Astonishingly, Paul wrote to a gentile church that the exodus generation was our fathers, underscoring how believers of every era are connected as God’s one people. God’s old covenant people in the wilderness ate the same spiritual food that new covenant Christians eat today, showing how God’s one people are unified in one Savior. After all, “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5–6). The rock that provided for the Old Testament Israelites was Christ. It did not simply point ahead to Christ but was Christ, who was always received by faith in every age since the fall.
Second, Christ’s role as the Savior throughout redemptive history helps us see Him in all Scripture because, as the Westminster Confession says, the promises, types, and ordinances communicated the virtue and efficacy of His work to Old Testament believers. In other words, the means of grace that God provided in the Old Testament distributed Christ to those who would receive them with faith. The means of grace are God’s appointed instruments for conveying and applying Christ and his benefits to his people, creating or building up faith in them. In the New Testament, Word, sacrament, and prayer are the means of grace. As Romans 10:14–17 tells us, faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ proclaimed by a preacher. God uses the preached Word as His means of grace to create and deepen faith. So too, in the Old Testament, God used Israel’s various outward practices to do the same. Noah’s ark foresignified Christ, who shields His people from God’s wrath (1 Peter 3:18–22). Circumcision foresignified how Christ was cut off for His people, dying for their sins (Col. 2:11–15). The animal sacrifices fore-signified His death, offered up in our stead so that we would not have to die (Heb. 9–10). In the Old Testament, everyone who received these outward markers with true faith, not in the sign itself but in the One about Whom each sign taught, received Christ Himself and the virtue, efficacy, and benefits of His work.
So, as we read the Old Testament, we should remember that every time we read of a promise, a type, or an ordinance, Christ Himself is present in it. There are abundant mysteries to discover in God’s Word, knowing that Christ Himself is the topic of every page. The Old Testament Scripture was inspired to communicate Christ Himself and His benefits to God’s people of old. Still, it was written for our instruction as well, not as moral lessons, but so that we too might see Christ and have Him by the same faith that Abraham had.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on February 9, 2022.