Why is it important today that the whole Bible, including the Old Testament, speaks to the death and resurrection of Jesus? Why does it matter? Why put in the effort to see Christ in the Old Testament? With us this week is hip-hop artist and author Timothy Brindle, who’s spent years studying this. And since he’s an artist, he decided to not just write a book about his findings, but to write a correlating album with it. The Unfolding speaks to the unfolding plan of God seen in the Bible. In addition to this, Timothy helps explain and apply the often-confused Jeremiah 29:11.
Who's our guest?
Timothy Brindle is the product of God’s Sovereign Grace, as Jesus rescued him while he was a secular battle-rapper a week before 9/11 in 2001. Timothy recently graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary’s Masters of Divinity program where he spent the last 5 years studying the Word of Christ to prepare for life-long ministry in the local church. He is a pastoral intern at Cross Community Church (PCA).
With me today is hip hop artist and author Timothy Brindle. He’s a husband. He’s a father, and he’s just recently graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary’s Master of Divinity program. So it’s great to have you with us today, Timothy.
It’s great to be here, Isaac. Thank you so much for having me.
Just as a way to introduce yourself, who are you? Maybe how did you come to faith in Christ?
Great question. I am a desperate, needy sinner saved by the sovereign grace of God. I was living a life for myself, serving me, myself and I quite intensely, not looking for the Lord. I’m just grateful He was pursuing me, and a week before 9/11, He saved my soul reading His word. This was in the context of doing underground hip hop as a battle rapper in the late 90s, early 2000s, doing graffiti illegally in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. I was in a sinful relationship. Obviously I was dead in sins, but this girl began attending church. At first, I thought that was one of the corniest things in the world, if not the top, the most corny thing.
But I realized, okay, maybe I can win some points with her, so maybe I should go to church since she invited me. Went out and bought some $5.99 Payless shoes, a $6.99 King James Bible, because I had to play the part. I knew I was supposed to dress up for church. I got there, barely made it there. I basically got lost in southwest Philly trying to find the place on a trolley on a Sunday morning early September 2001, and when I arrived, she wasn’t there. She never showed up, and I sat in the back of the church a little embarrassed that I walked in so late, and a lot of people were staring at me, and I turned to the book of Luke as my older brother’s name is Luke, and I knew my dad named him after the disciple, and so I started reading Luke while the pastor is preaching.
I didn’t get a whole lot out of the sermon that day, but the Spirit of God was working, Isaac. That week, I just couldn’t put the book of Luke down. The Lord had my soul in a place that was ready to see Christ healing lepers, pursuing prostitutes, casting out demons, and I didn’t understand real in depth theology at that point, but I knew I needed Him, and I knew that these people in the gospels were a picture of me, and so Christ, by His Spirit gave me faith to believe, and that was the conversion and the salvation of Timothy Brindle in time based on Jesus’ purchased blood from a couple thousand years ago.
That’s so good. I love it. That’s awesome, Tim. Now, you’ve just completed a project that I can imagine just took hours upon hours of time and energy to complete. It’s called The Unfolding. It’s this rap or hip-hop album you’ve written and recorded, plus a theological book. Now, literally, I was smiling in joy as you began to literally exegete Scripture. In the second song of the album, you’re explaining these Greek words and their grammatical importance and their propositions, and I was just astounded. I was like, “Oh, my goodness.”
Now, for curiosity’s sake, how many hours roughly did you think you spent studying, writing and recording this entire project.
That is such a good question, and it’s really hard to estimate it, because the album is such a part of the reflection of my MDiv studies, which took five years, and the book I began writing toward the end of my time in the MDiv and especially after graduating in 2016. I’m in another program now at Westminster that’s THM in Old Testament, and so it’s been many, many hours, and my wife might be able to give a more accurate assessment.
That’s always the case.
But she has been so supportive along with my children throughout on the way. But, yeah, it would be interesting. It would take hours to try to calculate the amount of time that both the book and the album took. So it just took a long time. Is that an okay answer, brother?
It’s a great answer. It’s all good. Now, take some time though to explain what The Unfolding is, why that name, what is it as a project, and why ultimately you wrote this. So, yeah, go for it.
