Saturday, 4 February 2017


Old Testament prophets sometimes spoke in prose - other times with symbols...

Sometimes they prophesied about things pertinent to their own time while Israel was still under the Old Covenant...

They also sometimes looked forward to Messiah's coming - they sometimes mentioned His first coming, other times His second coming, and often they dealt with both comings together in the same passage almost like they were a unit. They likely didn't fully understand there would be two comings.

And sometimes each of the above themes and periods of history were mentioned in a single prophetic passage!

They themselves didn't fully understand how it would all transpire. It was a mystery.

But the mystery was revealed through the Gospel.

So the best and only way to properly dissect, navigate, interpret and apply OT Prophecy, is within the framework of New Testament theology - using the sermons in Acts, and the teaching in the Epistles as our guides.

If the New Testament doesn't teach something plainly, then we probably shouldn't assert it too strongly either, based on our own reading of the Old Testament alone.

It is only the theology of the New Testament which gives you an authoritative guide towards determining what was prose and what was symbol; what is now past and what is present or still to come.

The fist and most important New Testament truth which you can use as an interpretive key when reading Old Testament Prophecy, is that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Lord and Messiah.

Part of that truth is the revelation that Messiah was to come twice. The first time, to inaugurate Israel's salvation - the second time, to consummate their salvation. Since Old Testament prophecies didn't always distinguish between Messiah's two comings, it doesn't follow that an entire passage must be about His second or about His first coming - the passage could cover both time-periods. The passage could even include things which were only directly relevant to Israel in Old Covenant times, closer to the immediate audience's own time, even though the passage might also mention Messiah's coming - first or second, or both.

Another New Testament truth is that God's promises to Israel didn't fail (the promises weren't seen as delayed). Neither was Israel's identity changed, but the true Israel was identified as a group within Israel - true Jews among Jews. This group indeed experienced Israel's promised-salvation, although it was procured for all Israel and offered to all Israel.

So when you re-read Old Testament promises to Israel, understand that the promises weren't necessarily going to be experienced by literally all ethnic Israelites, before the promise could be said to be fulfilled. Only a remnant would believe, the Prophets said!

Another New Testament truth is that believing-Gentiles were then grafted in to the same salvation-experience that believing-Jews were already experiencing. Not into a separate program - but into the same promised salvation. The Gospel was to the Jew first, and also to Gentiles (not to Gentiles instead of Jews, and not to Jews after the Gentiles - but to the Jew first). That's another New Testament truth to keep in mind when reading the Old Testament and imagining how it all looks in fulfilment.

Another New Testament truth which you can use as an interpretive key, is the truth that Levitical-style worship was only the shadow and it has now passed away.

That means any Old Testament Prophecy which was about Israel carrying-out Levitical-style worship, must have been fulfilled while the Old Covenant still stood - because God isn't into returning to the shadow.

That would include details such as the altar, priests, Levites, Temple, sacrifices, incense, mount Zion as the required place of worship, and pilgrimages to Jerusalem to keep the feasts. Jesus said Jerusalem is no longer the required place of worship. So all of those details in Old Testament prophecy must now be in the past.

Re-read Old Testament Prophecy using that interpretive key - with that New Testament truth in mind - and see what comes into focus for you!

It's exciting to re-read Old Testament prophecy in light of those New Testament truths. It helps distinguish between what might still be future, and what is now past. It accurately locates our present location in the plan of God.

Accurately, without muddying identities, subjects, timeframes and covenants.

Remember - fulfilled-prophecy doesn't take anything away from us (nor from Israel - because having once fulfilled His promises to Israel, God never subsequently revoked it explicitly). Rather, it established our present position! In that case, a prophecy now serves as our corporate charter, our articles of association, so to speak. It tells us our privileges and potential!

I think you'll find that what comes very clearly into focus is - JESUS!

Not that we know everything like we ought to know it.

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