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Did Old Testament Believers Look Forward to the Christ?

Did Old Testament Believers Look Forward to the Christ?

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Published by babaorum
As New Testament believers, we know that God requires men and women to place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Jesus alone is the sacrifice for sin. But what about those in Old Testament times?
As New Testament believers, we know that God requires men and women to place their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. Jesus alone is the sacrifice for sin. But what about those in Old Testament times?

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Published by: babaorum on Dec 18, 2008
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Did Old Testament Believers Look 
to the Christ?
William Kilgore
s New Testament believers, we know that God requires men and women to place their faith in JesusChrist as their Savior. Jesus
is the sacrifice for sin. But what about those in Old Testament times?If 
was to be justified before God in OT times, their sins
be atoned for. If this is not true,then the Incarnation is made redundant. Think about it carefully - if there were ever any people whocould be redeemed
apart from Christ 
, then we could be redeemed without Christ as well! God did notsend His Son as one of several options, but because
there was no other way
- "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin" (Heb. 9:22).Yet some will no doubt ask a good question: "Didn't Moses instruct the Israelites to sacrifice variousanimals for atonement?" Yes, he did. However, those animal sacrifices could never atone for their sin(Heb. 10:4-12; cf.Isaiah 1:11). These OT sacrifices were types that prefigured the sacrifice of Christ. (1) I am a firm believer in the illustration that OT believers looked
to the cross, while NT believerslook 
to the cross. OT believers had the sacrificial system; NT believers have the sacrament of communion. The sacrifices prefigured the cross; the communion meal remembers it.Recently, a friend has challenged this idea on the grounds that the Bible never speaks of the OT saints aslooking forward to Christ. Since I value the truth and want to remain open to correction, this has made itnecessary to reexamine the concept (it has been years since I rejected dispensationalism (2) andformulated these ideas) in order to determine if it still holds the weight I once felt that it did. Aftercareful examination, I still believe that it does (despite the fact that I won't be leaving the SBC for thePresbyterian church down the street!). This brief paper is an attempt to demonstrate this from the text of scripture.To begin with, there are some general observations that must be made clear. Most obvious is the fact thatit flies in the face of NT revelation to suggest that anyone gets into the Kingdom apart from the sacrificeof Christ (cf.Romans 5;1 Cor. 15). If someone would suggest that there was another way previous to Christ, they blaspheme by making the Incarnation a redundancy that was wholly unnecessary for ourredemption. The several "gospels" of traditional dispensationalism are fictions - there is only
one trueGospel
. (3)Second, an important eschatological observation is that no one gets into the Kingdom (in the ultimatesense) without being glorified: "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom" (1 Cor. 15:50). Yet ourglorification involves resurrection with a new body like that of Christ - our resurrection is
dependent onChrist 
(1 Cor. 15)!
 And so it is with that of Abraham, Moses, Jabez, Jonah or any other OT believer 
Third, as mentioned above, we understand from scripture that there is only one Gospel. (4) Yet thisGospel is said to be found in the OT (Isaiah 52:7 / Rom. 10:15;Luke 4:18;Gal. 3:8,14;Heb. 4:2, 6), as well as being preached by the twelve disciples before Christ's death and resurrection (Luke 9:6). Job isperhaps the earliest book in the Bible and has Job expressing a detailed faith that included God incarnate,the Second Coming and bodily resurrection (Job 19:23-27). Even the new birth
should have
beenunderstood by Nicodemus (John 3:8-10), being essential to entrance into the Kingdom (John 3:3-5) and incorporating the truth of Messiah's sacrifice (John 3:14-18). Note also inEphesians 2:12that to be "without Christ" and "aliens to the commonwealth of Israel" is the equivalent of being "strangers to thecovenants of promise." The OT covenants possessed by Israel were a kind of enfolded Gospel.Therefore, Paul was able to tell Timothy that the OT scriptures were able to make him "wise untosalvation" (2 Tim. 3:14-15).Fourth, many NT passages make it abundantly clear that the OT scriptures (which was all they had at thattime) speak 
of Christ (Luke 10:23-24;16:29-31;24:25-27;John 5:39;12:41;Acts 3:20-24; 24:14;26:22-23;28:23;1 Peter 1:9-12). Finally, we know from scripture that redemption in Christ was purposed by God
 from eternity
