kings & chronicles
The Apostle Paul highlights two important purposes of the Old Testament for the New Testament churches, particularly those made up of mostly Gentiles. Nowhere does he hint that it is a book of rules for Gentiles to keep in order to be saved or more spiritual. The salvation of Cornelius and his house (Acts 10), the church council at Jerusalem (Act 15), and the record of Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 12-14, 16-28) make that abundantly clear. And yet, the Hebrew Scriptures are of immense value and a vital part of the Word of God without which we cannot possibly fully comprehend and appreciate the Gospels and the writings of the Apostles.
When we host Israeli backpackers in our home for dinner down here in Huaraz, Peru, I make sure that a few things are clearly visible. My big English-Spanish Bible on the coffee table declares loudly that my “Christian Bible” contains both the Old and New Testaments and that God’s Word, given to the world through the Jews, has been translated into the languages of the Gentiles. An Israeli flag in the window and a tabletop menorah communicate that we are FRIENDS of the Jewish people, not what the rabbis have claimed all Christians to be. A finjan and a bag of very fine ground Israeli coffee from Jerusalem infused with cardamom show that there are aspects of Jewish culture we appreciate and have incorporated, not for religious reasons, but for the liberty of enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 8:15).
And then there’s the hymn book-sized Hebrew Tanakh (i.e. Old Testament) with the smaller Hebrew B’rit Chadashah (i.e. New Testament) placed a bit caddy-cornered on top. Now what’s that all about? Well first, I’m amazed at how though on a secondary table by a wall, it always seems to catch the eye of our Jewish visitors. And when it does, I can explain very clearly the truth about the Bible and what Christians actually read, despite what some rabbi might have said or taught them in Hebrew school.
You see, a building cannot stand unless it has a firm foundation. The foundation is the most important part of a structure. If it is weak and compromised, the building erected thereupon will fall into ruin. Conversely, a foundation without a building or a structure erected upon it is quite pointless. It serves little more than taking up space and raising questions. In this vein, the Hebrew Tanakh is the sure and strong foundation of the Word of God, the Bible. By the pens of faithful Jewish prophets, kings, priests, farmers, and men of valor, the Holy Spirit of God spoke and revealed Himself and His standard of righteousness to the world. Upon this foundation, the B’rit Chadashah (i.e. New Testament) was erected by Jewish eyewitnesses of the things prophesied by the Jewish prophets. This building stands upon a firm foundation just as God promised it would (Jeremiah 31:31, where the Hebrew words translated “new covenant” are “B’rit Chadashah,” exactly what is printed on the front of any Hebrew New Testament), and it proves every word of the Old Testament to be true and authoritative. And of course, the scarlet thread that runs throughout, binding the two together into one Bible, is the Jewish Messiah, enfolded in the Old and unfolded in the New. Without the New Testament, the Old Testament truly leaves one hanging, and without that Old Testament, the New Testament has no historic base of divine authority. It cannot stand. They are one Bible, and therefore, you would be quite foolish to only camp out in the Sermon on the Mount or the Book of Ephesians as so many do in modern-day churches.
What a powerful image is a smaller Hebrew New Testament sitting atop a large Hebrew Old Testament! It points straight to the true Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth whose life and ministry fulfilled more than 48 specific details uttered by Jewish prophets centuries before.
Let’s go back to the Apostle Paul and what he highlights as two of the primary purposes of the Old Testament. It is full of ENSAMPLES (not “examples”) that ADMONISH and warn us, especially those of us upon whom the Last Days have fallen (I Corinthians 10:11). The record of God’s raising up of the Jews and His dealings with them before the coming of the Messiah prophesied way back in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), are not a giant example for us. They are a giant ENSAMPLE (i.e. a library of many examples, the KJV translators had it exactly right) that serves to reveal God’s immutable character, His consistent judgment, man’s condition and sinful nature, and our desperate need for a Messiah. On the flip side, or secondly, the Old Testament is written for our LEARNING, that we might see PATIENCE and COMFORT in the lives of God’s covenant people, and therefore have HOPE (Romans 15:4). For if God has kept his unconditional promises to the people of Israel, throughout her history and even amidst terrible failure, always reserving to Himself a faithful remnant, then most assuredly He will keep his promises to the Church and the faithful remnant of both Jews and Gentiles that are the Bride of Christ. The Old Testament Scriptures are there for our ADMONITION and our LEARNING. Why then do we neglect this treasure trove?
I would go as far as to say that every single consequence and solution for America’s problems are found within those pages, “for there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Moreover, America’s future, apart from national repentance and despite the outcome of an election in 2020, is predictable and clear as the nose on one’s face right there in the pages of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Yet, we cannot see it because we have failed to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (I Timothy 2:15). And what “word of truth” do you think Paul was referring to specifically when he exhorted young Timothy? Why of course, it was the Old Testament, for much of the New Testament had yet to be written.
