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The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens.
Prov. 3:19

Part 1 - Creation: The Foundation of the Gospel

The Creation of the Church

Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39). When He said this, the New Testament books of the Bible were not yet written. He was speaking of what is now called the "Old Testament." Yet, it is these scriptures that point to Jesus; they are testifying of Him. Because they are testifying of Him, Jesus says, "In the volume of the book it is written of Me" (Heb. 10:7). Again, the "volume of the book" are those scriptures that existed prior to the New Testament writings.

Models and types

Embedded in the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the other authors such as David, are types, models, and symbols that testify of Christ. Types are events which are parallels of future events. When Abraham was set to sacrifice his son Isaac upon God's command, this became a type of God the Father sacrificing His Son Jesus for the sins of the world. Models are things which are representative; they are not an end in themselves but point to a reality. The ark of the covenant was a model. It contained a jar of manna, Aaron's rod, and the stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments. This is a model of Christ. He is the true bread that came down from heaven. He has the priestly authority of the order of Melchizedek. In Him is the fulfillment of the law. Symbols are those things which have no meaning in themselves. They are purely symbolic. The bronze serpent in the wilderness was a symbol. Bronze, or brass, is symbolic of judgment. It symbolized sin being judged on a pole. This points to Christ who was hung on a cross.

Even though these things point to Christ, this is not normally evident when the accounts are read in themselves. The types and shadows of the Old Testament scriptures are established by Jesus and His apostles. As the great Prophet prophesied of by the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus taught the meaning of the scriptures. Thus He said, "these are they which testify of Me." Jesus taught many details of this, but also taught His disciples from whom the New Testament scriptures came forth. Luke records of Jesus, "Then He said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself " (Luke 24:25-27). It is the New Testament writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, who correlated the doctrines of Christianity with the Old Testament scriptures. By the authority of the New Testament scriptures, one can look back at the previous writings and find in them the testimony of Christ. Paul the Apostle presents the Sabbath day as a testimony of Christ.

A shadow of things to come

Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17, "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." The dietary laws of Israel, the festivals or holy days, the new moon religious observances, and the Sabbath day observances all are pointing to or testifying about Jesus Christ. Here, the Sabbath day is said to be "a shadow of things to come." God used the creation model to teach Israel about resting in Him. God worked in delivering Israel out of Egypt and so taught them that He was "the Lord who sanctifies them." They were to rest in that. This is what the Sabbath day was to mean to Israel. But according to Paul, this itself was only a shadow. There is a fulfillment in Christ.

A shadow has no substance. One cannot pick it up and handle it. It cannot exist by itself. Only because an object or person exists can there be a shadow. Therefore, if one sees a shadow, one knows that something or someone exists that is casting the shadow. The shadow gives an outline of what one might find, but not the full revelation. Such is the Sabbath day. It is an outline. There is no substance in and of itself, but it gives a shadowy indication of something that is real. The substance, or body, that casts the shadow of the Sabbath is Christ. He is the reality. If one were to look down at His shadow, the dark outline is the Sabbath day according to Paul. The Sabbath day is an outline of Christ.

The Lord who sanctifies

To Israel, the Sabbath was a sign to teach them that it is "the Lord who sanctifies them." God set them apart and made them a special people for Himself. They were to rest in Him and the work that He did toward them by faith. This is the outline, the shadow, that Paul says is cast by Christ. The redemption of Israel and the rest that they were to have in their Redeemer is a type of the work of Christ in redeeming mankind. Christ did the work of redemption and now He rests. That work is complete. Jesus has accomplished the work needed to set apart a special people called the "church," the "called out ones," and those who answer His call to be partakers must rest in Him and His finished work.

Just as to Israel it is "the Lord who sanctifies them," so too, to the church it is Jesus Christ who sanctifies them. Jesus sets apart and consecrates those who believe in Him to be His special people. Paul shows this aspect of Christ in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31: "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God; and righteousness and sanctification and redemption; that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.' " Jesus became for us sanctification. He not only redeems and inputs righteousness to His people, but also sanctifies them. His work is all encompassing toward the believer. Therefore, Paul quotes from Jeremiah in saying, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." The work is finished and complete. There is nothing left to take credit for, to glory in. God gets the glory because He did it all.

That it is Jesus who sanctifies the church is also attested to by the writer to the Hebrews. In speaking about the will of God for Christ to be a sacrifice he says, "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10). Just as Yahweh set apart Israel, Jesus does the work of setting apart the church. It is through His death on the cross, His resurrection from the grave, and His ascension to the Father that one is set apart for God.

