The books of the Bible are usually grouped by common theme, though you can purchase Bibles in which the books are ordered chronologically. The order of the themes goes something like this: the beginning (of mankind on earth and of the Hebrew people), the history of the Hebrew people and their interactions in the Middle East with other nations, some personal narratives, songs and poetry, a collection of prophecies about the Hebrew people and Jesus, the good news about Jesus, the growing church, letters to the new churches, and a revelation about the end of time.
These themes form the back drop of what happened before Jesus showed up and what happened since his birth, and are divided accordingly into two sections called the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Testament is another word for covenant, or contract, and denotes God’s promise to mankind to forgive their sins if atonement, or compensation, is made—a fine is paid. And it’s a huge fine, one of life and death proportions. The overall consequence of sin is death, yours and mine.
God, however, because He loves us, provided a loophole. In the old contract, He allowed a perfect lamb to be slain to compensate for mankind’s sin. The problem, though, was that a lamb is an animal, so the payment wasn’t kind for kind. Therefore, the sacrifice wasn’t quite good enough and had to be made again and again.
God’s solution is found in the New Testament. He made a new covenant with man: his son, his perfect, unblemished-by-sin son, died on our behalf, human for human, the sinless for the sinful, so that our sin debt could be satisfied once for all. This is why Jesus is often referred to as the Lamb of God and why the church sings gross-sounding things like washed in the blood of the Lamb. This is God’s gift to us: a new deal to replace an old deal; a new covenant to supersede the old one.
This is Merry Christmas. Will you receive the gift like a child?
You made a way, Father, then and now…a way for us to be in right standing with you. I’m glad our inadequacies don’t negate your faithfulness and steadfastness…that when we were unable to keep our end of the bargain, you were right there to keep it for both of us.