“And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, He explained to them clearly in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27
The Old Testament has been the cause of much struggle, doubt, and disbelief among many Christians or potential believers today. It seems to have little relevance to us today, minus the obvious prophecies of the coming Messiah, which are only cool in the affirmation of our faith, but has little benefit for our current growth.
The reason there is such trouble with the Old Testament has nothing to do with the nature of the scripture itself, for ALL scripture is God breathed and profitable (2 Tim. 3:16). The true problem lies in what the apostle calls “ministry of letter” (2 Cor. 3:6).
I hope to shed some light on what this means and my ultimate goal is to help open up the majority of the Bible to all believers!
The Old Testament Reveals Christ
“These are My word which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that the things written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and Psalms concerning Me must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44
“We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote, Jesus, the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” John 1:45
“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that testify concerning Me.” John 5:39
The New Testament makes the assertion that the Old Testament scriptures are a testimony of Jesus. Whether this is obvious to us or not, we must say “amen” to the claim for now and then see how this is true later. Our Lord was able to reveal Himself through all the Old Testament, which consists of the three section mentioned in Luke 24:44. This is incredible, and should be our desire!
Now let’s look at how the Old Testament does this, and recognize the riches of Christ found in all the scriptures.
A Picture with a Caption
The Old Testament can be likened to a gigantic picture, with many great stories and events, but in need of a caption to be understood. The New Testament is the caption or description that brings out the meaning of the Old Testament picture.
The apostles saw this clearly, and took the time to explain many of the things in the Old Testament with the New Testament reality. I can’t go into extensive detail here, since the writings are abundant, but here are a few examples:
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 cf. Ex. 12:3-4
“Our Passover, Christ, also has been sacrificed. So then let us keep the feast” 1 Cor. 5:7b-8a cf. Ex. 12:3, 11, 17-20
“I am the living bread which came down out of heaven” John 6:51a cf. Ex. 16:15-18
“And all drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank of a spiritual rock which followed them, and the rock was Christ” 1 Cor.10:4 cf. Ex. 17:6
“These things are spoken allegorically, for these women are two covenants, one from Mount Sinai, bringing forth children unto slavery, which is Hagar.” Gal. 4:24 cf. Gen. 16:15
“Who had formerly disobeyed when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared; entering into which, a few, that is, eight souls, were brought safely through by water. Which water, as the antitype, also now saves you, that is, baptism” 1 Pet. 3:20-21a cf. Gen. 6-7
“Adam…who is a type of Him to come.” Rm. 5:14 cf. 1 Cor. 15:45; Gen. 2-5
I hope these are enough to make the point. The Old Testament, while it all happened literally and is not to be discounted at surface value, has a deep, rich, spiritual meaning that is “allegorical” as Paul states in Galatians.
Revealing God’s Heart, Purpose, and Plan
“Thus says Jehovah, heaven is My throne, and the earth the footstool for My feet. Where then is the house that you will build for Me, and where is the place of My rest?” Isaiah 66:1 cf. Eph. 2:22 and see Building
In the Old Testament, God forms covenants, gains a people, deals with said people, and ultimately gains something for Himself (tabernacle, temple, kingdom, expression, etc.). All of these activities and ultimately all these accomplishments are simply types and shadows of the New Testament reality.
In the previous posts on God’s Eternal Purpose, I showed how God’s heart’s desire is the church, as His heavenly bride, dwelling place, many sons, expression, and kingdom. These can all be seen in type in the Old Testament, and actually give us a lot of insight into how we can contribute to God’s eternal purpose, for we are His coworkers (1 Cor. 3:9; Mk 16:20; 2 Cor. 6:1).
How to Study the Old Testament
“Indeed unto this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies on their; but whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Cor. 3:15-16
We must come to the scriptures seeking Christ (John 5:39-40). We must come to the scriptures with a turned heart. We must come to the scriptures in prayer. We must come to the scriptures with no concepts, no presumptions, and no desire to affirm past knowledge, but rather with a poor spirit and a pure heart (Matt. 5:3,8).
Though the Old Testament may still seem like a mystery, there have been many who have delved into the mysteries and types hidden within, most famous of which is probably C.H. Mackintosh and his Notes on the Pentateuch. It is often times helpful to read commentaries that aid in a proper interpretation and finding of Christ in the Word.
Finally, we must familiarize ourself with the New Testament in a deep, impactful way to ever have a hope at understanding the Old. Israelites have no clue what their scriptures are about. Neither do Christians with little knowledge, both objective and subjective, of the New Testament and Jesus. We must be people who are disciplined and intent on consistently reading our Bibles and coming to a full knowledge of the truth, which is Christ (1 Tim. 2:4; John 14:6).