I’ve made it my goal over my Winter Break to read and digest a large quantity of books in a short period of time. It’s my pleasure to now write about one of these books, Jesus on Every Page by David Murray. This book has been on my list since it came out earlier this year, and I was very excited to finally get to read it.
The goal of Murray’s book is to overview 10 ways to see Christ throughout the Old Testament. Those various ways are listed below:
1. In the Creation
2. In the Old Testament Characters
3. In His Old Testament Appearances
4. In the Old Testament Law
5. In Old Testament History
6. In the Old Testament Prophets
7. In the Old Testament Types
8. In the Old Testament Covenants
9. In the Old Testament Proverbs
10. In the Old Testament Poems
Why This Book?
This book comes at a time where it is needed now more than ever. The Evangelical church is in a state where the Old Testament is hardly referenced, and when it is it is most often for morals or character examples rather than pointing to Christ. Not only for this reason, but David Murray also points out other reasons why a revitalization of the Old Testament in the Evangelical church is needed:
1. Liberal scholars have created an environment of skepticism and doubt shrouding the Old Testament.
2. Many Christians are ignorant of the Old Testament’s purpose and historical setting.
3. Still others find the Old Testament to be irrelevant in light of the New Testament.
4. The primacy of Dispensationalism in Evangelical churches tends to relegate the Old Testament to a minor role.
5. There are so many bad examples of Old Testament preaching that fuels peoples lack of interest.
7. People think the Old Testament is official, not personal (pgs. 6-7).
Interactions with the Text
It would be difficult to go in depth about each of the chapters in this book without writing at length or writing multiple posts. Instead I’d like to just write about a few moments (of many) that stuck out to me in the text and hope that is both informative for you as a reader and convincing enough to buy the book for yourself.
One thing that immediately jumped out to me is in the opening chapter on seeing Jesus in the creation. I was delighted to finally read a book that doesn’t turn Genesis 1-2 into a debate about creation or evolution, but instead teaches its intent for us as readers to see: the glory and majesty of Christ as creator and ruler over all of creation. Murray communicates this thought intimately and beautifully as he lists out the aspects of creation that point to Christ. A section I found really personal was titled “The Accessories of Redemption,” which discusses aspects of the creation that will ultimately be used as part of the plan to redemption. I’ve never thought about the creation with such questions as “What did he (Christ) think when he made the trees, one of which would one day suspend him between heaven and earth? (pg. 47)” When we think of all Christ did in creation despite his foreknowledge of our rebellion, we learn so much about his character and love for us.
I also appreciated David’s approach to the Old Testament characters. One thing is for sure: more often than not we tend to preach the Old Testament in a very man-centered fashion. This approach says we need to have faith like Abraham, forgive like Joseph, and have strength like David. In contrast, Murray shows us how we should instead read the Old Testament characters of old as shadows, types and pointing to Christ and his character. This approach leads us away from man-centered moralism and instead to Christ-centered doxology.
I was also overjoyed to see a chapter on the Old Testament appearances of Christ, also known as theophanies or christophanies. It is wise to learn and observe that when God reveals himself or speaks in the Old Testament it is always through the Son. Charles Drew refers to these appearances as love letters or phone calls between two lovers, acts which are temporary and create anticipation for the genuine arrival (pg. 81-82). Or, as some of Murray’s Scottish friends have said, “Christ enjoyed trying on the clothes of his incarnation.”
Another discussion that would benefit many people is that of Christ as the Wisdom spoken of in the book of Proverbs. It would be unwise for me to go into lengthy discussion on this chapter, but I was awed at how the Proverbs continually point to Jesus Christ.
Like many great books, this text comes complete with a Scripture Index. This index is particularly helpful because it will be useful for future reference to find quick points, introductions and illustrations. In addition, the book contains sets of study questions for each chapter than could be used in a group context.
The only critique I would have for this book is not the content, but a preference about the style. Murray often references Scripture or various commentaries and sources through the use of footnotes. However, instead of including these footnotes on the bottom of the page they are located in the back of the book. I would have much rather seen these footnotes cited on the bottom of the page, particularly for the scripture references that are either paraphrased or not quoted directly.
All in all this is a great book and one that I would heartily recommend to anyone who struggles reading through the Old Testament or wants to pick up new pointers on seeing Jesus in the Old Testament text. While a short primer on the subject matter, it will continue to be a book I delve into for pointers and advice as I read through the Old Testament.