CHRISTOLOGICAL PREACHING ON HISTORICAL MATERIALS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT (2) - Rev. M. B. Van't Veer
Part 2 of 2
Here we really meet with a twofold method of exegesis. The four groups that I singled out are all nuances of the so-called exemplary method. One of its defenders described this method as "the right to treat certain persons who are described in Holy Scripture individually, with the use of Scriptural givens, to picture them psychologically, to speak of their struggles and difficulties, their strengths and their weaknesses, and then to draw a parallel between what the Bible saints went through and what a present day believer must struggle through" .
Now we should note carefully that we are here dealing with historical material. We are not, for example, speaking of the treatment of a text from the Psalms. Therefore we must state, in the first place, that none of us asserts that we know nothing of the soul struggles and experiences of the believers of the Old Testament, nor that we may not work this out in a sermon. Neither do I deny that David, Isaiah, etc. are included with us in the same spiritual struggle, and that they as well as the present day believers have known their periods of unbelief, doubt, fear, strong faith, great joy, etc. The Bible furnishes sufficient material for sermons on those subjects. But this is not the controversy. However, if the historical material is treated in accordance with the aforementioned rules, the Christological character of the text and the sermon is strained. Then straight lines are drawn between Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and others in their soul struggles and ourselves. Then this historical portion is not presented in the working out of the material as an accessory of that one history which pictures Christ in His coming into the world. Theoretically it will not be denied that each part should be seen in relation to the whole, but this does not affect the practical working out of the text. In this method of treatment the Christological element can hardly be "found" except by way of analogy or parallel, or by stressing in the "application" the fact that we are living in the new dispensation. This, however, does not begin to show the Christological character of the Scripture passage that has been treated in the sermon.
The problem is now narrowed down to the question, whether the historical material gives us the right and presents the possibility to picture specific persons, mentioned in the history, psychologically in their soul struggles. That must be the deciding factor.
Can such a presentation be harmonized with the historical description found in Old and New Testaments? We shall now enter into this question more fully.
In his Encyclopedia, Dr. A. Kuyper Sr. was so seriously concerned with the divergent character of the materials presented in Scripture that he spoke of a fourfold form of inspiration . That distinction makes it necessary to explain each material according to its own nature. Portions of Paul's letters will have to be exegeted according to other rules than the historical portions of the gospels; the lyrical portions (think of the Psalms) will call for another method than the prophetic. Of course, there is a unity in this diversity. There are rules that apply equally to all materials, because Scripture in all its parts comes to us as God's revelation in Jesus Christ. As such it demands its unique exegetical method, which comes to special expression in all separate rules. For that reason F.W. Grosheide, in his Hermeneutics, presents first "the rules for all materials," and then speaks in separate paragraphs of "rules for historical materials;" of rules for demonstrative materials," "rules for prophetic materials;" "rules for parables" . Thus, if we would understand and explicate a historical portion of the Scripture correctly, it will be necessary to take the specific rules for this material seriously. One of the first rules is that we seek the real meaning of the fact that is communicated to us. And since all Scripture gives us God's revelation, the question resolves itself as follows: which revelatory thought is communicated to us in this portion of Scripture?
Here we must take into account the peculiar character of historical writing in the Holy Scriptures. The historical books are written each with a distinct aim. Actually all history is written from a definite viewpoint and therefore pursues a definite aim. The facts are selected, arranged, and classified according to that aim. That writing of history is not statistical. From all material it knowingly chooses those facts that will serve the purpose of its writing. William of Orange may be described as a statesman but also as a believing Christian.
In the first instance the choice of material will differ from the second. Something that may be of no interest to one historian could well be of great importance to another. Where one will hardly refer to his conversion or perhaps only mention his dying prayer, these events will be important items in the writing of the other. It all comes down to the question of design in writing the history, and therefore from what viewpoint the facts are chosen and arranged. The historical books of the Bible relate sacred history not with historical motives but as divine revelation. They are so constructed that the plan emerges clearly. For that reason the facts are chosen, presented, and arranged from that perspective .
Therefore we may speak of "the peculiar and special character of Old Testament history, in which the controlling point has an entirely different basis than the historical work that we find elsewhere." The facts presented all proceed from the viewpoint of divine revelation . We are dealing with a peculiar purpose and design.
This is further discussed in introductions to the historical books. We will refer only to what has been written on this subject by H. N. Ridderbos , S. Greijdanus , A. Noordtzy , C. van Gelderen , and , C. F. Keil.
Scripture sheds additional light on its recording of history by giving the theme and therewith "the tendency" of its historical writings as the struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). We rightly call this the "protevangelium", and speak of the "mother promise", the seed, the germ, in which the entire gospel is contained.
That which is included in this "seed" is being worked out in the progress of history throughout the centuries, until the moment of fulfillment, the fullness of time. Thus in Gen. 3:15 all that follows is placed in the light of the awesome struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent; between Christ, coming into the world, and Satan, the prince of this world. And it is further enlightened by the complete victory to be won by the seed of the woman.
