I have always had a strong draw towards classical music. More than that, I have a powerful appreciation for thematic music. Whether it is a movie soundtrack or a symphony that is composed to follow a certain storyline, I love seeing the recurring themes that highlight the development of the story. The composer will often come up with certain melodies to represent a character or a specific event. This particular theme is used in various forms throughout the work to remind the listener of a central focus. This is done exceptionally well in the Lord of the Rings trilogy with the “Concerning Hobbits” theme in the beginning of the first installment. That refrain is played many times and in various forms to remind the viewer of what is most important in the story. You hear it in the bright, happy beginnings of the adventure, it is used as a glimmer of hope in the midst of the darkest and most somber moments, and finally it sounds out as a triumphant, glorious exultation when the enemy is defeated and the heroes are honored.
Now, I don’t know if this is always a helpful practice, but I often read scripture as if it were a movie playing out. Naturally, there is a soundtrack highlighting moments of importance: despair and defeat, joy and triumph. I am neither a musician nor a composer, but I can definitely hear something that sounds like a hopeful refrain resonating from the pages of scripture, even during the midst of calamitous situations. The very first time I noticed this recurring theme was right after the most disastrous and destructive event that has ever occurred. It was the inception of all pain, loss, and suffering: the Fall of Man. The first instance of human rebellion against their Creator that sent the universe into a nosedive of entropy.
As the creation began to crumble, the hopeful refrain began:
I will put enmity between you (the serpent) and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:15 ESV)
As scripture unfolds we see failure time and time again. The sins of man just pile up higher and higher. It only takes six chapters of Genesis for God to hit the “refresh button” by sending the flood to annihilate all but eight people. But we see that this theme, this musical refrain if you will, continues to pop up. God says to Abram in Genesis 12:3, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” As the Old Testament progresses, we see God delivering his wandering people time and time again. We see this profound need for an anchor in the midst of these drifting generations. This future hope is referred to more times than I can list here and each time that I read of this glorious promise, I hear this theme play in my mind.
Then, the realization of this hope occurs. God becomes man, lives a life that none could live, and dies a death that only He would die. Throughout this gospel process, mixed with the horrific music of wrath, there is this simple refrain of hope that rings out clearly. Then silence. Three days of it. But then the central melody picks up in its greatest movement yet. This is the part where the whole orchestra is blasting out the main title theme and the conductor is waving his wand faster than before. The Son of God steps out of the tomb, having defeated death itself!
I don’t know if anyone else looks at the storyline of the Bible like this, or if I sound like some nerd that’s seen way too many movies. What I hope is that when you read the bible (specifically the Old Testament) you are able to clearly perceive how the Gospel is on every page. This understanding has helped me out in two specific ways. First, is that it can transform your quiet times. It is an easy temptation to read the Old Testament and think of it as boring. But when we are looking for Christ, this endeavor has a more immediately noticeable effect on the soul. Our passion is stirred and we can get much more out of the text. Even in Numbers.
Secondly, when we are looking for the theme of Christ and the coming hope of salvation in the Old Testament, it naturally draws our eyes to the glory of our salvation. In the midst of our drifting tendencies, this Christ-centered reading of the Old Testament provides for us yet another anchor to the Gospel.
Here is a Gospel Coalition post by Kevin DeYoung that lists out places in the Old Testament where we get hints and foreshadowing of Jesus:
The content of that post was actually derived from this sermon by Ben Falconer (one of DeYoung’s co-pastors at University Reformed Church):