Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Christ The Servant of The Covenant

Christ who is the Lord is also the Servant of the Lord. He is the true vine, the true Son, the true Israel. Where a righteous servant of the Lord appears in Old Testament history, it is the true Servant who is prefigured. God makes his covenant, claiming his people as his, and giving them a claim on him. “Lord” and “Servant” express that relation. The Lord’s demand to Pharaoh was, “Let my people go, that they may serve me” (Ex. 10:3, ESV). Serving the Lord means worship and obedience. Jesus Christ consummates the covenant relation from both sides. The Old Testament promises the coming of the Lord and also the coming of the Servant of the Lord. When the Lord condemns the failure of Israel’s shepherds to care for the sheep, he declares that he himself will come to shepherd them (Ezek. 34:11-16). He also says that he will set up one shepherd, his servant David, over them to feed them: “I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them” (Ezek. 34:24, NIV).

Old Testament history is prophetic history, describing covenant blessings, the covenant curse, and the wonder of God’s great salvation to come in the latter days. For the “day of the LORD” to come, for God’s kingdom to come, the covenant must be fulfilled from both sides. Hanson seeks to shrink typology in the New Testament by his interpretation of the terms that express it. He concludes that it was only beginning to infect the writers of the New Testament. Where it seems to have arrived, as in the sign of Jonah in Matthew’s account (Matt. 12:38-41), he is ready to suggest that it originated in the early church’s study of the Old Testament. He even pleads with respect to Jesus’ reference to the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14-15), that since no word for “type” is used, “we are left to draw the conclusion ourselves.”

It is true that the New Testament does not often speak of the way it interprets the Old, and we are often left to draw our own conclusions. But the grand structure is clear. What Jesus does as the Servant of the Lord cannot be described as a mere “‘parallel situation’ phenomenon,” a term Hanson uses to explain away the typical reference. He is right in insisting that the activity of the Lord himself in the Old Testament is not merely a type of his activity as Lord in the New Testament. However, the actions and roles of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, and the rest are not to be set alongside the person and work of Jesus Christ as less effective performances of the same kind of service. Leonhard Goppelt, in his article “typos” in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, and in his book entitled Typos, has shown the distinctiveness of Paul’s typology in Romans 5. It is found in Paul’s eschatological focus. The coming of the Messiah does not take us back to a golden age of the past, restoring its glories.

Rather, the coming of Christ brings the fulfillment, the realization of what was anticipated by God’s servants, the saviors, prophets, kings, priests, and judges of the Old Covenant. Countering other views, Goppelt says, “Instead, the typological idea of the consummation of God’s redemptive plan appears to be the heart of the Old Testament eschatology.” He acknowledges the theme of restoration, but insists that “the typological idea of consummation of salvation is the core; the concept of restoration provides the appropriate clothing”

Adapted from Preaching Christ in All of Scripture by Edmund Clowney

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