Understanding the Old Testament - Lesson 2

Theological Center

In the lesson, we dive into the theological center, thematic framework, and canonical structure of the Old Testament, aiming to grasp the essence of what the Bible is about and how it operates. It emphasizes the significance of identifying a theological center, arguing that Jesus Christ serves as the unifying factor for understanding the entirety of biblical revelation. The lesson highlights the diversity within the Bible, comprising various genres, languages, and authors spanning over 1,500 years. It underscores the centrality of Jesus Christ in both the Old and New Testaments, asserting that he is the heart of Scripture, providing unity and life to the entire narrative. Through biblical evidence and apostolic witness, the lesson asserts that the Old Testament finds its ultimate meaning and fulfillment in Jesus Christ, shaping our interpretation of its characters and events.

Miles Van Pelt
Understanding the Old Testament
Lesson 2
Watching Now
Theological Center

I. Introduction

A. Purpose of the Lecture Series

B. Importance of Understanding the Theological Center

II. Overview of the Bible

A. Characteristics of the Bible

B. Composition of the Old and New Testaments

C. Diversity in Genres and Languages

III. Identifying the Theological Center

A. Definition and Significance

B. Criteria for Finding the Theological Center

C. Jesus Christ as the Theological Center

IV. Evidence from Scripture

A. New Testament Testimony

B. Apostolic Witness

V. Jesus as the Key to Old Testament Interpretation

A. Implications for Understanding Old Testament Characters

B. Examples from Luke 11:29-32

VI. Conclusion

A. Recap of the Significance of Jesus as the Theological Center

B. Importance for Interpretation and Understanding of the Old Testament

  • Engage with the Old Testament to grasp its Gospel-centered nature. From Genesis to Ecclesiastes and Psalms, discover foundational truths, wisdom, and insights on suffering. Strengthen your faith and find enduring hope in God's Word.
  • Gain insight into the Old Testament's theological core, centering on Jesus Christ. Explore its diverse genres, languages, and authors, unified by Jesus as its focal point. Understand how biblical evidence supports Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, shaping interpretation.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Miles Van Pelt provides the thematic framework for the Old Testament. The Old Testament's thematic core is the Kingdom of God. Through this lesson, you'll understand its covenantal nature, from pre-temporal arrangements to various administrations like redemption, works, and grace, unveiling God's salvation plan in Christ.
  • Discover the intricate covenantal structure of the Bible, revealing its theological depth and unity, from the division of the Hebrew Bible to its mirroring in the New Testament, all centered around Jesus Christ.
  • Gain insight into the Pentateuch's covenantal structure, Moses' authorship debate, and evidence supporting it. Understand its significance as the foundation of Israel's relationship with God and its relevance for biblical theology.
  • Through this lesson, you will understand the theological, structural, and thematic intricacies of the book of Genesis. You'll grasp its role as a foundational text in both the Old and New Testaments, exploring themes of covenant, creation, fall, redemption, and the fulfillment of promises. You'll gain insights into the genealogical structure of Genesis, its portrayal of key biblical figures like Adam, Noah, and Abraham, and its connection to the overarching narrative of the gospel.
  • Exodus reveals Yahweh's promise—"I will be with you"—unfolding divine presence and covenant. It anticipates Jesus as fulfillment—a better Moses and Tabernacle—ushering in God's eternal presence among humanity.
  • Studying Leviticus unveils the intricate system of laws and rituals at Mount Sinai. It explains sacrificial atonement, priestly consecration, purity laws, and the theme of holiness, prefiguring Jesus as the ultimate priest, sacrifice, and source of holiness.
  • Discover the Book of Numbers' insights on Israel's journey, God's faithfulness, consequences of disobedience, and parallels to Christ, cautioning against questioning God's holiness and emphasizing His desire to dwell among His people through the Holy Spirit.
  • Gain insight into Deuteronomy's covenant renewal for Israel entering Canaan, emphasizing obedience, typology, and its relevance for Christian living.
  • Gain deep insight into the former prophets, exploring themes of Yahweh's faithfulness, Israel's unfaithfulness, and the typological significance of the Mosaic covenant. Understand its relation to the Abrahamic covenant and its fulfillment in the New Covenant under Jesus, revealing God's plan for restoration.
  • Joshua unveils Joshua's leadership, divine promise fulfillment in Canaan, obedience's significance, and Jesus as the ultimate fulfiller of God's promises.
