WHY IS THE GAP BETWEEN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS DIFFERENT FOR CHRISTIANS THAN FOR JEWS?

Most of my followers know that there is a period of over 400 years between the writings of the Old and New Testament.  In reality, it may span almost 500 years. The last Old Testament prophet was Malachi who wrote approximately circa 450-400 B.C. (and by the way, he may have been Ezra according to some scholars). The first New Testament book was written about 50 A.D., or slightly before, either by Paul, James, or John Mark.  This period is also known as the “Second Temple Period” in which numerous apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings were written.  And, also, the story of the Septuagint begins early in this half-millennium, about 282 B.C.

Got Answers begins an excellent summation of the intertestamental period with these words:

Question: “What happened in the intertestamental period?”

Answer: The time between the last writings of the Old Testament and the appearance of Christ is known as the “intertestamental” (or “between the testaments”) period. It lasted from the prophet Malachi’s time (about 400 BC) to the preaching of John the Baptist (about AD 25). Because there was no prophetic word from God during the period from Malachi to John, some refer to it as the “400 silent years.” The political, religious, and social atmosphere of Israel changed significantly during this period. Much of what happened was predicted by the prophet Daniel. (See Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8, and 11 and compare to historical events.)

I strongly encourage you to take one or two minutes and read the entire article. You can find this very well-written article at, https://www.gotquestions.org/intertestamental-period.html

During this time, the Pharisees and Sadduccees were born. The Sadduccess were associated with the Temple and the Sanhedrin. They were elites. The Pharisees were separatists who focused on the dictates of the Law and less so, the rituals of the Temple. Neither represented the common person.  Indeed, the Pharisees would one day become the rabbis, after the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70.  The rabbis believed that the Old Testament prophets and the period of prophetic utterance ended with the last prophet and was over thereafter and forevermore. However, Jesus taught that John the Baptist was actually the greatest of Hebrew prophets, and his ministry likely lasted for several years (but we don’t know how many), circa A.D. 25 to A.D. 30. And, thus, Jesus indicates that prophetic utterance did not cease with Malachi. Indeed, his own ministry was heralded by the baptism of Jesus by John – which is something like a “passing of the torch” from the Old to the New Testament. And certainly, Jesus worked many miracles and made some of the more specific and important prophetic predictions of all Hebrew prophets – notably events surrounding his second coming in Matthew 24-25, Luke 21, Mark 13.

Consider all the prophetic statements Jesus makes in Mark 13:

1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,

4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.

8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.

10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.

13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:

16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment.

17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.

19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not:

22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,

25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.

26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.

27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:

29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

31 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

I count over 20 distinct and specific prophecies that surpass any other prophet’s contribution, even Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. While other prophets predicted Messiah’s coming and the return of the Jewish family to the promised land in the end times, Jesus makes predictions that came to pass within 40 years of his utterances, while others appear to reach out far into the future, over 2,000 years, from the time of his death and resurrection. The timing of these fulfillments provide the substance of the debate between Preterists and Futurists (I happened to belong to the second camp). But both would agree with  me that Jesus made incredibly detailed predictions, perhaps the greatest in light of the questions his innermost disciples asked about the fate of the Jewish Temple.

While his disciples marveled at the mighty stones and enormous edifice, Jesus told them that not one stone would be left upon another.  His prediction foretold that despite the greatest edifice of the existing Jewish religion, its Temple and its massive ritualistic system, it was soon coming to an end.  And, totally foreign to their Jewish mindset, the disciples would discover that the Temple of God would reside within their hearts/minds/and spirits. God indwells those who had faith and believed in Jesus from the time of the Pentecost, forward.  That is, the Holy Spirit of God and Christ, would dwell within all people, not the least of those being the common man and woman, instead of a stone temple made with hands. Although the Pharisees and Sadduccees thought that they had cornered religion, Christianity would trump them both by making God personal in a way that no one, except perhaps the prophets, had ever known before.

In fact, there is an interesting symmetry from the verse numbering of three books that we should observe.

In another important 3:16 verse, this one in 1 Corinthians 3:16, we hear Paul exclaim with gusto, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” John 3:16 should be memorized and so should 1 Corinthians 3:16.  And also, 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The method of our salvation is disclosed in John 3:16 (“Whosoever believeth in Him”). The directions for how to live out our salvation is explained by the word of God, which is inspired by the Spirit of God in 2 Timothy 3:16. And the power to live out those directions comes from the Spirit as described in 1 Corinthians 3:16. These three, “3:16” verses compose a vital triad for believers.

But what of the argument that the intertestamental period was a time of God’s silence?  And afterward, there was no further prophetic word? Clearly, the rabbis were wrong. John and the Baptist and Jesus Christ were the greatest prophets of the Hebrew race. And God was still speaking to the world during the time we know as the intertestamental period and especially afterward.

For example, we could go on and talk about some of the intertestamental writings, notably the apocalyptic literature like 1 Enoch, perhaps Daniel (although I believe it was written during his lifetime), and other writings that spoke of matters differently than the Jewish Bible. The book of Jasher might have been written during this time. Jubilees was for sure. And numerous books known as the Apocrypha were, like 1 and 2 Maccabees. These were not canonical books. That doesn’t mean that they were of not value. God’s providence guided their creation although their inspiration does not equal the books of the canon. The Church Fathers taught that these books were profitable for those seeking to follow Christ.

We know from history, that the time between the Testaments became the time of Greek influence and the transformation of a people that only spoke Hebrew and Aramaic, into a people that became one with the rest of the known world, and spoke Greek.

In the next article, I will talk more about the importance of this timeframe and the way in which the Septuagint “bridged” this gap between the Old and New Testaments.

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