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“Why do Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ was Jehovah of the Old Testament?”

Title“Why do Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ was Jehovah of the Old Testament?”
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication1988
AuthorsRhodes, Michael D.
Issue Number8
Date PublishedAugust 1988
KeywordsJesus Christ - Jehovah

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“Why do Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ was Jehovah of the Old Testament?”

Michael D. Rhodes, a home teacher and member of the Scout committee, Albuquerque Tenth Ward, Albuquerque New Mexico East Stake. Our knowledge that Christ is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, has support both in the Bible and in modern-day scripture. Among the strongest biblical evidence that Christ was the God of the Old Testament comes from his own statements to the Jews when he was teaching in the temple in Jerusalem: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

“Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

“Then took they up stones to cast at him.” (John 8:56–59.) Here Jesus is unequivocally telling them that he is Jehovah, the great “I Am,” as he declared in Exodus 3:14 [Ex. 3:14]. The Jews did not miss the allusion. They thought him blasphemous; that is why they “took up stones to cast at him.”

The Gospel of John also refers to Christ—“the Word”—as the Creator of all things: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

“The same was in the beginning with God.

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. …

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1–3, 14.)

The Old Testament identifies the Creator as Jehovah. According to John, therefore, Jesus Christ was Jehovah in premortality.

Paul also identifies Christ as Jehovah, when he alludes to the time when the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness and Moses brought water from a rock. (Jehovah is often referred to as the Rock of Israel in the Old Testament. See Deut. 31:3–4; 2 Sam. 23:3; Ps. 18:31, 46.)

“All our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; …

“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. 10:1, 4.)

True to its purpose as a second witness of Christ, the Book of Mormon also shows Christ to be the God of the Old Testament. Nephi knew this great truth and taught it, saying:

“And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos.” (1 Ne. 19:10.)

King Benjamin taught the same principles. He stated that an angel told him that “the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases. …

“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.” (Mosiah 3:5–8.)

When Jehovah appeared to the Brother of Jared, he said: “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ.” (Ether 3:14.)

When he appeared to the Nephites after his resurrection, Christ himself said, “Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.” (3 Ne. 11:14.) In 3 Nephi 15:5 [3 Ne. 15:5], he affirmed, “I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel.”

Christ’s role as the Creator is also stressed in the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. God the Father, speaking to Moses, is quoted as saying, “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.” (Moses 1:33.)

In our own dispensation, even the earliest revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith teach the same principles. In 1830, for example, the Prophet received a revelation from the Lord that began, “Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, the Great I Am, whose arm of mercy hath atoned for your sins.” (D&C 29:1.) As we have already seen, “I Am” is one of the names by which Jehovah identified himself.

Christ stressed his role as Jehovah, the Creator of this world, in another revelation, recorded in 1831:

“Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. …

“I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.” (D&C 38:1, 3.)

In the marvelous vision given to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, they explicitly refer to Christ as Jehovah: “We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.

“His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.” (D&C 110:2–4.)

Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ is Jehovah because it is true. It was known to be true anciently, by prophets in both the Old and the New Worlds, and it has been made clear from the very beginning of our own dispensation. The Lord Jesus Christ himself has declared it unequivocally: he is Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament.