The Old Testament Is Like A Mystery Story

Despite how we know we should feel, even Christians who deeply love the Bible often feel a bit less than enthused if the preacher uses an obscure portion of the Old Testament as his sermon text. Some Old Testament books seem so foreign to us, or at least so incomprehensible, that we struggle to know what to do with them. How might we reinvigorate our reading of the whole of God’s Word?

The best way to energize our explorations of what God revealed to His people before Christ’s first coming is to recognize how deeply the Old Testament Scriptures are about Christ. The covenant of grace is God’s one plan to bring all His people to salvation, describing how God distributes His grace to believers. Reformed Christians readily affirm that the whole Bible tells the one story that culminates in Christ. Still, they may not as thoroughly realize that Christ is not simply the climax of the story but also the major character even before He explicitly appears by name. Christ’s role in this sense is the often under-considered aspect of the covenant of grace.

Good mystery stories maintain suspense until the big reveal. On a second reading, however, all the clues needed to deduce the big reveal should be obvious. The Apostles discovered this once Christ rose from the grave when they reread the Old Testament and found that Christ Himself is the shadow across the whole of God’s written old covenant revelation. For example, Jude addressed a church infected by false, godless teachers by reminding them of Christ’s role during the exodus of Israel and the nation’s time in the wilderness: “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 5). Jude’s striking claim is that Jesus saved Israel out of Egypt. Obviously, the book of Exodus never mentions Jesus’ name explicitly as it records how God rescued His people from slavery. Still, Jude recognized that Israel was saved not merely by God, nor merely by God the Son, but by God the Son as the mediator of the covenant of grace. In other words, Jesus Christ has always been active as the Savior of God’s people. Read more»

“Why Should Christians Read The Old Testament?” | February 9, 2022


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  1. It doesn’t always have to be as explicit as Jude 5, which caused so much consternation to the text critics based on the “hapax” (singularity) of this reference to Jesus: on the New Testament issue of the purity of our offerings to God at the present time, the Old Testament reference Exodus 28:38 comes as bolt of grace out of the detail, that even what we think we offer to God as-is, needs to be, and is, cleaned up, by an outside agent: in the Exodus case, Aaron; then priesthood descendant from Aaron; in our Christ, Christ our high priest (Hebrews 9:11, ESV).

    • Hi Larry, hopefully it’s clear from the full post that I completely agree that this principle applies outside the explicit instances. I just appealed to something explicit to ground the idea plainly

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