When I preach, I take every opportunity allowed by the text to show the connection between the old and new testaments. There are several reasons why connections between the old and new testaments are essential to see in your Bible reading. In particular, you need to see Jesus in the Old Testament.
The Inerrancy of Scripture
First, the connectedness of the entire Bible bolsters the inerrancy of Scripture. Think about it for a moment. Numerous authors have written 66 books in the protestant Bible over the span of thousands of years. A conservative estimate is that there are 35 separate authors, but the number could be as high as 40. (The discrepancy is because books like the epistle to the Hebrews were written anonymously). And what do we see throughout all the pages of Scripture? We read about the dominant theme of God’s plan of salvation and redemption woven together like a beautiful tapestry. Acknowledging that all of the Bible is without error and is about God’s plan of redemption helps us to affirm the connections we see between both testaments. In other words, when you begin to read Matthew 1:1, Jesus popped out of nowhere.
Promise / Fulfillment
One way to see how the entire Bible is connected is through the motifs of promise and fulfillment. God made promises in the Old Testament which have their fulfillment in Christ. Here are two examples of more well know promises of the Old Testament.
The Book of Isaiah is called the “5th Gospel” because of its outright proclamations of restoration through the root/stump of Jesse – the line of King David. You might hear this verse every Christmas season.
“Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:13–14
When you have a moment, flip over a few pages to Isaiah 9. The promises of the coming Immanuel in verses 1-7 are even more emphatic. The fulfillment of these promises happened at the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
How about this one from the first book in the Bible.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15
This passage is called the proto-euangelion, the first gospel. Even though Adam and Eve rebelled against their good God, which resulted in sin and death entering the world, God promises to provide a way for death and sin to be defeated. God promises a way for reconcilation and redemption. The One who would defeat death and sin (the 2nd Adam) will bruise or crush the head of Satan through an atoning death at the cross. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of what we read in Genesis 3:15.
A quick Google search reveals there are 3,000 – 7,000 Old Testament promises. I don’t know who is keeping score but let’s just say there are many promises made in the Old Testament (and more in the New Testament). There is a significant debate over who or what fulfills many of the OT promises. The two listed above are easy. Jesus fulfills those OT promises. But there is a certain theological system (*cough* dispensationalism) that believes many OT promises find their fulfillment in Israel. I’ll table that discussion for another blog post. But if you run into a pastor who tells you more about national Israel than Jesus, feel free to exit the room and find the fastest car that leads you away from that nonsense. But I digress.
The Testimony of the New Testament
I want to make one final point about the connectedness of Holy Scripture. And in particular, Jesus is the One who connects the old and new testaments. The New Testament witness is replete with references to the work and person of Christ finding promises fulfilled. Two come to mind, but I guarantee you can spend a year meditating on all the instances when the New mentions the passage from the Old in connection with Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 15, we read that Paul understood Jesus was spoken about in the Old Testament.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures… – 1 Corinthians 15:3–4
So yeah, the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ were written about in the OLD TESTAMENT. Here is one more passage. It’s from the Book of Acts. When Peter gives his famous Pentecost sermon, he says that King David wrote about the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:24). Peter goes on to quote Psalm 16. After quoting the OT, Peter says,
“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. – Acts 2:29–31
Peter was on something, or he was on to something. I think the latter. David knew – not in full – Jesus. Psalm 16 is about Jesus. Now living in a post-Pentecost era, Peter finally sees what the OT promises are all about, Jesus.