A Study Showing the Continuity Between
by James S. White
The Old and New Testaments
by James S. White
The Scriptures reveal but one plan by which fallen men may be saved. It is true that in the development of the plan of grace through Christ there has been in each dispensation an increase of light. But there is no intimation in all the Bible of three plans, one for the patriarchal age, one for the Jewish, and one for the Christian age.
Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of sinners in all the ages of human probation. “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. We protest, in the name of reason and revelation, against the vague heresy that the law of the Father and the gospel of the Son are opposed to each other, the one designed to take the place of the other; as if the men of former dispensations were saved by the law without the gospel, and those of the present dispensation are saved by the gospel while disregarding the moral law. It was not possible for sinful man in the ages past to secure a fitness for the inheritance of the saints in light by the divine law alone. There is no ability in law to redeem the transgressor. It is not the province of law, human or divine, to pardon the transgressor of law. The moral law is a rule of right action, condemning the transgressor, and holding him as such until he shall suffer the penalty. The divine law can do no more for the sinner. It is the gospel alone that offers pardon and salvation. And without the gospel of the Son of God none of the men of the patriarchal and Jewish ages could be saved.
The gospel is the joyful message of redemption through Jesus Christ. We inquire, How early in the sad history of the fallen race was the gospel proclaimed? Was it first given in the days of Christ? Of Moses? Of Abraham” or of Adam? We distinctly trace the faith and hope of the gospel of the Son of God in that early denunciation of wrath upon Satan, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. Gen. 3:15. In this decree against the author of sin and death, we hear the gospel of the Redeemer as verily as in the song of the angels over the plains of Bethlehem, to the shepherds as they watched their flocks by night. Luke 2:8-14.
And when the first sons of Adam brought their offerings to the Lord, Cain in unbelief brought of the first-fruits of the ground. But Abel, in faith of the great Sacrifice for sin to be manifested in the distant future, brought of the firstlings of his flock. Through that lamb Abel saw the Lamb of God, the Redeemer of the world, and set his hope upon him. In the blood of that firstling, Abel saw the blood of Jesus Christ as truly as we see the dying Saviour in the broken bread and the fruit of the vine at the Lord’s supper. In these emblems we see Christ shedding his blood for our sins on the cross. Abel saw the same in the bleeding, dying firstling which he offered.
“And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering; but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” Gen. 4:4. The sacred narrative states that while Abel’s act of faith in the Redeemer to come sealed his righteous character, cost him his life, and place him at the head of the holy martyrs of Jesus, Cain’s infidelity was regarded as sinful, and was the stepping-stone to the high crime of the murder of his brother, which sealed his character as a vagabond in the earth. See Heb. 11:4; 1John 3:12.
We pass down the sacred record of the fallen race to Abraham, and there we find the joyful news of redemption through Jesus Christ, to be extended to the nations of the earth, proclaimed to the trusting, obedient patriarch. Paul speaks of it thus: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed,” Gal. 3:8. The apostle here quotes from Gen. 12:3. See verse 7; Chap. 13:14, 15; 17:7,8 where this promise is extended to Abraham’s seed.
The gospel of the Son of God was proclaimed to Abraham in this promise, in that it is really a promise of Christ, as argued by the apostle in Gal. 3:16.
The gospel was preached to the children if Israel in the days of Moses. In his epistle to the Hebrews, Paul states: “Unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Heb. 4:2. That the gospel was preached to their fathers in a former dispensation, the apostle treats as a well known fact, and states that it was preached in his day as well as then, making it appear that the gospel of the Son of God was alike common in both the Jewish and Christian ages. He also testifies of the Hebrews in the wilderness, that they “were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ,” 1 Cor. 10:2-4.
Moses and the believing Jews had the faith and hope of the gospel. Though the blood of the sacrificial offerings, they saw Christ, and by faith embraced him. Their hopes of the future life were not in the law, but in Christ. The typical system was but the shadow of good things to come, of which Christ, as a sacrifice and mediator, is the center.
Christ was with Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness. The angel that went before them, Ex. 23:20,21,23; 14:19; 32:34;33:2, 14: Num. 20:16; Josh. 5:13.14; Acts 7:37,38, was the Lord Jesus Christ. The record states that Joshua was by Jericho, and that “he lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, ‘Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘Nay; but as captain of the host o the Lord am I now come.’”. Josh. 5:13,14.
We must not understand by this declaration of the angel that he had come to supersede Joshua in the command of the armies of Israel. Joshua was still commander, as is seen by Chap. 6:2; “And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into think hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.” But the angel had come to Joshua’s aid, as captain of the heavenly host of loyal angels.
The captain of the host of the Lord is the head over angels, or the Archangel of Jude 9, (Michael) and the Lord Himself of 1 Thess. 4:16. and while it was appointed to Joshua to lead the armies of Israel around Jericho, a portion of the priests bearing the ark of God containing the ten commandments, and seven priests bearing seven trumpets of ram’s horns before the ark of God, the Son of God was to lead on the invisible armies.
