The testimony of Scripture Honouring God Moses wrote of me Summary
In a previous article some thoughts were offered as to how to understand scripture. It was emphasised that we need to accept that the Bible as God's inspired and infallible word; we must be born anew and be filled with His Spirit; and not least acknowledge that the central message of the Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Himself. In this article we shall give some further thought particularly looking at as to how we can understand the OT.
One of the tips given in the previous article was " Because of its unity the Bible, is its own commentary". This is very important because if scripture is, as we have stated, inspired then the only inspired commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. Other commentaries may be helpful, but they are not scripture and certainly not infallible. Scripture alone is infallible, and when it interprets a passage of scripture then that is the true and settled meaning, irrespective of men's ideas.
This discourse took place just after the man at the pool Bethesda had been healed. The Jews were angry that it had taken place on the Sabbath day, and then tried to kill Him because of His claim of deity. In answer to this Jesus said that there were certain things that witnessed (testified) of Him
1) John the Baptist.
It was John's mission to prepare the way for Jesus (Mk.1:2) and in his preaching he always spoke of Him who was to come (eg. Mtt.3:11). Indeed John the Baptist declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God, and the Baptiser in the Holy Spirit ( Jn.1:29-33). The people heard John and rejoiced in his light for a season. John Baptist truly bore witness of Christ to the Jews.
2) The works His Father gave Him
Already by the time we get to this miracle Jesus had done many mighty works that they could not deny. Indeed they didn't deny the healing of this man at Bethesda, they were just angry that it happened on a Sabbath day. The sign of the Father's works were evident, they did not deny them, instead they chose to ignore them.
3) The Father Himself had borne witness.
Notably at Jesus' baptism. When the Sprit descended and the Father said 'this is my beloved Son.'
4) The Scriptures
The Jews thought that the scriptures gave life, but not so according to Jesus. Life only comes from coming to Jesus, the scriptures TESTIFY of Jesus. s! It is worth pausing a moment and remember at this stage none of the NT had bee written. So Jesus is clearly speaking of the OT scriptures. So we conclude without doubt that the OT speaks of Christ NT
The Jews had missed the point of their own scripture. But why did they miss it? Well Jesus gives us the reason, and it is an eye opener to say the least!
The key to this is the fact that Jesus said that these people did not seek honour from God, instead they sought honour from one another. Jesus then said that Moses, the one in whom they trust ( or pinned their hopes on), would accuse them.
This is then our first discovery: to believe we must seek the honour that comes from God, and not from men.
If anyone is willing to do God's will then he shall know if the doctrine of Jesus is of God. This is one way of seeking the honour that comes from God, willing to do God's will. This immediately takes away the seeking of honour that comes from men. Further to that Jesus said that those who speaks of himself seeks his own glory. We need to seek His glory for then no unrighteousness will be in him.
There is an interesting passage later on in John's Gospel record after another healing. This time it was the man who was born blind (Jn.9). Jesus healed him. The resulting dispute with man a resulted in the man being cast out of the synagogue. But just before they did they asked his parents as to what happened, and we read this:
The parents were afraid of being cast out themselves, that is why they answered thus. Their fear was of man, seeking honour from man. Their son on the other hand was bold: he spoke of what he knew, and was cast out from the synagogue for it. When face to face with Jesus afterwards his cry was "who is he that I might believe?"(Jn.9:36). And when Jesus revealed Himself the man believed. He was willing to do God's will, and not to fear man. He was seeking that honour from God, he obeyed Jesus for his healing, and as a result of his seeking thereafter He believed the words of Jesus.
The following discourse with the Jesus, in Jn 10 shows that the Jews did not understand His words, and here we can see that they were only seeking honour and approval from each other. No wonder they never understood what Jesus was saying!
To believe the Scriptures it is important that our hearts are seeking the will of God. This is a starting point. For we can never gain a true understanding unless we believe, and we can't believe unless we are seeking God's will. Then we shall know that the teaching of Jesus is true.
In the passage with which we began this study Jesus spoke very clearly about the OT scriptures:
1) They testify of Him
2) Moses wrote of Him
3) The Jews to whom He was talking didn't believe Moses!
Now the first two points come as no surprise to any student of the Bible. But the third? Jesus was saying to these Jews, who had been brought up on Moses. They would have been taught from childhood the commandments, the stories of Israel, in fact the Jews revered their history. Now they were being told they didn't believe Moses! Jesus said they even put their trust in him, but didn't believe him! How can this be?
We have a similar saying of Jesus in Luke's Gospel.
In the story/parable of the rich man an Lazarus it finishes with the words if they don't hear Moses, and the prophets they will not be persuaded even if one is raised from the dead! The natural way of thinking is that if one comes back from the dead people will believe, yet Jesus said that this is not the case. After all many didn't believe when Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus put the emphasis on believing the scriptures.
The failure of the Jews in Jn.5 to believe Moses resulted in a failure to believe Jesus! This is clear message to us all. One reason, if not the main reason for men and women throughout the ages not believing Jesus as the scripture reveals Him to be, is simply not believing Moses!
Jesus made it clear that the OT spoke specifically of HIM. And our second point of understanding the OT is that the scriptures clearly testify and point to Jesus. As we read and study the OT this is the principal point we need to keep in mind.
After the resurrection Jesus made it abundantly clear that all of the OT spoke of Him. Lk.24:25--27; 44-46.
Indeed in the first of the Luke passages mentioned it seemed that Jesus expected the two on the road to Emmaus to have realised this already.
