Last week I was preaching on 2 Kings 3. It's an easy passage to get a lot of moral lessons from, but what does it have to tell us about Jesus? I found myself scratching my head often.
I have a problem with how some preachers make the 'leap' from Old Testament narrative to Christ. A number of commentators say something like this about 2 Kings 3: "v20 tells us that God's provision was made about the time of the morning sacrifice. This speaks to us of Christ, where God provided what we needed at the time of the sacrifice."
I appreciate that the writer of 2 Kings tells us of the morning sacrifice for a reason, but I'm not convinced that this is how we best see Christ here. It often seems as if preachers scrabble around in the dust of the text for a key word that they can seize on and milk for all it is worth, for example, "red" - Rahab hung a red cord from her window", or as in this case "sacrifice". (Although admittedly 'sacrifice' is a much more substantial key word than 'red').
It always seems a bit random to me: a bit 'hit and hope', a bit 'pulling a rabbit from a hat'.
It seems like a man standing close to a large red brick wall, peering intently at the lines of mortar. You ask him what he is doing and he answers, "I'm looking for something red". And after a long search he points to a fragment of red grit, and exclaims, "If found it!". And yet all the while, all he had to do was step back and look at the whole wall of red bricks.
Consider 2 Kings 3. What is the chapter about? It's about three foolish and disobedient kings who get stuck in a desert without water. They cry out to God for help and he answers and graciously and miraculously gives them more than they ever ask for or imagine. It's a chapter that contrasts man's folly and the grace of God to undeserving sinners. The contrast is heightened by a fourth king who feels that the only way he can gain his god's attention is by sacrificing his son, whereas all the other three kings had to do was to come to God. It is about a gracious God who yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
The lostness of man without God, the folly of ignoring God, the heavy yoke of false religion, and the abundant grace of God to those who seek him - if that's not the gospel I don't know what is!
Sometimes it's not a matter of 'finding' Christ in the text, but of standing back and seeing the whole picture.
Of course I got all this figured out after I preached the sermon!