Its quiz time folks! Tell me what is common to 1 Cor 10:4, Jude 1:9 and Jude 1:14? Well, they are accounts from Jewish Tradition, which we may not find in the corresponding Books of Exodus or Deuteronomy or Genesis respectively (where the related events could have most probably figured), but what the Inspired New Testament writers included wisely in their Epistles by the leading of the Holy Spirit so much so they now figure in sacred New Testament canon.
The exhaustive Bible Study which the good Lord inspired me to commence in my Local Church five years ago, necessitated my on-line correspondence with Jewish Rabbis whenever confronted by some hard-to-understand accounts such as how can Moses wrote the entire Book of Deuteronomy even after he departs from the Earthly scene. Though I first started corresponding with them with a sense of trepidation, most of them have been respectful and were even appreciative as I shared my lengthy testimony with them (talk of writing a love letter!) when they enquired about my background. The common refrain in their correspondence with me (in response to my questions) has been “What the Sages teach.” In this Series of three parts, I would like to place before my readership many startling truths of Jewish tradition which Christians need to know in order they can better appreciate Old Testament Scripture, and most importantly, to better glorify their Heavenly Father…
It’s evening time on the First Easter Sunday. The glorious fact of Jesus’ resurrection was slowly but surely dawning in the minds of grief-stricken disciples, and lo and behold, the Resurrected Lord Himself was standing amongst them assuaging their grief and fears. Let the Scripture take over at this stage…
“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'” (Luke 24:44).
Note the order in our Lord’s words, it is NOT Law, Psalms and Prophets as it is available in our Christian Bibles today, but a slightly different order. Let me “assuage” your confused minds as to the right order of Old Testament Scripture as it existed during the First century AD in the Early Church–the one that exists even today amongst the Jews:
1. Law: Genesis to Deuteronomy;
2. Prophets: Joshua to Malachi — It needs to be said here that the word “Prophecy” has to be understood in the way Jews and the Early Church understood it. For them, Prophecy was not only foretelling but also forth telling! Hence the books of Daniel and Lamentations, which appear in the “Prophets” section of the Modern-day Christian Bibles, despite containing prophecies, were not placed in the Prophets section, but in that of Writings, for the simple reason they do not contain anywhere in their contents the authoritative, powerful figure of speech: “Thus says the Lord,” which distinguishes a Prophecy from other forms of speech (a praise or prayer) in the Scriptures! The Living Bible gets it right when it comes to exactly defining the function of a Prophet. Let me reproduce here verbatim, a part of 1 Cor 12:28 which goes thus: “Here is a list of some of the parts he has placed in his Church, which is his body: Apostles, Prophets–those who preach God’s Word, Teachers…” Has not preaching been all along all about foretelling and forth telling?
3. Writings: Psalms to II Chronicles — If 2 Chronicles had continued to be the Last Book of the Old Testament Scripture until the order was needlessly revised, presumably during King Constantine’s time in the 4th Century AD, one would have seen a beautiful symmetry existing between the last portion of the last book of Old Testament Scripture and that of the New Testament Canon. Now what is the immediate overarching subject of the last Book (Revelation) of New Testament? Rapture! Ah the Blessed hope of every Christian (Titus 2:13) which is alluded to in the command given to John at the sound of something resembling a “trumpet blast” … “Come-up” (Rev 4:1/1 Thess 4:16)!!! Now as we “bring to the table” as it were, the last words of the last Book (II Chronicles)…”Go-up” (2 Chronicles 36:23-KJV), an enchanting symmetry comes to the fore.
What Cyrus the Persian ruler (who is issuing the Decree of Direction to all the Jews) is effectively telling the Jews is: (New Testament counterparts of Old Testament times)…”Go up to the Holy City of Jerusalem on a mountain for you do not belong here in Babylon (geographically Babylon is a plain, flat as a pancake); rather you belong to the Holy City of Jerusalem up on a mountain. Your God in His Holy City is calling you…Come up“! Has not the World been telling the same of the Church, more so in recent times with violence and moral degradation on the increase…you do not belong here in this “Earthly Babylon,” even as our Redeemer is on the verge of issuing the “Come-up” command?
A young girl who had recently become a Christian asked the famous Baptist Preacher Charles Spurgeon…”What friends do I need to give up now”? The Prince of Preachers replied, “Hey, you do not have to give up any of your friends, they would give you up” (1 Peter 4:4)!
Prayer: Father give us a heart to be alert to our Blessed Hope at all times, even as we alert others to the same. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
An Unworthy Servant
J and SM Ministries
To access the entire “What the Sages Teach” mini-series, please click here.)