This is the continuation of my last post on this topic. Please feel free to look at that post as well.
4. The Priesthood
Latter Day Saints believe in two orders of priesthood, the lower (Aaronic Priesthood) and the higher (Melchizedek priesthood). These two priesthoods are named after great men that lived in ancient times. Aaron is well-known as being the aide to Moses and leading his order of the priesthood. However, Melchizedek is a bit obscure. The biggest reference to Melchizedek in the Old Testament is some oblique verses in Genesis. With restoration scriptures we get a little more clarity on his life:
Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever. (Alma 13:14)
Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; And from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers; (Doctrine and Covenants 84:14-15)
In our day, the higher priesthood is named after Melchizedek because of his great example as a high priest (DC 107:2). However, Latter Day Saints are the only religion who has their priesthood arranged with only two distinct orders. If we believe that God is constant and Melchizedek had a higher priesthood, why does the Old Testament not mention the distinction between the two priesthoods?
While the Old Testament does not mention the distinction, a reference is found in the New Testament:
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? (Hebrew 7:11)
We see here that there are two distinct orders of the priesthood: the Levitical (known known as the Aaronic) and the Melchizedek. This verse seems to show that the Levitical priesthood was the lower priesthood and the Melchizedek priesthood was needed for the people to meet perfection. This is practiced in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The higher ordinances of salvation are only administered by men ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood.
It is odd that although this verse in the New Testament refers to Old Testament times, there is no reference to this distinction in the Old Testament. That truth was lost.
5. Premortal Existence
All of us had to come from somewhere, and Latter Day Saints believe that this place was known as the Premortal Existence, where we lived as spirits with God before we came to this world. The truth of pre-mortal existence is found in obscure and oblique verses in the Old Testament such as:
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)
This verse seems to imply that God knew Jeremiah before he was conceived. However, restoration scriptures make this idea very clear and plain. Compare the previous verse to these verses in the Book of Abraham:
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born. And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; (Abraham 3:22-24)
By making this idea clearer, restoration scripture gives a clear and inspiring picture of our origins and our purpose on this Earth.
I hope that I have not seemed dismissive of the Old Testament. I love the Old Testament. It has provided great comfort and inspiration in my life and I believe that it is sorely under-read by the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Only in the Old Testament can we get a record of the House of Israel and gain a better understanding of what it meant to be a covenant people. The stories of the righteous men and women in ancient times can give us great examples of righteous living.
However, it is important to remember that the Old Testament has lost some of its precious truths through centuries of translations and interpretations. This is one of the main reasons why we need restoration texts. By using them with the Bible, we can gain a total and complete picture of God’s dealings with his children.