As we are going through Dr George Guthrie’s Read the Bible for Life we see God’s Holy Word is full of stories. Even the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy) and the Prophets (Isaiah-Malachi) are full of human characters dealing with the main character, God. But these two parts of the Bible have so much more than just stories. For many people, and this is also true for Christians, these two sections of the Bible are the most difficult to read and understand. Why is this so?
We all have are own reasons. Some people I know don’t like reading for the sake of not wanting to read, and others don’t read because they don’t understand or don’t want to be challenged in any way. I pray these aren’t your reasons when it comes to God’s Word.
The phrase “The Law and the Prophets” is found ten times (in various forms) in the New Testament (according to HCSB). In Jesus’ days this was how the Bible of the Jews was referred to as. In other words, it was the Bible Jesus read and it was the only Scriptures the early church used. One might ask, “What relevance do books written thousands of years ago have for us today?”
The main reason to read the Old Testament Laws and Prophets is what they have in common with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17, HCSB).
For us to understand why Jesus had to come in the first place, we need to read the Old Testament. To understand the significants for His ministry and the Church, we need to read the Old Testament. The idea of covenant has been around since Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden (see Gen. 3), and instituted by God through Abraham (Gen. 12) and re-established through Moses in the Book of Exodus.
The whole idea is living in covenant with the One True and Living God. How does this relate to the Gospel message? Here are a couple of passages to consider:
“In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.'” Luke 22:20.
“By saying, a new covenant, He has declared that the first is old. And what is old and aging is about to disappear.” Hebrews 8:13.
The Word of God is full of covenant talk–living faithfully on our part; love and justice on God’s part.
We need to remember to keep the Bible in context, the people the Law was originally written to live in the distant past. What can we gleam from the Law for ourselves today? Righteous and faithful living! The Law gives blessings and curses as God’s promised responses to His chosen peoples, the Israelites. The Prophets are calling the people of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah to return to the Covenant.
So, how does this all relate to Christians today? As I have already mentioned, Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets and the New Covenant is now in effect. Whereas the Law brought the Old Covenant and the Prophets called people back to God in Covenant, Jesus brought the New Covenant and the Holy Spirit is calling people to join the Covenant.
The importance of the Law and the Prophets is the Covenant. To understand Jesus’ ministry and the Gospel more fully we need to understand what He came to fulfill and what living ‘in covenant relationship with God’ means.