Sunday, May 29, 2022

Lessons From the Old Testament

By Ron Thomas


    What value is there in the existence of the Old Testament for New Testament saints? To begin, for whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope (Rom. 15:4, ASV). Secondly, though related to the first point, now these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come (1 Cor. 10:11). Third, those under the Law of Moses are taught to move toward the New Covenant, so that the law [Law of Moses] is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24).

    It is unfortunate New Testament saints will speak of the Old Testament as something we don’t follow, even though in the New Testament there are frequent references to it. Yet, there is some truth to this “we don’t follow” idea. That truth is the Old Covenant was given exclusively to the people of Israel; it was not given to any non-Israelite who lived at the same time, whether in close proximity to Israel or some distance away.

    If we don’t follow it, but the New Testament says we learn from it, how should we use it? Two things to keep in mind. First, the Old Covenant was exclusive to the nation of Israel; it was the will of God to Abraham, Jacob (Israel), and through this nation the Lord’s messiah would come to the world (cf. Galatians 3:22-29). Second, from the Old Testament we can learn a great deal. Not only do we learn how the Lord addressed His people with their corresponding obedient / disobedient approach to life, but we also learn the Lord’s termination point with regard to the duration of His commands to Moses and the nation (cf. Jer. 31:31-35).

    There is much to learn from the Old Covenant, and one of those great lessons comes from Deuteronomy 29:29. The secret things belong unto Jehovah our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law (ASV).

    The principle teaching of this verse is simple enough: if the Lord revealed something to man, He felt it necessary for man to know, learn, and put into practice (as a way of life). If the Lord said nothing on a topic, then let us not presume on the Lord and think it will be acceptable to Him when it is not possible for any to know whether it is or not. This, by implication, condemns “oral traditions” codified as the law of God, especially as practiced by the Jewish and Catholic communities. The force of this is clearly understood by the rabbis, so they insert the word “sins” in the verse, saying the Lord is only talking about sins that are revealed and / or not revealed (Onkelos, p. 325). Here is an English translation of the Hebrew text, The hidden [sin] are for HASHEM, or God, but the revealed [sins] are for us and our children forever, to carry out all the words of the Torah. The word “sins” are in brackets, meaning they are not in the biblical text. They are inserted without justification and by doing this, it alters the meaning of the verse. This is the nature of man-made laws, how they are brought into competition with the Lord’s revealed will and corrupt man’s thinking.

    The secret things belong to the Lord, so let us not presume to think we can know what the Lord will accept or not accept. Why is that? Simply put, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Some resist the application of these two verses in a New Testament context, but their resistance will not stand. It is still the case that we (the created) do not think like Him who is the Creator. Since the Lord does not think like us, and since we need to be taught to think like Him, we will do best if we adhere to His written word and not go beyond it.

    Why does the New Testament saints stand opposed to the use of the mechanical instrument in worship? Here is your answer. 

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

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