Absolutely. The Unfolding is the result of me being gripped by the fact that God’s word comes to us not primarily as a systematic theology textbook with all of the different doctrines organized logically. Nor necessarily does the Bible come to us with the Lord telling you and me everything about our own specific individual Christian lives, although there are implications for that, as well as systematic theology.
Rather the Bible comes to us as God’s one unfolding story. From Genesis to Revelation, it’s one glorious, dramatic story, and I was so struck as the Lord showed me, in some ways, how to put together the various pieces of the story and how they fit together in the whole, in the one giant scheme of things, and so I long for God’s people to get a little glimpse of how amazing God’s word is written, and how the center focus of Genesis to Revelation is Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. That’s not something that just begins in the New Testament. In fact, the entire New Testament is based on fulfillment of the Old Testament, and that’s not just a few prophesies and types and shadows, but it’s the entire movement of redemption from Genesis onward. So I guess you could say The Unfolding is the result of my own road to Emmaus experience.
Cool. That’s awesome.
Do you remember it?
In Luke 24, Jesus’ disciples don’t recognize Him as they’re walking on the road to Emmaus, and Jesus, who has just been risen from the dead, is walking with them. And what He does is He opens their eyes, the eyes of their hearts to understand the Scriptures as being primarily about Him and His death and resurrection, and they say, “Did not our hearts burn within us?”
Yeah. It’s so good.
Yeah. Because He opened the Scriptures to us about Himself, and so that continues to happen. I long for that to happen for God’s people, so they can better know Christ. They can better make Him known from not just the New Testament, if that makes sense, brother.
Yeah. Absolutely. That’s so good. So in one sense, if your goal in writing this is to allow God’s people to catch a glimpse of this unfolding plan, if that’s your purpose, then why did you want to accomplish this purpose today? Did you see a lack of that?
Yes. That is true. On one level, me being so struck, and so amazed, and so floored by Jesus’ glory, not just in the New Testament, but, also, in the Old Testament, that in and of itself was a good enough reason to devote a whole album to it. However, I do think you make a good point, Isaac, in your question implied there. I do think there’s a great lacking in the church, in broader evangelical church, in the reformed church, for understanding how God’s word is an unfolding story, where the earlier parts of Scripture are designed intentionally by its author as God’s recording His saving works from the beginning, how it’s written and designed in a way that corresponds to later future acts of salvation climaxing in the death and resurrection of Christ.
So on the introduction to the album, track one, I have a clip of Ray Dillard, former Westminster professor who is with Jesus now. He makes a good point. Many Christians see the Old Testament as a collection of Bible verses randomly, poorly organized, that they might just pull from here or there, as opposed to understanding how they fit in and their context, and how every single Old Testament narrative, every single Old Testament story is not meant to be isolated by itself the way that we often learn these stories in Sunday School: Noah’s ark, Sampson, Deborah, Moses and the Exodus, Elijah, David and Goliath.
Yeah. I think that the church has isolated these stories from the redemptive historical context, namely how it connects to the person and work of Christ, because they do, and the author wrote them that way on purpose. Jesus Christ, the author of the Old Testament, and the reason I say Christ is the author of the Old Testament is because Peter in 1 Peter 1:10-12 says that the Spirit of Christ predicted beforehand, bore witness beforehand to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow, and He did that through the prophets, and that’s the Spirit of Christ, so that implies the second and third person of the Trinity. So that’s a long answer to your simple question, Isaac.
That’s so good, and as you bring up that passage in 1 Peter, I love that it says they found out that they weren’t serving themselves, but they were actually serving you, and it really shows what the prophets were trying to figure out, and they’re carefully figuring this out. It was to serve us today, which is so cool. Now, for the sake of our short time, I want to get to this point. Why is the fact that all of scripture, including the Old Testament, points to Christ’s death and resurrection? Why is that important for us today?
