Archive for the ‘Old Testament’ Category

The Promise of Messiah in the OT

The promise of the coming Messiah begin in embryonic form in Genesis 3:15 where God promised to remedy the entrance of sin into the world through a future descendant of the woman. Throughout the remainder of the Old Testament, this initial promise is developed and expanded so that the overall picture of the coming Messiah is filled in and revealed more and more clearly. In this way, Genesis 3:15 can be viewed as the initial strokes of paint on the canvas of biblical prophecy. Then, with each new prophecy, more detail and color is added to the canvas and the picture becomes fuller and clearer:

  • He will come through the seed of the woman (Gen 3:15).
  • He will come through the line of Shem (Gen 9:25-27).
  • He will come through the line of Abraham (Gen 12:3).
  • He will come through the line of Judah (Gen 49:8-12).
  • He will come through the line of Jesse (Is 11:1a).
  • He will come through the line of David (2 Sam 7:10-13; Ps 132:11b).
  • He will come from the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
  • He will come as a child and a son (Is 9:6a).
  • He will be born of a virgin (Is 7:14).
  • He will be called “Immanuel” (Is 7:14).
  • He will be called “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer 23:6; 33:16; cf. Mal 4:2).
  • He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (Is 9:6c).
  • He will come in humility (Zech 9:9).
  • He will serve as a prophet in Israel (Deut 18:15, 18; cf. John 6:14).
  • He will bring good news to the afflicted (Is 61:1-3).
  • He will crush the head of the Serpent (Gen 3:15).
  • He will wash away the guilt of sinners (Is 4:1-4).
  • He will serve as a channel of divine blessing to the world (Gen 12:1-3).
  • He will be rejected by man, pierced by the Jews, and crushed by God the Father (Is 53:1-12; Zech 11:4-14; 12:10; 13:7; cf. Ps 22; cf. Dan 9:26a).
  • He will die as a substitutionary sacrifice for guilty sinners to provide forgiveness and salvation (Is 53:1-12; Zech 3:9).
  • He will be resurrected from the dead (Ps 16:10; cf. Acts 2:31).
  • He will come again in judgment upon the nations (Is 63:1-6).
  • He will bring destruction to the enemies of Israel (Num 24:15-19).
  • He will reign in perfect peace, justice, and righteousness as King over the entire earth (Gen 49:10; Num 24:17-19; Ps 2:6-12; 110:1-7; Is 9:6b-7; 11:1-16; 42:1-4; Jer 23:5; 33:14-2; Zech 9:10).
  • He will build the Temple of the Lord and rule on His throne as Priest (Zech 6:12-15).
  • He will unify and restore the nation of Israel (Ezek 36:16-38; 37:15-28).
  • He will feed and protect Israel as her divine Shepherd (Ezek 34:23-31; 37:15-28).
  • He will bring salvation to Israel and reign over her as King (Is 49:5-6a; Micah 5:2; Jer 23:5-6; 30:21; 33:16; Ezek 37:15-28).
  • He will be appointed as a covenant to the people and a light to the nations of the earth (Is 42:5-6; 49:6; cf. Is 55:4; cf. Mal 3:1).
  • He will be given glory and everlasting dominion over all the nations of the earth, and His kingdom will be established forever (Dan 7:13-14; 2 Sam 7:10-13; Ps 132:11b).

Issues with Preaching the OT

Over the years, we at Expository Thoughts have touched on preaching the OT from a variety of angles. I’m convinced that it is one of THE issues to consider both hermeneutically and theologically. Below is a round-up containing some of our essays addressing the issue.   We have all grown since some of these articles were written but the general principles and root ideas remain the same.

Apostolic/Christological Hermeneutics

What Exactly is the “Apostles’ Hermeneutic”? By Matt Waymeyer

In search of the Apostles’ Hermeneutic (Part I) by Matt Waymeyer

In search of the Apostles’ Hermeneutic (Part II) by Matt Weymeyer

Test Case: Who is the “Seed of Abraham”? by Paul Lamey

Is the NT like the conclusion to a mystery novel? by Paul Lamey

Did Jesus spiritualize the OT? by Paul Lamey

The Relationship Between the Testaments

An Introduction by Paul Lamey

Christological Hermeneutic by Matt Waymeyer

Apostolic Hermeneutic by Matt Waymeyer

The NT View of the OT by Paul Lamey

The Priority of the OT by Randy McKinion

Walter Kaiser on 1 Peter 1:10-12 by Matt Waymeyer

Paul’s Use of Hosea in Romans 9:25-26 by Matt Waymeyer

Concluding Thoughts by Paul Lamey

Mike Vlach on the NT use of the OT

Mike Vlach, Associate Professor of Theology at The Master’s Seminary, is now blogging. I think he waited this long so that he wouldn’t be accused of being trendy. His first two posts right out of the gate take up an aspect of our current subject, the NT use of the OT. See the links highlighted below:

Should we spiritualize a text? Did Jesus?

