Now, if the law was never God’s main agenda for us, and Jesus has completely fulfilled the law for us at the cross, does that mean we steer clear of reading the books of the law or the entire Old Testament in the Bible, and focus only on the New Testament?
No, most certainly not. The Bible itself clearly says that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
So how do we study the law and Old Testament books today, in light of the truth of the New Covenant of Christ? The answer is: by seeing Jesus and His finished work portrayed within.
It has been said that ‘the Old is the New concealed; and the New is the Old revealed’. God’s heart is never far from His beloved Son Jesus and the perfection of His finished work, a theme constant throughout the entire Bible and the history of God’s relationship with mankind, seeing as Jesus Christ is the “Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) i.e. even before the world was created.
Right in the beginning, when Adam and his wife (Eve) sinned and fell to the temptation of the serpent (the devil), God clothed them with “coats of skin” (Genesis 3:21). God was the first to kill an innocent animal to enable the guilty man to walk free, showing man that blood is required by God’s holy and righteous nature to pay for sins, and nothing short of blood will do. Jesus’s death and blood on our behalf is necessary to enable us to be spared from the judgement and punishment of God.
When God told Abraham to sacrifice his “only son Isaac, (the son) whom he loved” up on the mountain of Moriah, sparing Isaac at the last moment and revealing a ram for sacrifice in place of Isaac, He was showing Abraham the truth of how He Himself would send His Son, His only Son whom He loved to be sacrificed for the world.
It was similarly the blood of the Passover lamb – not their good works or obedient behaviour – that spared the children of Israel the judgement of the death of the firstborn that God sent throughout Egypt and freed them once and for all from the slavery of Egypt. Jesus’s blood – not our good works or faithfulness, no matter how many or constant they may be – is the one thing that spares us from the judgement of death that will come upon the world at the end because of sin.
When God gave the law to Moses up on Mount Sinai, He spent 40 days and 40 nights describing to Moses the various pieces of furniture of the tabernacle and the tabernacle itself, down to the details of the materials and measurements to be used, and only simply passing Moses the tablets of the Ten Commandments at the end.
Every piece of furniture in the tabernacle and its court speaks of Jesus. He is typified in the ark of the covenant – the acacia wood speaks of His incorruptible humanity, while the gold overlaid on top speaks of His deity and perfect righteousness.
He is there in the altar of burnt offering, in the table of showbread, in the gold menorah (lampstand), in the colours of the covering of the tabernacle and its court, in the altar of incense, in the bronze laver. He is there in the holy anointing oil, in the incense itself, and in the high priest’s garments.
All 5 offerings described in Leviticus point to the one perfect offering of Jesus at the cross. The burnt offering speaks of His perfect righteousness as the spotless Lamb of God, the meal offering speaks of His perfect sinless life, the peace offering represents our identification with Him and the covenant meal of the cross that we partake of, the sin offering speaks of Him taking on our sinner identity, and the trespass offering speaks of Him taking on the sins that we commit and His glorious restoration to God over and beyond what we owed in His payment.
God didn’t set up a system of offering animal sacrifices for sins because He was hungry for animals; it was because the blood was necessary to let the sinner go free, and it continuously reminded Him of the final perfect sacrifice His Son would make for the world that satisfied and pleased Him so much.
Jesus also appears in types through the characters and stories of the Old Testament. He is represented in the story of Joseph, He is portrayed in the final victory and sacrifice of Samson, He is there as the kinsman-redeemer in the love story of Ruth and Boaz, He is reflected in the goodness given by David to the crippled son Mephibosheth of Jonathan on account of his covenant with Jonathan. You can find Him popping up everywhere, if you look for Him.
You might ask, what is the point of seeing Jesus and His finished work in every book and page of the Bible? Like, it might be interesting for some people who are scholars and such, but how can it benefit me? Reading the bible to study good examples and dos and don’ts seems a lot more practical.
God tells us personally in the book of Proverbs:
“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings…for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. (Proverbs 4:20-22, emphasis mine)
And the apostle Peter further adds and unveils in this regard:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:2-3, emphasis mine)
Reading the 2 passages together, we see this: Grace (unmerited, unearned favour of God) and peace (in Hebrew, shalom) is multiplied to us as we see Jesus unveiled in God’s Word, and we increase in revelatory knowledge of Him. As we see the person and work of Jesus revealed throughout the Bible and we increase in such revelation and knowledge of Him, He gives to us everything we might need in every area and aspect of life as well as godliness – it is a grace supply that happens as we see Jesus.
The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, has a incredibly rich meaning that goes way beyond just peace of mind – it covers safety, health, prosperity, peace in relationship with God and people, and complete soundness in every way! No wonder God says that those who find His word will also gain life and health – when we see Jesus and His work revealed in the Bible, that’s what happens.
Look for Jesus as you read the Old Testament and the books of the law. It not only makes your Bible study exciting, but it also blesses and prospers your soul and every aspect of your life.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.