Old Testament as Images of the New

While many Christians love to defend the literal reading of Scripture, in Orthodox hymns we are more likely to find the richness of Scriptures.  The literal reading of a text is often not seen as the true significance of the text.  For one thing Orthodoxy follows the teaching of Christ that the Old Testament is really about Christ.  “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.  . . .  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me.”  (John 5:39-46)  For example,  a hymn for Wednesday Matins of the 2nd Week of the Pentecostarion offers our interpretation of Genesis 22 (Abraham’s offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice) and from Jonah 1-2:

ISAAC WAS LED UP THE MOUNTAIN AS A SACRIFICE;

JONAH DESCENDED INTO THE DEEP.

BOTH WERE IMAGES OF YOUR PASSION, O SAVIOR:

THE FIRST WAS BOUND FOR THE SLAUGHTER;

THE OTHER PREFIGURED YOUR DEATH

AND YOUR WONDROUS RISING TO LIFE!  LORD, GLORY TO YOU!

Prophecy of Example and of Word

St. John Chrysostom says the Old Testament was preparing us for the New, God providing prophecy not only in words but also by example.  All God’s words and deeds were preparing the world for the greater thing God planned to do – the incarnation of the Word in which God reunited earth to heaven.  Prophecy and promise were done so that people would not find the great work of God to be unbelievable.  God’s actions were done so people would be ready when God made Himself visible in the incarnation.

“Now, since we are delivered from the controversies with the Jews, I shall demonstrate this to you from the New Covenant, so that you will see the agreement of the two covenants. Did you see the prophecy that was made with words? Learn the prophecy that was made with examples; although even this is not yet totally clear, I wonder, what is prophecy by example, and I wonder what is prophecy by word? Shortly, I will make this clear, too. The prophecy that is made by example is the practical prophecy, and the other prophecy is the theoretical prophecy. In other words, the most prudent He persuaded with words, and the most unconscious He informed by showing them examples.

Because, in other words, something big was going to happen: God was about to take upon Himself human flesh. Because the earth was going to become heaven and our nature was going to be elevated toward the nobility of the angels. Because the word surpassed the hope and expectation of the future goods that were to come. So he would not confuse the people with the new and paradoxical event of the Incarnation, those who then would have seen it all at once, and those who were going to hear it, for this reason, He iconically depicted it beforehand with examples and words, and, in this way, He accustomed our hearing and vision.”

(The Fathers of the Church: St. John Chrysostom on Repentance & Almsgiving, p. 80)

The Incarnation: Recreating Humans

Christ is born!

Glorify Him!

“The story of Job serves to renew hope within us. Even though God’s image in man has been spoiled by the sin of Adam and Eve, by the sin of Cain, and by the sins of each one of us, Job allows us to hope for the coming of One—just and suffering, patient and triumphant—who will resist with courage and perseverance the assaults of the Evil One and will triumph over him, thereby restoring in mankind the divine presence which had been lost through sin and reestablishing in us the divine image in the fullness of its beauty. To do this, God sends among us the very Model according to which He had originally created us.

Just as a faded print can be restored by reapplying the original stamp so the Son of God, who reflects the glory of God the Father (Heb. 1:3), can enter human nature by clothing Himself with it as with a garment, and thereby can create a new Adam, a perfect Man, a radiant Image of God. This occurs by what theologians call the Incarnation. This decisive event took place on the day of the Annunciation, when Gabriel, the messenger of God, visited a young virgin of Nazareth in Galilee called Mary.”

(The Living God: Vol. 1, p. 19)

When we read the Scriptures with the Church we realize how much of the Old Testament speaks of Christ.  Job prefigures Christ – as Job remains faithful to God despite his suffering Job defeats Satan.  Job shows what a true human is like.  When Christ comes to earth we realize how the story of Job helps us recognize God’s faithful and suffering servant.  The Book of Job thus prepares us for the Nativity story of Christ, in which we see evil acting against the Christ, but Christ remains faithful to God even to the point of death on the cross.  Christmas is not mostly a sentimental tale, but rather in all its details reveals to us God’s battle with the forces of evil and the price God is willing to pay for the salvation of the world.

The Light of the Bethlehem Star is the Light God Spoke at the Beginning of Creation

The Sunday of the Forefathers of Christ

It sounds like a paradox that we should read from the Old Testament in order to discover in it the Face of Christ, and in a sense it is. But paradox is of the essence of the Christian mystery: the Increate, breaking into the creative act; the Infinite, giving number and measure to a finite world; the Timeless, yielding to the rhythm of days; the Divine, entering the family of men.

The Book of Revelation teaches us that Christ shall be the Last. This demands that we recognize him as the First, for He is the eternal Word by whom all things were made “in the beginning.” And it is no mere coincidence that these three words are read in the first verse of Genesis, and in the first verse of the Gospel according to St. John. We reckon by years before Christ, B.C., and years of the Lord, A.D.; the years under the Law, and the years of grace; the Old Testament, and the New Testament.

But the Incarnation is more than a serviceable time-divider. The light of the star which rose over Bethlehem is the same light that did shine through darkness on the first day of creation, unto the first man on earth, the fathers of the Old Law and the Gentiles, “every man coming into the world.”

We have no right to curtail the total perspective of God’s revelation. We have been taught to behold the image of Christ in the luminous pages of the Gospel, but we are not therefore to neglect or to despise the rays which have guided the Forefathers and sustained their hope. It is always His Face we should recognize, glowing amidst the shadows of the remotest past, and His voice we should hear in the reading of the sacred page, in Moses or in the prophets, as well as, in the Gospels or in the apostolic writings.

…and only under the intimate motion of the Spirit who first inspired Scripture, can we expect to discern the Face of our Christ shining amidst the shadows of the past, as it has secretly shone for the Forefathers. (Georges A. Barrois, The Face of Christ in the Old Testament, pp. 13-14, 44)

The Holy Prophet Moses the God-Seer

The Holy Prophet Moses is commemorated in the Orthodox calendar annually on September 4.  Moses is referred to in Orthodoxy as the “God-seer” based on the witness of Scripture:

“When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am I.” (Exodus 3:4)

“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel…”  (Exodus 24:9-10)

“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11).

“And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face…”  (Deuteronomy 33:10)

The 4th Century monk Evagrius noted that when Moses is praised in the Old Testament, it is not for his many mighty deeds or powerful miracles.  Rather, he is praised for his humility.  “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth”  (Numbers 12:3). Evagrius writes:

“’Tell me, then, why has Scripture, when it wanted to praise Moses, left aside all miracles and commemorated only his meekness? For it does not say that Moses punished Egypt with the twelve plagues and led the esteemed people out thence. And Scripture does not say that Moses was the first to receive the Law, and that he acquired insights into bygone worlds. And Scripture does not say that he separated the Red Sea with his staff, and brought forth water from the rock for the thirsting people. Rather, Scripture says that he stood all alone in the desert in the face of God, when he wanted to destroy Israel, and he besought to be blotted out with the sons of his people. Before God, he set down love for mankind and transgression by saying: ‘If you will forgive their sin – and if not, blot me, I pray you, out of your book which you have written.’ Thus spoke the meek one! But God preferred rather to forgive those who had sinned than to do an injustice to Moses.’

Thanks to his meekness, Moses was the only one who spoke with God, ‘face to face’ and learned from him the reasons of creation ‘in visible form, and not [only] in dark sayings.’ For meek love, the ‘mother of knowledge’, is the door to natural knowledge, to which the five books of Moses bear witness. Indeed, as ‘friendship with God’ and ‘perfect spiritual love’, love marked by meekness is even the place where ‘prayer in spirit and in truth is effected!”     (Gabriel Bunge, Dragon’s Wine and Angel’s Bread, pp 83-84)

See Also:  Moses, the Man of God

 

