Today I am beginning a new series of posts on finding and preaching Christ from the Old Testament. In this series we will consider the manner and extent to which the Old Testament bears witness to the person and work of Christ. My aim is to help preachers and teachers of God’s Word see that the Old Testmanet isn’t merely a collection of ancient stories. Rather, it is a rich, divinely inspired witness to our Lord and Savior.
Preachers who seek to faithfully proclaim God’s Word recognize that they must make Christ the central focus of their preaching (1 Cor. 2:2; Col. 1:28). For this reason, much of their preaching ministry will be occupied with expounding the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ from the pages of the NT.
However, those who have been entrusted with the task of proclaiming God’s Word also recognize that they cannot ignore the OT since “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, ESV).
Furthermore, the NT frequently quotes and alludes to the OT thus requiring preachers to interact with the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms in order to understand the message of the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation.
The Challenge of Preaching the Old Testament
Preaching the OT can be challenging. The sheer volume of content in the OT is, at times, daunting. The world and culture in which the OT was written are far removed from those of the preacher and his congregation. In addition, the diversity of genres and themes found within the OT require sharp exegetical and theological skills if one is to understand its message.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of preaching from the OT is making Christ the central focus of the sermon. Preachers are faced with questions like, “Can the OT be preached as Christian Scripture? Does the OT have anything to say about Christ? If so, how does the OT bear witness to Christ?”
In the next post in this series we will consider the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles on the Old Testament’s witness to Christ.