Is Jesus Christ real? This is the question I want answered. I’ve grown my entire life learning and believing in Jesus Christ. And in fact, I’ve had many unique experiences that have led me to believe he is, indeed, real. But this is a question that I personally believe I could understand greater.
Therefore, I’ve decided to make the majority of my daily study, at least for the foreseeable future, focus on the man himself. I will study at least one verse every week day (and probably on weekends too, but my schedule there is less predictable), about the Savior. These verses will not only come from the Bible, but from the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and other Gospel Resources.
I’m not going too overboard with this. I’m not going to try and read all the verses that are available about the Savior all at once, and I’m not going to go in any particular order. But I will write my thoughts after reading each verse below. Though I will release this post all at once, what follows is a full week’s worth of study, one verse at a time. After each day’s study, I plan to pray fervently to know the answer to this question. I will discuss my experiences below.
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; bit shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Though God’s words to the devil in the first verse is kind of vague, it’s clear in Romans that the “God of peace” who almost certainly is referring to Jesus Christ, is the one bruise the head of the Devil. Or at least, that’s how Paul saw it. This is also made clearer in latter-day works since Moses 4:21 repeats the phrase but with a little more clarity. If true, this is one of the earliest prophecies of Christ, chronologically, in scripture.
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
So this is a moment where Israel is blessing his children, Judah in particular, from whom come all the Jews. The word Shiloh may be a short form of asher-lo which means “whose right it is” a term used in Ezekiel 21:27 in another prophecy of Christ. In this case, we have a clear statement of a coming Messiah. Though some could render this as a prophecy of Moses. However, the Joseph Smith translation of Genesis 50:24 clarifies that Shiloh is Christ and not Moses. I also think it’s interesting that the house of Judah is considered the lawgiver until Shiloh comes, and then there’s the fact that the gospel was opened up to the gentiles after Christ, so in a sense Judah was no longer the exclusive law giver.
But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
This is the moment when Israel is blessing Joseph. The shepherd or stone of Israel clearly indicates the Savior. We could imply that “from thence” means that the Savior is coming from either God or Jacob. My study guide seems to think it’s the latter, though either would work. D&C 50:44 confirms that this is a phrase to indicate the Savior, as he identifies himself as the stone of Israel there too.
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
In this prophecy, Christ is referred to as a Star, though that could more likely refer to the star that shone upon his birth. Both apply, I think. Much of the rest of this prophecy doesn’t make much sense in our current culture, though it would have likely made sense back then. Moses says “I shall see him, but not now” and that, according to my study guide, is just Moses saying that the coming of the Savior is a long way off.
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
You kind of need to read the verse before this to understand the context. As evidence in verse 14, this is the Lord talking, so when the Lord says the Prophet will be “like unto me” he’s talking about being like unto God. Now if this is Jehovah, it could be Christ himself who is speaking. But I recall reading somewhere that “like unto” can literally mean “the same as”. For example, when Christ later says the second commandment is “like unto” the first, he’s saying it’s equally important. So that framework would work here.
Now later, he does speak about a prophet “like until thee [Moses]” which could mean the same person, but there’s no evidence to suggest it’s anyone specific. It could be any important prophet. But I still think this first prophecy is of the Messiah. Perhaps this is some of the first evidence of a Messiah prophecy.
So far this week has been very interesting for me. After each day of reading the above, I’ve found myself growing more and more interested in learning more about the Savior. However, I’m not sure if looking at prophecies is going to be what I need, at least for now. That’s like trying to prove through reason that Christ exists, and I don’t think that will ever be enough. If something can be learned absolutely then there’s no reason for faith, and it’s important that we walk by faith.
So for next week I’m going to study something slightly different. It will still be about Christ but not about Old Testament prophecies. I’ll be thinking over the weekend of what that should look like.
Thank you all for coming on this journey with me.