Saturday 31 January 2009

Stephen J. Wellum on Reading and Applying Exodus

Stephen J. Wellum, ‘ Reading and Applying the Book of Exodus Today’, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 12, 3 (2008), 2-3.

Stephen J. Wellum introduces an issue of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology devoted to the book of Exodus by exploring briefly how to read and apply it to today.

Kicking off with the importance of reading texts in context, he says we need to read beyond the immediate context of a passage to the whole of Scripture. The discipline that helps us do this is biblical theology, ‘which seeks to understand the whole Bible by carefully interpreting biblical texts in light of the entire canon, taking into consideration the progressive nature of God’s redemptive plan and revelation of himself’ (2).

He distinguishes three horizons:

• Textual – the immediate context of a text.
• Epochal – where the text is place ‘in the unfolding plan of God’ (2).
• Canonical – texts read ‘in light of the fullness of revelation that has now come in Christ’ (2).

Exodus is an important book in the overall story of the Bible. Abraham emerges in Genesis as God’s solution to the plight of men and women, but God calls and establishes his covenant with the nation of Israel in fulfilment of promises made to Abraham (cf. Exod. 3:6).

‘Israel, then, which serves as a kind of new Adam, will be the means by which God will bring about a resolution of the sin and death caused by the first Adam. Israel, as a nation, is the agent and means God will use to achieve the wider purposes of the Abrahamic covenant that will ultimately lead us to Christ’ (3).

Exodus lays out many of the typological building blocks of God’s redemptive plan – priesthood, sacrifice, tabernacle, etc. – which point beyond themselves to their fulfilment in Christ.

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