The Christ of Prophecy (1/2)
John E. Todd, Chesterfield, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Continuing with Old Testament prophetical testimony we see:
Prophecies of His life
At the climax of His ministry, the Lord publicly made His claim to be the Messiah before the Passover crowds in Jerusalem by riding into the city on the colt of an ass, Matt. 21. 1-11, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah, ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass’, Zech. 9. 9.
The scene of His death upon the cross is portrayed in sad and vivid detail in the prophecies of Psalm 22. The Lord Himself draws our attention to this by quoting the opening words of the Psalm as He hung upon the cross, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Ps. 22. 1; Matt. 27. 46. ‘All they that see me laugh me to scorn’, v. 7; see Matt. 27. 39-44. ‘My tongue cleaveth to my jaws’, v. 15; see John 19. 28. ‘They pierced my hands and my feet’, v. 16; see John 19. 37. ‘They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture’, v. 18; see John 19. 23-24.
The apostle Peter reminds his listeners in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, that the resurrection of the Lord was also foretold, ‘Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption’, Acts 2. 27, quoting Psalm 16 verses 8-11. Thus the Lord could say, ‘All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me’, Luke 24. 44.
Prophecies of His redeeming works
Moses prophesied that God would send to Israel a prophet like himself, ‘And the Lord said unto me . . . I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him’, Deut. 18. 17-18. The comparison between Christ and Moses is that Moses brought in the old covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ brought in the new covenant, ‘For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ’, John 1. 17. ‘For this is my blood of the new (testament) covenant RV, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’, Matt. 26. 28. His death would atone for the sins of others. Isaiah chapter 53 prophesys of this in great detail, ‘But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed’, v. 5; ‘The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all’, v. 6; ‘For the transgression of my people was he stricken’, v. 8; ‘Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin’, v. 10; ‘He shall bear their iniquities’, v. 11; and ‘He bare the sin of many’, v. 12.
This is illustrated in the greatest possible way by the whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament. From the beginning with the discarding of the man-made apron of fig leaves to cover the shame of Adam and Eve’s sin, replaced by the Godprovided skins of slain animals, Gen. 3. 7, 21. Abel obeyed this Godgiven lesson of a sin-bearing substitute for ‘by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous’, Heb. 11. 4. Isaac experienced deliverance on Mount Moriah when the ram was slain in his place, Gen. 22. 1-13.
Shedding blood as an atonement for sin
This basic principle of an animal substitute shedding its blood as an atonement for sin received definite and continuous emphasis in the Passover and its annual remembrance, Exod. 11; 12. This is clearly referenced to Christ in the New Testament, ‘For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us’, 1 Cor. 5. 7. As the angel of death passed through the land of Egypt he mercifully passed over the houses with the blood of the Passover lamb upon the lintel and doors in accordance with God’s own promise, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you’, Exod. 12. 13. This lesson of the redemption by blood of a sin-bearer is central to the ceremonies enacted in the tabernacle, and later in the temple, especially on the Day of Atonement, ‘For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord’, Lev. 16. 30. All this is prophetic of the Lord Jesus Christ and His once-for-all atoning work, ‘And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God’, Heb. 10. 11-12.
The new covenant
But the new covenant was not only to redeem from sin, it was also to regenerate the sinner. The Lord upbraided Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, for not being aware of the prophecy of Ezekiel, ‘Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness . . . a new heart also I will give you, and a new spirit will I put within you . . . and cause you to walk in my statutes’, Ezek. 36. 25-27. The Lord Jesus said, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’, John 3. 5. As in Ezekiel, the water here speaks of the cleansing from the guilt of sin and the Spirit speaks of the renewing of the heart. This prophecy of regeneration as part of the new covenant is expanded by the prophet Jeremiah, ‘I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts’, Jer. 31. 33. Jeremiah chapter 31 verses 31-34 is quoted in full in Hebrews chapter 8 verses 7-13 as being fulfilled in the gospel.
The scope of God’s salvation
The Old Testament often prophesied of the scope of God’s salvation which the Messiah would bring, ‘Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed’, Acts 3. 25. It is of great significance that the atoning work of Christ, so clearly prophesied in Isaiah chapter 53, is followed in chapters 54 and 55 by its universal invitation, ‘Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bare; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord’, Isa. 54. 1. The ‘barren’ are the Gentile nations who will ultimately produce more children of God than ‘the married wife’ who is Israel. This prophecy has been fulfilled in the world-wide church, the company of the redeemed. We hear the call of the gospel in, ‘Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price’, Isa. 55. 1. And speaking of the Lord Jesus the prophecy declares, ‘Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee’, Isa. 55. 5.
AUTHOR PROFILE: John has been constributing articles to assembly magazines since 1986. together with his wife he began work amongst children that led to establishment of the assembly. Now he serves the assembly as an elder and in the ministry of God's word.