A simple definition of ‘theme’ is an idea that recurs in, or pervades, a work of art or literature. Consider Lord of the Rings. Frodo’s singular objective is to destroy the one ring in the fires of Mount Doom. Tolkien places this in the context of a journey, but also moves the plot along and captivates his readers with various themes. Themes such as good and evil, death and immortality, honour and courage, fate and free will not only help us understand Middle Earth, but also Frodo’s motivation, source of strength, and character development. Themes help a good story become a compelling one.

The Old Testament presents us with many themes as well, and these themes are one important way to ‘see Christ in the Old Testament’. This is not to say that we reduce Christ to a theme alongside themes such as grace and redemption, as he is the object to every theme. The book of Hebrews tells us that Christ is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (1:3a). Dr. Scott Redd says, “the quest to find Christ in the Old Testament is analogous to the quest to find Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Indepence.” Christ is found throughout the Old Testament for the Scriptures are about the self-revealing God, and Christ is the fullness of God revealed to us (Colossians 1:19)! That said, the Scriptures do “bear witness” to Christ (John 5:29) and “are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:15)” As we learn to recognize various themes in scripture, we also receive encouragement as we recognize Christ as the perfect fulfillment of each. In this way we grow in our understanding of his life, ministry, and accomplished work. Here is a sampling of Old Testament themes with accompanying testimony of Christ’s fulfillment: Creation (John 1:1-5); Temple (John 2:19-21); Providence (1 Corinthians 10:4); Covenant (Luke 22:20); Promise (2 Corinthians 1:20-22); Atonement (1 John 2:2); Sacrifice (Hebrews 10:14); Redemption (Colossians 1:14); Prophet (Luke 7:16); Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16); and King (Luke 1:31-33; Rev. 19:16)

As Christians we make no apology for reading the Old Testament in the light of Christ and the New Testament’s account of his work. As William Dyrness puts it, the New Testament takes up Old Testament themes, develops them and transposes them into a higher key: “It does not leave the OT behind so much as bring out its deepest reality”[1] As we continue to move through the Scriptures on Sunday morning, and through subsequent daily devotion, I pray that we would all grow in seeing the glory of Christ in all of God’s Word.

Pastor Gary

[1] William Dyrness, Themes in Old Testament Theology, (Intervarsity, 2006) p19

Prepare your heart for Sunday by reading the passage and listening to the songs we’ll sing.