Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “We are heirs of the promises”
This morning we will continue our discussion from yesterday concerning which parts of the Old Testament carry over and apply to us in the New Testament Age, and which don’t. Yesterday we learned that if an Old Testament command, instruction, or principle is retaught or in some way reaffirmed in the New Testament, then it applies to us. And if it is not retaught or in some way directly affirmed for us, or if it is specifically negated (dietary restrictions, animal sacrifices), then it doesn’t apply to us.
But that still leaves us with the question of whether or not the promises of God in the Old Testament are ours to claim, and it also leaves us with the question of what to think about all that history recorded in the Old Testament.
With respect to the history: Old Testament history is as important for us. It tells us where we came from and it teaches important lessons that we need to know. The New Testament came out of the Old Testament (one flows from the other), and you cannot properly understand the New without also being familiar with the Old. Also, Old Testament history teaches important lessons about how God has historically dealt with and interacted with His people. So there is much to be gained from a thorough study of Old Testament history.
And then there’s the issue of the promises God made in the Old Testament. Were they intended for us too? Can we claim them as ours? And the answer is … it depends. The overwhelming majority of the Old Testament promises were intended for all of God’s people in all ages, and most of them have at least one New Testament companion verse or passage. For instance, compare Psalm 23 to Matthew 11:28-30 and John 10:11-18. It’s the same theme of the Good Shepherd watching over and caring for those who belong to Him. Therefore, we know that Psalm 23 is as much for us as is Matthew 11:28-30 and John 10:11-18. Likewise, compare Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, and Isaiah 41:10 to Hebrews 13:5-6. There we find promises that God goes before us, He is always with us, and He will protect us. That’s as true for us today as it was for the people in the days of Moses, Joshua, and Isaiah.
But some Old Testament promises were one-time promises specifically for those people in that instance, and we can know it from the context. For instance, in Joshua chapter six God promised the people that if they would march around the walls of the city of Jericho for six consecutive days blowing trumpets, on the seventh day the walls of the city would miraculously fall down all by themselves. That was a promise for those people in that day and it did happen – for them. But I’m betting it won’t happen for you if you were to try it today, because that wasn’t a promise that was intended for you, and you can tell it from the context.
The history of the Old Testament does matter and we should be familiar with it, and most of the promises of the Old Testament are ours as well, unless the context specifically teaches otherwise. We are the people of God in our day, and we are heirs of the promises found in both the Old and New Testaments.