The Heart of God: The Messenger of the Covenant (2)
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
Read and meditate on Ezekiel 16, Jeremiah 31.31-34, and Malachi 4.1-6.
The weakness of the Old Testament was not in God’s ability to keep His Word and fulfill His promises. God was able to walk the covenant path perfectly (Gen. 15). The problem was in His people. They could not keep His Law, and thus could not realize His promises, so they were forever dashing themselves on the rocks of God’s unchanging Word and setting themselves up for His wrath. But God was not content to leave them this way.
1. Ezekiel 16 provides a concise overview of Old Testament history. As you read through this again, note the interaction between God’s glory, God’s people, and God’s work of redemption. How would this chapter have impacted those faithful Israelites who were still hoping in the promises of God? How does this chapter – and all the history of Old Testament Israel – point forward to Christ?
2. Meditate on Deuteronomy 5.29, Deuteronomy 30.1-10, and Jeremiah 31.31-34. What was Israel’s “heart problem,” and how did God promise to fix it? Do you suppose Jeremiah’s message would have left faithful Israelites asking, “Yes, but how?” Explain.
3. Ezekiel 36.26 and 27 gives more insight into how God intends to solve Israel’s heart problem. Compare this to Joel 2.28-32. What will God do “in the last days” (Joel 2.28, “afterward,” NKJV; cf. Acts 16, 17)?
4. Meditate on Isaiah 52 and 53. How many different ways does this passage point forward to the work of Jesus Christ? With what will the servant “sprinkle many nations” (Is. 52.15)?
5. The Old Testament closes on a note of great hope (Mal. 4.1-6). After that, God would be silent for 400 years. What would faithful Israelites have been looking forward to, as they set their hope on God’s Word to Malachi? How can you see this passage pointing forward to Jesus?
The Old Testament was never intended as God’s final Word to His people. He continually pointed forward to a coming day in which He would do more for His people so that they might realize the fullness of His covenant. How has our brief survey of this first part of the Scriptures helped you in your reading of the Old Testament?
Praise the LORD!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD?
Who can declare all His praise?
Blessed are those who keep justice,
And he who does righteousness at all times!
Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people.
Oh, visit me with Your salvation,
That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones,
That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,
That I may glory with Your inheritance…
Save us, O LORD our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 106.1-5, 47, 48
T. M. Moore
Two books can help you gain a fuller understanding of the terrain we will be covering in this series. Kingdom Documents provides a concise overview of the primary teaching of the Old and New Testaments, and shows, through early Church creeds, how our forebears understood the primary teachings of God’s Word. (click here to order). I Will Be Your God develops more fully the idea of God’s covenant and leads us to consider the practical implications of our covenant relationship with God (click here).
Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, offers a parallel study of our theme in this series, using brief video presentations and the workbook God’s Covenant: An Introduction. All courses at The Ailbe Seminary are available without charge.
We are happy to be able to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in this series by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.