Today we will begin to close out our series on the doctrine of Scripture. It is appropriate to conclude this series on the written Word of God by drawing attention to the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. Why so? Jesus Himself as the post-resurrected Christ, explains His relationship to the Scriptures in Luke 24:37-45 -
"But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them.44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures."
Over the last several months, we have explored the major truths associated with the doctrine of Scripture. We have touched upon the Bible's sufficiency, clarity, authority, necessity, inerrancy, and infallibility. We considered the tests or marks of canonicity, as well as grasping what is meant by "canon", its boundaries, and why only the inspired books, upon recognition and use, came to be known as the "Old Testament canon" and "New Testament canon". In today's post, we will begin to observe how we see Jesus in every book of the Bible. To aid our journey, I'll provide headings for each major section of Bible. We shall begin by noting how Jesus is found in the Books of the Law, also known as "The Pentateuch".
Perhaps a more appopriate title for that collection of 39 books we call "Old Testament" would be that of "Old Covenant". A testament refers to a document that becomes active upon the death of the one who drafted it. In the Old Covenant (also known as the Hebrew Bible, due to it having been composed originally in Hebrew, with portions of Daniel and Ezra written in Aramaic), we find the living God, the Creator, calling forth a people to be His own.
A covenant is made by one who is alive, and typically involves at least one other party, with both parties pledging oaths to one another. As our Bibles were translated, the Latin translation of the Vulgate would use the word "testamentum" to translate the Hebrew and Greek terms used for "covenant". I only bring out this point to remind all of us that the God of the Bible is living and the source of life itself - whether physical or spiritual.
In God's case, He made what are called "unconditional covenants" with men like Noah, Abraham, and David, pledging that He would be responsible for bringing about the fulfillment of those covenants. He pledged Himself to not give up on Israel, even though He knew she would fail Him many times.
It was the famous fifth century Christian Bishop of North Africa, Augustine, who famously said: "The New Testament in the Old is concealed, and the Old Testament in the New is revealed". Central to the revelation of Old or New Covenant Scriptures is the Person of Jesus Christ. What follows below is a sketch of how one finds Jesus in the books of the Bible. 1. The Books of the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy) = Christ is the Pattern.
Genesis = Jesus is Creator and Sustainer
Genesis begins our exploration of seeing Jesus in the books of the Bible. We find Him as the Creator and sustainer in Genesis 1-11, providing structure for the created order and the covenant of grace in salvation to our fallen parents and race. One dominate theme we find in Scripture is that of "covenant". We find the pre-incarnate Christ calling out to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. No doubt it was He whom Noah preached about (albeit as God's promise of deliverance, not yet knowing the fulness of the revelation of Christ we find in the New Testament, see 1 Peter 3:18-20). God through Christ would verbalize his Covenant to Noah to never again destroy the world with a flood. No doubt Jesus would compare the last days prior to His return in Matthew 24 to the days of Noah.
Genesis 12-50 continues this theme of Christ as creator and preserver by how He called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees to go to the promised land, beginning in Genesis 12. Stephen preached in Acts 7:2 that "the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham". One thing we learn about throughout the Old Testament is that God would often appear in what are called "theophanies", that is, manifestations of the invisible God to His people. Old Testament theology tells us that in most instances, such "theophanies" were "Christophanies", meaning that the Pre-incarnate Christ made Himself visible in and through the media of created things, whether fire (Exodus 3), a rock (1 Corinthians 10:1-6), a pillar of cloud that led the people (Numbers 9), or the Shekinah glory that suffused the Temple (1 Kings 8). God, presumably in the Person of the pre-incarnate Christ, would speak to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the remainder of Genesis.
Exodus = Jesus is the Redeemer.
As we arrive at Exodus, we are 400 years removed from the days of Joseph, the last patriarch in Genesis. Exodus carries the theme of "redemption", since it records the greatest act of deliverance in the Old Testament - the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jewish people. Exodus 1-15 would detail the call of God to Moses and the Exodus of the people from Egypt.
