The Old Testament was preparatory, temporary, and limited.
The New Testament is complete, eternal, and universal.
How would you define a good book? Most of you would agree that a good book has to draw you in with the first chapter and retain your attention throughout. In short, a good book has to lead you from the beginning to the end. Take the Bible for instance; merely reading the New Testament/Old Testament will leave you feeling incomplete.
The Old Testament lays the foundation for the coming of the Messiah, while the New Testament speaks about the life and work of Christ. The Old Testament tells the story of the creation of the world and the exodus of the Israelites, while the New Testament deals specifically with the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Christ. While the former contains the history of ancient Israel and Judah, the latter is viewed as the beginning and spread of Christianity.
To fully understand the fulfillment of promises made in the New Testament, you ought to have an idea of the promises made in the Old Testament. In short, the two major divisions of the Bible are essential to understand and interpret, in a better way, the message inscribed in the Bible.
*Old Testament shall be referred to as OT, and New Testament shall be referred to as NT.
No. of Books:
in Protestant | 46
in Orthodox | 57
Written in Hebrew
No. of Books: 27
; divided into
Gospels | Acts
Epistles | Apocalypse
Written in Greek
Portrayal of God
One of the most common assumptions is that the God of the OT is a God of Wrath, while the God of the NT is a God of Love. God is referred to as the creator, law-giver, life-giver, and protector in the OT; in addition to that, God is also referred to as Father and Abba in the NT.
In the OT, we see that God communicated directly with people. He first spoke to Adam and Eve, thereafter speaking to scores of other people, making his presence known. In the NT, God speaks through His son, Jesus. At the Baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan, there is an instance where God speaks to his people telling them of Jesus Christ, His beloved son.
The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. ― Genesis 21:1-2
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. ..." ― Luke 1:30-31
Let's take the two instances in the Bible as a reference, when we talk of communication with God. As you can see in the first, God speaks directly with Abraham and Sarah and blesses them with a son Isaac. In the NT, an Angel of God proclaims the news to Mary and Elizabeth about their respective blessings. The NT, for instance, has a lot of examples where God uses angels, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus as a medium to communicate with the people. But, on closer inspection, you will find that though there is evident direct contact with God in the OT, He talks to people through the medium of intermediaries or people chosen by God to fulfill His plans.
People in the OT were called to abide by the rules as given to Moses. The law required the people to observe various purification rites, and not everyone had the privilege to commune with God. Christ's coming changed the rules ever so profoundly, that one would say Christ himself violated the rules given by His father. On the contrary, the old laws or the Law of Moses, as is known, was meant to give a direction for people who lacked faith. The new law, on the other hand, is the new covenant and the will of Christ, in accordance to the will of God.
Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places. ― Leviticus 23:3
He said to them, "Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." ― Matthew 12:11-12
In the first, the people were strictly called to observe the Sabbath, while in the NT, we see Christ performing miracles even on the day dedicated to the Lord. Elaborating it further, Christ in Matthew 12:8 said, "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
The Sacrificial Lamb
An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. ― Exodus 20:24
In the OT, one could atone for their sins by making a burnt offering to the Lord. This ritualistic sacrifice had to be conducted by the priests, and it included sacrificing animals on the altar dedicated to God.
Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. ― 1 Peter 1:18-19
In the NT, however, we see the supreme sacrifice, that of Christ dying on the cross. While the animal sacrifices of the OT ensured that the sins of the people were atoned, the NT conveys the message that all of mankind has been redeemed by the death of Christ on the tree.
All throughout the OT, we see the Lord promising people the redemption of sins. The NT fulfills this promise with the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's beloved son. Christ's death and resurrection has purchased for mankind the key to the gates of Heaven, thus, securing every Christian a place in God's kingdom, just as promised to the people in the OT.
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
In the very words of Christ, we understand the fulfillment of the promises made to the people in the OT. God, who was considered elusive in the OT, now became the Lord of all. The temple that was accessed by only the chosen people was torn open on the day of Christ's death, thus, symbolizing that not only had the people received redemption, but also accessed the right to commune freely with God.
Despite the differences in the two testaments of the Bible, the main message contained in it remains the same. It tells us of a God who is forever loving and ready to forgive the trespasses of the people he lovingly created. The Bible, as a whole, contains the words of eternal life and the path to leading a life that is conditioned by God.