The Church in the Old Testament

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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

The statements that the apostle Paul made about the types, shadows and symbols in the Old Testament, open exciting fields for Bible study. It also ties the two Testaments together with cords that cannot be broken, thus revealing the Bible as a single message from God to man. Augustine of Hippo, one of the early church fathers, summarized it this way:

The New Testament lies hidden in the Old;

The Old Testament is unveiled in the New

Not only does this truth put the Bible in a very unique category with future glories so intricately woven into the Old Testament text that you can only see it with the help of the Holy Spirit, it also confirms another truth, namely that God knew the end from the beginning. Nothing catches Him by surprise—not even the extreme corruption that we see around us today. It is a beautiful experience to read the New Testament in the Old!

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

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, spoke of two Adams: the first Adam who is the forefather of us all, and Jesus, the last Adam and federal Head of a new species of people—the twice born:

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:45

This is significant, both because of who Adam was, and of Whom he became a type—Jesus, the last Adam—and their respective brides. It is interesting to note that God made both male and female in the beginning:

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27

God, Who is Spirit, and exists in the spiritual world, made them in His image, so they were spirit beings. They had no bodies at first. How did they exist? The Bible doesn’t say, but when you read the New Testament, you see the phrase, “in Him” several times. Those who are born again are in Him, one with Him, died with Him, raised with Him, united with Him, and seated with Him. It is not difficult then, to assume that Adam and Eve were in God before they received their earthly bodies.

The Lord formed Adam’s body (literally squeezed it into shape) from the dust of the earth, breathed (his?) life into it, and he became a living being. In a similar way, Jesus always existed with the Father (John 1:1) for they are one, but a day came when He had to go on a mission that required of Him to have a body. The epistle to the Hebrews mentions it, “…but a body You have prepared for Me.” (Hebrews 10:5)

Adam lived a lonely life on earth, and needed a bride. God said that it was not good for him to be alone, so He decided to make him a helper, someone “comparable” to him. For this to happen, first Adam was put to sleep; God opened his side, took one of his ribs, and built a body for Eve from it. Adam’s bride came from his side while he was sleeping.

Where was Eve before she received her body? In Adam, from where she came!

Like first Adam, last Adam also needed a bride—one that is like Him, as Jesus will not take a bride that is not “comparable” to Him! And as it happened to first Adam, when Jesus was “sleeping” on the cross, a Roman soldier thrust a spear into His side, and blood and water came gushing out—the blood that purchased His bride, the church.

The church is the bride of Christ, as Paul writes in several of his pastoral letters. In Ephesians 5:22-32 he writes an excellent piece on two matters that are exactly the same: the relationship between a husband and his wife, and that of Christ and the church. We understand His love for the church when we see a good marriage where a husband and his wife fulfill their ordained roles in a loving relationship. The two become one; just as Adam and Eve became one flesh, we become one with Him as blood washed, born again, new creation, spiritual beings.

When first Adam woke from his sleep and saw his bride, he exclaimed, “she is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Paul ends his teaching on Christ and His bride with the same words that Adam used to welcome Eve:

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

The church was always in God’s heart, but He hid it in the creation story where it remained as a mystery through the ages, until Jesus purchased our redemption at the cross. The Old Testament saints could not see it, but it was revealed to Paul:

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places… Ephesians 3:8-10

Jesus will be coming soon to claim His bride, and take her home with Him. As it is with brides, preparing for this wonderful event happens with great attention and care. Every bride’s dream is to look her absolute best on that one day! Paul, as a minister to the body of Christ, worked hard to that end:

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2

It is almost as if God could not keep the secret bout the church to Himself when He gave just a glimpse of the Bride of the Messiah to the sons of Korah:

The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; Her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors; The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought; They shall enter the King’s palace. ~ Psalm 45:13-15

The church existed in the heart of God even before Eve stepped into the garden. In her sinless state she must have been the most beautiful creature that ever walked the earth—a true type of the church. While the church is not perfect, the Lord sees her as His glorious bride, washed and purified, and the object of His longing. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul reveals different faces of the church. We are:

  • Fellow citizens of the saints (2:19)
  • Members of the household of God (2:19)
  • A holy temple—the dwelling place of God in the Spirit (2:20-22)
  • Preachers of God’s wisdom to principalities and powers in the air (3:10)
  • God’s family (3:15)
  • The new man (4:17-24)
  • Bride of Christ (5:22-32)
  • The army of God (6:10-18)

The church occupies an important place in the heart of God! The world may look down on us; we sometimes look down on ourselves, yet we are the desire of God’s heart, His surprise gift to humanity for such a time as this. Let us therefore not fix our eyes on our shortcomings and weaknesses, but instead pull ourselves up on the glorious truths of who we really are in Christ. We are more than conquerors in Him, (Romans 8:37) and we have an assignment to fulfill before He calls us home!


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To be born of the Spirit of God makes you a direct creation of God, just as Adam was. This experience puts you in an entirely different class of being! As a new creation you were recreated in the image of God.Jesus taught us to see God as our Father, and to address Him so in prayer. Every time we call Him Father, we affirm that we are born of Him, that we are His children, and that we have a relationship with Him.

Taken from our course IDENTITY.

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