But that confronts us with the demand that we may not think of any figure in this history or set it apart from that great struggle. The place of each is to be defined only Christologically, that of the opponents as well as of the "proponents". Only insofar as they have a place and a task in the development of this history do we find them in the Scriptural history. The facts are chosen and described from that viewpoint.
Whoever does not take that into consideration must agree with the unbelieving scientist that the Old Testament is "very tendentious" and does not do justice to the facts. For example, how much more could not be said about Ahab on the basis of historical research (excavations) than the writer of the book of Kings relates? And how totally different would not the picture be if we saw this king as a politician, an economist, etc.? But we must grant to Scripture the right which every historical writing demands to describe history according to its own viewpoint, i.e., to picture Ahab as a theocratic ruler in the battle between God and Satan, in which Christ is at stake. Thus Ahab occupies his proper place, insofar as his deeds, etc. were of importance for that purpose, and he is measured according to the standard which is derived from the Christological theme of Gen. 3:15. This applies likewise to all other persons who have a place and task in redemption-history.
This is confirmed when we see the entire Old Testament history in the apocalyptic light that is shed upon it in Rev. 12. There the history of the Old and New Testament is typified as the struggle of the woman, who was to bear the child and did bear it, with the dragon who would devour it. Only if we see history and the actors in that light, do we have the proper view.
Thus Scripture itself provides us with the key to its explication and the standard by which we are to judge. In that light this can be nothing other than redemption-history and/or Christological. If I remove a small portion in order to view it in isolation, so that it is no longer a part of the whole, I lack all certainty that the right of a correct exegesis has been accorded to that specific portion (or to that person and his acts) of the Bible.
Permit me once again to refer to the delineation of Elijah. The intention of the inspired writer, and thus of the Holy Spirit, is not to give a biography of Elijah. Anyone who attempts this on the basis of Scriptural givens will fail miserably. He is confronted with lacunae that make such a description impossible. Therefore we may never discuss in our sermons the events presented to us with reference to Elijah as fragments of his (largely unknown) life's history.
If it were possible to construct a biography of Elijah from other sources, we could nor, of course, overlook the material presented in the Scripture; it contains valuable givens that may not be neglected. But in such a biography of Elijah the events related in I Kings 17ff. would have to be told in a different manner and placed in another connection, in harmony with the total purpose of the biographer.
For example, we are told about Elijah's attire. The Scripture speaks of "the hairy mantle". But we all realize that in a sermon that mantle may be mentioned only in a specific connection, namely in connection with the purpose of the Scripture passage in which this detail is given. If one should wish to write a book about the attire of the prophets in ancient Israel he might, if possible, devote a separate paragraph to that mantle and discuss it "by itself." In this case as an article of clothing, even as an official robe, and speak of the utility of such attire, etc. But that would not be a ministry of the Word; not an exegesis of that Scripture passage, in which each part must be seen in the light of the author's purpose.
This holds true also when we speak of Elijah as a man, as a devout man. In connection therewith we would describe his struggle, his faith, and his despondency. A sermon on the mantle of Elijah by itself would offend the church, in spite of all the "application" commenting on luxury of our attire, attire as proof of our sin, as a gift of God's long-suffering, and perhaps many comments about present-day styles, etc. Yet a sermon on Elijah's spiritual condition is received with eagerness by many, and is commended as very "edifying", especially when this spiritual condition is applied to our spiritual experiences, our struggles, our faith, etc.
And yet the same thing holds true for Elijah's soul as for Elijah's mantle. I am not saying that nothing is revealed about Elijah's inner life. Nor do I say that nothing has been revealed about Elijah's mantle. But even as I say that it was not the intention of the author (or if you will, of the Holy Spirit) to draw my attention to that mantle "by itself," neither was it His intention to describe the events of Elijah's soul struggles. Even as that mantle may be seen only in the light of the exact meaning and never apart for the purpose of making "application" as if it were an independent item, so also must we deal with the religious feeling, with "the soul" of Elijah. All these details must be placed in the light of the definite purpose of the inspired author, which was "the revelation of God in Jesus Christ!"
Thus, in the treatment of every historical passage the main question (and therefore the first and decisive question) must be: what does the Lord make known to us in this passage concerning His revelation in Christ? Since this revelation in the Old Testament presents to us the Christ in His coming to and into this world, we must always ask how the Christ reveals Himself in His coming in that particular passage. To be sure, there will be various details: the place of someone's residence, the tent or the palace in which he has taken his abode; his attire; his frame of mind, and many other details but all of these appear in this portion of history only insofar as they serve to make clear this one purpose: God's revelation in that hour, by that person, and in that situation, as revelation in Jesus Christ. Anyone who treats these features independently, separating them from the context with applications for the present day, may be speaking the truth but he is not explicating that Scripture passage: he is not opening the Scriptures. He delivers a sermon for which another text or texts should have been chosen.
