A Devil’s Gospel: Christ’s Shadow

On Wednesday of this week I revealed my new novel’s table of contents, and I also said that one of the great bits of fun about writing it was titling the chapters. But the best part of writing the novel was discovering, rediscovering, exploring how Christ’s shadow falls on just about every page of the Old Testament. I’ll talk more at length about this in a future post (which will include a lengthy excerpt from the novel), but for now let me give one example, also excerpting from the novel.

In this scene, Satan is telling the devils something interesting he has witnessed on Earth. He says:

“One day after the end of the growing season, Cain and I came upon Abel and we watched him from afar. He picked out the best lambs in his flock and slaughtered them, which wasn’t unusual in itself. But then he set aside the best parts and burned them. ‘Your brother has gone mad,’ I said.

“But of course Abel had plenty of words to justify his actions. ‘The lamb was a sacrifice to God,’ he said.

“‘To erase this debt you feel you owe Him?’ I had Cain say, in the condescending older-brother way we had perfected through the years.

“Abel ignored the tone and answered, ‘It is a gift I offer to Him with a free heart; not of what He deserves, but of the very best that I have.'”

“Cain and I didn’t understand this logic. ‘Does he think shedding the blood of an innocent lamb will manipulate God into letting him back into Paradise?’ I said to Cain. ‘And what’s the logic of giving a gift to God—doesn’t He already have everything? Do you win accolades for depriving yourself of something God doesn’t want or need? And if the point is to sacrifice something, why sacrifice the best of what He has given you? Why not set aside the worst parts, or those parts not suitable for food?'”

The answer comes much later in the second book, when a character discovers that Christ is about to offer Himself up as a sacrifice on the Cross:

[We] couldn’t understand what Abel was doing, I remembered, when he offered to God the life of an innocent lamb. To be truthful, none of us understood the point of all the sacrifices, why the blood of countless animals was poured out on the altar and enough grain to feed the populations of the world a hundred times over burned up. The point was to point to You, wasn’t it? I thought, looking at Him. Nor could we understand why God’s people had to give up the best of what they had, but that answer now seemed as obvious as the first.

All of a sudden, something hazy and indistinct (there does seem to be a meaning to all of those sacrifices, but within the context of the Old Testament, it’s hard to be sure what it is) becomes obvious and solid when seen through the lens of the New Testament. That’s why the first book in A Devil’s Gopsel, which covers the Old Testament period (roughly), is called “Shadows” and the second book, which kicks off when Jesus enters the scene, is called “Substance.” In the lengthier excerpt I mentioned above, I’ll share what I think is the most surprising thing about the Bible, which ties into this theme of Shadows and Substance.

That’ll be in a few weeks. Next week we’ll turn to some cover reveals (yes, a series of them). Tune in on Monday for the first!

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