Thursday, April 19, 2012

How To Read the Old Testament Part II

So, how can we see Jesus in the Old Testament?

Obviously, there are the prophesies in Isaiah, where the horrendous pain and suffering that he endured for us is record in full. Where the Gospel accounts give almost a minimal depiction of Christ's physical sufferings (for Jesus' substitutionary death as Sin for us is the most dramatic and the essential element for all other blessings and reconciliations which we receive through His death and resurrection), Isaiah provides a vivid, powerful depiction of Christ's sufferings for us, and the meaning behind these sufferings. Psalm 22 of David is one of the most oft-quoted Messianic psalms, frequently referred to in the gospel accounts.

Yet let's look deeper. Since Jesus took the two disciples from Emmaus through all the Scriptures, include Moses and the prophets, it certainly stand to faith and reason that Jesus is prophesied and depicted in every Old Testament messenger sent by God.

Let's take one of the minor prophet, one whose writings may escape the notice of modern readers, as they depict events, punishments, and glories which seem to have very little relevance to us today.

Let's start with Obadiah. In Hebrew, his name means "Servant of Jah." This is one of the titles that Jesus  took during His earthly ministry:

"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20: 28)

Do you see Jesus as a servant of God in your life? Do you think of Him as some imperious figure to be served? Such presumption borders on blasphemy:

"If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof." (Psalm 50: 12)


"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" (Isaiah 66: 1)

What do we "do", then?  Believe on Him, first of all (John 6: 29). Then we provide ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12: 2), one in which He works His good pleasure ? (Philippians 2: 13)

Look at the Glory of Jesus, and we have only started with the title of the shortest book of the minor prophets!

Now let's take the first verse:

"The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle." (Obadiah 1)

Now for some prophets, such an outcome would be termed a "burden" (cf Isaiah 13:1, Ezekiel 27 and 28), which implies bad news. In Obadiah, the word "vision" renders the Hebrew word:

חָזוֹן  chazon --vision

Yet unlike a prophesy which is oppressive, this vision is an ecstatic one, one that foretells good news for Israel, but not for Edom, the nation targeted for retribution in this Old Testament book.

Now, people in the Bible are types and shadows. In this case, "Edom" is actually another way of writing "Adam", because Jacob's older brother was hairy and RED.

Edom/ Adam is a picture of man, of the flesh, of works, of those who live by their feelings and their appetites. Esau despised his birthright for a bowl of red beans (another reason why the elder brother was named "Red"). He is a picture of the First Adam, the one who sinned and brought down all mankind, alienating us in his broken likeness, apart from God who created us.

Edom, was first named Esau, is a picture of the elder serving the younger:

"And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." (Genesis 25: 23)


"And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness." (Malachi 1: 3)

Why did God prefer Jacob the second born? This type foreshadows Jesus Christ, the hated and despised place that the firstborn of many brethren would take for us.

When I read this prophet, I view the punishment that will be meted out on Edom/Adam, as a picture of our flesh, our sin, God as man, being punished in our stead. Since there is not condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1), we no longer need fear such fearsome retribution in our lives.

Let's read some of the calamity that is no longer visited on us;

"Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised. " ( Obadiah 2)

Jesus became the least of all, despised and rejected by all, that we may be loved and accepted by our Heavenly Father (Ephesians 1: 6)

"The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?" (Obadiah 3)

Now, in know wise would I infer that Jesus had a proud heart. He was meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11: 28-30)

No, we can rightly infer that the first man, Adam, was proud, insisting on eating the forbidden fruit, in order to he could be like God. Yet for our sakes, Jesus, who is equal with God, became lowly, took the form of a servant. . .let Paul explain:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

"And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2: 5-8)

Look again at the phrase "form of a servant". Jesus humbled Himself, whereas God would "bring down" Edom -- as He did to the first Adam, by sending him out of the Garden of Eden.

How wonderful to ponder the Finished Work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who took our place, dying our death, suffering the grossest indignities, God-Creator crucified unjustly by His own creation in order to save them from their sin. By his death, our old Adam nature is also brought down, made of no account, and we need never fear that our flesh will harm us our separate us every again from the love of God our Father.

See Jesus in every verse. See Jesus and the Work that God sent Him to do for us in every verse, chapter, and book of the Old Testament:

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." (John 5: 39)

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