When we think of the Old Testament we often think of only God the Father as being in existence. This can be attributed to how little the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Old Testament, as well as Jesus’ birth and His coming as man to Earth is not mentioned until the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Good theological study reveals, however, that Jesus is eternal, just like the other two persons of the Trinity, and His human presence was not present yet on Earth.
The point of this post is not to prove that Jesus always existed, even before His birth. Let me quickly make some notes about this. Job 19:25, Job states, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” He talked about Messiah, who we know to be Jesus, but spoke of Him as someone that was already living. While he knew Messiah would come in human form, He believed in His existence before His incarnation.
John speaks of Jesus as also being eternal. If we were to study John chapter 1, specifically John 1:1-3 &14, John sees Jesus and God’s Word as being one. John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word” and explains to us later in verse 14 that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” In other words, Jesus and His Word are one, and have always existed. This post isn’t meant to speak about Jesus existing eternally, but how He is the center of Scripture. The overall theme of Scripture and the Word points to Jesus, and is mainly about Jesus, not us. I have written on that previously here
In much of modern theology we have a very man-centered view of Scripture. Those with this view believe that when we read Scripture that humans are the center of the universe, and that we are the most important part of Scripture. No one would directly say that, but the way we talk about Scripture leads others who do not know Scripture to believe those things. Think about how many Bible studies start with this idea: “Let’s find what Scripture has to say to us, and how we need to change our lives.”
Now, those concepts and ideas are in Scripture. They are good in and of themselves. If however, man is the primary focus of Scripture, we end up turning Scripture becoming man-centered, not God-centered. God must be the primary driving factor of Scripture, and what flows out of an understanding of who He is, what He does, and His character leads us to a better understanding of who we are and what He expects of us.
Since this type of teaching and preaching took a back seat for many decades in the American church, people have a hard time finding Christ in Scripture where He should be found. If Jesus only shows up in Luke 2, “the Christmas story,” we have a hard time seeing Him, especially in the Old Testament.
This erroneous theology has even led some leaders of evangelical Christianity into the inherency of saying we should detach ourselves from the Old Testament. It is as if God is riding His bike in the Old Testament, falls off, hits His head, and developed a new personality which is the New Testament. But God’s character has not changed through history, even though the way He functions at times does. What we are missing out when we don’t see Jesus in the Old Testament is the richness of both the awaiting of the Messiah, and how the Old Testament authors proclaimed Him. One such passage is Psalm 8.
What brought me to such a passage is a recent Youtube video on the subject. Looking at Psalm 8, the video was devoid of Jesus. I’m not saying that Jesus is in every verse of the Old Testament, but sometimes He blatantly stands out, and if we miss Him there are ramifications.
Two quick things about this video. The first is that, while I will not share what the video is, it has an impact. I am writing this in the Spring of 2019 and it already has over a third of a million views. So this video has impact. The second thing about this video is that I would say, overall, the authors of the video have the same theological leaning as me. They view Scripture as Christ-centered, yet still missed the entire point of Psalm 8.
What is Psalm 8 about? First, after you read it, I think that the theme of the Psalm is very specific and encouraging. Both the first and last verse of Psalm 8 are mirror images of the Psalm. They declare the awesomeness and majesty God.
How does the psalmist do this? He does it by recounting the creation story found in the first couple chapters of Genesis. Clearly a God who is so powerful to create the cosmos with order, beauty, function and sustainability is all powerful. Power both can attest to needed respect, and reliance for the one who sees and believes in that power. (1 Corinthians 2:5?)
If Psalm 8 is so specific, how could anyone go wrong here? The question is who is Psalm 8:5-8 talking about? Psalm 8:5-8 says
“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”The authors of the video I referred to jumped right to attributing these verses to man, specifically Adam and Eve. Verse 4 asks the question, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” So God is mindful of man.
