When we open our Bibles the first thing we realize is that the Old Testament occupies more than half of its pages. We say that we love the whole Bible and we know that Jesus said in Matthew 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness about me.” We affirm this and, in some ways, seek ways to understand how all the law, the Prophets and the writings prepare us and point us to Him. But somewhere along the way, we struggle to see the connections. Many people then revert to thinking of the Old Testament as only a massive, historical story with many wonderful moral lessons.
This book, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament, is a wonderful gift for the modern church today. Edmund Clowney takes all the technical theological truths of Biblical Theology and makes it very simple for the reader to understand. He faithfully begins to tell us the unfolding redemption story of the Old Testament right from the eternality of Christ to the 1st and 2nd coming of Christ. As he tells the unfolding story he masterfully looks for more revelation given in the New Testament about the person or event and then he shows us how the reader is being prepared for the arrival of the Messiah. He takes important promises, shadows, and types from the Old Testament and beautifully connects them to Jesus Christ. For example, we hardly ever think that the “Elijah and the prophets of Baal” incident can be connected to Christ. But when the fire of God miraculously descended upon the altar, a familiar theme in the OT was struck. God’s true servants were vindicated and the enemies of God were judged. This was a small intrusion and foretaste of the great power display to come one day. The victorious Lord Jesus will descend and gather His elect unto Himself because they are justified by faith in Him and the enemies of Christ will be judged at that same event.
Many will find the section where he covers wisdom literature very helpful. King Solomon asked for wisdom and God gave him wisdom and great glory too. The queen of Sheba visited his kingdom and was truly amazed at the glory of his empire. And yet Jesus said that “one greater than Solomon is here”. Jesus Christ the God-man is truly, infinitely glorious. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead and yet he walked on this earth and appeared as a “man of sorrows acquainted with grief. With all the wisdom given to Solomon, he failed to apply it and his heart went astray after foreign women and unholy alliances. But the greater Solomon never fails us. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The simplest believer when he or she receives Christ in the Gospel, truly begins to understand heavenly wisdom for life!
Every chapter in this book ends with further study questions and application questions too. Therefore, it will be of great value to use it in a one-on-one discipleship setting or even a small group Bible study setting. Every Pastor, Elder or Bible study leader will be greatly benefited from reading it every few years, and be amazed and refreshed at the wonderful redemption story. I also believe it will be very helpful to include this book in training programs for Pastoral interns and seminary students. This book will probably be the best thing for them because it is vital for them to know how to preach the Old Testament in a Christ-centred way.