To know Jesus is to know the Father. Modern Christians make too strong a distinction between “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” To know one is to know the other.
The Bible is one continuous account. I often hear the phrases, “back in the Old Testament,” or “in the Old Testament.” I believe these phrases are injurious to the hearer’s faith because they contain an inherent discount, an inherent tone of condescension, that enables one to dismiss the pre-Matthew books of the Bible as “old” and therefore, less relevant, even irrelevant. However, the New Testament without the Old Testament is unremarkable.
The accounts of Jesus’ life as recorded in the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – become stunning when one reads them pre-recorded in the “Old Testament” hundreds of years before they are post-recorded in the New. The “Old Testament” is loaded with Messianic Prophecies detailing the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection of the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ fulfilled them all. The life of Jesus is told in the New Testament, but is foretold in the “Old Testament,” and it is by his ability to foretell the future that Yahweh, the God of Israel, validates himself as the one true God.
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people [the Jewish people], and what is yet to come — yes, let him foretell what will come. ~ Isaiah 44:7
This is not to be missed! Yet it is missed by so much of modern Christianity! It is also missed by the legions of Bible critics who have never read the Bible. (By the way, in my opinion, a Bible critic is by definition someone who has never read the Bible. To read the Bible is to be converted. I know of not a single exception to this observation of mine, neither from my Christian years, or from my atheist years during which I derided the Bible but never once read it cover to cover.) I too often hear the “Old Testament” accounts being used as cute little examples for self-help in our cushy Western lives, as in:
Hypothetical Pastor: “Well, we’ve just read about how God used David to slay Goliath. Now let’s talk about how God can slay the giants in your life– debt, marital discord, doubt, fear.”
I hear it all the time and it bores me to death. We are so self-centered. It’s not about us. It’s about God! God slayed Goliath (a nephilim) to deliver the Hebrew people, and bring them into the land he promised them in an everlasting covenant. He did it to keep his word, not to give us a cute example of how we can make our soft Western lives even softer. Again, he did it to keep his word. He does everything to keep his word.
Go to your Bible and see how many times Jesus used phrases like, “But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” ~ Matthew 26:56. Jesus repeatedly states that everything is happening so that the writings of the prophets would be fulfilled. But Jesus is not just another prophet assuring us that Yahweh’s seal of authenticity is his ability to foretell the future. No, Jesus is himself Yahweh.
In John 1:1, Jesus is inexorably linked to the Father, and to the “Old Testament” itself!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~ John 1:1-2.
Jesus is the Word, and the Word is God! The more I study the Bible, the more I’m convinced that God says what he means, and means what he says. Even so, I’ll try to say this without overstating the case: Yahweh (the God of Israel) and Jesus and the Bible are inseparable. If you claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, but you reject what he says in his Word, the Bible, do you really have faith in Jesus Christ? He and the Bible and the Father are one. I don’t believe you get to reject most of the Bible, and still have a valid claim to faith in Jesus Christ.
This phenomenon is especially visible in this presidential election year. For example, people have no problem advocating for Israel’s enemies, yet claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Have you read in the “Old Testament” (and the New) what Jesus Christ is going to do to Israel’s enemies when he returns? It’s not pleasant, and it’s not the image of the Jesus we know from his first coming. Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and the Lamb of God. In the first coming, we got the Lamb. Next time, we get the Lion. Here are some popular political issues, and God’s position on them:
In the first coming, most of the Jewish people did not recognize the Messiah because they were looking for the Lion, but got the Lamb. In the 2nd coming, I’m convinced that most of the church will not recognize Jesus because they are looking for the surfer-dude peacenik Lamb that we have cartooned him into, so when the Lion of the Tribe of Judah bursts onto the scene with vengeance and great wrath, they will reject him as a war-mongering Islamophobe, and they will side with his enemies, and they will suffer eternal separation from God for it.