Perhaps nowhere in the Old Testament is the ADMONITION and LEARNING more loud for the America of today, both its political and its spiritual conditions, than in the annals of the Kings and Chronicles, particularly the history of the Divided Kingdom that spilt after the death of Solomon. There is so much treasure to be found in the chronologies, the wars, the dates, the dynasties, the lives of wicked kings, the lives of righteous kings, and the preaching of the true prophets, not a single one of which drank a politician’s Kool-aid, even that of the best of monarchs. You see, the Donald Trump’s, the Joe Biden’s, the Nancy Pelosi’s, the Anderson Cooper’s, the Chris Cuomo’s, the Antifa’s, the LGBTQ+, and all the main players in these days of American demise have been here before. They went by names like Rehoboam, Baasha, Asa, Jezebel, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, Athaliah, the prophets of Baal, the sodomites in the land, Jehu, Joash, Jeroboam II, Ahaz, Hoshea, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. And if we understood this history of a Jewish nation that knew God and turned its back upon Him, we could surely recognize the same spirits today in a Gentile nation that once knew God and has done the same.
It is often been said that men who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. AMEN! I can also be said that those of us who don’t know our history may be doomed not to repeat it. If we Gentile Christians truly understood that and understood what the Apostle Paul was communicating by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in I Corinthians 10:11 and Romans 15:4, then there would be many more today like Shemaiah, Iddo, Ahijah the Shilonite, Oded, Hanani, Jehu the son of Hanani, Micaiah the son of Imlah, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. of old, who refuse to drink any politician’s Kool-aid and declare without apology THUS SAITH THE LORD.
In future posts, I’ll be sharing some of the treasure I have found in the Kings & Chronicles for your admonition and learning. And here in Huaraz, we endeavor to do the same “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Just yesterday, we did so into the wee hours of the morning with three Jewish young men who hail from New York. They are traveling together for a month and had no plans whatsoever to visit Huaraz. But, there was some mixup with a bus out of Lima, and they ended up here after an all-night ride. Upon checking into a hostel early in the morning, one of the first things that caught their eyes was one of our hand-written Hebrew signs. Long story short, they came over yesterday, and after an afternoon Israeli coffee, Josiah and I took them on a hike to the top of a viewpoint above Huaraz. It was quite ironic. As it grew dark, we found ourselves sitting on the base of the giant Roman Catholic cross on top of that hill. I used the opportunity to explain the difference between the Catholic cross and the old rugged cross described by Jewish eyewitnesses in the New Testament. I then explained the difference between Catholic Jesus, the white guy hanging on a cross who can’t seem to get off of there and who can only be approached through his mother, versus the Jewish Messiah revealed by Jewish eyewitnesses in the New Testament who was crucified and rose from the dead just as the Prophets had said He would.
Anyway, we slogged back to the apartment where Jamie an the girls had a nice hot meal waiting. The conversation eventually moved from the dining room table to the coffee table. Bethany brought how some homemade cookies she had prepared, and we brewed another pot of the good stuff from Jerusalem infused with cardamom. I was greatly encouraged by the intelligence and level-headedness of these young men who certainly don’t fit the mold of the typical college-age buffoon in America these days. I was intrigued to hear their views on politics, anti-semitism, and the state of things in America, a nation that has forgotten God. And, their minds were very open to speak of the Bible and the person and work of Yeshua HaMessiach. We looked at Isaiah 53 together, spoke of Haggai 2 and Psalm 22, and I elaborated upon how the history of Israel makes it abundantly clear to me, a Gentile whose distant ancestors used to bow down to wood, rocks, and images of gold, that the God of Israel is the True God and that He can be trusted to keep His promises. I also shared about the difficult days coming for the people of Israel, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7) or Daniel’s 70th Week (Daniel 9:27). And, in the spirit of a watchman and Team Yeshua’s theme verse for this summer, Ezekiel 3:17-19, I gave warning: “Messiah is the only hope for this world. He is the only hope for the Jew and for the Gentile.”
It was close to 1:00am when these young men finally walked back to their hostel. All three gladly received a B’rit Chadashah as one of them exclaimed, “I really enjoy talking about this stuff.” The long night came to an end with three giant bear hugs.
Kings & Chronicles, B’rit Chadashahs and Bear Hugs! I marvel at the Divine Hand of Providence. The same that guided the affairs of men in the days of Judah and Samaria guides mine today.
”O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33).”
The Boyd Family (Huaraz, Peru)