(e.g.,Matt.25:34;Acts 15:18;Ephesians 1:4;Titus 1:4), and that Christ is "the Lamb slain from the foundation of  the world" (Rev. 13:8- KJV; cf.1 Peter 1:20). The Book of Life was already filled out before Adam took  his first breath of oxygen (Rev. 17:8)! The Creator of all that is stands outside of time as we know it andreckons the atonement wrought by Christ to all who have ever or will ever believe.
There is no other basis for the justification of sinful human beings
.The NT book of Hebrews is essential to understand the sacrificial prescriptions codified in the Law of Moses (in particular, Leviticus), and apparently going all the way back to God's personal communicationwith Adam. (5) The animal sacrifices commanded by God "to atone for sin" (a phrase used throughoutLeviticus) had no real power to do so (Heb. 9:9;10:4-11). How then were they efficacious?
Only insofar as they signified and represented the sacrifice of Christ 
.Are all of the OT Jews who sacrificed now asleep in Christ? No, of course not. Just like the fact that notall who get wet in baptism or join the church are in Christ. Only those who sacrificed in faith are to befound in Christ. The question, then, is this: faith
in what 
? The answer is: faith in the atonement of Christ,the only basis for eternal redemption that there is or ever will be.Admittedly, it cannot be demonstrated that every single individual believer in the OT looked forward toChrist. But it is not at all necessary to do this. We have already examined some solid NT reasons to holdthat OT believers looked forward to the cross in their sacrifices and faith. What we can do is to look atsome representative examples spoken of in scripture that strengthen the case. The examples I will look athere are those of Adam, Abraham, Moses, and the general statements concerning OT believers found inHebrews.First, we have the example of 
. The first messianic promise is found in the
Genesis 3:15:And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed;He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.Keep in mind that the context of this promise is God's cursing of the serpent, the woman, the man andcreation in general. After telling of these various woes and then pronouncing a
death sentence
on Adam(Genesis 3:19), Adam turns right around and gives his wife the new name of "Eve" - a word meaning"life" or "living" and full of hope (Genesis 3:20). Why is this? Why, after receiving the curse of 
,would Adam name his wife
? It can only be because Adam
believed God 
when He spoke of the Seedof the Woman who would triumph over the Serpent.For all practical purposes, God Himself preached the Gospel for the first time and
 Adam was the first convert 
. This has long been the belief expressed throughout Church history among Catholics, Orthodox,the Reformers (Melanchthon wrote a treatise on this very subject), the Anabaptists, and others. CharlesSpurgeon, perhaps the greatest Baptist preacher in the historical Church, said of this passage, "This is thefirst promise to fallen man. It contains
the whole gospel
and the essence of the covenant of grace." (6)Did Adam look forward in faith
to the Christ 
? Yes, he certainly did! Immediately after this, God clothesthem with animal skins, an act picturing redemption (Genesis 3:21). (7) It is not much of a stretch to inferthat Adam communicated the promise of Genesis 3:15to subsequent generations; note that his sons Cainand Abel already are taking part in a sacrificial system (Genesis 4:2-6; cf.Heb. 11:4). Our second example is
. Is it possible that Abraham anticipated
the Christ 
? Not only is itpossible, it is certain without a doubt! Note what Jesus says to the Jewish leaders inJohn 8:56-- "Yourfather Abraham rejoiced
to see My day
, and he saw it and was glad." Likewise,Hebrews 11:10states thatAbraham "waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Abraham took part in the sacrificial system that could not itself atone for sin (Heb. 10:4-11). On what basis then was heredeemed? He did so in anticipatory faith,
looking toward the Christ and His Kingdom
(the substance of the Gospel). In fact, Paul teaches that NT believers become partakers in the promise and blessing of Abraham when they embrace Christ (Gal. 3;Rom. 4). God's promise to Abraham was simply another way of stating the Gospel (Gal. 3:8). It is not just faith in general that is accounted for righteousness.Both Abraham and David believed on Him
who justifies the ungodly
(Rom. 4:1-8). God does not justifythe ungodly on a whim, but only on the merits of Christ.Third, we have the important example of 
. Did Moses look forward to Christ? I offer the followingevidence that he did. InLuke 16:29(The Parable of the Rich man & Lazarus), it is "
and theProphets" that the Jews should hear to know the way of salvation. Likewise, "beginning at
and allthe Prophets" Jesus explained to some disciples "in all the Scriptures
the things concerning Himself 
"(Luke 24:27). Note Peter's preaching in Solomon's portico:But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets,
that the Christ 

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