  • Discover the Book of Judges, detailing Israel's history and faith journey. Learn about judges as deliverers from oppression and idolatry, portraying parallels with Christ's ministry. Uncover a pattern of uncreation due to idolatry, emphasizing the need for an eternal judge—Jesus Christ—to save from corruption.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Miles Van Pelt provides insights into the book of Samuel, exploring its characters, themes, and the transition from judgeship to kingship in Israel. Learn of the significance of the Davidic covenant, culminating in Jesus as the ultimate King of Kings.
  • Gain insights into the Book of Kings, revealing its historical and theological significance. Discover the fulfillment of Davidic covenant, reasons for Israel's exile, and anticipation of the new covenant. Recognize Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of its promises.
  • This lesson reviews latter prophets' insights into Israel's exile for breaking the Mosaic Covenant, the prophetic office's nature, diverse prophecy genres, and the execution of covenant lawsuits, all pointing to God's judgment and hope for restoration.
  • Explore Isaiah's profound prophetic themes, from redemption to impending judgment. Unravel his life and ministry's context, review the debate around authorship, and learn essential tools for study.
  • Enjoy this lesson on Jeremiah, a second Moses figure, and his prophetic message of repentance, redemption, and a new covenant. Explore the book's chiastic structure, historical context, and theological significance, offering hope amidst Judah's fall.
  • Studying Ezekiel reveals its focus on the glory of the Lord and the temple. You learn of Ezekiel's exile, his visions, and themes like covenant theology, creation, and apocalyptic elements, offering profound insights into hope amidst crisis.
  • Discover insights into the minor prophets' diverse genres and themes, from covenant infidelity to divine restoration. Witness Jonah's repentance narrative and prophetic visions culminating in Christ's fulfillment. Embrace Yahweh's justice and compassion, urging Israel's return, leading to Jesus as the ultimate authority.
  • Understand the structure and themes of the Hebrew Bible's writings section. Explore diverse literary forms, intentional divisions mirroring prophets, and the overarching theme of exile and return, illuminating Israel's covenant journey.
  • Discover the depth of the Book of Psalms: 150 songs divided into 5 books, expressing diverse emotions and worship forms. Explore themes, structure, and practical applications for personal devotion and prayer.
  • Gain insights into human suffering and theodicy through Job's trials. Explore themes of faith, resilience, and God's sovereignty amidst adversity. Discover hope in God's incomprehensible sovereignty amid life's trials.
  • Proverbs is a book of timeless wisdom from Solomon, who was gifted by God. By studying this book, you can learn to navigate life with righteousness and discernment, rooted in the fear of the Lord.
  • Journey through Ruth, where redemption, loyalty, and divine providence intertwine. Ruth, a symbol of strength, aligns with Boaz, embodying ancient customs. Their union shapes history, reflecting the enduring legacy of faith amidst life's complexities.
  • Explore the Song of Songs for insights into marriage and intimacy. It navigates the tension between true love and temptation, advocating for unwavering commitment and passionate intimacy, reflecting God's desired relationship. Discover timeless wisdom for modern-day love and marriage.
  • Ecclesiastes reveals life's futility without God, emphasizing the necessity of fearing Him. Through Solomon's wisdom, it prompts reflection on divine purpose amid existential questions.
  • In Lamentations, mourn the fall of Jerusalem and exile, finding hope in God's sovereignty.
  • The book of Esthers contains themes of providence, hiddenness of God, and faithfulness in exile. You will uncover the intricacies of Esther and Mordecai's roles in the deliverance of the Jewish people, as well as the establishment of the festival of Purim. This study will equip you with insights into how God's providence operates amidst human events, even when His presence may seem concealed, and how faithfulness in exile can lead to unexpected outcomes of deliverance and restoration.
  • Through this lesson on the book of Daniel, you'll gain insights into its structure, themes of faithfulness in exile, comparisons with Joseph, and its significance for understanding apocalyptic literature, providing a comprehensive understanding of God's sovereignty and care for His people.
  • Explore Ezra and Nehemiah for insights into post-exilic restoration, intertwining faith, governance, and cultural renewal. These books point towards a deeper longing for true and lasting restoration and echo themes found in apocalyptic literature such as the book of Revelation.
  • The Book of Chronicles traces Israel's history, emphasizing kingship, priesthood, and divine selection. It anticipates restoration, pointing to Jesus as the ultimate priest-king who fulfills God's promises.