Good point. So to give a few reasons why that’s so significant, I would say, first off, our knowledge of Christ is dependent on it. If you think about it, about four-fifths of the Bible is the Old Testament when it comes to the actual amount of words in chapters that are in our Bible. Although Christ is more fully clearly revealed in the New Testament, His glory is shining forth from Genesis onward, and my experience, for me, the way that most of my Christian walk was, Isaac, until the last few years, and I’m grateful for coming to this wonderful seminary to help assist in this. In my experience with other believers as well, is that usually when it comes to getting to know Christ in a worshipful relationship, in seeing the glory of God shining forth in the face of Christ, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4, we usually turn to the New Testament for that only, or just primarily, when actually when Paul makes that amazing statement, he’s actually using Old Testament language, because he’s referring to the fact that the glory of God shine in the face of Moses, albeit temporarily on Mount Sinai, but how the glory of God shines even more fully in the face of the Greater Moses, who is actually Yahweh, the Lord Himself.
So to better know Christ is, I think, a good enough reason. Secondly though I think it’s clear that God has designed His word to be read this way. This is the way that the Apostles and the New Testament prophets in the early church read Scripture. If you look at the book of Acts, in every single sermon that Peter or Paul preaches that’s recorded in the book of Acts, they are spending most of the sermon quoting the Old Testament, eluding back to the Old Testament, are basing everything that they’re talking about on the Old Testament, and that’s not just because they’re talking to Jewish people, who are maybe more familiar with the Old Testament. Even Luke in his wonderful gospel and Luke being a Gentile, most of Luke’s gospel is written being sensitive to the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, and Luke is quoting and eluding back to the Greek Old Testament.
Here’s my final reason why I think this project and this understanding of Christ and the Old Testament is so important. It’s because a Gentile Christian, not just a Jewish Christian, a Gentile Christian needs to know their story is the Bible, and that’s because the Bible is Christ’s story. It tells the story of Christ from Genesis onward, and since we’re united to Christ by faith, it tells our story, too.
For instance, Paul will say to Gentile Christians, “Our Fathers,” speaking of the patriarchs, speaking of Abraham. “Our father, Abraham,” he said to Roman Christians. Wow. So that means even though I’m a lowdown, stinking, dirty rotten Gentile, through my union with Christ, I’m not only clothed in His righteousness. I have His Spirit in me. I am attached to the same vine as Jewish Christians. There’s one people of God, one covenant people of God, and therefore, all of God’s promises that He made to Abraham, that He made to Israel, that He made to David, since those promises are fulfilled in Christ, they’re for me, too.
So as important as my Irish, German, Scottish, Polish, English heritage is, and my wife, a beautiful African woman, as important as her Angolan heritage is, we shouldn’t throw those things out, ultimately the Christian should find their identity in their story in the New and the Old Testament, and so that’s why I think it’s so crucial, Isaac.
Yeah, absolutely. That’s so good, and there’s so much to consider and think about there. So I hope if you’re listening, like me, that makes you want to go and dig into this a little bit more.
Now, this next thing, it might be a tad off topic, but I think it’s important. From what you’ve studied, you’ve discovered, what you’ve learned in preparing for your MDiv and in preparation for this project, how would you best answer the question of: how should we as Christians today understand and apply the statements in the Old Testament that speak to Israel specifically? So, take Jeremiah 29:11. That’s a very popular verse amongst people, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Welfare, not for evil, give you a future and a hope,” because you just said that yourself, that these promises given to Abraham, to David, can be applied to us. So how should we read our Old Testaments when we come to those sorts of things?
That is an excellent question, and so I do think many of our wonderful Christian teachers, and pastors, and commentators do a good job to slow us down and want us to understand what’s going on in that particular context, and so you mentioned Jeremiah 29. In Jeremiah’s letter that he’s written to those who are in Babylonian captivity, who have been exiled, we do need to know that historical context, we do need to know what the people who were the recipients of God’s word through Jeremiah, what situation they were in, and how that promise was for them at that time, in that context, and that’s very important.
But I think, unfortunately, many Christian teachers, and preachers, and pastors, and commentators stop there, and Paul makes quite clear in the New Testament that these things that were written, were written, also, for us as well, and the reason is, it’s because through our union with Christ, Jesus, who is the true Israel, who sums up and is the recipient of all of God’s covenant promises to Israel, since we’re united to Christ, we, also, are heirs of the same promise, promises.