The Beginning and the End of History

“Because Jews have always understood their God to be a God who acts, their beliefs about him were expressed in the form of narratives. The story of Israel came to be seen as part of an even bigger story, which began at the beginning of time, when YHWH created the world, and everything he made had been good.   […]  The end of this story still lies in the future, but it will arrive only when God once again established his rule on earth. When rebellion is finally crushed, and all creation is obedient to God, then Paradise will be restored. The change envisaged by the biblical writers was so dramatic that it could be described as the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.” (Morna D. Hooker, Paul: Beginners Guide, pgs. 36-37)

Scripture and the Word of God

When any of the authors of the New Testament mention the Scriptures, they are referring to what Christians today think of as “the Old Testament.”  That was the only Scripture for the Christians of the New Testament times.  The New Testament as a collection of writings did not exist during the time of the apostles

The early Christians saw their Scriptures because they revealed Christ to the world.   The centrality of the Torah and the Temple had been replaced by the Incarnate Messiah as the sign of God’s presence with His people.   God’s Word became flesh in Jesus Christ and this incarnation of God revealed the purpose of the Scriptures.

“When John declares that ‘in the beginning was the word,’ he does not reach a climax with ‘and the word was written down’ but ‘and the word became flesh.’ The letter to the Hebrews speaks glowingly of God speaking through scripture in time past, but insists that now, at last, God has spoken through his own son (1:1–2). Since these are themselves ‘scriptural’ statements, that means that scripture itself points—authoritatively, if it does indeed possess authority!—away from itself and to the fact that final and true authority belongs to God himself, now delegated to Jesus Christ. It is Jesus, according to John 8:39–40, who speaks the truth which he has heard from God.”   (N.T. Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today, Kindle Loc. 407-12)

It is the person of Jesus Christ, not a book, who speaks the truth from God.  The book – the bible – bears witness to Him.  As Jesus Himself said to His fellow Jews:

“You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”    (John 5:39-40)

Christ Himself said that Moses, who is credited with writing Torah, wrote about Christ.  The purpose of the Scriptures is to lead us to Christ.

“If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”  (John 5:46-47)

In Jesus’ own reading of the Old Testament,  He interprets the text of the Torah, including the Genesis creation story which Moses wrote, not mostly to be history but even more so a witness to Christ, a prophecy of  Christ, and a testimony about Christ.  This is how we should read these Old Testament Scriptures as well.

We encounter the same idea in Luke’s Gospel in the account of how on the day of Christ’s resurrection, two of His disciples are walking to Emmaus troubled by the execution of Jesus on the cross and mystified by reports from the women that Jesus had risen from the dead.  They don’t know what to believe.  As they are walking, Jesus joins them, yet for unknown reasons they don’t recognize their Master.   Jesus listens to their sad tale of woe and then,

“… beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”  (Luke 24:27)

Jesus explains to them what Moses and the other prophets wrote about the Christ.  So, too, when we read the Old Testament we should be reading with a mind toward recognizing Christ.  If we read Genesis mostly to learn about creation science, we miss the most important aspect of Moses’ writing, namely that he was writing about Jesus!  The Torah is most significant to us not as a scientific text, nor even as a historical text, but because it bears witness to Christ and we too can come to Him through these Scriptures.  Moses didn’t write to confound modern science, he wrote to bear witness to Christ.  And how did the disciples react to these revelations about Moses and the Jewish Scriptures?

“They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?’” (Luke 24:32)

Their hearts were opened to the truth about Scriptures and to Jesus as well.  The Scriptures of the Jews and of the first Christians, that part of our Bible which we now call the Old Testament, contains laws, history, poetry, narrative, theology, wisdom, prophecy and inspiration.  Christ sees its importance not at all in its literal reading, but in how it bears witness to Him.   Again, following His resurrection Jesus said to His disciples:

“’These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.’” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.’”  (Luke 24:44-48)

We need Christ to open our minds to the understanding of the scriptures, to discover in them what Moses, the prophets and Psalms had to say about Christ.  This is what Christ wanted His disciples, including us, to understand from Torah and the entire Old Testament.

