Yours is a valid question that is often asked of Latter-day Saints [Mormons].
I am assuming that you are a believer in the Holy Bible, that you have a living faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, that it is to Jesus Christ that you look for your hope of salvation, and that because of his infinite atonement at Calvary. If that is so, then you hold these fundamental beliefs in common with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I make no assumptions regarding your familiarity with the Bible, its monographs, its historical, soteriological, eschatological, doctrinal, Christological, and theological content, so I hope you will receive my answer in that same spirit in which I frame it.
I will also leave to one side any discussion of either the inerrancy or infallibility of the Bible and its discrete books since these issues do not stand central to your question.
If I understand you properly, you came to know Jesus through reading the Bible, principally by the testimonies of Jesus that are recorded therein. That is a common introduction to Jesus, and is one of the reasons why scriptures are caused to be written, including:
- As witnesses to the reality of God the Father
- To the divinity of his only begotten son Jesus Christ
- To attest to certain foundational historical events that are essential to faith in Jesus Christ.
You will appreciate that the first Christians that gathered to Jesus and his apostolic college were familiar with the Hebrew scriptures, and recognised that the teachings of Jesus marked a significant point of departure from the proto-judaism of that time. Proto-Judaism being the form of religious worship developed during the Babylonian Captivity of the people of Judah that had no access to the House of the Lord, but developed a form of non-temple religious tradition that laid the foundations of what would in time become fully fledged Judaism.
This transition was a necessary development during enforced absence from Palestine and when the Exiles returned after seventy years the new form and the old form of religious worship settled side by side without too much awkwardness until the destruction of the Temple in the Roman War of AD 70 and the dispersal of Judah by their conquerors terminated all forms of temple worship, a condition that has existed down to this very day. Judaism replaces the Temple with the dining table, and temple rituals have been reduced to symbolic representations.
The interim measure, Proto-Judaism, was a marked departure from complex Mosaic rituals centred on the several amphictionies of ancient Israel, all of which sacred sanctuaries of the yhvh cult with the exception of that at Jerusalem had been destroyed by reformers that cynically exercised political and religious power to deprive other centres and their operatives of influence.
To those that clung to the traditions of the past and could see no reason to change to the beliefs and teachings engendered in Jesus new gospel, Jesus explained his change of direction by referring them to their own scriptures:
"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me."
At that time there was no 'Bible' in terms of what we understand by the word. But there were in most Israelite synagogues collections of sacred writings that equate with what Jews and Christians consider to be holy books that Divinity caused to be written for specific purposes.
The ‘writings’ to which Jesus directed doubters to turn and where he was confidant they would ‘find’ him, were not the common writings such as the wisdom literature of the Ancient Near East, but writings held sacred by religious Judeans that would eventually form the bulk of the Hebrew Scriptures.
'Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me!'
As far as is known, the Gospellers wrote nothing about Jesus until several decades after his death when it was evident that the Parousia was a delayed event that seemed unlikely to take place during the lifetimes of ‘this generation,’ as some believed Jesus had foretold.
29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. 30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. 31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. 32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. [Luke 13:29-32]
Therefore, the evangelists wrote their books in order to maintain the momentum of the apostolic kerygma, for it was by their proclamation, according to Jesus, that non-believers would come faith in him, be drawn to obey him, submit to baptism at the hands of his authorised ministers, enter into mystical union with Christ through baptism [as explained at Romans 6], recognising in the inspired utterances of the Apostolate that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, and would verily come unto Christ, and own him their Saviour, sovereign, Lord, redeemer, and advocate with the Father.
It is the apostle Matthew that makes the fullest use of the Hebrew Scriptures to illuminate passages that point unerringly to the nature and mission of the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah, 'the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.’ [John 1:35-36]
Matthew had no difficulty in searching the Hebrew scriptures and finding those that testified of Jesus Christ. Matthew shows that from earliest times it was known that a Saviour would be furnished, commissioned, and sent by God to save humanity from physical and spiritual death, and it is not difficult to search the Hebrew scriptures for ourselves and find out who and what Christ is, and learn obedience that we might be partakers of the salvation or ‘healing’ ‘that he’ would bring ‘in his wings.’
We know from the Hebrew writings that the Saviour would be born of a virgin [Isaiah 7:14] 'Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.'
He would be a Nazarene, that he would be kind, loving, tender, and would, therefore, not ‘quench a smoking flax.’
From the Old Testament, we learn that he would be a servant, that he would suffer [Isaiah 53]:
'He endured the suffering that should have been ours.' (v. 4)
'Because of our sins he was wounded.' (v. 5)
All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going his own way. But the Lord made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved. (v. 6) &c.
The whole chapter bears testimony that is ratified to us by the Holy Spirit if we read it devotionally, and we can know the Passion by testimonies dating from 600 BC, that he would be crucified, that he would be without sin, that he would take away the stains of sin from all that would come to him and be one with him and do the will of his Father that sent him, we read attestations in ‘the law and testimony’ that he is the Redeemer, that we will be stand again in our flesh and behold him when we, like him, are resurrected, we learn that he will visit those souls imprisoned in sin and darkness and that he will be a great light to them, we receive the testimony [Isaiah 40:3]
Isaiah prophesied that Messiah would be preceded by John the Baptist:
A voice of one calling: In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.
Zechariah 9:9 - Messiah will enter Jerusalem on a colt:
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, O Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 11:12 Jesus would be betrayed for the price of a slave: "If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
Some of the most common references made to the prophesies of the Old Testament are those related to the death of Jesus including his betrayal by Judas, revealed in Psalms 41:9:
Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalm 22:16)
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)
Isaiah testifies to the Messiah's burial in a rich man’s tomb:
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth (Isaiah 53:9).
While the Israelites wandered in the Desert of Zin, ‘Then the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many Israelites were bitten and died. Then the LORD told Moses to make a metal snake and put it on a pole, so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and be healed. (Numbers 21: 6,8)
Jesus explained the significance of the snake on the pole.
As Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the desert, in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.' (John 3: 14,15)
The Psalmist testifies that God said to the Redeemer to come, Jesus Christ,
Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.' (Psalm 2: 7)
Jesus’ resurrection is testified in Psalm 16:10, ‘You protect me from the power of death. You will not abandon me to the world of the dead.’
Psalm 22 vividly and in detail attests to the events of the crucifixion of Jesus. ‘My God, My God, why have you abandoned me? (v.1)
The scene is foretold thus,
All that look upon me shall have me in contempt; they stick out their tongues and shake their heads. ‘You relied on the Lord’ they say. ‘Why doesn’t he save you?’ (v. 7,8)
‘They gamble for my clothes.’ (v. 18)
Psalm 22 predicts the agony of Christ’s death on the cross.
‘All my bones are out of joint; my heart is like melted wax. My throat is as dry as dust, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.’ (v. 14,15)
‘An evil gang is around me; like a pack of dogs they close in on me; they tear at my hands and feet.’ (v. 16)
Job testifies to the resurrection of the Redeemer
Now, Pastor, I return to your question and ask you out of a good heart that since the Old Testament testifies so roundly and fulsomely to the divinity, person, character, missions, and accomplishments of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, what need do any of us have of the Greek Scriptures [New Testament]?
The answer to that question is the same as the answer to your original question.
May God bless you to trust God completely and accept whatever blessings he bestows that our testimonies and faith will continue to grow and strengthen, as it seems our Father in Heaven intends, that we might come through any trial, be strengthened, and that our faith fail not.
Shall the pot say to the potter, ‘Why hast thou done this?
Shall we question why Almighty God does anything?
I believe you know the answer.
Copyright 2012 - Ronnie Bray