Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors

Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors: Reading an Old Story in a New WayJoseph and the Gospel of Many Colors: Reading an Old Story in a New Way by Voddie Baucham  Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Honestly, what took me so long?!?  I was so excited when I got the new book, Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors, by Voddie Baucham in October.  I love Baucham as a speaker and a writer and the topic of reading the Old Testament from a distinctly Christian perspective has been persistently exciting and intriguing to me, but I still somehow allowed myself to let this work drift to the back of my mind and then almost slip into the dreaded abyss of my To-Be-Read list, a virtual Bermuda Triangle of good books and good intentions.  Thank God that it did not.

Literally, “Thank God” that it did not!  This book deserves a wide audience and I enjoyed it immensely.

First, Baucham is a brilliant writer.  He is humorous and bright, and the manner in which he lays out information--organized, clearly presented, points building upon previous points—really speaks to me.  This is not a long book at all and, especially in the hands of Baucham, 170 pages fly by.

But, more importantly for me, this is a subject worth investigating.  If there is a character or story in the Old Testament that gets more of an Aesop’s Fables/Veggietales treatment from the pulpit and Sunday School lectern than Joseph and his technicolored bed-jacket I would be surprised.  When we really begin to trust the words of Christ, that Moses wrote about Him(John 5:46 ) and all of the Old Testament is about Him(Luke 24 ) we begin to look at the Old Testament in quite a different manner.  We guard against preaching a sermon or sharing a devotion or leading a small group where an unconverted Jew could praise and enjoy how we handled the Old Testament text, like the situation Voddie experienced.  We are wary of reading these narratives through the lenses of “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” and instead seek to read them as pointing to the person and work of Jesus Christ, the full revelation of God.

We look at the world through a lens that is calibrated for legalism.  We see something sinful or unjust, and we know immediately that (1) that is wrong, and (2) what ought to be done instead.  This is not wrong, per se; it’s just not enough.  Sure, Joseph’s brothers were wrong to be filled with such hatred toward him.  That’s a no-brainer.  However, did we need the story of Joseph to show us that?  Certainly there’s another point to be made.

But maybe you’re like me.  Maybe this process and this perspective is relatively foreign to you and the idea of seeing Christ in the Old Testament, apart from prophecies, types and Christophanies, is a bit complex, confusing, and some other “C”-word that says basically the same thing and completes my tri-alliteration.  Maybe you just have a hard time reading the text and not just grabbing the “low-hanging fruit” of Aesop-like morals that are right before your face.  If any of that resonates at all with you, then this book will be a great blessing.

Baucham, beyond just explaining the need for a Christ-centered hermeneutic to read the Old Testament, actually demonstrates it with the brilliant story of Joseph.  He takes the reader through the entire narrative, showing just how the story, the characters, the setting, everything points to Christ.  He uses the New Testament references to the Joseph narratives and the fact that Christ said that the Old Testament was about Him, to tell this old, old story in a way that is, sadly, quite new for most of us.  Baucham leads the reader to see the story about Joseph in the Genesis framework of “land, seed, covenant” and as a continuation of the story of Jacob that culminates in, not the restoration of Joseph but, the emergence of Judah, with an eye always looking for the Christ makes this a story worth retelling again and again.

I have always enjoyed the story of Joseph.  I enjoy it even more now that I can see clearly that it is, and how it is, about Christ.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review.

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