For Our Instruction
“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (v. 11).- 1 Corinthians 10:1-12
Early on, the new covenant community had to answer the question: What are we as Christians to do with the Hebrew Scriptures? At first, the church took it for granted that the gospel was promised in the law of Moses, the writings of the Hebrew prophets, and the poetry of the Jewish wisdom literature. But in the first half of the second century AD, the heretic Marcion proclaimed that the Hebrew Bible is not the Word of God. Yahweh, the God of Israel, is not the same God revealed in the New Testament, so all traces of Judaism and the old covenant must be expunged from the apostolic writings.
Orthodox leaders rose to counter this threat to the integrity of Scripture, affirming that the books now known as the Old Testament are to be received as God’s authoritative Word in the church of Jesus Christ. Because Jesus and His kingdom are foreshadowed in these writings, the church must read and understand the Old Testament in order to better comprehend His person and work. Stressing the unity of God’s revelation, the early church taught that the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament the Old Testament is revealed.
Clearly, this was how the apostles understood the Old Testament, citing it frequently to prove that Jesus is the Messiah and to instruct His church. We see in today’s passage, for example, that Paul uses the Old Testament accounts of Israel’s experience in the wilderness under Moses to instruct Christians to flee sin and pursue righteousness (1 Cor. 10:1–12). The “ultimate” purpose for these events is fulfilled in the new covenant as a warning for the people of God.
Understanding how God is ultimately keeping His promises to old covenant believers under the new covenant is essential for living a life that is pleasing to our Creator. Therefore, our 2010 Tabletalk daily Bible studies will survey the various ways the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New. We will look at how the characters, events, and teachings of the Old Testament foreshadow the coming of Christ and His ministry through His church by the power of the Holy Spirit. In so doing, our goal is to show the unity of the biblical witness, help all of us apply the Old Testament for our own edification, and help us all see more deeply how the Word of God stands forever (Ps. 119:89).
What is your attitude toward the Old Testament? Do you treasure it as the very Word of the living God? Do you avoid reading it because you find its stories and laws perplexing at times? Are you hungry to learn about what it teaches so that you can better understand the fulfillment of God’s plan in Christ Jesus? Take some time to pray today that the Spirit would give you insight into the Old Testament as we embark on our study this year.
Passages for Further Study
2 Timothy 3:16–17