The consciousness that the redemption-history is one architectonic unit must save us from such approaches to historical texts. That realization must so fill us with reverence for the unity of the entire structure that we will not then treat any subdivision as an independent item. In every part the profound meaning of the great whole must find its own expression. For that reason we may not picture the persons presented in the history of revelation psychologically. If that is done, a distinct method of writing history is explained according to the rules that apply only to another kind of writing history.
If the Lord had given us a psychology of Elijah, we would be permitted to picture Elijah psychologically. But now this is as impossible and inadmissible as a biographical picture of the prophet. The outlines of Elijah's soul struggle that have been presented to us give us neither the right nor the possibility of describing him psychologically in that situation. That which has been revealed to us of Elijah's inner life does not give us a psychological description of the prophet. Neither is it a fragment of a psychology of Elijah. Instead it has a place (it may therefore not be neglected!) in the description of Elijah as a prophet, as an instrument of God's revelation in Jesus Christ, who occupied a unique place and had a unique task in that redemption-history.
Of course, this must be said also in connection with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Stephen, etc. Only in this way can we do justice to the unity of redemption history, and can we meet the objection that has been raised that the one history of revelation is dissolved into many separate histories. In defense of the latter practice some have appealed to what was once written by Dr. F. W. Grosheide . He stressed the fact that a distinct history must be seen first as a part of the whole of revelation, but that thereafter every relatively complete history may be seen by itself. However, he warns against separating these two approaches. If only for that reason, we are convinced that this appeal must fail . Dr. A. Kuyper in his day pointed to the fact that not one episode in the redemption-history may be viewed apart from the whole. "An event in the life of the patriarchs, an episode drawn from David's struggles, a fragment from the experiences of God's prophets may not present an isolated scene to the church, with the addition of certain practical comments, for then general and national history would supply varying materials concerning persons of whom we have much more detailed information, and whose activities and words are equally available for the addition of the same comments. Indeed, all of these facts and happenings in sacred history must be taken as parts of one great whole, as fragments of the grand work of God's revelation, and as being separate from all other history because of what God wrought in and through these men for the future of His church, and the revelation of His work of grace, to the glory of His Name" .
And really, this in not strange, especially for those who believe in the Holy Spirit as the Auctor primarius of the Holy Scriptures, and who thereby are enabled to maintain the unity of the Scriptures so unwaveringly. The same rule is of course applied in the case of any other writing of which unity in conception and composition is accepted. In a drama or comedy we cannot judge one actor or one deed independently, apart from the whole. Only when we see the persons and their deeds in the course of the entire play can we judge rightly. And only by observing the continuity and taking into account the purpose of the play may we draw instruction from the behavior or the actors. If I isolate one episode from the whole, my explanation will fail or evaporate into fantasy. Applying this to the Holy Scriptures, it means that every part of the one redemption history can be rightly seen and explained only if this explanation is Christological. Christ is the center in Whom the entire redemption-history is the one unity and in Whom the explanation is found. Separate one part from the center and rob it of its Christological character, then at best one will have an edifying moral without even a Christian coloring.
Because one still wants to preach a "Christian" sermon, he will have to resort to some sort of artifice, certainly unintentional, in order to "produce a Christocentric sermon." The simplest way to do so is to turn to typology. But then the way is opened to unrestricted "type" producing. In my opinion at least, the typology of the Middle Ages and the search for types even in our present day sermons finds its negative origin or basis for explication in the fact that the Christological character of a definite historical portion is not perceived. Then an attempt has to be made to preserve the connection with that one history of which Christ is the center by discovering a "type" in that passage. If successful, one feels that he has been saved from an impasse. But the Christological character of a given historical portion is not preserved by discovering some "type" in it. We do not have the right to make and multiply "types;" the Lord gave them to us. We must hold to the types and typical expressions that He gave us.
Let me illustrate this with an example: the book Esther. Much has been written about the significance of this little book. Over against the sharp and often negative criticism, those who hold to the Scriptural viewpoint have constantly defended its canonical character, although sometimes hesitatingly . This hesitation sprang from the fact that the Christological line in this typically Jewish-colored history could nor be discerned. However the convictions that we have God's revelation in Christ also in this book prompted a continuing search for the line which runs from this "periphery to the center." It is obvious that often an attempt was made to discover some type here, because if a definite type could be found which would impart a typological character to the entire history the line leading to Christ would be indicated. In Esther we really find only two figures who could qualify as "types," namely, Esther and Mordecai. Indeed both have been so designated : Esther in her call on Ahashuerus to plead for deliverance for herself and her people, and Mordecai who in his ultimate elevation by Ahashuerus would be an image of the Christ . Of course; we have some reservations about this typology. In my opinion Scripture does not give sufficient ground for it. There is a danger that this entire history will be united to the "central point" only by the thin line of this single typological feature, and will not be viewed in its Christological character, and therefore cannot be recognized as a portion of that one redemption history.
