The Old Testament is long, so there are a lot of possible scripture faves to share from it. I’m not going to be able to share them all – but there will definitely be more than one part to this series installment! (See installments for the Book of Mormon and New Testament).
Let’s just start with the whole book of Moses. It’s actually part of the Pearl of Great Price, but we study it with the Old Testament, and that’s the period it deals with and gives greater insight to, so I’m going with it.
Moses is one of my favourite books of scripture – up there with Isaiah. Things I love about it include:
- The language. This is particularly the case in the Enoch chapters (6 & 7). It has the feel of ancientness – a wondrous, beautiful, mystical, miraculous tale of deep import, where big things happened and the face of the earth changed. It’s like reading about Atlantis… except it really happened.
- The beauty and deep truth of the doctrines/principles/truths taught. The very purpose of existence, and earth life; the creation of this world and mortal men; God teaching man directly; the experiences of Adam and Eve; the most central truths about the Plan of Salvation and the role of Jesus Christ in it; the meaning of sacrifice; the power of following Christ and His gospel and the light/elevation/transformation it can bring, in the midst of a wicked world.
- The way it makes sense of really important things that the Bible doesn’t, in the form we have it now.
Here are some of my favourite passages.
And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?
And behold, thou art my son; wherefore look, and I will show unto thee the workmanship of mine hands; but not all, for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.
And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.Moses 1:3,4,6
First of all, the fact that God is speaking to Moses, directly, and speaking to him like another person – wow! And that He shares with Moses so much – tells him of His purposes and works and the meaning of these things. He needs to do it, for Moses will be a prophet, and so has to know those things in order to convey them to others. But that God appears to do this with such meekness, as well as majesty…. it’s wonderful.
Then, that He calls Moses ‘my son’. He really reinforces that. ‘Here, you are mine. You belong to me. I claim you; I love you; you are not alone. You are not only human, but of divine provenance. I am God, and I am condescending to speak to you; here is the explanation for all the things you’re wondering and need to know.’ He also speaks very clearly of His power and divinity, setting up the correct structure for Moses to understand how to worship and to gain salvation.
I’m just going to share the next two verses, too, because I find them marvellous and amusing:
And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee.Moses 1:7
‘This one thing’ is, in fact:
And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; and of the same he greatly marvelled and wondered.Moses 1:8
Just everything about this earth! All its inhabitants, all its purposes, its beginning and end…. yep; just ‘this one thing’. Really gives an idea of how amazing – how omnipotent and Endless – God is. He has created countless worlds and stars, with so many aspects to them. It would be impossible to show them to a mortal person, obviously, because their mind would not be able to comprehend it all; they’d probably go mad. But this one earth – that, God can show him. And how much we do not know about it; how much God could teach us about it.
Agh; there’s so much in this book I want to share. Maybe I should just make it ‘Moses: scriptural faves‘….
Let’s move on to Enoch. Oh, I love the story of Enoch! So, Enoch is, of course, uncertain of his capacity to be the prophet and seer the Lord tells him he will be. He has, perhaps, already been preaching, and become hated and rejected by many because of it. Why would the Lord choose him? Enter this excellent, soul-stirring reply:
And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give you utterance, for all flesh is in mine hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.
Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you.
Behold, my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.Moses 6:32-34
Wow. How could you not say, ‘yes’, after God saying that to you? So powerful. So comforting. So sure. I feel shivers when I read it, especially that last verse, with its ending: ‘therefore walk with me’.
Here’s another one I really like. I’ll put in brackets some commentary.
Therefore (in order that you might be sanctified and gain eternal life) it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory (the fruits of the Spirit/Comforter); the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things (see D&C 88 – light and truth; the Holy Spirit and the glory of God – eternal law); that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgement.Moses 6:61
I just love the language of this, and its clear and beautiful description of the central purpose of the Gospel: developing in us the truth, light and power of God and eternity. This is part of Enoch’s speech, which gives me an idea of the sort of power his words had, confirming that God really did fill his mouth and justify his words, with a power that would have turned rivers from their courses and moved mountains.
