God’s “Great Reveal” is often divided into two separate parts –
- Old Testament
- New Testament
That division is unfortunate in one way because many people think of God’s Reveal as being divided. Some people who believe the Old Testament is God’s Word don’t believe the New Testament is God’s Word. They believe God’s Reveal began and ended with the Old Testament. Some people believe the ‘God’ of the Old Testament is different than the ‘God’ of the New Testament. They believe God’s Reveal began and ended with the New Testament. Some people believe God’s Reveal goes from the Old Testament to the New Testament and back to the Old Testament.
Are any of those beliefs true?
I don’t think so – and here’s why.
As we have seen in previous studies, Jesus of Nazareth is the Seed of David, the Branch of David, and the Root of Jesse. Those are prophetic terms from the Old Testament that were realized in Jesus of Nazareth in the New Testament. Jesus was quick after His resurrection to point His disciples to the fulfillment of those prophecies.
Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! ‘Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.Luke 24:25-27
Notice that Jesus began “at Moses and all the Prophets.” That covers the entirety of what we know as the Old Testament. When we see the word Scripture in New Testament writings, it refers to Old Testament writings. That’s because the New Testament writings were still being written by the apostles. They referred to the writings of Moses and the Prophets as Scripture. Interestingly, the Apostle Peter identified the writings of the Apostle Paul as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:16. That demonstrates how quickly 1st century Christians were understanding that God was revealing His Word to the apostles of Christ as Scripture in the same way they viewed Moses and the Prophets.
Jesus spoke to two disciples on the road to Emmaus on the same day He rose from the dead. After Jesus left them the disciples said – “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32) They rose up that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven disciples who were gathered together and told them that Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to Simon. The two disciples went on to rehearse for the others what had happened on the road and what Jesus had said to them while they were eating together.
As they were talking Jesus appeared to all of them and said “Peace to you.” (Luke 24:36) The disciples were terrified and frightened thinking they had seen a spirit (ghost). Here’s how Jesus handled the situation. Notice carefully what He told His disciples about how He was not a ghost and how the Scriptures (our Old Testament) were about Him –
Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, ‘Have you any food here?’ So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence. Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.Luke 24:38-49
Jesus Christ is the central Figure of the Old and New Testaments. In reality, the Bible is one Story – one Great Reveal from God. The Old Testament looks forward to the New and the New looks forward to the End and the New Beginning.
We don’t choose to believe one part of the Bible or the other. We also don’t retreat from the New back to the Old. We move forward as God so clearly does in His Word to the end game – His purpose for everything.
The Bible is ‘one message.’ It is about Jesus Christ accomplishing His Father’s purpose – “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
How would Jesus “destroy the works of the devil”? Through His death and resurrection which God “foreordained before the foundation of the world” and “promised before time began” –
And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:17-21
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:8-10
Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior. Titus 1:1-3
God ‘raised’ Jesus from the dead and gave Him ‘glory.’ God has ‘saved’ and ‘called’ us with a holy calling, not according to ‘our works,’ but according to His own ‘purpose’ and ‘grace’ which He gave to us in Christ Jesus ‘before time began.’ That was God’s eternal plan which has now been revealed to us by the ‘appearing’ of our Savior Jesus Christ, who ‘abolished death’ and ‘brought life and immortality to light’ through the Gospel.
Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through His death and resurrection, which is the Gospel –
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Jesus made very clear from what He told His disciples before and after He rose from the grave.
Before the Resurrection
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Matthew 16:21
And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Mark 8:31-32
After the Resurrection
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.Luke 24:27
Jesus’ disciples learned directly from Jesus how the Scriptures (our Old Testament) pointed to Jesus coming to die and rise. Here are two examples from the early preaching of the Apostle Peter –
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him: ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence. Acts 2:22-28
Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. 1So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. ‘Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities. Acts 3:11-26
God used Peter to preach the Gospel to the first Gentiles and he referenced how “all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)
Another good example is Stephen’s speech just before he was martyred. Stephen, one of the first deacons in the Jerusalem church, made his case concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus directly from Old Testament Scripture.
As we watch the Apostle Paul travel to various cities in the Roman Empire, we see him speak in Jewish synagogues and reference the Old Testament to point to Jesus as the promised Messiah of Israel (e.g. Acts 13:13-41; 17:1-4, 10-12; 19:8-9)
Jesus fulfilling ‘Old Testament’ Scriptures played a pivotal role in the growth of 1st century Christianity, as we will see when our series on The Great Reveal continues.
[You can read more about the story of the Branch of David in our book A History of Man’s Quest for Immorality.]
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.