What the Joseph Story Is Really About

Samuel Emadi: Moses gives Joseph more time in Genesis than he does any other character—a striking fact given the significance of Genesis’s other main characters: Adam, Noah, and the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This prominence is even more striking considering the apparent insignificance of Joseph in the rest of Scripture. What then do we make of the Joseph story? Why is it so prominent in Genesis? Many Christians fail to notice how Joseph’s story contributes to the Genesis narrative and to redemptive history in general. Within Reformed circles, preachers often use Joseph merely to illustrate how divine sovereignty and human responsibility intersect, focusing almost exclusively on Genesis 50:20: “What you meant for evil God meant for good.” Certainly, we are meant to read Joseph’s life in light of this verse. God’s sovereignty is a major theme in Genesis 37–50, and Joseph himself intends for us to interpret his life in light of God’s providence (cf. Gen. 45:1–9). But reducing the story to an illustration

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Every Story Casts His Shadow

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 Welcome to the world of Biblical Theology. Tevin Wax: Here’s a brief video that shows how the Old Testament stories point forward to Christ. This is the heart behind The Gospel Project Chronological. You can preview sessions here.

Jesus is the Fulfillment and the Fulfiller

  “The Old Testament is an incomplete book; it is revelation developing towards a climax.  There is the constant prediction of a ‘day of the Lord,’ a consummation, a unique revelation of the power and glory of God. . . . This hope is expressed in terms of the past, yet exceeds anything experienced in the past.  There is to be a new David, but a greater than David; a new Moses but a greater than Moses; a new Elijah or Melchizedek, but one greater than those who stand out from the pages of the old records.  There is to be a greater and more wonderful tabernacling of God, as his presence comes to dwell in a new temple.  There is to be a new creation, a new Israel, redeemed, revived, a people made up of those to whom a new heart and a new spirit are given that they may love and obey their Lord. Old Testament prophecy .

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G.K. Beale on interpreting OT Prophecy

  Justin Taylor: G.K. Beale, writing in The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (Apollos/IVP, 2004), argues that “We should want to follow an interpretive method that aims to unravel the original intention of biblical authors, realizing that that intention may be multi-layered, without any layers contradicting the others. Such original intentions may have meaning more correspondent to physical reality (hence so-called ‘literal interpretation’) while others may refer to ‘literal’ spiritual realities…” This means that “the progress of revelation certainly reveals expanded meanings of earlier biblical texts. Later biblical writers further interpret earlier biblical writings in ways that amplify earlier texts. These subsequent interpretations may formulate meanings that earlier authors may not have had in mind but which do not contravene their original, essential, organic meaning. This is to say that original meanings have ‘thick’ content and that original authors likely were not exhaustively aware of the full extent of that content. In

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Two favoured sons and how to read the Old Testament

Tullian Tchividjian: Want to know how to read the Old Testament? Here’s a quick primer: Martin Luther said that everything bad in the Old Testament (and there’s a lot) is there to point out our sin, while everything good in the Old Testament is there to point us to our Savior. Remember this pithy little couplet, and you’ll be well on your way to understanding what can often seem to be an intimidating and inscrutable collection of books. Consider Joseph, for example. His life, like all of ours, is a mixed bag: some bad, some good. There’s no question that we can learn a lot of good from reading about Joseph’s life. His refusal to sleep with Potiphar’s wife stands out. The Bible never tells us that, after all Joseph had been through, his faith in God wavered. In fact, it tells us just the opposite. When he finally encounters his brothers years after they sold him into slavery and

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The prophets searched and angels longed to see

The prophets searched. Angels longed to see. And the disciples didn’t understand. But Moses, the prophets, and all the Old Testament Scriptures had spoken about it — that Jesus would come, suffer, and then be glorified. God began to tell a story in the Old Testament, the ending of which the audience eagerly anticipated. But the Old Testament audience was left hanging. The plot was laid out but the climax was delayed. The unfinished story begged an ending. In Christ, God has provided the climax to the Old Testament story. Jesus did not arrive unannounced; his coming was declared in advance in the Old Testament, not just in explicit prophecies of the Messiah but by means of the stories of all of the events, characters, and circumstances in the Old Testament. God was telling a larger, overarching, unified story. From the account of creation in Genesis to the final stories of the return from exile, God progressively unfolded his plan of salvation.

