Reading the Old Testament

One of great things about becoming part of the Orthodox Church has been learning how the early Church read the Old Testament. During my time in Protestant Bible Studies, there were typically two approaches used to read the Old Testament. One either read the Old Testament by itself, to see what things you could learn from it, or one read it to gain insights into the New Testament. Typically, both were used, and they seem reasonable.

Interestingly, though, the Church never approached the Old Testament in that manner. The Old Testament, instead, is filled with “types” pointing to Christ and our ultimate salvation. This was brought to mind yesterday when flipping the channel and I ran across Joyce Meyer. Now, I realize that she is not well received among all Protestants, and she has more serious issues in her preaching than this one -but I think her prosperity gospel approach to things may be fed, to some extent, by her lack of understanding about how to read the Old Testament.

In the course of her talk, she referred to Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. She stated (I’m paraphrasing a bit here) that she didn’t know why God asked Moses to stretch his arms out over the Red Sea to help part it. She stated that it was an act of faith on Moses’ part, but that there was no purpose other than that.

Unfortunately, she is unfamiliar with the way the Church read the Old Testament. God did not ask Moses to do it as an act of faith, but rather that we might see the saving power of the cross. We know this from the first Katavasia of the Holy Cross:

Inscribing the invincible weapon of the Cross upon the waters,

Moses marked a straight line before him with his staff and divided the Red Sea,

opening a path for Israel who went over dry-shod.

Then he marked a second line across the waters and united them in one,

overwhelming the chariots of Pharaoh.

Therefore let us sing to Christ our God,

for He hath been glorified.

If she read the rest of the Old Testament in light of the New, as the Church does, I think she would have a different theology than what she has developed.