few references to these specific ordinances in the Old Testament, and they are not clear. We know that these ordinances were also present in ancient times, but they were lost in translation, only to be restored by restoration texts.
3. Reality of Satan
Satan, or the devil, is the enemy of all righteousness. He is constantly working against God’s plans to make the children of man miserable like unto himself. Satan has been around since the beginning of time, yet he is curiously on mentioned directly four times in the Bible.
- In the garden of Eden in the guise of a snake.
- In 1 Chronicles 21:1 as an enemy of Israel.
- In the Book of Job.
- In Psalms 109:6
Compare this to restoration scriptures, specifically the Book of Moses. This scripture is found in the Pearl of Great Price and is a translation by Joseph Smith restoring the lost parts of the first few chapters of Genesis. In the Book of Moses Satan is mentioned directly 22 times in the first chapter alone.
Why would Satan want to take his name out of the Old Testament? The answer is simple. If he can convince people that there is no evil and no devil, he leads them into a place of moral grayness, where everything is relative and there is no true evil. In this state, he can tempt people to do whatever he wants because they have no conception of the reality of evil.
I will continue with the final two items shortly. Keep your eyes open for Part 2.