The Great Divide Between the Old and the New

During his ministry while upon the earth, Jesus declared that the new teachings he brought was not to be mingled with the Old Law of Moses; they were not compatible. He taught:

Mark 2:21 No man also seweth a piece of new cloth on an old garment: else the new piece that filled it up taketh away from the old, and the rent is made worse.

In that day and time everyone knew that if one mended an old garment using new, unwashed material, that the new patch on the old garment would tear at the first washing. You see, when the new patch was washed it would shrink. The old material would not shrink, having already done so by previous washings. Jesus wanted them to understand that his new teaching is not a patch for the Old Law: the two cannot mix. Also, continuing with the same thought:

Mark 2:22 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.

New wine will ferment if placed in old wineskins because of residual amounts of wine which is left from the previous batch. Therefore, by using new wineskins the possibility of ruining the new wine is minimized. Wineskins would burst, whether new or old, if the wine (grape juice) were allowed to ferment; the use of new wineskins prevented fermentation from beginning, thereby preserving the quality of the beverage. Just as Jesus said, “No one does that.”

Jesus is not a heretic nor a usurper.

Surely, from the differences Jesus was bringing with the new kingdom which was at hand (Matt. 3:1-2, Mark 1:14-15, Matt. 10:5-7), some may have thought that he was a usurper, one who would teach blasphemous heresies. Instead, he taught that nothing he would do nor teach would interfere with God's intended purpose and longevity of the Law.

Matt. 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

In verses 18 and 19 Jesus goes on to explain the importance of adhering to the Law of Moses, in that it was still in force until he had completed all he set out to do; namely, shedding his blood for the sins of the world. In his letter to the Christians in Corinth, Paul declared the fundamental gospel facts (i.e. Jesus' death upon the cross, his burial, and his resurrection) were all according to the Old Testament scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

The Old Law of Moses was fulfilled at the cross.

The epistle to the Hebrews describes how the first covenant (the Law of Moses) was lacking in what the second could accomplish: the forgiveness of sins. The writer states, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Heb. 8:7). Describing that the change of the law was prophesied in the Old Testament, “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:31). Interestingly, Hebrews is estimated to have been penned in about A.D. 63 to 66, just before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. They completely laid waste to the walls and temple. Jesus prophesied that, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another” (Matt. 24:2). With the temple being destroyed, and all the Levitical bloodline records for the priesthood demolished, their house was left unto them “desolate” (Matt. 23:38). Indeed, when Hebrews was written the law of Moses was nigh unto vanishing away, with its priesthood, vessels, and venue of Old Testament worship.

In his death upon the cross, Jesus fulfilled the law, making it complete according to God's purpose, having taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross(Col. 2:14). Paul relates that we are now under the new law of Christ; explaining, that in reaching the Gentiles with the gospel, he became as though he were not under the law (of Moses); not without law completely, but under the law to Christ (1 Cor. 9:21), which is that new covenant which God declared through Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34).

The Old Testament is invaluable to us today.

Certainly, the Old Testament, its being the inspired word of God, is extremely valuable to us today. Paul affirmed to Timothy that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” (2 Tim. 3:15); and Peter instructs us that, “no prophesy of scripture is a matter of private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” (2 Pet. 1:20,21). David, himself, recognized that God had used him to so speak, when upon his final words declared that, “The spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). But, it is imperative to remember that, however valuable the Old Testament is which had its appropriate place for its intended purpose and time, it is no longer in force.

The Great Divide between the Old and the New

With the Old Law having been taken out of the away and nailed to the cross, and the new law of Christ replacing it, we must appeal to the New Testament for matters of religious practice today. We now follow Christ, who was given all authority by the Father (Matt. 28:18-20). Christians are taught to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” (1 Thess. 5:21), and to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jno. 4:1). Just as those noble Bereans “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11), so we, too, must search the scriptures; but we must “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). To do so we must rightly separate the Old and the New.

Probably, the most misunderstood page in the entire Bible is that page between the testaments: there is the great divide between the old and the new. One cannot put a new patch on an old garment, nor new wine in old wineskins. We appeal to the New Testament to rightly discern those approved practices of the New Testament church.

Curtis A. Little, Royse City, TX

Curtis A. Little
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