The history contained in the sacred Scriptures is that of the church or people of God: other nations are introduced only in an incidental manner, as being connected with them: and this people were formed for Christ. Him God appointed to be “heir of all things.”
All that was done by the patriarchs and prophets, under the Old Testament, was preparatory to his kingdom. It was in his field that they laboured, and therefore his apostles “entered into their labours.” God’s calling Abraham, and blessing and increasing him, had all along a reference to the kingdom of his Son. He was the principal Seed in whom all the kindreds of the earth were to be blessed.
Why did Melchizedek, on meeting Abraham, when he returned from the slaughter of the kings, bless him with so much heart? Was it not as knowing that he had the promises, especially that of the Messiah?
Why is Esau’s despising his birthright reckoned profaneness, but on account of its referring to something sacred? The promises made to Abraham’s posterity chiefly related to things at a great distance; but Esau longed for something nearer at hand, and therefore sold his birthright for a present enjoyment.
Why is the reproach which Moses preferred to the treasures of Egypt called “the reproach of Christ,” but that Israel being in possession of the promise of Him, and Moses believing it, cast in his lot with them, though in a state of slavery? Were not these the “good things “to which he referred, in persuading Hobab to go with them? All that was done for Israel from their going down into Egypt to their settlement in Canaan, and from thence to the coming of Christ, was in reference to him.
The conquest of the seven nations was authorized, and even commanded by JeHoVaH, for the purpose of re-establishing his government in his own world, from which he had in a manner been driven by idolatry. It was setting up his standard with the design of ultimately subduing the world to the obedience of faith.
What but the promise of Christ, as including the covenant that God made with David, rendered it all his salvation and all his desire? It was owing to the bearing which the Old Testament history had on the person and work of Christ that Stephen and Paul, when preaching him to the Jews, made use of it to introduce their subject, Acts 7, 13.
The body of the Jewish institutions was but a shadow of good things to come, of which Christ was the substance.
Their priests, and prophets, and kings were typical of him. Their sacrifices pointed to him who “gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.” The manna on which they fed in the wilderness referred to him, as the “bread of God that should come down from heaven.” The rock, from whence the water flowed that followed them in their journeys, is said to be Christ, as being typical of him.
Their cities of refuge represent him, “as the hope set before us.” The whole dispensation served as a foil, to set off the superior glory of his kingdom. The temple was but as the scaffolding to that which he would build, and the glory of which he would bear. The moral law exhibited right things, and the ceremonial law a shadow of good things; but “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
The Christian dispensation is to that of the Old Testament as the jubilee to a state of captivity. It might be in reference to such things as these that the psalmist prayed, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wonderful things out of thy law!”
Of the prophecies with which the Scriptures abound, the person and work of Christ form the principal theme. “To him gave all the prophets witness,” either in what they wrote or spoke. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
From the first mention of the woman’s Seed, to his appearance in the flesh, the language of prophecy concerning him became more explicit and distinct. The blessing on JeHo VaH the God of Shem seems to intimate designs of mercy towards his descendants. The promise to Abraham and his seed is more express. Abraham, understanding it as including the Messiah, believed, and it was counted to him for righteousness. He earnestly desired to see his day; he saw it, and rejoiced. Jacob’s prophecy is still more explicit and distinct. He foretells his being of the tribe of Judah, and that under his reign the Gentiles should be gathered.
After this, the house of David is specified, as that from which the Messiah should spring. The Psalms abound in predictions concerning him. Isaiah tells of his being miraculously born of a virgin—of his humble and gentle character, “not breaking the bruised reed, nor quenching the smoking flax”—of his sufferings, death, and everlasting kingdom, which implied his resurrection, Acts 13:34.
Micah named the town of Bethlehem as the place where he should be born. Zechariah mentioned the beasts on which he should make his public entry into Jerusalem. The Spirit of inspiration in the prophets is called “the Spirit of Christ,” because it “testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” But if the Old Testament had a uniform bearing on the person of Christ, much more the New. This is properly entitled, “The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
The one abounds with prophecies; the other relates to their accomplishment. The ordinances of the former were prefigurative; those of the latter are commemorative. But both point to the same object. Every Divine truth bears a relation to him: hence the doctrine of the gospel is called “the truth as it is in Jesus.” In the face of Jesus Christ we see the glory of the Divine character in such a manner as we see it nowhere else.
The evil nature of sin is manifested in his cross, and the lost condition of sinners in the price at which our redemption was obtained. Grace, mercy, and peace are in him. The resurrection to eternal life is through his death. In him every precept finds its most powerful motive, and every promise its most perfect fulfilment. The Jews possessed the sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament, and searched them,* thinking that in them they had eternal life; but they would not come to him that they might have it.
What a picture does this present to us of multitudes in our own times! We possess both the Old and the New Testament; and it is pleasing to see the zeal manifested of late in giving them circulation. All orders and degrees of men will unite in applauding them. But they overlook Christ, to whom they uniformly bear testimony; and, while thinking to obtain eternal life, will not come to him that they might have it.
Andrew Fuller, “The Uniform Bearing of the Scriptures on the Person and Work of Christ.” in Complete Works, Vol. 1, 702-705.