Christ In The Old Testament; Or, The Development Of The Messianic Idea -- By: Henry T. Sell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 060:240 (Oct 1903)
Article: Christ In The Old Testament; Or, The Development Of The Messianic Idea
Author: Henry T. Sell


Christ In The Old Testament; Or, The Development Of The Messianic Idea

Rev. Henry T. Sell

We believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament. What warrant have we for this belief, and how did we get it? In our day we seek root ideas, and trace them through their various stages of growth. We are interested in the origin and development of an art, a language, a science, a people. We do not except our Bible or our religion from this investigation; counting that what is worthy to remain will remain, and that which is false will fall away of itself. Our Redeemer is the central figure in the New Testament: is he also central in the Old Testament teaching? We desire to find the beginning and to trace the development of the Messianic idea. By what method shall we interpret the passages which are looked upon as Messianic in the Old Testament?

Three methods of interpretation have been proposed, and are in use: (1) to examine them in the light thrown upon them by the New Testament writers; (2) to find their contents irrespective of the New Testament or their relation to it; (3) to trace from the beginning the gradual development of the Messianic idea. One investigator uses one method; another, another; hence the confusion which often arises in the mind of the reader. The fact is, that, in any perfectly fair treatment of the subject, all three methods must be used. The botanist must take into consideration, root, stalk, and flower, if he is to understand a

plant; not root, or stalk, or flower alone. The seeker after the truth about the Messianic idea must consider the basic ideas, the development, and the crowning flower. It is certain, that, if Jesus Christ had not come, the Old Testament conceptions of the Messiah would have always seemed obscure and imperfect, as they do to-day, to one who persistently ignores his advent, in the person of Christ, in the study of the subject. One who seeks an absolutely perfect Messianic conception in the Old Testament is doomed to disappointment; the root and stalk are there, but not the perfect flower. In this short chapter on a great subject, all three methods of interpretation will be used without special indication, for there is only space to show a line of thought, and outline an argument. We treat this article in four parts: The Messianic Idea, The Origin, The Development, and The Presentation.

The Messianic Idea

God through Christ redeeming the World to himself. But this full flower of the thought of the ages is now something different from what it was when Christ came to this earth, and took upon himself the form of humanity; the Jews were looking for a great king who would make them a mighty nation. Again, it differs some...

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