The correct priority of Scripture is sequential. We should start at the beginning. Paul tells us that a later covenant cannot contradict an earlier covenant. Neither can a later scripture contradict an earlier one. If there were such a contradiction, it would mean that one of the scriptures was wrong (in which case it isn’t Holy scripture) or that God had changed His mind (in which case He is inconsistent and fallible). The correct priority of Scripture starts with the Torah.
D. Thomas Lancaster, Restoration, Pg. 52
Christendom’s opinion is precisely opposite the above quote from Lancaster. I can’t tell you how many times it has been expressed or implied that ‘we can’t understand the Old Testament without the New.’ In fact, the very structure of seminary courses, the pattern of preaching habits and the plethora of theological books reveal that Christendom spends roughly 85% of their time in the last 1/3 of the Bible with little or no understanding of the first 2/3rds apart from a few prooftexts.
Yeshua on the other hand, spoke nothing of Himself, but continually pointed to the Tanak (“old” Testament). Paul and all of the other Apostolic writers used the Tanak to prove everything they said. In fact, I cannot recall any of them quoting Yeshua. (I’m sure there are a couple quotes, but I can’t think of any right now.) Seriously! Have you ever considered that they didn’t quote Yeshua? Now, they do point often to his resurrection as validation, but continually use the Torah and the Prophets as evidence of who the Messiah is.
See, when we look through the wrong end of a microscope or telescope, we get a warped or miopic view of the object we are looking at. Why? Our perspective is all wrong. Oh, we may see pieces, we may understand parts, but we cannot get the full picture because we approach from the wrong point of view.
Lancaster’s choice of illustrations is an exact example of this very point. He cites Paul, saying, “a later covenant cannot contradict an earlier covenant. Neither can a later scripture contradict an earlier one.”
I had to look up the footnoted verses and laughed when I found they are in Galatians 3:15-17! Let’s read,
15 Brethren, I speak [a]in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s [b]covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds [c]conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.
The great irony is that Galatians is the book “christendumb” likes to use to invalidate all previously given commandments. Yet, these verses expressly state that this is not possible! Rich!!
[Some might answer, ‘What about the change in High Priesthood or better sacrifices… i.e. Hebrews?’ I answer, ‘The prophecies are in the Tanak! How does the author of Hebrews make his case? He uses the Tanak!’ Thus, validating the point of this post.]
God bless Gideons International, I really appreciate their work. In fact, I carried a handy desert camo New Testament in my pocket in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. And, I understand the financial savings, but what is the message we send when we hand out only the New Testament, or preach only the New Testament?
As Lancaster aptly puts it, it is like building the second story of the house before the foundation or the first floor. Kinda difficult to fix the mess and make it fit properly after the fact, dontchathink? Honestly, the Torah is the foundation of ALL Scripture. It is the breathed Word of God. It is His instructions in righteous living. It is His dictionary defining all terms and concepts later expanded.
What Scripture was Paul referring to in 2 Timothy 3:16-17? He certainly was not arrogant enough to refer to his own letters of instruction as ‘scripture.’ In fact, most of the ‘new Testament,’ including the Gospels had not even been written!!
Of course!! Paul was talking about the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings (Wisdom/history)!
What Scriptures did the Bereans check Paul against?
The Tanak! And, most specifically, the Torah, the foundation! The base from which we measure ALL Scripture going forward.
A quote from Pastor John MacArthur has been making the rounds in the last couple days. It is referred to in a Judah Himango post I reblogged two days ago and showed up again yesterday at another favorite hangout, James’ Morning Meditations.
The quote says,
When Jesus came, everything changed, everything changed.… He didn’t just want to clean up the people’s attitudes as they gave their sacrifices, He obliterated the sacrificial system because He brought an end to Judaism with all its ceremonies, all its rituals, all its sacrifices, all of its external trappings, the Temple, the Holy of Holies, all of it.
Both Judah and James use this quote well to make different points: Himango demonstrates that MacArthur’s thesis does not line up with first century praxis, attested in the Book of Acts; and James, that we can search the Scriptures and find what we want to validate our opinion.
Because this quote comes from a sermon on the Sabbath, I would add that if Mr. MacArthur would begin his study of the Sabbath in the Torah he would find that is it explicitly defined at least seven times and given as an everlasting sign/covenant (Exodus 31:16-17) just as the rainbow is that he cites. Because Mr. MacArthur doesn’t view Scripture from the foundation, his ‘second story’ does not fit either the evidence of the Tanak or the praxis of Acts. His paradigm is incorrect. Or, as James puts it, ‘He sees through a glass darkly.’
The first and third books reviewed yesterday would help MacArthur (and the rest of us) to understand the importance of viewing Scripture from its proper perspective.
Lancaster continues (pg. 53),
The Apostolic Scriptures are also built on the same foundation. Throughout the Gospels, Yeshua proclaimed a message of repentance. He called people back to the simple truth of Torah and offered His life as payment for transgression against the Torah. To validate His teaching, He continually quoted the Hebrew Scriptures. He forbade His disciples from imagining that He might do away with the Torah and even encouraged them to keep the smallest commandments.
The Epistles are an extension of Yeshua’s teaching, but they rest on the foundation of Torah. They are solidly Torah-based. Throughout the Epistles, the Apostles rarely quote Yeshua to prove a point or to introduce a new teaching; instead they cited passages from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah. Paul continually spoke of the Torah, citing passage after passage from the Torah and the Hebrew Scriptures to make his case for the Gospel. His source of authority was the Torah.
Even the Book of Revelation is Torah-based…. etc.
Case closed! If one is to have the same mind as Yeshua and clearly understand what the Apostles are talking about, then he will have a firm grasp of the Torah and the rest of the Tanak. If not, his paradigm is wrong and needs correcting.
Invest yourself in studying and firmly grasping the foundation (Torah) and everything else will make MUCH more sense. Prophecy is ‘de-mystified.’ The story-line is suddenly unraveled. Messiah Yeshua and Paul both become infinitely more understandable. And, here’s the biggie, suddenly Scripture will be a living well that will be like a whole new book… Just as I could not/cannot get enough, neither will you! But then, Lancaster tells you all about his experience in chapter one.
I pray this has blessed or challenged you. Please consider sharing it with a friend or three.