I am writing a book review!!! (See my last post.)
The Fulfillment, Jesus and the Old Testament by Timothy Tennent, Seedbed, 2015.
You can purchase here.
First, don’t let the title turn you off. This book IS for everyday Christian folks, and only 92 pages. The book is a smaller size (5×7), and if it had larger dimensions it could likely be considered a booklet.
Second, some pre-rambles. That is, preliminary rambles! I’ve recently preached twice on Old Testament passages, and to help the congregations better understand the passage I gave a birds-eye overview of the OT and connected it to Jesus. I received very positive and encouraging comments afterwards. Essentially they indicated that they had never heard the Old Testament trajectory explained in such an understandable way before! They had never quite “got it” and essentially saw the OT as disjointed or random stories without much relevance. One man wanted to know from what book I pulled my overview of the OT. Well, I did not use a certain book as I just know this from being a life-long student of the Bible. He also asked me for book suggestions, but books that came to my mind were too academic. But sitting at home in my “to read” pile was the perfect book! Too bad I had not already read it.
I also thought it a bit sad that these were all older Christians, in church their entire lives, and they had so little grasp of the Old Testament and its importance in bringing Jesus to us. I am NOT saying this to belittle them in any way! Rather, too many churches are not teaching their people. Or if they talk about an Old Testament figure, it is taught more like a random story and a “moral of the story” is pulled out for the listener. But what about linking it to God’s redemptive plan for this world?
This can qualify as apologetics! When Christians better understand the unifying themes that run through the Bible from beginning to end – this can give them confidence in the Scriptures and confidence in the sovereignty of God. God has a plan for this world, even though things may at times appear out-of-control from our human perspective.
Finally, this book! In the early part of his ministry, the author Timothy Tennent found himself pastoring a small church in a rural area. These hard-working folks did not have much free time for reading or study, but he wanted to help them understand the value of the Old Testament. It is impossible to truly understand the New Testament without a sufficient grounding in the Old. “To lack a basic knowledge of the Old Testament is a great hindrance to fully understanding Jesus Christ and how he fulfills various ideals and expectations in the Old Testament.” (page 4)
There are dozens of figures in the Old Testament, but Tennent thought that 4 key figures were paramount – and to not understand these 4 is to lose a major aspect of who Jesus is. Who are the 4? Adam, Abraham, Moses, David. “It is these figures who open up to us vast parts of the Old Testament as well as the full significance of Jesus Christ.” (page 5)
Those thoughts were in the introduction, and then follows 10 brief chapters that cover these figures. For example, chapter 1 is entitled “Adam: The Fall” and chapter 2 “Christ, the Second Adam.” Chapter 3 is entitled “God’s Global Plan to Abraham” and chapter 4 “Abraham Meets the King-Priest Melchizedek.” Etc.
I can’t think of a single way to negatively critique this book! It is written in a basic enough way to introduce new believers or uninformed Christians to important biblical and theological themes, yet it can also be helpful to more informed Christians. Indeed, it is easy to get lost in the details and we need to be reminded of essential truths. I found myself underlining well-worded thoughts in the book.
I think this book could be a valuable read for a Sunday school class or small group. It does not contain discussion questions, but a capable leader should not have a problem highlighting content and guiding a group in thoughtful discussion.
In close, I’ll share an illustration from the book. Years ago a well-known evangelism illustration featured a train engine, coal car, and caboose. The engine was identified as fact, the next car as faith, and the last car as feeling. We place our faith in the historical fact of what Jesus did for us. Feelings come last, as our feelings can fluctuate, and we should not rely on them. You may or may not like that way of illustrating things, but the point Tennent made was this: He saw the illustration for 35 years before finally noticing something amiss about it! Something was missing. What? Train tracks! Trains cannot run without tracks!
“If I can press the image, God’s great train of redemption can’t run without tracks. This is why Jesus was not sent into the world in Genesis 3….It turns out that this entire devotional book is really about God laying the tracks so the train of redemption can come into the world. Without the big railroad ties of law, sacrifice, priesthood, vicariousness, faith, covenant, and so forth, the gospel train cannot run.” (page 43)
I highly recommend this little book to you!
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