We know from the writings of the Old Testament that God is absolutely holy … that God cannot look upon evil …He cannot tolerate sin. He is the creator, the judge, and the Law Giver. The Old Testament doesn’t teach a system of righteousness that is granted to people on the basis of works.
In the Old Testament, we find Jesus! Look at these truths…
The penalty for violating God’s law is death, man has fallen, man is sinful, and man is headed for judgment. And we know how severe this judgment is from looking at Genesis 6 and 7, where God drowned the whole world except for Noah and his family. The only way to escape the judgment of God is through repentance and faith.
We know from passages like Psalm 103, that God “Pardons all our iniquities and removes our sin as far as the east is from the west.”
We know from passages like Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 that God is willing to give us a new heart and take away our heart of stone … and that He will place His Holy Spirit within us. That’s called regeneration.
The righteousness of God is accounted to us on the basis of faith. The righteousness of God was imputed to Abraham because he believed.
We also know that this forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, granting of righteousness by faith is made possible through a substitute receiving punishment on our behalf.
How would people who lived long ago know that? Well, they would know it very early in the history of the Old Testament, because when Adam and Eve sinned and were uncovered and naked, God came, and what did God do? They had tried to cover themselves with what? Leaves … a pitiful garment of their own making. God comes and kills an animal, and blood is shed for the first time since creation. It took the shedding of an innocent animal to cover the sins of Adam and Eve.
Now we’re on course for the developing sacrificial system. The next time it shows up is in the account of Cain and Abel. Abel offers a sacrifice, an animal on the altar symbolizing the need for the death of a substitute.
Fast forward to Exodus 12 and we learn about the Passover Lamb.
After that, in the Mosaic Law, as the Tabernacle is erected and the Temple built, there were sacrifices every single day in the morning and in the evening.
In Genesis 22 we see the foreshadowing of substitutionary atonement when we find Abraham ready to stick a knife in the heart of his son, his son of the promise, Isaac. And all of a sudden there is a sacrifice provided by a ram caught in a thicket. Isaac is spared and the animal is sacrificed in his place.
Then, we come to Isaiah 53and read these words that refer to the One who would make the perfect sacrifice on our behalf … “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
What I’m telling you is that the Bible …this entire book, from beginning to end … is about Jesus Christ!
*Written by Bill Langley