Category Archives: Pentateuch

“This pattern is a primal one” by Jeremy M. Kimble and Ched Spellman

“With the explicit reference to the promise to Abraham, Moses indicates that this hope for the future worship and obedience of the people is not a generic hope.

Rather, it is tied to specific promises that we find at strategic places in the story of the Pentateuch. In other words, we can ask:

Where does this hope originate? Where can we find out more information about the content of this hope?

As we see from the story of the Pentateuch, the ability of the people to follow the law and maintain obedience from a willing heart is an insufficient place to put our hope.

In fact, this is the theme explicitly articulated by a pessimistic Moses at the climax of the Pentateuch. In his book-length closing speech, Moses argues that the Mosaic covenant has failed to bring about the obedience that the Lord requires in the hearts of the people.

What hope is there for the second generation? For the reader of the Pentateuch?

Reading and rereading the story of the Pentateuch as a whole highlights that the pattern that Moses identifies on the plains of Moab began in Eden.

This pattern is a primal one. So too, the hope that Moses anticipates has its roots in that same garden.

The forward momentum of this narrative progression is a primary way that the Pentateuch functions. Throughout this sweeping narrative storyline, though, there are strategically placed poetic sections that provide reflective commentary on the story.

These carefully arranged and strategically composed poems function like windows into the meaning of the Pentateuch’s purpose and also offer a glimpse into the author’s meaning.

Within these poems, we find a cluster of images that profile the promises that bind the major themes of the Pentateuch together.

Within these poetic compositions, an individual is described who will one day defeat God’s enemies and bring about blessing for the people rather than despair.

A future hope is promised, and the proof is in the poetry. A brief survey of these textual locations can orient us to this aspect of the story and the message of the Pentateuch.”

–Jeremy M. Kimble and Ched Spellman, Invitation to Biblical Theology: Exploring the Shape, Storyline, and Themes of Scripture, Invitation to Theological Studies Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2020), 133-134.

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“It was right there in the text” by D.A. Carson

“Paul assesses the significance of Israel and the Sinai covenant within the larger biblical narrative. It is this essentially salvation-historical reading of Genesis that enables him to come within a whisker of treating the Sinai covenant as a parenthesis: the law’s most important function is to bring Israel, across time, to Christ—and to bring others, too, insofar as the ‘law’ is found among those ‘without the law.’

Here, then, too, we obtain a glimpse of how something could be simultaneously long hidden / eventually revealed and long prophesied / eventually fulfilled. It was right there in the text (provided one reads the Scriptures with careful respect for the significance of the historical sequence), even though, transparently, this was not how it was read by Paul the Pharisee.

Doubtless it took the Damascus road Christophany to make Saul of Tarsus recognize that his estimate of Jesus was wrong: Jesus could not be written off as a (literally) God-damned malefactor if in fact His glorious resurrection proved He was vindicated, and so the controlling paradigm of his reading of the Old Testament had to change.

But when it changed, Paul wanted his hearers and readers to understand that the Old Testament, rightly read in its salvation-historical structure, led to Christ.

In other words, as far as Paul was concerned the gospel he preached was announced in advance in the Scriptures, and was fulfilled in the events surrounding the coming, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus—even if this gospel had long been hidden, and was now revealed in those events and thus in the gospel Paul preached—the gospel revealed, indeed, through the prophetic writings.”

–D.A. Carson, “Mystery and Fulfillment: Toward a More Comprehensive Paradigm of Paul’s Understanding of the Old and the New,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism: The Paradoxes of Paul (ed. Peter T. O’Brien and Mark A. Seifrid; vol. 2, 181st ed.; Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament; Grand Rapids, MI; Tübingen: Baker Academic; Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 2: 427–428.

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“The best University for a Christian” by Charles Spurgeon

“The wilderness was the Oxford and Cambridge for God’s students. There is no University for a Christian like that of sorrow and trial.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Marah Better than Elim,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 39 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1893), 39: 151.

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“Christ is the sum and substance of the Old Testament” by J. C. Ryle

“Christ is the sum and substance of the Old Testament. To Him the earliest promises pointed in the days of Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. To Him every sacrifice pointed in the ceremonial worship appointed at Mount Sinai. Of Him every high priest was a type, and every part of the tabernacle was a shadow, and every judge and deliverer of Israel was a figure.

He was the prophet like unto Moses, whom the Lord God promised to send, and the King of the house of David, who came to be David’s Lord as well as son. He was the Son of the virgin, and the Lamb, foretold by Isaiah,—the righteous Branch mentioned by Jeremiah,—the true Shepherd, foreseen by Ezekiel,—the Messenger of the Covenant, promised by Malachi,—and the Messiah, who, according to Daniel, was to be cut off, though not for Himself.

The further we read in the volume of the Old Testament, the clearer do we find the testimony about Christ. The light which the inspired writers enjoyed in ancient days was, at best, but dim, compared to that of the Gospel. But the coming Person they all saw afar off, and on whom they all fixed their eyes, was one and the same. The Spirit, which was in them, testified of Christ. (1 Pet. 1:11.)

Do we stumble at this saying? Do we find it hard to see Christ in the Old Testament, because we do not see His name? Let us be sure that the fault is all our own. It is our spiritual vision which is to blame, and not the Book. The eyes of our understanding need to be enlightened. The veil has yet to be taken away.

Let us pray for a more humble, childlike, and teachable spirit, and let us take up ‘Moses and the prophets’ again. Christ is there, though our eyes may not yet have seen Him. May we never rest till we can subscribe to our Lord’s words about the Old Testament Scriptures, ‘They are they which testify of me.’ (John 5:39)”

–J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1869/2012), 55-56. Ryle is commenting on John 1:43-51.

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“The meaning of the Pentateuch” by John H. Sailhamer

“The big idea of the Pentateuch is the importance of living by faith.”

–John H. Sailhamer, The Meaning of the Pentateuch (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), 22.

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