Ed's Note: I am so excited to introduce a very special writer included in this edition of The ANVIL Newsletter. My daughter Danae is attending Bodenseehof Bible School and Conference Center Friedrichshafen, Germany. Recently, she has been learning about how Christ was revealed early on in scripture. I'm probably biased, but I think she writes extraordinarily well! Enjoy this article she recently authored. As you can imagine, I'm a very proud dad!
Revelation of Jesus Christ in the Pentateuch
The Old Testament of the Bible isn’t just a bunch of books put together by prophets; it’s much more than that. It’s a series of historical books that actually foreshadow Jesus Christ! It reveals many things about God’s character: His faithfulness, His provision, His mighty glory and that He is all-knowing. In this paper, I will discuss through Israel’s journey, how Jesus is foreshadowed in the Pentateuch.
In Genesis, God lays down the foundation for His nation with His promises of salvation. When sin first enters the world through Adam and Eve, God curses the snake saying “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). The woman’s offspring is referring to Jesus (since through her the saviour of the world will be born many generations down the lineage line). This is the first foreshadow of Christ in the Old Testament, “who will crush (Satan’s) head on the Cross” (Genesis 3:15). Jesus ultimately crushes the head of Satan by allowing sin to no longer separate man from God; His death on the cross removes the separation from God and Man. This is extremely significant because it is here that we see the first glimpse of salvation; that we no longer must give sacrifices through the priests in order to receive atonement from the Lord, but we are free to have a relationship with God. Sin no longer separates God and man, but Jesus makes a way for us to freely receive life.
There are many significant parts of Israelite’s Exodus out of Egypt. These include Israel’s enslavement, deliverance, their wandering in the desert and the promise land. All of these segments proclaim in various ways hints of Jesus.
Israel is enslaved by the Egyptians for 430 years. It all begins due to the new King of Egypt’s fear, “Look… the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country” (Genesis 1:9-10). I find it interesting that in Genesis 15:13-14, God speaks to Abram and foretells the enslavement of the Egyptians, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions”. Through this foretelling, we learn that God is all-knowing and is not only the Lord of the present, but also knows each and every detail of the future. Their enslavement relates to the Christian walk because sometimes we may feel as if God is neither with us nor aware of our situation. However, even during the tough times in life, He is still there and is still in our midst.
Followed by their 430 years as slaves, comes God’s predicted deliverance for them. This reveals God’s faithfulness; He hears their cry and answers it… He never leaves His people! God calls on Moses to be the one to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses is a man who doesn’t feel like he was worthy of this task, “Who am I that I should go?” (Exodus 3:11). He refuses many times God’s call on his life to lead the Israelites, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please someone else” (Exodus 4:13). This is significant because it reveals to us God’s character; God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called. He chooses a man who is insecure about his speaking abilities, yet God still uses him for His glory! Another thing during their deliverance that reveals God’s glory is the plagues He brings upon Egypt. God sends the plagues so that, “…you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I preformed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 10:2). Because of these great wonders He performs, His glory is revealed throughout all the generations to come!
The Passover, occurring in Chapter 12, is an extremely significant parallel that appears in Exodus; it is a direct mirror to Jesus. When we die, the only way we are able to have life is through His blood. In the same way, only those who had the blood of a spotless lamb on their doorpost would receive life, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). In contrast to the Israelites, the Egyptians do not cover their doorframes with blood, leading to death, “For there was not a house without someone dead” (Exodus 12:30). ‘Death’ mirrors the eternal separation of those who do not choose Christ. This is an extreme parallel to our Christian walk; if we accept Jesus as saviour, we are accepting life through Him!
During the 40 years that the Israelites wander, we learn a lot not only about God’s character, but also about the Israelites nature. First of all, the period of wandering proves that God is faithful and that He provides. He provides water for the Israelites (Exodus 17), as well as manna for food. This demonstrates His faithfulness to His people; He is the God who will provide in our times of dryness. Also, this period of the Israelites’ wandering shows that as humans, we don’t fully trust in God’s power to provide. Although God finishes parting the Red Sea, sends miraculous plagues and kills each firstborn of the Egyptians, they still do not trust that even though he has gotten them this far, that he will provide food for them! “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! ... And there is no water to drink!” (Exodus 20:3-5). And when God does then provide for them after their complaining, they still do not fully trust that He will give them their daily bread! “…Some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of (the manna) until morning” (Exodus 16:20). Since they doubted that God would provide for them, they felt the need to disobey God’s command of not taking any extra bread than what they needed for the current day. Likewise, I find that in my Christian walk, although I see God work evidentially in my life as well as in the lives of others, I will still doubt God’s provision.
The Promise Land:
Finally, the Promise land is significant because it shows God’s goodness and that He is the giver of good gifts. God sees the needs of the Israelites and wants to take care of them, “… I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites… a land flowing of milk and honey” (Exodus 3:16-17). God is good, and He never changes. In the same way, He wants to give good gifts to us! Also, He reveals that He is faithful to His promises. He promises that ‘Not one of those who saw my glory in Egypt…will ever see the land I promised’ (Numbers 14:22-23). He remains faithful to the punishment that He promises to the Israelites.
Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy
There are many stories and symbols that mirror the life and purpose for Christ found in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy:
First of all, before Jesus came to fulfill the law, a priest had to place His hands on a goat for the sins of mankind, symbolizing that the sins are no longer yours but are transferred to the goat, “He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites- all their sins… the goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it into the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:21-22). In the exact same way, Jesus came to take full responsibility for the sins of all mankind. Also, in the same way that the goat is released away from a city, so is Jesus crucified outside of the city.
Various laws in Leviticus talk about skin diseases. While it was impure to touch someone with a skin disease (Leviticus 14), Jesus heals people with leprosy, “Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man” (Matthew 8:3).
When God sends snakes to the Israelites as a punishment, He also provides a way for them to live. If they look at Moses’ bronze snake pole, they will be given life. This is a direct image of Christ- everyone is subject to death (hell), but those who look to Christ and accept Him as saviour will be given life! Jesus even explains this to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him”.
All throughout the Pentateuch, images of Jesus as well as revelations of God’s character appear. Israel’s enslavement reveals that God is the all-knowing God; not only of the present time, but His foretelling of their enslavement proves His great knowledge of future events. Israel’s deliverance reveals that the Lord is faithful to His people; God does not leave them alone. It reveals too that God doesn’t call those who are qualified; He qualifies those who are called! It is not by our own strength that we can do things for His glory, but rather through His strength. The Passover acts as a mirror of Jesus and that we may avoid eternal death when believing in Him. The Israelite’s period of wandering reveals that God is faithful to the needs of His people; He will provide for them in the desert. It also reveals that as humans, the Israelites doubted God’s ability to provide and meet all of their needs. The promise land reveals that God is a giver of good gifts, and also that He will follow through with His initial promise to His people. The Old Testament reveals hints of the messiah. The scape goat represents Jesus’s final atonement for our sins; in Him, our sins are covered that do no longer need to use other animals as sacrificed for our sins. Moses’ bronze snake staff parallels us looking to Jesus and receiving life: life that is only reachable through Him. Thank you Jesus!