Okay, okay; last bit I’ll share from Moses – the Enoch chapters (and the best, maybe). This is where Enoch has a vision of, like Moses, everything about the world. He sees all the people of his time – their wickedness, and violence against each other; their utter lack of love and brotherly feeling; their complete rejection of God and truth and light. He sees this extending through generation after generation, once he and his people in Zion have been ‘taken up’ into heaven. He sees Satan with ‘a great chain in his hand’, covering the earth with darkness, laughing with his ‘angels’. Then, he sees this:
And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people (i.e. those not taken up with Zion), and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying, How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?Moses 7:28
God wept at the suffering and evilness of man – His children – who rejected the light He kept sending, through angels and people like Enoch. The way Enoch responds is also beautiful in its imagery. He continues:
And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?Moses 7:29
He recites the endless nature of God’s creations, their beauty and wonder; His power and attributes – ‘just, merciful, and kind forever’. He reminds God that He has taken Zion to himself – all those righteous people, who had learnt how to love; that He dwells in peace and truth and glory, and these things will exist forever – all His efforts will be purposeful. So,
how is it thou canst weep?Moses 7:31
Behold these thy brethren: they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency;
And also unto thy brethren have I said, and given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood.
Behold, I am God…. Wherefore, I can stretch forth mine hands and hold all the creatures which I have made; and mine eye can pierce them also, and among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.
But behold, … Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?Moses 7: 32, 33, 35, 36, 37
Oh, it’s so sad. So sad! God weeps, and explains why, in such poignant terms – and not only He weeps, but all the heavens, and all that He has created. Why? For his beautiful children, created in His image, with everything given them that they need, physically and spiritually, on a beautiful earth He has created for them to enjoy; who’ve chosen instead to hate, to fight and kill each other, and to reject God, their own Father, who cares – this much – for them. That such wickedness and suffering is in the world; that Satan holds them in his hands. And God and the heavens and all His creations weep for them. That these people will suffer, so deeply, and so long, for their wickedness.
That is why those who will, finally, receive no kingdom of glory at all, but be consigned to the true hell – outer darkness, where no light from God reaches – because they have totally, completely, deliberately and knowingly rejected Christ and the light which is naturally in them, are called Sons of Perdition. Because they are lost. And the heavens weep over them. Those spoken of in this vision aren’t only those souls, though, but all who do wickedly, and specifically those around and after the time of Enoch, including those killed in the Flood.
Okay; passing on from the excellent Pearl of Great Price (it is a pearl, and of great price), my next favourite scriptures would be from the book of Joshua. Joshua obviously needed lots of courage, because God repeated it to him quite a few times.
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Be strong and of a good courage….
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law…. : turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.Joshua 1:5, 6, 7, 9
I really like Joshua. He was admirable, brave, and firmly dedicated to the right thing. He loved God, and desired to serve Him at all times. My older brother’s name is also Joshua 🙂.
When I read God’s words here to Joshua, I think of Him also saying the same thing to me: be strong, and of a good courage; be not afraid. I am with thee, wherever you go. Believe in what you cannot see; I am, really, here, and I will lead you.
It is necessary to be strong and very courageous, in our world. With the regular difficulties of life, and with all the forces working to discredit and silence religious belief, especially Christianity, in public and even private life. With the attempted crushing of God-given freedoms, and the ongoing struggle of evil against good. With the strength of temptation and the pull of weaknesses within ourselves.
But God, and truth, will not fail us. Keeping His commandments, and not deviating from them, will ensure that we ‘have good success’ (verse 8) and prosper – especially spiritually. So I find these verses encouraging for two reasons: to remind me to have courage myself, and knowing that an admirable, excellent person like Joshua also needed lots of encouragement and courage itself. That God reassured him, because he needed it.
Thus ends Part I of my Old Testament scripture faves! Part II should be fun, too, as it will include excellent things like Isaiah. Yesssss!
What are some of your scripture faves from the Old Testament?