Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
Augustine (354 – 430) made a statement that rings ever true, especially in our day of superficial insight in the Scriptures. “The Old (Testament) is in the New (Testament) revealed; the New is in the Old concealed.” Only a heart steeped in the Word can come up with such a powerful discovery!
The apostle Paul wrote about this intricate weaving together of the Old and New Testaments, and called them shadows and types.
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. Colossians 2:16,17
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Romans 5:14
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. Hebrews 10:1
The Old Testament is filled with hints of what was to come in the New Testament, written by a diverse group of men over hundreds of years and who had no idea that they were recording future events in advance. Not only does it prove that Scripture was dictated by Someone outside of time who saw it all playing out before Him from beginning to end, it also proves that the Bible, as we have it today, is complete as one integrated message.
With all the types, shadows and symbols in the Old Testament that point to New Testament truths, we have an unfailing set of checks and balances that guarantees the infallibility of God’s plan for our salvation and reconciliation with Him.
God, who foresaw man’s weakness and failure to obey His simplest command, finalized His plan for our redemption even before the fall, and hid it in His dealings with them. They were rehearsals of His grand scene to be revealed centuries down the road. The shadows are gems to be discovered by diligent students of the Scriptures, those who are driven by an appetite for the meat of the Word.
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-12
As Paul says in Colossians 2:16-17, quoted earlier, the substance of shadows, types and symbols is Christ. It is all about Him – His birth, death on the cross, resurrection, High Priestly ministry, and return as King of Glory.
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:17,18
He is the head of the body, the church. As far as He is concerned, it was always about the church, His beloved bride. As the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) He did what first Adam failed to do: when first Adam realized that his bride was going to die because she ate of the forbidden fruit, he chose to die with her and ate of the fruit also. While it seems very romantic, he considered only the moment without thinking of the consequences of his disobedience. His love for his bride was greater than his love for God. Jesus, the Last Adam, saw His bride, spiritually dead in her sin and trespasses, and decided to die in her place so that she may live.
Just as first Adam was asleep when God took his bride from his side, (Genesis 2:21-23) Jesus was “asleep” on the cross when a Roman soldier pierced His side. Water and blood gushed from that open wound – the blood that purchased His bride, the church. First Adam looked at his bride and said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh…” Paul, writing about the relationship between Christ and the church, and comparing it to the relationship between a husband and wife, looks back to the birth of the first bride, and saw the fulfilment of that shadow in Christ:
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:29,30
When God put Adam to sleep to take his bride from his side, He looked down the ages to the day when His own Son would have His side pierced by a Roman spear to give birth to His bride. When Adam saw Eve for the first time she must have been the most beautiful of all of God’s creation, but most of all, he realized that she was born from him, of his very own kind, and therefore one with him.
Where was Eve before she was shown to Adam? She was in him, although hidden. Wonderful as that thought is, the substance is more glorious:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3
We are bone of His bones, and flesh of his flesh! How do you see yourself? A sinner? Did Christ die in vain? Wasn’t He able to raise you to newness of life, from death in your sin to be His bride, the object of His longing?
Jesus, witnessing the birth of Eve, fully knew what it meant for Him. He saw the cruelty and horror of the cross, the pain inflicted on His body and the weight of the sin of the world pressing down on His shoulders, yet He went to the cross voluntary because His love for the church was greater than His own integrity, comfort and safety.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
Jesus could face the cross because He looked past its pain, and fixed His eyes fixed on His bride, who was about to be taken from His side:
…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
The joy that was set before Him was His bride, the church!
Having paid so high a price for us, we can never doubt His love is love for us. Let us now look at ourselves as His bride, made worthy even though we were born in sin to be sinners. Let us also look at Him, our Saviour, as David looked at the Lord after he was rescued from hopelessness:
Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. Psalm 34:3-5