Why do we have the Old Testament? Is it important, or is it simply a collection of books to help us better understand Jesus and the work he has done?
I am currently going through the book of Revelations… slowly. That is actually an exaggeration. I started going through the book of Revelations and writing down notes (which I am now putting up as blogs) since about last October. I reached Revelation 12 two days ago.
While reading the book of Revelations, I am absolutely amazed at how often John is quoting the Old Testament. Sometimes it isn’t so much that he quotes it, but he uses some sort of allusion or symbolism found in the Old Testament. This got me thinking. Why does John find the Old Testament to be so significant? Why is it that the bulk majority of what he says actually stems from the Old Testament? If this is the New Testament, and it is new revelation, why doesn’t John just explain to us his vision with symbolic language that would be ‘new’? Why use so much of the Old Testament to explain what he is seeing?
The answer to that is profound. You see, there is a testimony in the Bible from Genesis 1-2 all the way to Revelation 21-22. It speaks of a progression. We move from the Garden of Eden unto the New Jerusalem. The language is similar in these four chapters. Yet, in Genesis 3, we find sin enters. Now, God is working toward bringing us back unto Eden, but at the same time, unto Zion. There is a progression in the story. We find from that first instance, God speaks of two seeds – the seed of the woman and the seed of Satan (Gen 3:15). The seed of the woman is found in Abel, while the seed of Satan in Cain. Abel is killed, and God grants the woman Seth to replace Abel (Gen 4:25). From this point onward we see the parallel of ‘twos’. There are the daughters of Cain and the sons of God. There are is Ham, who was cursed by Noah, and Shem, who Noah blesses his God (Gen 9:15-17).
There is all nations making the tower at Babel – later to be known as Babylon (the Hebrew for Babylon is Shinar, which is the plain unto which the nations came) – then there is Abraham, who God calls out of all nations to make a nation. Here the plot thickens. Now we’re not dealing with individuals, but entire nations. From there we see Ishmael contrasted with Isaac. Jacob is contrasted with Esau. Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, which later becomes the nation. We see the two seeds at work throughout the whole of the book of Genesis.
Israel, in the Old Testament, is the seed of the woman who is to bring all peoples back unto Eden. Now, the progression of the story develops further. In Exodus 4:22, we read that Israel is God’s “firstborn son”. In Exodus 19:6, we read that Israel is to be the priestly nation unto all other nations. This is their call. Then, when we come to Exodus 32:9-10, the focus shifts slightly. God says he will destroy Israel and make Moses into a great nation. Why? Moses is the deliverer. He is the figurehead of the seed of the woman. He is the man bringing Israel into the Promised Land. This is important. Israel is the seed corporately, but there is one man (at this time Moses) who is considered to be the deliverer.
We progress further in the story. There is a man named David. He is introduced in 1 Samuel 16. He is the youngest of all his brothers (another pattern we see through Scripture), and God anoints him as king over all Israel. The very next chapter we have David fighting Goliath. Why? David is being pictured here as the deliverer. Notice Goliath’s measurements. He is six cubits and a span tall (first 6). He has six pieces of armor on (second 6). His spearhead weighs six hundred shekels (third six). This man is being likened to the devil. He is 666. David takes him down. What is the author saying with this? David is the deliverer. David is being heralded as the man to bring all of humanity back unto Eden – and yet also progress further because he conquers Jerusalem and Zion, the Holy City and the place of the Temple of our God.
Yet, we find in 1 Kings 10:14 that Solomon (David’s son) has an annual income of 666 talents of gold. Why? The author is showing that even though David was considered the deliverer, and the messianic hope was found in him, his son was not the fulfillment of that messianic hope. We look for a future messiah.