Understanding the Old Testament 
Dr. Miles Van Pelt
Theological Center
Lesson Transcript


In our last lecture, we talked about five points that govern kind of the nature of what is the Christian Bible, and in point four, we argued that the Old Testament and the whole Bible have a theological center, a thematic framework, and a canonical structure. This and the following two lectures will be working to help us understand what is the theological center, what is the thematic framework, what is the canonical or covenantal structure of the Old Testament, and in some sense, what is the Bible about and how the Bible works in the category of the Old Testament. So the purpose of this lecture is to understand and identify the significance of a theological center for Old Testament interpretation. It is important to note that the quest for a theological center constitutes only one of three entry points for understanding the Bible and the Old Testament, and these three entry points work to answer two basic questions. What is the Bible about and how does the Bible work? In this lecture and the following lecture, we're going to talk about what the Bible is about, and we're going to move into that second lecture and then the third lecture talking about how the Bible works. Now, this question is simple, what is the Bible about, but its significance is complex. Whatever you think the Bible is about will control how you interpret all of it.

When thinking about a theological center, you're trying to find the one thing that can explain everything, uniting and cohering all the diverse materials deposited in this body of literature. Consider the issues of diversity in the Christian Bible as a whole, and then remember that the Old Testament is 77% of the Christian Bible. Here we go, a few points.

Number one, the Bible consists of approximately 600,000 words in three different languages, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. In our English Bibles, the Old and New Testaments total well over 1,000 pages of English text, and that's without notes. In our English Bibles, there are as many as 39 individual books in the Old Testament and 27 individual books in the New Testament.

The first books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch, were penned by Moses from approximately 1446 BC to about 1406 BC, the year that Israel came out from Egypt in the Great Exodus. The last book of the New Testament was penned by the Apostle John in approximately 90 AD off the island of Patmos. In terms of authorship, in the Old Testament, we have folks like Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, and Ezra, 15 named prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and as many as 13 anonymous books. That is, for many of the books in the Old Testament, we do not have an explicit statement about who wrote it. In the New Testament, we know we have authors like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude, and one anonymous book, the Book of Hebrews.

Think about this, the nature of the different genres in the Bible. There's poetry and prose, narrative, there's law, there's gospel, there's history, law, wisdom, praise, prophecy, psalms or songs, apocalyptic visions, dreams, and visions. There's kind of the gospel genre, history like in the book of Acts, there are letters, we call those epistles, sermons, more apocalyptic visions, and all other kinds of stuff in the Bible. So think of it this way, by way of summary, the Christian Bible contains about 600,000 words written in three different languages by as many as 28 different human authors, including 15 books without an identified human author, over 1,500 years, resulting in some 66 individual books and two testaments.

So how do you answer the question, what is the Bible about? If you were to get in an elevator with someone, and they saw you carrying your Bible, and they asked you, what is that thing about? And you had three floors to answer, what would you answer that person to be accurate, but also to explain the breadth of it as well? What is the Old Testament about? So finding the answer, how do you find the answer in terms of something about what is the Old Testament about? One of the best ways to do that is to go to the New Testament and look at how the New Testament talks about the Old Testament. We have Jesus and the apostles using and talking about the Old Testament. And if we listen carefully, we can learn from them what the Bible is about and how it works.

One of the best places to begin is Acts 28:23. We read that back in our previous lecture, but it bears reading here again. This is where Paul is in Rome for two years, and he's teaching and preaching, trying to convince people about Jesus.

It tells us some specific information about what he's doing and what he's using to do it. Here's what it says. "When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him in his lodging in greater and greater numbers. From morning till evening, he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets." And then we argued back in the previous lecture that these three key statements, Paul is trying to convince them about Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God from the law of Moses and the prophets, or from the Old Testament. And I'm arguing that Jesus is going to be our theological center for this chapter. That is, he's the one thing that unifies everything and makes sense of it all.


