The Whole Bible
There is a fundamental misconception that some have regarding the Old Testament and New Testament. Some, perhaps because of lack of familiarity with the less studied books of the Bible, think that the New Testament supersedes and radically changes the precepts of the Old Testament. It is almost like they believe that between the old and new covenants that God somehow changed His mind about very basic doctrines. What we have today is the “new and improved version” of the truth instead of the antiquated and inadequate version that Old Testament saints had to live with.
Perhaps this misconception arises mainly from the radical shift in God’s focus from off of His chosen people onto the gentiles. Perhaps this viewpoint also has to do with the fact that the Mosaic Law was only a school master to prepare the nation of Israel to accept their Messiah . Indeed, both of these events were major shifts in the way that God dealt with mankind as a result of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. However, do these two events really cause the New Testament to supersede the Old Testament and relegate it to a place of lesser importance?
Walk with me a moment on this if you will.
The whole of the New Testament, just to give some historical perspective, was written in the span of about 55 years from the completion of the gospel of Matthew in 41 AD to the last verse in the book of Revelation in 96 AD. In comparison the Old Testament took about 1070 years to write and covered some 3583 years of history. Both Old and New Testaments are authored by God but the Old Testament records 65 times as much of God’s dealings with man as does the New Testament.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
Jesus goes on to say,
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
The point I would like to make today is that, when we interpret the Bible, we must do so from the standpoint of the whole of God’s revelation and not just the New Testament. Jesus, Himself, said that nothing of the law would pass away and that He was merely the fulfillment of the law. Thus the coming of Christ did not negate what God said in times past but was merely a continuation and a confirmation of it.
Though God has, through the blood of Jesus, given us grace in the New Covenant it does not mean that He has changed His mind on any issues. Salvation, according to the apostle Paul in the book of Romans, has always been by faith and not by works. What is perhaps different in our day and age is that the depth of revelation is greater but none of it changes the basic percepts that God has always held throughout the ages.
The perception that the Old Testament is “old” and that the New Testament is “new” has led some to believe that God’s older revelation is of lesser authority in determining doctrinal positions than the new and improved version. This, however, is simply not the case.
” For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”
Therefore, when it comes to interpreting scripture we must seek to harmonize the whole of the Bible regarding any topic we choose to study. Our doctrinal positions cannot and should not be limited to the New Testament to the exclusion of any Old Testament scriptures that do not agree with them. Doing so has, in my opinion, led to some erroneous conclusions on some fundamental doctrines.
Take, for instance, the study of end time events, or eschatology. Many times those who seek to unravel the biblical prophecies about the end of the age assume that God’s focus is primarily upon the gentle church. Some appropriate a great many scriptures that talk about future events related to Israel and apply them to the New Testament church. If a person focuses their study on the New Testament then such thinking is a natural assumption but it leads to skewed doctrine. However, if you stand back and take in the whole of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation you find that the real focus of God is upon the nation of Israel and not upon the gentile church. In fact, we only exist because of Israel’s unbelief.
Viewed from this standpoint many scriptures that people appropriate to the gentile church age do not apply because they are clearly meant for the children of Israel. A lot of what people teach will happen in the 7 years of the reign of the antichrist has little or nothing to do with that tribulation. These scriptures apply God’s chosen and should be spread out over the millennium and even into the New Heavens and New Earth. By standing back, and harmonizing the whole of the Old and New Testaments the mists of inconsistency start to dissipate and the lay of God’s doctrinal landscapes become clear.
Case in point is the latter chapters of the book of Ezekiel. From chapter 40 onwards, the book of Ezekiel speaks of a restored Israelite kingdom, a rebuilt temple, and the re-institution of the Mosaic law. It speaks of a prince who leads a restored kingdom and specifically makes provision for his children. These very clear and detailed writings are almost never incorporated into efforts to interpret end time events. The problem with not harmonizing these scriptures with the currently held views on eschatology is that they do not agree at all with almost all scenarios that are currently believed by the majority of the Christian church. The fact that the last portion of the book of Ezekiel does not jive with our doctrine indicates that potions of what we currently believe are in error.
My purpose here is not to get into specific doctrines that may be affected by our New Testament-centric viewpoint that relegates the Old Testament to a lesser position. My aim is to only point out that if your doctrine does violence to any of God’s scripture there is reason to be concerned that perhaps it is not totally correct. God’s viewpoints do not change and what He thought in the Garden of Eden is still just as valid and important as what He spoke through John on the Isle of Patmos In fact, the earlier things are mentioned in the Bible the more fundamental and important they usually are. If even one scripture diametrically opposes your theology then realize that we need to remain open to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us into further revelation and understanding in that area.
Suggested reading “The Current Word”