We've been going through Ephesians 5 on marriage in our Sunday sermons. The Apostle Paul makes an incredible statement in verse 32 – "this mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." What is this mystery? Paul, of course, is referring to his quotation of Genesis 2:24 in the immediate preceding verse – "therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."
Here's what's profoundly amazing about what Paul is teaching us. Genesis 2:24, which on the surface is the story of Adam and Eve and the world's first wedding, is really about Christ and the church. This was unbeknownst to Adam, Eve and the writer of Genesis – thus a mystery! Only with the coming of Christ was this mystery revealed.
In the sermon series – I unpacked what this means for our understanding of marriage and salvation. But here, I want to explore what this says about how we read the Old Testament. Paul is showing us how to read the Hebrew Scriptures. The New Testament gives us new eyes to reread the Old Testament and see Christ in all those old familiar stories. Do we not see this again and again? Jesus says – "the story of Jonah. Don’t you realize that’s a picture of me?" (Matthew 12:39) Paul says – "the rock Moses struck in the wilderness. That was Christ!" (1 Corinthians 10:4) On the road to Emmaus, Jesus instructs his disciples – "and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus interpreted to his disciples in all the Scriptures [Old Testament] the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27)
In formal theological terms, this is called Biblical Theology or Covenant Theology. It gives us a paradigm for reading the OT, not as moral parables (a la Aesop's Fables), but as pictures of salvation in Christ. It informs how we read the Old Testament, even in those stories where the New Testament does not explicitly spell out how Christ is the real story. In other words, we read the Old Testament through the lens of the gospel. As Augustine once wrote, "The New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament; and the Old is revealed in the New."
If you would like to learn more, here are a few good resources:
The Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones (difficulty level: easy)
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible, Graeme Goldsworthy (medium)
Preaching Christ in All of Scripture, Edmund Clowney (medium)
Biblical Theology, Geerhardus Vos (advanced)
Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, Sidney Greidanus (advanced)