We shall now look at the books of Moses and consider some of the scriptures that speak of Christ. This will not be a detailed examination of the scriptures mentioned, but a brief survey of some of them. The difficulty is not finding such scriptures, but rather which ones to leave out. We shall take one example from each of the five books, and see how the NT comments on it. So it will also be seen that the Bible does indeed commentate upon itself.
Reading the passages concerning Abraham, without the insight of the NT, one would think that the promises were t do with Abraham's physical descendents alone. Yet moving into the NT we have the inspired revelation of what was God's intention all those centuries previous.
When commentating on Abraham's call and the promise God made to him, Paul says that the seed is Christ. In fact Paul labours the point that the word used is singular rather than plural. This revelation shows that behind all of God's dealing with Abraham and the nation of Israel was the preparation for the coming of Christ. The promised seed is Christ.
Paul then makes the logical deduction that if we are in Christ, and since Christ is the seed promised, then we too are Abraham's seed, and as Paull says in Romans Abraham is our f\ther.This continues the thought of Christ the seed from the first promise in Gen.3:15, which promises Christ will bruise Satan's head.
In redeeming His people from Egypt God brought ten plagues upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The last of these was the death of the firstborn and the Passover was introduced. Great details were given: each house had to slay a lamb; its blood sprinkled on the door posts and lintel; the lamb had to be eaten inside the house and the people ready to leave for the promised land. Then each year thereafter Israel was obliged to remember this event as one of the 'feasts' laid down in the Mosaic law.
Turning to the NT Paul make it clear that Christ is our Passover, who was sacrificed for us I Cor.5:7-8. In Luke's account of the Transfiguration we read that the conversation was of Jesus' EXODUS (literal Greek). Thus we see that the Passover events point clearly to Jesus and His death. We also note that Jesus' death for us was at the time of the Jewish feast of Passover. Again we are not looking at the details here of these scriptures, but pointing out that the NT gives us a clear commentary that these events speak of Christ.
The whole of the Hebrew letter is a commentary on how the OT is fulfilled in Christ. This passage mentions the Day of Atonement when the high Priest went in once a year to the Holiest of all. This great Day in Israel's life is set out in Lev.16. The writer to the Hebrews tells us how it points to Christ. He became a High priest of a more perfect tabernacle, and the sacrifice was Himself and by offering his own blood ahs entered the Holy place and consequently has obtained eternal redemption for us. This commentary of the day of Atonement clearly and unquestionably shows that Moses spoke of Jesus.
As part of the day of Atonement two goats were chosen, one was slain and whose blood was sprinkled in the Holiest of all by the High priest; the second was the scapegoat, all the sins of the nation were symbolically laid on it and it was driven into the wilderness. Jesus entered the true tabernacle with His blood, and also was made sin for us. He was also the scapegoat for us. II Cor.5:21.
In His discourse with Nicodemus Jesus talking of the new birth, uses an incident in Israel's wilderness's wonderings to introduce His coming crucifixion. The people of Israel were murmuring and God sent snakes. On crying out to Moses God instructed Moses to make a brass snake and place it on a pole. He was the to lift it up that whoever was to look on it would live.
Jesus takes this incident and applies it to Himself, that just as Moses lifted up this snake, so Jesus would be lifted up that whoever looks to Him would be saved. Nothing can be clearer than Jesus Himself pointing out what He was to say later to the Jews who claimed to trust in Moses!
This quote is taken from Deuteronomy when Moses was giving Israel the law a second time and preparing them for their entry into the promised land. The context in which Paul speaking concerns comparing the righteousness of the law with the righteousness of faith.
Israel, whilst having a zeal for God it is not according to knowledge. Now that thought is interesting since it was they to whom God gave the scriptures. This thought may tie up with what Jesus says about them not believing Moses, but this is beyond our present train of thought.
Paul also quotes Lev.18:5: Ye shall therefore keep My statutes and my judgements which if a man do he shall live in them .. This is the righteousness of the law doing and keeping them! 25-29. From previous arguments in Romans Paul has shown that this is not possible.
But what is the righteousness of faith? Well Christ is the end of the law for righteousness but how does Moses speak of this? This is where the quote from Deuteronomy comes in. Moses The whole of Dt 30 is to do with God prophesying Israel's captivity! Dt.30:1-3. He then says that after that He will gather them again back to the land.Dt.30:4-5. He then promises that their hearts will be circumcised!! Dt.30:6-10.We know from the NT that this is the language of new birth, the new heart all prophesised in Jer 31:31-34; Ez.36:24-28 indeed Paul in Rom.2:25-29. says that the true Jew is one which is circumcised in heart.
Then Moses goes on to say that this commandment is not hidden, they need not go up to heaven to bring it down nor is it beyond the sea that they should go and bring it, but it is near in their mouth and heart. Dt.30:11-14. Paul quotes this and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says it is Christ! The going up to heaven and gong down to fetch him is simply the works of the law/flesh.
But the word of faith is near in your mouth and heart, and note that is in this context that Rom.10:9 is said. Also Paul goes on to expound it further by saying that faith comes by hearing the [spoken] word of God. It is not by works.
The righteousness of faith is thus explained, and Moses wrote of it! That if we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God has raise Him from the dead we will be saved. We do nothing to bring Him down or bring Him up, the word is near our hearts and mouths if we would only believe!
We have seen that in order to gain a true understanding of the OT we must seek the honour that comes from God, and not man. We need to realise that the OT scriptures testify and speak of Christ. Finally the Bible itself gives us the interpretation of those scripture. To illustrate this we this we took one example from each of the books of the Pentateuch. We conclude that the Old Testament is to be understood in the light of the New Testament, and never the other way round.