As Paul says in Ephesians 3, and I’m just going to read that very briefly. This is Ephesians 3, and this is coming off of the heels of Ephesians 2, which talks about, “Us, as Gentiles, are no longer far off. We’ve been brought near by the blood of Christ. We’re no longer strangers and aliens. Now we’re fellow citizens, saints, and members of the household of God.” There’s not two households of God, a Jewish household and a Gentile household. There’s one household of God built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Himself, the Cornerstone.
But then Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 3:6, “This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs,” or co-heirs, or heirs together with, and there’s a prefix here, “Soon,” in the Greek. Paul uses it over and over again for the union with Christ language. It means together with. We’ve been crucified together with Christ, buried together with Christ, raised up together with Christ, seated together with Christ. He’s used that prefix over and over again for our union with Christ.
Well, we’re, also, heirs together with, members of the same body, so there’s one body, and partakers, those who fellowship in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Promise is in the singular there, and for Paul, promise is covenantal. It’s God’s covenant promises that He has made to His people. Something that connects greatly with that is Galatians 3:16, “Now the promises were made to Abraham.” Promises is in the plural there, speaking of the different aspects of the promised land, blessing, offspring, having God be our God and we be His people. Now, the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say into offsprings, referring to many, but referring to one, and to your offspring, who is Christ.
So that means when God made these covenant promises to Abraham, to Abraham’s offspring and that the nations, the Gentiles, would be blessed through Abraham’s offspring, Christ, Paul is saying that Christ is the recipient or the benefactor of the promises. So he is the one who receives all of the promises of God. They’re fulfilled in Him. Remember 2 Corinthians 1:20, “All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ.” Those are covenant promises.
In Galatians 3:28-29, it says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor freed, neither male nor female, you’re all one in Christ Jesus, and if you are of Christ, if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs, according to promise.” Heirs according to promise. So any promise that God made to his Old Testament people, it has been fulfilled in Christ. He is the one who receives the promises, and if you are a Jew or Gentile who has put your faith in Jesus, those promises are for you, too, because you’re in Christ.
That’s been the lenses for coming to Jeremiah 29, because when we come to Jeremiah 29, the Lord talks about this plan of shalom, this plan of welfare, these plans that He adds for His people to bring them back to the land, and now we know God’s people were exiled because of sin, and the Lord did bring God’s people back into the land of promise, even before Jesus came, but what’s really interesting is I think this promise, as many of the other Old Testament promises, have double meaning and double fulfillment, because ultimately when God’s people came back to the Land of Promise after being returned from exile, the prophets are quite clear that their hearts were still in exile. They were still far from the Lord. The second temple that was built, Ezra and Nehemiah, really paled in comparison to the Solomonic temple, and that’s why when Jesus comes, John says, “The word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Temples among us. “We’ve seen His glory. Glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Then Jesus says, “Destroy this temple in three days, and I’ll raise it up.” Jesus is the actual fulfillment of the building of the temple. Return from exile that the children of Israel would experience out of Babylon was really pre-figuring and previewing the ultimate return from exile that all of God’s people experience in our salvation. We’ve been exiled from God. As we saw in Ephesians 2, we’re far off from God, but we’ve been brought near by the blood of Christ.
We can read Jeremiah 29:11 and know that God has plans for wholeness, plans for welfare, plans for shalom, for us, and He will bring us not just to the land that was a type of the eternal promised land, but Hebrews 11 makes clear that when Abraham was in the physical plot of land of Canaan, he was looking forward to the city, whose builder and maker is God. So even Abraham knew the land of Canaan, the land of Palestine, the land of Israel was pre-figuring, pointing forward to the eternal Promised Land of the New Jerusalem, the new heavens and the new earth.
It’s so good. It’s so great to hear your zeal and your passion for that, and I hope that listeners that are listening would just be just overcome by the fact that Bible study can be really fun, okay, you guys. It can be very fun and exciting, and it’s true. It’s not just some random story. It’s true.
Anyway, thank you so much, Timothy, for you time. I really did enjoy this conversation. If you’re listening and you want your hands on The Unfolding, and you should want that, just head to Amazon, go to LampMode.com, or head to our episode page where I can have the link there as well. But, anyway, thank you so much, Timothy, for the short time that we got to spend together. It was great to have you.
Thank you, brother. I was blessed by it.