Jump forward to Jesus. I hope your still tracking with me. We consider Jesus to be the Messiah. He is the deliverer to take us back unto Eden-like conditions, and at the same time to bring us unto Zion. Look at Hebrews 12:22-24, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
What is being said here? Who is this “church” – because up to now we’ve only seen Israel. Okay, just like with Moses we saw that we have a figurehead and the nation as well, in Christ we have the figurehead – Jesus is the seed of the woman – and the corporate seed (the church). What is the church? Notice Acts 7:38, “He was with the church in the desert…”
Wait a second… The church in the desert? At Sinai? Yes! Because the church is not a New Testament phenomenon! The Church is the corporate seed of the woman. You see, what in times past was simply defined by Israel – that is, the believing remnant (that 7000 that had not bowed the knee to Baal) – in our times is defined by the Church. However, there is something critical to note here. God has never been satisfied with the corporate display through a remnant. The plain and simple reading of all of the Old Testament would be that God desires a full demonstration through the entire nation of Israel. So, while the church in the Old Testament represents the believing remnant, which like Saul had been converted (see 1 Samuel 10:6 and compare it to 2 Corinthians 5:17), God was still insistent upon all of Abraham’s descendants being His priestly nation unto the nations.
What I’ve been seeing more than ever before is God’s intense jealousy over that nation. We, by and large in Christianity, have neglected the Jewish people. We have taken their promises, we have claimed rights to their inheritance, and we have left them without anything. That is not the heart of God. Paul even says that God’s gifts and callings are irrevocable (Rom 11:29, but see the whole context from 25-32). There is a prophetic destiny for that people – all Israel shall be saved. To sidestep this is to neglect the whole of Scripture.
So, when we take the purposes of God out of the Bible, we are left to interpret Scripture however we please. This is what I’m desiring to contend for today. We will translate the woman in the wilderness as whatever we want, the harlot as Roman Catholics, the Antichrist as the Pope, and all sorts of other ridiculous notions. Why are they ridiculous? They pull the purposes of God for Israel entirely out of the message. This is through and through.
Jesus is the deliverer – the Messiah to take us back unto Eden and unto Zion – however there is a corporate seed that is to display as a priestly nation unto all nations the manifest wisdom of God. That corporate display cannot be limited to the Church – as if you can separate the Church from Israel to begin with. We’ve been grafted into their roots, not to replace them, but to drive them to jealousy. God is zealous for that nation, and the extent to which we are not also zealous we are outside of Christ.
The majority of misinterpretation that I ever have to deal with boils down to this one issue. Because we have not understood God’s heart toward the Jew, we have not understood God. Christ apart from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not Jesus. It is a false Gospel. The redemption of all humanity hinges upon all Israel being saved, and we don’t even realize that there is more to salvation than believing in Jesus. We don’t even realize there is the issue of nations involved, and the issue of redemption unto the nations. We don’t see that there are cosmic purposes, that the very heavenly beings are also affected, and that at the return of Christ there absolutely must be a 1000 year reign where Israel continues in covenant faithfulness. We don’t know, because we have rejected the Old Testament as having anything to do with today.
All modern heresy comes from this. When you neglect the Jew, you neglect God Himself. To take Israel out of the picture is to leave the whole Bible up for grabs as far as interpretation goes. Whoever has any kind of impression about any verse is correct, because all is relative. The point is no longer to get back to what the prophets or apostles were trying to teach, but simply trying to figure out what the Bible affirms and doesn’t affirm. You can’t separate Paul’s words from his theology. You can’t separate Jesus’ words from his theology. You can’t separate Isaiah’s words from his actual perception of a restored Israel. You take their actual beliefs away from the words, and you no longer have prophetic or apostolic words. They are only lines upon the page that are up for debate.
This is the sweep of Scripture. This is what we need to come back to. We need to establish again the ancient stones. This year is the beginning of the year of Jubilee, and I believe that God is asking who is willing to restore the ancient ruins. Who is willing to plumb the depths to rediscover what Moses was trying to convey, and the prophets building upon Moses, and the apostles upon the prophets? Our inheritance, and the regaining of that inheritance, is based upon those ancient roots. That is what we seek to restore, and not merely more cohesive understanding. That is what the book of Acts is: the incredible life that was transmitted through a Body that was restored unto their ancient roots. Acts is like a giant Jubilee. Will you join me in restoring those ancient roots again?