There are two golden rules for reading scripture.
The first is to get as close to the mind of the writer as you can, the second to get as close to the understanding of the original reader as you can. In other words, it is about getting into the right time and the right place. Without these considerations you can guarantee to introduce error.
The amazing thing about Scripture is how the Old-Testament was so full of predictions that came true in such fine detail. To accomplish that, meant the subject of those prophecies had to be in the right time and right place.
As the story of the New-Testament unfolds, we begin to see the hand of a Creator God, who has ordained a purpose and destiny for all history. The strangest thing to understand is why that purpose for all human-beings and all time, pivots on one event and one time, namely the cross and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
This New-Testament survey tries to help unlock this mystery.
We cannot just simply move from the Old-Testament to the New without setting the scene of transition.
There are two golden rules for reading scripture. The first is to get as close to the mind of the writer as you can, the second to get as close to the understanding of the original reader as you can. In other words, it is about getting into the right time and the right place. Without these considerations you can guarantee to introduce error. The New-Testament fulfils what the Old-Testament predicted. It puts its seal of approval on all that was anticipated. The Old-Testament has made it clear that, although the promise was sufficient to save from the beginning of time, the means of salvation needed be implemented at a certain point of time in history. Confidence in, and compliance with God are all He needs to deliver Salvation from the time of Adam through to the final Judgement day. Anyone can receive salvation and eternal life by a life of faith and obedience to God the creator. However:
When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
So, understanding events leading up to that moment in time, is essential for understanding the teachings Jesus gave, and why He taught them. Without that, we are bound to adapt these books into our time and our place.
The New-Testament focuses in on the means of salvation. It tells us, the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, is the means by which all people might be saved. God never promised anything without providing the means of fulfilment. We may not like that means, we may not understand that means, but be sure, it will be the only means. The Old-Testament is a historical record of how God kept His promises safe. The New-Testament records show the means God chose to deliver those promises. Many have rejected God’s means, and many have accepted it. Either way, the promise was sufficient to make salvation active from the time of Adam onward.
The Church can be misled by calling the gap between the Old-Testament and the New, ‘four-hundred-years of silence’. What that implies is, nothing much went on in those years that is relevant to our modern Bible. When the Puritans and Reformers cut the apocryphal books and the book of Maccabees from between its covers, we were forced to look either look outside of scripture, or assume nothing in that period was relevant to God’s Plan. This in turn gave a green light to later individuals who would have happily cut James and Revelation from Scripture which, according to their opinion, was not up to standard.
When God is silent, He is waiting for time to catch up. God is not changing direction, God is compacting. He is laying down a cement base on which He will build the next step. When the Church arrives in the New-Testament, it comes complete with a canon of scripture recording the concrete foundation of its mission. But it also came with a bundle of other writings to expound or explain. The ‘Apocryphal’ books, Enoch, Baruch, Mishna, Talmud and other ‘Oral Laws’, were all part and parcel in the Synagogues and often read in place of the sermon, (though always in addition to scripture).
As we left the Old-Testament, Ezra and his team of seventy Priests were busy writing out these writings in preparation for when there would be no more national prophets to lead the way through those four hundred years. Instead, the baton must be handed over to priests, armed with the scriptures, and other writings to encourage the people until Messiah comes. Messiah would release the means by which everyone will have the scriptures written into their heart. Looking back, we can see that right on time, immediately before Messiah, another prophet like Elijah4 roamed the desert calling for repentance.
Daniel and the prophets had told us what God intended to do during the so called, ‘four-hundred-years of silence’.
We make a mistake if we think that everything God does is written in our scriptures.