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Reading the Old Testament Through the New

Posted Mar 10, 2017 by Adrian Ebens in Character of God
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The thought that God would actually keep His own commandments and not kill anyone as the commandments state while being extremely logical presents several problems to readers of the Bible. People approach many of the stories of the Old Testament like approaching the law of God without the mercy seat. The reference is made to plain statements such as these:

Gen 6:7  And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth;...

Exo 12:29  And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt...

Num 11:1  And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

Exo 32:27  And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. 

Deu 32:39  See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. 

Isa 37:36  Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand:

These are just some of the many statements that are claimed to prove that God does Himself use force to take the life of His creatures that rebel against Him. Those who claim to be presenting the Third Angels message profess study the Bible upon the same plan the Father Miller adopted. This means to take all that the Bible has to say on a subject and bring it together and follow the truth that harmonises all the passages together.

What do we make of these plain statements?

Luke 9:56  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.

John 14:9  Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?  

Mat 5:44  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 

1 Pet 2:21-23  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:  (22)  Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:  (23)  Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

It is evident that when Jesus was on earth that He never killed anybody. He demonstrated the law perfectly in the actions and teachings of His life on earth. The life of Jesus on earth is a very plain statement concerning the character of God. Notice what Jesus said:

John 17:4  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 

John 17:6  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: 

The name of God is His character. The Glory of God is also His character as expressed in Jer 9:24

Jer 9:24  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. 

Jesus manifested the character of His Father while on earth as is plainly stated in John 17:4,6

 Looking upon His disciples with divine love and with the tenderest sympathy, Christ said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.” Judas had left the upper chamber, and Christ was alone with the eleven. He was about to speak of His approaching separation from them; but before doing this He pointed to the great object of His mission. It was this that He kept ever before Him. It was His joy that all His humiliation and suffering would glorify the Father’s name. To this He first directs the thoughts of His disciples. – {DA 662.1}

Christ exalted the character of God, attributing to him the praise, and giving to him the credit, of the whole purpose of his own mission on earth,—to set men right through the revelation of God. In Christ was arrayed before men the paternal grace and the matchless perfections of the Father. In his prayer just before his crucifixion, he declared, “I have manifested thy name.” “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” When the object of his mission was attained,—the revelation of God to the world,—the Son of God announced that his work was accomplished, and that the character of the Father was made manifest to men. {ST January 20, 1890, par. 9}

In seeing the life of Jesus one might be led to exclaim that this picture is different to the picture of God in the Old Testament. But the Apostle John assures us that this is not the case.

1Jn 2:7-8  Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.  (8)  Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

The picture of God in the Old Testament is part of the Old Commandment which was from the beginning and does not change. At the same time John tells us that He is indeed writing a new commandment unto us that is true in the revelation of Jesus Christ and causes the darkness to pass away regarding the character of God. Does John contradict himself by saying the commandment is not new and at the same time saying it is new using the same Greek word? Not at all. He is saying that the life of Christ revealed on earth lights up the Old Testament Scriptures and allows us to read them clearly.

Rom 16:25-26  Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,  (26)  But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

The preaching of Jesus Christ is the preaching of the Father because Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the Father. This revelation of the mystery in the preaching of Christ is making manifest the character of the Father in according with the Old Testament Scriptures and Prophets. The life of Jesus opens to us the treasures of the Old Testament. In the face of Jesus Christ, the Old Testament releases its treasure more fully to us. 

As Jesus is the way to the Father so the New Testament is the way to the Old. This is a critical point to consider.

As they see the Christ of the gospel dispensation portrayed in the pages of the Old Testament Scriptures, and perceive how clearly the New Testament explains the Old, their slumbering faculties will be aroused, and they will recognize Christ as the Saviour of the world. Many will by faith receive Christ as their Redeemer. AA 381

From our stand point in history to seek to read the Old Testament outside of the revelation of the New Testament is seeking to approach the Father outside of Christ. This will lead to death. The New Testament gives us the clarity to look into the Old Testament even as the mercy seat gives us the protection we need when approaching the Law of God.  

Just as seeking to make the Father and Son the one and the same God destroys the individuality and personality of both so seeking to blend the Old and the New Testament as the same entity will destroy for us the Divine Pattern of the Scriptures and lead to death. 

Those living in the Old Testament had the ability to know Christ as revealed in the Jewish economy and yet still the character of the Father was hidden to most people because they did not comprehend the meaning of the symbols employed.

No man can rightly present the law of God without the gospel, or the gospel without the law. The law is the gospel embodied, and the gospel is the law unfolded. The law is the root, the gospel is the fragrant blossom and fruit which it bears.  {COL 128.2} 

The New Testament is not a new religion, and the Old Testament is not an old religion to be superseded by the New. The New Testament is only the advancement and unfolding of the Old. CTr 63.2

This advancement and unfolding of the Old Testament gives us the key to read the Old Testament correctly and to know the character of the Father. If you seek to explain the Old Testament without the gospel it cannot be rightly presented. 

Those who read what they understand to be plain statements in the Old Testament outside of the revelation of the life of Christ are ignoring the illumination that the New Testament brings to these stories. They read Moses with a veil over their eyes because they do not read it in the light of the glory of Jesus Christ and His gospel.

The efficiency of the cross guards the redeemed race from the danger of a second fall. The life and death of Christ effectually unveils the deceptions of Satan, and refutes his claims. The sacrifice of Christ for a fallen world draws not only men, but angels unto Him [in] bonds of indissoluble union. Through the plan of salvation the justice and mercy of God are fully vindicated, and to all eternity rebellion will never again arise, affliction never again touch the universe of God.—The Messenger, June 7, 1893. {TA 296.2

Without reference to the life and death of Christ when reading the Old Testament, it is not possible to fully unmask the deceptions of Satan. Will you read the Old Testament with the mediation of the New or will you read it directly without such mediation and seek to impose a perception of the Old upon the New?

Many of the answers to the texts we have listed above from the Old Testament have been addressed in several booklets on this website.

I pray you will read the Bible in the face of Jesus Christ and the full light of truth that a complete harmony can exist between the Old and New Testament.