This small portion of Holy Scripture will become much more valuable if we have an appreciation for the Christological line which is found throughout this little book that is, for the Christological character of the struggle mentioned here from its first beginnings to its blessed culmination. The few lines that have been drawn by Prof. Hoekstra  can be further developed in various details . Then it can also be clearly shown, forward as well as backward, that we are dealing here with an episode in that great struggle which dominates the centuries, not only until the first, but also until the second coming of Christ, and that this struggle, enacted between Haman and Mordecai etc., finds its explanation only in Christ.
This also furnishes the connection that binds us in our spiritual struggle to Israel of that day. This bond is not to be found in the scattered experiences of faith but in Christ; in being included in the same great struggle that enables us to do justice to the varying data (before and after Christ). Even one who moves in this direction will have to overcome various difficulties. He will sometimes go on his way "groaning." But if he listens to Scripture in faith and prayerfully asks for "the mind of the Spirit " he will be richly rewarded. We are then also armed against opinions such as Vischer's, who finds the climax of Esther in the "sign" and the "testimony" of the erected gallows, which throughout the ages would "point to" the cross of Golgotha . In the theme "Gallows-Cross" wide perspectives have surely been opened for the homilete-orator, but the homilete who seeks to be Verbi Divini Minister does well to keep his distance from such "testimonies" and humbly to believe that God in Christ could and did reveal Himself in history, and thus gave us a redemption-history, a history of revelation (historia revelationes), which can be understood only Christologically.
Several years ago, Dr. K. Schilder pointed to the danger of arbitrarily creating one's own "types", when he elaborated on the article by Dr. A. Kuyper cited earlier. He warned against "wrenching apart the 'sacred history' contained in so many histories, against creating 'types' of the Christ in the way of personal fantasy, against dissolving scriptural history into monumenta ecclesiae, or in conversion stories, or in dramatic characterizations of God's incidental struggle against the powers of sin, or in reports of heroes of faith and their struggle." Over against this negative approach he sets a positive rule: "Eventually it will be the Christ Who is the ‘material’ because God reveals Himself in Him, and in the background we must see God's counsel (before the pedagogue can be ready to proceed). Thus the instruction will become theocentric, but also Christological .
During the discussion of this subject another interesting question was raised, into which we must enter more fully for a moment. A certain group objected that an attempt was being made to make the redemption-history (Christological) method the exclusive method. This group sought a higher synthesis. Some  thought that there should be a union of both methods, while others pleaded for uniting redemption-history with the exemplary element or moment.
In a note appended to his doctoral dissertation, Dr. Huyser  stated that the element of truth on which "exemplary preaching" is based may not be disqualified. This statement helps us only if we first know what this element of truth is! Even if we could agree on that point, it would present nothing in favor of "exemplary preaching". For the question will arise whether this element of truth will not be more fully vindicated in an explication according to the redemption-history method. Surely, one would not defend the typology of the Middle Ages because of an "element of truth" on which it may well be founded. We are not now dealing with, nor interested in elements of truth, but in the Truth; therefore also in the correct method of exegesis.
An attempt has been made to substantiate the plea for the aforementioned synthesis by an appeal to Scripture, especially to the use of Old Testament material by the writers of the New Testament. It is inferred that the redemption-history method can not be found in their writings but rather that the constant reference to Old Testament believers as examples provides a principal justification of the exemplary method. Special mention is then made of I Cor. 10, Hebr.11, and James 5.
Now a first requisite would be that we test fairly and carefully these arguments derived from Scripture. Let us begin with James 5, in which Elijah's prayer serves to illustrate the truth to which all believers subscribe, that "fervent prayer availeth much." This passage occasioned a debate between the Rev. N. Streefkerk and the Rev. D. van Dijk . The latter drew a sharp difference between Elijah's prayer as it is found in I Kings 18 and as it appears in James 5. In the first instance we are dealing with an element in the redemption-history, while in James it is used as an illustration for the subject of "prayer". "Of course, I may make use of history in that manner. When I speak of the power of prayer I may reinforce it with examples, and I am on safest ground if I derive such examples from the inspired writers of history," so Van Dijk argued.
Over against this Streefkerk states: "When I speak about prayer I may think of Elijah. But if I think or speak of the history of Elijah, may I then not point to the power of prayer?" He agrees that the history of I Kings 18 may not be interpreted as an example of the power of prayer, and that the "revelation character" must be the principial point. But he does not consider it unlawful in this connection to point to the power of prayer of God's servant, even though this may not be the main thrust of the sermon. For that reason he makes a plea for the retention of the exemplary element. He does not want to contrast the two methods but to change the conjunction ‘or’ to ‘and’. For we have not only a history of the revelation of salvation but also of "a work of God in us" .