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. ~ Joel 3:2
I also see people who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior, yet advocate for the murder of children through abortion. You have to do great violence to the Scriptures to come away believing that Jesus is okay with abortion.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” ~ Jeremiah 1:5
Greed & Poverty
Nowhere in the Bible are we told to demand that the government confiscate other people’s money and give it away. Rather, we are encouraged to be generous with our own money. Somehow, we have introduced a middleman, the government, and we have taken to demanding that other people must have their money taken from them, when we don’t even give our own money away willingly. This stands the Bible on its head. I see people who have air conditioning, cars, video games, alcohol, vacations, and all the other pleasures of Western lifestyle crying that other people’s lives are disproportionately comfortable and therefore must be leveled down. What hypocrisy! If you care about the poor, then give up some of your modern conveniences. For example, have your cable shut off and give your cable bill money to the poor. Turn your air conditioning off and give your energy bill money to the poor. Stop demanding that other people have less comfortable lives and start living a less comfortable life yourself. Stop demanding that other people pay your student loans, and start paying someone else’s student loans.
…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” ~ Acts 20:35
In this election season, the anti-God platform I hear people advocating most vocally for is the growth of, and dependence upon, human government. God never intended us to rule over one another. He gave us the laws we need to have civil and productive society. All of the world’s poverty and social unrest have the same cause– human government!
God’s people, Israel, were supposed to rely on God. They were supposed to obey his laws, and be guided by his prophets. However, they were not satisfied with this arrangement. Instead, they wanted a king like other nations. They wanted a human to rule over them. From beginning to end, the Bible is clear that the heart of man is fallen and wicked, and in desperate need of its Savior. So, to desire fallen man to rule over us, and then to enthusiastically advocate to expand fallen man’s control by increasing the size of government, is nothing short of evil. In the Bible, God warned people what the King would do to them, but they didn’t care.
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do:
He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties [military draft]
and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. [forced labor, see socialist nations even to this day]
He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. [forced labor, see socialist nations even to this day]
He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. [confiscation of lands, see socialist nations]
He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. [Wow, just a tenth! Think of how far we have slidden down the slippery slope of taxation.]
and Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. [confiscation, see socialist nations]
He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. [confiscation and slavery, see socialist nations]
When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.” [you wanted it, you got it!]
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. [even after all those warnings, they didn’t care]
~ 1 Samuel 8:6-19
The Bible warns about what human government inevitably turns into, yet the people didn’t care. Likewise today, people don’t care.
This brings me to the verse I used in the title of this post. It’s a verse I’ve read many times over the years. However, the profound nature of this verse did not hit me until this election season, when I have witnessed so many people who claim faith in Jesus, yet advocate for policies that are blatantly anti-Jesus, or antichrist. The verse is:
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” ~ John 8:19
So what does this say about Christians who condescend the “Old Testament” as somehow less relevant than the New? What does this say about Christians familiar with the Lamb of God, but not the Lion of the Tribe of Judah? I believe it says that we either accept it all, or we accept none of it. Yahweh and Jesus and the Bible are inseparable. If you claim faith in Jesus, but reject his precepts for life and human government because they disagree with your politics, then maybe you don’t really accept Jesus after all.
The conditional nature of the verse is fascinating. Jesus is speaking to the Jewish Pharisees, who are very familiar with the “Old Testament” and Yahweh, the God of Israel. So, I would expect Jesus to say, “if you knew the father, you would know me also.” I would expect Jesus to put “the father” first in the sentence because “the father” is the point of reference for the Pharisees. But Jesus does not do that. Instead, he says, “if you knew me, you would know my father also.” Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees in the immediate tense, but Jesus’ intended audience for these words are the billions of Christians who would read them in the Bible down through the ages. Jesus is telling us that the entire Bible matters. The part that is associated with the Father (the “Old Testament”) is integral to, and inseparable from, the part that is associated with the Son (the “New Testament”). To truly know the Son, you will know the Father. It’s a metric, a benchmark, a sign of salvation. If you truly know Jesus, then you will truly accept his entire word, not just the parts that agree with your politics.
The Bible is always proven true.