Monday, March 19, 2007

The New Hidden in the Old and the Old Revealed in the New (1)

Have you ever considered that the bible is the only book in the history of man that was authored by a god?
There is only one book because there is only One true God, the Creator of our universe and all that is in it.
When you look at His creation and how detailed and intricate everything is - beyond the comprehension of man- would it not naturally follow that His book would also be out of the ordinary ?
Historically, it is totally reliable; all the recorded events really happened , all the characters truly lived , but there is more to God’s book. The historical layer is only the surface , there is much more underneath and we shall never plumb the depths of it - no more than man will ever understand all there is to know about His creation.

If you love a good mystery story with hidden clues and coded messages all leading to a priceless treasure, then the Bible is a book for you !!
The Old Testament has hidden within it’s stories spiritual application of God’s truth. To unlock these messages you need the code that is revealed in the New Testament . We can say that the New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is revealed in the New .

Did you ever wonder what Acts 17:11 was talking about when it commends the Bereans because they did not take Paul’s New Testament teaching at face value but searched the scriptures to see if what he was teaching was true? The only scripture they had was the Old Testament and Paul was teaching the gospel message of the New Covenant. So how could they test the New by the Old?? Only if the truths of the New were hidden in the Old, and they knew how to find them.

Have you ever read Heb. 10:1 ? “For the law having a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of the things…” or ( Col. 2:17) , and wondered what it really meant?
I remember , as I’m sure you do, my childhood days of playing outside on a warm sunny day and being intrigued with my shadow.
These verses talk about shadows and things.
Let me ask you , which comes first ? – the shadow or the thing that it shadows? The answer is obvious , of course.. You cannot have a shadow if the ‘thing’ is not there to cast the shadow. So, the tree is first, then on a sunny day we can see it’s shadow.
But that brings up an interesting point. Hebrews 10:1 says that the ‘law’ is the shadow…. but didn’t the Old Testament come first, then the New Testament ?
Maybe not!!
In Hebrew 8:5 we are told that when Moses was meeting with God on the mountain God commanded him to make the tabernacle according to the pattern God showed him.
The pattern he was shown was the 'real thing' and the earthly tabernacle was to be the ‘shadow’ of it.
What was the real thing? The real thing was the everlasting covenant that God planned from the foundation of the earth. Jesus came to reveal that New Covenant but the shadow of it was always there all through the Old Testament, which means that in the mind of God the New Covenant was first !
Also God tells us in Romans 15:4 that the stories in the Old Testament were written down for us who live in the new covenant, for “our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” There is only one way that the old testament stories could ‘teach’ us , that is if they have spiritual meaning. An interesting passage in I Peter !:10-12 tells us that the prophets of old knew that the things they ministered to in the old testament were not for them but for us !!
There is a neat principle…. The ‘physical’ things of the Old Testament on one side of the CROSS are interpreted as ‘spiritual’ things on the other side of the CROSS.

A passage in I Cor. 10 illustrates this. In verse 6 we are told that the life experiences of the Israelites of old were ‘types’ or examples to teach us spiritual things.
Look at the example that is given ….. The story in the Old Testament is this…..

It had been a long day of traveling under a hot sun, and finally the Israelites set up camp in the Wilderness of Sin. But there was no water and they were thirsty. They came to their leader, Moses, and demanded that he give them water. They murmured and complained against him saying, “Why did you take us out of Egypt where we had plenty of water. Are you trying to kill us and our children and our livestock with
thirst? “
Moses , in frustration, cried out to God…”Whatever shall I do with this people? They are ready to stone me!!”
The Lord said to Moses, “Go in front of the people …. take your rod with you and I will come and stand on the rock in Horeh and you shall strike the rock and water will come out that the people may drink.”
Moses did so and when he struck the rock water flowed out of it and the people quenched their thirst.
On one level that story is historic and when viewed from before the Cross , the rock was a physical rock and the people were physically thirsty and physical water quenched their thirst.
But viewed from after the Cross, the story has spiritual meaning and application. . I Cor. 10: 4 tells us that rock was Christ from Whom flows spiritual water to quench our spiritual thirst.
If you remember the Old Testament story, the Israelites again come to a place where there is no water and they again faint from thirst . This time God tells Moses to speak to the Rock. Moses in his anger at the rebellious children of Israel strikes the rock instead of speaking to it. Because of that he is not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Why was God’s punishment so harsh? Because the ‘shadow’ HAD to accurately reflect the ‘real thing’. What was the shadow reflecting? Jesus was ‘struck’ once for our sin, (Heb.10:10) and we cannot ‘crucify’ Him again.(Heb.6:6) God could not let Moses distort the ‘shadow’ without also distorting the ‘real thing’.
Do you see the picture? Jesus was struck for the remission of our sins, once for all, and now we need only SPEAK to Him to drink of His living water.

It was years ago when I discovered this truth to interpret scripture. I was one day reading Gal. 4 and I came to verses 21-31 and a light went on … I became excited because I realized that there was a whole dimension to scripture that I had never seen before. The passage is talking about Sarah and Hagar and the two covenants, Old and New. It doesn’t say that we can make a comparison…it says that they symbolically ARE the two covenants. That told me that God recorded their story in such a way that they played out – unknowingly - spiritual truths for the benefit of the people of the covenant to come.
So the spiritual truths of the New Covenant can be found demonstrated for us in a story from the Old. God knew that we love movies and pictures and stories so He provided them to help us understand His abstract truths through concrete visual stories. Isn’t that neat??

If you have never heard this teaching before you may find it a little confusing at first but if you want to learn more…I will be over the next few posts be using the physical stories of the Old Testament and showing the spiritual meaning they reveal to us.

Tomorrow ? The story of Gideon and the unusual weapons of his army of 300 men.


Anonymous said...

I am studying this same dicovery in a group. It has been facinating to see the connection. It really does make the Old Testiment much more exciting to study. I will look forward to your next few posts. Enjoy the day!

Anonymous said...
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Lovella ♥ said...

Hey Julie, sorry I'm so late today, I've been on the go.

I look forward to your next few posts, I love the story of Gideon.

Demara said...

I love that idea Julie of the rock representing Jesus later on...and that the rock is actually Jesus' shadow? How neat...although I had wondered of that too...I can't remember specifics right now, but I know I have thought that too when reading the Old Testament and the book of there being shadows there of what is to come...