When we look at events in the history of the Old Testament then, with these points in mind, it has several effects. It means first that whatever significance a particular event had, in terms of Israel’s own experience of God and in the articulation of their faith, is affirmed and validated. ‘What it meant for Israel’ does not just evaporate in a haze of spiritualization when we reach the New Testament. At the same time, secondly, we may legitimately see in the event, or in the record of it, additional levels of significance in the light of the end of the story – i.e. in the light of Christ. And thridly, conversely, the Old Testament event may provide levels of significance to our full understanding of all that Christ was and said and did.” Christopher Wright, Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament

One of the lessons I had hammered into me in seminary by Doug Green, an Old Testament professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, was the value of having both a first and a second reading of Old Testament. In the first reading you allow the text to be situated in its original context and ask yourself what did this mean to them before the end of the story came in Christ. In other words you ask yourself where did they think things were headed, and what were they building upon themselves. In the second reading you then apply what you know of the end of the biblical story to the Old Testament passage in Christ and place yourself in relation to him and them in the story.

Like Christopher Wright above, Doug saw that scripture’s meaning to them wasn’t to be spiritualized or disregarded just because we have the end of the story in Christ. Often times you can’t see just how surprising or how significant Christ is apart from a good first reading. And you take your cultural and ecclesiology baggage for granted, all the while missing the Christ of the biblical story… 

(Photographic art, “Dark & Light“)