“… the Bible itself declares that all authority belongs to the one true God and that this is now embodied in Jesus himself. The risen Jesus, at the end of Matthew’s gospel, does not say, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to the books you are all going to write,’ but ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.’ This ought to tell us, precisely if we are taking the Bible itself as seriously as we should, that we need to think carefully what it might mean to think that the authority of Jesus is somehow exercised through the Bible.”  (N.T. Wright, Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today,  Kindle Loc. 78-82)

Jesus is the fullness of the revelation of God, not the Scriptures.  The Scriptures bear witness to Christ.  The Bible alone cannot give us the full revelation of God.  Only Christ can do that, and only He fully and rightfully interprets the Scriptures and reveals to us their meaning as well.  The Evangelist John tells us that Jesus did many other things not written in the Gospel (John 20:30, 21:35).   The Scriptures alone are not the full revelation and do not tell us everything that can be known about Christ Jesus the Son of God.  The Scriptures however bear witness to Christ, and if we believe in Him, listen to Him and follow Him as disciples, He will reveal their full meaning to us.   The significance of the Scriptures for us, as it was for those disciples on the road to Emmaus is that in them we find Christ and our way to recognize Him.  Those original disciples have not advantage over us.  Even walking with Christ didn’t help them recognize Him – He was revealed to them through the correct interpretation of the Scriptures and in the breaking of the bread.

Hearing Isaiah 58 in the Gospel

Since we are in the time of the Apostle’s Fast, it is appropriate to consider biblical ideas regarding fasting.  I was reading chapter 58 of the Prophet Isaiah in the New English Translation of the Septuagint which reminded me more of the Gospel than I had ever thought of before.  There are numerous scholars today who write about how the New Testament doesn’t merely quote the Old Testament, but more often the New Testament “echoes” ideas and concepts which are found in the Old Testament without explicitly quoting a reference.

While the authors of the New Testament may have had quotes from the Jewish Scriptures echoing in their minds as they wrote, it is more likely for me that as I read the Old Testament, I have the New Testament echoing in my mind as I’m more familiar with the New Testament than the Old.  Below is the passage from Isaiah which I was reading, 58:5-12 (NETS) followed by some the New Testament passages which I heard echoing Isaiah’s words.

[5] This is not the fast that I have chosen, even a day for a person to humble himself; not even if you bend your neck like a ring, and spread under you sackcloth and ashes – not even so shall you call it an accepted fast.   [6] I have not chosen such a fast, says the Lord; rather loose every bond of injustice, undo the knots of contracts made by force; let the oppressed go free, and tear up every unjust note. [7]   Break your bread with the one who is hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; if you see one naked, clothe him, and you shall not neglect any of the relatives of your seed. [8] Then your light shall break forth early in the morning, and your healings shall rise quickly; your righteousness shall go before you, and the glory of God shall cover you. [9] Then you shall cry out, and God will listen to you; while you are still speaking, he will say, here I am. If you remove from you a bond and a stretching of the hand and a murmuring word, [10] and give to one who is hungry bread from your soul and satisfy the soul that has been humbled, then your light shall rise in the darkness, and your darkness shall be like the noonday.

The parallel between Isaiah 58:6-7 and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-15) and the parable of the Last Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46) seem obvious to me with references to loosing the bonds of injustice, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, clothing the naked and caring for one’s needy relatives.  Here is Jesus teaching about the Last Judgment in which I hear the voice of the Prophet Isaiah:

Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?  And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’   (Matthew 25:34-40)

Matthew is considered by many to be the most Jewish of all the Gospel writers and he is often concerned with presenting Jesus as not violating Torah.  Matthew however does accept Jesus’ interpretation of the Torah which is influenced by Isaiah’s Word from God.  Fasting frees us from selfishness and self-centeredness.  Godly fasting leads us to help our fellow human beings to become freed from all manners of oppression and slavery and suffering.  Thus Christ echoes what Isaiah proclaimed – or Isaiah prophetically foresaw what Christ would proclaim.  Christ accomplished in His ministry and signs exactly what God in Isaiah claims is the kind of fasting He approves of: losing bonds of injustice and liberating the oppressed.  What was perhaps unexpected is that Christ frees suffering people from bondage to sickness, sin, suffering and Satan.

