April 20th, 2022
When we read the Old Testament, we find a powerful foreshadowing of things to come in the New Testament. The Bible specializes in patterns and culminates in beautifully rich, full-circle moments where types and shadows are realized. Jesus said in Matthew 5:17 that He came to fulfill the law, referring to much of the first five books of the Bible (the Torah or Law Books).
One of the major themes we see in the Old Testament is the sacrifice of animals to atone (or make amends) for man's sin. Because Yahweh God is holy, He cannot be with those unholy, so to have fellowship with God, there must be payment for our sins. Each year, the high priest in Israel would go into the Temple on the Day of Atonement to shed the blood of an animal and place that blood on the mercy seat, located on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant between two angelic figures. This act would not pay for Israel's sins but would push their sins forward until the following year. In Exodus 25:9, Yahweh tells Moses to model the Tabernacle precisely like the one in Heaven that Yahweh will show him. By this, we know that the high priest's sacrifices must foreshadow an event to come where the blood of a pure sacrifice will be placed on the mercy seat in Heaven.
In the New Testament, the Gospels tell the glorious redemptive story of Jesus's death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. John 1 begins by showing us that "The Word" was in the beginning, was with God, and was God. Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This same Word is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, Emmanuel- God with us. Jesus is sinless and the only one who could make a pure and final sacrifice to atone for our sins and give us fellowship again with the Father. John believes that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice because he paints a beautiful portrait at the end of his Gospel where Mary is looking for Jesus but only sees where He was laid. Jesus' grave clothes are in the center, with angelic figures on each side, just like the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant (John 20)! In that same chapter, Mary finds Jesus, and Jesus responds by saying, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father." Yet, later that evening, we find Jesus meeting with His disciples and telling them, "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see" (Luke 24:39). So, what occurred between that morning and that evening that allowed Jesus to be handled by his followers?
In Luke 16:19-31, we find the captivating story of the rich man and Lazarus. This passage shows that, before Christ's resurrection, Hades was divided into two realms: a place of comfort where Lazarus was held (Abraham's bosom) and a place of torment where the rich man was held (hell or "Gehenna" in the Greek in Mark 9:45). Lazarus's place of comfort is called "paradise" (Luke 23:43). Between paradise and hell (the two districts of Hades/Sheol), there was "a great chasm" (Luke 16:26). Ephesians 4:8-9 goes on to tell us that Jesus descended into the lower parts of the Earth to lead captivity captive, or in other words, to bring resurrection to the saints held in Abraham's bosom. In Matthew 27:52-53, we see these resurrected saints walking the streets of Jerusalem after Jesus was resurrected. Meanwhile, Ephesians 4:8-9 then says that Jesus ascended far above the heavens to fulfill all things. Paul, in Hebrews 9:11-12, sums up the event perfectly by saying, "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect Tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."
It is truly a life-changing revelation to know that Jesus paid the price for our sins, once and for all! When our accuser comes to remind us of our failures and past sins, we can claim the blood of Jesus shed for us at Calvary and placed on Heaven's mercy seat! Then our Father will look at Jesus' sacrifice and declare us, "Not guilty!" Oh, friend, we are free from our guilt and shame! We are a new creation in Christ Jesus! Join us on Sundays at 3 pm, in person or online, as we celebrate the Son who has set us free indeed! May the Lord bless you, keep you, and make His face shine upon you. Be Regenerated!
Your friend in Christ,
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Pastor Jasmine Brady