We have reached the final week of our Old Testament study. One of my favorite things to trace as I have studied is how God’s plan of salvation slowly unfolded through each book of the Old Testament.
Since the fall of man in the garden it has been God’s plan to redeem the world through the death and blood of Jesus Christ. Yet this miraculous plan was not fully understood by men for thousands of years. The first small hint of it comes in Genesis 3:15 directly after the fall. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Although unclear, hope is given that the newfound reality of sin and death would not last forever. This plan of redemption comes a little more into focus when, from the line of Shem, God chooses Abraham, then Isaac, then finally Jacob to be the family through whom He will reveal Himself. In the last messianic prophesy of Genesis, Jacob prophesies over his sons, revealing that it will be through the line of Judah that a ruler will come and to him will belong the obedience of the peoples. Once more, the plan of redemption becomes that much more clear.
In Leviticus a sacrificial system is introduced and we learn that the shedding of blood brings forgiveness of sins. The venue of atonement is an innocent and unblemished sacrifice. This must have resonated with the Israelites, whose firstborn children were spared in Egypt because of the blood of a lamb that covered their doors. In Deuteronomy, Moses declares to the people that God is planning on raising up a prophet “like him” from among the people. He will speak to them the words of the LORD. It is unclear what is exactly meant by this comparison to Moses. Perhaps it is his role as prophet, priest, and political leader. It also may hint at Moses as a mediator between God and the people, a mirror of Christ’s work on our behalf. As the bible progresses the Messianic promise gains more and more clarity.
Yet it isn’t until the prophets that Messianic prophesy explodes. In almost every book we meet him. The king. The priest. The branch. The suffering servant. The lamb. The good shepherd. The savior. The rock that will crush all earthly kingdoms and set up an eternal one. The one who bears our transgressions. The one who brings peace. The one who comes, riding on a donkey. The one born of a virgin – whose name will be Emmanuel. The one whose worth will be valued at 30 shekels of silver. The one who will be born in Bethlehem. The one pierced. And on and on and on.
Isn’t it beautiful that when Israel’s hope in Temple sacrifices is taken away, news of the Messiah bursts forth? As Israel undergoes exile and persecution, when they doubt God’s plan…it is then that he says:
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the LORD whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight – indeed, he is coming. – Malachi 3:1
This is our very last week of the Old Testament. The above verse comes from the last writing prophet of the Old Testament, and in it we should feel the mounting anticipation the Jews must have felt for the coming Messiah. Even after six months of study through the OT I can’t wait for Jesus to arrive on the scene. Humans have failed. They failed in the garden, they failed at the covenant, they even failed in repentance. The cycle cannot go on forever. If salvation will come, it will not come from human hands but the hand of God. This is the scene at the end of the Old Testament. A breathless anticipation that perhaps God will take initiative, pay the debt, bridge the gap, fix our mess, foot the bill…come.
And He will. It has been his plan from the beginning. The culmination of all human history is about to go down, and it will go down in a way that no one expected or could have predicted. As C. S. Lewis observed in Mere Christianity:
“Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.”
It is impossible to communicate all that we have learned and discovered over these past months, but I hope we have adequately described how thankful we are for our friends and family that support us and allow us to study. If you have not, but would like to support us as we head into our final quarter of the school, please visit our Support Page for information.