The Israelites’ Christian Testimony – J. Alec Motyer

I came across this article today commemorating the late J. Alec Motyer, a British Old Testament scholar who passed away last Friday. The article immediately caught my eye because I was familiar with Motyer’s name. He wrote an excellent commentary on Isaiah that I read while preaching through Isaiah at the evening services at Grace. His work was hugely helpful to me but I didn’t know anything about the man himself (and to be honest, I couldn’t have even told you if he was still living or not). So I enjoyed learning more about Dr. Motyer.

In the article New York pastor Tim Keller reflects on the formative influence Motyer had on his own growth in understanding the Christ-centeredness of the Old Testament. Keller remembers him describing what the “testimony” of the Israelites might have sounded like concerning their deliverance from Egypt. Since we are studying the book of Exodus at the morning services at Grace, I really appreciated reading this and thought it worthy to pass along to you. This is Keller quoting Motyer on what the testimony of the Israelites would have been:

We were in a foreign land, in bondage, under the sentence of death. But our mediator – the one who stands between us and God – came to us with the promise of deliverance. We trusted in the promises of God, took shelter under the blood of the lamb, and he led us out. Now we are on the way to the Promised Land. We are not there yet, of course, but we have the law to guide us, and through blood sacrifice we also have his presence in our midst. So he will stay with us until we get to our true country, our everlasting home.

Then Dr. Motyer concluded: “Now think about it. A Christian today could say the same thing, almost word for word.”

Amen! The Israelites were saved by the work of Christ just as we are today. And their deliverance from Egypt was a wonderful picture of the far greater deliverance that was theirs – and ours – by faith in Christ. They belived in the Christ who was to come. We believe in the Christ who has come.

I think you can see why Motyer’s Isaiah commentary was so helpful to me. He understood, and showed, how that Old Testament book, too, was ultimately about Christ and his saving work.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Scott