After his resurrection as Jesus walked to Emmaus with two of his friends, he explained to them that his life, death and resurrection was foretold in the Old Testament. Luke summarises: “and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27, NIV). Therefore, when we study and teach the Old Testament, it is important for us to be able to understand, and explain to our hearers how a given passage holds Jesus before us – since he is the focus of the Old Testament.
All too often, much preaching ends up as moralistic: “do this,” “don’t do that.” God’s Word becomes a rulebook for living. However, the problem is that we cannot and do not keep God’s rules. Therefore, such preaching does not feed God’s people. Rather, it leaves them feeling helpless and “beaten up.” They’ve been told they should be doing better, but they are unable to – because such preaching ultimately has no power, since there is no gospel. And how does Jesus fit into all of this?
During the first plenary session of the conference we will study Psalm 15 together. It is a short Psalm that doesn’t talk about the Christ, the Anointed One, a prophet, a priest or a king. Indeed, the Psalm isn’t even quoted in the New Testament!
However, we will see that this Psalm does not simply give us God’s rules to live by. Rather, it exposes our sheer inability to keep God’s law, his standard. Psalm 15 therefore, shows us that we cannot dwell in God’s sanctuary, that we cannot live on his holy hill. It raises the question, just who can dwell with God?
Wonderfully, Psalm 15 gives us a portrait of such a person: it is ultimately the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the one man who can “dwell in your [the LORD’s] sanctuary” and “live on your [the LORD’s] holy hill” (Psalm 15:1). But how does that help us, those who cannot dwell with God? First Peter 3:18 says “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (NIV). Christ, the one righteous man, died on the Cross for unrighteous people to bring them to God. How is it that anyone can dwell with God? It is because Jesus has brought them to him.
And how should such people live? Since they now dwell with God they should live as his children, that is, they ought to strive to live according to God’s standard as described in this Psalm. How is this different from moralistic preaching we considered before? The answer is Jesus – the one who has already brought us to God.