What is known as the harmony of scripture includes parallels between the Old and New Testaments. Some erroneously ignore the OT, claiming it is replaced by events of Calvary. Many responsible for teaching would insist that OT admonitions of God no longer apply because Jesus ‘did it all for us’ at Calvary. So it is Paul warns that false doctrines will be planted in churches of the latter days by seducing spirits. “Now the Spirit speaks expressly that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).
What many fail to remember is that God is eternal and unchanging! “For I am the LORD. I change not” (Malachi 3:6). And the NT teaches us that OT events shadow things to come (Hebrews 10:1). Paul says what happened in the OT are examples “written for our admonition” (1 Corinthians 10:11). God doesn’t make a habit of contradicting Himself. OT examples foretell events in the NT, and such is what is called the harmony of scripture. For example, the OT tells that no one is saved by faith apart from works, and the NT says faith must be confirmed by works to be genuine.
“Will you not know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? See you how… by works was faith made perfect? Scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness…You see how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 3:20-24). Some would tear such verses out of the Bible, denying that God demands obedience for faith to be saving.. So it is Paul tells us to learn from OT examples lest we fall away by repeating their failures.
“I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud and…did all eat the same spiritual meat: and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not pleased, for they were destroyed in the wilderness. Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5,12).
Many do not appreciate the role of the second Person of the Godhead who is described as “the Word” in the OT. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God, and without Him was not anything made that was made. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1-3,14). A preincarnate Jesus was the author of salvation in redeeming Israel from Egypt (“that Rock was Christ”) as well as the author of salvation under the new covenant. To not recognize this is simply to be biblically ignorant of truth.
The Word (pre-incarnate Jesus) caused the Pharaoh to release Israel by a series of plagues. He parted the waters of the Red Sea and was in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. In His pre-incarnate state as “the Word,” He was the One who redeemed Israel, who parted waters of the Red Sea, was in the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, who also provided food as well as drink from a rock in the desert, who gave the law and the commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, and eventually led Israel into the promised land. Furthermore scripture tells creation itself took place involving the Word, without whom “was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).
To help appreciate the harmony of scriptures, let us examine the meaning of “covenant,” a word used 322 times in the bible. God is a covenant-keeping God, covenant being a pact between two parties where each agrees to certain conditions. But with God, there is no bargaining. God sets the conditions as well as the blessings to be received, and blessings come from obedience to the conditions being followed. Disobedience will not only void a covenant. It places people in a situation to receive the blessings of Satan which are curses (Deuteronomy 28:1,2,15).
Covenant was broken when an “anointed cherub” or archangel known today as Satan was cast out of heaven. “You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty: you have corrupted your wisdom….I will cast you to the ground” (Ezekiel 28:15,17). This angelic being developed pride and wanted to be “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14), deceiving one-third of angels to join him in rebellion against God (Revelation 12:4,9). The Word saw this take place before creation of Adam in the garden of Eden. Jesus later said to disciples after His incarnation, “I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven” Luke 10:18). So Satan and his angels were already in the atmosphere of earth at Adam’s creation as the story of creation in Genesis subsequently makes clear.
God created man so they might have relationship, and so man might reflect God’s image in the world. So how did Satan manage to tempt Adam? The answer is the same way he also tempts us using thoughts and feelings. Adam was sinless at creation, God having said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Adam wasn’t created with thoughts of guilt or shame. He and Eve were naked and totally unashamed before eating forbidden fruit (2:25). But they had spirits open to hear from other spirits, good and evil. So when God came to visit in the cool of the evening, Adam was hiding in the bushes in shame over nakedness (3:10). And God asked, “Who told you that you were naked?”
Awareness of nakedness and feelings of guilt and shame had not come from knowledge given to Adam at creation. Such thoughts were inserted into him by Satan whose schemes are the same today, giving us thoughts which exalt themselves over the ways of God. Paul explains that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). And when Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, covenant with God was broken. He and Eve were then driven out of Eden and cherubims and a flaming sword prevented access to the tree bearing the fruit of eternal life in the garden (Genesis 3:24).
By breaking covenant, sin entered into the world and affects all mankind: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Every person now inherits iniquity which inclines us to rebel against the ways of God. This manifested in the first son of Adam and Eve named Cain who was told by God, “If you do well [right], shall you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin lies at the door” (Genesis 4:7). Cain did not heed this advice, killed his brother Abel out of jealousy, and thereafter had a life separated from God (4:11).
Sin lying at the door of our lives is in harmony with Paul and Peter telling us to put off the old ways of unrighteousness and put on new ways of godliness as we have an adversary who roams about seeking people to devour (Ephesians 4:22-24; 1 Peter 5:8). Eventually man’s rebellion led to such wickedness on earth that God grieved He’d ever made man (Genesis 6:6). But covenant was made with a righteous and God-fearing man Noah who found favor in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8).
God determined to destroy everyone on earth apart from Noah and his family due to His wrath over lawlessness. Noah was told to build an ark and “did according to all the LORD had commanded” (7:5). And when Noah and his family entered into the ark, “the LORD shut him in” (7:16). The ark foretells being in Christ under the new covenant. And a day is coming when all not “in Christ” will receive their reward in a place of eternal torment meant only for the devil and his angels.
