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Christ in the Old Testament

Supposing you were planning an eight part series from the Old Testament, what would you cover? The point would be to see the gospel unfolded, and as Martin Downes shows - it is the Old Testament that gives us the meaning of the cross and resurrection which happened 'according to the scriptures'.

Realistically you've got to hit Genesis 12 (promise to Abraham of a global blessing through Jesus), Leviticus 16 (the day of atonement which Jesus fulfills), 2 Samuel 7 (the promise of great David's greater son) and Isaiah 53 (the suffering servant). But what else goes in?

Here's an idea...

(1) Genesis 1 The Word Shines (how the word of God forms and fills the creation and anticipates the new creation in which we see Jesus)
(2) Genesis 2-3 The Tree of Life (and how a serpent-crushing seed will get us past the angels to it)
(3) Genesis 17:7 The Heir: Inheritor of all things (that all things point to Jesus, all promises are his)
(4) Exodus 26 The Pattern: Exactly as you see it (on the tabernacle, and meaning thereof)
(5) Leviticus 16 The Day of Atonement (sin, guilt and wrath dealt with)
(6) Leviticus 25 The Day of Jubilee (he comes out to blow the trumpet)
(7) 2 Samuel 7 The Great King (the promised seed is God's son who rules forver!)
(8) Isaiah 53 The Suffering Servant (he dies for us)

But that leaves out some amazing stuff.... maybe it's best just to go book by book, The Gospel According to Genesis etc? Maybe we could just teach Matthew or Mark and unpack the meaning from the Old Testament? Really coming to Christ is the lifetime exercise of studying all Scripture so such a series is a bit unnecessary but sometimes it helps to flesh out the storyline from a high altitude. How would you do it? What would your series be?


  1. Not being a preacher, I could be totally wrong but I'm not sure I would do a series like that. I would just make sure we spend enough time in the Old Testament and show how Christ is in all the scriptures. With a series like that, would it not just give the impression that the OT is mostly about something else but there happens to be stuff there that backs up what we say about Jesus? I think I'd just take however long it takes (years, I'd imagine) to plant deeply in everyone's understanding that the OT is about Christ - that it's all a commentary on him, if you like. As I said, I'm not a preacher so could be wrong.

  2. Colin Greene makes an excellent point in Metavista (p.122) It is a recurring deficiency of many protestant-evangelical readings of Scripture that it can be read without the incclusion of Israel at all. See the full quote here

    If we are to read or teach the Old Testament, we must do so on its own terms, that is respecting the integrity of the long narrative which it maintains. Failure to do so will limit our understanding of the breadth of God's redemptive purposes for creation. To that end, any scheme for the OT which doesn't include the Wisdom literature has a very large hole in it.

    I think the best place to start to get an understanding of the OT is Chris Wright's book The Mission Of God which does an excellent job of tracking important themes across the narrative.

  3. Taking up Eddie's point, you have got to major on David Kingship, because the King (even more than the high priest) was the defining character of the nation and what it meant for the nation to relate to God. That the Psalms can even call the King "God" (as Yahweh' agent and vice-regent) shows how close the connection was, and why it is just so devastating when the king sins. If you don't understand David, you don't understand Israel. And you don't understand Christ seeing as he is the New David and the New Israel

  4. Genesis 3v15
    Genesis 15
    Exodus 12
    2 Samuel 7
    Isa 53
    Ezek 36
    Psalm 22
    Psalm 110

    Above Bar Church sermon series on how to have a burning heart (Luke 24v32).

  5. I have the luxury of speaking to the same congregation week in and week out and so am constantly seeking to show OT & NT connections, and the OT use of the OT.

    Marcus, when the writer to the Hebrews refers to Psalm 45 doesn't he take it for granted that it was actually about Jesus all along? You know, like Psalm 110 is, that pivotal text for the NT understanding of Christ as the priestly-king, David's Lord, who reigns from the place of supreme authority.

  6. First things first, I'd make it a 7 part series (more Biblical, you know), and then I'd take the 7th one off, leaving 6 to plan.

    Splitting those 6 equally between the law, the writings and the prophets, I'd end up with:

    1. Creation - Fall - Flood
    The world's birth, death and rebirth.

    2. Slaves - Conquerors
    Israel (inc. Abraham) leave Egypt to re-establish Eden and from there light up the whole world.

