Author’s Note: I am indebted to Dr. Timothy Keller for this post. He is far, far better at what I’m going to make an attempt at below.
Some of you see the Old Testament the way I used to. Namely, that it is made up of tons of disconnected, unrelated stories.
But this has changed for me.
A few years ago, Jana and I were celebrating our anniversary in Paris, and there were two museums that we had to stop and visit. One was the Louvre (obviously). The other was the Salvador Dali museum. The Louvre is absolutely massive. Dali, not so much. The Louvre has art collected from all over the globe, and thousands upon thousands of pieces by hundreds of artists.
Dali’s place is a bit smaller as you can see. Want to know what’s on display in the Dali museum? Dali. Only Dali. And… it is FANTASTIC!!!
The Old Testament is more like the Dali museum than the Louvre.
Some of us open our Bibles and it feels like the Louvre. Where do I start? What’s the point? Who are all these people? What are all these symbols, dates, places, names, events, ahhhhh! It can drive us crazy if we open the Bible with the Louvre lenses.
But what if I told you the Bible was more like the Dali museum? Sure there’s lots of stuff in the museum, and if you aren’t paying attention, you could get lost. But the idea is this – there’s only one person on display there and every piece of art, every symbol, everything, is pointing to one individual…. and that individual is Jesus.
“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24.44-45)
Jesus is the better Adam. In Genesis, Adam chose to rebel, broke fellowship with God, and failed in the Garden of Eden. In the Gospels, Jesus, the second Adam, walked in obedience and did not fail his test in the Garden of Gethsemane. Instead of hiding from God and covering his shame, he went before God in prayer and covered the shame of all who were in the first Adam.
Jesus is the better Abel, who was innocent yet lost his life to his own kin. So too, Jesus’ blood was spilled at the hands of his Israelite brothers.
Jesus is the better Noah. Just as Noah built the ark to save people from the flood, so too Jesus became the true ark who absorbed the wrath of God so that all who would enter him would have eternal life.
Jesus is the better Abraham, who answered the call of God to go to a foreign country and walk in obedience by faith. And just as Abraham was told to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, God the Father would one day sacrifice his one and only son Jesus.
Jesus is the better Isaac, who carried wood to the place of his sacrifice just as Jesus would carry his cross of wood to Calvary.
Jesus is the better Jacob, who wrestled with God and walked away limping. Jesus wrestled with God in Gethsemane, and though wounded and limping, walked away from his grave blessed and victorious.
Jesus is the better Joseph, who after suffering was appointed to the right hand of the King of Egypt and extended forgiveness and provision to those who betrayed him. So too, Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God, extending grace and providing for us who also betrayed him.
Jesus is the better Moses. Just as Moses was the mediator between God and man and gave us the Law, so too Jesus is now the only mediator between God and man, giving us the Law of the New Covenant, which is not engraved on stones but is written on our hearts.
Jesus is the better rock that was struck in the desert, giving us water for everlasting life.
Jesus is the better bread that has come down from heaven. Just as the Israelites were fed in the wilderness by heavenly manna, the Christian is continually preserved by Jesus’ body.
Jesus is the better pillar of fire. Just as Moses and the people were led by a pillar of fire in their wanderings toward the Promised Land, so too Jesus is the light of the world who leads us home to the true Promised Land.
Jesus is the greater Samson, who in his last feat pulled the coliseum down upon himself and his enemies. Jesus pulled down the wrath of God upon himself and spared his enemies.
Jesus is the greater Boaz. Boaz redeemed Ruth and brought her and her despised people into community with God’s people. So too, Jesus redeemed his bride, the church, from all the nations of the earth and gave them an eternal community.
Jesus is the better David. Just as David killed the giant Goliath, who defied God and taunted his people, Jesus slew the giant Satan at Calvary and comforts the people of God.
Jesus is the greater King David. Rather than staying home from war, Jesus went to war. Rather than committing adultery like David, Jesus saved the prostitute and gave her back her dignity. Rather than covering up sin by murdering Uriah, Jesus, the true light, exposed sin and saved the dying criminal crucified beside him.
Jesus is the greater Solomon, and, because of his wisdom, when he taught it was not as one of the scribes.
Jesus is the better temple of God that we enter to worship the Lord.
Jesus is the greater Elijah, who, after defeating the false prophets of Ba’al, offered up the sacrifices at Mt.Carmel. So too, Jesus exposed the religious frauds for who they were and, rather than offering a sacrifice to prove Yahweh is the one true God, he is Yahweh’s sacrifice.
Jesus is the greater Nehemiah. Nehemiah rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem, but Jesus ushers in the city known as the New Jerusalem.
Jesus is the greater Esther, who risked her life by entering the palace of king Xerxes. But Jesus gave his life at Pilate’s palace.
Jesus is the better Job. Job suffered as an innocent man under the onslaught of Satan, and so too Jesus suffered as an innocent man and bore the wrath of God, the wrath of Satan, and the wrath of mankind. And just as Job’s friends were of no use to him in his agony, Jesus’ disciples slept when he was in great distress.
Jesus is the greater Jeremiah, who in exile was known as the weeping prophet just as Jesus, the man of many sorrows, wept at Lazarus’ grave and over those living in exile in their own land.
Jesus is the greater Isaiah, who saw some future events unfolding. So too, Jesus has perfect knowledge of eternity past and eternity future.
Jesus is the greater Hosea, who married an unfaithful, whoring wife yet pursued her in love. Jesus does the same and more for his unfaithful bride, the Church, every hour.
Jesus is the greater Jonah. Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish because he ran from the will of God, and, by God’s power, he appeared again and proclaimed God’s Word, which led to the salvation of the Ninevites. But Jesus spent three days in the grave because he ran toward the will of God, faithfully preached the gospel, and appeared three days later, which led to the salvation of the world.
On and on it goes. Jesus is not only the true and greatest of all the people in the Bible - He radically recycles everything in the Old Testament according to his person and work.
He is the better prophet.
He is the better High Priest.
He is the better King of all Kings.
He is the better lamb to be sacrificed.
He is the better.