A hypothetical discussion between a Messianic Jew and a Pentecostal Irish Belfast Bible College graduate regarding their views on the Old and New testaments of the Bible
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” John 1:1,2
Before time ever existed one thing existed and that was the Word. Jesus was the Word made flesh and dwelt among us. Before time existed Jesus existed therefore logically speaking the Word made flesh which is Jesus existed before time existed.
The play unfolds:-
There are two very important people I would like to introduce to you. One is Methuselah middle aged with salt and pepper hair, a big moustache and a bigger tummy with five children four girls and one boy and a wife named Hannah. Names of children are Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Abigail and a son named Isaac. Methuselah has recently come to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour and so has his family they are Messianic Jews who have come to Northern Ireland on holiday.
My next friend is Paul, who likes to think of himself as apostle Paul because of the prophesies he has received from his Pentecostal brothers and sisters from the Elim Pentecostal Church. He is six feet tall, blue/grey eyes with glasses, very thin and scanty blond hair. He is in his late thirty’s. Paul is single and has a Bachelor’s degree in theology from Belfast Bible College. He is hoping to go to Israel as a missionary. Paul met Methuselah in Jerusalem when he went there on holiday and is hoping to get to know Sarah as a prospective bride. Paul and Methuselah have arranged to meet for coffee at Star bucks.
Their conversation begins :-
Meths:- Shalom Paul ( gives Paul a warm hug)
Paul:- Praise the Lord brother and stretches out his hand to shake hands but is overwhelmed by Methuselah’s big hug.
Meths:- How are you Paul? When are you planning on coming to Israel, the land flowing with milk and honey as Psalms 48:1,2 says “ Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. In the city of our God. In His holy mountain beautiful elevation. The joy of the whole earth is mount Zion on the sides of the North. The city of the great King.”
Paul:- Can’t imagine why God would send Jesus to that wee little land to fulfil his purpose in all the earth. He could have come to Northern Ireland ya know it is so green and welcoming, ya know man I am not patriotic but why the Middle East?
Meths:- Laughs out loud Oye ,Oye ,Oye, now you want to turn Jesus Irish. Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem in that wee little land of Israel, through Him all the nations of the earth will be blessed as it says in Luke 2:30-32 “ For mine eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before all the peoples. A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory to your people Israel.”
Paul:-Jesus is all that matters, once we have Jesus who came to save the world from sin and sickness and we thankfully, glory to God, do not need the law. As Martin Luther says (Ahem clears his throat and puts on his most important look) We are saved by grace and not by the law.
(Just then a beautiful blond waitress comes up to take their order, Paul adjusts his glasses and stares at the waitress unable to speak.) So Methuselah gives the orders of two cappuccinos. Paul keeps staring at the waitress till she goes back.
Meths:-Paul you might as well hang a sign around your neck that says ’single and looking intently’. Now coming back to what you said about the law, A.G. Herbert in his book ‘The Authority of the Old Testament says “ it is never said that the Mosaic law is now seen not to have been the law of God at all, on the contrary it is God’s law and it is holy and righteous and good. It is never said that the prophets are right and the law wrong, nor is the moral law endorsed and the ceremonial law repudiated, on the contrary Jesus has come not to destroy but to fulfil both the law and the prophets.”
Paul:- That’s good, Aha, Jesus never came to die for our sins in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament they had sacrifices ,the Mosaic law and of course the prophets. But I says I like the apostles filled with the Holy Spirit doing signs and wonders in Jesus’ name.
