But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets…

Romans 3:21 ASV

Remember, to fully study and understand the Old Testament, you must always view it in the light of the coming Massiah, our Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Four Great Old Testament Witnesses to Jesus Christ and the new institution he came to establish are:

  • (1) The Verbal Prophecies.
  • (2) Typical persons.
  • (3) The Tabernacle in its plan of construction and in various devices within it.
  • (4) The Grand Ceremonial functions of Jewish religion, such as the Day of Atonement, the Passover, etc.

The verbal prophecies, number some 333!

These foretold the coming of the Messiah in such detail and clarity that hardly any phase of our Lord’s life and character was omitted.

The time and exact place of his birth, the particular tribe of Israel through whom he would be born, the fact of his betrayal by a friend, even the very amount of the betrayal price, the details of his crucifixion, that he should be buried but not see corruption, that he would speak in parables, that he would be despised and rejected by human beings, and that not a bone of him should be broken – and on and on, literally hundreds of such facts as these were faithfully predicted in the Old Testament prophecies.

Great typical men in the extensive history of Israel were laid under the burden of setting forth the nature, character, attitude, mission, and even the name of Christ.

Old Testament Examples

  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Judah
  • Joseph
  • Moses
  • Joshua
  • David
  • Jonah
  • Aaron
  • Melchizedek, to name only a few…

All of these men from the Old Testament were all typical, in one way or another, of Jesus Christ, and all reflected in one degree or another the coming glory of Messiah.

To take, as an example, one of the very least of those men, Jonah, will show the wealth of particulars by which each one of them bore witness to Christ.

  • Both Jonah and Jesus were asleep in a ship at sea in a storm, and both were awakened.
  • Both were involved in the safety of the vessel, though in opposite ways, Jesus being responsible for the safety of his, and Jonah for the danger to his.
  • Both produced a great calm, Jesus by fiat, Jonah by being thrown overboard.
  • Both willingly consented to die for the salvation of others.
  • Both came from approximately the same spot on earth, Gath-hepher, the home of Jonah, being less than three miles from Nazareth.
  • Repentance of the Gentiles resulted from the mission of both.

Likewise, THE TABERNACLE, and later the temple patterned after it, typified the ultimate scheme of redemption as it would be revealed in Christ.

  • The candlestick typified the Word of God
  • The table of showbread – the providence of God
  • The veil – the flesh of Christ
  • The mercy seat – the supremacy of Gods’ mercy, etc.

The design and Construction of the three courts represented various aspects of the world, the church, and heaven.

  • The great bronze altar
  • The bronze laver
  • The golden altar of incense
  • he checkered squares of the floor of the sanctuary
  • All symbolizing life’s joys and sorrows.

All of these things, and many others, bore a mighty weight of symbolism looking to the new institution, so great a weight, in fact, that volumes would be required to give full treatment to so vast a subject.

The Fourth Old Testament witness of Christ and the New Testament was that of the religious services themselves, things like the thank offering, the sin offering, the Passover, the Day of Atonement, etc.

Christ is the True Atonement

He is our Passover, having been slain at the very hour the paschal lambs were being slain.

The exact correspondence between type and antitype is so extensive as to be utterly amazing.

In fact, all four of these witnesses being taken together provide the most overwhelming proof that can be imagined of the true identity and authenticity of Christ.

The God-inspired preparation for Christ’s entry into the world was so abundantly adequate that it seems almost incredible that Israel should not have recognized the King when he came.

The pre-Christian Jew could not look in any direction without beholding some eloquent symbol of Jesus Christ.

He could not heed any major voice of Jewish prophecy without hearing (or reading) some majestic prophecy of the coming Redeemer.

There was hardly any truly significant man in the whole history of the Hebrews who was not typical of Christ.

Nor was there any honored institution among them that did not share the burden of enlightenment looking to the revelation of the Son of God.

Added to all this, there was the extravagant symbolism of their most sacred religious services and ceremonials.

This combined Testimony of men and institutions, in the aggregate, embracing practically all that was of any significance in Jewish history.

This total testimony was designed for one thing only, and that was to reveal the Christ when he came.

The entire national life of the Jews was so totally permeated, pervaded, and infused with pre-knowledge of the coming Saviour, and with such an intensity and profusion as to approach a surcharge!

No wonder, then, that Paul who was about to announce to all people the salvation that Christ had made available would have paused at this point to recall that it was all witnessed by the law and the prophets.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:21‭-‬26 RSV


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