    3. A King to Reign
    Life of David, in relation to Saul and Solomon.

    4. The Wisdom of the King
    Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.

    5. The folly of the Kings
    Kingdom split - Exile

    6. The prophets
    Major and minor, their role.

  7. I once told a friend I was doing a five part sermon series on Christ in the Psalms. He said 'Well that's Psalms 1-5, when are you going to do the other 145?'

    Good point!

    In that vein, perhaps I'd do Genesis 1-22 (or similar) and thereby model how to read the rest of the Scriptures as i went? Dunno.

    Everyone else's suggestions sound great.


  8. If it was limited to 8, and not necessarily having to be an actual overview of the OT as such, I think I'd try and get a variety of 'perspectives' on the gospel, to enlarge people's hearts minds as to the multi-faceted way in which Christ fulfills the OT. This would work better I suspect with those who've already been taught from a more 'normal' one-theme overview of the OT type aproach (e.g. Goldsworthy).

    In each case the Psalm could be part of the readings, part of the teaching, or (my preference) used in prayer/ song as part of the worship.

    1. Christ and the story of Creation. Genesis 1-2, Psalm 19.

    2. Christ and the story of Man. Genesis 3-6:8, Psalm 8.

    3. Christ and the story of the nations. Genesis 11-12:3, Psalm 67/ Psalm 2.

    4. Christ and the story of redemption. Exodus 11-14, Leviticus 16, Isaiah 53.

    5. Christ and the holy war. Joshua/ maybe a bit of Judges, Psalm 18.

    6. Christ and the story of David's house. 2 Samuel 7, some 'temple' passages, Psalm 72.

    7. Christ and the story of Wisdom. Genesis 3 (tree of...), 1 Kings 3, Proverbs (assorted passages), Psalm 34.

    8. Christ and the story of Israel/ Exile. Deuteronomy 29-30, Isaiah 40ff., Psalm 137.

  9. Agghh. There are just too many possibilities.

    How about...

    1. Three offices:

    Prophet, Priest, King

    2. Followed by three places/ zones:

    Temple (incl. tabernacle/ garden-sanctuary etc.), Jerusalem (including City in general), world (including nations).

    3. And somewhere in the mix, two 'events':

    Creation, Exodus/ Exile-Return.

    And the conclusion of the matter is this: eight is not enough.


  10. So many good ideas. I'll just throw in a thought like a tuppence into the sea: the psalms make for some lovely tension-links between history and Christ: e.g., rather than doing 2 Sam 7, why not do Ps.189? It's one of my favourite OT bows with the end 3 questions as arrows flying to the bullseye of Christ.

  11. Hoping this helps the CU who wanted to do this next term to plan. Cheers guys.

  12. Erm, typo: make that 89 ;) [Don't worry, I quite believe in the sufficiency of Scripture!]

  13. I think I would want to narrow the series focus somewhat, as has been said Christ is in all of the Old Testament and giving a series such a broad scope could leave the impression that we can only find Christ in certain parts of the OT.

    My inclination would be to pick something much more specific such as "Types of Christ in the OT" (obviously types would need some defining, or just pick a more accessible word), and then look at a series of types.
    The Flood, Noah's Ark
    The Exodus, and Passover
    OT Sacrifices
    The Tabernacle/Temple

  14. The problem with many of these ideas, in a CU setting, at least, is that you've got a bunch of different speakers, who haven't heard the other talks and who will vary in theology. So it's hard to be sure that the series as a whole would cohere.

  15. Peter - I'd just be tempted to say, teach Genesis for eight weeks and take it as it comes, and brief the series well as seeking to read it as Christian Scripture.

    Paul - tis true, holds for any series, recording them helps but its not like people always have the time to listen back. The same can happen in a local church, even with the same guy preaching each week.

  16. In my opinion, if you restrict yourself to the Old Testament then you actually undermine the entire raison d'etre of this sort of study, which is surely to teach people to read the Old Testament with Christ in mind. It would tend to leave people with more un-answered questions and loose ends than a study series that covered both promise and fulfilment. Extra lessons are more easily covered after a basic biblical theological framework is set in place.

    To that end, I'd suggest that there is very little point re-inventing the wheel, and that there are plenty of basic outlines out there that one could get 8 passages to preach from that covered the whole bible. Innovation would generally tend to emphasis one person's pet passage over the other. I'd suggest that God's Big Picture would be an excellent source of a basic framework, and then passages used by something like "The Symphony of Scripture" or alternatively the recent Tremper Longman book "Immanuel in our place" could be used to fill in the details of Old Testament worship if that was what was explicitly required.


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