David Jeremiah - Is He From the Old Testament or the New Testament?
Dr. David Murray is an Old Testament scholar and a seminary professor. And he wrote a book called, "Jesus On Every Page". Growing up, Dr. Murray learned Old Testament stories in Sunday school, but he seldom heard the Old Testament ever preached from the pulpit. He wondered what the Old Testament was all about. And when he himself became a Christian in his 20s, he began reading the Bible in earnest. But he still found that the Old Testament was kind of useless to his newfound faith.
The Old Testament seemed to represent a very different religion from the Christ-centered religion he had come to love through reading the New Testament's pages. Then something happened. His denomination decided to start a seminary, and he was asked to teach Hebrew and Old Testament. He said there was nagging questions in the back of his mind, what's the Old Testament all about? And why would God have given us the majority of the Bible in the Old Testament?
By the way, how many books are there in the Old Testament? Thirty-nine. How many in the New Testament? Twenty-seven. So, there's more Bible in the Old Testament than there is in the new by 12. And yet, many people are mystified by the Old Testament. What in the world is its purpose? Why do we have all these ancient stories? What is this about?
Well, Dr. Murray had those questions. And as he studied the Old Testament to teach his seminary classes, he came to realize that Jesus Christ had already answered the questions in his heart, that Jesus Christ had explained to his disciples what the Old Testament was about. That Jesus Christ had told his disciples, "The Old Testament, you guys, is about me. It's about me". The Old Testament is about Jesus. And when Jesus was alive on this earth, he actually said that. And we sometimes read it in the Bible and we pass right over it. During a debate with his enemies in John 5, Jesus asserted, "The Father himself, who sent me, has testified of me". In other words, "God the Father who sent me down to this earth, he's already told you all about me".
Well, where did he do that? There wasn't any New Testament when Jesus was on the earth. The Almighty God told us about Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures. In other words, Jesus said, "God the Father has talked a lot about me. He's already told you exactly who I am. He has testified of me".
Here's the extended passage from John chapter 5. Listen to it now with this new understanding and see if you don't see what I'm saying. "And the Father himself, who sent me, has testified of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. But you do not have his word abiding in you because whom he sent, him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures", this is the Old Testament, "for in them you think you have eternal life, and these Old Testament Scriptures are they which testify of me", said Jesus. "But you are not willing to come to me that you may have life".
Jesus said, in effect, "God the Father spoke endlessly about me in the writings of the Old Testament. You find everything about me there because these Scriptures testify of me. They prove my identity, and yet you still will not come to me". And I'm sure you know that our friends from Judaism do not accept the New Testament, and they do not believe the Messiah has come, but that he is yet to come. But here in the Old Testament is the footprint of the Messiah that has already come, whom we have accepted as our Savior.
The Old Testament, men and women, is packed with information about Jesus Christ. There are more than 300 specific predictions about his first coming in the Old Testament Scriptures. There are types or pictures of him in the Old Testament. Sometimes, he shows up in the Old Testament. It's called a theophany, the personal presence of Jesus before he was born in Bethlehem. When you read the Old Testament with Jesus in mind, everything is different, everything is totally revised, and you see that these are not just a collection of stories, but these are preparing you to know Jesus, who's about to be introduced in the New Testament as he comes to this earth.
Now, I don't have time to take you through all 300 prophecies. And I don't have time to take you through all the pictures, but I've chosen a few to illustrate this point. Is Jesus in the Old Testament or in the New? He's in both, but primarily he's in the Old Testament, and that's what we may not know about Jesus.
First of all, I want to introduce you to the first presentation of the gospel in the entire Bible. And if I ask you where that is, you probably would say, "Oh, it's probably John 3:16 or Matthew". No, it's not there, it's not Isaiah, it's not the Psalms, it's not the historical books. The first presentation of the gospel is in the third chapter of the book of Genesis. You say, "Pastor, where in the world is that"? Now, I'll tell you this first picture of Jesus in the Old Testament is the hardest one, so you got to listen while we go through this so you will get it. 'Cause if you don't get it, it won't make any difference.
But it's in Genesis chapter 3 and verse 15. Theologians call this verse the protoevangelium. Proto means first, evangelium means gospel. They call Genesis 3:15 the first gospel. As you know, the Bible begins with the book of Genesis and the story of God's creation, his universe, his planet, and the two people that he put on this earth, Adam and Eve. He created them for fellowship with himself. And you know the story of how they violated his command and they sinned. And a punishment came.