It is in Exodus 12 that the rite of Passover is introduced, with the Passover Lamb playing the main part. The Jews had to take a first born lamb, kill it, and spread its blood upon the doorposts and gates of their homes. The sight of blood by the Death Angel, who would passover Egypt in the final plague, would exempt Jewish households from the death of the firstborn. Preachers of old would often use this to urge their listeners to believe on Christ and repent of their sins, stating how important it was to "have the blood of Christ applied over the doorposts of the heart".
The imagery of "the Lamb of God" is picked up in Isaiah 53 and is described of Jesus in John 3:29. Paul writes of Jesus as "The Passover" in 1 Corinthians 5:7, further reinforcing Him as the Redeemer.
Exodus 16-40 then describes the first year of the Jews journeys into the Desert following their Exodus. When we speak of "redemption"or "salvation"in the Bible, we talk of not only what Jesus came to "save us from" (God's wrath, our sin), but also what He came to "save us to" (life more abundantly, life as an adopted son or daughter of God, our heavenly destiny). Jesus is the Redeemer of Exodus.
Leviticus = Jesus is our High Priest.
The Book of Leviticus records the first 30 days of the lives of God's people following their Exodus. The institution of the Levitical priesthood was meant to provide representation of the people before the Holy God of Israel. The construction and consecration of the mobile worship center called the tabernacle offers many pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ (compare Hebrews 8-10).
The writer of Hebrews compares and then demonstrates how Jesus Christ's role as the believer's high preist excedes that of the Levitical priestly roles. We could comment more on the meanings of the sacrifices, the details of the tabernacle, and further comments on the priesthood, but we must move onward.
Numbers = Jesus is our Guiding Shepherd.
In the Hebrew Bible, many of the books of the Old Testament are named by whatever the first word is in the text. Our Book called "Numbers" got its name from the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the "Septuagint". When Jerome did his translation of the Latin Vulgate, he simply took the Septuagint's title and transposed it into the Latin Bible.
Although the book does speak of the numbering of the tribes of Israel, that is not its main point. The book we know as "Numbers" has as its Hebrew name what is translated "in the desert". I prefer this original name for the book because it describes life lived before the Lord in this dry and thirsty world. We find God people wandering in the wilderness for forty years. Despite their unfaithfulness, God as the Visible Yahweh, the pre-incarnate Christ, leads them as a pillar of cloud, as a rock, and as a pillar of fire.
In Numbers 21:6-9, we find the people in such a state of unbelief that God disciplines them with biting serpents. He then tells Moses to fabricate a bronze serpent that is to be raised upon a pole. Those that look upon the "brazen serpent" will be healed and saved from certain death. The Apostle John in John 3:14-15 used that episode to highlight how Jesus Christ came to be the Savior. Christ would be placed upon the cross. Those who look to Him by faith will be saved. No doubt we see Jesus Christ in Numbers (or as we learned today, "in the desert") as the Guiding Shepherd who gives life to His sheep (see John 10). He guides His church in this dry old world toward their Heavenly promised land.
Deuteronomy = Jesus the Life Giver.
Whenever we survey the three final sermons preached by Moses at the end of his forty year trek with the Jews, we find him making the appeal to "choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:15-19). Deuteronomy is called such because of the repetition of the Mosaic Law (The term "deuteronomy" means "second law").
Moses rehearses the Ten Commandments and the law given to him in Exodus. However, we discover that the Law of God was never intended to impart salvation, since the generation prior to the generation in Deuteronomy had shown themselves lawbreakers (as we all are born into this world). What was needed then, and now, is a new heart, a "circumcised heart", a new birth (see Deuteronomy 10; John 3:1-6). The Law of God points beyond itself to the Christ of God.
Next time we will look at how Jesus is revealed in the historical books of the Old Testament - Joshua through Esther.
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