Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Saving Son in the Old Testament

Recently there has been a long discussion on this issue stemming from here.

Is Christianity some upstart 2000 year old thing, or is it the faith of Abraham, Moses and David? Did they just trust God (non-specific about which person), or did they specifically trust the Son? This isn't some theological discussion of little importance, this is an apologetic that is as relevant now as it was in the second Century when Justin Martyr was trying to show the Romans (who disliked modern ideas) that it's the oldest religion. If Christ is there, obvious, in the OT, it debunks the neo-Marcionism that there's a disparity from the God of the OT and the God of the NT; it debunks the idea that Christianity nicked stuff from the Pagans, as the dates for doctrines are pushed back well into the Bronze Age at least; it debunks all the Constantine/Paul made it all up nonsense completely; it debunks modern Judaism's claims to being old; it answers the critics of the NT's weird quoting of the OT; it addresses the problem of other religions; it debunks the type of dispensationalism that teaches that there was a different way to God for the Jews; it vindicates Jesus' rebukes of the Pharisees, scribes and teachers for not seeing him despite knowing the Law.

The Saving Son is PROMISED in the OT

Right from Genesis 3:15, a son is promised, a seed, that will crush the serpent, the deciever,'s head. God promises a solution. The focus narrows as he makes his promise to Abram in Genesis 12, and further still. David is promised a king among his descendants that never stops reigning, narrowing the blood line yet further and giving yet more details about the role of the Seed.

The Saving Son is PICTURED in the OT

There's a great many pictures - not least the Passover, the lamb that is slain to save from death. Also there's the Day of Atonement - one goat is called "the LORD", the other is called "scapegoat". "The LORD" is killed for the sins of the people. Additionally there's the whole load of cool theology in the setting up of the tabernacle (more on that at some point, I promise). Other pictures include various people: Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon as well as various events.

The Saving Son is PROPHESIED in the OT

Isaiah has some of the most obvious ones, not least the song of the Suffering Servant and the 'unto us a child is born' bit. There's of course other prophesies, by other prophets as well that tell us more about the who and what of the Seed.

The Saving Son is PRESENT in the OT

The controversial one - is the Angel of the LORD (TAOTL), God but also distinct from God? Are there times when the Son, the second person of the three, appears? I'll go into this in more detail in another post. However, here's something cool:
The Angel of the LORD also said to her, "I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count." Then the Angel of the LORD said to her: "..." So she named the LORD who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, "Have I really seen here the One who sees me?" (Genesis 16:10-11a, 13)
She named the LORD "The God Who Sees", however it was the Angel of the LORD that spoke to her. The Sent One of Yaweh - not a sent one, but the Sent One, the God Who Sees. Hagar is confused, naturally - she can't believe God has spoken to her, not that she doesn't think that TAOTL might not be God.

And something else:
The Angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, "I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land I had promised to your fathers. I also said: I will never break My covenant with you. You are not to make a covenant with the people who are living in this land, and you are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed Me. What is this you have done? (Judges 2:1-2)
"I brought you out of Egypt", "I had promised", "My covenant with you", "You have not obeyed Me" - if the Angel was just that, an angel, then he has no right to say this, for it is the LORD who the the is about. If TAOTL was not God, he wouldn't be allowed this terrible blasphemy. There's no "this is what the LORD says" preface - the Messenger of God here is saying what he thinks, because he is God.

I find the footnote in the NIV for Jude v5 amusing - the main translation says that "the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt", with a footnote saying that the earlier manuscripts have 'Jesus', not 'the Lord'. The English Standard Version, New Living Translation, Wycliffe New Testament and the NET Bible are the only ones I could find that have the balls to make it explicit - 'the Lord' is a common New Testament way of saying Jesus and verse 4, calls Jesus 'our Lord' (also calls God 'the only Lord', but the Greek word for Lord is different - thanks Mr Strong and his numbers!)

Even the wimpy translations have 1Cor10:4 as Christ being in the wilderness with Israel after the Exodus. The New Testament proclaims that Christ appeared in the OT, that he is TAOTL.

There's lots more TAOTL passages which mostly raise the question - who is this, if not God? I won't deal with this now, as otherwise I'd have a huge post.

1 comment:

DJRodger said...

Found a link to your blog from Toms site. I like this post, as I love all the Jewish history and context of the NT. I look forward to hearing more about the theophanies (Not sure if thats the corrrect spelling :P)!

Unfortunately this sort of stuff seems more for encouraging believers rather than an apologetic as Justin martyr would have used this material for, due to the biblical illiteracy of many people today. It would be far to complicated to try and explain this unless someone had at least some basic knowledge of the scriptures.

Daniel (DJ Rodger)