Sometimes the Hebrew traditions of circumcision, not eating certain foods, bringing specific sacrifices, and observing religious holidays seem to be empty and pointless. As Paul says in Romans 3:1,
“What advantage then hath the Jew, or what is the profit of cirumcision?”
His answer comes quickly. “Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom. 3:2)
The oracles of God were given to the Jews. I felt like I had a basic understanding of what oracles were, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to look it up in my handy-dandy dictionary. According to the American Heritage Dictionary,
1. A shrine concsecrated to the worship and consultation of a prophetic god. A person who transmits prophecies from deity at such a shrine. A prophecy made known at such a shrine, often in the form of an enigmatic statement or allegory.
2. A person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinions. An authoritative statement or prediction from such an agency.
3. A command or revelation from God.
4. In the Old Testament, the sanctuary of the Temple.
I’m so glad I looked it up! Yes, the tabernacle, and later the temple, were given to the Jews. Last school year, my children and I studied the tabernacle and the symbolism that was woven into every piece of furniture, every ritual, every sacrifice, even the direction it faced. Yes, from Genesis to Malachi, God repeatedly prophesied of a Messiah who would come to set His people free from sin.
Why do we have the Old Testament? If its laws do not apply to us, then why should we study it? What are its benefits? They prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ, which is the foundation of our hope. The more we study the Old Testament, the more sure our hope and trust becomes.
Peter writes about these Scriptures:
“…Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace thatwould come to you, searching what, or what manner of tiem, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the HOly Spirit sent from heaven — things which angels desire to look into. Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ… ” (1 Peter 1:10-13).
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory [at the Transformation, see Matthew 17]: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the Holy mountain. We also have the prophetci word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:16-21).
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
The Old Testament shows me Jesus! Its words bring me hope, cheer, confidence in God, and joy. The more I read and study it, the more sure I am that “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”
Isaiah 45:22 says,
“Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.”
When we look, as we did in Romans 1-2, at mankind and his sinful depravity, we see only despair and pain. This is what we see when we look within ourselves as well. Only when our eyes turn to Jesus Christ can we find peace and hope.
So as Peter closes his epistle, I’ll pray for you today:
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)
P.S. If you’d like to leave a comment, why not list an Old Testament prophecy that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ? Many Bibles list these in the study notes at the back, or a simple Internet search would give you a list.