This semester, I have the privilege of teaching our college seniors a course on Biblical Theology. In many ways, this course is a capstone to their courses as they marshal the tools they’ve learned in exegesis—Hebrew and Greek translation, sentence diagramming, arcing and tracing the argument of a passage, etc. and in theology—applying the tools of history, logic, and theological reasoning to the biblical texts. They spend the semester applying these tools to better understand the grand narrative of salvation history, observing how both the whole story of the Bible and all of the themes within this story fit together to form glorious picture of God’s plan of redemption in Christ.
Because these are college seniors, a big part of the course is presentations from the students themselves. Every week, I get to sit in the back of the classroom and listen to students teach me about the glory of Christ from all the Scriptures. Over the last several weeks, we’ve been walking through the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi (or 2 Chronicles, if we use the Hebrew ordering). It’s been a joy for me to learn from the students as they present on the glory of Christ in the Old Testament. I really do learn from the students, because none of us, students or professors, have truly mastered the Word. Instead, we continually seek to be mastered by it.
In my daily Bible reading over the least two decades, I’ve read through the Old Testament 20 or 25 times, and I’ve have done careful exegesis of many parts of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek LXX over the last ten years or so. However, as I’ve taught and listened to student presentations, I’ve been struck again by how much more light I have yet to see in the Old Testament.
In the very beginning of Genesis, we see God create a people who he intends to dwell in his place with his glorious presence. Even though their sin drove them away from God’s place and presence, the rest of the story of Scripture recounts God’s glorious plan to return his people to the place he is preparing for them to experience fullness of joy in his presence. As we see this all through the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms
As I was reflecting on Psalm 24 with my Biblical Theology class, I saw these anew how the themes of God’s people, place, and presence converge and culminate in Christ. The Psalm opens with a reflection on the creation itself:
The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers (vv. 1-2).
All of creation—both the world and those who dwell on it—belongs to the Lord. The place that God created and the people whom he created it for ultimately belong to the Lord.
Yet there is a problem. Verse 3 asks us, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?” This implies that something has happened to prevent all of people from ascending to the place where his presence dwells. Only the person who has “clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully” can enter God’s presence (v. 4). Only these ones can receive blessing and righteousness from the Lord (v. 5). Only these ones truly seek the face of the God of Jacob in such a way that they are the people who can ascend to the place where his glorious presence dwells (v. 6).
There is a sense in which the answer to the question in verse 3 is no one. No one of us truly has clean hands and a pure heart. None of us are able to ascend the hill of the Lord if we are left to ourselves. But thanks be to God, the Psalm does not leave us to ourselves.
Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek
- Pray for our students to grasp the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ as they study the Scriptures.
- Pray for our professors to grasp this same glory as God grants them new insight into the glory of Christ from all the Scriptures.
- Pray for our alumni and their churches to hold fast to the centrality of Christ in all the Scriptures.