Book Review: Christ and the Desert Tabernacle

It’s with thanks to Shaun Tabatt owner of Cross Focused Media, LLC, which serves the Christian publishing community providing social media and literary publicity services, such as book reviews and blog tours, for the opportunity to review J.V. Fesko’s Christ and the Desert Tabernacle (EP Books, 2012) .

Christ-and-the-desert-tabernacleI admit it.  I like reading and seeing the Scriptures from the perspective of redemptive history.  I do.  I know there are those who do not and feel it violates the purpose and intention of the Old Testament writers and that it is in the realm of theology and not bilical studies.  They feel the Old Testament needs to be left to speak for itself and on its own terms.  I understand why folks feel this way.

But (there is always a “but” in there somewhere right?) in light of the life of Christ, I think it is near impossible not to do that.  For even the New Testament authors themselves at times utilized a redemptive historical approach in interpreting the person and work of Jesus Christ.  You could say they may have even done a tinsy winsy bit scripture twisting to get their interpretations across.  The simple fact of the matter is, once Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, everything anyone in that time knew or understood about the Hebrew Scriptures, changed.  I just don’t see a way around it.

In light of this, in reading Fesko’s Christ and the Desert Tabernacle we are able to see the meaning of nearly every aspect of the Tabernacle in the light of Christ, that in fact, each piece is a shadow in some way of the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Fesko does not use the term “redemptive historical” or say that that is the approach he is using but really it is.  In this book he hopes

to be able to show readers, young and old alike, that far from being boring or uninteresting, the Old Testament tabernacle, and later the Temple in Solomon’s day, is a shadowy picture of Christ and the church…. the Old Testament tabernacle is literally an entire world of references, allusions, and foreshadows of Christ and the church.  One not need go very far to uncover the connections between Jesus and the Old Testament tabernacle  – the New Testament reveals them to us (12).

From the first chapter on building materials, to the ark of the covenant, to the bread of presence and the lampstand and oil, to the priestly garments and consecration of the priests, to the altar of incense you will see and learn, and hopefully be ministered to by the ministry of the work of Christ.

We see the Letter to the Hebrews (written by Paul right Dr Dave?  😉 ) chapters 8-9, the ministry of Christ in the true tabernacle made by God, everything we see in the Old Testement account of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25-31).  The Old Testament Tabernacle was a shadow of the things to come, a type of the heavenly temple.

Hebrews 8:8

Now the main point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent[a] that the Lord, and not any mortal, has set up. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent,[b] was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” 

Hebrews 9:

11 But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come,[h] then through the greater and perfect[i] tent[j] (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

So, there is good biblical support for looking at things from a point of view of redemptive history and I think Fesko did well with is book and I think it would be a good resource for when preaching through the book of Exodus or on the Tabernacle.

Good book!  Get it.  Read it.  Digest it!  🙂


on the Ten Commandments

as part of my recent amazon order I received Patrick Miller’s The Ten Commandments: Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church in WJK’s Interpretation Series.  This is going to be an amazing and interesting read for me.  How many of us fully realize how much the Scriptures center around the Ten Commandments and any ethical and life implications that come from them?

What do you think about this quote from Luther?

This much is certain: those who know the Ten Commandments perfectly know the Scriptures and in all affairs and circumstances are able to counsel, help, comfort, judge, and make decisions in both spiritual and temporal matters

From Large Catechism, in Kolb and Wengart, Book of Concord, 382, as quoted in Patrick D. Miller’s the Ten Commandments (WKJ 2009), 1.

If you have a solid understanding of the Ten Commandments and their basic meaning, an you pretty much know the Scriptures and provide solid pastoral counsel?

New Book: USPS edition

with much thanks to Jeff, I now have a copy of Patrick Miller’s work The Way of the Lord: Essays in Old Testament Theology (Eerdmans, 2007).  I first learned of Miller’s work when taking an exegesis of the Psalms class at Fuller Seminary NW in Seattle (before going to AGTS).  I like his work and am glad Jeff got this for me.

Here is a description:

The essays in this volume represent a theological interpretation especially focused on the Decalogue and the Psalms. The essays on the Commandments lay out an understanding of them as a kind of constitutional guideline for the life of the community of faith that is then developed in many specific and illustrative ways in the rest of Scripture – legislation, narrative, prophetic oracle, psalm, and wisdom saying.

