Craning Necks: The Otherworldliness of Christianity

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From Edmund P. Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament:

The nations were drawn not simply by Israel, prospering under God’s blessing, but by the king of Israel, who was given encyclopedic knowledge. Solomon’s wisdom was compared with that of the wise men of the ancient world: he exceeds them all. The ideal of wisdom includes comprehensive inquiry into the world of creation. But Solomon diligently pursued biology as well as statecraft and literature. His wisdom was not parochial but international, cosmopolitan. Yet there would come a humble King who could quietly declare, “One greater than Solomon is here” (Mt. 12:42).

In the proverbs of Solomon no less than in the psalms of David, we are pointed toward Jesus Christ. The golden text of the book of Proverbs is: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov. 9:10). Apart from the Lord, the acquisition of knowledge is meaningless. The ultimate and supreme reality is not fire or water, as early Greek philosophy imagined, nor is it an abstract set of ideas. It is not “Being.” It is the living God, who revealed Himself to Israel, and summoned the nations of the earth to heed His word…

Knowing and fearing the Lord is therefore the beginning of all of our thinking, the realistic thinking that will direct our lives (Prov. 3:5, 7; 12:15)…By calling us to make God the Lord of our knowing as well as our living, the wisdom literature directs us toward the personal revelation of God in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the wisdom books and psalms of the Old Testament also prepare for Christ in a negative way: “’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’” (Eccl. 1:2).

The despair expressed in the book of Ecclesiastes has a particular place in the history of God’s saving work. The promises of God have been kept. The people of God now live in their land; they have not only their daily bread but milk and honey besides.

…The working man labors all his life, but what does he have to show for it at last…The “Preacher” of Ecclesiastes does, indeed, point to the only possible resolution of the enigmas of life…There is more to come: a greater rest than rest from Philistine invaders, a greater peace than Solomon could provide, a greater inheritance than the land of promise. There is more to come, because God is to come. When He comes, death the devourer will be devoured in victory (Is. 25:8; 1 Cor. 15:54-56). Suffering as well as death is a problem confronted in the wisdom sections of the Old Testament. David’s cry to the Lord in the laments of his Psalms leads us to the promise of God’s deliverance.

 

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One Response to Craning Necks: The Otherworldliness of Christianity

  1. RubeRad says:

    The golden text of the book of Proverbs is: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”

    That may be true, but how does that point to Christ specifically, rather than God (the trinitarian Father specifically — or even just the naturally revealed creator)? “Know the Lord” is a terrifying duty for a sinner.

    I would say that Clowney is spot-on with “the wisdom books and psalms of the Old Testament also prepare for Christ in a negative way.” Take out the ‘also’ there, and that covers all of Solomon’s writings. Law, law, law.

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