Sunday School Lesson – Old Testament

Literary OTGD #14: excerpt on Israel in the Wilderness from chapter 1 of The Millennium

March 23, 2014 | one comment
By
Literary OTGD #14: excerpt on Israel in the Wilderness from chapter 1 of The Millennium

Are commandments also spiritual fare? When Moses received the law on Sinai, was he spiritually fed? Were the children of Israel? Lesson #14 of the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine manual discusses Israel’s trek across the Sinai, their partaking of manna from heaven, which we interpret today as a symbol of the spiritual feast that our Heavenly Father provides for us. But when we read or talk about the commandments, we sometimes don’t talk about them as spiritual food—instead seeing them as temporal duties to be performed. But, the miracle of their delivery to Moses is a spiritual story, and... Read more »

Literary OTGD #13: excerpt on the Exodus from chapter 1 of The Millennium

March 20, 2014 | no comments
By
Literary OTGD #13: excerpt on the Exodus from chapter 1 of The Millennium

The story of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt is one of the iconic stories of western religious culture. And that story has descended to Mormonism, showing up, of course, in lesson #13 of the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine manual. And we Mormons basically see the story in the same way as other Christians—an oppressed people is led by the hand of God out of opression and into a promised land. But the story has gained other cultural meanings for Mormonism. Best known is naming Brigham Young as the American Moses, and the Mormon pioneer trek... Read more »

Literary OTGD #12: excerpt on Joseph from From Out of the Dust

March 15, 2014 | no comments
By
Orson F. Whitney

Today, we Mormons see the “coincidence of names” between Joseph of Egypt, Joseph the son of Lehi and Joseph Smith as anything but a coincidence. They shared names allow us to make connections between the three cases, adding to our understanding of their histories. And Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson 12 allows us to revisit some of the parallels, such as Joseph’s separation from Israel, and eventual reunion, as well as his visionary nature. Elder Orson F. Whitney, who served as an Apostle from 1906 to 1931, recognized this connection, and included it in his epic poem Elias in... Read more »

Literary OTGD #11: Joseph’s Temptation

March 13, 2014 | one comment
By
TheProphet-1845-04-19-p1

Temptation is a constant. We all struggle with temptation to do that which we should not, and often these temptations involve significant sin or things that could lead to significant sin. Worse, as Joseph’s story indicates, even when we have acted properly, we can be seen as a sinner or in error, and treated accordingly. Sometimes this is because others are mistaken, and other times it is because those who judge have... Read more »

Literary OTGD #10: Our Golden Wedding

March 1, 2014 | 3 comments
By
Literary OTGD #10: Our Golden Wedding

The marriage process in Abraham’s family (covered in Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson 10) is very different that the common experience in the Church today (at least in North America). Arranged marriages, polygamy, dowries and working for a wife are all discussed in the source chapters in Genesis, while the marriages are still eternal, evidently the same way that marriages in LDS Temples today are eternal. But while there are clear differences, there are also similarities in how these marriages work. Isaac and Rebekah, as well as Jacob and his wives, work together to make the union productive and... Read more »

Literary OTGD #09: Saturday Evening Thoughts

February 16, 2014 | 2 comments
By
Literary OTGD #09: Saturday Evening Thoughts

Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac is one of the most difficult to understand episodes in the Bible, and it is also a regular subject of LDS lessons, such as Lesson 9 of the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine manual. Despite its troubling nature, this event is seen as a clear type of Christ’s sacrifice, and it is often portrayed as an ideal of the righteous sacrifice we should ourselves be willing to make. Both of these views of Abraham’s dilemna appear in LDS poetry, and the latter view—that we too are expected to sacrifice for sake of the gospel—is expressed... Read more »

Literary OTGD #08: Go search and say

February 9, 2014 | one comment
By
Literary OTGD #08: Go search and say

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, which is found in the material covered in the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine manual, lesson 8, is one of the more bleak stories in the bible. Its depressing to think that a city cannot be saved from its own wickedness, and that there was not one person there who was innocent enough to merit its salvation. Regardless of what their sins were (lets not go into that), the destruction of an entire city is heartbreaking. I think the following poem captures some of the pathos and the meaning that can be found in... Read more »

Literary OTGD #07: The Gathering

February 2, 2014 | no comments
By
Literary OTGD #07: The Gathering

If doctrines can have ideological parents, then the doctrine of the gathering is clearly descended from the Abrahamic covenant, the same that is discussed in Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson 7. Throughout the scriptures, when the Lord talks of “gathering” his people, he is refering to Israel, the descendants of Abraham. The covenant speaks of giving his people a promised land—the place where his people will be gathered to. Indeed, the gathering is simply a part of how the Lord’s covenant with Abraham is fulfilled. I think that many of the elements of the Abrahamic covenant are found in... Read more »