It was a sad day for all of us when the apple was eaten by Adam and Eve. And when they disobeyed the commandment of God, which was given in the abundance of his blessing, God punished them. You know they were thrown out of the garden, and a lot of bad things happened to them and ultimately to us because of their sin. But here's what I want you to know, God never gave up on them. And God was never going to give up on them because listen, in eternity past before this ever happened, God saw it coming, and he already had prepared a plan of redemption to take care of Adam and Eve, and ultimately to take care of us. When they were thrown out of the garden, Almighty God had a talk with Satan.
And in Genesis 3:15, here are the words that God said to Satan. He said, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel". Now, that sounds like a code. That sounds like a foreign language, like what in the world does that mean? Some people miss this and miss the blessing of it. Take this little phrase, "he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel".
Now, this is a very interesting little study, so look down in your Bible and let me ask you this question. Is the word "he" capitalized? Come on now, is it? All right, look down in the next phrase, "and you shall bruise his heel". Is the word "his" capitalized? So, who do you suppose that might be? That's Jesus. So listen, here's what this means. God told Satan that one day, a seed of the woman, who is that? That's Jesus, born of a woman. One day, a seed of the woman is coming. And Satan, you will bruise his heel. But don't get all excited, Satan, because one day he's going to bruise your head.
When Jesus was born and came into this world, he went to the cross, and Satan bruised his heel. Satan thought he had won. He was dancing on top of the tomb. And he thought that it was over, but he didn't take Jesus out, he just bruised his heel. The Scripture says one day, when Jesus comes the second time, he's going to bruise Satan's head, "And the God of peace will crush Satan under feet shortly", Romans 16:20.
So, what God said to Satan was there's coming someone born of a woman who is going to take you out of the picture and make it impossible for you to control the destiny of my children. There is coming someone, as early as the garden of Eden this message was spoken. There is coming someone born of the seed of a woman who will stand between you, Satan, and humanity. You will hurt this someone in the heel, but he will crush your head. And when you come to the New Testament with this in the back of your mind, you read Galatians chapter 4, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons".
I wish I could spend more time because this is such a rich, yet sometimes totally misunderstood passage. Genesis 3:15 is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible because here is the first promise of the gospel. Here we see Jesus, who's going to come and defeat Satan, and bring us back to the family of God. Genesis 3:15 is about Jesus, Jesus in the Old Testament. And then you come to the book of Exodus and you meet another person who is a picture of Jesus. We call this person the Passover Lamb. God's plan of redemption continues to unfold, and here we have one of the Bible's greatest types.
In the Old Testament, in the early chapters of Exodus, we have the story of Pharaoh and Moses. And you remember the contest between Pharaoh and Moses that resulted in many plagues that were leveled against the Egyptians. But the worst of all the plagues, which was so bad, it can even hardly be called a plague, was when the Lord God, after all of the resistance on the part of Pharaoh, said, "On this particular night, the death angel's going to pass through Egypt. And the firstborn of every one of your families is going to be slain". But Moses told the Israelite families who lived in Egypt to take a spotless lamb and brush its blood on the doorposts and lintels of their houses.
Here's how it reads in Exodus chapter 12, "For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood. I will pass over you".
By the way, that's why we celebrate with the Jewish people this wonderful feast of Passover. It's to celebrate the night when the angel passed over the houses where the blood was on display on the doorposts. The Lord was simply revealing through this Old Testament story his pattern and his plan. Our salvation from death requires the sacrifice and blood of an innocent lamb. And 1,400 years later, when John the Baptist introduced the Messiah to the world, this is what he said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". And 1 Peter adds to that these precious words, "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot".
Just as the lamb of God in the Old Testament was that which enabled the death angel to pass over the houses of the Israelites who displayed the blood on their doorpost, so the blood of the Lamb of God, who was slain on Calvary, when it is applied to our hearts, keeps us from the judgment against us because of our sin, and we are redeemed. If you ever go to Scotland, you'll see a lot of sheep over there. If you watch for very long, you'll see a very unusual sight. You will see a little lamb running around the field, and you'll notice that this lamb has what looks like an extra fleece tied on its back. In fact, you'll see there are little holes in the fleece for his forelegs, and usually a little hole in the fleece for his head.
If you see a little lamb running around like that, that means that his mother has died. You see, without the protection and nourishment of a mother, an orphan lamb will die. If you take an orphaned lamb and try to introduce it to another mother, the new mother will butt it away because she won't recognize that little lamb's scent, and she won't want anything to do with a baby that's not her own. So, most flocks over there are large enough that there is a yew that has recently lost a lamb.