We’re having a great discussion about preaching the OT in a post down below. One of the misconceptions of Jesus’ statements about the OT in Luke 24 is that He changed the meanings of OT texts or what some may call “spiritualizing” their meaning. This needs to be unpacked but I’m not convinced that Jesus or the Apostles changed the meaning of any OT text . . . ever! If by that it is meant that they set aside the meaning of the original text and replaced it with a new meaning. Expansion, elaboration, and intertextuality is one thing but saying that Jesus and the Apostles set aside the original intent of the author is a forced argument (usually for the sake of one’s theological system).

Guess who said the following (emphasis mine):

Within limit, my brethren, be not afraid to spiritualize, or to take singular texts. Continue to look at passages of Scripture, and not only give their plain meaning, as you are bound to do, but also draw from them meanings which may not lie upon their surface.

Preaching the OT

How should we preach the OT? This is a question that is often pondered by pastors and theologians alike. First, we need to drink deeply from Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Tim 3:16-17. When the Apostle penned those words, he was speaking directly about the Hebrew Scriptures (our OT). This should at least give the expositor some pause before he utters statements like, “we need to make the OT relevant.” I’m not trying to split hairs but the Scripture is alive and relevant well before we get to any application in our sermon.

Secondly, it is unnecessary and wrong-headed to make Christ appear in OT passages where the authorial intent or progressive revelation (also intertextualities) does not lead us to such conclusions. Beware of those who can make Jesus appear with any mention of blood or wood (i.e., the cross). The fact is, the Messiah is fully anticipated in the OT so we do not have to make Him appear by being clever but by faithfully expositing the text and that in the context of redemptive history. For specific help on this read this and this.

Thirdly, I am somewhat questioning of the constant pleas for Christ-centered preaching if that means excluding Jesus’ own emphasis on glorifying the Father (see John 17) or downplaying the activity of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. I think it is important that our preaching not be Christless but for that matter it should not be deficient in any aspect or person of the holy Trinity.

There has been some helpful articles on this subject lately and what follows is a sample:

Thoughts on Psalm 70 and sore knees

The comedian Brian Regan has said that you know you’re getting old when you can pull a muscle in your sleep. There are days in which we feel our human frailty more than others. To be sure, the aching back, the sore knees, and the like are a part of, what we might call, growing closer to eternity. So we mumble things like, “I can’t wait for heaven” or “this back won’t hurt in its glorified state” and we say this with a slight chuckle but with a real hope that this is the case. However, if we can borrow an phrase from Schaeffer, how shall we live today? We are right to believe in a future new heaven and earth in which Christ will gloriously reign but we have to ask, how is He being exalted now in the world of sore knees?

David sets up a memorial in Psalm 70 that reminds us of this very tension. He brackets the Psalm with a cry for the Lord to “hasten” to his side for help (vv. 1, 5). There appears to be shades of an eschatological hope in future glory while at the same time a present trust in the Lord (vs. 4b, 5). So in this present, ugly, painful, and even sneering world (vs. 3) we can still say, “Let God be magnified” (vs. 4c). So rather than making the “most” out of a difficult situation, David exhorts us to make the most of God even while the back still aches.

Ezekiel and the “call” to ministry

Daniel Block, reflecting on Ezekiel’s call to ministry in Ezek 3 notes an important theological implication concerning the “call” to ministry. His statement is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject yet it’s worth considering.

First, whoever would serve as a messenger of God must recognize that the calling comes from God alone. Neither the needs of the field, nor oratorical gifts, nor any other external qualifications authorize one to enter divine service. Moreover, the God who appoints his servants also defines the task, chooses the field of serivce, provides the message, and assumes repsonsibility for the outcome. The less evident the fruit for one’s ministry, the more critical is a clear sense of calling.

from Daniel I. Block, The Book of Ezekiel Chapters 1-24, NICOT, 130.

Faith in the OT

The only thing that is going to cause an Israelite to take an expensive, flawless animal and sacrifice it is faith in what Moses has said (71).