This discussion indicates that the problems are not simple. We must try to make progress together. But then a first requisite is that we understand each other. And in my opinion there was evidence of several misunderstandings in this discussion.
In the first place, we must not neglect the distinction made by van Dijk. When someone preaches on the theme of prayer, he may certainly point to Elijah as an illustration. But in doing so, he does not say that this is the specific meaning of God's revelation in the text of I Kings 18. For example, Elijah's prayer proves that man may pray, that communication has been established between God and us, but the text of I Kings 18 does not teach me that I may pray "uberhaupt". When we speak of our confession, of God's existence, or of the Lord's will to reveal Himself (for example in speaking to agnostics), I may point to this text and a thousand others in which the Lord shows that He exists and has made Himself known, but when I preach on that text, I must not talk about God's existence or God's revelation, nor may I apply these elements by means of the exemplary-practical method. Yet no one will say that it is not "included". We may say, however, that it is not the sense and meaning of this revelation "hic er nunc." This illustrative use of history can be justified to some extent; but this is true not only of redemption history. In specific cases one may illustrate by reaching into church history: Calvin, Kuyper, and others.
It is rightly asserted by the Rev. B. Holwerda that history is dissolved into a parable if it is understood as "visual education." He presents the rule that the dogma-founding function of redemption history excludes the dogma-illustrating function. In history one deals with facts, not with parables. Historical material must therefore be taken "according to its own nature, and no longer illustratively" . James indeed does not "preach" on I Kings 18, but makes mention of Elijah's prayer in an exposition on prayer. Therefore this text states nothing in support of the exemplary method.
In the second place, if a plea is made for a synthesis of these two methods, that is of the redemption-history method and the exemplary element, such a plea in my opinion relies on an erroneous insight into the nature of both methods. If these are strictly separated we should not speak of "and". It is evident that this is done for fear that the practical character of the "application" of the sermon will otherwise be hard pressed. But that indicates a misunderstanding concerning the nature of the redemption-history method. For this method does not exclude the Scriptural element of "example," but places it in its proper light (see below). If the unity of the sermon is to be maintained, a combination of these two methods is not possible. They differ in their view of the description of history in Holy Scripture, and will therefore interpret that history according to differing rules. One can obtain an exemplary element only when one has abstracted a specific event from the one redemption-history, and then draws a parallel between this abstracted situation and a similar situation in our time.
But a specific feature in a historical episode obtains its clear and correct meaning by not isolating it from that history even for a moment and never using it independently, but by always viewing it in its historical connection. Therefore we must strictly adhere to this historical connection, also in the "application." In my opinion, therefore, the "exemplary element" that one would add to the redemption-history method would be served best by a correct use of the redemption- history method itself. Otherwise the sermon will be a mixture of iron and clay.
In the third place, it is striking that the exemplary element is always sought from the viewpoint of the religious experience or in the psychic life. Those who do so say that we can also speak of "God's work in us." This would then be added to the history of the revelation of salvation. But why should the similarity be seen exactly "in that sphere?" We have previously pointed out that there are many more elements which can be "applied," if it were proper to abstract them.
Think of what is said about Elijah's body: e.g., the Lord's care for Elijah's sustenance, strengthening him for his struggles; about Elijah's apparel; about his prayer posture. Many other elements could be added: concerning God's existence, God's revelation, communion with God, God's providence, etc. But the question is whether I may abstract one of those elements from the whole. In general, every one will combat this. I am thinking again of Elijah's mantle. No one would, "in connection with" that text, preach about "the problem of style with reference to our clothing"; nor, in connection with Elijah's prayer posture, would any one preach about "the proper posture in prayer in public as well as in private;" nor, in connection with Abraham's tent, about "man's dwellings in early and later times." But why is it then permissible (as we find in many sermon sketches) to abstract Elijah's soul and faith struggle, Elijah's difficulties and doubts, from the total complex of thoughts which together form this one episode in the one redemption-history, and to use them for a discourse on "doubt", "trial", "unbelief", etc.?
Are these elements then not to be discussed? Again I say: of course, like all other elements that have been mentioned! All of these elements have received their proper place in redemption-history; in the Christological description of history; in the history of God's revelation. And all serve to present that history more clearly in its own unique nature. Therefore they may never be isolated from the context in which the revelation places them. Only in that context is full justice done to them. "Exemplary elements" for the sake of "practical application" are evidence that the redemption-history method is not properly used. For this method, if properly applied, includes the practical, the applicatory element to a much greater degree than the exemplary method.
The Rev. B. Holwerda states correctly that in the exemplary method, the unity is sought in psychical similarity, because the historical connection has been severed. Then the question is "no longer about the significance and task of Abraham, Elijah, etc. in God's one, constantly progressing work in Christ, but contrariwise, what significance God in Christ had for them. Indeed, the Christian occupies the center here, although that is not the intention .
