A testament or a will only comes into power whenever somebody dies. In essence an heir cannot inherit if the testator (person who wrote the testament) is still alive. [Heb 9:16 In the case of a will it is necessary to prove that the person who made it has died, 17 for a will means nothing while the person who made it is alive; it goes into effect only after his death] (GNB). Now consider this: During the 30 years or so that Jesus lived on the earth and the 3 years that He ministered before He died, under which Testament did He live? Under the OLD of course! He was still alive and we just saw in the previous 2 verses that a testament does not come into effect whilst the person who wrote it is still alive. [Gal 4:4 But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law] (GNB). So if someone claims that they still have to obey the Old Covenant Law because Jesus did it, well Jesus had to obey it because He was born under the Old Testament and had to fulfill it!
The crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ is described in Matt 27, Mark 15, Luk 23 and John 19. If we take for example the book of Matthew and we see that chapter 27 was where the New Testament came into effect (because this is where Jesus died), this implies that everything before Matt 27 was Old Testament because the New Testament hadn’t been established yet! Therefore according to its legal validity the New Testament actually only begins in Matt 27 (and Mark 15, Luk 23 and John 19). Everything before these chapters is OLD TESTAMENT.
During His time on the earth we never see Jesus preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to anybody other than the Jews, because He was still living under the Old Testament and He wasn’t allowed to share any of Israel’s inheritance with non Jewish people. One time we see Jesus venturing to a geographical area outside of Galilee and was met by a Canaanite woman, who wasn’t a Jew:
[Matt 15:21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” 27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour]. In essence the woman was saying: “Lord if there is any surplus left of God’s blessings, please help me!” And by faith this woman was grafted into the New Covenant even before it was time for the Gentiles to become partakers! We also see a few other similar examples in the Bible like Rahab the prostitute who hid the spies in Jericho, Ruth the Moabite, Naaman the Syrian who was cleansed of leprosy after washing himself seven times in the Jordan at the instruction of Elijah, etc. By faith they transcended time and received their inheritance long before it was actually due to be theirs.
So if the New Testament began at Golgotha with the death of Jesus Christ (remember Heb 9:16-17 above), it must mean that the Old Testament had to have been cancelled somewhere before that. We find a prophecy pertaining to this made by the prophet Zachariah at about 520BC. We’ll share the story quickly interwoven with the scriptures:
God was the shepherd of the flock of Israel under the Old Covenant, caring for them with His staff that He called “Favour” (and another one called “Union”). [Zec 11:7 Those who bought and sold the sheep hired me, and I became the shepherd of the sheep that were going to be butchered. I took two sticks: one I called "Favor" and the other "Unity." And I took care of the flock] (GNB). The staff called “Favour” symbolised the covenant He had made with the nation of Israel. The problem with this flock of sheep was that they were continually running after idols and persisted in rebelling against their Shepherd. Now the Shepherd had just about had enough and told them that He was going to quit. [Zec 11:9 Then I said to the flock, "I will not be your shepherd any longer. Let those die who are to die. Let those be destroyed who are to be destroyed. Those who are left will destroy one another"] (GNB).
He also requested that they pay Him for the services He had rendered, but if they didn’t want to pay Him that they could just leave it. [Zec 11:12 I said to them, "If you are willing, give me my wages. But if not, keep them." So they paid me thirty pieces of silver as my wages] (GNB). And on the day that Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver by Judas Iscariot, God broke His staff and ended the covenant He had made with Israel. [Zec 11:10 Then I took the stick called "Favor" and broke it, to cancel the covenant which the LORD had made with all the nations] (GNB).
If we look at the context of Zech 11 we will see “all the nations” only refer to Israel & Judah. [Zec 11:14 Then I broke the second stick, the one called "Unity," and the unity of Judah and Israel was shattered] (GNB).
Now here’s a real gem: Over 500 years before Christ was betrayed, the prophet Zachariah spoke these words: [Zech 11:13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter].
30 Pieces of silver was the commonly agreed price owed to an owner if his slave was injured whilst working for someone else and also the price that Jesus was betrayed for by Judas Iscariot. Therefore we see God sarcastically say they paid a “princely price” for Him. The Son of God was betrayed for the price of an injured slave! And then we see the following scripture in Matt 27 (note the part about the “potter”):
[Matt 27:3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in]. See Zech 11:13 above again – the prophesy even described the potter’s field!
We see therefore that the Old Testament came to an end when Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and in the spiritual realm broke His staff that symbolised His covenant with Israel. But praise be to God that only several hours later He wrote a New Covenant with His own blood, a Testament that included all the nations of the earth and allowed us to become His children through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!
Andre van der Merwe