In other words, either in early childhood or early life, this lamb has died. The shepherd will skin that dead lamb and make its fleece into a covering for the orphaned lamb. And then he'll take the orphaned lamb to the mother whose baby just died. And when she sniffs the orphan lamb, she will smell the fleece of her own lamb, and instead of butting the lamb away, she will gladly accept it as one of her own. That's really the picture of what Jesus has done for us, the Lamb of God.
As you read the Old Testament story of the Passover Lamb, let it remind you of Christ's love for you. His precious blood was shed for you and for me so that we can be clothed with his righteousness. And when we draw near to Christ, he doesn't see us, but he sees the righteousness which is his, which he has given to us, and we are accepted before the God of heaven because of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, he's the Passover Lamb. In the New Testament, he's the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Here's the third one, Jesus the bronze serpent. The book of Numbers describes one of the most vivid symbols of Christ in the Old Testament. I need to pause here for just a moment and say I'm glad that God never called me to be a shepherd over the Israeli people. Moses had I think the hardest job anybody has ever had. Because according to the Bible and according to God, they have a tendency to be somewhat stubborn. And if you haven't figured it out, Israel kept getting themselves in trouble. They'd get in trouble, God would send some punishment to them. They'd get all right with God, and they'd come back, and they'd walk with God for awhile.
Then before you know it, there they go again. It's just one story after the other. And don't look so surprised 'cause sounds like our story, doesn't it? Well, in the book of Numbers in the 21st chapter, Israel's in a lot of trouble. They've done some very bad things. Don't have time to go into all the detail, but God was fed up with it. And so, he sent some punishment to get their attention.
Now ladies, you might want to close your ears when I say it, he sent them snakes. The Bible calls them serpents, but they're just snakes. Mean, ugly snakes, snakes everywhere in Israel, and they were poisonous snakes. And if you got bit by one of these snakes, it was it, you're done, nothing to do but die. And Moses pled with God. Moses felt responsible for the fact that the people were sinning. He begged God to take this plague from his people. "And God spoke to Moses and told him, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.' And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard, and it came about, that if a serpent bit anyone in the camp, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived".
You say, "Well, pastor, what does that mean"? Why don't we ask Jesus? Jesus explained it in John 3:14 and 15, this is what he said. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life". The people in the wilderness looked to the serpent and they were healed. And when you and I look to Jesus on the cross, when we feel the regret and pain of what we have done and our sinful choices, the remedy is never to try to heal ourselves.
The remedy is simply to look to Jesus and accept what he's done on the cross. To look to the cross and say, "I know you're there for me. You paid the penalty for my sin". And when we look to the cross, has the same effect upon us as what happened in the Old Testament, when those who had been bitten by the serpent looked to the serpent on the pole and they were healed. It's a perfect illustration of Jesus. And where is it? It's in Numbers chapter 21. That's in the Old Testament. That's Jesus in the Old Testament.
And then, number four, there's Jesus the forsaken Savior. Let's move out of the history books, let's move out of the Pentateuch, let's move to the books of David and the books of the prophets. We'll stop along the way in the book of Psalms, and we'll find our way in Psalms to one of the great psalms in the Bible, Psalm 22. In Psalm 22, the psalmist describes the crucifixion. I want you to just think about this for a moment. I wish we could open our Bibles and go through all the different verses, but let me just give you the gist of it and you can write it down in your notes.
In Psalm 22, we have a prediction of the words that Jesus would say while he was dying on the cross. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? Psalm 22, verse 1.
In Psalm 22, we have a description of the nature of his suffering and death, verse 7.
In Psalm 22, we have the exact words that were flung at him by the bystanders at the cross.
In Psalm 22, we have the story of the dehydration and loss of bodily fluids that were involved in his terrible death at crucifixion.
In Psalm 22, we have a history of the disjointed position of his body.
In Psalm 22, we have a record of his intense thirst.
In Psalm 22, we have a record of the piercing of his hands and feet.
In Psalm 22, we have the unclothed state of his body in death.
In Psalm 22, we have the gambling away of his garments by the executioners.
In Psalm 22, we have his declaration of victory at the resurrection.
And ladies and gentlemen, Psalm 22 was written 1,000 years before Jesus died on the cross. Even more amazing is when Psalm 22 was written, crucifixion was unknown in the world. Crucifixion didn't come until 500 years later. Crucifixion is the most cruel kind of execution. And in the days before the Romans had power, crucifixion was not used. And when David wrote this 1,000 years before it happened on Mount Calvary, there wasn't even any knowledge of crucifixion, and yet David described it literally in a psalm that was written ten centuries before it actually happened.
