David Murray has written a really helpful and accessible book, not primarily aimed at preachers, as these books often are, but at non-preachers. He writes openly and honestly, charting his own story of failure to see Jesus in the Old Testament as much as he should have done--even as a preacher. This openness and sense of journeying with him makes the book much more readable than if he had written a textbook on Christ in the Old Testament. It also allows his enthusiasm and delight at seeing Jesus to shine through.
The book falls into two unequal parts. Part 1, the shorter section, contains his own admission of failure, and then answers the question--What right have we to see Jesus throughout the Old Testament. Instead of being content with quoting a single reference such as Luke 24:44, he looks at the testimony of four key New Testament figures--Jesus, Peter, Paul and John--and unpacks both the evidence and objections.
Section 2 is much longer and looks at how to see Jesus in 10 different aspects of the Old Testament--the Creation, the People, the Angel of The Lord, in the Law, in History, in the Prophets, in the Types, in the Covenants, in Proverbs, and in the Poetic books.
Throughout Murray gives numerous helpful, and almost annoyingly alliterative (!), principles in each section to enable you to see Christ in a variety of ways in each genre. He provides safeguards so that you don't fall into the dangers of turning insignificant details into unfounded illustrations of Christ's work, as many have done.
One of my favourite parts of the book was the chapter on Creation--Christ's Planet--and the way Murray draws out the fact that the earth is not just the arena for redemption, but that everything was created with redemption in mind. It is the accessory of redemption. We are used to thinking of this with marriage, created by God as an illustration of Christ's love for his bride the church. But Murray points out so much more--from the creation of sheep to illustrate our need for a shepherd, to birds to teach us not to worry, to trees and metal ore designed and put in place ready for his own crucifixion.
How about Old Testament characters--are they more than good or bad examples for us to follow or not as the case may be? Often this is how they are treated, but Murray shows us the problems with what he terms "The Heroes and Villains" approach, before setting out 13 ways such characters can point us to Jesus.
His chapter on Christ's Pictures--what theologians call types of Christ--provides four helpful guidelines, and a needed corrective to those who say that you can only legitimately call something a `type' if the New Testament identifies it as such.
Murray's closing chapter on Poetry deals with the Psalms and Song of Solomon. I would have loved to see a little more depth in the treatment of the Psalms, but his principles--we sing to Jesus, of Jesus, and with Jesus are helpful. His treatment of the Song of Solomon is helpful in a world and church gone mad on sex. Murray calls us to understand the Middle Eastern style of the Song, and to look at the emotional content rather than dissect every analogy. His principle of "Stop dissecting and start feeling" allows you to see the passionate love, the excitement, the generosity, the joy, the security that should exist between Christ and his bride.
One of the themes running through the book is that Old Testament believers grasped much more than we give them credit for. And when we realise that this was where the New Testament believers went to understand their salvation, and where Jesus himself went to grow in understanding of his work--this alone should encourage us to read the Old Testament with new eyes.
This is a great book, one that should be read by every Christian. It is clear accessible and packs a lot of teaching into a short space. In some ways Murray has had to give whirlwind overviews of massive theological topics in order to set the scene for seeing Christ. For example, he gives super overviews of the Covenants in scripture, and of how law and grace interact--all en route to showing us more of Jesus.
My only criticism of the book is that I would have wanted to see even more of Christ. Although Murray gives numerous examples, I would have liked to see more! In some ways it is a `how to book' In his Old Testament characters chapter, for example, I would have liked to seen more examples--something akin to Tim Keller's list of `Jesus is the truer and better...". I think a few more examples in each section would have allowed a greater feel for how to put all this to work, as well as warming our hearts even more.
However he has provided the tools, the map, and set me at the rock face where gold lies. It's time to go digging. Get Murray's book, read it and join me in the gold mine of the Old Testament.