So, I’ve noticed an interesting trend in the way I read fantasy or sci-fi novels (aside from the fact that I have less time to read it). Whenever there is a multi-thread plotline, with the author following multiple, inter-connected story-lines, I tend to have one or two favorites that I follow very intensely, and one or two that aren’t quite as compelling.
For instance, when reading the Lord the Rings Trilogy, in the later books when the Fellowship breaks up and we split to follow the various story-lines of Frodo and Sam, and Aragorn & Co. I always found the Aragorn bits far more compelling. I’m not saying that the Frodo thread wasn’t fabulous as well, but, let’s be honest, the Dead Marshes can be a bit…well, less lively than one of Aragorn’s romps through Rohan.
Interestingly enough, I found early on that my reading habits were much the same way with Scripture. There were passages and threads that were enticing and compelling, and some that…well, while still God-breathed, seemed like he wasn’t breathing as hard.
What do I mean? Well, while the Chronicles have their moments, the Gospels capture our attention from beginning to end. Jesus’ doings and saying are never boring, or tedious, or to be suffered though in order to get to the good part. In this way, and, actually, in many others, the story of Jesus is the Aragorn bits of Scripture. The rest of it, well, I might get that they’re necessary and, yes, good, but at times I feel myself ‘getting through’ them. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way.
Now, the funny thing about this is that ever since I listened to Tim Keller and Edmund Clowney’s lectures on preaching, I’ve been an advocate of a Christ-centered hermeneutic of the sort taught to us by Jesus, the disciples, the Fathers, and the Reformers, emphasizing both the redemptive-historical and typological reading of Scripture. In other words, to read and apply the text properly you have to see how this somehow this leads, points, foreshadows, or is fulfilled in Christ.
- Adam- Jesus is the Second Adam who brings righteousness with one righteous act.
- Abraham and Isaac- Jesus is the only Son, sacrificed by the Father for us to provide salvation.
- Moses- Jesus is the Greater Moses who brings his people out of a greater Exodus, not from slavery to Egypt, but out of slavery to sin and death and the devil.
- Passover Lamb- Jesus is the greater Passover Lamb whose blood was shed to cover you so that the destroyer would passover.
- Day of Atonement- Jesus is the Great High Priest who enters once and for all to offer up sacrifices, as well as the final sacrifice offered.
- David- Skipping ahead, Jesus is the greater Son of David, who, like David, defeats our enemies in single-combat, winning a great victory for his people.
We could go on for days here, but those are some easy and obvious ones to give you a picture what I’m talking about. If you’re looking at it from a canonical perspective, everything points to Christ, whether law, prophets, wisdom literature, or poetry.
So where am I going with all of this? Well, it struck me the other night as I was teaching my college students about this way of reading Scripture that, essentially, when read properly, it’s all the ‘Aragorn bits’. There isn’t any bit that somehow isn’t connected, or can’t be seen in light of Christ.
This is why it pays to not skim, to eventually read and study it all. Admittedly it takes a bit more work for some to see Christ in Leviticus, or a genealogy in the Chronicles. But as any mountain-climber knows, when the hard work is done, when we scale the summit of the text, the view we get of Christ is spectacular.
For those interested in learning more about how to read the Scriptures with Christ at the center I’d recommend these resources:
The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament by Edmund Clowney
Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament by David P. Murray
Soli Deo Gloria