Joshua had no battering rams with which to break down the walls of Jericho. At his command the armed men passed on before the priests that blew the trumpets, and those that carried the ark of God. And the rearward came after the ark. In this simple display there was no manifestation of physical force. The work of casting down the massive walls of Jericho was left to the invisible hands of the heavenly host led on by the Son of God.
The day was gained. “So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets. And it came to pass when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat so that the people went up into the city every man straight before him, and they took the city.” Josh. 6:20. And it is an exceedingly interesting fact to those who keep “the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” under the third message, Rev. 14:12, that prominent among the united agencies employed to achieve that grand victory, away back in the days of Joshua, were the ten commandments in the ark, and the leadership of the Son of God.
And it is not a common angel that is spoken of in Ex. 23:20,21: “Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions’ for my name is in him.” Such language can be applied to no other than the Son of God.
Christ is “that angel” that was with Moses in Mount Sinai. In that last address of the holy martyr, Stephen, he bears this important testimony. The words in brackets express our convictions relative to the persons meant in Acts 7:38: “This [Moses] is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the Angel [Christ] which spake to him [Moses] in the Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received the lively oracles to give unto us,” The conclusion seems irresistible that the Son of God spoke the ten commandments from Sinai.
The eternal Father is never called “angel” in Scriptures, while what angels have done is frequently ascribed to the Lord, as they are his messengers and agents to accomplish his work. It is said of Him who went before the Hebrews to deliver them, “My name is in him.’ In all the stupendous events of the deliverance the mind of Jehovah was represented in Jesus.
The typical system was given to Moses by the Son of God in the Mount Sinai. Jesus Christ, the minister of the “true tabernacle” showed Moses patterns of it, and of the vessels of the heavenly sanctuary, that he might know how to form the typical. And as Moses is instructed relative to the tabernacle, even the several parts of the golden candlestick, Ex. 25:31-40, the boards and bars, Chap. 26:15-30, and the altar with its staves, pans, shovels, and other particulars, chap. 27:1-8, he is charged, as quoted by Paul, Heb. 8:5, “See that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.”
The church of all the ages is the church of Jesus Christ. He is the world’s only Redeemer. Those who shut themselves up to the New Testament, and have the foundation of the church laid at the resurrection, or at Pentecost, are building too narrow a structure. The apostle states the foundation of the true church in these words: “Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone.” Eph. 2:19,20.
When the angel said to John in Patmos, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” he meant more than expositors generally suppose. His words reach far back to the days of fallen Adam, when the plan of redemption was instituted, and embrace the entire prophetic word of both Testaments.
The manifestation of the spirit of prophecy was designed for all dispensations. The Sacred Record nowhere restricts it to any particular period of time, from the fall to the final restitution. The Bible recognizes its manifestation alike in the patriarchal age, in the Jewish age, and in the Christian age. Through this medium God communed with holy men of old.
Christ and his angels are the connecting link between God and fallen man. Here is the order by which prophetic truth is communicated form the throne of heave to the children of men. God gives tit to Christ. Christ gives it to his angel. The angel shows it to the chosen prophet of God. And the prophet reveals it to the people.
The plan of salvation by which man is reconciled to God and God to man was devised by both the Father and the Son. And in carrying it out the counsel of peace is between them both. Zech 6:13. But it was given to the Son to reveal this plan in the several stages of its development to the fallen race in the several ages.
All things pertaining to the grand scheme of redemption, whether in the figures of the former dispensation or in the facts of the present, were revealed to the fallen race by our adorable Redeemer. He is therefore no more the author of the Christian than of the Jewish system And those who contrast Moses with Christ, and the Jewish with the Christian system are virtually arraying Christ against Christ.
The Spirit of Christ inspired the prophets of the former dispensations. It testified through them of his sufferings at his first advent, and of the glory that should follow at his second coming. The apostle, speaking of the great salvation which had come to the church through Jesus Christ, says that the prophets “inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow,” 1 Peter 1:10:11
In this is seen the harmony of both Testaments, that the Spirit of Jesus inspired the writers of both. And while the blind Jew shuts himself up to the Old, and the equally blind Christian virtually shuts himself up to the New Testament, we thank God for a whole Bible. In the writings of both the Testaments we see the entire plan of salvation in all stages of its development, in the several dispensations, and the Spirit of Christ inspiring the divine whole.
The Spirit of Christ was in Enoch the seventh from Adam, testifying though him: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.: Jude 14,15. And so extended was the range of his prophetic vision, and so minute, that he could look down over long ages, and describe the coming of the Lord, and the execution of the last judgment upon the ungodly.
The Spirit of Christ was in Abel, testifying of the sufferings of Christ through the blood of the firstling of his flock. And the Spirit of Christ was in Moses, testifying of the sufferings of Christ through the blood of those beasts which was typical of the blood of the Son of God.
