Between the Old and New

Has anyone else ever been troubled when thinking about the continuity of the Old and New Testaments? I've grown up with a solid exposure to the story of Scripture between Genesis and Revelation, but I have often been troubled when thinking about how the events of the Old Testament, or God's actions and promises, coalesce with the life of Jesus that I read about in the New Testament.

You hear a message about Samson or Jonah or Joseph and it's all good and has great "takeaways" for Godly living, but how does it relate? What's the underlying story and purpose? Jesus was a Jew and his life and culture were wrapped in Jewish history - the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Exodus and King David and the Temple and the Exile and the Return, but everytime I read from the pages of the Old Testament, my mind wanders to Jesus: how does this all fit together? Are God's actions and character consistent from the dawn of time in Eden up through the Incarnation of Christ and up to today? I believe so, but they are still tough questions.

The more I read Scripture, the more I want to understand how the stage was set for the arrival of Christ on planet Earth. Using N.T. Wright's analogy, I want to understand the acts of the play that preceded the act when Jesus walked the earth and how those acts shape the act in which we live today, before the arrival of the final act when Jesus will reign eternally over his kingdom in the new heaven and earth.

As I've been thinking more about these things, I picked up the book Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament by Christopher Wright. While reading today, I found the following thoughts to be particularly profound.

"For Paul, the very Gospel itself began, not just with Jesus, but with Abraham. For what, after all, was the Good News? Nothing other than God's commitment to bring blessing to all nations of humanity, as announced to Abraham.

The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the Gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you.' Galatians 3:8
...

"Salvation is, and always was, a matter of God's grace and promise. The idea that the difference between the Old and New Testaments is that in the Old salvation is by the law whereas in the New it is by grace, sets up a totally false contrast. In the Old as in the new, it is God who takes the initiative of grace and calls people to faith and obedient response. In the book of Exodus, eighteen chapters describing God's might act of redemption, in fulfillment of his own love and promise, come before the giving of the law..."

For the longest time, I think I've somehow constructed the image in my mind that there lies some mysterious waters of confusion between the Old and New Testaments. But I am beginning to see that the only thing between them is God's unchanging grace and fulfilled promises. The picture is beginning to look more and more like a continuous landscape, rather than two separate land masses, bridged only by some superficial knowledge of how Jesus is God. Jesus is God, but Jesus was there in the beginning and when God promised to Abraham that he would bless all nations through his lineage, he set in motion the story that is for all people, not just Jews.

1 comment:

The Miz or Hads if you prefer said...

I have this book because it was a textbook. It has some good things to say for sure as it gives direction for figuring out the continuity between the testaments.