14 March 2021
We have examined the claim of Jesus as the fulfilment of the Old Testament Scripture. We continue to look at this and its implications. Understanding this in greater depth would help us to appreciate the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and the continuity of the Old Testament into the New Testament. It also would help us to note the oneness and unity of the Bible and the divine authorship of the whole Scripture.
The prophets of the Old Testament anticipate the coming of the Lord and Messiah, specially associated with the Davidic king, who will usher in God’s kingdom, making all things right and reversing the effects of sin and death. What is crucial to note is that this coming of God’s kingdom will occur only through the inauguration of the new covenant by the work of the Messiah, thus bringing to fulfillment all the previous covenants seen in the Old Testament between God and His people. This Old Testament background serves as the basis for its teaching on the kingdom. In the Gospels and the New Testament, the kingdom refers primarily to God’s kingly and sovereign rule, and it is especially tied to God’s saving reign that has broken into this world in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. In Jesus, the Bible announces that the long-awaited kingdom has come and that the rule of sin and death has been destroyed. Through Jesus’ obedient life and death,He has inaugurated God’s kingdom over which He now rules and reigns – it is already here. And as the resurrected and ascended King, He commands all people to repent and to enter that kingdom of life.
The New Testament also stresses that even though, in Jesus, the kingdom is here, it is still not yet since it awaits the consummation in Christ’s return. What the Old Testament anticipated and predicted have actually arrived in the coming of the Lord Jesus, yet they still await their full consummation. Even though in principle the promised new age is here, there is still more to come. In Christ’s coming, the fulfillment of all the hopes and expectations of God’s promised plan of redemption has now taken place. Because Jesus has fulfilled the Old Testament, there is massive change or discontinuity from what has preceded; although the New Testament continues the basic storyline of the Old Testament, many of the themes that were basic to the Old Testament are now transformed.
‘Kingdom’ no longer refers primarily to a theocratic state in which God rules by His human vassal in the Davidic dynasty; it now refers to the immediate transforming reign of God, brought about in the ministry, death, resurrection, ascension of the promised Messiah, and consummated at His return.The focus of the people of God is no longer national; it is international, transracial, transcultural involving all nations and is universal.
The church is not simply a New Testament phenomenon. The New Testament church is the historical continuation of Old Testament Israel. The Apostle Paul pictured the church in history, from its beginning to his own day, as a single olive tree, from which some natural (Israelite) branches had been broken off through unbelief, to be replaced by some wild (Gentile) branches. Elsewhere, Paul tells Gentile believers that in Christ they have become ‘Abraham’s seed’, the Israel of God. The basis of the church’s life in both testaments is the covenant which God made with Abraham.