One of the most incredible features of the Bible is that it combines so many different authors in such a large span of time, yet tells one, unified story. In The Messianic Vision of the Pentateuch, Kevin Chen highlights this by taking a detailed look at how the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) primarily presents a vision of the Messiah for the ultimate redemption of Israel. I’ll let Chen state the purpose himself:
The purpose of this book is to argue that the Pentateuch itself sets forth an authorially intended, coherent portrait of the Messiah as the center of its theological message.Kevin Chen, page 5
Many look at the Pentateuch much differently by focusing on the giving of the Law at Sinai and how this shaped (or was supposed to shape) Israel’s relationship with God. But this book takes a look at several key passages, such as Genesis 3:15 and the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham throughout the narratives in the rest of Genesis, the Passover in Exodus, Numbers 24, and Deuteronomy 18 and 34, and how they come together to form a unified message of Israel’s future Messiah. Through these passages, we see that the Messiah, not the Law, is the focus of the Pentateuch.
Everything in this book is great and so eye-opening, but Chapter 9 is worth getting the book all on its own! This chapter shows how Israel continuously broke the Mosaic Law given at Mount Sinai (even with the golden calf while the Law was being presented)! Looking at the history of Israel in relation to the Law, Chen concludes that “the Pentateuch has intentionally presented the Sinai/Deuteronomic law as an ultimately ineffective and hence temporary system for Israel. In contrast, eschatological salvation through the Messiah is the consistent teaching of the Pentateuch from beginning to end.”
The Pentateuch does not simply describe the giving of the Sinai/Deuteronomic law and the importance of keeping it but also makes painfully clear that Israel did not keep this law. Thus, the Pentateuch is as much about the breaking of the Sinai/Deuteronomic law as it is about the law itself.Kevin Chen, page 273
If this is true, then the law only accentuates Israel’s (and our own) need for salvation through the Messiah!
Parts of the book can be a bit academic and tough to read through, but overall I think it is a message that needs to be heard. It brings clarity to how the Old Testament relates to the New, and astounds with the intricate and beautiful plan of God through His people to bring about ultimate salvation through the Messiah. I will never read the first five books of the Bible the same way again.
I hope that this book will help you see for yourself that the Bible is a work of genius, beauty, and glory, surpassing even the greatest masterpieces humanity as ever produced, and as such is itself a powerful testimony to the triune God and the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed on its pages.Kevin Chen, page 33
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*This book was graciously provided by IVPress in exchange for an honest review.
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