Allegorical interpretation of Scripture has spawned doctrines like Replacement Theology, which claims that the Church has replaced Israel and Israel is rejected by God. In order to believe this doctrine, you have to completely discount many Bible passages such as Jeremiah 31:35–36: “Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night…If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.“ I strongly believe that the Bible should be interpreted literally wherever possible. When it is clearly symbolic, the interpretation is often given when the entire passage is read in context.
So, how did Yeshua (Jesus) and other Jewish writers of the New Testament view the Tanach? They viewed the Tanach as the inspired Word of God, which they used for doctrine, preaching, and inspiring godly action. Never once did they say we shouldn’t read it! What did they have to say about the Tanach?
They quoted it over 1,600 times in the New Testament! It is my belief that scriptural evidence shows clearly that Yeshua, Paul, and the other writers not only used the Scriptures to prove their beliefs, but showed reverence and respect for them. Yeshua quoted from 24 books of the Old Testament. In all, 34 of the 39 Tanach books are quoted in the New Testament. Only Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon are not quoted by New Testament authors. Interestingly, the books of the Apocrypha (Jewish writings from 400–200 BC) are not quoted at all.
Yeshua declared His allegiance to the Law and the Prophets (two out of three sections of the Old Testament) when He said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law until all is fulfilled” (Matt 5:18). In John 10:35, He asserts that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” When Yeshua was asked what the greatest commandment was, He quoted two Old Testament Scriptures saying, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ [Deut. 6:5] This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ [Lev. 19:18]. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40). He did not repudiate the Law and the Prophets! He used a very common teaching method for first-century rabbis: summarizing the Scripture to help His disciples and seekers make sure their focus and motivation was right.
Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). In Acts 8, we find the account of Philip preaching from the book of Isaiah to the Ethiopian Eunuch.
Let’s not forget that when first-century believers read the Scriptures, they were reading from the Tanach, since the canon of the Christian Scriptures was not recognized until the fourth century. We need to be identified as people of the Scriptures—all of them.
Source: By Rebecca J. Brimmer, International President and CEO
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