Christmas Day & Reflecting On The Old Testament
It’s Christmas Day! Passed as a federal holiday in 1870 by Pres. Ulysses S. Grant, there are many theories as to why the Congress and the President made the day a national holiday. And, as believers look to Scripture during the holiday season, they often reflect on passages from the Old Testament. A Baptist Press Toolbox pieces reminds us the ancient writings are still relevant today.
It’s Christmas Day! Passed as a federal holiday in 1870 by Pres. Ulysses S. Grant, there are many theories as to why the Congress and the President made the day a national holiday. According to the Freedom Forum, some believe Grant pushed for the holiday to try to restore unity to a fractured nation following the Civil War. Others believe it was an opportunity to appease factory workers who were feeling the pressure of the Industrial Revolution. No matter your politics, most Americans mark the day by gift-giving and sharing time with significant people in their lives.
Perhaps our hearts are bent this way because it is a reflection of what Christmas truly is. The day we remember how our Creator God pursued humanity through giving the gift of His Son. The Bible calls Jesus Christ the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature. In another place, Jesus is called Immanuel or God with us.
Christmas is the day when we are reminded of God’s love and generosity in sending a Savior into the world to make peace between God and man.
The humble Christ child…born of the virgin Mary…would grow up to be found in favor of God and man yet, ultimately, rejected by His own people as they longed for political freedom more than freedom from the bondage of rebellion against God.
His teachings provide the foundation for moral codes and philosophies that have shaped the world. Yet, it was his work in fully obeying God’s law that allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice on Good Friday’s cross. It was there He brought forgiveness and mercy as He died in the sinners’ place.
But even on Christmas, we must not forget the Easter resurrection where Christ overcame even death bringing hope that can only be found in Him.
Today, let us trust in Him not only on Christmas but every day as live in His love and grace.
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As believers look to Scripture during the holiday season, they often reflect on passages from the Old Testament. A Baptist Press Toolbox pieces reminds us the ancient writings are still relevant today.
Here are three major reasons Christians should consider the Old Testament forever relevant.
1. The Old Testament remains relevant because it is God’s timely and inspired Word.
Let’s consider the meaning of the two key adjectives in our definition: timely and inspired. The latter term, inspired, refers to the process by which the Holy Spirit supernaturally and concurrently worked in the human authors of Scripture to produce the message God desired, down to the words themselves (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). Inspired authors produced inspired texts. What men wrote, the Holy Spirit wrote; what Scripture says, God says. Therefore, Scripture, and specifically the Old Testament, is God’s inspired Word. And nothing is more relevant than hearing from God, regardless of how long ago He originally spoke.
This brings us to the former term, timely. When related to the Bible, the word timely applies in multiple senses. First, God’s Word is timely because it is the record of God’s speech and revelatory acts that occurred in time and space (2 Kings 17:13; Jeremiah 7:25; Daniel 9:6; Hosea 12:10; Luke 1:1–4; Hebrews 1:1–2; Acts 26:26–27). It is a timely Word from an eternal God, a message that acts upon and speaks to creatures, events, and circumstances within history.
Second, God’s Word is timely in that God has delivered His message to His people at the “right” time historically and culturally, befitting His redemptive purposes (Deuteronomy 30:11–16; Romans 5:6; Galatians 4:4).
Third, God’s Word is forever timely because it is always relevant for God’s people and for humanity in general (Genesis 1:26–30; 2:15–17; Psalms 1–2; 1 Corinthians 10:6–11). As authoritative verbal revelation, God’s Word should be the primary source for our knowing who God is and what life is about.
2. The Old Testament remains relevant because it is foundational to the Bible’s larger story and the broader story of human history and destiny.
Some might dismiss the need for the Old Testament because we have the New Testament. However, only reading the New Testament would be comparable to walking into a play at the beginning of the third act.
Despite being late to the production, you might be able to pick up on certain elements of the plot and piece together who the most important characters are. Yet, no matter how well you paid attention to the third act, you could never compensate fully for what you missed during the first and second acts. Sure, there are some prominent themes you might be able to delineate, and you might piece together something about the conflict based on seeing the resolution emerge. Nevertheless, you still would not have the acquired familiarity with the whole story the playwright intended. Much the same could be said about how we should approach the Old Testament. We should not purposely miss the first two acts of the epic drama that is the biblical story.
Moreover, the Old Testament is foundational not only to how the story plays out in the New Testament but also to the broader story of humanity. When understood correctly, the Old and New Testaments come to us as one unified story: creation, fall, promise, and fulfillment.
Relatedly, every person we meet is a creature made in God’s image yet corrupted by sin and standing in need of salvation—the same salvation God promised in the Old Testament and accomplished through Christ in the New Testament. Therefore, the Old Testament is relevant to every person’s history and destiny.
3. The Old Testament remains relevant because we find the gospel there.
Building on the previous point, because God makes promises about His plan to redeem the world, we can always learn more from the Old Testament about our Savior and the salvation He provided for us. Remember, the Old Testament is a play looking for its final act. It is a collection of books that instill expectation and longing in the reader. From the onset of sin, God promised an offspring who would defeat the serpent’s toxic grip on humanity in Genesis 3:15, a text many refer to as the protoevangelium (Latin, “first gospel”).
In the Old Testament, God promised to extend blessing to all peoples and nations through this same offspring, while also promising to manifest His sovereign and just rule through a righteous king who would come from this same lineage (Genesis 12:1–3; 17:3–8; 49:8–10; 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89). Additionally, God promised to deal with the guilt and corruption of humanity’s sin by someday providing a sufficient sacrifice and a permanent moral transformation (Isaiah 52–53; Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 36:24–27). Together these promises constitute the package we know this side of the new covenant as the gospel and its world-changing benefits.
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