It’s been about six weeks since my last post, and unfortunately that’s actually a fairly short gap for the way I’ve kept this blog up. But the two Old Testament passages this week (Jeremiah 31:27-34 and Psalm 19 or Psalm 119:94-107) as well as the epistle caught my attention.
In the modern church we read these scriptures frequently and think about the Bible as we have it. In fact, we often use the phrase “word of God” as a synonym for “Bible.” Now I don’t want to detract from the nature and value of the Bible as God’s word, but that is not all of God’s word. More importantly, when these passages were written, there wasn’t a Bible, and much of what we have in our Bibles was not even written yet (depending, of course, on the dating of 2 Timothy).
Even if one dates 2 Timothy quite late, it would doubtless be dated before most of the New Testament was regarded as scripture, and thus it would refer to the Old Testament scriptures as know at the time. Psalm 19 and 119, of course, were written substantially earlier yet, and may have been referring primarily to the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible.
So why do I think this is important? Do I think what these passages say of scripture is not applicable to the Bible as we have it? Actually I definitely do think these passages should apply to the Bible as we have it. But they should also apply to the Bible as it was at those earlier times.
You see, too often we think we can skip some of those very Old Testament passages that are praised by these writers. “Profitable” or “more to be desired than gold.” Yet when I ask Christians if they have read the entire Bible, they’ll often ask if it counts even if they haven’t read Leviticus, or Numbers, or a variety of other passages.
Besides the value of the passages in their own context, I don’t think you can really understand the book of Hebrews without really understanding the tabernacle service as it’s described in Exodus – Numbers. You will misunderstand much of the New Testament if you don’t ground your study in the Old. And again, that’s ignoring the value of the passages in themselves.
Let’s look for the value, the “profit” in all of scripture!