Shadow and substance
Some people think that since we have a new covenant in Jesus Christ, the Old Testament is irrelevant to us today. That is a mistake for several reasons:
1. Jesus did not replace the old covenant. He fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17-19, Luke 4:21, Luke 24:44).
2. Jesus referred people to the law of Moses many times (Matthew 7:12, Matthew 12:5, Matthew 22:36 & 40, Matthew 23:23, Luke 16:17, John 7:19 & 23, John 8:17, John 10:34, John 15:25).
3. Jesus fulfilled many prophecies in the Old Testament about Himself:
the seed of woman, born of a virgin (Gen 3:15, Is 7:14, Mt 1:18-25)
of the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10, Lk 3:33)
born in Bethlehem (Mic 5:2, Mt 2:1-6, Lk 2:4-7)
born at a specific time (Dan 9:24-27, Lk 2:1-5)
preceded by a prophet (Is 40:3-4, Mal 3:1, Mt 3:3, Lk 7:24-27)
a minister in Galilee (Is 9:1-2, Mt 4:12-16)
rejected (Is 53:1-4, Lk 23:18-21, Jn 1:11)
hailed as king as He entered Jerusalem on a young donkey (Zech 9:9, Mt 21:1-9, Mk 11:14)
betrayed by a friend who ate at His table (Ps 41:9, Jn 13:18)
sold for 30 pieces of silver which would be thrown down in the house of the Lord and used to
buy a potter’s field (Zech 11:13, Mt 27:3-7)
forsaken by His disciples (Zech 13:7, Mt 26:31)
silent before His accusers (Is 53:7, Mt 27:12-14)
bruised by Satan (Gen 3:15, Jn 13:27)
whipped and spit on (Is 50:6, Is 53:5, Mt 27:26 & 30)
pierced in His hands and feet (Ps 22:16, Zech 12:9-10, Lk 24:39-40, Jn 19:33-35, Jn 20:25-
mocked (Ps 22:7-8, Mt 27:43)
taken from prison and judgment (Is 53:8, Jn 18:28)
numbered with transgressors (Is 53:12, Mk 15:27-28)
intercessor for sinners (Is 53:12, Lk 23:34)
stripped and have lots cast for His clothes (Ps 22:18, Mt 27:35)
forsaken and cry “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (Ps 22:1, Mt 27:46),
given vinegar to drink (Ps 69:21, Mt 27:34)
a sacrificial lamb (Is 53:7, Jn 1:29, 1Pet 1:19)
cut off but not for Himself (Dan 9:26, Jn 11:49-52)
placed in the grave of a rich man (Is 53:9, Mt 27:57-60)
risen from the dead before his body corrupted (Ps 16:10, Mt 12:39-40, Mt 27:63-64, Mt 28:1-
7 Acts 2:24-31)
ascended into heaven (Ps 68:18, Acts 1:9, Eph 4:8-10
4. The Old Testament is almost 3/4 of the Bible, and is full of spiritual principles and life lessons that are very relevant today.
5. The Old Testament is full of symbols of things that were to come in their substance in the New Testament. There are several words in the King James Version used to describe this:
a. shadow (Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 10:1). This word means sketch or outline. A shadow is a rough representation of the object casting the shadow. Jesus is the fulfillment of the shadows seen by the prophets. They did not see every detail, although they did give miraculous. detailed prophecies. It is notable that Paul described our view of the future in a similar way. He said that it is like we are looking through a tinted piece of glass (actually a metal mirror). We can only see certain details.
b. figure (Hebrews 9:9). This comes from the Greek word parabole which is the word parable. It can mean example, maxim, or proverb)
c. pattern (Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 9:23). This word means example, sign, figure, or copy.
d. there are 2 words used by scholars do describe the concept of symbols in the Old Testament being fulfilled in the New Testament - type and antitype. The words come from the Greek that the New Testament was originally written in.
1. type (Acts 7:44, Romans 5:14, Hebrews 8:5). This word means example, print,
fashion, form, or mark
2. antitype (Hebrews 9:24, 1Peter 3:21). This means something formed after a pattern or counterpart.
There are many examples of something in the Old Testament being a symbol of something in the New Testament. Here are some important ones:
1. Adam and Christ (Luke 3:38, 1Corinthians 15:45)
2. The flood and water baptism (1Peter 3:20-21)
3. Abraham and Isaac and the sacrifice of Christ (Genesis 22, Hebrews 11:17-19)
4. Abraham and the faithful (Romans 4, Galatians 3
5. Circumcision and water baptism (Colossians 2:11-13)
6. The promise to Abraham and the gift of the Holy Ghost (Galatians 3:14)
7. Moses and Christ (Deuteronomy 18:15)
8 The tabernacle and the atonement of Christ (Hebrews 8-11)
9. The tabernacle and heaven (Hebrews 8-10, Revelation)
10. The promised land and the Christian life (Hebrews 3-4)
11. The promised land and heaven (Hebrews 3-4, Hebrews 11:8-16)
12. The Red Sea crossing and the new birth of water baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost
13 David and Christ (2Samuel 7:11-13, 2Samuel 23:1-4, Acts 2:25-36, and many others)
The purpose of the Old Testament was to point to Christ. "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24)." In order to fully understand what it was pointing to, we must understand how it was being pointed to. For example, some people find the book of Leviticus boring. That is because they do not understand that the book of Hebrews explains how it directly relates to our relationship with God in the new covenant. The Bible is to be taken as whole. We do ourselves a disservice when we pick what parts we think are interesting or important, and disregard the rest.