In the fourth place, we must seek to account for the reason why James can present Elijah as an example. Is that really something that is added to the redemption history significance of Elijah? In my judgment, James can do this only because he holds to the redemption history connection, or if you will, the Christological connection. It is possible only because he proceeds from the thought that this prayer has received its place in that one redemption-history in which we are included with him.
Against this opinion, which I defended at the time , the objection has been raised that James was not taking note of Elijah's place in redemption-history, as clearly evidenced by this addition:' "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are." Thus James presents the praying Elijah as a man, a man of like passions as we are, and we hear nothing about his special redemption-history significance, which however did set him apart .
I fear that we misunderstand one another at this point. When we speak of the redemption-history significance of Elijah, we mean that we see Elijah not apart from the history in which the Lord has included him. And this is the history of God's revelation in Jesus Christ.
I can or may never (in my opinion) separate Elijah from that great struggle which is the theme of Gen. 3:15. Elijah, as the Scripture describes him, is of importance only in that struggle and with a view to the breakthrough and victory of Jesus Christ. So too, all of Elijah's deeds related to Scripture as well as his prayer. Separate these from the whole of that struggle, that Christocentric revelation, and they can no longer serve as our examples. In Christ we have the unity of history in which Elijah stood and prayed, and in which we must stand and pray. But this also means that Elijah's and our prayers are dated.
Now when James speaks of Elijah as a man of like passions as we are, does that prove that the writer views Elijah as separate from that one history of which Christ is the center?
Surely, this is not a contrast. This man of like passions as we are has been enabled to pray thus in his place, in that one struggle in which we are also involved (see Rev. 12). He could do so, not because he was a man of like passions, or a religious nature, or any other thing, but because in faith he fulfilled his calling which was assigned to him in that one great struggle. Therefore we say with Goppelt  that the principle of the typological relations ("examples") is: "Interpretation of figures, events, institutions, insofar as they express a relationship to God (Gottesverhaltnis), therefore not one or more separate sketches of Old Testament happenings or reports which are immanent and external to the world. However, because only Christ is the ultimate of the relationship to God (Gottesverhaltnis), it is a natural consequence that the other principle is always tied in with it. All typology ("setting the example") flows through Christ and exists in Him. Thus the Old Testament serves the New Testament as "the testimony of a redemption-history of a temporary, inadequate level of redemption, and an over-arching prophecy.''
It is characteristic of the New Testament that it always "presents the present in relation to the redemption-history of the past." The following sentence is also important: "Moreover, the typological view of Scripture (namely that which we find in the New Testament) placed all other use of Scripture in the great redemption-history association." In all of these of examples, therefore we are not concerned with "religio-historical parallels, but with a redemption-history relationship with one another." He calls this view "selbstverstundlich" for the entire New Testament. Therefore it surely is not necessary to repeat it constantly.
This means that when the New Testament presents an example, it views the Old Testament only in the redemption-history sense. And that, exactly, is the only ground for presenting "examples."
One question remains; what does the Scripture mean when it states that these things were written as "an example" for us?
In this connection reference is usually made to two Scripture passages, namely, I Cor. 10:6 and Heb. 11. Those who do so are convinced that these texts support a treatment of historical materials according to the exemplary method. Therefore it becomes necessary to comment further on this subject.
In I Cor. 10:6 we read: "Now these things were our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted." "These things" are mentioned in the preceding verses, namely, the things that befell our fathers. "They were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea. And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat and drink the same spiritual drink, for all drank of the Rock that was Christ. But with many of them God was nor well pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness." These are the things that were our examples.
In this passage what is the meaning of "example"?
In the text from I Cor. 10 the Greek word for "example" is "typos"; and these things were our "typoi". Thus we are dealing with the familiar word type, typological etc. Therefore the first question is what the word "tupos", "tupikos" would tell us. The following is obtained from the previously quoted work of Goppelt, which deals with these questions in detail. Paul uses this word in a specific sense, one in which it was not used previously. To him it is the expression of the reality that something that is to come is previously determined, pictured: in the framework of a history that occurred previously. God dealt with the generation of Israel in the desert according to "tupikos," i.e., in a manner which is a preview of His dealings with the church of the latter days (between Christ's Ascension and Return); their experiences are "typoi," types for what is now happening in the church .
Thus the typology of the Scriptures acquires its own peculiar meaning and content.
Goppelt points out, in the first place, that only historical facts, i.e., persons, acts, happenings, and institutions, can be the subject of typological explanation; words and representations (Darstellungen) only insofar an they treat such historical facts. A typological explanation of these objects must take place when they are seen as examples and types, prescribed by God, of things, to come which will be greater and more complete. In this connection the distinction between typology and allegory is described thus; "The first assumes and is based upon the historicity of the events (for it deals with facts), while for the latter the historicity has no significance, because it deals with ideas .
