David Murray Thomas Nelson 2013-08-20

David Murray was a pastor in Scotland before accepting his present position as professor of Old Testament and practical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and recently becoming pastor of the Free Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. Writing with a covenant point of view (although he refers positively to dispensational authors like John Walvoord and Michael Rydelnik), Murray has produced an important book about how to understand the Old Testament and Christ. Do not be fooled by the simplicity of the title. This is a deeply theological, biblically based treatise written in an easily read, well-organized style.

Starting with Jesus’ teaching about Himself from the Hebrew Scriptures to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Murray expands on passages from the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings (Luke 24:25–27, 44–45). He clearly presents Christ from Genesis 3:15 to the establishment of His kingdom and eternal rule.

Murray’s ten areas of finding Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures are: Christ’s Planet: Discovering Jesus in the Creation; Christ’s People: Discovering Jesus in the OT Characters; Christ’s Presence: Discovering Jesus in His OT Appearances; Christ’s Precepts: Discovering Jesus in the OT Law; Christ’s Past: Discovering Jesus in OT History; Christ’s Prophets: Discovering Jesus in the OT Prophets; Christ’s Pictures: Discovering Jesus in the OT Types; Christ’s Promises: Discovering Jesus in the OT Covenants; Christ’s Proverbs: Discovering Jesus in the OT Proverbs; and Christ’s Poets: Discovering Jesus in the OT Poems. Murray writes that Jesus can be found in every era and genre of Old Testament writing.

In chapter 7, “Christ’s Planet: Discovering Jesus in the Creation,” Murray writes, “Jesus made all the arrangements for redemption at the creation. He planned it. He designed the arena. He created humanity in such a way that we would better understand what we ought to be in and can be through His work of new creation. He has furnished us with multiple visual aids that provide us with daily sermons. He has sent angels to serve those who are and who will be heirs of salvation. He designs the stages of redemption to illustrate and explain the way salvation progresses in the soul. He set up Adam as a representative man, who sadly chose death, so that we will grasp Jesus’ representative work that brings life. He institutes marriage and the Sabbath to underline that salvation is about relationship and rest. He prepares a heavenly kingdom to house all His saved ones. He has done it all. He is so, so good” (p. 52).

Chapter 8, “Christ’s People: Discovering Jesus in the OT Characters,” offers Murray’s criticism of the biographical (“heroes and villains”) approach to the OT. “Statistics seem to support the view that there are far too many man-centered sermons today. According to a study by Preaching and Pulpit Digest, ‘85% of sermons are anthropocentric. Most sermons are not grounded in the character, nature, and will of God’ ” (p. 56). According to Murray the heroes and villains approach is moralistic, feelings based, fragments the Bible, Christ-less, skips over the original meaning, and is too individualistic (pp. 56–58). He counters by offering his response that these “spiritual biographies” should be used “in a more Christ-centered way . . . keep God, not man, in the foreground; distinguish Christian morality from mere moralism by realizing that we need Jesus’ grace to obey any moral requirements and his forgiveness when we fall; avoid introspective subjectivism by looking away to Jesus; relate every story to the overarching plan of redemption; look for Jesus when studying Jesus’ people; find the original purpose for the original audience; and include the corporate and eternal perspective even when looking at individual earthly lives” (pp. 58–59). He completes the chapter by giving a number of ways these aims can properly draw lessons from OT biographies.

Murray also gives several examples of finding Jesus in the prophets (chap. 12). “Every Old Testament prophet reminds us of our need for a prophetic mediator and anticipates God’s provision of Jesus Christ, the Prophet” who is greater than Moses (p. 116). “The divine calling and commissioning of every Old Testament prophet point toward the divine calling and commissioning of Jesus Christ, the Prophet” (p. 117). “The carefulness and faithfulness with which the prophets heard and spoke the exact words of God, no more and no less, build expectation of the supreme carefulness and faithfulness with which Jesus Christ, the Prophet, heard and spoke what God revealed to Him” (117–18). “Every deficiency or inadequacy in the Old Testament prophets contrasts with the fullness and perfection of Jesus Christ, the Prophet of God. We see that looking back, but the Old Testament believers also saw that looking forward” (p. 119).

Supplemental questions for each chapter in the back of the book help the reader bring more thought to the book. They make a good addition for Bible study, both personal and group, as well as helping someone who is new to the faith understand the importance of reading the entire Bible and understanding why it is important to read the Old and New Testaments as one book. Another benefit of the book is that it introduces important works that complement Murray’s work: Jonathan Edwards (History of Redemption), Patrick Fairbairn (Typology of Scripture), Graeme Goldsworthy (According to Plan), Christopher Wright (Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament), O. Palmer Robertson (The Christ of the Covenants), Richard Pratt (He Gave Us Stories), Michael Rydelnik (Messianic Hope), and many more.

The pastor, professor, Bible student, and anyone interested in the relationship between the Old and New Testaments will find Murray’s book extremely useful. 

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