Have you ever toured a mansion? Sharon and I have been on several tours. A typical tour goes something like this. You purchase your tickets at a welcome center, walk to the mansion, and then wait. Finally, a tour guide appears, gives a lot of instructions, and walks you through. Some rooms are roped off, so that you can just look in, and of course, you can’t touch anything! Other rooms might be dimly lit, and you wish you could enter fully in with a bright light and really enjoy the riches displayed in such rooms.
The believer in Old Testament times lived in a dimly lit chamber. They had great blessings as God’s people (Romans 3:1-2; 9:4-5). But they could not see them clearly or experience them fully. They had to wait for the coming of a great light, the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:1-7). Listen to what the Spirit reveals about the level of insight that the prophets, who spoke the word, had. Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things (1 Pt 1:10-12 NIV). The prophets received and spoke God’s word, but unless the Spirit explained it to them, they could not understand it. They were before the Light of the world came, and lacked events like the resurrection and the Day of Pentecost to understand what was met. They had an ignition key but no car. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets cf. Eph 3:4-5 NIV). Some truths simply were not revealed until the new covenant age began. You might desire the next generation cellphone, but until it’s on the market, you can’t have it or use it. Many of the truths about the Holy Spirit had to wait till after the ascension of Jesus the Messiah.
From these texts, the church has long recognized the truth of the greater light of the New Testament Scriptures. Consider the words of Augustine. “The New Testament is in the Old concealed, and in the New, the Old revealed.”
“The Old Testament may be likened to a chamber richly furnished but dimly lighted: the introduction of light brings into it nothing which was not in it before; but it brings out into clearer view much of what was in it but was only dimly or not at all perceived before. The mystery of the Trinity is not revealed in the Old Testament; but the mystery of the Trinity underlies the Old Testament revelation, and here and there almost comes into view. Thus the Old Testament revelation of God is not corrected by the fuller revelation which follows it, but is only perfected, extended and enlarged” (Warfield).
Our next subject in our series on the Holy Spirit is the Person of the Spirit of God in the dimly lighted chamber of the Old Testament Scriptures. Obviously, we cannot speak in detail about this. Whole books address this theme! But in some glimpses of his glory as God that the Spirit gave in the Old Testament Scriptures, we may learn more of God and all that he is for his people. So then, we’ll take the rope down and with the light of Christ explore a little of this dimly lighted room.
Grace and peace, David