How spiritually curious are you? I’m not asking about a curiosity into any ‘spirit’ but into the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
In the early 1980s, I recall a Teacher Training session led by our then Senior Pastor, Dr. Harold Burchett, at High Park Baptist Church. We were launching into a “Through the Bible” series of studies from Primary Grades through Senior Adults. We continued this by book, by history, by character and by event. There is something solid about systematic instruction of Scripture rather than the ‘grasshopper’ method, where we skip from verse to verse, often taking things completely out of context.
Dr. Burchett stated clearly, “I can summarize the entire focus of the Scripture in just two words. What are they?” “JESUS CHRIST” was the well-informed and solid answer. The Old Testament is God’s preparation for the sending of His Son, Jesus, who is called the Christ. The New Testament describes the coming of Jesus Christ and the gospel message about Him which began to be spead throughout the world.
In I Peter, as Peter reviews the inventory of blessings possessed by those who are “God’s elect,” who have trusted in Jesus Christ, he focuses on the ultimate gift – the gift of salvation. Pondering this “salvation” further he sweeps through the Old Testament prophets in one lengthy sentence.
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (I Peter 1:10,11)
A few observations
1) The prophets covered a span from Moses (compiler and author of the Torah or first 5 books of the Old Testament) to Malachi (whose concluding prophecy anticipated God’s MESSENGER – for that is what “Malachi” means.)
2) The prophets spoke (and wrote) of grace. Grace is not just a New Testament concept. It saturates the pages of Scripture. You don’t read far into the pages of Scripture without seeing evidence of God’s grace.
3) The prophets were predicting and pointing to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. These “holy men” were moved by the Spirit of God and penned edifying accounts of their encounters with God and His eternal truth.
4) The prophets anticipated the death of Christ and the subsequent “glories” which His death would accomplish. The crucifixion was no last minute plan. The Christ is “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.”
A few applications
1) Let’s keep reading the Old Testament through and through. Of all the parts of Scriptures that are sadly neglected, the Old Testament tops the list. It is a treasure trove of truth, reflected through different genres of Scripture.
2) Let’s keep reading the Old Testament Christocentrically. Spurgeon was right when he spoke of making “a beeline” for the cross as he read and taught this portion of God’s word.
3) Let’s study the Old Testament seeking the help of the Holy Spirit. If the prophets required the Holy Spirit to write God’s truth, how much more do we require this same Spirit to understand it.
Praise God this day for the Bible in a language you understand! Perhaps God has blessed you with 2nd or 3rd or even more language ability. To cite Augustine’s counsel, from his autobiography, “Take up and read! Take up and read!” Or take a look at the accompanying picture of Luther and his thought-provoking quote.