1 Corinthians 10:1-5
The Old in the New Revealed
I have written in these pages before a line I learned from my father years ago: “The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” This short passage shows us this. Now Paul is setting up an argument that, as God overthrew the ancient Israelites in the desert for their faithlessness to Him years before, He may indeed do the same with these Corinthians who best heed the warnings from the Old Testament Scriptures. But I will save that for tomorrow. Today I wish to capitalize on the way that Paul reads the Old Testament, which is the way we should read the Old Testament; that is, in the light of Christ.
When I attended a left-of-center seminary years ago, we were taught to understand the Scriptures according to a model called the “historical-critical” method. We were to discover what the words which the prophet said, written in the text, meant to the original hearers. After divining that, we were then to preach what that message means to our listeners today in our sermon. Let us call this the “find out what it meant and then preach what it means” method of Scripture interpretation and sermon preparation. And when dealing with the Old Testament, how the New Testament writer understood the Old Testament passage was, well, not irrelevant, but certainly peripheral. Well, as you can plainly see, not allowing the New Testament to reveal the Old Testament’s inner meaning is to empty the Old of any Christological value, and simply leads to moralistic preaching.
If we will read the Scriptures aright, we must read them according to Christ. Our reason for adopting such a model is our Lord’s teaching the men on the road to Emmaus: “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). And so the lamb which the Israelites sacrificed over Passover prefigured our Lord’s sacrifice; the Passover itself signified our Lord’s saving his people from coming judgment; crossing of the Red Sea under the cloud mentioned here was a type of baptism; the manna and water typify communion; the Rock, the presence of Christ. The Book of Hebrews applies this “typological” method throughout as it deals with the Old Testament, as do many places scattered throughout the New. This does not give us the right to make things up and see “types” in the Old Testament that aren’t there; however, we do intentionally strive to see how the Old Testament preaches Christ to us and make such our mindset when we read it. Otherwise, the Old Testament is a dead letter, and we know that’s not true.