This is not totally false, in that I believe this is part of what we’re talking about. Man has been created below superiority of the angels and above animals according to Philippians 2 and other passages. The problem with the video is that it leaves Psalm 8 there. It attributes glory and honor to man, and leaves it at that. Now I would agree that man was created with certain attributes even of glory and honor. Man was made in God’s perfect image before we sinned.
But a quick look at Hebrews 2 shows us that this middle section about man having a higher status than animals should not be applied to strictly man. The apostle Paul works through what we theological call an already, not yet. There are times that something already happened in part, but has not been totally fulfilled. Psalm 8 is one of those passages.
The apostle Paul quotes Psalm 8:4-6 in Hebrews 2:6-8. What the apostle Paul is saying here is, “Hey, remember Psalm 8, that’s primarily about Jesus.” Now I would not say that He is saying that it is only about Jesus. I believe that Adam and Eve were created in a great way to have dominion over the animals.
Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, they were already in this position of ruling over the animals, but not able to have complete success in such things. At the same time, Christ would put everyone perfectly in subjection to Him. One day everything and everyone will not only be able to be perfectly in order, but perfectly under His dominion. So Adam already did this, but failed, and Jesus one day will perfectly do this and prevail. David is giving Psalm 8 in part as a Messianic prophecy.
It is not good enough that we understand Jesus’ as an eternal being, or that Christ is the primary center of Scripture. We can’t just understand that Adam was given certain points of position and job description and failed, and Jesus will fulfill them. If we know these things and don’t know what to do with them, we have failed.
This is where Scripture speaks of what theologians call the “second” or “last Adam.” That Adam, as we know as the first created being, is the first man, but Jesus is the last Adam. The apostle Paul specifically speaks to this in I Corinthians 15:45-49.
It is not that Jesus is the last human created, as billions of humans have existed since Him. It is that everything that man was meant to be, Jesus was able to fulfill. So specifically related to Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 what the apostle Paul is saying is that the position and tasks that Adam was given to fulfill, Christ will perfectly accomplish one day.
What is the practical implications of seeing Psalm 8 as a future prophecy of Christ, or missing that the middle section of Psalm 8:5-8 is only about man? Well, first it takes away the fact that Christ is the center of Scripture. It does what most man-centered theology does, declares man as center of Scripture, and tags God on the end of it.
If, however, we see Christ as the center of Scripture, we can find more encouragement in that than a man-centered approach. The problem with man-centered theology is that while it seems to inspire us, it dumps responsibility on us that we are not meant to carry. If we think that we are the center of Scripture, we find much responsibility in things which are to be God’s. This produces anxiety, worry and pressure in our lives as we attempt to take on burdens that we don’t need to bear – all contrary to God’s will for us.
If we properly see Christ as the center of Scripture, there is a blessing. However, there is also a warning here. We should not squeeze Jesus into places He does not belong, but if we miss Him in the places He is clearly declared or prophesied such as Psalm 8, we miss out on two ideas. The first being the greatness of Christ, and the second being how He carries us through our burdens and frailties as man.This is what David is attempting to declare to us in Psalm 8, is he not? Remember back to the beginning of this article. Both bookends of Psalm 8 declare “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all of the Earth!” Psalm 8 is a declaration of God’s goodness, and a hope that is found in Him that everything that we cannot accomplish will be accomplished by Jesus one day.
This idea gives us rest. Rest in that the burden is on God not us. Rest that while we continue to sin and mess things up, He is the great Restorer, and will make things right one day. We can find rest in the fact that He is in control of all things and that He will carry our burdens, we do not have to.
If you grew up in church, how were you taught to view Scripture? Do you see man or Jesus and God as the center of Scripture? What trust in God and rest in Him can you find in seeing Scripture as Christ-centered? Are there times because of your man-centered background to studying Scripture that you are missing Jesus when He is blatantly in Scripture? What are things in your life that you are attempting to do, or taking the burden on that are actually God’s job? If they are things that you are called to do, are you taking responsibility for them? Since everything we are called to do is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, how are you seeking God to do these things in you by following God and praying for Him to do those things in you?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.