In Luke 4:16-21 we have Christ reading from the Prophet Isaiah in the synagogue with another message of Christ bringing liberation to the oppressed through the proclamation of the Gospel.  Christ claims to fulfill the scriptural prophecy.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The theme of Christ liberating the oppressed is Christ fulfilling the kind of fasting God revealed through His spokesman Isaiah.

Next: Christ Fulfills Isaiah 58 through Signs and Wonders

Adam in 2 Esdras (B)

This is the 4th blog in this series which began with Adam & Sin, Paradise and Fasting.  The previous blog is Adam in 2 Esdras (A).

2 Esdras does not flinch away from the fact that humans sin, not just Adam;  sin is endemic in humanity.  The explanation for why humans created as good by a good God are so evil is that God allows humans to freely struggle to produce virtuous fruits by following Torah.  Free will is real; humans must choose between good and evil and evil is as viable a choice as is the good.   Torah and evil reside side by side in the human heart, and Torah is not able to remove the evil in the human heart.

“Yet you did not take away their evil heart from them, so that your law might produce fruit in them. For the first Adam, burdened with an evil heart, transgressed and was overcome, as were also all who were descended from him. Thus the disease became permanent; the law was in the hearts of the people along with the evil root; but what was good departed, and the evil remained.”  (2 Esdras 3:20-22)

Continuing the look at Adam in the First Century document known as 2 Esdras, we now encounter a stream of Jewish nationalism interpreting Adam.   For now the author of 2 Esdras sees the Jews as the chosen people as the descendants of Adam and the heirs of his life.  All the non-Jewish descendants of Adam are claimed to be nothing in God’s eyes, and yet the author of 2 Esdras laments that it is these Gentiles who domineer over the Jews, not the other way around.   His argument is that God said the world is for His chosen people who should dominate the earth.  This understanding of Adam is directly opposed to how St. Paul reads the Genesis text, for St. Paul ultimately wants to tie in all humanity with God’s plan for salvation, and St. Paul sees Adam as a type of all humans.  We each can understand our own story and the human condition in the story of Adam.

“On the sixth day you commanded the earth to bring forth before you cattle, wild animals, and creeping things; and over these you placed Adam, as ruler over all the works that you had made; and from him we have all come, the people whom you have chosen.  All this I have spoken before you, O Lord, because you have said that it was for us that you created this world.  As for the other nations that have descended from Adam, you have said that they are nothing, and that they are like spittle, and you have compared their abundance to a drop from a bucket. And now, O Lord, these nations, which are reputed to be as nothing, domineer over us and devour us. But we your people, whom you have called your firstborn, only begotten, zealous for you, and most dear, have been given into their hands. If the world has indeed been created for us, why do we not possess our world as an inheritance? How long will this be so?”    (2 Esdras 6:53-59)

The fact that evil and Torah exist in the human heart justifies God’s ultimately judging humans – for the humans must make a choice.

He answered me and said, “When the Most High made the world and Adam and all who have come from him, he first prepared the judgment and the things that pertain to the judgment. But now, understand from your own words—for you have said that the mind grows with us. For this reason, therefore, those who live on earth shall be tormented, because though they had understanding, they committed iniquity; and though they received the commandments, they did not keep them; and though they obtained the law, they dealt unfaithfully with what they received.”   (2 Esdras 7:70-72)

Now we get to the despairing attitude found in 2 Esdras.  For humans have sinned, and despite having been promised immortality and paradise, we have been denied both because we each sin.  In the passage below we come to understand St. Paul’s claims about the new Adam, Jesus Christ.  For Christ came not just to be obedient to the Father, to obey Torah, but to die for our sins, and in this death to defeat and destroy all that death represents to humanity: eternal separation from God.

