Grace For The Journey
Earlier this week I presented an overview of Jesus in the Old Testament. My purpose was to show how the Bible is all about Jesus. For the next several blogs I want to expand that topic as we look at specific events and teachings that demonstrate how the Bible is all about Jesus.
One way the Old Testament teaches us about Jesus is through events. Looking back upon the various events and festivals in the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, we read in Colossians 2:16–17, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Jesus.
From these verses, we learn that the festivals established by God in the Old Testament were not an end in and of themselves, but rather served as a means of pointing to Jesus. Because Jesus came and fulfilled the meaning of these various festivals, we are no longer bound to celebrate them. Nonetheless, we learn a great deal about Jesus by simply studying these events.
There are several events that we could look at, but for brevity, let’s consider two major events in the Old Testament: the Passover; and the Day of Atonement.
At the end of the book of Genesis, we read about Joseph’s family people suffering from a a massive famine sought refuge in Egypt. Over the course of more than four hundred years, from Genesis to Exodus, this family grew to become the great nation of Israel (Exodus 1:1–7). The Bible tells us that during this time, a new pharaoh arose in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph and felt threatened by Israel since they were growing in number and becoming more powerful (Exodus 1:8–10).
This new pharaoh enslaved, mistreated, abused, and hurt God’s people. Due to the harsh treatment by pharaoh upon Israel, God heard their cries of His people and sent Moses to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from their bondage so that they would be free to worship Him.
The Book of Exodus tells us that God confronted Pharaoh, and He demanded that he “Let my people go.” Pharaoh’s heart was hardened toward God, and he wanted to be God, kept fighting against God, and sought to go his own way.
Due to Pharaoh’s stubbornness, God sent an escalating succession of plagues and a demand to obey Him through His messenger, Moses. Pharaoh didn’t listen, and the plagues came just as God promised, culminating in a final, devastating plague – the killing of the firstborn in Egypt by the death angel.
As a result of Pharaoh’s willful inflexibility, death came to the firstborn in every home with one exception: those homes in the nation of Israel that, in faith, scarified an animal and spread the blood of that animal over their doorpost. This act served as a substitute, indicating that while all people were sinners deserving of death, God would in His mercy pass over the houses covered by the blood. This event became the first Passover, which is celebrated by the Jews to this day.
Thousands of years later, John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And, as the Apostle Paul tells us, Jesus Christ is “our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed” for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). From this we learn that the Passover is all about Jesus.
Today, as Christians, we don’t have to celebrate the Passover. Do you know why? We don’t need to because Jesus fulfilled the Passover. Jesus is our Passover sacrifice. He shed His blood for our sin so that the wrath of God would pass over us through faith in Jesus. We don’t need to annually celebrate the Passover because we have Jesus and we celebrate Him and what He did on the cross and through the empty tomb every day.
The Day of Atonement
The second major event that teaches us about the person and work of Jesus is called the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16; 23:26–32). For the Jews, the Day of Atonement is the biggest day in the Jewish calendar year. So big, in fact, that they simply call it “the Day.”
In the Bible, the Day of Atonement was observed God’s people to make atonement for their sins. The high priest, serving as Israel’s mediator between them and God, would fulfill the Day of Atonement through two goats, one used as the sacrificial goat and one used as the scapegoat. Over the sacrificial goat, the high priest would confess the sins of the people and slaughter the animal as a substitute sacrifice. The blood of that animal would be shed, and the wrath of God would be poured out on that animal in their place as a substitute. Over the scapegoat, the high priest would confess the sins of the people but rather than being slaughtered, it would be sent away.
For Christians, Jesus is our Atonement. His work on the cross achieved what is alluded to in this event. He is our High Priest who mediates between God and us. He is our sacrifice who forgives our sins. He is our scapegoat who takes our sins away and makes us clean (Hebrews 9:7–14). This is why we don’t celebrate Yom Kippur. We celebrate Jesus. The Bible teaches that Jesus is the whole point of Yom Kippur, for the event served as the preparation, anticipation, and expectation of the crucifixion of Jesus.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”