Discovering a Link Between the Old and New Testaments
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. . . And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up one who will arise to rule over the nations in him the Gentiles will hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
Romans 15:4, 12-13
Within the first few weeks of my freshman year of college, I found a church around the corner from my dorm that helped me piece together the fragments of theology I had gathered in my youth. The link between the Old and New Testaments became clearer each week, and through the teaching, terms I found vaguely familiar turned into truths that reached me at a deeply personal level.
One day I realized I was a Gentile. I’d heard the term but never really thought about what it meant—certainly not personally. Then one day with the help of the pastor’s teaching and my own personal reading, it occurred to me I was, in fact, a Gentile in the American Midwest—far, far removed from Abraham and the patriarchs who’d been set apart as God’s chosen people. And yet the letters of Paul explained that I was welcomed into the family of God because of the work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament promises, making it possible for me to claim the whole of Scripture as my reality. Even though I was separated by thousands of miles from the Holy Land and thousands of years from the time of Christ and thousands more from the patriarchs, I could glorify God for his mercy, for making a way for me to join the family of God. Floored at how the Holy Spirit linked me to this line of truth that stretched back to God’s earliest promises, I wrote in the margin of my Bible, “That’s ME!” and then underlined it, amazed.
I continue to be amazed, decades later, sitting in the quiet stillness of this December day looking back at many of the promises again, grateful that those words were written to teach me, to remind me, to encourage me that this Gentile American belongs in the family of God because of Christ Jesus, who came to earth, born as a Jew, fulfilling all those promises recorded in the past to teach us.
Paul wrote in Romans 15:12, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.” During this Advent season, I can look back and see the promises fulfilled in Christ applied to me today, to right now, this moment. I can live in this hope, in this reality.
In Jesus, the Gentiles will hope. “That’s ME!” I can exclaim. Thanks be to God, that’s me.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How have you connected New Testament reality with Old Testament stories and promises? What biblical concepts and truths have come alive to you personally? How can a personal understanding of these truths add depth to your Advent reflections?
PRAYER: Father, you are the God of hope, and I thank you for the encouragement of the Scriptures that remind me to ponder and personally embrace the promises of the past that were fulfilled in Your Son, so that I might be filled with all joy and peace, trusting in You and overflowing with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Ann Kroeker is author of Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. She blogs at annkroeker.com and works as an editor at The High Calling and Tweetspeak Poetry. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.
Image by Tyler Burrus. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.