Next, we'll talk about the kingdom of God in the next lecture. That's the thematic framework. That's the theme within which all the other themes exist. Finally, we'll talk about the law of Moses and the prophets and later the Psalms as the covenantal structure of the Old Testament, and in fact, of the entire Christian canon. That is, there's a structure to the whole of the book, and when we understand the structure, we understand how it functions.

So for this lecture, here is our working thesis. Jesus Christ is the theological center for all biblical revelation, both Old and New Testaments. Jesus is the heart of Scripture, that which gives unity and life to the whole.

He is the living force of the word as the incarnate word. The biblical structure and the thematic framework would represent severed and lifeless body parts without the living force of Jesus Christ as a theological center. He is the point, the goal, the fullness of it all, the unchallenged ruler over the kingdom of God as expressed in his covenantal kingdom word.

Graham Goldsworthy, an Australian Old Testament scholar, puts it this way, "The hub of the church and the life of the believer is Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord. He is not only the interpretive center of the whole Bible, but according to the biblical testimony, he gives ultimate meaning to every fact in the universe. He is thus the interpretive principle for all reality, providing the center that holds it all together."

Graham Goldsworthy argues that if you want to understand the Bible, you have to understand it with Jesus as its center. Not only that, if you want to understand the universe, you need to understand that all things were created by him and for him and through him, and he is the one thing that makes sense of everything. Alec Motyer, a British scholar, put it this way, "Jesus came from outside, that is from the heavenly realm, and voluntarily and deliberately attached himself to the Old Testament, affirmed it to be the word of God, and set himself at a cost to fulfill it. This fact of facts cuts the ground from under any suspicion that the doctrine of biblical authority rests upon a circular argument such as I believe the Bible to be authoritative because the Bible says it's authoritative. Not so. It was Jesus who came from outside, meaning the heavenly realm, as the incarnate son of God, Jesus who was raised from the dead as the Son of God with power, who chose to validate the Old Testament in retrospect and the New Testament in prospect, and who himself is the grand theme of the storyline of both Testaments. He is the focal point, giving coherence to the total picture. In all its complexities, he is the climax as well as the substance and center of the whole Old Testament. In him, all the promises of God are yes and amen, as written in 2 Corinthians 1:20."

So here's the point of this lecture, is that we oftentimes think that Jesus may be the center of the New Testament, but how in the world could Jesus be the center of the Old Testament? But that's exactly what we're arguing in this lecture. I'm also going to argue a little bit later that the Yahweh of the Old Testament, that is the divine name of the covenant God revealed to God's people in Exodus chapter 3, is the second person of the Trinity, that is Jesus Christ. One of the ways to consider some evidence for this is some kind of objective evidence when it comes to just looking at the Scriptures, and then we'll talk about the Scriptures' testimony to Jesus being the center of the Bible. So the first is this, we're going to just talk about a little bit of word counting game.

In the Old Testament and the New Testament, there are a lot of names for people, places, and things. We call those proper names, like David, Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 patriarchs. In the Old Testament, there are lots of names. In fact, in the Old Testament, there are about 475,000 total words. Amid those 475,000 words, there are 14,000 different proper names, 14,000. Those 14,000 proper names occurred just over 35,000 times and constitute 7.5% of the total word count.

So 7.5% of the entire Old Testament is proper names of people, places, and things. Several of the most common proper names in the Old Testament are Israel, David, Judah, Moses, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Saul. The most common one on that list is Israel. It occurs 2,500 times. However, the most frequent proper name in the Old Testament is that divine name I mentioned earlier, Yahweh. It occurs 6,829 times in the Old Testament, which is 19.1% of all proper names.

So think about this. 20%, just about 20% of all proper names in the Old Testament is the divine name Yahweh. And if you add to that the generic name for God, Elohim, that's another 2,500. And then the word Adonai, our Lord, that's another 700. So about 10,000 times, over 10,000 times, we have the Lord being referred to by his name or his title in the Old Testament. So when you're asking what the book is about, it's about that person.