You ask me why I believe in Jesus? It's not because I have this wonderful emotional feeling in my heart. I've done a little work. I realize that this Jesus that I've put my faith in is worthy of my trust, not just 'cause I'm a man of faith. I also happen to be a man of evidence. And the evidence for Jesus is so powerful that any thinking person who would religiously study it would have to come away with the realization that this is unlike anything there is in the history of the world. He's the seed of the woman, he's the Passover Lamb, he's the fiery serpent, he's the forsaken Savior, and he's the suffering servant.
Now, let's pass from Psalms to the Prophet Isaiah. The book of Isaiah is replete with the message of Jesus, the information about his coming. Let's just stop for a moment and think about Christmas if you will. In the book of Isaiah, the Messiah is to be born of a virgin. He will be called Emmanuel, which means God with us. He will come from Galilee. He will be born a child, a son. He will be the prince of peace, who will inherit the throne of his father David. He will be anointed by the Holy Spirit. He will possess remarkable traits of character and personality, and do something so extraordinary on a mountain that the shroud of death covering all nations will be destroyed.
Isaiah wrote all about his birth 700 years before he was born. And when you come to the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, you have the story again of his crucifixion. You know these words, let me read them. "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, and we have turned, every one, to his own way. And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all".
Isaiah wrote those words as if he were standing at the end of history and it had already happened. All these words are in the past tense. He's not saying here he will do this, he's saying he has done this. Isaiah stood in his prophetic role at the end of history and said, "Before it ever happened, this is what's going to happen to the Lord Jesus Christ". The entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah contains a picture of Jesus Christ so vivid and so detailed that it's difficult to conceive that it was written seven centuries before Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.
Many scholars have said Isaiah 53 is the most important chapter in the Old Testament. Because here we have the prophet telling us about the Savior. We have his prophecy 700 years before, then we have the record of what happened, which has been attested to by secular historians. If a man 700 years before he was born had this prophesied about him and everything was perfectly fulfilled... I don't mean almost or he just almost did this. Every one of these prophecies were fulfilled to the exact degree. People who do possibility studies, mathematicians, have written about what would the odds be of 48 of these prophecies being fulfilled in exact detail.
And the number that they came up with is not possible for me to say. I can't even describe it, he's a take on it. It's more than the entire atoms on the earth, not people, atoms. In other words, it is absolutely impossible that this could have happened, and this could have happened, and it not be the miraculous hand of God in the middle of it all. Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. There isn't any question about it. Any thinking person, any honest, reasonable person who goes to the study of it will come away not doubting, but with their hands up high in faith.
I have at least five books in my office of people who started out to disprove all this. In the midst of the study, they became Christians. One year while visiting Europe, Richard Ganz, who grew up in New York City, he was attending a Hebrew school. He was an Israelite of an Israelite, worshiping in his local Jewish synagogue. His father suffered a fatal heart attack, and because of that, he turned away from Judaism. He spent years in rebellion against God.
Through undergrad and graduate school, he excelled at the top of his class and became a successful psychotherapist. And he still had no strong religious practices in his life at all. In essence, he was a Zionist, but he was not practicing Judaism. One year while he was visiting Europe, Ganz found accommodations at a place called L'Abri, the Christian retreat center that was founded by Francis Schaefer. A man there, Hans Van Seventer, engaged Ganz in conversation and asked this Jewish man if he could read a passage to him from the Bible.
As Ganz listened, he grew very angry. He thought, "Doesn't he know what he's doing, reading this Christian stuff to a Jew"? The passage brought to his mind images of Christ on the cross, and renaissance paintings of Jesus dying and rising again. The passage spoke of a suffering Savior whose hands and feet were pierced, who died for the sins of the world, and who rose again. Finishing the reading, Hans asked, "What do you think"? And Ganz replied, "Anyone who was there at that cross could have written that stuff. What does that prove"? And Hans handed Ganz the Bible opened to the passage he had read.
And Ganz said, "The name that I saw at the top of the page was Isaiah. Hans had been reading to me from my Jewish Bible, from my Hebrew Scriptures. And I felt as though someone had taken a sword and cut me to pieces. Hans then told me, as I sat with my eyes transfixed on the name Isaiah, that it was written 700 years before Jesus was born. I felt as if I had been stabbed. And I knew at that instance that if Jesus wrote history about himself and it was in my Jewish Bible, that if the Gentile God was the Jewish God, that he was truly God, and I had to submit everything in my life to him. And that day, I knelt and became a Christian".
The God who put that all together in Isaiah and in the New Testament was none other than the God you and I worship, and his Son is Jesus Christ. So, when we look at these things from the Old Testament, what do we learn? How do we process this in our own daily lives? First of all, when you do this, this little routine, this little study that we've done today, what happens is you strengthen your faith.
