I recently heard an excellent preacher and theologian make the statement that when we read the Psalms, indeed all the Old Testament, we must read with “New Testament eyes”; that is, we must view the truth of the Old Testament through the full revelation of what the New Testament teaches. Great error has been brought upon the New Testament church and into the lives of professing Christians when this does not happen.
When anyone reads the Old Testament alone and divorces it from the New Testament, separating it from New Testament fulfillment, they automatically make mistakes in interpreting the Old Testament and fail to see how the meaning of the Old is only understood in light of the New Covenant.
This especially is true when we read such terms as Jerusalem, Zion, Mt. Zion, Israel and such words that relate to the Old Covenant; those terms strictly had to do with the physical nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem, which were purely geographical and historical, ultimately meant to be types and shadows pointing to their greater spiritual fulfillment in Christ. But within them there was a type or picture of something more permanent, more central and spiritual, which they represented that were coming in the future.
It is the same when we read words such as king, priest, priesthood, sanctuary, offerings, sacrifice, etc; no Christian would believe that those Old Testament practices or ordinances are continuing today because we know they are all fulfilled in our true king and priest, Jesus, who is the sanctuary of God and who was the one offering of sacrifice for all time. My point is that all of it during the Old Testament was only meant to point to Him and did not have a permanent and true meaning apart from its permanent spiritual meaning which was and is the gospel itself.
No believer who reads the Old Testament should ever read it without realizing those Old Testament truths and pictures are New Testament realities and are meant to speak that to us when we read the Old Testament. For us, the primary meaning of Jerusalem is that it is the heavenly Jerusalem, Zion primarily means the church and Israel, in New Testament terms, means the true church of Jesus Christ, made up of both Jew and Gentile. A closer reading of all the NT shows this clearly. We must see with spiritual eyes and think with spiritual minds, not about the past and temporal history of the nation, but rather about spiritual Israel, the heavenly Jerusalem and the spiritual Israel of God, which is only the church. If we miss this, we are missing the emphasis of the New Testament, which is now not upon the physical or geographical nation of Israel, but rather on its New Testament spiritual fulfillment. As someone long ago said so perfectly, “The New Testament is in the Old concealed and the Old is in the New revealed.” This is always true and is a primary tool for properly reading and interpreting the Old Testament.
If a family were going to Florida for a week at the beach, they would not stop in the Florida panhandle and spend a week camped out under an interstate billboard that shows a picture of the beach; the billboard only points to the reality that there is a beach ahead to be enjoyed–how ridiculous. Yet, spiritually, people are doing that all the time–we must get on to the reality that the picture is representing. No one marries a picture of their fiancé–they marry the reality.
All those who are caught up in trying to obey Old Testament dietary or sabbath laws, or Saturday as the day of worship, or being drawn into being a part of messianic Christian congregations because it seems so spiritual, or trying to be a “Jewish” Christian, has completely missed the point of it all; they are stopped on the interstate, camped out under the billboard, and are taken up with the picture only—all the Old Testament was temporary, and was pointing to the New Covenant gospel, wherein there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but only one people of God, the church of Jesus Christ, made up of all those who have true faith in Him.
A close reading of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, as well as Galatians and Hebrews yields marvelous understanding of this greater reality.
– Mack Tomlinson