A model of redemption

As a shadow of things to come, one should be able to look back at the Sabbath day given to Israel and see Christ. He is the body that casts the shadow. The Sabbath day was used by God to teach Israel about His work toward them. As a type this parallels and represents the work of Christ in setting apart a heavenly people for God.

Since the Exodus points to the work of Christ, Paul could say to the Corinthians: "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.' Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:1-11).

Paul says "these things became our examples." He also says that "these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition." Those who perished in the wilderness did so because of unbelief in the work of God who was delivering them. Paul points out that "they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." The word "followed" means "to be in the same way with," or "accompany." It was Jesus Christ who went with them. Therefore Paul can say "nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents." Because this was a parallel to the gospel, the writer to the Hebrews says concerning the Exodus: "For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it" (Heb. 4:2).

The Passover

One of the events of the Exodus that is a type of Christ is the Passover. A lamb was slain by each household of the Israelites and the blood was sprinkled on the doorpost. In the final plague of the Egyptians, Yahweh passed over those households that put themselves under the blood of a slain lamb. The firstborn of every family not protected by the blood was killed. It was after this event that the children of Israel came out of Egypt. When John the Baptist first saw Jesus he said: "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Paul the Apostle also says of Jesus, "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7). Before Israel came out of Egypt the Passover occurred. Before Christ could set apart a people for God He died on a cross as "the Lamb who was slain."

The Red Sea

Another type is seen in the passing through of the Red Sea. Paul says: "Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea . . ." (1 Cor. 10:1-2). They are said to be "baptized" in passing through the sea. Romans 6:3-4 states, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Baptism is the identification of the believer with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In His death the "old man" or flesh of the believer is considered to have been put to death. In His resurrection the believer is considered to be a new creation, to be starting a new life. Such is the type in the Exodus. Egypt, a type of the world, could not pass through alive. The armies of Egypt drowned. The Israelites who did pass through started a new life.

Living water

Later in the wilderness with no water, Moses cried to Yahweh who answered and said, "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink" (Exodus 17:6). Paul tells the Corinthians that this incident is about Christ: "For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4).

A further work of Christ is the giving of the Holy Spirit to the believer. This is the indwelling of God Himself with those in Christ. John records: "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39). Before the Holy Spirit could be given, Jesus had to be crucified, buried, and risen to the Father. It is this striking down of Jesus that is typified in Moses striking the rock with water consequently coming forth.

The bread of life

Christ is also seen in God's provision for the Israelites where for forty years they received manna each day. When the Jews asked Jesus for a sign, they said, "Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' " The book of John continues the dialog between them: "Then Jesus said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' Then they said to Him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.' And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst' " (John 6:31-35). The manna given in the wilderness was a type of Christ. He is God's provision for those who come to Him and believe in Him.

Judgment on sin

Another incident that directly speaks of Christ is the time when the people complained in the wilderness and then were bitten by serpents. Moses interceded and prayed for the people. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.' So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived" (Num. 21:8-9).

Jesus said to Nicodemus, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:14-15). The serpents in the wilderness were a type of sin. The Israelites who complained and were bitten represented those overcome by sin. By looking upon the bronze serpent on the pole they lived. This shows how Christ overcame sin for those who look to Him and believe in Him. Paul said "For He (God) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). Hanging on a cross, Jesus suffered the judgment of God toward sin, having taken the world's sins upon Himself.

A fulfillment in Christ

These are just some of the cases showing that the work of God in setting apart Israel was meant to be a model of the work of Christ who is setting apart and creating an eternal and heavenly people. The Sabbath day became a central part of the Israelites' relationship to God. God wanted a relationship with them wherein they trusted and relied upon Him. He alone was worthy of worship. While coming out of Egypt, traveling though the wilderness, and entering the promised land, God provided their needs, protected them, and gave them the victory in battle. When they looked to Him, trusted Him, praised Him, and counted on Him, they were victorious. When they did otherwise, they failed miserably.

Yahweh did not require of Israel great feats and works, but only faith and trust. To this end He gave them the Sabbath day so they would pause and consider that it was Yahweh who worked. He worked and rested and so they were to rest also. They were to know that it is "the Lord who sanctifies them." They could only come out of Egypt and enter the promised land because Yahweh did that work. As a shadow of things to come, the Sabbath day teaches us that only Christ can separate out of the world His people. His work only is sufficient. Christ did the work and finished it. Now it is by faith only that one can enter into that place that He has prepared for those who would come to Him. One must rest in His completed work.

The creation account formed the foundation for God to teach Israel that it is He who sanctifies them. Built upon the creation account is the account of the redemption of Israel. Both of these form the foundation upon which God reveals His Son Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of mankind. The types are "a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ." He has become to us "wisdom from God; and righteousness and sanctification and redemption." Therefore Paul says, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."