The various treatments of the Psalms focus especially on the way in which the Psalter is a book of theology as much as it is a collection of hymns and prayers. The final section of the book continues the theological reading of the Old Testament with some specific attention to the methodological issues as well as to aspects of the character of God and the nature of the human.

Contents include: The place of the Decalogue in the Old Testament and its law; The sufficiency and insufficiency of the commandments; Metaphors for the moral; The good neighbor: identity and community through the commandments; The story of the first commandment: The book of Exodus; The story of the first commandment: The book of Joshua, The psalms as a meditation on the first commandment; The commandments in the reformed perspective; “That It May Go Well with You”; The commandments and the common good….

The ruler in Zion and the hope of the poor: Psalms 9-10 in the context of the Psalter; The poetry of creation: Psalm 104, The hermeneutics of imprecation, Prayer and worship, The Psalter as a book of theology, What is a human being? The anthropology of the Psalter I, The sinful and trusting creature: The anthropology of the Psalter II, Constitution or instruction? The purpose of Deuteronomy, “Slow to Anger” the God of the prophets, What the scriptures principally teach, Theology from below: the theological interpretation of scripture, Man and woman: towards a theological anthropology.

Now doesn’t that sound wonderfully delicious!!?  lol!  Looking forward to getting into this one.

on the power of the biblical languages

I was thinking the other day on a drive home from Flagstaff (the pic above is part of the drive) about how some people tend to play down the necessity of knowing or even understanding the biblical languages as they relate to church ministry (you know, those ones that say your knowledge of Hebrew or Greek won’t matter to the spouse of a dying loved one, etc).  I find these kinds of statements somewhat misinformed because I think it is irrelevant to the whole issue of doing any sort of ministry.  There are times of pastoral care and times of biblical teaching and both are needed and I happen to think knowing the languages can empower you in ministry in more ways than one.

Empowerment – that what I think the greatest value of knowing the languages can entail – being able to utilize the biblical languages and associated tools can be incredibly empowering – how so?

It empowers you to make your own decisions about what the Bible is says (or what any one text might say) – and I think that has to be the single best benefit to knowing the biblical languages (or at least being able to interact with them in a way that is profitable).   Obviously, this is going to be in conjunction with checking a good commentary after you are done working with the text or perhaps even as you are working the text – (you don’t have to agree with the commentator!  🙂 ).  We always want to check our work and not let it be done in isolation, but larger point I want to share is the overall effect of all that hard work learning and studying Bible languages (i.e., Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc). It is very empowering.

As an example when I was in seminary I did an exegetical paper on Exodus 24:9-12 where Moses and others went up the mountain and ate a meal with the Lord – I remember reading through Brevard Child’s commentary on this section and him getting all fired up because part of the passage was supposedly difficult to translate and this and that.  Well….  🙂 being able to utilize my copy of Waltke-O’Conner’s beast of a syntax book (a work you all need to have) and taking some time to think about the syntax of the passage (something that is a necessary element of understanding how the languages work) I was empowered to make my own decision about the translation of the passage and not get all in a fit like Childs did (though his consternations over the passage was certainly understandable)!

update: here are more specifics about how I decided to handle the passage:

basically Child’s was getting all bent out of shape about the syntax of verse 12 and in particular the phrasing “and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments,” stating “The syntax of v 12ff is particularly baffling” (see his commenatry, 499).  He got all fired up about the translation of the waw connected to torah as either a conjunction “and” as in “and the teaching and the commandment…” (remember this is based of the MT not the English) or as an explicative as in “namely the teaching and the commandment…” He seemed to think the verse had somehow been expanded and thus confused the syntax (strange coming from such an esteemed scholar) – but then I spent some time looking over Waltke-O’Conner and decided it didn’t have to be as complex as Childs seemed to be making it – I figured the waw was an expexegetical waw serving to further explain why the Lord wanted Moses to come up further on the Mountain – to give him the stone tables (this waw is connected to the word for “give”).  Then the waw connected with torah is a circumstantial waw allowing for the translation “with” (Cf., the NIV for this verse) as in “the stone tablets with the law and the commandments…”

So I just tried to use some of the tools to make my own decisions and not let Childs get me all wound up over the syntax of the passage.

