By Archie England, PH.D., NOBTS Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew
Q: Are there any significant themes that bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament?
A: Yes, four major concepts bridge both Testaments: Creation, Covenant, Kingdom, and Redemption. Though numerous other concepts exist, these four emerge as dominate bridges between the testaments.
Creation conveys several key ideas: (1) creation of all things new (Genesis 1-2) versus the new creation of believers in Christ; (2) first Adam (through whom sin entered, Genesis 3) versus second Adam (Jesus, through whom many will gain eternal life, Romans 5:15); and (3) Sabbath, as the seventh day’s rest and adoration of God, further alludes to the eschatological goal of eternal blessing once God has re-created all things new – the heavens and the earth – eradicating the ruin of sin. This event itself Jesus compared to “the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37). Paradise lost will indeed become paradise regained.
Covenant controlled most every aspect of Jewish life. One’s relationship with God, others, and even self, was governed by this covenant. Its laws served as instructions for obedience and blessings; its sacrificial system, a means for restoring those who failed to follow those instructions. In that light, Jesus declared his life and death (the shedding of his blood) to be the basis of a “new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31; Luke 22:20). What God had done selectively with a few individuals (Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David) and the nation Israel, He freely offered to all the world through His son, Jesus the Christ. Covenant is indeed a bridge – for salvation.
Kingdom, if viewed as “dominion,” existed from the first revelation of God’s handiwork. But the concept of an earthly setting for the rule of God among men derives most clearly from His promise to David (2 Samuel 7:10-16) – a son of David will always rule upon the throne. In keeping with the prophets, the New Testament designated Jesus as that Son of David. Isaiah, Micah, Ezekiel, and Daniel had boldly asserted the future Messiah’s physical presence – his birth, enthronement, rule, and even his death! Hence, kingdom became closely associated with the messianic hope that God’s anointed would defeat all the nations and re-establish Israel to her rightful place of honor. The “rock” Daniel saw, cut out without hands, had founded a new kingdom (Matthew 16:16-19) – the kingdom of God on earth.
Redemption, or deliverance, surfaces in nearly every book of the Old Testament. God continually delivered His people from destruction. Just like God spared Adam and Eve (by shedding blood), He spared Noah (and family), Jacob’s lineage from Egyptian bondage, Judah from the Assyrians, and a remnant from Babylon. God repeatedly gave Israel leaders as examples of what a deliverer might look like (Deuteronomy 18:15) – Moses, Joshua, the judges of Israel, godly kings, faithful prophets, and dedicated priests. Just as Hosea had bought Gomer from the auction and Amos had contended with God to stay His decreed destruction, Jesus Christ became the advocate for His people and paid the ultimate price for their deliverance – he gave his life for us!
By Archie England, PhD., Director, Baptist College Partnership; Associate Professor, J. Wash Watts Chair of Old Testament and Hebrew.