The Glory of Christ in the Old Testament

One thing I will continue to harp on is the importance of the Old Testament. (I also harp on how important it is to pray for not only healing, but also all manner of spiritual matters in praying for those who are suffering, among a few other things.)

John Owen writes about this pretty forcefully in The Glory of Christ. A few years ago I planned on doing what I called “The year of the Old Testament”. That turned into two years, although there was a break for surgery in there, I think. I felt like I hardly learned anything, relatively speaking. I learned a lot, for me, but didn’t get very far in learning about how the two testaments of the book of the Bible are connected. In addition to spending time in the larger portion of the Book, I’ll need to spend other years concentrating on it.

Here is what he writes in the chapter titled ‘Representations of the glory of Christ under the Old Testament’. The first part is a quote in full, and there is only a part of each section for each of his numbered portions (those Puritans and their numbers!). Italic are his. Bold is mine. The word mystical basically means unseen. I don’t want some of you to get freaked out about that.

It is said of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he declared unto his disciples in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” Luke 24:27. It is therefore manifest that Moses, and the Prophets, and all the Scriptures, do give testimony unto him and his glory. This is the line of life and light which runs through the whole Old Testament; without the conduct whereof we can understand nothing aright therein: and the neglect hereof is that which makes many as blind in reading the books of it as are the Jews, — the veil being upon their minds. It is faith alone, discovering the glory of Christ, that can remove that veil of darkness which covers the minds of men in reading the Old Testament, as the apostle declares, 2 Cor. 3:14–16. I shall, therefore, consider briefly some of those ways and means whereby the glory of Christ was represented unto believers under the Old Testament.

1. It was so in the institution of the beautiful worship of the law, with all the means of it. Herein have they the advantage above all the splendid ceremonies that men can invent in the outward worship of God; they were designed and framed in divine wisdom to represent the glory of Christ, in his person and his office.

2. It was represented in the mystical account which is given us of his communion with his church in love and grace. As this is intimated in many places of Scripture, so there is one entire book designed unto its declaration.

3. It was so represented and made known under the Old Testament, in his personal appearances on various occasions unto several eminent persons, leaders of the church in their generations This he did as a præludium to his incarnation. He was as yet God only; but appeared in the assumed shape of a man, to signify what he would be.

4. It was represented in prophetical visions. So the apostle affirms that the vision which Isaiah had of him was when he saw his glory, John 12:41.

5. The doctrine of his incarnation, whereby he became the subject of all that glory which we inquire after, was revealed, although not so clearly as by the Gospel, after the actual accomplishment of the thing itself.

6. Promises, prophecies, predictions, concerning his person, his coming, his office, his kingdom, and his glory in them all, with the wisdom, grace, and love of God to the church in him, are the line of life, as was said, which runs through all the writings of the Old Testament, and takes up a great portion of them. Those were the things which he expounded unto his disciples out of Moses and all the Prophets. Concerning these things he appealed to the Scriptures against all his adversaries: “Search the Scriptures; for they are they which testify of me.” And if we find them not, if we discern them not therein, it is because a veil of blindness is over our minds. Nor can we read, study, or meditate on the writings of the Old Testament unto any advantage, unless we design to find out and behold the glory of Christ, declared and represented in them. For want hereof they are a sealed book to many unto this day.

7. It is usual in the Old Testament to set out the glory of Christ under metaphorical expressions; yea, it aboundeth therein. For such allusions are exceedingly suited to let in a sense into our minds of those things which we cannot distinctly comprehend. And there is an infinite condescension of divine wisdom in this way of instruction, representing unto us the power of things spiritual in what we naturally discern. Instances of this kind, in calling the Lord Christ by the names of those creatures which unto our senses represent that excellency which is spiritually in him, are innumerable. So he is called the rose, for the sweet savour of his love, grace, and obedience; — the lily, for his gracious beauty and amiableness; — the pearl of great price, for his worth, for to them that believe he is precious; — the vine, for his fruitfulness; — the lion, for his power; — the lamb, for his meekness and fitness for sacrifice; with other things of the like kind almost innumerable.

We will grow richer as we understand more of these things.

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