“These Things Became Our Examples”
TODAY many Bible believers put the spotlight on the Christian Greek Scriptures and leave the Hebrew Scriptures in the outer darkness. They say that these Scriptures written before the time of Christ have no application now, that with his coming they had served their purpose, that they were the “old testament” and are outmoded and replaced by the “new testament” or covenant. These Hebrew Scriptures are now nothing but dead history, they argue.
It is true that in the Hebrew Scriptures is recorded the law covenant that Israel was under, and that was to lead them to Christ and then be replaced by a new covenant with laws written, not on stone tablets this time, but on human hearts. But the Mosaic law is only a part of the Hebrew Scriptures. They contain many prophecies that point not only to the time of Christ but down to our day. To exclude them from the spotlight of our attention is to keep ourselves in the dark on vital matters. The history found in the Hebrew Scriptures is not something dead to be forgotten, for it too has prophetic value. And even the Mosaic law served as a shadow of good things to come after its termination: “The Law has a shadow of the good things to come.”—Heb. 10:1.
To Christians Paul wrote about the earlier writings of the Hebrew Scriptures: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” This includes events that might appear purely historical. Commenting on the backslidings of Israel, Paul said: “Now these things became our examples, for us not to be persons desiring injurious things, even as they desired them. Now these things went on befalling them as examples and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived.” Good examples to follow are also to be found in this ancient historical record: “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah.”—Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6, 11; Jas. 5:10.
CHRIST AND HIS SACRIFICE
In Genesis 3:15 the promise is given that a Seed would come and crush Satan’s head. This would be a blessing for men on earth. Abraham was told that in his seed all families of earth would be blessed, and this pointed to Christ: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It says, not, ‘And to seeds,’ as in the case of many such, but as in the case of one, ‘And to your seed,’ who is Christ.” But actually the literal seed that came to Abraham by God’s miraculous power was Isaac, and when Abraham started to sacrifice his only son by Sarah he did so confident that Isaac would return in a resurrection. All this is an illustration of Jehovah’s sacrifice of the Seed, Christ Jesus, and of Christ’s resurrection: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, as good as offered up Isaac, and the man that had gladly received the promises attempted to offer up his only-begotten son, although it had been said to him: ‘What will be called “your seed” will be through Isaac.’ But he reckoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; and from there he did receive him also in an illustrative way.” The Seed has been sacrificed as a ransom, but it is yet to come to crush Satan’s head and bless all obedient families of earth.—Gal. 3:16; Heb. 11:17-19.
The Passover lamb sacrificed in Egypt pictured Christ killed in the world. “Christ our passover has been sacrificed,” says 1 Corinthians 5:7. He was not killed in the land of Sodom or in Egypt, yet Revelation 11:8 speaks of a place “which is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also impaled.” It was into this present wicked world that Jesus came and suffered impalement, and hence Sodom and Egypt picture this world.
Not only was Christ the sacrificial lamb, but he is also the sacrificing priest: “Therefore it was necessary that the typical representations of the things in the heavens should be cleansed by these means, but the heavenly things themselves with sacrifices that are better than such sacrifices. For Christ entered, not into a holy place made with hands which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us. Neither is it in order that he should offer himself often, as indeed the high priest enters into the holy place from year to year with blood not his own. Otherwise, he would have to suffer often from the world’s foundation. But now he has manifested himself once for all time at the consummation of the systems of things to put sin away through the sacrifice of himself.”—Heb. 9:23-26.
This shows the resurrected Christ offering in heaven the value of his own sacrifice. It also shows that the tabernacle and its service and later the temple and its service, where the priests officiated with animal sacrifices, were “typical representations of the things in the heavens.” They are types, and as such are worthy of study today.
PERSONS WHO WERE TYPICAL
Moses was a type of Christ Jesus. At Deuteronomy 18:15 Moses spoke of a prophet to come “like me,” and Acts 3:22, 23 refers to this and the context indicates that it is Christ Moses foreshadowed: “In fact, Moses said: ‘Jehovah God will produce for you from among your brothers a prophet like me. You must listen to him according to all the things he speaks to you. Indeed, any soul that does not listen to that Prophet will be completely destroyed from among the people.’”
David also was typical of Christ. Ezekiel 34:23 foretold: “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David.” (AS) David was dead when this was written. He was used to picture Christ, for Christ is the one identified as the “one shepherd” over the sheep of Jehovah: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) A number of the psalms written by David concerning his own situation are, in fact, prophetic of Christ Jesus and find their major fulfillment in Him. Psalms 16 and 22 are examples of this.
Elijah was a type of John the Baptist, for Jesus, speaking of John, said: “And if you want to accept it, This is ‘Elijah who is destined to come’.”—Matt. 11:14.
Hagar and Sarah were more than historical figures; they were prophetic of two organizations that are distinguished by two covenants: “These things stand as a symbolic drama; for these women mean two covenants, the one from mount Sinai, which brings forth children for slavery, and which is Hagar. Now this Hagar means Sinai, a mountain in Arabia, and she corresponds with the Jerusalem today, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” Sarah was free and by the covenant of promise with Abraham she brought forth a seed, and pictured God’s free woman bringing forth His Seed by means of the Abrahamic covenant.—Gal. 4:24-26.
The prophet Isaiah was used to foretell the captivity of Judah to Babylon, but he also told of a release from captivity. This release came in 537 B.C. However, long after this these same prophecies were being applied to Jesus and the work he did when on earth, and the facts indicate that even down in our day this work of release took place. (Isa. 61:1-3; Luke 4:17-21) Isaiah 52:11 foretold the call that would go to the Israelite captives when Babylon would be overthrown: “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence.” (AS) But long after Babylon was overthrown, and after Jesus had released captives from false religious systems, a prophecy was given in Revelation that still speaks of a future fall of Babylon, and the warning cry is given to Jehovah’s people: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Rev. 18:2, 4.
An outstanding historical event was the flood of Noah’s day. But Jesus showed that it, along with the destruction of Sodom, is prophetic of our time: “Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man: they were eating, they were drinking, men were marrying, women were being given in marriage, until that day when Noah entered into the ark, and the flood arrived and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot came out of Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.”—Luke 17:26-30.
These are a few of the many instances proving that places and persons and events of the Hebrew Scriptures are prophetic. These Scriptures are not outdated. They should be studied. They are timely for us.