Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Anointing, the anointed, and the one who anoints

What do people who are called 'Christian' do when they 'preach on the Old Testament'? What do people who call themselves Christian mean with they want to 'see Christ' in the Old Testament? My own thoughts around this have to do with the unity of the Biblical witness to God. It must not be seen as too big a question.

I have suggested a thought that opens up further possibilities - what if the Christ as a word is not meant to mean exclusively Jesus? What if the anointing of say Psalm 23 points to a knowledge of God that is every bit the same as the knowledge and anointing in the Holy Spirit that is written of in the NT?
You sate with oil my head
my vessel is full
What if we recognize the ambiguity of words like Messiah, servant, son, elect etc and apply them in preaching - to Israel, the the king of Israel, to the individual who fears God, to the New Testament believer, to Jesus as having this Spirit without measure?

There is analytical work to do (and I am thinking about it) - but I have to say as one to whom our Lord has been kind, that the kindness I find in the Psalms is completely the same as the end of kindness that is pointed to in the NT and is the substance of the Mercy Seat.

Sure 'Christ' is in the OT - but not just as a pointer to the completeness that is in Jesus, also as a recognition, for example, of the work of the referee implied in Job, and the anointed king / Israel in the Psalms (e.g. 89) and also as a recognition of the work of the Spirit (hidden in the OT but still there) that moves and trains the individual as one of those under the mercy in hearing, obedience, love, and the confidence of completeness that we find in the individual psalms, whether this anticipates the completeness in Jesus or even the completeness of an individual.

That last sentence is based on the observation that the individual in Psalm 1 has become the plurality of the Chasidim in psalm 149. It is the role of the Chasidim to "bind their kings in chains" - the very thing that the Anointed of Psalm 2 is tasked to do - but also that the willing people of psalm 110 do on behalf of the king.

This individual is also the reader / poet of Psalm 119. What does this earthling say of itself? From alef to Taf it is one of those who are joyful and walk in the teaching - and it is one that wanders and needs to be sought.
All joy for those who are the complete of the way
who walk in the teaching of יְהוָה
Time and again I am straying like a sheep that has perished
seek your servant for I do not forget your commandments.
Is it this one who is chosen? or anointed? Do we apply the psalms to Christ? We certainly can apply the psalms to the anointed Jesus and also to the anointed king - like David, and they apply to Israel, and anointing applies to the priestly caste. Can the anointing be in with and on a single reader?

I have always taken an affirmative answer for this question as far as salvation in the NT is concerned. Then as I started to read the Psalms closely and realized how severely I wander (not that I did not know this earlier), I wondered: Was God testing me as an individual only - and outside of Christ - when I knew myself to be in Christ? No - in or out, what I knew was with me and therefore I was in. But I was also in a space which was before the time of the Anointed Jesus yet still anointed. Faults, failures aside - of which there are plenty in all eras, God answers the prayer of the last verse of Psalm 119 equally in all eras. It is this apparent fact that makes me question not the reality of Jesus and his own work and Anointing but the ways we have thought about Jesus and substituted Christ for Jesus without thinking.