THE OLD TESTAMENT; The Law and the Prophets. (A little bit of Bible Exegesis).
- Pastor Bankie
What is really the Old Testament of the Bible?
Conventionally we refer to the portion of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi as the Old Testament. That expression is supposed to be just a reference name, but we have unconsciously carried the name into the literal sphere and treated that portion of the Bible as if it is old. We often hear statements from teachers of the word (very common in the Word of Faith movement), that the New Testament was written to the church and the Old Testament to Israel, and that a Christian should therefore spend more time reading the New Testament than the Old. But this is not quite accurate.
The problem is that we seem to have confused the conventional name Old Testament with the covenant of Sinai between God and the nation of Israel, rightfully called the Old Testament or Covenant, which the Bible indeed says has passed away.
When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Heb 8:13
The covenant referred to here in the book of Hebrews is the one mediated by Moses, which God made with the nation of Israel. It was the one which had the laws of the covenant (the Ten Commandments being the main ones) and which had the levitical priesthood. This covenant is indeed the old one and it passed away with the death of Christ Jesus upon that cross. The veil was torn that day (Mk 15:38) to mark the fact that the presence of God no longer dwelt in the physical Holiest Place of the temple in Jerusalem. The old was indeed giving way to the new.
The portion of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi does not all belong under that Old Covenant, even though all the records about the dealings of God with Israel are there. When what it truly represents is considered, the proper name for that portion of the Bible is actually “The Law and The Prophets” (sometimes, ‘and the Psalms’ is added for emphasis).
"Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matt 7:12
"…he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God, and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, *from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets*…" Acts 28:23
This name, The Law and The Prophets, is very apt and definitely much better than Old Testament because it allows the mind to realize that it is very relevant today. We must never forget that that was all Paul, Peter, John, all the early church, and indeed the Lord Jesus Himself had to read as the Scriptures. What we call the New Testament now were historical accounts, and letters and sermons based upon the Law and the Prophets, which were sent to the churches. The authority of the New Testament is based upon the fact that the men were reporting the words of our Lord Jesus and reporting His revelations given after His resurrection (like Paul and John).
Why am I writing this? I think we miss out a lot when we do not properly discern the importance of the Law and the Prophets just because we erroneously believe that it is an old document written to the nation of Israel and which may not be very relevant to us. We are actually often taught to focus more on the New Testament as being superior to the Law and the Prophets when in fact the gospel of Jesus is what is contained in there. No, it was not written just to Israel; it was written to the church too. The things the prophets spoke were mostly meant for our time as the church of God.
"This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ's suffering and his great glory afterward.
"They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen." 1 Peter 1:10
So we see that the prophets of the so-called Old Testament were actually recording things that would have to do with our lives as Christians. Everything about the life and work of Jesus on the cross is right there in their prophecies.
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill." Matt 5:17
"And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." Luke 24:27
The gospels and epistles of the New Testament are actually the key by which we understand the Law and the Prophets. The main meat of the word of God and the things concerning Christ however are contained in the Law and the Prophets. Apart from correcting the nation of Israel, the prophets were actually speaking the counsel of God to the whole of creation and especially the human race. They were the ones that actually first preached the gospel, long before the apostles and prophets of the last days (New Testament), even though they didn’t understand what they were preaching.
"First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God." Rom 3:2
"…set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son…" Rom 1:1
The Law and the Prophets contain the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, the word of God for our lives as believers and the plan of God for the age we are in and the ages to come. What we need is the ability to decode and understand it. This is why the early church was not disadvantaged concerning the knowledge of the scriptures even though they didn’t have the New Testament. We Christians need to read the Law and look for Christ in there. We need to pay attention to the prophets and hear the Spirit of Christ talking to us. We have the Holy Spirit who will help us understand. We must not at all let any part of our inheritance escape us because we neglect to pay attention to the prophets.
There are precepts of God to learn from the poetic prophets like Psalms, Proverbs, and Songs. There is a depth of God we will not know unless we know how to decode the prophets.
I remember when I first learnt this truth about the Law and the Prophets, the book of Isaiah opened up to me with a kind of light I never knew existed. I literally saw my life described again and again. It encouraged me and it blessed me. It gave me rest. I saw my destiny from just reading the book of Isaiah. I saw the promise of prosperity like I never knew it before. It was liberating.
