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It all fits together

There is a fundamental misconception that some have regarding the Old Testament and New Testament.  Some think that the New Testament supersedes and radically changes the precepts of the Old Testament.  Perhaps this misconception arises from the radical shift in God’s focus from off of His chosen people onto the Gentiles.  Maybe this viewpoint stems from the fact that the law was a schoolmaster to prepare Israel for Christ.  Indeed, both these events are major shifts in theology resulting from His Son’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary.  However, do these events really relegate the law and the prophets to a place of lesser importance?

Walk with me a moment on this if you will.

The whole of the New Testament, just for historical perspective, was written in the span of about 55 years. It began with the gospel of Matthew in 41 AD to the last verse of Revelation in 96 AD.  In comparison, the Old Testament covers 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.

Jesus says,

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

Matthew 5:17

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.”

Matthew 5:18

The point 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.

Our Lord’s nature does not change

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 precepts 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.

God says,

” For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

Malachi 3:6

Therefore, 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 biblical prophecies assume that God’s focus is primarily upon the Gentile church.  Some appropriate a great many scriptures that talk about future events related to Israel, applying them to Christians.  If a person focuses their study to much on the New Testament, then that narrow view leads to skewed doctrine.  However, if you take in the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, it is clear the real focus is Israel.  In fact, we only exist because of Israel’s unbelief.

The gentile church is not God’s ultimate focus

Viewed from this standpoint, many scriptures appropriated to the Gentile church don’t apply because they are clearly meant for Israel.  Much what people speculate happens in the reign of the antichrist has little or nothing to do with him.  These scriptures apply to Israel, the millennium and even into the New Heavens and New Earth.  By standing back, harmonizing the whole Bible, the mists of inconsistency dissipate. Seeing the entire picture, the lay of God’s doctrinal landscapes become clear.

Case in point is the latter chapters of the book of Ezekiel.  From chapter 40, 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 portions of what we currently believe are in error.

Our doctrine must fit the whole Bible

Finally, if your doctrine does violence to any of God’s scripture, there’s reason to be concerned that it’s 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.

Ancient Words by Michael W. Smith