From James Hamilton, “John Sailhamer’s The Meaning of the Pentateuch: A Review,” SBJT 14.2 (2010): 62-76.

Daniel: Reading & Praying Jeremiah

Having spent the Summer preparing a Bible Study on the book of Daniel—which by the way explains where I have been to my fellow contributors—the book has weighed heavily on my mind for a while. The passage that was really brought home to me was Daniel 9, a passage of which I’m sure our readers are familiar. The prayer of Daniel 9 is one of the truly convicting sections of the book, as the reader is challenged by Daniel’s sincerity and eloquence. The prayer stands as a fitting example for believers of all times.

While tempted to jump in and talk about the OT use of the OT (this is not a typo), a topic I would like to post more about in the future, I thought I would share some general thoughts about an implication I believe comes home to we who share in leading congregations in corporate worship.

Daniel 9:2 makes an interesting shift in the book. Daniel had previously received revelation through visions and dreams. Here, the text shifts to the interpretation of Scripture. Instead of receiving a new divine vision, Daniel reads, tries to understand Jeremiah 25, and prays as a response to this text. The particular verse that mentions the 70 years is Jer 25:11 (see also 29:10), but it is pretty clear based on his prayer that he was reading the whole text. Moreover, it is also clear that Daniel had a mastery of the Scripture that was available to him.

As a result of his understanding the text of Jeremiah, Daniel responded in the following manner: “So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (v. 3). Daniel literally “turned his face toward the Lord God,” which is a fitting description of prayer. In prayer, believers turn their face from the world, its allurements, and their preoccupation with themselves to the Lord their God. The focus of their mind turns to God Himself and His will for their lives. Daniel’s manner in prayer revealed a determined, fervent heart; not an in-passing, flippant approach to prayer. He was desperate, and he lingered long before the Lord in order to understand God’s will. This was not simply a quick request before reading Scripture to ask for God’s blessing; this was a prolonged time of fasting and sitting before the Lord in a humble state. We learn much from Daniel’s countenance, but…

If you are like me, prayer sometimes is difficult because we do not know what to pray. What is it about the prayers of those we think of as good pray-ers? I am pretty certain that good praying is not marked by its use of King James English. I think what sticks out in my mind about such individuals is that their prayers are well versed in Scripture. I think this is the reason that their prayers seem to be an expression of the heart of God. They know Him well, because they have spent time in His Word. This reflects itself in their praying as they view life through His lens, not their own.

For those of us who struggle with this, praying in light of Scripture, I believe, is an important principle for modern believers. If God speaks to us in His word—and He does—and if we desire to pray according to His will—as we should—then we will consistently pray in light of the text. When we read Scripture, in other words, we learn what God’s heart truly loves and what He desires. Therefore, when we pray with the words of Scripture, we are assured that our requests are not self-centered or outside of His will. Our requests will be focused upon Him and His glory and in line with His larger plans. When we read the Bible for our devotions or when reflecting upon Sunday’s sermon, it would be helpful for us to rephrase what we have learned in a prayer. This will help us develop not only a better vocabulary for prayer but also train our hearts to respond to God in a way that pleases Him. In many ways, this is why the book of Psalms has been so well loved by believers. In it we find the writer dealing with the highs and lows of life, and we learn how he responds to those situations with his words. The same is true of Daniel in this passage. His mind was filled with the Word of God. Much of the language he uses in his prayer is not new to him; it is taken from what he was reading in Jeremiah. This prayer may leave you saying, “If I could only pray like Daniel!” Well, the good news is that you can, because he was simply a faithful student of God’s words, and he recognized their continued validity in his life.

In my opinion, praying in light of the significance of the text, particularly during corporate worship, is extremely valuable. We practice this at our church in order to ensure that the prayers we pray reflect our belief that Scripture, where God speaks and clearly articulates His will, should inform the way we approach our Lord.

Nasty Narratives

I am doing a bit of writing on preaching NT narrative at the moment and thought I would share a fun gem from Dale Ralph Davis who has written a helpful little book on OT narrative called The Word Became Fresh:

H. C. Leupold wrote a commentary on Genesis about 1942-not a bad commentary by the way. At the end of each major segment he included a paragraph marked ‘Homiletical Suggestions.’ At the end of Genesis 38 this section contains only one sentence, which begins: ‘Entirely unsuited to homiletical use.’ Translated that means: Don’t you dare preach on it! Well, that has the same effect as decreeing prohibition over a rack of warm cookies. And rightly so. Difficult texts should tempt you to preach them.

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