Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Gospel Pictured in the Old Testament


1) Heidelberg Catechism

19 Q. How do you come to know this?

A. The holy gospel tells me. God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise; later, he proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs and prophets, and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; finally, he fulfilled it through his own dear Son.

2) Scripture

Genesis 22:1-14: After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”


Our God is amazing. Not only did he prophesy about the coming of his Son in words, but he also portrayed it for us in words. Just as little children like books with pictures, so the Lord has pictured the coming of his Son for us in the Old Testament. The Lord knows the helpfulness that word pictures and illustrations of the truth of the gospel have for us.

Genesis 22:1-14 is a good example of how Jesus is portrayed in God’s Law or Pentateuch, which is what we sometimes call the first five books of the Bible, Genesis through Deuteronomy. The first thing we notice about the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 is the father and son relationship. How hard it must have been for Abraham to even consider offering his beloved son, Isaac! But do you see how the father and son relationship between Abraham and Isaac pictures the Father and Son relationship between Jesus Christ and his heavenly Father?

When the young man Isaac, probably already stronger than his father, carries the wood up the mountain to the altar, don’t we have a picture of Jesus carrying his cross to the place where he will die so that our sins can be forgiven? When Isaac meekly allows himself to be bound by his father and laid on the altar, can’t we see the obedience of Jesus to his Father as he voluntarily lays himself on the cross as the nails are driven into his hands and feet? When God stops Abraham from plunging the knife into his beloved son, aren’t we reminded that the heavenly Father with great anguish had to go through with the sacrifice of his beloved Son, if our sins were going to be forgiven? And, when at last God provides a ram to be a substitute for Isaac, aren’t we reminded that Jesus Christ is our substitute, taking the judgment that we deserved because of our sins, so that we might never be judged and have God’s favor forever?

Throughout the Old Testament, God pictures the person and work of his Son, Jesus Christ. Genesis 22:1-14 is just one of hundreds of examples. The God who knows the future showed us in words and pictures what would happen when his Son came into the world at the time he appointed.

Discussion: How do you think the animal sacrifices that the Law required picture Jesus for us?
What do you find amazing about Genesis 22:1-14?

Prayer Starter: Thank the heavenly Father for not sparing his own beloved Son, but giving
him up for us. Thank the Father that if he has given us the very best gift of his Son, then he will surely watch over our lives. Pray for those who are sick and in need of Christ.

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