Thus it may become clear what Paul means when he states that these things were our examples. The context indicates that we are dealing with facts, happenings, and therefore happenings in the history of revelation, the history of salvation for Israel. "All these things that happened to Israel happened unto them for examples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Cor. 10:11). The meaning is, therefore, that Israel's level of salvation becomes the portion of Christ's church in perfect measure. There is a typological connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament people of God, which reveals to the latter (the New Testament church) the reality of its position in the plan of salvation . When it is stated in I Cor. 10, for example, that our fathers were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, Paul points to the deliverance of Israel on its path through the Red Sea, which was of such basic significance for Israel's position as God's people. This event in turn is the basis of the covenant that the Lord made with Israel on Sinai (Ex. 19:4ff).
Prof. Grosheide summarizes it thus in his exposition of I Cor. 10:2: Even as Israel, through the pillar of cloud and the journey through the sea began to emerge as an independent people of God, thus also the New Testament church through the leading of Christ and baptism, as contrasts to the cloud and the journey through the sea .
This deliverance of Israel, which is qualified as "being baptized unto Moses," is a type (example) of the salvation that is promised to the New Testament church, if it is "baptized in Christ." Thus it becomes clear that it is stated that this happened to them for our "example."
This typological explanation can be based only upon redemption-history. We may also say that it is possible only because the history of the Old and the New Covenant is Christocentric. It is not so that other elements must be added to the redemption-history or Christocentric method, in order to do justice to the "example." Only the redemption-history view can place the "example" in the right position, and the "example" derives its rights only from that method. In Christ the history of the Old and New Covenant is one whole. Thus I must first see a specific part of the history (text) from a Christocentric viewpoint, in order to distinguish the example, the exemplary thing contained therein. And I can read history Christocentrically only if I read it as the redemption-history.
Meanwhile the Scripture does not use the word "typos" exclusively. The objection could then be raised that everything depends upon one word. In the same sense it is stated also that for our worship service the Old Testament law is a "shadow" of things to come. And this is stated in juxtaposition to the "body"; but the body is of Christ (Col. 2:17, also Heb. 10:1) .
Thus the sacrifices by the priests are simultaneously called shadow and example, but here the word for example is nor "typos" but "hupodeigma" (Heb. 8:5). Tabernacle etc. are called patterns (hupodeigma) of the things that are in heaven (Heb. 9:23); in another passage they are called figures (parabole) (Heb. 9:9). Thus there is no fixed terminology, but the subject matter is the same in every case.
All of this may serve to clarify the use of the word "example." It is "a comparative relationship, which however is not quantitative as much as qualitative (abgestuft ist)." The type, the example, is in reality not a miniature picture of the antitype, but a preliminary representation from another redemption-history niveau, which now points to the sketch, the outline of the reality that is to come, and will lose its independent identity when the reality appears .
One who can conceive of this meaning of "example" will undoubtedly see that we may not derive from I Cor. 10 the right to use the example, as is being done constantly in the exemplary method.
Over against this it has been observed that the adherents of the redemption-history method do not enter into the content of the text, because this leads to the admonition: "and these things were our example, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted"(v. 10). But we are not dealing with the question whether these things" were written for our admonition! The redemption-history method does not object to the element of warning, encouragement, reproof, etc. We are dealing instead with the question of what is present as "typos," what is held before me as an example. In connection with the text of I Cor. 10, Goppelt also points to the admonition that Paul addresses to the church. "In particular, God's dealing with the former will deter them from participating in the eating of food offered to the idols, fornication, etc. For this is written that they might be deterred from that which befell the older generation - "typikos" (pattern). And precisely because the writer keeps in mind this warning, he states concerning the "example" used here: "Typos does not in this instance, as in various, other passages in Paul's writings, mean performing example (vorbildliches Beispiel) in a general sense, but a previously presented redemption-history representation of what is to come (heilsgeschichtliche Vorausdarstellung des Kommenden); by His dealing with the "fathers," God's first people, God will make known to His people "at the end of the ages "what it may expect of Him.
That is the reason why these events are recorded. It is also important to note what follows: "Here we have all events which are acknowledged as real for a New Testament typology; it deals with type and antitype about events which concern relationship with God; the former in the patterning time of redemption, and the latter at the end of the ages. From this proceeds the typological ascension that is not specifically stressed. The type (example) will, according to God's stipulation, point to the coming antitype."
We must now look into the appeal of Heb. 11. It does seem as if, in this chapter, the Old Testament believers are presented as examples in the aforementioned sense. We are not dealing here with God's gifts and the form in which they are presented to the believers in the Old and New Testament, but with the faith by which these gifts were received.
However, although the nature of faith comes to the fore in this chapter rather than the content of faith, it is always determined according to redemption-history in Heb. 11. Thus Goppelt can comment on this subject as follows: "The writer gives his view of redemption history according to the concepts of the Old and New Covenant, and therefore proceeds from God's revelation . How the history of Abel, Noah, Abraham, and all others is considered from a redemption-history and Christocentric viewpoint is evidenced by the words spoken about Moses: "that he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt"(Heb. 11:26). This is another proof that the unity of the history of Old and New Testament rests only In Christ, and may be interpreted only on that basis. But also that the believers of the Old and new Testament are placed in one line, not because the psychological happenings are alike here and there, but only because in both dispensations the point at issue is the profession of faith in the one God, Who has revealed Himself in Christ.
