by Steven Chan
When I was very young someone asked me: “You claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, why is it that you are not circumcised just as Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21)?” Another asked me: “Since you are a follower of Jesus, why don’t you keep the Sabbath as Jesus did? After all it is one of the Ten Commandments!?” I was quite confused and did not readily have a reply to them at that time but I continued to search the scriptures to have a better understanding of God’s will (Acts 17:11). I have since developed a better understanding of the Scriptures and the answers to the two questions are found in the Scriptures.
As we seek to understand God and His revealed will for man, it is always helpful for someone to guide us to have a more perfect understanding of the truth (Acts 8:30-35; 18:26). We are exhorted to “rightly divide the word of truth” (i.e. accurately handling the word of truth – NASB): “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15). To handle the Word of God accurately it is helpful to have an understanding of the overall context of the Scriptures because “the sum of Your (God’s) word is truth” (Psa 119:160).
When someone sees us reading the Bible and if he were to ask: do you understand what you are reading, would we be confident to reply in the affirmative? Do we have the Big Picture of the chronology of events in the Bible? When we have the Big picture, then we can have a better understanding of where all the parts fit in.
Fortunately, various brethren have provided helpful charts which gives us the overview of the major events of the Bible. Reproduced here below are two such charts which provide us with Big Picture of the Bible. The charts are probably too small to be read (as they were reduced in size to fit into this page) but they are reproduced here to give you an idea of what they looked like so that you may want to download them directly from the website of bro Donnie S Barnes as follows:
Bro Barnes has also produced many helpful charts and you are encouraged to use them as study aids in your study of the Scriptures.
Once, we have the Big Picture of the Bible, we can then “rightly divide” the Word of God comprising three main periods: –
- the period prior to the giving of the Law through Moses (often referred to as the Patriarchal Age/Period),
- the period under Old Covenant (the Mosaical Age/Period) and
- the period after Jesus shed His blood for the New Covenant (the Christian Age/Period)
In particular, it is important to note that God’s law or will for the respective periods are not the same even though Jesus (God) is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). Of course, it is to be expected that there would be similarities in His will/commands/expectations/promises for the different periods because God’s nature does not change as He develops and unfolds His Overall Plan of Salvation for Man through Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrew epistle made the following important points: –
“Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.” (Heb 7:11-14)
A subsequent article will discuss the answers to the questions posed at the beginning of the present article.