How can the long-ago practices, laws, and rituals of the Old Testament possibly be relevant to our lives now? How are the promises that were made in the Old Testament transformed in Christ? What does it mean that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever?
Bible Gateway interviewed Randy Robison about his book, The Age of Promise: Escape the Shadows of the Law to Live in the Light of Christ (Thomas Nelson, 2018).
You begin the book by describing how the New Testament was written in a time when the Old Testament era was ending. Briefly unpack that.
Randy Robison: When Christ came, he was the fulfillment of prophecy and the Old Testament law. One covenant was coming to a conclusion while another one was being initiated. So we see terms like “this age and the age to come” and things that are “at hand” or “soon to be” which were happening or transitioning as various New Testament books were being written. We even see verb tenses shift and change because things are happening so quickly.
Also, Jesus came first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles, but that also brought judgment on God’s people who refuse to recognize the Messiah. So we see prophecies being made and fulfilled within the scope of that generation. Understanding the context and the times of the Scriptures helps us to better apply them today.
In the book, each of ten chapters focuses on a different promise. What do you mean we live in an age of promise?
Randy Robison: The principles of the Old Testament and the law were fulfilled in Christ. In this era, under the rule of Jesus Christ, the ancient principles and constructs take on a different meaning. Even something like judgment, which once carried the death and weight of the law, actually holds a promise for those who are in Christ. By understanding the age in which we live, we better appreciate the Old Testament as well as everything Christ accomplished for us.
What is the promise of deliverance (because Christians continue to be persecuted and face general hardships) and how does obedience factor into it?
Randy Robison: Ever since the fall of mankind, God has been our deliverer. Christ provides the ultimate deliverance because no matter what hardships we face in this life, even unto death, it’s not the end for us. Our earthly afflictions are only for a season and this life is just a vapor. But eternity is forever and that’s our promise. Obedience reaps the rewards of endurance and peace as the Holy Spirit guides and comforts us in all circumstances.
What is the promise of sacrifice and why do we need it?
Randy Robison: The promise of the sacrifice is that Jesus paid it all. We don’t need to strive to atone for our sins because Christ has already done that. We simply need to receive his life so that he can reign in us and impact others through us.
What does it mean when the Bible says we are a chosen people?
Randy Robison: Under the old covenant, the Israelites were set apart by God to reveal himself to the rest of the world. Under the new covenant, all believers, regardless of race, gender, or class, are set apart by God to reveal himself to the rest of the world. God calls everyone to himself, but only those who respond are called “chosen” and enabled to live as his sons and daughters.
How should Christians be living in the “promise of the priest”?
Randy Robison: The Old Testament system of the priesthood provided a blueprint for representing God on earth. Now that Christ has assumed the role of High Priest forever, he paved the way for all believers to assume the priestly duties. That enables us to do things like representing God on earth, proclaiming what is true and right, restoring those who have fallen, and serving others in his name.
What does Paul mean when he says “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” in 2 Corinthians 5:10 and how should that influence the behavior of Christians?
Randy Robison: The judgment seat that Paul refers to relates to the rostrum or tribunal of his time. This is not a place of destruction in the Old Testament sense of judgment or even the judgment that Jesus warned the Jews about, which was a different word. As Paul had previously told the Corinthians in his first letter, this is a place where our actions are weighed and determined to be of eternal value, which he equates to silver, gold, and precious stones, or of no lasting value, which he equates to wood, hay, and straw. Through God’s purifying fire, our unrighteous deeds will be “burned up” and removed forever, leaving only the good things of eternal value. That’s why we don’t need to live under the shame of our mistakes, but can focus on laying up treasures in heaven through acts of obedience. This is actually good news.
What is the kingdom of heaven?
Randy Robison: In short, it’s the right for Christ to rule over one’s heart and mind. It should not be confused with a place here on earth or elsewhere, because it’s a matter of authority, not of location. However, it’s precisely what we should seek to bring to earth through the gospel.
Why is it important to keep in mind that end-times are coming (and what does that actually mean)?
Randy Robison: The “last days” and “end times” usually speak of the end of the old covenant and the judgment that came upon the Jews that rejected Christ. That’s why writers of the New Testament repeatedly claimed to be living in such a time. I see no scriptural evidence of a coming destruction of our planet, but rather the promise that God’s kingdom will continue to expand until all of creation is restored. This process, which Paul wrote about in Romans 8, began when Christ was born and will continue until he is seen in all of his glory.
How can Christians best communicate the reality of eternity to people who don’t believe the Bible and who assume this life is all there is?
Randy Robison: We do this by the way we live our lives and, when necessary, with our words. Being “chosen” means being set apart and, in some translations, “peculiar.” This is not a call to be weird, but a reflection of the fact that the more we live under the lordship of Christ, the more we stand out in this world. The fruit of a Spirit-filled life (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) grows naturally and visibly. When people wonder where it comes from, we just need to tell them.
What do you hope readers of your book will do when they finish it?
Randy Robison: I hope they’ll have a deeper understanding of all that Christ has done for us and a greater desire to know him and live for him. Of course, I also hope they’ll give the book to someone else to read!
What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?
Randy Robison: I try to read fewer passages and more entire books, because they were written with a beginning and end. Focusing on a single passage is a little bit like focusing on one character in a painting. That’s good if you want to better understand that character, but it’s important to see the entire picture.
I especially enjoy the book of Romans because it explains Christ to an audience with little or no knowledge of him, and the Gospel of John because it focuses on making the case for Christ as the Messiah. I also enjoy the book of James because it’s very practical for believers.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Randy Robison: Bible Gateway has helped me with every book that I’ve written. I’ve looked at all the Bible resources online and found Bible Gateway to be the one that’s consistently the most helpful. Whether using the site on my laptop or the app on my phone, I get more from the Scriptures when I use Bible Gateway.
The Age of Promise is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Randy Robison is a writer, producer, and co-host for the television program LIFE Today. He is the author of numerous books, such as The Age of Promise, God Wants You to Be Happy, Our Presidents & Their Prayers, God of All Creation, as well as collaborations with his father, James Robison and Senator Rand Paul. He is a graduate of Oral Roberts University, a husband, and a father of four. He and his family make their home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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