For example, if I were to ask you, what do you think the most common name is in the Harry Potter series, of all those books? And you'd probably say, well, of course, it's Harry Potter. And what is the book about? Harry Potter. Or if I were to ask you, what's the most popular name or common name in the book, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien? And it would easily be Bilbo, because that book is about Bilbo. The person who's around the most, doing the most, usually is what the book is about or who it's about. The same is true of the Bible. The name Yahweh and his titles like Elohim, God, or Adonai, Lord, far outstrip any other human person or place or thing. At the very core, then, we can recognize that the Old Testament is about Yahweh, Yahweh.

The covenant God Yahweh is the main character of the Old Testament according to the simple math. The name Yahweh is the seventh most common word in the whole Old Testament. And the only ones that beat it are words like and, and the, and to, and in. So, conjunctions, articles, and prepositions. That's crazy. So, I want you to feel the force of that, that when you read the Old Testament and you come across all of these names, remember, it's about him. It's about his words and actions on behalf of his people.

The New Testament is similar in terms of distribution, and I know this is an Old Testament survey course, but I'm going to make an important connection here because we want to make, we want to see how the Old Testament and New Testament relate to each other as part of the survey process because they're, constitute one book. In the New Testament, you have about 138,000 Greek words. 551 different proper names occur about 4,100 times.

So, almost 3% of the New Testament are names like Paul, Peter, John, Pharisees, Moses, Jerusalem, Simon, Abraham, and Israel. Those are the top 10. The most popular or the most common proper name of all those is Paul at 158 and Peter at 156. Get that in your mind, 158, 156. But the most frequent proper name in the New Testament happens to be Jesus. At 917, 22.2% of all proper names. Now, let me say that again. Peter and Paul are 158 and 156. Jesus is 917. Well over like seven times that or six times. Math isn't my gift. So, this means that just like the Harry Potter or the Hobbit book, Jesus is the main person who's being talked about or talking in the New Testament,.

Now, one of the things that we'll do over time as we work through some of these books is I'm going to try to convince you that the Yahweh of the Old Testament and the Jesus of the New Testament are both the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity in the vast majority of instances. For example, I'll give you a couple of good things. In the book of Exodus, we know that Yahweh reveals his name to his people and then delivers them out of slavery and bondage in Egypt. Remember, that's the great Red Sea event. Moses goes to Pharaoh. Yahweh says to let his people go. Yahweh delivers them. He strikes down the Egyptians and then he enthrones himself on Mount Sinai as the covenant God. We know that recounting this miraculous act of salvation, it is stated in the book of Jude, verse five, where he says, "I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus Christ, sorry, Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt afterward destroyed all his people in the wilderness who did not believe." Now, consider that.

Jude is saying that the Yahweh who delivered Israel out of Egypt in about 1446 BC was Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, the guy who showed up in the New Testament as the incarnate word of God. Or consider this from John chapter eight, when Jesus was answering questions from the Jews, we read in verses 56 to 58. "So the Jews said to Jesus, you are not yet 50 years old and you have seen Abraham. Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you before Abraham was, I am,'" which is a shorthand form for the divine name. "And so they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple." The Jews wanted to stone Jesus because he had just identified himself as the Yahweh of Exodus 3 in the first person.

Finally, concerning Exodus 14 to 17, we read in First Corinthians 10, one to four, where Paul says, "For, I do not want you to be unaware brothers that our fathers were all under the cloud and passed through the sea. And they were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea." It's talking about Exodus 14 to 17, the beginning of the wilderness phase. "And they all ate the same spiritual food." That's the manna. "And they all drank from the same spiritual rock." That is the water that came from the rock, "For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them. And that rock was Christ." You can see how the New Testament is beginning to make connections between the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, the incarnate word, and the Yahweh of the Old Testament who delivered that word.

Let's consider continuing with some biblical evidence that Jesus is the main player in the Old Testament. We're going to talk about biblical evidence when we're reading the New Testament. What does it say about the Old Testament? So we're going to be doing this, the analogy of faith. We're going to be taking later parts of Scripture that are clear about the nature of the Old Testament and applying them to that. So this is the apostolic witness from both Jesus and his followers about who Jesus is and his relationship to the Old Testament.