I answered and said, “This is my first and last comment: it would have been better if the earth had not produced Adam, or else, when it had produced him, had restrained him from sinning. For what good is it to all that they live in sorrow now and expect punishment after death? O Adam, what have you done? For though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours also who are your descendants. For what good is it to us, if an immortal time has been promised to us, but we have done deeds that bring death?  And what good is it that an everlasting hope has been promised to us, but we have miserably failed?  Or that safe and healthful habitations have been reserved for us, but we have lived wickedly?  Or that the glory of the Most High will defend those who have led a pure life, but we have walked in the most wicked ways? Or that a paradise shall be revealed, whose fruit remains unspoiled and in which are abundance and healing, but we shall not enter it because we have lived in perverse ways? Or that the faces of those who practiced self-control shall shine more than the stars, but our faces shall be blacker than darkness? For while we lived and committed iniquity we did not consider what we should suffer after death.”  (2 Esdras 7:116-126)

Old Testament in St. Paul's Epistles

The author of 2 Esdras is basically told that the rewards of God are still there for those who faithfully keep the Law of Moses.   Esdras begs God for mercy as he recognizes all humans sin and fall short of God’s commands.   What St. Paul recognizes is that God has solved this dilemma in Christ.  Humans do sin, and the Law is not able to correct this basic human problem, but God provides the means of overcoming BOTH sin AND death.  Nothing can separate us from God, even our failure to keep the Law, which has proven impossible anyway.  For now God responds with the mercy Esdras begged for – God forgives our sins and embraces us if we come to him as penitents not the perfected.  God has answered all human thoughts about the need for perfection or for sacrifice and ended that thinking in Jesus Christ, who has gone even to the place of the dead – to the resting place of everyone who sins – and raised them up to the Kingdom.

Next:  Adam in the Writings of St. Paul

Reading the Old Testament with Christ

This the conclusion to the blog, Jesus the Key to Understanding Torah.

Some scholars and some Christians want to read the Old Testament as if it has no relationship to Christ and to proclaim the Law of God without Christ. But the basic understanding of Christians from the beginning was you cannot understand the Old Covenant without Christ.  As the Lord Jesus said to the Jews, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf” (John 5:39). Christians claim the Old Testament is understandable and interpretable only in Christ, for the Old Testament speaks about Him, not just literally, but in symbols, shadows, prophesy, poetry, history, foreshadowing, spiritually, anagogically, allegorically, prototypically and in every way that the Scriptures can be properly understood.

 But to read or proclaim the Old Testament without Christ is to deny Christ and His role in salvation.  Thus the Orthodox don’t subscribe to “sola scriptura” as believe the Scriptures are not to be read alone, but rather in and through Christ, the Word of God.  We read the Scriptures with Christ, in Christ, through Christ, and by Christ. Of course Old Testament scripture can be read literally, but in doing so we may not see Christ in them. For if one can read the Old Testament only and exactly the same (literally or legally) with or without Christ, then perhaps we have not really understood Christ or the Old Testament, and perhaps we have embraced neither.

Christ has come and opened our hearts and minds to the scriptures – showing us how they witnessed to Him, not just literally, for some of what Christ claimed the Old Testament says about him cannot be found in a purely literal reading of the Old Testament.  But when one reads the Old Testament believing in the promises of the Messiah and the Kingdom, recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah and the fulfillment of the prophecies and the promises, accepting Christ’s interpretation of the Scriptures because He is God’s Messiah and Son and the Rabbi par excellence, one realizes the entire Old Testament Scriptures were pointing to the One who would fulfill them and in so doing replace them with something entirely new. He opened us to the new revelation, what God had hidden previously but had prophetically hinted at and promised.

See also my blog series Reading Scripture:  The Old Testament, the Torah, and Prophecy, which is also available as one PDF file  Reading Scripture: The Old Testament, the Torah, and Prophecy (PDF).