Out with the Old and in with the New?

This is part six of a multi-entry blog series titled “Lessons I Learned in the Desert.”

“The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”  – Augustine

While reading through the Old Testament, I couldn’t help but get a feeling of “not yet.” This sense of anticipation was building in me as I read through the Bible. It was subtle at first, like in Gen 3:15 but it became more and more obvious (like in Ezekiel 36:25-27) and then the Old Testament ends with the words from Malachi 4:5-6: “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” We see that the Old Testament ends as a cliffhanger!

I feel as though, although great, the Old Testament is an incomplete work.

But then when I started reading the New Testament I noticed dozens of references to the Old. Obviously, all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled are found in the Old Testament. When Jesus establishes Communion as the sign of the New Covenant, it gains deeper significance against the context of the Jewish celebration of Passover. John the Baptist’s words in John 1:29 only make sense when the reader understands the Jewish sacrificial system and the requirements for the forgiveness of sins. I would even go so far as to say that NONE of Paul’s letters can be fully appreciated without an understanding of the Old Testament. The book of Hebrews refers repeatedly to the Old Testament priesthood and law. It becomes abundantly clear that the New Testament only makes sense if you properly understand the Old Testament.

(On an interesting side note: in Rev 22:20 we see that the New Testament also ends as a cliffhanger!)

I could go on and on but my point is simple… I feel as though, although great, the New Testament is an incomplete work.

What I’m getting at is this: you gotta have both the Old and New. The Old sets the context for the New; the New fulfills the Old. The more I study the Old Testament and the Jewish practices of Jesus’ day, the more I grow to appreciate the New. They point to one another and together they ultimately point the reader to God.