And although this chapter is concerned primarily with the nature of faith, nevertheless the caesura which was drawn by Christ's coming is taken into account. In verse 39, all of these Old Testament witnesses, as a definite group, are placed over against us, the believers of the new day. And the benefits of salvation, which they grasped in faith and which they awaited, are the benefits that came and a fulfillment of the shadows: the shadows that were their examples of the real salvation for which they hoped .
All of this proves that the New Testament leads the way in reading Old Testament history only as redemption-history. Only he who does that can assign a proper place to the "example", but "example" understood in the Scriptural sense.
It seems to me that here, in principle, the way Is shown to a clear presentation of the Christological character of preaching. Therefore it is truly unnecessary that we place next to the redemption-history method another element: the exemplary element or a " truth" element which is the foundation of exemplary preaching. Indeed it is so that this "exemplary element" can be discovered only in the redemption-history method, therefore Christologically.
For that reason all preaching may derive its Christological character only from the Christologically-understood Scripture passage which has been chosen as a text.
Now if it is objected that we are confronted with enormous difficulties which are too great to be borne by one who, along with his many official duties, is also obliged to prepare two sermons per week, I will be the last to deny or minimize these difficulties. But that can never be an argument for failure to begin. The first question is whether the Scripture demands this of us. If we are convinced of that we shall have to begin in faith. Then no difficulty may be too great. For then it becomes a question of our will to obey.
But this act of obedience also provides rich promises.
56. [RETURN] Ibid, De Heraut. no. 3292.
57. [RETURN] A. Kuyper, Encyclopaedie II, p.475.
58. [RETURN] F. W. Grosheide, Hermeneutiek ten dienste van de bestudeering van het N.T. p.184-215.
59. [RETURN] Ibid, p.195.
60. [RETURN] G. Ch. Aalders, De Geschiedbeschrijvins in het 0 T., p.16.
61. [RETURN] A. N. Ridderbos, Matt. 1, in Korte Verklaring p.13,14.
62. [RETURN] S. Greydanus, Luke 1, in Korte Verklaring, p. 10.
63. [RETURN] A. Noordtzy, Chron. II, in Korte Verklaring, p.40-49.
64. [RETURN] C. van Gelderen, Kings I, in Korte Verklaring, p.10-13.
65. [RETURN]C. F. Keil, Die Bucher der Konige, p.4.
66. [RETURN] F.W. Grosheide, Hermaneutec, p139, 194
67. [RETURN]Cf. in this connection B. Holwerda, op. cir,
68. [RETURN] Cf. De Reformatie, Jaarg. XVIII, p.313
69. [RETURN]Cf. among others H.R.E. 3 "*Esther"; R.G.G. 2 "Esther"; Christl. Encycl. "Esther"; further, G.Ch. Aalders, De Heraut. 3367-3373 (1942)
70. [RETURN] J.J.Knap, Esther.
71. [RETURN] S.G. de Graaf, Verbondsgeschiedenis I, p.5,642
72. [RETURN]T. Hoekstra, Gereformeerde Homiletiek, p. 174ff.
73. [RETURN] Cf. my.De Jodenhaat gedareerd na Christus.
74. [RETURN] W. Vischer: "Esther"; in Theol. Exist. heure.
75. [RETURN] K. Schilder, in Reformatie, Jaarg. XIII, p. 281 281
76. [RETURN] J. Douma, in De Heraut, 3292-3300. Huyser:"De Paranaese In de prediking."
77. [RETURN] Huysen; op.cit.
78. [RETURN] Cf. among others, Pro Ecclesia, July 5, 1941
79. [RETURN] Ibid, Sept. 6, 1941
80. [RETURN] B. Holwerda, op. cir., p. 360ff.
81. [RETURN] Ibid, op.cit, p. 362ff.
82. [RETURN] Cf. Geref. Mannenblad, Oct. 1941, 19e Jaargang, p.74
83. [RETURN] J. Douma, De Heraut.
84. [RETURN] L. Goppelt, Die typologische Deutung des A.T. im N.T., p. 244ff (italics mind)
85. [RETURN] Ibid, p. 5
86. [RETURN] Ibid, p. 19
87. [RETURN] Ibid, p. 170
88. [RETURN] F.W. Grosheide, Kommentaar, op 1 Kor. (ed. Bottenburg), p.329a.2.
89. [RETURN] L. Goppelt, op.cit.,p.214.
90. [RETURN] Ibid, p. 170.
91. [RETURN] Ibid, p. 176
92. [RETURN] Ibid, p. 215.
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