Christ in Old Testament

Following up on the previous post, here is the second question posed by swbtsbloggers.

Question: Is the Old Testament about Christ?

Answer: Honestly, the Old Testament is about many things. By this statement, I do not mean that the Old Testament is not about Christ, for it certainly is. One of the dangers to avoid is finding Christ under every rock or tree in the Old Testament. This type of mistake is often found in allegorical treatments of Old Testament passages. I have heard it said that in the Old Testament, you don’t need exegesis, just a little extra-Jesus. However, such is not the case. Not every narrative or prophecy is a direct testimony to Christ; however, one does not need to push him in there.

The Old Testament is about Christ in the broader literary strategies of biblical books. It is often the case that Messianic passages are found in the most important passages of a biblical book or even a group of biblical books. I will use the Pentateuch as an example. Much of the material in the Pentateuch is about something other than Christ. Especially read in isolation, much of the biblical text does not seem to be about Christ at all. Perhaps it is about God’s special acts for Israel in the past, but not Christ. However, as one looks at the larger narrative seams of the Pentateuch, these important passages that conclude a section of the Pentateuch, then one begins to understand the significance of Christ in the author’s message.

Let me trace one aspect of the literary strategy of the Pentateuch as an example. In Gen 49:8-12, Jacob gives his blessing to Judah. In the blessing, Jacob states that the sons of his father will bow down to him, that he will subjugate his enemies, and that he will be a ruler forever. This blessing concludes a major section in the Pentateuch, the narrative from creation through the patriarchs. It also provides a interpretive framework for evaluating what has occurred in the narrative, for notice that the blessing of Judah demonstrates that Judah replaces Joseph. In Joseph’s dream, his brothers bow down to him, but in the blessing of Judah, Judah replaces Joseph as his brothers bow down to him. This same trend continues throughout the most significant passages of the Pentateuch. Furthermore, this type of strategy which extends beyond small narrative units to the literary strategy of the entire book is common in the Old Testament. Therefore, Jesus has every justification for claiming that the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms testify to him. They do so not in every word, but in the overall strategies of these biblical books.

The interview was first posted at swbtsbloggers.

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