Passover or easter: Or, if you were participating in the…
“And because he was already tired, nearly to complete and utter exhaustion, he barely had the strength to go on. After all he had been through, how could he endure it?
His concern for the others was his power to go on. He knew he couldn’t let them down; particularly Sheila and Frank. How young they all are.
As soon as he made it he would take a count and make sure they were all there. Did John arrive at his destination he wondered?
They must not allow the misunderstanding to continue to divide them: As you can see by how many of us there are, it has already taken its tole.
What do you think of that story? Pretty exciting isn’t it? It’s as if you were right there with him. Wouldn’t you agree?
Of course, with no context or backdrop the excerpt makes absolutely no sense. Without knowing what happened before, the reader has no idea what is really going on let alone how to accurately interpret it.
The “New Testament”
This is exactly how it is with the “New Testament”. When you begin the Bible at Matthew chapter 1 it is like reading the story above. You really have no idea why they are doing what they are doing or really even what they are trying to accomplish.
You can guess, surmise, suppose or assume but it remains very challenging to understand the intended meaning of the story even with supplementary material that somewhat corroborates the perceived storyline.
Of course, I am speaking generally. I mean, after all, In the “Old Testament”, most (not all) modern “Christians” accept the first few chapters of Genesis, and let’s not forget Psalms and Proverbs, and for the real religious you might be able to throw in the “Ten Commandments” too.”
Seriously though, of course, there are exceptions to what I am saying. There are a few mainstream “Christians” who do embrace the “Old Testament”) but, relatively speaking, they are very few. The playing field grows even smaller when you eliminate the few who say that they accept the “Old Testament” yet they have no idea what it even says past the Bible stories they learned as a child in sunday school but haven’t thought too much about for the last 30 years or so.
Most “Christians” today start the Bible at Matthew, others start it in the book of Acts, yet precious few begin it at Genesis. This leads to a whole lot of omissions and a multitude of extravagant misinterpretations and guesses as to what the Bible is saying with even more varied applications of it these various fragmented “interpretations”.
When it is all said and done, those who truly embrace the “Old Testament” with the “New Testament“, in a real way, are very, very few.
Although it isn’t the only reason; all of these things together are a large part of the reason why there are over 40,000 “Christian” denominations in the world today.
The “Old Testament” provides extensive and intricate context to help illuminate the “New Testament”. Understanding the “New Testament” without a strong knowledge of the “Old Testament” is like trying to understand the opening paragraph of this article. It can’t be done without context.
The more you understand the “Old Testament”, the more you will understand what is happening in the “New Testament”.
The reason you are unfamiliar with the “Old Testament” (and therefore the context for all of the Bible) is because in the second century, there was a heretical Bible teacher by the name of Marcion. Because he was wealthy he was able to travel a lot and commit a lot of financial resources toward his heretical teachings. While one or two of his contemporaries supported what he was saying, historians such as Justin Martyr worked diligently to correct his heresies so that they didn’t take hold.
At the time, these men were successful in their efforts. However, after he passed, Marcion’s heretical teachings began to take hold.
The first century “Church” was mostly made up of Jewish Believers. The Jewish religion is very different from the Gospel that Yeshua preached but they were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and they did have an understanding of Israel.
However, Marcion was very anti-Jewish and he taught that the “Old Testament” Scriptures were not applicable to Christians. He even taught that the “Old Testament” god was someone different from the “New Testament” god. It is because this heresy was eventually adopted that the page in your Bible that says “New Testament” was inserted.
So in the minds of many, that page not only mistakenly serves as a marked division between the Historical, Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospels, but in the mind of many, it also (erroneously) separates the old and obsolete from the new and worthy.
The pages marked “Old Testament” and “New Testament” should be omitted from the Bible. Some people even tear them out. Since they are usually mostly blank, I use them for notes since blank pages in Bibles are usually very few.
Is the “Old Testament” Obsolete?
