Often prophecy in the New Testament can perplex readers. Sometimes is seems as though the New Testament writers were not consistent in their use of the Old Testament. Here is my feeble attempt at an illustration that may help shed light on how the New Testament writers understood Old Testament prophecy.
The two main painting styles I am familiar with are “Replication” and “Abstract”.
One type of painting technique attempts to replicate a photo or event with minute detail and accuracy. This was my choice of style when I first began to paint. I loved to paint fruit as realistic as possible or reduplicate photographs on a canvas.
Another form of art is known as Impressionism. Abstract art uses a much broader stroke of artistic interpretation yet still conveys a message or picture. Against all odds (and to my grandfather’s chagrin), most of my current paintings lean towards the way of Van Gogh.
I have learned to appreciate both mediums and understand their places in the art realm. Neither one is wrong but they both have their benefits.
This analogy may be helpful in relation to Scriptural prophecy.
- Literal Fulfillment
Matthew 2:6 is a direct fulfillment of Micah 5:2. Jesus’ birthplace is predicted hundreds of years in advanced and is fulfilled exactly as foretold. I would equate this with replication type paintings. The Old Testament prophet says “A+B will make C” and thus the New Testament equation unfolds.
- Typological fulfillment.
An example of this would be found in Matthew 2:15. Matthew saw the life of Israel and the life of Jesus and did not think it was a coincidence. Jesus was not in Egypt for slavery but for safety. Jesus is the true and better Israel and fulfills everything Israel was not. In this medium of prophecy, the New Testament writers see a divine foreshadow, theme, or event in the Old Testament and connect it with the life or ministry of Christ. Though these prophecies are not necessarily a detailed blueprint that would have been anticipated, they depict pictures of the Messiah which the inspired authors used. I would compare this type of prophecy with impressionistic art. (e.g. Mt 2:16-18, 2:23)
Both are right and both have their beauty and place in the realm of Scripture. The New Testament writers knew how to read the Bible properly and we would do well to follow their method of study.
“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2:12
What would you think if I told you that Jesus was genuinely angry with some people? Would that make you uncomfortable? If so, why? Why do words like wrath, anger, fury, or even holiness grate against people while words like love and peace sound more appealing to the ears?
If someone is uncomfortable using these words to describe God, this might be because the only thing they have ever encountered in life is sinful rage. Yet Jesus’ wrath is just and should be celebrated because it’s good. He only feels wrath over things that deserve wrath. There is no such thing as unfair wrath with Jesus. Christ’s rage is holy. His fury is good and complete. Yes, His wrath is good.
How can God`s wrath be good? How is this comforting?
- Nobody wants to worship a wimpy God. We do not want a God who is soft on sin. If we are honest, an unjust God is not appealing to us. The murderer could always kill whenever and however. The rapist could forever rape freely. The liar could perpetually deceive you in the most devastating ways. God allows this for a season, but, oh, how his wrath is kindled quickly! He will tread the vineyard of the wrath of God. No sin goes unpunished. He will not tolerate wickedness forever. This truth does not allow us to point fingers. We must examine our own souls. God will not allow us to sin carte-blanche. God does not show partiality. He is ready to strike us down in our sins unless something drastically changes.
- The surprise of Christ is that we can kiss him. The shocking reality of the gospel is that Jesus should punish us, but instead offers the gift of grace. This gift was not free for him. It cost him dearly. Jesus paid for the gift with his own precious blood. God’s righteous rod of wrath struck down upon his body on Mount Calvary. Jesus bore the sins of the world upon a Roman tree.
Why the cross? Because God is holy and must punish sin. Upon Golgotha, God’s love and wrath mingle perfectly. The wrath of God which fell upon Jesus is good news for the believer.
Ironic isn’t it? Strange perhaps? Jesus is slow to anger… yet quick to kindle his wrath.
“The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Numbers 14:18
There are two ways to kiss the Son. One can fall down anointing his feet with kisses (Luke 7:37-38). Or one can attempt to kill Christ with a cold peck. (Mark 14:44-45). The former is a broken sinner relying only on the mercy of God. The latter is a hardened sinner about to be broken on the wrath of God.
So friend! Kiss the Son lest He be angry with you. His rod and his staff will comfort you.