Reading the last chapter of a mystery novel first may sound like a bad idea to those who love the suspense of a good story. But some people enjoy reading a book more if they know how it ends.
In Reading Backwards, author Richard Hays shows how important the practice is for our understanding of the Bible. By illustrating how the unfolding words and events of Scripture anticipate, echo, and throw light on one another, Professor Hays gives us reason to read our Bibles forward and backward.
Hays reminds readers that it was only after Jesus’ resurrection that His disciples understood His claim to rebuild a destroyed temple in three days. The apostle John tells us, “The temple he had spoken of was his body” (2:21). Only then could they understand a meaning of their Passover celebration never before understood (see Matthew 26:17–29). Only in retrospect could they reflect on how Jesus gave fullness of meaning to an ancient king’s deep feelings for the house of God (Psalm 69:9; John 2:16–17). Only by rereading their Scriptures in light of the true temple of God (Jesus Himself) could the disciples grasp how the ritual of Israel’s religion and Messiah would throw light on one another.
And now, only by reading these same Scriptures backward and forward, can we see in Jesus everything that any of us has ever needed or longed for.