Theology

Musings on Old Testament Preaching, pt. 1

The Lord wants preachers. Yahweh Himself is a preacher. He preaches from the beginning. He preaches in wondrous unity yet in a beautiful chorus where each Person is heard and seen in His own distinctiveness and in the one glory which they all have. He is the God who creates. He creates, fashions, molds, and perfects by preaching.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

(Genesis 1:1–3)

The Spirit flutters and hovers, giving life to all that is. The Father preaches, and He preaches in and through the person of His own Son, the eternal Word. Yet it is one God who creates. For, “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God is one Yahweh.” (Dt. 6:4)

This Yahweh, who preached into existence all that we see and know, wants there to be preachers. It’s quite natural for this “Preaching God” to set up His “Preaching Office” to continue the preaching. So the man preaches names to all the living creatures, and “whatever the man [הָאָדָם] called each living creature, that was its name. So the man [הָאָדָם] gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam [לְאָדָם] there was not found a helper comparable to him.” (Gen 2:18–20)

Then, with the same care and love which caused Him to fashion His preacher, Yahweh makes a hearer for His preacher. “Yahweh God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to Adam.” (Gen 2:21–22) Then Preacher Adam, who preached names for the animals and even for himself, preaches and sings to his wife, “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman [אִשָּׁה], Because she was taken out of Man [אִשׁ].” (Gen 2:23)

Adam in his un-fallen wisdom knew instantly what Yahweh God had done and how He did it, and Adam in his perfect and holy wisdom, with great creativity and joy, doesn’t just preach plainly what God had done. He sings this song and uses it to preach not only his joy and thanksgiving, but Adam uses this song to preach to his wife what God had done for him and his wife who was taken from his side.

Adam’s preaching would continue. He wouldn’t just preach what his eyes saw and what his own thoughts and reason would tell him. He, as the first preacher (a perfect and holy preacher), would preach God’s Word. He preached what he had heard from Yahweh Himself. “Yahweh God commanded the man [הָאָדָם], saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:16–17) Adam heard this Word and preached it to his wife. Adam was certainly a creative fellow. He sang for his preaching. He wouldn’t only preach the Word verbatim, word-for-word, but he would use the gifts Yahweh had given him to preach the Word.

“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” ’ ” (Gen 3:2) The woman defends herself with what she has heard. The hearer says what her preacher preached. The fault is not in what is preached by Adam to his wife. Adam preached faithfully. The problem is when the true and holy preacher is silent and mute before the demonic and wicked preacher. No Sword of the Spirit was wielded that day to slay the ancient dragon. Adam’s mouth only opened to fill it with what would bring death to him, to his wife, and to all their children after them. “She took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Gen 3:6)

Yahweh is still a preacher. He doesn’t leave His people in silence. He preaches still more. He doesn’t leave preacher Adam with a Word of death: “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:17) Yahweh is a preacher of very good things. He preaches life in the midst of death, forgiveness in the midst of sin, conquering in the midst of defeat: “I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen 3:15)

Adam is again a preacher of righteousness. A preacher of Life, even as he preached the name of “Life” to his wife.(Gen 3:20) (“Eve” means “Life.”) Adam was a preacher of Life in this Seed who was to come.  Adam truly preached this “Seed of the woman” who would be sacrificed for sin. So did all the prophets after him. They preach until the time, “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Gal 4:4–5)

Yahweh’s a preacher. He preached all that is, and it was. Father preaching in and through the person of His Son, the Word, the Spirit filling that preaching with life as He fluttered over all things to fill it with life. Preacher Yahweh created and fashioned preacher Adam—but not just Adam. The preaching God created, fashioned, and instituted the preaching office. This is not just a New Testament office, but it was even in Old Testament times. Some of the prophets preached with greater creativity than others, but all the while they preached the Word that was preached by Yahweh Himself, a preaching that points us to the preaching Seed, the Word, who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14) not only to die and rise to save us, but He came preaching Life, Light, and Truth. The same thing He’d been doing from the very beginning.

 

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