The Spirit of Christ was in Daniel, testifying in his prophecy of the sufferings of Christ in the midst of the seventieth prophetic week: “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,” “And in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,” Daniel 9:26,27. The Spirit of Christ in the prophet also testified of the glory that should follow, in these words: “I saw in the night visions, and behold one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom.” Dan. 7:13,14
The blessed Christ of the New Testament had the supervision of giving this important prophecy to Daniel. In proof of this proposition we first cite the statement of the angel that appeared to Daniel in his vision of the tenth chapter; “There is none that holdeth with me in these things but Michael your prince.” Daniel 10:21 There were only three persons connected with the giving of the prophecy: Daniel, Michael, and another, which chapter 8 verse 16 shows to be Gabriel. “And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai which called and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.” This command to Gabriel to further instruct the prophet Daniel came from Michael, as no other held with him in the things of the prophecy. Hence Michael, or the Son of God, having received the great things of the prophecy from the Father, shows them to the angel Gabriel, with the order for him to reveal them to the prophet Daniel.
There is a striking similarity in the manner in which the prophecy of this book was given in the Jewish dispensation, and the manner in which the last book of the New Testament was given in the Christian dispensation. Both came from the Father to the Son, and both were shown to angels by the Son, to be revealed by them to Daniel and to John, for the benefit of the servants of God. The object of one was to show “what shall be in the latter days,” Dan. 2:28, and the object of the other is to show the “things which must shortly come to pass,” Rev. 1:1.
The spirit of Christ was in Isaiah, testifying of the sufferings of Christ in these words: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”. “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Is. 53:3,5 The Spirit of Christ in Isaiah also testifies of his glory: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even forever.” Is. 9:7.
We might continue these quotations to almost any length. The whole ground, however, is briefly covered by these remarkable words of the Savior: “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.” Luke 24:44.
Moses was a prophet. The Spirit of Christ was in this leader of the tribes of Israel, and testified, as quoted by Peter: “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me.” Acts 3:22; Deut. 18:18. The phrase “like unto me” in the above passage, has reference to Christ and Moses as prophets or teachers. In many respects Moses and Christ were unlike; but as prophets they were alike. The principles which they declared to the people came from Him who had said, “I change not.” God spoke through them both. Neither Moses nor Christ were law makers. Christ disclaims having anything to do with legislation. “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” John 7:16. “I do nothing of myself but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” John 8:28. “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” John 14:24. And speaking of the Son, the Father says, “He shall speak unto them all that I shall command him,” Deut. 18:18.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” Hebrews 1:1-2
In their efforts to hold before the people the Jewish and Christian dispensations in as wide contrast as possible, certain religious teachers would make it appear that the doctrines and principles taught by Christ were unlike those taught by Moses. But any amount of reasoning from false premises, or unwarrantable assertions on their part cannot change the word “like” in the above passages to “unlike”. There the word stands, challenging the efforts of those who would hold in wide contrast God’s two grand ministrations of truth and love, covering the periods of the Jewish and Christian ages.
In the development of the plan of redemption through Jesus Christ in all the ages, from the time that hope first dawned upon fallen Adam to the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, and the glory of Pentecost, there have been degrees of light and glory. Hence the comparison of the dispensations. The great plan is one, unfolding with degrees of increased light and glory in the successive ages. Paul’s comparison of the two ministrations in 2 Cor. 3, is worthy of special study. Mark well the clearness and strength of his expressions, which we here give side by side not for contrast, but for comparison.
“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones was glorious”
“For if the ministration of condemnation be glory”
“For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect”
“For if that which is done away was glorious”
--------“how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious --- vs. 7,8
--------“much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. Vs. 9
--------“by reason of the glory that excelleth. Vs 10
--------“much more that which remaineth is glorious. Vs. 11
The typical system did not originate with Moses. It came from Heaven. It originated with the God of love, and the merciful Christ of the New Testament. The first covenant, of itself, in its time, was glorious with blessings to the obedient. It is an impeachment of the character of God as a changeless being of love and wisdom to sya that any part of his plan to redeem fallen man is defective and bad, whether it be in figure in the first covenant, or in fact in the second.
The unqualified strength of scripture expression in a few instances in both the Old and New Testaments seems at first reading hardly to agree with the position here taken. But these texts must be viewed in a comparative sense in harmony with the general scope of scripture testimony, the character of God and the special comparison of the apostle in declaring the ministration of the Jewish age glorious, while that of the Christian age is simply more glorious than the one that preceded it.
And why should the two ministrations be held in contrast? They both came from the same Divine Source, in behalf of the same race of sinners, to perfect that holiness of character in all the saved from all the ages, necessary for the same holy heaven. Hence John in prophetic vision looking forward, saw them all gathered to the immortal shores, from the time of the holy martyr Abel down to the last ransomed sinner near the close of the Christian age, “a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.” He heard them all unite in the same acclamation, “Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” Re. 7:9,10.
Why should there be a wide contrast between ministrations under which the unit family of the immortal world find eternal redemption? Why? God is the on Father of all the adopted sons and daughters of grace from all the ages, and Christ is their Saviour and Redeemer. Angels that excel in strength are the holy guardians of the obedient and faithful of every age, and the Holy Spirit is their sanctifier. The pious dead of all the ages sleep in the one Jesus; 1 Cor. 15:18; and his voice will awaken them all at his coming. John 5:28,29. They will all be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, and upon the sea of glass all will receive the crown of glory and the palm of victory from the hand of Jesus. Then why should there be a wide contrast between God’s moral government of fallen men in the Jewish and Christian ages?
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