Next we come to God’s covenant with Abraham, called to leave his family and country to go where he knew not. This is a shadow of Jesus’ call to those of which He is head called the “church,” (Greek ekklesia that literally means “called out ones.). It is a call to leave the ways of the world to enter a spiritual dimension called eternal life. God promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation by whom all nations would be blessed, pointing to the coming of Jesus and called the Abrahamic covenant. Promised descendants would be as stars in the sky, Abraham went to Canaan with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot where, at age of one hundred years of age, he fathered a son Isaac through his elderly wife Sarah, both being far past child-bearing age.
Abraham is later ordered by God to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering. This serves as a foretelling of God sending His own Son as an atoning sacrifice. At once, Abraham and Isaac left with two servants, taking with them firewood and fire for the burnt offering. They were led by God to Horeb, the mountain of God where Moses would later have an encounter with God in the burning bush. On reaching the mountain, Moses told servants to wait, saying, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (22:5). What an incredible statement of faith! Abraham knew exactly what he was called to do just as Jesus knew what He had to do when praying in Gethsemane, “Not My will but Thine be one.” Abraham’s obedience in trusting God is why he is called our father in faith, and it foreshadows what is expect of all believers in Christ in terms of willingness to forsake all.
When Isaac asked, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering” (22:7), his father answered, “God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (22:8) pointing to God sending His own Son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. After preparing an altar, Abraham was about to slay Isaac when God intervened: “Now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (22:12). The covenant between God and Abraham later passed to Isaac because Abraham had faithfully obeyed God by being willing to sacrifice his son (26:2-5). So it is the benefits of a later covenant between God the Father and God the Son known as the new covenant would pass to us through the obedience of Jesus to the revealed will of His Father.
In time, Isaac fathered two sons, Esau and Jacob. Jacob himself fathered twelve sons but showed favoritism to one named Joseph. This caused the other sons to be jealous and they sold him to traders going to Egypt where Joseph became a slave. But the sovereignty of God brought Joseph to great prominence, second only to the Pharaoh. Jacob (renamed Israel by God) and his family eventually moved to Egypt because of famine so that Joseph could provide for their needs. And over the following four hundred and thirty years, the descendants of Jacob grew into a great nation.
A new Pharaoh who did not remember Joseph became concerned that the Hebrews might become mightier than Egypt, and put the Hebrews under a yoke of oppression. A decree by the Pharaoh even required male Hebrew babies to be cast into the Nile. But a Levite and his wife had a son whom they hid for three months. When they could no longer keep secret Moses’ birth, the infant was put in a small ark to float among reeds by the river bank. We see Moses’ birth foretelling Jesus’ birth, both being faced with death in their infancy, Moses by the Pharaoh and Jesus by king Herod of Israel.
However, the Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the baby when going to bathe in the river, and she arranged for the child’s mother to nurse the infant. He was later brought to the Pharaoh’s daughter who named him Moses and proceeded to raise him as her own son in the royal household where he remained until 40 years of age. But Moses remained aware of his Hebrew roots, and when he saw an Egyptian beating a fellow Hebrew, he killed the Egyptian. Pharaoh heard what had taken place and tried to kill Moses who then fled to Midian. It was not unlike Jesus who had those in His hometown try to kill Him early in ministry after He spoke in their synagogue (Luke 4:16-30).
When Moses left Egypt, he left a royal home and prepared to become a shepherd of God’s people. In like manner, pre-incarnate Jesus left His glory in heaven and took the form of a servant in likeness of man to become the Good Shepherd (Philippians 2:7; John 10:11). Forty years spent with flocks in the wilderness prepared Moses to lead his own people from Egypt, just as Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness in prayer and fasting to prepare for leading people out of the world (of which Egypt is a type) into a new life. And one day, Moses led his flocks to Horeb where God appeared in the flames of a burning bush that was not consumed. God had heard the groaning of the Hebrews and, remembering His covenant with Abraham (Exodus 2:24), told Moses,
“I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry ….and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good land….and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:7-8,10
Moses questioned his ability to carry out the task, but was given assurance that God would stretch out His mighty hand to strike Egypt in such a way that the Egyptians would even send people away with a bounty of silver, gold and clothing (3:19-22). In addition God told Moses that signs would be done to force Pharaoh’s hand. So Moses returned to Egypt with God’s assurance that those seeking his life were dead, just as Joseph was told by an angel to return home with the child Jesus from Egypt after Herod died to fulfill earlier prophecy which said, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son” (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:13-15).
The LORD had told Moses Pharaoh would be unwilling to release the Hebrews. Instead, he commanded his officials to make their work more burdensome, causing them to blame Moses for increased suffering. Then God began a series of signs and plagues against the Egyptians. Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate the first three signs, something it is important for us to recognize because Satan does have limited power. We are warned of Satan’s ability to carry out signs and wonders in the latter days such that even the elect of God might be deceived by those not true ministers of righteousness (Matthew 24:24).
As more serious plagues were brought, the Pharaoh would promise to release the people, only to change his mind after God lifted the plague. The Israelites were spared the plagues after the first three as God told Moses to tell the Pharaoh: “I will put a division between My people and your people” (exodus 8:23). So it was with the plagues of flies, pestilence killing the cattle, boils upon man and beast, fire mingled with hail, locusts, and great darkness. In each case, the children of Israel were spared what fell upon the Egyptians because of the hardness in the heart of Pharaoh. Finally God told Moses one last plague would force the Pharaoh’s hand to permit the Hebrews to leave Egypt.