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And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:5-9)

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)

Because of Israel’s near constant rebellion against the Lord and their rejection of His gracious provisions, God sent “fiery serpents” among the people and many died. However, as a result of the people’s repentance and Moses’ intercession, God once again made provision for their salvation. He commanded Moses to “make a fiery serpent and set it on a standard.” He then promised that “everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.”

At first, it seems contrary to reason that “the cure was shaped in the likeness of that which wounded.” However, it provides a powerful picture of the cross. The Israelites were dying from the venom of the fiery serpents. Men die from the venom of their own sin. Moses was commanded to place the cause of death high upon a pole. God placed the cause of our death upon His own Son as He hung high upon a cross. He had come “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” and was“made to be sin on our behalf.” The Israelite who believed God and looked upon the brazen serpent would live. The man who believes God’s testimony concerning His Son and looks upon Him with faith will be saved. As it is written, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

~Paul Washer, The Cross of Christ.

HT: Penned Pebbles

To understand the whole living process of redemptive history in the Old Testament we must recognize two basic truths. The first is that this salvation history is a process. The second is that this process of redemptive history finds its goal, its focus and fulfillment in the person and work of Christ

~Graeme GoldsworthyThe Goldsworthy Trilogy, p. 20

Beginning with Moses is a site which posts articles on Biblical Theology that “aims to make such examples of biblical theology more widely available. This is our positive aim. We want to help produce preaching that creates congregations hungry for the Bible because they are grasping its Christ-centered, God-adoring, tapestry”(From About).

Looking over the site there seems to be a lot of good resources and articles on it. The site will be one that I will be stopping by in the future. Hopefully you can benefit from it as well.

Here is their summary of the term “Biblical Theology” for those who are not familiar with it.

HT: Jim Hamilton

From Justin Taylor,

Using a clip from Tim Keller’s talk at the 2007 TGC conference, Heath McPherson created using the art of Gustave Doré (1832-1883):

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkNa6tLWrqk&feature=player_embedded]

From an interview with Vern Poythress:

Different people have had different conceptions of both biblical theology and systematic theology, so it is wise to ask what people mean in both areas, as well as to look at the relation between the two areas.

I would myself describe systematic theology as study of the Bible’s teaching in which we try to synthesize and then summarize what the Bible as a whole teaches about all kinds of topics—God, man, Christ, sin, salvation, and so on.

In some contexts the expression “biblical theology” simply means theology built on the Bible; that is, it is systematic theology done in the right way. But there is also another possible meaning. Biblical theology, as described by Geerhardus Vos, studies the Bible with a focus on its history, the history of revelation and of redemption. Whereas systematic theology is topically organized, biblical theology is historically organized. It looks at the progress of God’s work and his revelation through time. In addition, biblical theology more broadly conceived can study the themes that are distinctive to a particular book of the Bible, or to books written by a single human author (for example, Paul’s letters).

At their best, biblical theology and systematic theology interact and help to deepen one another.

Systematic theology provides doctrines of God’s sovereignty, of revelation, of God’s purposes, and of the meaning of history that supply a sound framework of assumptions for the work of biblical theology.

Biblical theology at its best deepens the appreciation that systematic theology should have for the way in which, in interpreting individual texts and in uncovering their relation to a whole topic, the context of texts within the history of redemption colors the interpretation. Biblical theology may also bring to light new themes that can be the starting point for systematic-theological explorations into new topics that can receive fuller attention. For instance, the theme of life and death as it develops in the course of the history of revelation can become the starting point for discussing ethical questions about modern medicine and the issue of euthanasia.

HT: Justin Taylor

I found this tracing by Dr. Stephen Wellum in his article, Baptism and the Relationships Between the Covenants, very helpful with understanding circumcision. It gives the main purpose of why God gave it and the how it ends in Christ.
  • In the context of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, the primary purpose of circumcision was to mark out a physical seed in preparation for the coming of Messiah. The marking purpose of circumcision may be viewed in two complementary ways.
    • First, circumcision marked out a national entity. With the inauguration of the Abrahamic covenant, God chose one man and his seed to grow into a nation to prepare the way for the coming of Christ…It served as a physical sign to mark out a nation and to distinguish them as his people.
    • Second, circumcision marked out a male line of descent from Abraham to David to Christ. That is why, in a typological way, every Jewish male child, specifi cally those in Judah’s line, was a type of Christ who anticipated the day when the true/unique seed of Abraham would come.
    • (Circumcision also traces out the source of our moral corruption. Adam, as the head of the human race, is held responsible for sin. We were not corrupted through Eve but through Adam, and circumcision reminds us of this as well as the need for a radical spiritual surgery—hence it speaks of the need for a “circumcision of the heart.”)
  • But under the Mosaic covenant, there was also another purpose of circumcision which begins to point to spiritual and typological realities.
    • In this regard, physical circumcision pointed to the need of a spiritually circumcised heart which would result in a wholehearted devotion to the Lord (Deut 30:6; cp. Jer 4:4). Indeed, the new covenant promise in Jer 31:33 of the “law written on their hearts” combined with Ezek 36:25–27 pointed forward to the day when the entire covenant community would be circumcised in heart.
    • This emphasis picks up the teaching of the prophets that physical circumcisiononly availed the one who had been spiritually circumcised (see Rom 2:25–29). In this sense, circumcision serves as a type that finds its fulfillment and replacement in regeneration.
  • Now, in Christ, and the creation of the “new man” (Eph 2:11–22), the law-covenant has been fulfilled and the God-given divisions tied to that law-covenant have been removed so much so that Paul can proclaim, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcisionmeans anything; what counts is a new creation” (Gal 6:15).
    • In this new era, a new covenantal sign, baptism, has been established to testify of the gospel and to identify one as having become the spiritual seed of Abraham, through faith in Messiah Jesus.
    • But unlike circumcision, baptism is not a sign of physical descent, nor is it a sign that anticipates gospel realities. Rather it is a sign that signifies a believer’s union with Christ and all the benefi ts that are entailed by that union.

~Stephen Wellum,  Baptism and the Relationships Between the Covenants, 163-165

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