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Christian Faith in the Old Testament

Christian Faith in the Old Testament by Gareth Lee Cockerill

What happens when a seasoned New Testament scholar puts to paper his study of the Bible for over thirty five years?  In effect, what he creates is a beautiful synthesis of tapping the ‘apostolic roots’ of the Old Testament.  Yet, what turns out is much different than a historical survey or an academic project but is consistent with goal of having modern Christians search and apply the Old Testament Scriptures for their present lives.  With helpful diagrams, edgy analysis, and an eye at every point to how these Scriptures are fulfilled in Christ, Gareth has put together a wonderful resource for the church.

The discussion regarding the Ten Commandments was most beneficial because it brings together the meaning of Decalogue through the lens of the two Greatest Commandments.  Gareth writes, “Figure 2 shows that the first four commandments (Ex. 20:1-11) explain what the Greatest Commandment means by loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength.  The last six (Ex. 20:12-17) shed light on what Leviticus 18:19 means by loving one’s neighbor as oneself……The Ten Commandments, then, were an expansion of the two Greatest Commandments and the fundamental principles upon which the old covenant was based.” (105)  Figure 2 that Gareth mentions is that of a house with the first four commandments being the foundation of the structure while the last six commandments are the housing and the roof.  At every point in the first four commandments, God is concerned with being the sole object of worship. To love the Lord your God is to deem him as the final and sole object of our affections, mind, and will.  Gareth constantly references these first four commandments in light of the temptation of Israel to follow her neighbor’s gods, assimilate into ANE culture without the slightest hint of being separate.  To connect the Greatest Commandments with the Ten is most helpful because it makes the point very clear; no one is able to fully engage his neighbor with love unless his first love is directed toward God, both the rescuer and creator of Israel.  Neighborly love is dependent upon a radical remembering of the mighty acts of God done in love (Deut. 7:6-8), so that love for others has a reference point from which to act. 

Gareth points to the future awaiting salvation for God’s people in the Old Testament.  He writes, “Job 19:25-27 appears to affirm the resurrection of the righteous.  Thus in its own way the book of Job joins the rest of the Old Testament in looking forward to God’s coming great salvation.” (180) The experience of suffering is paramount in the book of Job but doesn’t eliminate the future hope that Job has for salvation.  The evil that happens upon the Earth will run its course with an end point in the future.  God is the one who will restore ‘all things in righteousness.’ (180)  We are not left with fleeting hope in the Old Testament, but intimations, hints, types and shadows of the things to come with the appearing of the Messiah.  Gareth connects the coming of the Messiah with the Davidic King in earlier chapters that help us see how God is unveiling within the biblical story a larger narrative at work. 

I really enjoyed this book and plan on using it in teaching the Old Testament.  It is eminently practical and is a good resource to give to those wishing to do further study in the first testament. 

Thanks to BookLook and Thomas Nelson for the copy of this book in exchange for review.  


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