There’s a connection, a vital connection. But for too many, that connection is never really made. For some, the Old Testament is considered irrelevant for faith today. For others, it’s seen, at best, as optional for the believer. But if God says that ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and profitable for growing up in the faith, shouldn’t we, at some point, become familiar with ALL SCRIPTURE?
To be sure, as babes in Christ we need to be started on the milk, and then the meat, of the New Testament. We need to lay the foundation of the love of God manifest in the Son of God. Of the Christ crucified for the sin of the world, of Him risen and ascended in triumphal victory, and of the power of the gospel to bring about a righteousness through faith. Of new life and new power. Of the abundance and sufficiency of grace to not only save but to sustain and to sanctify, as well. Of being called to a new walk as a new person enabled by the Holy Spirit. But at some point, if we want to get the full picture, we need to dive into the Old Testament.
The fullness of God, all His divine attributes, is made known as He reveals Himself to His chosen people. The sovereignty of God among all nations is clearly displayed as history is recorded from a heaven-sent point of view. And not only is there much to learn from the past, but much is said of the future. And in that, for those familiar with both the Old and the New, there is a connection, a vital connection.
Case in point, something I read in Isaiah and something I read in Hebrews.
In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
(Isaiah 19:24 ESV)
If there was any less likely coalition to be imagined, I’m not sure what it might. A three-strand cord comprised of Israel, Egypt, and Assyria is kind of like the U.S., Russia, and North Korea all embracing. Their borders thrown wide open. Their ideology aligned. Their worship unified. Hard to imagine.
But, so says the LORD through Isaiah, a day is coming when Egypt and Assyria will worship with Israel. Egypt, perpetually known as the people of Israel’s bondage, their captors. Assyria, recorded in the annals of history as those who destroyed the 10 northern tribes of Jacob’s legacy, Israel’s conquerors. But one day, these captors and these conqueror will become Israel’s companions.
And what really grabbed my attention, is that these former enemies of God’s chosen nation will one day not only be reconciled to God but will also be renamed by God. Egypt will be “My people.” Assyria will be known as “the work of My hands.” And they will be counted together with Israel as “My inheritance.”
And the question becomes how? On what basis could those who once opposed God now be received by Him? And then, through what means? What dynamic could possibly be powerful enough to turn enemies of God and His people into co-worshipers of God with His people?
For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. . . . So also Christ did not exalt Himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by Him who said to Him, “You are My Son, today I have begotten you” . . . Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him
(Hebrews 5:1, 5, 8-9 ESV)
Christ the Son was made a high priest by God the Father to act on behalf of men, ALL MEN from all nations. He offered Himself, once for all, as the sacrifice for sin–not just for the sin of Israel, but for Egypt and Assyria also, and for all those who will receive His finished work on their behalf through the obedience of faith. And thus He became the source of eternal salvation to ALL who would believe.
He makes way for the enemies of God to be reconciled. For the least likely to worship to become worshipers. And in that, not only are they reconciled to God, but they are reconciled to one another such that, people from all nations can come together to bless the LORD. And they will be called, “My people . . . the work of My hands . . . My inheritance.”
That’s the connection between an ancient prophecy which seems so unlikely, and a current reality which is so incredible. A vital connection.
Because of grace. For His glory.