I have occasionally heard Christians tell me that they only ever read the New Testament, whenever it was that they read the Bible at all. I guess, for fortunately I cannot recall their reasoning, that it is something attune to the New Testament only being all about the New Covenant and Jesus, and after all, we’re not Jewish!
Restricting ourselves to only rereading the New Testament, or indeed omitting to read any of the Holy Bible, will leave us with an unbalanced and incomplete view of God and our relationship with Him, as viewed both from His side, and ours.
The Old Testament has for example, over 300 prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the majority apparently, being fulfilled by His birth (see Josh McDowell‘s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” and website Ref-A). It seems reasonable then, to study Jesus, we need to delve into the Old Testament in order to fully hear what the inspired Word of God says about His son.
Secondly, as Jack Miles so eloquently says in his book “Christ – a Crisis in the Life of God” page 65, “The New Testament is like a skin on every square inch of which the Old Testament is tattooed. The Gospel writers, in particular, cannot move a muscle without bringing some portion of the Hebrew scripture into view.”
Other writer have likened proper reading of the New Testament only under the light cast from an Old Testament Stained Glass window, or to reading the New Testament while wearing Old Testament spectacles. If we don’t, we miss so very much.
As one simple example of this, I have entitled this article, The 10 Reasons Jesus was Anointed. To find them in the Bible, we need to go back to the Old Testament Book of the Prophet Isaiah, who probably wrote around the years 700-681 B.C. As Isaiah 61:1-3 says:
“The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to preach the acceptable year of Jehovah and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness; so that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified.”
Here Isaiah is talking about the Messiah, in Hebrew the מָשִׁיחַ, the “anointed one” of God.
The 10 reasons for the Anointing of the Messiah, for the anointing of Jesus, which Isaiah lists above are:
- To preach good tidings to the meek,
- To bind up [heal] the broken-hearted,
- To proclaim liberty to the captives,
- To open the prison to those who are bound,
- To proclaim the acceptable year of God,
- To proclaim the day of vengeance of God,
- To comfort all who mourn,
- To anoint those who mourn in Zion and give them beauty for ashes,
- To give oil of joy for mourning,
- To give them garments of praise for the spirits of heaviness (depression).
How important are these three short verses for us Christians?
Well, to start with, Jesus quoted these words in Luke 4:18-19, saying
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me; because of this He has anointed Me to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and new sight to the blind, to set at liberty those having been crushed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
As Jesus read to the people in the synagogue, he stopped in the middle of Isaiah 61:2 after the words, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (MJKV) or “the time of the LORD’s favour has come” (NIV) and, rolling up the scroll, he said, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:21). The next phrase in Isaiah 61:2, “and the day of vengeance of our God,” will come true when Jesus returns to earth again. Yes, we are now under God’s favour; his wrath is yet to come.
Clearly there is Gospel “meat” in the Old Testament! Even Jesus used it!
Thus, when Jesus proclaimed the “acceptable year of the Lord”, He was declaring a time during which it pleased God to show his good favour to mankind. Paul, in Galatians 4:4-5 calls this the “fullness of time.” Compare this to the “the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn,” when God delivers his Church, and He punishes His enemies.
Looking at it in another way, Jesus was filled with the Spirit of God the Father for four functions which every Christian is also asked to perform:
- To anoint,
- To preach,
- To Bind,
- To proclaim.
Many books have been written which cover the great depth of teachings which can be drawn from this portion of scripture, however the purpose of this article was to show that knowledge of The Old Testament is both necessary relevant for Christians today, and that we can still learn from the whole of the Holy Bible. After all, as Paul says in Second Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work.” Not some, not selected, but “ALL“!