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!  🙂


Heaven Quote of the Day

is given here.  which is:

But we DO need to ask some very tough questions of ourselves. Maybe if we weren’t so consumed with the question of who is “in” and who is “out” we might find a tougher question to ask, but one that is more relevant. Maybe we need to ask how God is going to redeem and renew his creation through us? Maybe if we ask THAT question, we’ll find we have something to actually do in our lives. The destination may not be the point. God transforming life may be the point. This seems to be what “____”  is aiming us at in this discussion.

Well, sometimes the problem one can encounter in writings one can tend to disagree alot more than one agrees with, is instances where the obvious is so well stated that it is a hidden strawman.   Who, among those who are looking forward to being “in heaven” with our Triune God,[1] would disagree with the fact that in our journey to eternity, “God transforming life” takes place along the way?

It is not that the point isn’t well taken, it is just that it seems maybe it is a bit overstating the obvious?  I mean, I know there are groups of Christians who tend to be “so heavenly minded they ain’t no earthly good,” such that they seem to be ignorant of or just not thinking about the fact that the journey to “heaven” involves a rare practice called “discipleship” and “tranformation” or “spiritual formation.”   I understand that and I suppose perhaps the scholar in reference is just working to that end, to remind folks of the transformative process of the Christian life….

well, anways, my offer in the comments over there still stands!  🙂


[1] note that in many instances the word Heaven in the Bible are often euphemisms for God so that “Heaven” and God are basically the same thing.  To “go to heaven” is to be with God, etc.

my top books of 2009

since its the end of the year and we all like to and try to read as much as we can here are the one ones I read that had an impact on my in different ways.  please know too that beacause I am a pastor my reading will not be limited specifically to biblical studies or theology. 

Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable Plant: An Exploration in Vocational Holiness (Eerdmans, 1994). 

David Alan Black’s Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications, 2nd ed (Baker Academic, 2000). 

Howard Snyder’s The Community of the King, Revised Ed. (IVP, 2004).

Micheal Wittmer’s Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything you do Matters to God (Zondervan, 2004). 

Jerry Cook and Stanley Baldwin’s Love, Forgiveness, Acceptance: Equipping the Chruch to be Truly Christian in a Non-Christian World (Regal Books, 1979) (reprinted, 2009). 

Anderw Purves’s Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation (WJK, 2004). 

T. F. Torrance’s Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (IVP: 2008).

Tony Merida, Faithful Preaching: Declaring Scripture with Responsibility, Passion, and Authenticity (B&H Academic, 2009).

New Book: Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God

Nick and others have been blogging on Michael E. Wittmer’s latest book Don’t Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough.  Zondervan 2008.   Nick’s reviews and others of this book are at the Koinonia blog.   Well, They were good reviews and all but since I hadn’t read him before I wanted to read his book on Heaven.  Based on the descriptors, NT Wright may not be the first to remind us all we’re not going to heaven, etc.  Though he may be the most vocal or the one everyone will remember saying such. 

heavenSo, I wrote Andrew Rogers and asked if I could read and review Wittmer’s book Heaven is place on Earth: Why everything you do matters to God.  Zondervan, 2004.   So I got it today and plan to give it a read and get back to you all. 

From the website:

Drawing heavily on the story of Scripture without minimizing the tension between this world and the world to come, this book persuasively explains how our next life actually supplies deep significance for the life we enjoy now encouraging us to celebrate creation, hone our humanity, and extend the grace of redemption to every corner of our existence.

I don’t want to go to heaven.  Not that I’m lobbying for the other place . . . —Michael Wittmer
This planet is more than just a stopover on your way to heaven.  It is your final destination. God wants you to enjoy your earthly existence, and to think otherwise is to miss the life he intends for you.
Exploring the book of Genesis, Heaven Is a Place on Earth gently but firmly strips away common misconceptions of Christianity and broadens your worldview to reveal the tremendous dignity and value of everyday life.  Taking you from creation, to the fall, to redemption, and to glimpses from the book of Revelation, Michael Wittmer opens your eyes to a faith that encompasses all of life—baseball games, stock reports, church activities, prayer, work, hobbies . . . everything that lies within the sphere of human activity.  To be fully Christian is to be fully human, says Wittmer, alive and responsive to the kingdom of God in all that you are and all that you do.
Discover the freedom and impact God created you for.  It starts with a truly Christian worldview.  And its fruit is the undiluted gospel, powerful not only to save souls, but to restore them to a life that is truly worth living.
Includes discussion/reflection questions after each chapter.

Should be an interesting read!  I look forward to it! 

The New Heavens and New Earth!

I was reading part of Isaiah this morning (the fifth gospel) and wanted to share a passage from Isaiah 65:17-25;

17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind

18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.

19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more

20Never again will there be in it
infants who live but a few days,
or older people who do not live out their years;
those who die at a hundred
will be thought mere youths;
those who fail to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.

21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.

23 They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,
they and their descendants with them.

24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.

25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain
says the LORD.

No Heaven?

So, Is NT Wright? That “heaven” is not our home?

I admit I am not a big fan of the Bishop of Durham, he can be interesting but when reading him I constantly feel like he is trying to avoid something, not sure what it is just yet.

Here is a key quote from the CT article linked above (really an excerpt from a book):

The traditional picture of people going to either heaven or hell as a one-stage, postmortem journey represents a serious distortion and diminution of the Christian hope. Bodily resurrection is not just one odd bit of that hope. It is the element that gives shape and meaning to the rest of the story of God’s ultimate purposes. If we squeeze it to the margins, as many have done by implication, or indeed, if we leave it out altogether, as some have done quite explicitly, we don’t just lose an extra feature, like buying a car that happens not to have electrically operated mirrors. We lose the central engine, which drives it and gives every other component its reason for working. [Italics mine]

Is it just me or it this a non-sequitur? (something that doesn’t follow). How does the hope of heaven diminish the reality of the resurrection? It also seems like he is building a strawman argument because those who long for heaven do not downplay the hope of resurrection nor think they won’t be . Its a both and. I understand he has a problem with people saying we’ll be with God in heaven forever and that he is saying to be in heaven is to be with God – not in a particular location per se. Fine. However, all I see him doing is trying to redefine the terms and this really just confuses people rather than bring clarity, in my opinion.

Please feel free to dialogue with me about this. But to me this is one of the things NT Wright does best: build houses of cards with non-sequitors and straw man arguments.

What say you?