First, we have Luke 24:25 to 27. This is the famous road to Emmaus encounter where Jesus is resurrected. Two of his disciples are walking on the road to Emmaus and he shows up and talks to them. "And Jesus said to them, Oh, foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" Remember this, the disciples were despondent and a little bit confused that their master was gone. The Messiah was gone. Who's going to change the world and save them from all the oppression and lead them into triumph? And then it says, "And then beginning with Moses," which would be the first five books of the Bible, "and then all the prophets," which are those books that follow, "he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures, all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself." Note for Jesus, the Scriptures were the Old Testament alone at this point. So he used all of the Old Testament to explain in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself. Yes, Moses is there. David is there. Adam is there. Eve is there. Abraham is there. But all of these people in some way or another point beyond themselves to Jesus. He continues and says, "This is what I told you while I was still with you," before he was crucified and risen, "that everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. And then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures."

Two important things here to consider. One is notice that the disciples had the Old Testament. They had lived and loved and learned from Jesus. Even at that point, they were unable to understand the nature of the Old Testament in light of Jesus until he opened their minds so he could understand, so they could understand the Scriptures.

So you have to have in some sense an interpretive conversion. You have to be convinced by Jesus that the Old Testament is about Jesus to begin to make sense of the Old Testament. If you want to understand why God destroyed the world in a flood and saved a family through the ark, it's because of understanding something about the nature of Jesus.

If you want to understand why he sent a prophet like Moses to lead people out from Egypt and enter into a covenant with God, you've got to understand it through the personal work of Jesus. If you want to understand God's selection of David as king and Solomon to build the temple, you can only fully understand it by understanding how that relates to who Jesus is in the New Testament. You have to have a hermeneutical conversion to understand that the Old Testament is about the personal work of Jesus.

Even further, in John 5:36 to 40, Jesus is speaking with some detractors and he says, "I have a testimony way earlier than that of John the Baptist. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish and which I am doing testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father has sent me and testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice or seen his form," which of course they saw on Sinai, the second person of the Trinity. And then it says, "nor does his word dwell in you for you do not believe the one he has sent." That is, they do not believe in Jesus.

And then it says this in a stinging fashion, "you diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify, Jesus says, about me, that you refuse to come to me to have life." Then later in that chapter in verses 45 and 47 to 47, it says, "Therefore do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believe Moses, you would believe me." Here's what Jesus says, "For he," that is Moses, "wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings," plural, how will you believe my words." That's a remarkable statement for Jesus to say that Moses wrote about Jesus in a book like Leviticus.

The testimony of Jesus is clear that the Old Testament is in one form or another significantly about him. He is the theological center. He is the one thing that makes sense of everything. He holds it all together from the glory of God's presence on Mount Sinai to the building of the temple to the very mundane things like priestly clothing and priestly underwear and priestly headbands and stuff like that. All of those things from grand and glorious things to common and mundane make sense only in light of the person and work of Jesus.

Listen to the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 talk about the Old Testament as the gospel promised beforehand. This is Romans 1:1 to 3. "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God the gospel he promised beforehand." Where is this gospel promised beforehand and how did it get here? Well, "it came through his prophets in the holy Scriptures." What's it about? "Regarding his Son as to his human nature was a descendant of David." Note the description of the pre-promised gospel in the three prepositional phrases that are contained in these verses. Through the prophets, that is, this was the vehicle of gospel revelation, in the holy Scriptures, this was where it was located or deposited in the sacred writings, the God-breathed living and active writings of the Old Testament.

And then what were the things about concerning his son who was a descendant of David? Through the prophets, in the holy Scriptures, concerning his sons. How did we get it? Where is it located and what's it about? Very clear, the apostolic witness. Or consider this 2 Corinthians 1: 20.

"For no matter how many promises God has made," talking about all the promises of the Old Testament, "they are yes in Christ. And so through him, the amen is spoken by us to the glory of God." As such, Christ is the purpose, the goal, and the meaning and the significance of every Old Testament promise. He is the fulfillment of every Old Testament expectation, shadow, type, and hope.

