December 30, 2007
This is the last Sunday in 2007. As such, this is the day for you to open your “sealed testimonies” which I invited you to write on the first Sunday of 2007. Many of you have these (in bright blue envelopes I had given you) tucked away in your scriptures for the last year. Hooray for you! Open them now, before class, if you have a quiet moment. Read what you wrote a year ago and consider how your study of the New Testament and your life experiences have influenced your testimony. Has your testimony evolved? Grown? How and why? There will be a moment in class during which I will invite class members to share any of these experiences and feelings they’ve had during the past year in connection to their New Testament study. So please give this some thought & consider being one of these sharers.
During class I will invite everyone to write a new letter to themselves, to be opened the last Sunday of 2008. In this letter you will re-record your testimony, noting any change from last year. Additionally, you will record a resolution to study the Book of Mormon in a new way of your choosing that will assist you in “growing” your testimony–a New Year’s Resolution, so to speak. We will discuss various ways to study the Book of Mormon, to give you ideas for your own study.
Today we’re going to wrap up our focus of the New Testament and turn our focus to the Book of Mormon. However, as we do this I’d like to see the strong connection between these too “sticks” or “scrolls.” Let’s begin with the end of the New Testament, in Revelation 22:18-19. What does this mean? When was Revelation written? Why is it the last book in the New Testament? If the New Testament were organized chronologically the last book likely would be St. John, or the Gospel of John. Turn there & read the last verse. See John 21:25. What does this mean to you? Why does the rest of the Christian world not believe this?
Next, let us look here. What does this scripture teach us? Why did the Lord require two books? Are there two, or more?
As we’ve studied the Bible the past two years, and now the Book of Mormon, we can’t help but ask ourselves why so much of the Bible, specifically Isaiah, is quoted in the Book of Mormon. Quoting Garold N. Davis in his September 1998 Ensign article, “Book of Mormon Commentary on Isaiah,”
“The Book of Mormon tells us that in the last days the “Gentiles” will have a “record of the Jews” containing the “covenants of the Lord” and “many of the prophecies of the holy prophets” (see 1 Ne. 13:20–25). Since the “nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles” (1 Ne. 13:3) will have the writings of the biblical prophets, including those of the prophet Isaiah, the question naturally arises, Why would Mormon include 21 nearly complete chapters of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon? Why this duplication of scripture? 1
To one who believes in the divine stewardship of the production, transmission, and translation of the Nephite records, the inclusion of these writings from the prophet Isaiah must surely be attributed to a divine purpose. In fact, Nephi himself indicates that this repetition of Isaiah passages is for the benefit of the people “in the last days” and especially for the benefit of his own descendants: “For I know that they shall be of great worth unto [mine own people] in the last days; for in that day shall they understand them; wherefore, for their good have I written them” (2 Ne. 25:8; emphasis added).”
The following is an excerpt from the 1986 June Ensign article by Glenn L. Pearson, “The Book of Mormon As a Witness of the Old Testament,”
“Careful students will discover a multitude of passages in the Book of Mormon that shed light on the Old Testament. Here is a sample of the kinds of things that can be found:
Q: What was the meaning of the brazen serpent on a staff raised up by Moses in the wilderness?
A: “Did [Moses] not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.
“And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.” (Hel. 8:14–15.)
Q: Why were the Cannanites deprived of the Promised Land?
A: “The Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God. But behold, this people had rejected every word of God, and they were ripe in iniquity; and the fulness of the wrath of God was upon them; and the Lord did curse the land against them, and bless it unto our fathers; yea, he did curse it against them unto their destruction, and he did bless it unto our fathers unto their obtaining power over it.” (1 Ne. 17:35.)
Q: What light does the Book of Mormon shed on the meaning of the sealed book prophecy as contained in Isaiah 29:11–12? [Isa. 29:11–12]
A: The book refers to the Book of Mormon and to the sealed portion of the plates of Mormon. It shall come forth in the last days; witnesses shall testify “to the truth of the book and the things therein”; the Lord will “proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, yea, a marvelous work and a wonder.” (See 2 Ne. 27.)
Q: To whom did Isaiah refer when he said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings” (Isa. 52:7)?
A: He was speaking of “all the holy prophets ever since the world began”; “those that are still publishing peace”; “those who shall hereafter publish peace, yea, from this time henceforth and forever”; and, to a much greater extent, “the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people.” (See Mosiah 15:13–19.)
Q: Who are the seed of Jesus that Jehovah promised he would see (Isa. 53:10)?
A: “Whosoever has heard the words of the prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord—I say unto you, that all those who have hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the heirs of the kingdom of God.
“For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?
“Yea, and are not the prophets, every one that has opened his mouth to prophesy, that has not fallen into transgression, I mean all the holy prophets ever since the world began? I say unto you that they are his seed.” (Mosiah 15:11–13.)
Q: What are Jesus’ feelings about the prophet Isaiah and his writings?
A: The resurrected Savior told the Nephites: “A commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.” (3 Ne. 23:1.)
There are many other examples of the Book of Mormon’s insights into the Old Testament. Many of these are noted in the footnotes of the LDS edition of the King James Bible.
The Book of Mormon another testament of Jesus Christ is an important witness of the Old Testament.”
The January 2008 Ensign, which isn’t available online yet and which you probably have already received in your mail, has articles that are applicable to this lesson. Specifically, “The Book of Mormon, the Great Purveyor of the Savior’s Peace,” (pg. 35); and “The Book with Answers,” pg. 72.