Meths:- ( shakes his head) My dear boy let me take you through a journey back to the time of prophets and prophesies and how the Holy Spirit worked in the Old Testament. The prophets filled with the Holy Spirit played a very significant role in the life of the Jewish people and therefore in our lives as well. As I said earlier Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law that was prophetic. Now let me take you to I Samuel 16:13 ( Methuselah takes out his Bible from his brown brief case) ‘Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.’ How did David kill the Lion and the bear 1 Samuel 17:49 ? The answer is simple dear boy because the Holy Spirit was on David. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit was not a free gift to all people only a chosen few were filled with the Holy Spirit and they were the Prophets, Priests, and Kings. The moment Samuel anointed David with oil, David had a change in perspective from David the Shepherd boy to David the King. Now lets go to your favourite part of scripture Luke 3:22 ” And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon him and a voice from Heaven which said “ You are my beloved Son; in you I am well pleased”. From that significant moment in Jesus’ life, Jesus had the ability to work miracles and now this is my point dear boy, which portion of scripture did Jesus read at the synagogue in Nazareth after being endowed with power from on high? He read Isaiah 61:1,2 and if the Old Testament was just the Law and Jesus just came to give us amazing grace why would He read Isaiah 61:1,2 ? A prophecy concerning Himself. Now lets go to Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion, Shout daughter of Jerusalem, See your King comes to you righteous and having salvation gentle and riding on a donkey on a colt, The foal of a donkey.” This prophecy was fulfilled in Matthew 21:7,8 where Jesus sat on the donkey as He approached Jerusalem and the crowds lay their cloaks before Him on the road and Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the donkey just as the law had foretold. Jesus fulfilled the law and the law was prophetic. Therefore dear son you cannot have the new without the old. Like two sides of a coin ( as Methuselah flicks a coin in the air and catches it)
Paul:- Sips his cappuccino, looks at the young couple who have just entered Star bucks and gives a gives a big sigh. He pauses for a moment, takes a big gulp of cappuccino and chokes as it is really hot, he gulps a mouthful of cold water wipes his eyes, puts his glasses back on and continues. According to J P Fokkelman in his book Reading Biblical Narrative
“ The narrative art of the New Testament can be found in the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. These books have been written in the Greek of the Hellenistic world of the first century. All of them move around two land marks, Firstly the person of Jesus Christ and secondly the group of texts that for Jesus, His disciples and the writers of the gospels and the letters constitute the Holy scriptures, The Hebrew Bible. Paradoxically, we can only speak of the Old Testament after a New Testament has been written and recognised as a canon.
Meths:- Dear boy, what are you trying to prove? We had the law first Exodus 20 :1-17, the prophesies, example Isaiah 61:1-3 and Isaiah 53. The Old Testament foreshadowed the New. The Old Testament was the foundation on which the New Testament was built. The New Testament is a prophetic fulfilment of the Old Testament. Jesus is the Word made flesh who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins to fulfil the law and the prophets. Now coming back to a more personal level, You remember the time Rebecca was sick with typhoid I just prayed the Psalms with tears especially Psalm 42. ‘Tears have been my food’ when we did not have enough food in the house for our children to eat but by praying and fasting ( not optionally) God took us through that time when we were in Russia and brought us to the promised land of Jerusalem. Those prayers from the Old Testament worked and now we are here in Northern Ireland on holiday drinking Cappuccino.
Paul:- Takes of his glasses and wipes the tears from his eyes and blows his nose loudly on the Star Bucks serviette. Well Methuselah, it is great having you in Noren Ireian…. I agree with you dear brother that we need the Old Testament to have the New Testament,
Let us pray, Paul clears his throat and prays with the loud voice that people turn around and stare “ Dear God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Thank you for the privilege of knowing Yahweh, Emmanuel God with us and at the same time have the sweet communion with the Holy Spirit. He then pauses and says God give me a wife soon, with a hint to Methuselah, adds someone from the Holy land he again pauses and says in the words of the song by Keith Christianson “ We believe in the Father, who created all that is and we believe the universe and all there is is His. As a loving heavenly Father, He yearned to save us all to lift us from the fall we believe. We believe in Jesus the Father’s only son existing before time had begun a sacrifice for sin, He died and rose again to ransom sinful men we believe. We believe in the Spirit who makes believers one, our hearts are filled with His presence the Comforter has come. The kingdom unfolds in His plan, unhindered by quarrels of man His church upheld by his hand we believe. Though the earth be removed and time be no more these truths are secure, God’s word shall endure whatever may change these things are sure we believe. So if the mountains are cast down into the plains when Kingdoms all crumble this one remains, Our faith is not subject to seasons of man with our fathers we proclaim. We believe our Lord will come as He said, The land and the sea will give up their dead His children will reign with Him as their head, we believe, we believe.
1.Herbert A. G. The Authority of the Old Testament, Faber and Faber Ltd
2.Fokkelman J.P Reading Biblical Narrative, An Introductory Guide, John Knox Press 1995
3.Walter C Kaiser Jr. The Old Testament Documents, Inter varsity press 2001
4. Harrison RK Introduction to the Old Testament , The Tyndale Press 1969