Everything Old Is New Again

Bible with candleOld Testament or New Testament

Let’s pretend that right now I said, “Instead of a sermon, we are going to read the Bible for an hour.”

Would you want to spend that hour reading the Old Testament or the New Testament? [Wait for answers. ]

Why? [Wait for answers.]

I think in a crowd of 100 Christians, 90+ would choose the New Testament…and that’s not necessarily bad.

The bridge to cross for the New Testament is shorter. Much of what it contains is less difficult to read. It is easier to understand. It begins with us hearing about Jesus, the most awesome topic.

However, the Old Testament/New Testament preference can also be because the Old Testament seems archaic in its teachings. If people do certain bad things, we are supposed to stone them. We know more about how the tabernacle and the temple were supposed to be built (and outfitted) than is meaningful to us under the New Covenant. It can seem like a totally different moral world.

What was important theologically back then isn’t the same as what is important in the church age.

Or is it?

Reading through the Bible this year has included Leviticus 19, and the topic for this sermon, “Everything Old Is New Again,” hit me after digesting verses 17 and 18:

17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Those words are in a book that has all kinds of stuff that fit my Old Testament/New Testament contrast. Yet, right in the middle of it, we hear enjoinments that sound very New Testament-ish. Let’s review them…

You Shall Not Hate Your Brother in Your Heart

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the “extras” that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Our passage starts off with “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” Anything related in the New Testament?

9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes (1 John 2:9-11).

Was New Testament the first place to tell us that you shouldn’t hate your brother?

Nope. Everything old is new again. If you read through the Bible in order, you would have seen it in Leviticus first.

Before we go on with our verses in Leviticus, let’s also look at Matthew 18:15:

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Was the New Testament the first place that said you should reason with someone if you have an issue?

Nope. Everything old is new again. If you read through the Bible in order, you would have seen it in Leviticus first.

Do Not Take Vengeance and Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Okay, let’s move on…

Leviticus 19:18 then says:

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Anything we can connect to that in the New Testament?

Well, you know the answer given what this sermon is about. 🙂

Let’s turn to Romans 12:19-21:

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Was the New Testament the first place that said not to take vengeance?

Nope. Everything old is new again. If you read through the Bible in order, you would have seen it in Leviticus first.

Now let’s hop back to Mark 12:28-31:

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Was the New Testament the first place to say to love your neighbor as yourself?

Nope. Everything old is new again. If you read through the Bible in order, you would have seen it in Leviticus first.

And “loving your neighbor as yourself” is what jumped out at me this week, inspiring this sermon.

Jesus wasn’t saying a bunch of brand spankin’ new stuff when He showed up. Instead He was, with precision, zooming in on the things that needed focus. That needed to be at the forefront. That religious leaders readily missed.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (Matthew 23:23).

The commands to provide justice and mercy was in the Old Testament, but the scribes and Pharisees were blinded by their love of rules. The problem wasn’t following the Old Testament rules (as long as they didn’t expand them so much that they became manmade rules), it was that what should have been old to them was new to them. The missed the “weightier matters.”

I’m not saying there is absolutely nothing new in the New Testament; it does have further revelation, additional history, etcetera. But, I suspect, if we look at all the New Testament’s moral teachings we’d be hard pressed to find any that end-up in its pages first.

Everything old is new again.

Wrapping Up

So, assuming at this point you agree with my take that “everything old is new again” in the New Testament, what does that mean for you and me?

First, you can trust the Bible. It is consistent. If the Old Testament said to hate your neighbor and the New Testament said to love them…that would be a problem. An inconsistency.

The Bible is 100% consistent.

Everything old is new again means you an trust the Bible.

Second, it means you really should read through the Bible end-to-end and over-and-over. Then, you would see the Bible’s consistency for yourself…not to mention have a stronger foundation for your beliefs and a greater ability at avoiding mistaken doctrines. It’s harder to misinterpret passages in the New Testament if you’ve already read what came before in the Old Testament (whether it is the same teaching or something that reflects on the New Testament teaching).

Everything old is new again means you should read the entire Bible. Over and over again. God repeats things for a reason.

Third, and finally, Jesus. Everything old is new again means that when you read those hard things in the Old Testament, like stoning people for certain sins, you can do it with an eye on Jesus. Jesus is God. God gave them all those rules and commands. You know Jesus. You trust Him. Those hard things, or as Graham Maxwell called them, “emergency measures,” were given by the God you see in Jesus. A God who loves you so much He sent His only beloved Son to die a horrible death on the cross for you.

Something He planned before time, because…

Everything old is new again.

No surprises. Nothing truly new. That should be comforting.

Jesus has always been there for you. That’s not new.

Praise God!


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