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A Shadow of Christ

A Message by R.C. Sproul

The Bible contains amazing narratives about miraculous feats accomplished by the envoys and servants of the Lord. Sometimes, Christians get lost in the miraculous nature of the stories and fail to identify the purpose of the miracles themselves. Apart from aiding God’s people in loving displays of grace and tenderness, miracles, more importantly, validated the individuals as servants of the Lord and gave authenticity to the Word of God that surrounded them. Jesus, the true, living Word of God, performed more miracles than all the other servants of the Lord combined, and in a span of much less time than God’s other tools. It reminds us of the unique nature of our Savior, the Son of God, the Logos, in whom the fullness of God is revealed in power and majesty.

From the series: Moses and the Burning Bush

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. devotional

    The Mystery of Christ

  2. devotional

    The Christ of the Prophets

  3. article

    The Christ of the Old and New

The Mystery of Christ

At some point during or after his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul was given a mystery to proclaim to the world, a body of content that was delivered with new clarity to the apostle by the Lord Jesus Himself. This mystery was not some kind of secret knowledge that only an elite few can bear; rather, it was given to Paul in order that he might deliver it to all Christians (Eph. 3:1–3). This mystery, the apostle explains, is “the mystery of Christ” (v. 4).

Paul goes on in the following verses to define the mystery for his readers, but for now let us consider what it means that the apostle understands his mystery as the mystery of Christ or the mystery involving Jesus. Puritan commentator Matthew Henry is helpful here. He writes that “it is called the mystery of Christ because it was revealed by him, and because it relates so very much to him.” Galatians 1:11–12 shows that it was the revelation of Jesus Christ that put this mystery into Paul’s stewardship. Therefore, our Savior revealed it to His apostle by the Holy Spirit. Yet the mystery not only was given by Christ but is also about Christ. Essentially, the mystery is equivalent to the gospel, that good news of salvation, declaring that men and women can be forgiven of their sins and made full citizens of the kingdom of God when they repent and trust in Christ Jesus alone for salvation. Throughout the New Testament, we see the gospel described as “the gospel of Jesus Christ” or “the gospel of our Lord Jesus” — the good news of who He is and what He has done for His people (Mark 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:8).

Given the definition of the term mystery as something that was once veiled but is now plainly revealed, to call the gospel a mystery emphasizes the newness of the message that came when the Son of God became incarnate two thousand years ago. It is not as if the gospel was wholly unknown to the old covenant saints, for they were set right with the Father in the same way that we are — through faith alone (Gen. 15:6). Yet the knowledge the old covenant saints had of the gospel was faint in comparison to the glorious revelation delivered by Jesus through His new covenant apostles and prophets. What they saw only in part we now see more fully, and we are assured that God’s people include the elect of all nations (Eph. 3:6).

The Christ of the Prophets

Moses prophesied the return of Israel from exile, laying the foundation for the prophets' preaching of the hope of restoration to the people of God (Isa. 58; Zeph. 3:14–20). If we were to read only the major restoration passages in the Mosaic law (Lev. 26:40–45; Deut. 30:1–10), however, we would miss the fullness of what was predicted in relation to the return of the Jews from the exile. As we will see in the months ahead, the true return from exile involves many events, but today we will look briefly at two of them that are hinted at in Genesis 49:10.

Throughout church history, commentators have largely agreed that Genesis 49:10 teaches that the true king of Israel is from the tribe of Judah and that this king will receive the obedience of all the peoples. In the immediate context of this verse, it is not clear that this word would find its fulfillment in Israel's return from exile. However, the later writing prophets make reference to the exaltation of Israel's Judahite king over all the nations in conjunction with the return from exile. (Of course, David was the first king from Judah's line, but his sons were taken into exile along with the rest of the nation.) Amos 9:11–15 is one of the key prophetic passages that combine the restoration from exile, the exaltation of the Judahite (and Davidic king), and the king's reign over all peoples, Jew and Gentile alike.

We do not know all the passages that Jesus interpreted for the two men on the road to Emmaus, but we are likely not making too much of a conjecture to assume that Amos 9:11–15 was one of them. In any case, living on this side of the cross, we understand that Jesus is the One to whom the prophetic promises finally point. In Him, the elect of God find the true restoration from exile, the release from the bondage to sin into which all people were sent when they fell in Adam (Rom. 5:12–21), and, finally, the return not only to blessings in Canaan but blessings in every land that will be a part of the new heaven and earth (Rev. 21:1–4). He is the Judahite and Davidic king, who, having been exiled from His Father on the cross, was raised to life for our justification, never to die again (Rom. 1:1–4; 4:22–25; Heb. 7:23–25). He is the One to whom the obedience of all nations is rendered, for despite its failures, the church of Jesus Christ has for more than two thousand years been making disciples of the Savior from every nation.

The Christ of the Old and New

Burk Parsons

We have all heard the ancient maxim about the relationship between the Old and New Testaments: “The new is in the old concealed, and the old is in the new revealed.” While the words concealed and revealed do not entirely accurately describe the relationship between the testaments, they do help us grasp the fundamental truth that the New Testament is found in seed form throughout the pages of the Old Testament and that the Old Testament blossoms forth as a flower in the New Testament.

Nevertheless, the New Testament is called the “New Testament” for the simple reason that it is, in fact, new. It is new revelation, not merely commentary on previous revelation. It is not simply a collection of apostolic reflections on the Old Testament from the first century. In real space and real time, in the history of God’s redemption of His people and by His superintendence of His appointed, sinful, human authors, God revealed to us His new testament, accompanying our long-awaited Messiah and His promised kingdom. However, it’s not as if the coming of the Christ and the continued revelation of God was a surprise to those who understood the Old Testament and, more importantly, the God of the Old Testament.

On nearly every page of the New Testament, God sovereignly reminds us that everything He has done, is doing, and will do is in accordance with the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The common refrain of the New Testament, “according to the Scriptures,” is by no means to be taken lightly but is to drive us over and over again to behold the faithfulness of God, the trustworthiness of His revelation, and the beautiful harmony of the testaments as God shows forth His sovereignly woven scarlet thread of redemption from creation to glorification, all according to the covenant of redemption of our triune God. In each of the three portions of the Old Testament — the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings — the Lord majestically sets forth that which Jesus Himself set forth when He was with the two men on the road to Emmaus interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Jesus is hiding under every stone in the Old Testament, nor does it mean that we need to overturn every stone in our pursuit to find Him at the cost of sound exegesis. Nevertheless, it does mean that every stone points to Christ and beckons us to examine the manifold ways in which Christ is in the foreground and background of the landscape of every stone in all the Scriptures, by God’s sovereign orchestration and for our redemption in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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