Saturday, June 11, 2005

Immanuel in our Place: Seeing Christ in Israel’s Worship, Tremper Longman III; P&R, 2001; 258 pp.

This book belongs to a series entitled The Gospel According to the Old Testament designed to encourage Christ-centred reading, teaching and preaching of the Old Testament. The series is committed to the proposition that the Bible, Old and New Testaments, is a unified revelation of God, and that its thematic unity is found in Christ.

In this volume, Longman considers especially the “priestly theology” of the OT and explores its christological dimensions. In order to bring his people to Christ and Christ to his people, God, in the OT, consecrated certain space, people, acts and time. The book, divided into four main parts, deals with each of these: sacred space, sacred actions, sacred people, and sacred time. The priests were largely involved in each of these four areas, and in every instance, the area and the work done by the priests has been fulfilled in and by Christ.

In Part One, “Sacred Space,” Longman traces the biblical-theological (redemptive-historical) lines from Eden, that sacred space at the beginning, to Jesus our Immanuel (God with us). To show how the line flows from Old to New, the author discusses altars, the tabernacle, the temple, and the furniture in the sacred place.

In Part Two, “Sacred Acts,” he discusses the various sacrifices especially as found in the first chapters of Leviticus. He explains the actual rituals as they were to be performed and the various functions of the sacrifices. The NT proclaims our Lord Jesus Christ as the final and perfect, once-for-all sacrifice fulfilling all offerings of the OT.

Next Longman has a chapter on “Sacred People.” He traces the rise of the priesthood, Levites, and the priestly life style demanded. A very interesting chapter in the one is which he shows that the priests were God’s bodyguards. Jesus, as the Book of Hebrews clearly demonstrates, is the great and final priest.

The final part is about “Sacred Time.” First he deals with the Sabbath and how Christ has fulfilled this day. Christ is now our Sabbath. Acknowledging that among Reformed Christians there are both sabbatarians and non-sabbatarians, he pleads for a spirit of generosity on both sides towards the other. He has a non-sabbatarian view. This fourth part also includes chapters on the several festivals mention in the OT.

This is a good book. As it is written in non-technical language, it is very accessible. Longman took one slice of revelation, to do with the priestly ministry, and ably demonstrated how Jesus Christ fulfilled sacred space, actions, people and time.