The Gospel in the Old Testament

We learned last time that the old covenant, the old arrangement, has ended.  Remember, the word arrangement is a great help in understanding what “ended”.  At the cross, the old arrangement ended.  At the cross, the requirements of the old covenant ended.  At the cross, the condemnation of the old covenant ended.  But even with all this ending, there is great value in reading, studying, and dwelling upon the Old Testament.  And it starts with the gospel message found in the Old Testament.

Did I say, “gospel message?”  Yes, the gospel message is first found in the Old Testament.  It is a message that points to our need for Christ, points to the coming Christ, and points to the work of the coming Christ.  These themes are found all over the Old Testament.  And many of these pointers are familiar.

Prophecy concerning Jesus’ birth are especially on our radar this time of year.  But there are also prophecies about His identity, His death, and His suffering that all point to Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ.  Also, passages such as Isaiah 53 and elsewhere point to Jesus as the source of our salvation.  But I believe the gospel message of the Old Testament is so much more than just our familiar prophetic passages.

Think about this fascinating exchange in Luke chapter 24.  Jesus meets a couple of fellows on the road to Emmaus on the evening of His resurrection.  After a short back and forth, Jesus takes the lead in the conversation.  “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, Jesus explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Lk 24:27).  Jesus explained the gospel message of the Old Testament.

Or look at Paul’s introduction to the book of Romans.  “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:1-4).  Here Paul marries the gospel of the Old Testament (“promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures”) with the New Testament reality of the resurrection.

So to put the Old Testament into perspective for today, we can summarize it this way.  At the cross, the requirements of the old covenant ended.  But the gospel message of the old covenant, formerly hidden, has become fully exposed and continues on.  How we find the gospel in the Old Testament will be our topic next time.