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Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colours: Reading an Old Story in a New Way

From Justin Taylor: Vodie Baucham Jr.’s new book is Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors: Reading an Old Story in a New Way (Crossway, 2013). Here are a couple of commendations from biblical theologians: “Here is a popular-level reading of the life of Joseph as it is found in Genesis—an approach that reads the narrative both within the framework of Genesis and within the framework of the entire Bible. It avoids mere moralism, but does not overlook the morals implicit in the story; it avoids finding Jesus hiding behind every verse in some earnest but skewed and uncontrolled appeal to typology, yet it shows how the narrative prepares the way for Jesus. In many ways these chapters foster quiet, patient, faithful Bible reading, while driving readers toward the gospel.” —D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School “Voddie Baucham has thrown a spanner in the works of those writers and preachers who see little more in the

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7 Ways of Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

By Trevin Wax: No pastor wants his preaching to be considered “Christ-less” or something other than “Christ-centered.” Still, it is sometimes difficult to understand what exactly is meant by this kind of terminology. Likewise, no pastor wants to “read into” the text something that is not there. In the initial chapter of his book,Preaching Christ from Genesis,Sidney Griedanus lays out seven ways that a preacher can legitimately preach Christ from the Old Testament. I’ve adapted the examples for each category in order to keep the focus on how there are multiple ways to preach Christ from an Old Testament account (such as Noah). 1. Redemptive-Historical Progression The redemptive-historical road to Christ is the “broadest and foundational path from an Old Testament text to Jesus Christ” (3). It takes into consideration the history of redemption which begins with the opening chapters of Genesis and culminates in the vision of a restored paradise in Revelation. This journey from creation to new creation

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Christ Is Not Just Another Theme in the Old Testament

By Scott Redd: I am increasingly hesitant to use the phrase “finding Christ in the Old Testament” (or Pentateuch, Psalter, or Wisdom Literature, and so on). It seems to imply that the person of Christ is merely a theme among others to be mined from the Old Testament alongside other themes such as justification, resurrection, or the like. The second person of the Trinity made incarnate is, of course, more than simply a theme of God’s self-revelation in the Old Testament Scriptures. He is the culmination of God’s self-revelation in all of history, the perfect embodiment of the godhead (Col 2:9). To a certain extent, we could say that the quest to find Christ in the Old Testament is analogous to the quest to find Thomas Jefferson in Declaration of Independence. Christ is everywhere throughout the Old Testament. It speaks of him explicitly and implicitly, in promises, patterns, types, hints, and images. Through these various ways the Old Testament reveals

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The Gospel according to the Minor Prophets

Matt Harmon’s helpful concluding thoughts to his series on the Minor Prophets: Two Key Concepts The Covenantal Context. After discussing things like author, date and historical context we quickly moved to what we called the covenantal context. We did this because the respective covenants were the governing structure of how God interacts with his people throughout the Old Testament. So in looking at each Minor Prophet, we paid careful attention to how they drew upon the Abrahamic (Gen 12:1-3), Mosaic (Exod 19-24), and Davidic (2 Sam 7) covenants. Initial & Final Fulfillment. Although we tend to think of the relationship between promise and fulfillment as a simple one-to-one correspondence, we have seen that in the Minor Prophets that is often not the case. The various promises made in the Minor Prophets often have an initial fulfillment in an event in the near future of the prophet while at the same time having a final fulfillment in the distant future. Nowhere was this clearer

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Upon Whom the Ends of the Ages Have Come

Donald Robinson, Graeme Goldsworthy’s theological mentor: “Jesus is Himself the End. There is nothing revealed to us in the purposes of God which does not have its fulfilment in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). All that the Old Testament believers looked forward to in the day of the Lord finds its realization in Jesus: the passover (1 Cor. 5:7), the exodus (Luke 9:31), the covenant (Matt. 26:28), the law (John 13:34; Rom. 10:4), the tabernacle (John 1:14), the bread from heaven (John 6:35), Canaan (1 Pet. 1:4; Heb. 11:16), David (John 1:49), Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22; Rev. 21:10-14), the Temple (John 2:21; Acts 15:16). But Jesus not only concludes and fulfils the historical experience of old Israel; He fulfils also the more ancient history of creation. He is the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), the firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15), who has already received the glory and dominion with which it was God’s purpose to endow man (Heb. 2:5-9). The End has therefore come in Jesus Christ.  . . .

