I’m currently coming to the end of a series on Leviticus, because I’m one of those sick freaks who actually enjoys reading that book. Deuteronomy gives me excitement and hope. When I read the prophets, I am not lost in a bunch of prophetic mumbo-jumbo and poetic language, but am captivated with the words and how it all ties together the deepest most intimate details that I would have never even picked up on.
Let’s face it, though…
Not everyone enjoys the Old Testament. I met a woman who has been in Christ for decades and has yet to have even read the Old Testament through. Part of the problem is that we think we have to start in Genesis and work through Malachi. Part of the problem is that we try to read the Old Testament without reading the New Testament. Part of the problem is that we simply don’t understand the Old Testament.
Why bother? Isn’t it just ‘law’ anyway?
I write about this very thing off and on because I think the Old Testament is crucial. Isaiah puts it this way: We take root below and bear fruit above. Think of it this way. A tree is as sturdy as its roots. If the winds come, and they blow against that tree, the roots are going to keep the tree from falling over. It is from the roots that the branches suck nourishment for the leaves and fruit.
The roots of the faith are found in the Old Testament. In this particular case, the roots are the revelation of God as revealed through the prophets. Moses had a certain perception that he recorded. Though it is true that Leviticus and Deuteronomy are books of old covenant law, and even the latter half of Exodus records many things we don’t hold to directly, these things were patterned after the heavenly. What do I mean by that?
In Exodus 25:9, you find God commanding Moses to build the Tabernacle after the pattern that he is shown. When you read the measurements, they often come in halves. Why halves? Why not the full cubit? It is almost as if there is a counterpart somewhere else that completes the earthly Tabernacle, Ark, table for show bread, etc. Could it be the Heavenly Tabernacle? Though we don’t specifically practice the sacrifices of Leviticus 1-7, we see that they are reflections of a heavenly sacrifice, namely Christ. It is that heavenly reality that we are desiring to understand.
The roots of the faith, strangely enough, stem upward to heaven. We look back to the Old Testament, knowing it contains within it patterns and types. The various pieces of the Temple, the sacrifices, the commandments, and even the prophetic visions and oracles lead us to heavenly realities that we didn’t quite understand until the revelation of Christ. It was after Jesus had resurrected and ascended, and after the day of Pentecost that it began to catch on. The New Covenant isn’t ‘new’ because it no longer requires the old. It is new because it is the heavenly reality instead of the earthly pattern. It is the eternal covenant.
Why should we read the Old Testament? Well, if we’re going to read it simply because we’re supposed to, we won’t understand it. Yet, if we read it with the knowledge that it explains to us the mysteries of heaven, suddenly it becomes a little clearer as to what it is that we’re reading. The Exodus from Egypt is now both personal and eschatological. It is personal because I can see in my own salvation that I’ve been brought out of darkness and into His marvelous light. It is eschatological because I can see in Revelation (as well as the prophets) a “new exodus” taking place, and many of the plagues of Egypt are repeated in Revelation through the trumpets and bowls of wrath.
Suddenly the narratives make a whole lot more sense. They are patterns and foreshadowing. Jesus was a son of David, not only biologically, but even in being the type that David patterned. Just as David defeated Goliath and delivered Israel from the hands of the enemy, so too does Jesus triumph over the principalities and powers.
Suddenly the Tabernacle and garments and utensils used in the Tabernacle make a whole lot more sense. For example, in Revelation 4 we see the heavenly throne room. There are twenty-four other thrones with twenty-four elders. 1 Chronicles 24 tells us of 24 priestly families. They are dressed in white, which was the robe of the priests, and the wear crowns of gold, which the priests wore. The priestly crown read across the front, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD”. Before the throne were seven lamps, and in the Tabernacle before the Holiest Place was the seven branched menorah (Leviticus 24). There is a sea of glass, which we also find in 1 Kings 7:23-45. There are living creatures, which we see in Ezekiel 1 as carrying the throne just like the Levites would carry the Ark of God. In 1 Kings 6:19-28 we read of two cherubs (living creatures) in the inner sanctuary, and there were two cherubs on the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:22).
Does it make sense? We read the Old Testament to better understand the heavenly archetype. We read the Old Testament to suck from our roots, and not expect that the apostles are good enough. The apostles, and even Jesus, constantly quote from the Old Testament, because the Old Testament is our lifeblood. This is where God has revealed Himself, if we are only willing to humble ourselves and find Him there in the least likely of places.