Thursday, November 6, 2008

Christ in the Law and the Prophets

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve."-1 Corinthians 15:3-5

Everyone is aware of the prophecies that are directly associated with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, there is more then just such as "He is guarding all the bones of that one; not one of them has been broken" (Psalm 34:20) and "Look! Your king is coming to you. He is righteous, and he is victorious. Yet he is humble--riding on a donkey, yes, on a lowly donkey's colt."-Zechariah 9:9

Prophecies like these are easily identified by their New Testament fulfillments. However, there are other prophecies in the Bible that are more obscure in that people don't realize they are prophecies. What are they?

The Sign of Jonah

When some Scribes and Pharisees wanted to test Jesus once again, they approached him and said, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you." Jesus, knowing that they had seen many signs already, was not about to give another one to them, so he said, "A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights."-Matthew 12:38-40

Going back to the Old Testament book of Jonah, we read Jonah's small, autobiographical account. "Then they lifted up Jonah and hurled him into the sea; and the sea began to halt from its raging. At that the men bgan to fear Jehovah greatly, and so they offered a sacrifice to Jehovah and made vows. Now Jehovah appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah so that Jonah came to be in the inward parts of the fish three days and three nights...In time, Jehovah commanded the fish, so that it vomited out Jonah onto the dry land."-Jonah 1:16-17; 2:10

Jonah's being in the fish has an exact parallel to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Without it being an explicit prophecy, Jonah's being in the fish for three days and nights was prophetically pointing to the Lord Jesus.

The Mosaic Law

At another time, Jesus Christ was speaking to the crowds in his great Sermon on the Mount. At one point near the beginning of his Sermon he said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the prophets. I came, not to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17) Unknown to most is that many aspects of the Mosaic Law were prophectic of the Christ. Let us look at a few of them but first let us see what is said of these in the New Testament.

In his letter to the congregation in Colossae, Paul said, "Let no man judge you in eating and drinking or in respect of a festival or an observance of the new moon or of a sabbath; for these things are a shadow of the things to come but the reality belongs to the Christ." (Colossians 2:16-17) Further he said in Hebrews, "For since the Law has a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things..." (Hebrews 10:1) While the commands and regulations in the Law were not all prophectic to Christ, we will look at a few things that were.

The Passover Festival

Jesus Christ died on Nisan 14, 33 C.E. (or A.D.) in Israel. Was this any regular day? No. This was the anniversary of the Passover festival, one of the most important festivals in Israel. Was his death on this day coincidence? Again, we have a no.

Nisan 14, or Passover, was a celebration of the day that the angel flew over Egypt, killing the firstborn. So important was this event that God told the nation of Israel: "This is the statute of the passover...In one house it is to be eaten. You must not take any of the flesh out of the house to some place outside. And you must not break a bone in it [prophetic of none of Christ's bones being broken]. All the assembly of Israel are to celebrate it." (Exodus 12:43, 46-47) How does all of this point to Jesus Christ?

Well, it is known that Christ is constantly referred to as a lamb. (John 1:29; Revelation 7:9) Moreover, his death, being on Nisan 14, the exact day of the Passover, was fitting in that he is the passover lamb. Paul wrote, "For Christ our passover has been sacrificed."-1 Corinthians 5:7

The Festival of Unfermented Cakes

Another festival celebrated by the Israelites was the Festival of Unfermented Cakes. This festival had a special significance in that it was prophetic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What was this festival?

On Nisan 16 (the day Jesus was resurrected) Israelites brought a sheaf of firstfruits of the barley harvest for the priest to wave before Yahweh. (Leviticus 23:6-14) What was special about the barley harvest?

The barley harvest was the first type of crop to grow each year in Israel. This is prophetic in that Jesus Christ was the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death." (1 Corinthians 15:20) The question arises: How can Jesus be the firstfruits of those who have died if billions of people lived and died before him? In that he is the first person to be resurrected, never to die again. The fact that this festival and the resurrection of Christ happened on the same day was not coincidence.

There is one other aspect of the Mosaic Law that is perhaps the most important prophetic parallel with the death of Christ. The Atonement Day, which will be discussed further in this two part discussion.