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Garry preached recently on God’s preparation, reminding us that God’s plan of salvation was not a last-minute desperate attempt to rescue us, but that Jesus is the Lamb ‘slain from the creation of the world.’ (Rev 13:8) The same idea is conveyed by Peter in his first sermon after the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Day of Pentecost. He ties what has happened firmly into Old Testament prophecy, saying ‘this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel’ (Acts 2:16) and going on to quote Joel 2:28-32. In his sermon, he also references Psalm 16 (asserting that since David, the author, is dead and buried in Jerusalem, the resurrection he refers to in this passage cannot be referring to him but must refer to his descendant, namely Jesus) and Psalm 110 (a Messianic psalm which Peter firmly attributes to Jesus.)

There are many people who believe the Old Testament is irrelevant and that we should only preach from or study the New Testament now. Frankly, it’s hard to fathom how the New Testament makes sense without reference to the Old Testament! In Acts 1 & 2 alone there are 5 direct quotations from the Old Testament and allusions to other practices (e.g. drawing lots), none of which can be understood except through an understanding of the history of Israel as revealed in the Old Testament.

Sometimes when reading a detective series, we are told that the novel can be read on its own without reference to the previous books, but any good author will build on these back stories when referencing the same characters and there is great satisfaction for the reader in understanding the allusions and references which add to the bigger picture of the character’s behaviour and actions. In the same way, the saving acts of Jesus are best understood against the sacrificial system which foreshadowed His arrival and the prophetic anticipation which colours the whole of the Old Testament.

Peter’s sermon looks back to God’s promises of a redeemer and then confidently declares ‘let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’ (Acts 2:36) The ‘now’ is understood from the ‘then.’ Both are vital, then and now.