The short answer…YOU. Probably more than you realize.
Just like man cannot live on bread alone, Christians seeking to know the LORD cannot live on the New Testament alone. “Man does not live on bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that comes from the mouth of God.” And how convenient is it then that, to my point, Jesus, here in Matthew 4:4, actually quotes the Old Testament scripture Deuteronomy 8:3. Living under New Covenant Grace, the promise of salvation through faith in Christ, something that is often overlooked by Christians is that Christ’s Church does not stand without the building blocks of the Old Testament. Together, we believers are His house, built on the foundation interlocking the apostles (New Testament), and the prophets (Old Testament). And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. (Ephesians 2:20)
Not convinced yet? The New Testament contains 352 direct quotations, 613 allusions, and 4,105 passages reminiscent of Old Testament scripture. More than 10% of the New Testament is made up of Old Testament Scripture. (bible-researcher.com) This is all the more impressive when one considers that copies of the Old Testament were scarce at this time, and the majority of the New Testament teachings, those predominantly quoting the Old Testament, come from a walking rabbi, a man writing letters from prison, and a man exiled to live alone in an island cave. Of course we know all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16) so it should make sense that it is cohesive.
For what it’s worth, I will add there are 0 New Testament references to the Inter-testament Apocrypha which claims itself not to be the inspired Word of God, but remains in the Catholic Bible.
So why can’t we just stick to the New Testament if it already contains the important parts of the Old Testament? Let’s be straight…the New Testament references the Old Testament, it does not tell the story, nor capture the message of the Old Testament on its own. I’d go so far as to say that the New Testament references the Old Testament so frequently that it is not possible to fully interpret or capture the real depth of what is being said in the New Testament without knowing the citations being referenced. Not knowing the context surrounding these quotations removes a great deal of the vitality from the points being made in the New Testament scripture. Further, by not reading the Old Testament we cannot truly grasp the bigger picture at work in the Bible…the upper story…God’s plan for man playing out from Genesis to Revelation. When we understand the relationship rightly between the Old and New Testaments we see that God is unchanging. He is a God of love, working a master-plan through a contiguous series of covenants each building on the previous…executing a flawless and cohesive blueprint to develop a remnant of glorified people with which to share eternity….all for His pleasure and His glory.
The general principles at the heart of each of the covenants apply to all God’s elect, those living both before and after Christ, and Christ is the focal point of the plan that is God’s redemption story. The ancient Israelites, and all Old Testament scripture, point forward in time alluding directly to Jesus Christ. Examples: Moses is symbolically tied to Jesus in such a wealth of ways it requires another post (see Moses points to Jesus post below). The Passover lamb is an allusion to Jesus as both were sacrificed during Passover (Easter) for atonement for sin. The Israelites applied the blood of the Passover lamb to the door frames of their homes, and in so doing received protection against the angel of death. 40 years later, Rahab the prostitute, a gentile from Jericho who expressed faith in the God of Israel and aided the Jews in the planning of their conquest of her city, was symbolically given a scarlet cord to hang from the window frame of her home so that her family would be passed over as the Jews slayed every man, woman, and child of Jericho. This was symbolic of the lambs blood at Passover, and both Rahab’s chord and the blood of the pass over lamb allude to the blood of the sacrificed Christ that God uses to paint the door frames of each believer’s heart to protect us from eternal death.
Another wonderful allegory of the Old Testament is the story of David and Goliath. In this story we are not, as many wrongly fantasize, David standing up to our fears and oppressors defeating Goliath…No, in this story, David is not you or I, but he is Jesus, the meek and humble shepherd. Goliath is Satan. And you and I? We are the nation of Israel, scared, frightened, facing imminent death at the hands of our enemy. No match for Goliath, no match for the devil, but then, saved by our unassuming King. The Old Testament is full of these allegorical allusions. Just read the story of Abraham, who at the LORD’s instruction, goes to sacrifice his son, believing the LORD has the power to raise his son from death. (Hebrews 11:19) Upon his acting in faith, an angel stops Abraham, at which point Abraham does, in a way, receive his son back from death. The many parallel events and prophecies of the Old Testament specifically demonstrate the hand of God at work in every event, and indicate there is a savior coming.
So, I’ve established the Old Testament’s tie to Christ. Now also see that conversely, New Covenant Age Christians point back to the old covenants. The LORD, the God of Abraham, has brought us into the Abrahamic Covenant, into His spiritual family. We are now the spiritual children of Abraham. The people God promised would be as many as sands of the sea who would worship Him. Despite the old covenants being made specifically with the Israelites, the Gentiles have been grafted into the church of God’s elect…the spiritual nation of Israel, which contains both the pre-Christ Jews and the Christians after Christ (Romans 11).
In the Old Testament, Moses was given the Mosaic Covenant…The Law. He was also given very specific instruction for building a Tabernacle where sacrifices would be made and where God would reside amongst His people. Hebrews 8:5 tells us specifically that the instructions for the Tabernacle and the furniture within it are a shadow of the things of heaven. Also, in the same way the LORD gave Moses The Law and appointed High Priests to offer gifts and sacrifices to atone for the peoples’ sin. This too was a shadow of the heavenly law, and the way sin is handled by God. In the New Testament, when Jesus came, His ministry professed the true Heavenly Law, and Jesus became God’s heavenly sacrifice on the altar. In sacrificing His son, God created a New Covenant, the New Testament, in which He now impresses the knowledge of Himself and His laws onto the hearts and minds of His chosen people (by way of the Holy Spirit). In Romans chapters 9 and 10 the Apostle Paul tells us that just as God elected his chosen people in the Old Testament, in order that His purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls, God calls his elect to follow Christ. And by the sacrifice of Christ, His heavenly lamb, all sins past, present, and future are forgiven. By impressing His laws on our hearts and minds, the regenerated Christian’s heart bears the fruits of The Spirit. And while we are still sinful and repentant people, undergoing a progressive process of sanctification, the intent of our hearts is always to keep Christ’s Commands, and Christ’s Commands adhere to, and further go beyond, the principle intent of the Mosaic Law and the 10 Commandments given to the Israelites.
Hopefully this has helped you see that both the Old and New Testaments depend heavily on each other to make one complete faith…a work of many parts that all point directly to Christ. When we follow the common thread woven through the Old and New Testament we see God’s word sewn together in one cohesive plan, unfolding exactly as it was developed from the creation of the world. God has always chosen and granted salvation to His elect, and has always punished the wicked. The names of God’s chosen were always written in the book of life, and the lamb was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8) because God knew the end from the beginning. We see God is every bit the omnipotent, all sovereign, powerful and eternal God that His Word says he is. It becomes undeniably clear He knew each event from the start. He devised a perfect and complete plan, and then breathed the entire plan through the pens of many hands. Thus He has given us a masterfully developed book by which anyone who inquires with all their heart will receive the answers they seek (Jeremiah 29:13). So don’t neglect the Old Testament…we can never fully know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve come from.
By: Chad W. Hussey