Literary OTGD #06: Gleanings from Scripture

January 31, 2014 | one comment
By

Lesson 6 of the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine manual seems like a difficult lesson to me. It covers both the story of Noah and the flood as well as the story of the tower of Babel. The lesson combines these disparate stories under the very general topic of worthiness and avoiding the evils of the world, which may not give most teachers much to work with. While I can’t really tell teachers where to go with this, I did find a poem that also addresses these stories (and a few more) in a very general way. Read more »

Literary OTGD #05: Age after age has roll’d away

January 27, 2014 | 4 comments
By
Literary OTGD #05: Age after age has roll’d away

While many teachers will focus their teaching of Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson #5 on the story of Cain and Abel, that is only half the lesson. The other half of the lesson is the story of Enoch and his city—perhaps a more positive example for us today as we strive to live the admonition “be ye therefore perfect.” The following poem is like the story of Enoch, one of the most unusual works in its corpus. As the prefatory paragraph indicates, it came out of an LDS meeting in which Elder David W. Patten (still at least 2... Read more »

Literary OTGD #04: O Adam

January 19, 2014 | one comment
By
Literary OTGD #04: O Adam

When we talk about the Fall and its roll in the plan of salvation, as Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson #4 does, the focus naturally (and properly) is on the effects of the Fall and its relationship with the atonement. But the Fall is also the story of a relationship between Adam, Eve and God. his makes it easier to put ourselves in the place of Adam and Eve, and in the process learn, in a very palpable way, the consequences of a separation from God and the need for a way to return to Him. In that sense,... Read more »

Literary OTGD #03: Eternity of Matter

January 15, 2014 | 3 comments
By

In our science-oriented world today, its hard to see the creation stories in the Bible and Pearl of Great Price as recounting actual events or having meaning beyond a simple myth explaining the origin of life. So when we teach the creation in classes like the current Old Testament Gospel Doctrine lesson 3, I believe the best option is to put the story in a gospel context, and emphasize its meaning as part of our understanding of the purpose of life, rather than historical or scientific events. Although written in the 1840s with a traditional view of the creation,... Read more »

Literary OTGD #02: Shadows and Whisperings

December 29, 2013 | no comments
By
Literary OTGD #02: Shadows and Whisperings

Mormon beliefs about the pre-existence are an important part of our understanding of our purpose in this life and the meaning of the life to come. The beliefs covered in the second lesson in the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine manual, “fore-ordination” and the “war in heaven,” are no exception. But, it is also worth remembering that what happened in the pre-existence is veiled from our memories. The details most relevant to individuals are something we don’t know. Our own specific missions aren’t clear. We are left with “shadows and whisperings.” Read more »

Literary OTGD #01: Metamorphosis

December 22, 2013 | no comments
By
Literary OTGD #01: Metamorphosis

For the coming year, I’ve decided to post poetry for use in Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society classes two weeks ahead of when they would normally be used, instead of a week ahead as I’ve done in previous years. I’m doing this to allow teachers a bit more time to prepare and integrate the poetry into their lesson plans (if they wish to use the poetry), and because, in the case of the Priesthood/Relief Society manual, there are more lessons than can be covered in a year. Working two weeks ahead will give the teacher time to decide which... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 48: Zechariah 10-14, Malachi

December 5, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 48: Zechariah 10-14, Malachi

Zechariah 1:7-6:8: We may be able to read the first six chapters of Zechariah as having a roughly chiastic structure. As with many chiasmi, however, deciding whether this is a chiasmus is a matter of judgment rather than fact. A 1:7-17: The Lord’s omniscience B 1:18-21: Judah and the empires C 2:1-5: Jerusalem’s territory D 3:1-10: Joshua the high priest D’ 4:1-14: The temple itself C’ 5:1-4: Jerusalem’s self-rule (the scroll of the law?) C’ 5:5-11: Judah and Persia (? perhaps a “counter-temple”?) A’ 6:1-8: The Lord’s omnipotence If this analysis is correct,... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 47: Ezra 1-8; Nehemiah 1-2, 4, 6, 8

December 5, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 47: Ezra 1-8; Nehemiah 1-2, 4, 6, 8

Note that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were considered one book until well after the time of Christ. The rough chronology below will help place this week’s material in its historical context. 606 The fall of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. Babylon becomes the major power. Daniel and others are taken to Babylon from Israel 604 Nebuchadnezzar is king of Babylon 598 Judah’s king, Jehoiachin, and the prophet Ezekiel (with thousands of others) are carried captive into Babylon. Lehi leaves Jerusalem. Habakkuk and Ezekiel prophesy 587 The fall of Jerusalem; much of the population of Judah is taken captive... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 46: Daniel 2

