Bright Shadows Preaching Christ from the Old Testament -- By: David Murray

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 01:1 (Jan 2009)
Article: Bright Shadows Preaching Christ from the Old Testament
Author: David Murray


Bright Shadows
Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

David Murray

There is undoubtedly a widespread crisis in preaching from the Old Testament today, and consequently in preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Less and less sermons are being preached from this part of the Bible, and those that are preached do not appear to command the same interest or respect as New Testament sermons.

Several surveys have found that only 20% of Christian sermons are from the Old Testament. Michael Duduit, the editor of Preaching, bemoaned the fact that “I annually receive hundreds of sermon manuscripts from ministers in a variety of Protestant denominations.… Less than one-tenth of the sermons submitted to Preaching are based on Old Testament texts.”1 The relatively few Old Testament sermons that are preached are often topical rather than textual and contextual.

This imbalance in the spiritual diet of most Christians is one of the main reasons for many of the spiritual problems in the modern church and in the modern Christian. The challenging question is posed by Gleason Archer: “How can Christian pastors hope to feed their flock on a well-balanced spiritual diet if they completely neglect the 39 books of Holy Scripture on which Christ and all the New Testament authors received their own spiritual nourishment?”2

We will briefly consider eight reasons behind this malaise.

1. Liberalism

First, there has been a prolonged and sustained critical attack on the

Old Testament by liberal scholars. This has shaken the confidence of preachers and hearers alike in this part of the Holy Scriptures.

2. Ignorance

It is almost impossible to preach from large parts of the Old Testament without a knowledge of the historical context and geographical setting. However, while this knowledge was once widespread in many churches, many hearers now know little or nothing of biblical history, and preachers find it hard to interest their hearers in it.

3. Relevance

In addition, the historical and geographical details mentioned above seem to distance the preacher and hearer from modern reality. The fact is that we stand approximately 6,000 years from the earliest recorded Old Testament event and over 2,000 years from the most recent. This opens up a “relevance gap” in the minds of many modern preachers and hearers. This is widened further by the fact that the New Testament makes it clear that many Old Testament practices are now terminated. So, why...

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