I remember the excitement over high-definition television several years ago. At the time, I thought it was all hype. TV images had already improved so much. Large-screen TVs and projection systems were light-years ahead of the standard picture tubes I grew up with. What difference was high definition going to make? Sharper images? Better color? Bigger screens? Yes, but it’s the reason why all that’s true that makes the difference.
Prior to high definition, no one (for the most part) complained about standard definition. As I’ve said, standard definition itself had improved via better display technologies. It’s what we were used to, so we didn’t know what we were missing. But once high definition emerged, we discovered we were actually missing quite a bit.* High definition provides almost seven times more information than standard definition. The additional information is in terms of both height and width of the picture (seeing more content) and finer detail of what is being seen. The result is a much more true-to-life picture. It is only once we see higher definition that standard definition looks smaller and fuzzy. What high definition delivers to the viewer is basically the same as standard definition, but with an incomparable vibrancy.
The concept of New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament works similarly. Yeshua said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17). Some take these words to mean that Yeshua did away with the Old Testament. But that can’t be, since he begins his thought with, “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” So whatever fulfill means, it cannot mean abolish. But doesn’t Paul’s letter to the Romans state, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4)? The Greek word “telos,” translated as “end,” here doesn’t mean “to bring to completion,” but rather “aim or purpose.” In other words, the whole point of God’s earlier revelation – beginning with Moses, expounded and developed through the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures – is the Messiah. Every intention, every plan, and every purpose of God from creation through the call of Abraham and the development of the people of Israel finds its fullness in Yeshua the Messiah. God’s heart not just for the Jewish people, but for all nations, his determination to resolve the evil infecting every aspect of life due to our first parents’ rebellion, his desire to reconcile the human family to himself, endowing those who trust in his Son with holiness and righteousness, equipping us to serve him in every way – all this and more – which we encounter in some significant way in the Hebrew Scriptures – comes to full realization in Yeshua.
The brightness of Yeshua’s light doesn’t eclipse Moses, the Prophets, the Psalms, and the other writings. Far from it! Through the Messiah, we see God’s earlier revelation in vivid color, texture, and depth. The wisdom and power expressed in the days of the Old Covenant are not to be forgotten and discarded now that their fullness has come. Instead, Yeshua’s coming illuminates the ancient Scriptures in high definition. So just like with technology, the essence of God’s truth as revealed in Scripture doesn’t change and isn’t contradicted. Rather with the coming of Yeshua, we see the whole Bible in an incomparable vibrancy.
This is not to say that there are no contrasts whatsoever between Old and New Covenants. We are no longer in the days of the Temple and the sacrifices when Israel was to remain separate from the nations. Because of Yeshua’s death and resurrection, not only has the separation between God and his people been resolved, but the barriers between people have come down.
The high definition vibrancy we have now in the Messiah allows us to interact with God and his truth in a way that prior to his coming was impossible. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all Yeshua-followers equips us to draw others into the fuller picture of God’s reality. How can we return to the standard definition of the pre-Messianic age? At the same time, let’s make sure that the truth we represent is what God has revealed in “all Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16) and not a supposedly new and improved version of our own making.
* I am comparing North American NTSC 640 X 480 standard resolution to full high definition 1920 X 1080. If I am getting some of the technical details wrong, please forgive me. I think the point is clear regardless.