Michael Morales: Atonement—that is, reconciliation between God the Creator and sinful humanity—is at the heart of the Pentateuch’s theology. Indeed, the Day of Atonement is found at the literary center of the Pentateuch’s central book, Leviticus 16. Simply called “the Day” by ancient Jews, the Day of Atonement is dubbed a “Sabbath of Sabbaths” in Scripture (Lev. 16:31), a day of solemn convocation where all members of Israel were called to participate both by ceasing from labor and by “afflicting [their] souls” (Lev. 16:29)—understood as the one annual day of fasting mandated by the LORD. Failure to observe this Day would result in being “cut off” from among God’s people and being “destroyed” by the LORD, a sobering threat meant to underscore the gravity of the liturgy (Lev. 23:26-32). The ritual drama performed by the high priest, along with the severe warnings against neglecting this convocation, served to catechize Israel about the dire need for cleansing and the forgiveness of sins.
Nicholas Batzig: As a young man, I would sometimes spend time talking with a family friend who was a watch expert. I was fascinated by the way in which he could quickly distinguish a true Rolex from a fake. On one occasion, my friend pointed out the seemingly microscopic initials that a watchmaker had engraved into the underside of a timepiece. It was this small detail that enabled my friend to authenticate this particular watch. I would never have thought to look for such a small and seemingly insignificant detail if he had not pointed it out to me. Similarly, the Scriptures identify the Lord Jesus as the true Israel of God by means of the smallest and seemingly most insignificant details in the records of His temptation in the wilderness. No sooner had God brought His son (Ex. 4:22), Israel, out of Egypt and through the waters that He brought him into the wilderness for forty years—to be tested
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
R.C. Sproul: If we look at the intricacy of the drama of the events of Jesus’ crucifixion, we see that some amazing things took place so that Old Testament prophetic utterances were fulfilled to the minutest detail. In the first instance, the Old Testament said that the Messiah would be delivered to the Gentiles (“dogs” or “congregation of the wicked”) for judgment (Ps. 22:16). It just so happened in the course of history that Jesus was put on trial during a time of Roman occupation of Palestine. The Romans allowed a certain amount of home rule by their conquered vassals, but they did not permit the death penalty to be imposed by the local rulers, so the Jews did not have the authority to put Christ to death. The only thing they could do was to meet in council and take Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, asking him to carry out the execution. So Jesus was delivered from
J.D. Greear: If you ask Christians for their favorite book of the Bible, hardly anyone is going to answer, “Leviticus.” (I do know one guy at our church who loved Leviticus—he called it “The Book of Enchantment,” though we could never figure out why—but he was probably the only one.) The book of Leviticus can seem downright strange to us. It’s got a lot of odd rules that don’t always make sense. It’s often tough to get through: more Bible Reading Plans have shipwrecked on the shoals of Leviticus than perhaps any other book of the Bible. But if we just skip over all the ceremonies and rituals and rules, we would miss one of the clearest images of Jesus in the entire Old Testament. Right in the center of Leviticus, in chapter 16, is a ceremony the Jewish people held to be more holy and crucial than any other—a day so thick with meaning and sacredness that they simply
New Timothy Rucker: Temple language and activity saturate the New Testament, following in the footsteps of the Old Testament. Somewhat surprisingly, much of this temple imagery is not primarily concerned with Herod’s stunning Second Temple makeover, but rather, with the New Covenant Temple (NCT hereafter) that Jesus was building. NCT imagery was important for the New Testament authors and their community, and therefore, such imagery should also be enriching for the Church today. NEW COVENANT TEMPLE IMAGERY According to the New Testament’s NCT imagery, Jesus is the NCT (John 2:21), the cornerstone (Matt. 21:42, Eph. 2:20), and the high priest (Heb. 4:14, 10:21). The curtain is Jesus’ flesh (Heb. 10:20). Jesus is the atonement (1 Jn. 2:2, Rom. 3:25). The foundation for this new temple is made up of the apostles and the prophets (Eph. 2:20, Rev. 21:14). The pillars are James, Cephas, John, and the one who conquers (Gal. 2:9,Rev. 3:12). The saints are the living stones being indwelt
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.
By Mitch Chase: Have you ever explored underground caverns? The natural light is dim, so limited sight is a problem, if you can see at all. The more openings you go through and the deeper you descend, the greater the probability you’ll be confused, turned around, and lost. Even when your eyes adjust to the darkness, you may still not see the intricate beauty of the natural architecture. Some Christians read the Old Testament only in dim light. They enter one chapter after another like exploring a cavern, yet they squint and strain their eyes to answer questions. Why is this episode here? Why has the narrator told the scene from this angle? Where is this storyline heading? Why should I care about this long genealogy? How does this prophecy reach fulfilment How do this character’s actions contribute to the plot, to the book, to the canon? Is this text built on earlier ones? Such interpretive questions (and more) arise for
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
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
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
The sun of righteousness rose to its zenith in the heavens and shone out over all peoples. The law and the prophets have been fulfilled and in Christ as their end and goal reached their destiny. . . . He is the truth, the substance in whom all the promises and shadows have been realized. In him all things have been fulfilled. He is the true prophet, priest, and king; the true servant of the Lord, the true expiation, the true sacrifice, the true circumcision, the true Passover, and therefore his church is the true seed of Abraham, the true Israel, the true people of God, the true temple of God, the true Zion and Jerusalem, its spiritual offering, the true religion. Nothing of the Old Testament is lost in the New, but everything is fulfilled, matured, has reached its full growth, and now, out of the temporary husk, produces the eternal core. It is not the case that in Israel