Augustine ends book 17 by tracing prophecies of the Christ through the rest of the Old Testament. He looks at David, Solomon, the kings, the prophets who spoke to those kings, and then the last of the pre-Christ prophets – Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, Anna, and John the Baptist. Each of these figures and prophets prepared the people of God to receive the Christ in some way. Augustine’s readings of these prophecies continue to have the same strengths and weaknesses as the earlier readings we have seen in previous posts: some of the readings point us to Christ in ways that reveal depth and a profound understanding of how God has spoken in His Scriptures; other readings suggest to me that Augustine is having to forget the text itself in order to run through it to find Christ. His readings of the Psalms and the Elijah narrative do a helpful job of pointing us to Christ. His comments about the “eating and drinking” of Ecclesiastes referring to the Eucharist, however, seem stretched – I have a hard time seeing how “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” is a hopeful prophecy of the Lord’s Supper, except as a negative example of another kind of eating and drinking.
Having noted my disagreements with some of Augustine’s readings, I want to say that I appreciate his method and even what I consider the problem readings. Readings allegorically is not a science and I would not want to push for turning it into one. We present readings and the church helps us to discern whether those readings resonate with the whole counsel of the Scriptures and the work of the Spirit. Not all of our readings of Scripture will be good readings. Not all of our allegorical interpretations will make sense. We do not always properly listen to the Spirit. God works for His purposes despite our failures – of reason, of listening, of spiritual discernment. We are still growing to maturity and our efforts to exercise our spiritual muscles will pay off in greater maturity.
So, I pray for myself that God would work in me a greater boldness in listening and speaking. May we boldly listen and hear from God, in failures and successes. May we read His Scriptures looking for Him and His work. May we grow in maturity and find ourselves in Him!