Old vs. New

I’m reading a book about Joseph by Voddie Baucham.

He makes the point that we cannot truly understand the Old Testament unless we study it through the lens of the New Testament, the redemptive work of Jesus. The Old Testament is not just a bunch of stories to teach us good morals; the entire Word of God points to Jesus. We must study/teach the entire Bible with Christ as the center. 

The Old Testament points to the redemptive Jesus, salvation which available to Jews and Gentiles alike. Jesus is there from the beginning. We must keep this in mind when reading the Old Testament. 

This is a very different perspective from what I once heard in a Bible study. We were told that to understand the New Testament we must understand the Jewish feasts like Passover and Hanukkah. We should participate in them if possible. We need to go to Israel if we can or at least study all about the Holy Land to understand the New Testament. As if the New Testament is simply the fulfillment of the Old Testament and the Old is what’s really important. (By the way, Hanukkah is not a feast commanded by God.)

Yes, it would be wonderful to go to Israel. And I’ve enjoyed spending a Friday evening meal with our orthodox friends. Learning about some of the cultural customs does shed light on the Old Testament. 

But…

Should we read the New Testament primarily looking for ways it lines up with the Law and Prophets in order that we may live according the Law? Or do we study the Law and prophets to more clearly under who Jesus is and what He did for us? 

As a Gentile must I obey the Law and observe the many feasts in order to truly know God and understand His Word? Must I follow the Law and observe feasts to understand the gospels and epistles? Is it true that I cannot really understand the Bible without experiencing Jewish traditions? 

Do we study the New through the lens of the Old, through a Hebrew lens? 

To know Jesus must I know and even obey the Law? Or was the Law put in place as a tutor until the Messiah had come? 

Isn’t the whole Book about Jesus and His saving grace? Isn’t salvation a gift from God available to all who are called?

Must I go on a pilgrimage to Israel to understand the New Testament? Must I watch videos about the topography and traditions or study commentaries about the culture of the Middle East in ancient times to understand the New Testament? Must I immerse myself in Jewish tradition to be a Christian?

Again, I’d love to go to Israel. But the Word never requires Christians to obey the Law, be circumcised, make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or observe the feasts. In fact, the book of Galatians addresses this very thing! 

As a child of God, I have the Word of God available to me and the Holy Spirit in me to teach me.

As a Gentile believer I am a joint heir with Israel. I am an adopted son of Abraham. I am an heir of Abraham. Abraham received the promise by faith not the Law. 

As an example…Our sons and daughters are joint heirs of Ron. If we adopted another child he would be joint heir with our sons and daughters; he would not be their heir nor would he have to conform to their customs and history to become our child. Hearing stories of our family history would be beneficial, but the legal adoption because of our love for him is what makes him our heir. And he can know us as his parents without having gone through everything our firstborn went through. 

To become a child of God I must confess and believe that Jesus is Lord. I repent of my sin and accept the free gift of salvation – eternal life and adoption as a child of God. 

Out of my salvation will flow good works – I will abide in Him and He in me and I will obey the commandments to love God and love my neighbor. Flawed though I am, my desire will be to know Jesus Christ and the One who sent Him. This is eternal life.

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