The gospel of healing is in Isaiah, the forgiveness of sin is in Jeremiah, the renewal of the spirit is in Jeremiah, Daniel tells of the strength of God for the Christian and the order of the ages to come, the Psalms contain some of the most prophetic verses about the lives of Christians. Faith was described by Habakkuk and also by Moses lifting up the serpent, the articles of the tabernacle describe the sacrifice of Jesus and how we should relate with it. The lessons are so many and relevant, even beyond the things that were just examples. These things are prophetic and we must take hold of those prophecies.
Friends, the Law and the Prophets is not old; it is relevant to you today as much as the letters of Paul in the New Testament. May God open your eyes so as to see your portion in the book.
PS: I intend to drop the use of the term ‘Old Testament’ in referring to the former parts of the Bible; my plan is to stick with ‘the Law and the Prophets’ while I use Old Covenant or Testament to refer only to the now obsolete covenant of God with the nation of Israel which was given through Moses on Mount Sinai.
By Felix Okechukwu on 16 Sep, 2016
Thank you sir for this liberating truth about how to handle the scriptures.
By Samuel Ogbonna on 11 Oct, 2016
my life is being guided by words from the book of Isaiah than any other book of the Bible. chptrs 42:16, 45:3, 54:2-3 55:5 and pastor's special 66:12. the prophetic books are laced with truths about God and his ways. thank you sir for this apt and timely encouragement. once again God has spoken through my father and mentor to my heart.
By ode fidelis on 02 Nov, 2016
your ministry has really relief me, you have made me to understand every thing concerns my life. I pray may Almighty God reward you richly in Jesus name
By Ada on 03 Nov, 2016
Anyone reading the scriptures earnestly will know that you have spoken the truth here and i very well appreciate this. i have always said that if theres a part of scripture Jesus i am sure of its endorsements, it is the "law and the prophets". though put together by men, Jesus read and quoted and called them His words. I appreciate the gospels and letters (new testament) but no one can succesfully read and grasp its meaning without the old testament.
By Ezendiokwere Stanley on 03 Nov, 2016
Thank you Sir,
By paul on 03 Nov, 2016
Thank GOD for your ministry, it has really helped me. I thank GOD for HIS truth- THE WORD which has set me free from trouble.
By blessed on 06 Nov, 2016
Sir, God will continue to increase you. I thank God for what he is using you to do. Your messages has transform my way of thinking .
By joseph onwe on 09 Nov, 2016
The Scriptures_the books of the prophets serve as a guide to all the christians because the Heart of God was really revealed to His prophets. Especially now that Jesus has given us the spirit of sonship. So as we fix our faith in Jesus,we also do the will of our father. Thank you sir and God bless you more for being a blessing to me and the nations.
By Muegbeyogho courage on 10 Nov, 2016
Wow! Thank God for this. I just got cleared on a thought I have had for a while. I thank God for this ministry. I am greatful to God for entrusting you with these truths.
By Adetunji on 07 Dec, 2016
Thank you sir for the wonderful insight and balanced truth you've shared here. More grace! As God gives you grace and as you you feel led, I believe you should do more teaching on this topic where you can examine the balance and interrelationship between the Law and the Prophets, the Old and New Testament, grace and faith. There is so much mix up and confusion on this issue in the body of Christ today.
Yes, the Law is still relevant to us as Christians, even though we are not under the commandments of it. It is relevant because it is one of those things that were for our learning (Rom 15:4, 1 Cor 10:11). There is a spirit behind the Law and behind every single commandment contained therein. It that spirit that we must learn and follow as Christians. For example, Paul wrote in Gal 5 that “walk in the spirit and you will not fulfil the desires of the flesh.” The ‘spirit’ Paul was talking about is the spirit of the Law, which he tells us clearly is love (Gal 5:14-16). Many people misunderstand that and think Paul was saying they should listen to their spirits when they want to do something; but no, that was not it. He was telling them that love is the spirit behind the law, and Christians must walk by love. Now, the Law was given to make people walk away from the desires of the flesh, but Paul was saying that if you walk in love, you will not fulfil the desires of the flesh. “Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Eph 5:2 Many times in the Law we learn the practical meaning of a love walk. For example, the law of tithing and the law of gleaning teaches us how to take care of others by not eating everything ourselves (please read the book “Who will Pay for This,” for more. Available for free download from the books page). We learn the practical aspect of respect (Lev 19:32). It is under the law we learn the things that constitute sexual immorality and abominations in the eyes of the Lord. These are just a few examples of how the Law helps us in many ways to learn the rudiments of godly behaviour.