Now as we bring this lecture to a conclusion, the fact that Jesus Christ is the theological center of the Bible, let's just consider two texts or two examples of how this very important factor helps us with interpreting the Old Testament. How we interpret the Old Testament is common, at least as I did when I was a child growing up, is that you read the Old Testament passage, you try to identify with the character in that passage, and then you try to be like that person in the passage. So be like David who can conquer his Goliaths and stuff like that. Or don't be like Solomon who was led astray by illicit relationships. You're identifying with those things, those characters.

So we want to talk about if Jesus is the theological center, and how that impacts how we interpret people and things in the Old Testament. We'll just give two examples, and I hope to do more and more of that as we work through the books. But it's good to do it now because it's so important that we understand that the Old Testament is a Christian book written for Christians. After all, it is about and by Jesus. So here's one from Luke 11:29 to 32, and we're going to talk about Solomon and Jonah, two great figures in the Old Testament.

Solomon, the greatest king of the time built the temple of God and achieved that great kingdom milestone to bring all of the promises of God to their climax in the Old Testament. And then we're going to talk about the prophet Jonah who's kind of that reluctant prophet. It says in Luke 11:29 and following, "As the crowds were increasing, he began to say, this generation is a wicked generation. It seeks for a sign and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became assigned to the Ninevites, so will the son of man be to this generation. The queen of the south will rise up with the men of this generation at judgment and condemn them because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon and behold someone greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah and behold something greater than Jonah is here."

Now notice, note how Jesus uses both Solomon and the prophet Jonah as types of himself. He declares himself to be the true and better Solomon, who is the greater wisdom and the greater temple builder, and the true and better Jonah, who is the prophet and the light to the nations.

Jesus calls his audience to identify with the pagan queen of the south and the wicked inhabitants of Nineveh, not Solomon or Jonah. In the Old Testament, even the pagans recognized the power and the mercy of Yahweh but this was not true for Jesus' audience in Luke 11. Do you see that? When we read narratives, it is not we who are to identify with the heroes of those narratives. We are not Gideon or Caleb or Joshua or Moses or David. Those people serve as types of what Jesus was coming to do for us. If you want to understand where we fit into the picture, we are the wicked people of Nineveh who need to repent. We are the people in the days of the judges who did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord. We are Adam and Eve who on that day in Genesis 3 disobeyed in the garden. Do you see? We are not the saviors, we are the ones who need to be saved, and to get that right in the Old Testament is one of the most important things for interpreting properly the Old Testament as the gospel promised beforehand. Something that will provoke joy hope and endurance in the life of the believer.

Finally, think about this example as well as we bring this to a conclusion. This is Hebrews 11 and 12. We call this famously the Hall of Faith because it talks about all of those people in the Old Testament who had great faith. As you well know, chapter 11 in Hebrews rehearses the lives of Cain and Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. So that's an amazing chapter.

If you want a summary of the great figures of the Old Testament, Hebrews chapter 11 is your place. The author of Hebrews then refers to this group of individuals as a great cloud of witnesses, not as a great cloud of examples, from which the author then encourages perseverance. The means of perseverance is then made explicit in Hebrews 11 too. It says there, "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despised the shame, and then sat down at the right hand of the father at the throne of God. So notice this. All of these people, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, etc. were a great cloud of witnesses. And what did they witness to? That Jesus is the one on whom we're to fix our eyes through faith. Yes, did they do things we should do? Yes. Did they do things we shouldn't do? Yes.

But that's not the point of the Old Testament narratives. They are not moralistic flannel graph stories to scare you either into disobedience or obedience. They are there to let you know that Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, can save you, deliver you from your enemies and sin, and usher you into glory. He is a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. The author of Hebrews reviews the selected individuals throughout covenant history as those who put their faith in God. And these witnesses testify to Jesus Christ upon whom we must now fix our eyes.

Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and all of reality. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. He declares the end from the beginning and apart from him, there is no other.

I'll conclude this lecture with Jesus as the theological center with Colossians 1 verses 15 to 17 where it states "He," that is Jesus, "is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him, all things were created, Genesis 1, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, before Abraham was, I am, and in him all things hold together."

You cannot make any more important decision intellectually or spiritually than to recognize that Jesus Christ is the theological center of the Old Testament, of the New Testament, and of the universe. And what we're going to argue here is that Jesus Christ also needs to be the center of your own spiritual life and heart.