Along with that page that says “OLD Testament”, there are various reasons that people have been led to believe that the “Old Testament” is now obsolete and not worthy of consideration now that we are in the “New Testament” dispensation. I generally do not use the word “dispensation” but that is what they would say.
One of the main excuses that people use for ignoring most of the Bible (The “Old Testament” and sometimes various portions of the “New” Testament is a verse in the book of Hebrews.
“In that he says, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and grows old is ready to vanish away.
When you look at the verse alone it seems pretty clear and straightforward. However, when you look at it in context you can clearly see that the Scripture is comparing the types and shadows of the “Old Testament” with the reality of the incarnate Christ. In context, it is by no means saying that the “Old Testament” is superfluous.
When you consider that with a multitude of Scriptures that say things like:
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.
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.
1 Peter 1:24-25
For all flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
By the way, 1 Peter 1:24-25 is a direct quote from the book of Isaiah and that is what Peter would have been thinking when it wrote it. There is a multitude of other Scriptures, all through the Bible, that relate a similar message.
Central themes connect all of the Bible
The Bible has a few central themes running throughout its pages. The primary central them, without question, is Yeshua. After that there is good and evil, Israel, love, faith and covenants. These themes run all through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
In this article, I addressed how “grace” is by no means confined to the “New Testament”. I explained how the concept of God’s grace is alive and well clear back in Genesis as it spans the entire Bible.
The “Old Testament” brings clarity and context to the “New Testament”
The first Messianic prophecy is found clear back in Genesis 3:15.
Adam is referenced in the book of Luke in Yeshua’s genealogy. It is said that Yeshua specifically referenced the “Old Testament”, in a positive way, on approximately 84 unique occasions.
In the “New Testament”, Apostle Paul quotes or paraphrases approximately 183 passages, in a positive way, from the “Old Testament”. This does not account for the numerous references he makes to people, places, and events in the “Old Testament”.
In the same way, the other writers of the “New Testament” quote and refer to the “Old Testament numerous times as well.
Understanding the “Old Testament” can help you to understand why the people mentioned in the “New Testament” did what they did.
When you understand the “Old Testament” you understand things like why Yeshua celebrated Passover and why He will again. You understand details like why the disciples did not celebrate christmas, why Yeshua said that the Greatest commandment is love, and why Yeshua is referred to as “the Second Adam”.
Understanding the “Old Testament helps you to understand why Yahweh is the God of Israel, why He refers to His people as the “Israel of God”, and much, much more. It gives you a depth of understanding that you simply can not obtain any other way.
Personally, when I refer to the “Old Testament” I don’t use those words. For clarity and ease of communication, I often refer to it that way when writing and sometimes while teaching. However I don’t personally think of it that way and in person, I don’t say it that way.
I do this because of the many reasons I have related here in this article, and more.
What I DO do is refer to the “Old Testament” as the “Tanakh”.
The word Tanakh is a Hebrew acronym that means:
Torah (Pentateuch / the first five books)
Ketuvim (Writings) (Psalms, Proverbs, and others)
From a Hebraic perspective, all three sections complement each other. They are all equal. None is great than another.
This practice is just something that I do personally. It is a bit of a mental exercise that helps me to remember that all of the Bible is written from a Hebraic perspective and all of the Bible is as important as the rest.
Without the context of the “Old Testament”, much of the “New Testament” is almost nonsensical: It is like trying to make since of the opening paragraph of this article. This is part of the reason that there is such extreme diversity among those who call themselves “Christian”.
The Bible is one book with congruent themes throughout.
The old is in the new revealed
The new is in the old concealed
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a Hebraic book. The Tanach provides a Hebraic perspective of depth that enlightens the “New Testament” in ways that are nearly indescribable. It would sort of trying to explain what a 3D movie is like to someone who has only ever watched a black and white television.
Embracing the Tanach will help you understand what the “New Testament” writers are trying to communicate. Much of the “New Testament” is either directly quoting it or at least referencing it. Once you are aware of that you begin to see that the Tanach is quoted, referenced, and inferred all through the “New Testament” even if you don’t recognize it.
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