In Acts we see Peter and Paul preaching from the Old Testament. One passage in particular gives us great insight into the joy of the Old Testament!
And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” Acts 17:2-3, ESVThe word for "proving" here means "to place beside" (John Stott). Paul was setting on one side the predictions, prophecies and pictures of the Old Testament which speak of the death and resurrection of the Messiah (for many of the Jews, this was a new idea; they concentrated on the promises of the Messiah's reign and could never picture him suffering and dying). Beside these prophecies of Scripture, Paul was setting the story of Jesus' life, ministry, death and resurrection. He was placing the facts of Jesus' experience beside Scripture and thereby "explaining and proving" and "proclaiming" that "this Jesus...is the Christ."
Scattered throughout Acts are the sermons of Peter and Paul and others, who do this very thing again and again. They loved the Old Testament and the Christ who was pictured on every page.
The Jews in Berea were called "noble" because when Paul preached Jesus from the Old Testament they were "examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Paul's teaching was on trial as they examined it with the Scriptures. And this is called "noble!" (As in, we should put the teachings we hear on trial, testing them by the Scriptures). All of this calls for us to dig in and study God's word, including the Old Testament!
Let's close by looking at a collection of Scriptures that reinforce this truth. Have you ever noticed the amount of New Testament verses that teach us that all of the Old Testament is about Jesus?
• But all of God’s promises find their Yes in him (Jesus). 2 Corinthians 1:20
• Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Colossians 2:16-17 (The Old Testament laws were shadlows, but the substance is Jesus!)
• But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Acts 3:18
• And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days Acts 3:24
• To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:43
• But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Romans 3:21-22a (The righteousness God gives us is “through faith in Jesus Christ,” and is “apart from the law,” as in the law does not save us; however, Paul says that this righteousness through faith in Jesus was the idea all along, and was pictured, predicted and pointed to in the Old Testament: “the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it.”)
Jesus taught this clearly and specifically:
• You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, [40 ] yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. … For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. [47 ] But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” John 5:39-40; 46-47
(Here Jesus claims that the “Scriptures…bear witness about” him, and that, more specifically, the first 5 books of the Bible are all about him!!)
• And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31
(Jesus used this “must” language when referring to the necessity of his death and resurrection. Why was it a “must?” Because this was the point of the whole Old Testament!)
• And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! [26 ] Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” [27 ] And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27
(What a Bible study this must have been!! He called them “foolish” and “slow of heart to believe.” In other words, these promises and pictures of his death and resurrection were there all along, but must be revealed by God. Jesus then, apparently, went through the entire Old Testament with them, showing them the Messiah and his death and resurrection!)
• Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” [45 ] Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [46 ] and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, [47 ] and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. [48 ] You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24:44-48
(Jesus includes the entire Old Testament in his 3-part breakdown – “the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms;” He had to open their minds “to understand the Scriptures.”)
How do we apply this teaching?
1. Let us not neglect the study of God's word!!!
2. Let us not be satisfied with externals and commands while missing JESUS in our Bible study. Instead, let us read the Bible prayerfully, asking the Spirit of God to open our eyes and understanding and show us Jesus!
Get in the word and behold Jesus Christ, who is the point of the entire Bible!!