December 5, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 46: Daniel 2

Verses 4-5: Why does the king make this demand on his wise men? Verses 10-12: What did it mean to be a wise man in Babylon? Why was the king angry? Why do you think that the gods of Babylon are never mentioned in this story, not even negatively? Verse 24: Why does Daniel save the other wise men of Babylon?  Verse 28: Why would a king living hundreds of years before Christ’s birth be interested in what would happen at the age when the end of the world would come? (“Latter days” is probably better translated “at the... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 45: Daniel 1, 3, and 6; Esther 3-5, 7-8

November 23, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 45: Daniel 1, 3, and 6; Esther 3-5, 7-8

Let me begin, once again, with a reminder that these are not intended for notes to help teachers, though they may also serve that purpose. I write them for people who want to study the lesson materials more thoroughly. So you’ll find explanatory notes and study questions (fewer for this lesson than for most), but few answers. There is considerable material in the readings for this lesson, so I am going to focus the study questions on the book of Esther (the entire book rather than only the parts assigned for Sunday School). I want to focus on Esther... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 44: Ezekiel 43-44, 47

November 17, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 44: Ezekiel 43-44, 47

Ezekiel’s book goes back and forth between telling of the literal return from Babylon to Jerusalem in ways that we can also read to refer to the last days to speaking directly of the last days. (But when he thinks of the last days, is he thinking of the same event or events that we are thinking of?) Beginning in chapter 40, he has a vision of the temple in Jerusalem and of the order of temple worship there. What kind of vision do you think this is? In Ezekiel 37:26-28, the Lord promised the temple as part of... Read more »

Lesson 43: Ezekiel 18, 34, and 37

November 15, 2010 | no comments
By
Lesson 43: Ezekiel 18, 34, and 37

Chronologically we turn backwards at this point. Jeremiah was the prophet in 597 B.C. when Jerusalem was finally captured and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and its people were carried into Babylon. Like Lehi, Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah, but Ezekiel did not prophesy with them. Instead, like Daniel, Ezekiel was with the large group from Judah taken captive into Babylon earlier. He began to prophesy only after arriving in Babylon, so prophets in Jerualem, like Lehi and Jeremiah, may not even have known about Ezekiel. Tradition has it that he died and was buried in Babylon. With that in... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 42: Jeremiah 16, 23, 29, 31

November 8, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 42: Jeremiah 16, 23, 29, 31

As you read Jeremiah, you should do what the lesson materials for Isaiah suggested: ask how those to whom Jeremiah was speaking would have understood his prophecies, how those in the Book of Mormon (who had a record of part of his prophecies with them) would have understood them, how the members of the Church in New Testament times would have understood them, how we can understand them today, and how they may teach us of things yet to come. Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 41: Jeremiah 1-2, 15, 20, 26, 36-38

October 24, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 41: Jeremiah 1-2, 15, 20, 26, 36-38

Historical Background Like Isaiah, the book of Jeremiah is a collection of prophecies edited into a book after the fact rather than one, extended prophecy. It describes itself as a history rather than as a prophecy, though obviously it contains a number of prophecies. But the word history doesn’t mean the same for ancient Israel as it means today. It is closer to our word “story” or “account.” Much of the background for Jeremiah is covered in the last chapters of 2 Kings and the last chapters of 2 Chronicles. Understanding a rough outline of the history behind the... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 40: Isaiah 54-56, 63-65

October 16, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 40: Isaiah 54-56, 63-65

As was true of the preceding several chapters, such as chapters 52-53, it is easier in these chapters for us to see their symbolic meaning than it is to see it in many of the early chapters in Isaiah. Nevertheless, I think it helps, even in a case like this, to begin by understanding the literal meaning of the chapters—what the people of Jerusalem might have heard and understood. Doing so will often add depth to our understanding of the symbolism. Speaking of scripture study, Brigham Young asked, “Do you read the Scriptures, my brethren and sisters, as though... Read more »

Sunday School Lesson 39: Isaiah 50-53

October 10, 2010 | no comments
By
Sunday School Lesson 39: Isaiah 50-53

These chapters are among the most beautiful in the Bible; they are an important part of Western literary culture, even for non-believers. Many scholars see the chapters as part of larger dramatic structure, a larger dramatic script as it were. In contemporary scripts the various parts would be marked clearly: “Chorus,” “Yahweh,” “Earth,” “Heavens,” “Armies,” etc. The fact that we must infer these from what is said makes reading Isaiah more difficult. As I have done with the previous chapters of Isaiah, I’ll outline how the people of Jerusalem might have understood these prophecies. Doing that will help us... Read more »

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.