So, press on in learning the languages – they will benefit you in many ways!

Book Review: Leaving Left Behind

Thanks to pastor and author Roger Snow, who emailed me about his book Fifty Ways to Leave Left Behind subtitled: Seeing Exodus as the Pattern for Understanding Revelation (Tate Publishing, 2007), which he then kindly sent to me for review.  The review has been a long time in coming and I apologize to him for that.  He also has a CD of songs he wrote that were inspired by this study, which I admit I have not listened to extensively.

In Fifty Ways, Pastor Roger Snow seeks to free Christians from doom and gloom perspectives on the Book of Revelation – particularly those often fostered by the Left Behind books.   In the forward to the book, friend Ronny Ross writes, “While others profit with stories of our Lord’s Church needing to be rescued from disaster, Fifty Ways shouts, “Look up!  Christ wins!”  (13).

One of my professors in seminary talked about how it always seemed that when it came to the book of Revelation normal hermenutical standards usually went out the door.  He wasn’t sure why this was the case but it just seemed that with Revelation people just have trouble keeping things on track.   Probably part of the problem is all the different symbolism and figurative language used that makes it hard to discern what they mean – it just so enigmatic in so many different ways.  Well, just as with other genres of Scripture we know there are certain hermenutical keys to understanding each different type of genre, there are certain hernemutical keys needed to unlock our understanding of the book of Revelation.  For example, there is what I like to call the Joseph hermeneutic.   Just as Joseph understod Pharoah’s two dreams to be one and the same, so too should John’s visions be seen as one and the same (from different perspectives).  God is showing John what is about to happen and the matter has been firmly decided, etc.

Roger Snow’s book, Fifty Ways, provides us with one essential hermenutical key that will help us understand the basic flow of the book of Revelation and that is the storyline.  In this book Snow argues that the storylines of both the book of Exodus and the book of Revelation are one and the same.  “Exodus is the type, Revelation the fulfillment.  Moses is the type, Jesus is the greater Moses.  Moses lead the people out of Egypt, but Jesus has already led a greater exodus than Moses ever dreamed of”  (22).  This is a good key (perhaps I could call it the Exodus hermenutic?).   This is a real eye opener because once one begins to see the parallels it really opens up what is going on in the Revelation.  And once one realizes what the situation really is, one is faced with the choice to either go with how it really is or to ignore that and go on with a Left Behind bunker/doom and gloom kind of mentality about the end times.

While perhaps John integrates many aspects of the Old and New Testaments into his work – the basic story line mirrors that of the book of Exodus.  Snow takes a chapter to set up his case and help us get the big picture (21-38).  Then he offers 50 parallels between the two books (that’s right 50!) and goes through and comments on each of the 50 parallels between the storyline of Exodus and compares it to the storyline of Revelation (39-148).

What is the basis of this thesis? We all want to know the point and purpose of the book of Revelation.  It has for centuries remained an enigma, no?  Roger Snow’s book is one person’s effort to help bring clarity and understanding to the purpose and intent of Revelation – through the mirror image produced by the book of Exodus.  In comparing the two books, we can see the intent and purpose – redemption.

What is the basic storyline? Oppression – War – Victory – Matrimony.   The beginning of both books note the oppression of God’ people, the plagues and the seals are the war against the people of God’s enemies; Victory is seen in the Exodus and crossing of the red (reed?) sea and the casting of Satan and the Beast into the Lake of Fire.  Matrimony comes when God dwells with is people in the Tabernacle in the Shekinah glory and so on.

I do not want to give too much more information than that  but the parallels are striking and indeed compelling. I’ll say that I am convinced.  I left the Left Behind kind of thinking long ago but reading the book sure did help me see the gist of the point of The book of Revelation, which is really Snow’s goal, to help regular people see the basic gist of the storyline and end goal of the Revelation, even if we do not understand all the symbols or their meaning – but knowing the basic thrust really helps to relieve one of the Left Behind doom and gloom mentality that often gets associated with understanding Revelation, that is , if one is willing to face the evidence and go with it.

I support the thesis of this book and think it is a great asset to works on Revelation.  If anything, one person who endorses the book notes it is along the work of Greg Beale but on a more popular level – If that is the case I think that is all the better since not all are able to get into Beale’s massive work on the Revelation.