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6 Reasons Christians Should Study the Tabernacle

From Daniel Hyde: “You shall make upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. Ten cubits shall be the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. There shall be two tenons in each frame, for fitting together. So shall you do for all the frames of the tabernacle. You shall make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side; and forty bases of silver you shall make under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under the next frame for its two tenons…(Exodus 26:15-19) Riveting stuff, isn’t it? All too often well-meaning Christians set out to read through their Bibles, only to get bogged down in the minutiae of the tabernacles frames, curtains, rings, and bases. This leads many of us to see this portion of Scripture as irrelevant to our daily lives. Why study the tabernacle, then? Let me encourage you

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The relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament

By Tim Keller: I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” What I hear most often is “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible?” It is not that I expect everyone to have the capability of understanding that the whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan to redeem his people, but I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency. First of all, let’s be clear that it’s not only the Old Testament

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The New Testament’s Multi-dimensional Fulfillment of the Old

My thanks to Dane Ortlund for this: Seems to me that while it need not be the main point of every NT book, nevertheless every NT book in some way fulfills the hope of the OT, though each from its own perspective. One former prof of mine used to say that the NT is a 27-volume commentary on the OT. Truth to that. Matthew fulfills the OT’s hope for a Messiah, a Christ, an anointed son of David who would save God’s people (1:21). Mark fulfills the OT’s hope for a coming Son of God who would inaugurate God’s kingdom (1:1, 14–15). Luke fulfills the OT’s longing for God to come and set right the world’s injustices—reversing rich and poor, oppressors and oppressed, satisfied and hungry, outsider and insider (19:10). John fulfills the OT’s longing for the tabernacle/temple to do decisively what it was always meant to do—unite God and man in restored fellowship (1:14; 2:21; 14:6). Acts fulfills the OT by

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Jesus and the Old Testament

Chris Wright: The New Testament delights to portray Jesus as the one in whom the reality of the scripture promises is found, even in surprising ways. . . . It was only as the church reflected on their experience of Jesus in the light of the resurrection that they came to see, as Paul put it, that ‘allthe promises of God are Yes in Christ.’ He was the singular seed of Abraham, through whom that seed would become universal and multi-national. He was the one in whom all nations would be blessed. . . . He was the passover lamb protecting God’s people from his wrath. His death and resurrection had achieved a new exodus. He was the mediator of a new covenant. His sacrificial death and risen life fulfilled and surpassed all that were signified in the tabernacle, the sacrifices and the priesthood. He was the temple not made with human hands, indeed he was Mount Zion itself, as

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Should We Look for Literal Fulfillments of OT Prophecy?

In our own day, there are those who look for future fulfillments of OT promises in a manner as literal as the original terms themselves. They expect to see things happening literally in the land of Israel, with a tribal division like Ezekiel describes. From the same prophet, they look for a rebuilding of the temple and reconstitution of the priesthood and sacrificial system. Or a battle between biblically identifiable enemies. Or Gentile nations on actual pilgrimmage to the present physical Jerusalem. Or a revival of the throne of David. There is a wide variety of such interpretations of prophecy held by many sincere Christian people. However, such expectations seem quite wide of the mark. Sometimes they simply make the mistake of taking literally what the Bible always intended figuratively even in its original form. But at other times they fail to see the living and ‘transformable’ quality of promises which were probably understood quite literally at the time of

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The Promise of Messiah in the Old Testament

My thanks to Matt Waymeyer for this: 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

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