A Homiletical Spiral for Preaching Old Testament Narratives
- Wednesday, July 29, 2009
V. Going to the New Testament for Help
A fourth step to take is to see if an Old Testament passage can be further illuminated by the New Testament. Though there is mention of the golden calf of Egypt in the New Testament, there is no explicit reference to our passage. When looking to connect 1 Kings 13:1-6 to the New Testament, one would be hard pressed to find another incident that involved the confrontation of a spiritually wayward king of Israel by an unnamed 'man of God' who is able to pray to YHWH in order to remove a plague that had been sent by him. That's the whole problem in a nutshell; however, there are other connections to make. We shall suggest two of them below.
John 2:13-22 is about as close as one might come to finding a New Testament parallel to 1 Kings 13:1-6. Here, Jesus goes into the Temple in Jerusalem and drives out the sheep and cattle and all that were involved in the sale of animals. These men were in the temple for a seemingly acceptable reason: to provide animals for worshippers to sacrifice; nevertheless, Jesus contested, "Do not make my Father's house a market-house!" (John 2:16) Some Jews who were present asked him for a sign, and Jesus responded, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again." John's retelling of this incident closely approximates the Jeroboam incident in many ways. First, the issue at hand regards worship. Modifications had been made to worship procedures for what seemed to be legitimate, practical reasons, 6 but were nevertheless interpreted by God as despicable and unconscionable. Second, a prophet appears and violently makes a scene in order to affect reform. Third, there is mention of a sign that would authenticate the prophet's words. Fourth, the prophet's words look forward to a future person or event that would somehow bear upon the present situation. These four general descriptions apply to both the Temple scene and the Jeroboam incident. Still, in spite of the prophet's presentation of Josiah as one who would restore the Israelites from Jeroboam's religio-political system, Josiah was not as successful as the man of God's prophecy seems to have predicted. Jesus, on the contrary, by his death and resurrection, virtually demolished the existing religio-political system and instigated a new covenant around which proper worship would revolve. In other words, Jesus did raise the temple again in three days — so long as one understands that by 'temple' Jesus spoke of his body (John 2:21). In addition, it could be argued that Jesus' reforms were continuous with those of Josiah at least in terms of their both originating within the same Davidic line (both were 'sons of David') and that both were directed at restoring true worship of YHWH in Jerusalem. However, the adversary, i.e., the king of Egypt, eventually killed Josiah; Jesus, by contrast, decisively defeated the adversary when he approached (Matthew 4:1-11 par.) and went on to conquer even death itself by his resurrection in accordance with the word that he himself had spoken in John 2:19. Perhaps more could be said by way of comparison with respect to these two passages; however, we shall content ourselves with these remarks.
1 Kings 13:1-6 may seem an odd little story to include in Scripture and a difficult one to connect with the broader contours of the Israelite story, the Jesus story and our personal stories. We attempted four steps that sought to extract bits of meaning from the passage's context, its relation to other OT motifs, the context again and the NT. Expositional exegesis, so commonly encouraged, was purposefully neglected in order to highlight the spiraled-ness of the enterprise of preparing biblical narratives for sermons. Our first interaction with the text sought to place the passage in its immediate context. Second, we searched for underlying literary and cultural motifs. Third, we reexamined the context of the pericope in light of the motifs. Then we deferred to the NT for any available insights. The reason for all the jumping around is that expository study of biblical narratives will prove less effective unless creatively conducted in spiraled phases.
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