You know, I'm getting so tired of people saying, "Oh, you Christians, you believe anything. Somebody tells you to believe it and you believe it". No, I don't believe anything. I believe what the Bible says, and I've done some homework to find out that what the Bible says is not just true because it's true, it's true because it's been proven to be true. The Bible tells the truth. And this Jesus, who is the miracle out of this process, is the Jesus who says to you and me, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. And no man comes to the Father except through me".
We may not like that, we may think that's pretty exclusive, but it's true. If Jesus could do what he did in the old and the new, he proves who he is. And that gives me such great comfort. When I have a doubt, when I have a concern about my faith, as we all do on occasion, one of the best things you can do is go back and read Psalm 22. And when you get done with that, go read Isaiah 53 and realize that was written 1,000 years and 700 years before it ever happened in the New Testament.
So, knowing Jesus from the Old Testament reassures our faith. And it revives our hearts. Do you remember when the two disciples went on this walk on the road to Emmaus? It was after Jesus died on the cross, and these two guys were going from Jerusalem to Emmaus. And on the way, they were talking with each other about how disappointed they were because they thought Jesus was going to be their king. And all of a sudden, somebody started walking along with them. This is one of my favorite stories in the New Testament. And they didn't know who it was.
The Bible actually says that Jesus caught up with them and he got in step with them, so now they're having this conversation, Jesus walking along with them. They're talking about how they had hoped that Jesus was going to be the one who would relieve them from their bondage. And the one they were talking about was walking along with them, and they didn't know it. And finally, they get to the turnoff to go to their house, and they go to their house, and the Bible says that when they were breaking the bread, in the breaking of the bread, they realized who it was who had been with them, and then he departed from them.
And Luke 24:32 says this about the conversation they had about Jesus. "And they said to one another, 'Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us on the road, and while he opened the Scriptures to us'"? Those two disciples knew something was going on. Jesus opened the Scriptures to them, and what did he do? He opened the Old Testament Scriptures. And the Bible says that he taught them from the Old Testament Scriptures concerning himself, and the result of it was, it revived their hearts, and they were filled with joy and excitement.
That's what happens when you realize that he's the Jesus of the old and the Jesus of the new. Knowing Jesus from the Old Testament will restore your hope. Romans 15:4 says this, "For whatever things were written in the Old Testament were written for our learning, that we might have hope". We have hope. It's not a hope so hope, it's a know so hope. We know that Jesus is who he claims to be. Well, I hope you understand now that when you read the Old Testament, you're not putting Jesus on hold until you get to the new. You're finding Jesus, as the author said, on every page.
In his book on biblical prophecy, Herbert Lockyer told a story about a famous magician named Harry Houdini. Harry Houdini could escape any set of locks known to men. Once in Paris, a local magician claimed that he could do anything Houdini did. And he offered to have himself locked in a cage secured by one of Houdini's special padlocks. The man had secretly discovered the combination through an accomplice, and he knew he could easily free himself. But unfortunately for him, Houdini suspected a trick, and he changed the combination on the lock.
And the next day, the poor magician tried in vain to extricate himself as the crowd jeered. Finally, Houdini stepped forward and gave the man the new code. It was a five letter combination, I'm going to put it on the screen. Here was the new combination, F-R-A-U-D, fraud. Lockyer said the one who worked out the combination was the one who could unlock it.
In like manner, the one who gave those Old Testament prophecies as a lock knew the combination, and he alone can unlock the mysteries. Here is that word that unlocks the mysteries of the Old Testament. It's the word J-E-S-U-S. Make sure the promised Messiah is your Savior. Study his portrait. And always remember the combination to a life of joy and victory is the simplest formula in the world. It's simply J-E-S-U-S. He's the Jesus of the old and he's Jesus of the new. Find him in the old in picture, find him in the new in his presence. Find him in the old in all the types. Find him in the new as he lives out his life in Israel.
Most of all, find him in your heart. Realize that God has created you with a God-shaped vacuum in your heart. He put the combination there. And if you don't respond to the combination he put in your heart, you'll always have an empty place in your life. He built you, men and women, with a space that only he can fill. You can try to stuff it with everything else, but it never is right.
It isn't until Jesus comes to live in your heart that you can say, "Oh, so that's what I've been looking for, so that's what I've been waiting for". I recommend him to you. I'm not preaching about Jesus so you'll know more about him. I'm preaching about Jesus so you'll love him more in your life, and want him more in your everyday experience. He's the real deal. He's the only one who can bring the satisfaction to your heart. You were created for him.