Welcome to Volume 3 of Seven Miles From Jerusalem. As we continue this journey through the Old Testament Scriptures looking for Jesus, we must recognize the theme of self- sacrifice. This theme is central to the Gospel where we see Jesus lay down His life for ours. Let’s begin with Ester. A young Jewish woman is forced to take part in what is essentially a beauty pageant to find the king of Persia a new queen. Ester wins the heart of the king and becomes the queen while keeping her Jewish identity hidden. A plot to annihilate all the Jews from all the king’s providences is unleashed by one of the king’s servants. Ester must now make a choice between remaining silent and bringing death to her people or going before the king unannounced and facing the death penalty for breaking the king’s strict protocol. After a 3 day fast, not knowing her fate, she selflessly goes before the king. Finding favor with the king, she avoids the death penalty and saves her people from the evil plot.
The Book of Judges gives us a unique story about a man named Jephthah. Being an exiled outcast, Jephthah surprisingly gets recruited to lead the armies of Israel. He makes a vow to God, saying that whatever comes out of the doors of his house to meet him upon his return from the battle he will offer as a sacrifice if he is given the victory. To his dismay, his only child, a virgin daughter is the one who comes out of the house to celebrate his victory. After a time of mourning, she willingly agrees to the sacrifice to honor her father’s vow to God.
When looking for Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures, there are times when Jesus points us directly to them. Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” While Jonah is on a ship running from God, it’s determined that he is the reason that a tempest storm is about to destroy the ship and all it’s passengers and crew. Jonah selflessly gives himself up to be thrown into the sea. His sacrifice saves all onboard the ship.
Notice how all three of these historical events point to the redeeming work of Jesus. Not only is the theme of self-sacrifice key to what God has done for us but it’s also key to our relationship with God. Jesus said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? Luke 9: 23-25
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13
In the first Seven Miles From Jerusalem we started digging into the scriptures looking at how Jesus is found in the Old Testament. The Passover shows us God’s providential protection and foreshadowed the atoning work accomplished by Jesus on the cross. This theme of provision and protection is found frequently and here are just few more examples.
Noah’s Ark: Genesis Chapter 6-9
There came a time when wickedness was great on the earth and God was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But God showed Grace to Noah and his family, instructing them to build an ark. The ark was a picture of Jesus. If Noah and his family stay inside the ark they are protected from the wrath of God being poured out on the earth. The New Testament is replete with statements about believers being ‘In Christ’. As we hold fast to Jesus we are in Him like being in the ark, safe and secure.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36
Rahab the Harlot: Joshua Chapter 2 & Chapter 6
Before the Israelites conquered Jericho two spies were sent to survey the land. As the authorities were in pursuit they escaped with the help of a woman named Rahab. Because of her kindness they agreed to honor her request for protection from the upcoming invasion and destruction of her city. On the day that Jericho fell, Rahab and her family were kept safe as they followed the instructions to stay inside their home with a scarlet rope hanging from the window. Just as the scarlet blood of Jesus marks and sets us apart Rahab’s scarlet rope marked her family for protection. Rahab not only turned away from prostitution but became a faithful Israelite who is found in the genealogy of Jesus.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Romans 5:9
The Bronze Serpent: Numbers Chapter 21
As the children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness they became discouraged and spoke against God and Moses. They complained about their condition since leaving Egypt. The Lord sent poisonous snakes among them and many people died. After they repented for their attitudes the Lord told Moses to make a bronze serpent on a pole. If anyone looked upon the bronze serpent, as Moses held it up, they would not be harmed. In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus refers to this event and applies it to Himself… ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:14-15
Imagery of the bronze serpent on a pole is very prevalent in our society today. Most hospitals, firetrucks and ambulances have it displayed. In the same way the Israelites were to keep their eyes on the bronze serpent we are to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and what He did on the cross. He died for us, rose from the dead and grants everlasting life to all who believe. Opening the door to Heaven and providing a way to escape the torment of a place prepared for those who have rejected Him.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!
On the day that Jesus rose from the dead, two of His followers were on a seven mile journey from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus. A stranger joins them along the way. They converse about the extraordinary events surrounding Jesus and His resurrection. As they reasoned, the stranger said “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and enter into His glory?" They would soon find out that the stranger was actually Jesus himself. Then beginning with Moses, Jesus shows them how the Old Testament scriptures point to Him. This would be a Bible lesson they would never forget. After their eyes were opened to see that the stranger was Jesus they exclaimed “Did not our hearts burn within us as He spoke to us and opened up the scriptures?”
Just as this passage, in Luke chapter 24, shows Jesus teaching about himself from the Old Testament we would be wise to follow suit. The Old Testament is rich with not only messianic prophecies but also types and shadows of Jesus. Themes of mercy, grace, redemption, sacrifice and salvation run all through its pages. In this blog series, I will highlight just a few of these edifying gems that ties the Old and New Testaments together by the thread of Jesus.
Passover: Exodus Chapter 12
The children of Israel are being held captive by the Egyptians. In their suffering and cry for help God sends Moses. After multiple plagues are brought against the Egyptians, Pharaoh remains determined to hold the Hebrews captive which sets the stage for the Passover. The Lord gives the instructions for every man to take for his household a lamb without blemish. At a set time they shall kill their lamb and sprinkle blood on the two doorpost and the lintel of their houses. On that night the Lord will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down all the firstborn of the Egyptians. Houses marked with blood from the lamb will be passed over by the Lord with no harm coming to those who remain inside.
The apostle Paul, in 1Corintians 5:7, identifies Christ as our Passover who was sacrificed for us. Just as the children of Israel were held in bondage and needed to be set free, all of mankind is bound by the chains of sin and is in need of deliverance. Jesus came as the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Being perfect and without blemish He shed His blood for us. Rising from the dead on the third day so that whoever believes in Him will be seen and accepted as righteous by God.
From the Passover we also get a very interesting visual. Notice how the blood is applied to the top of the door frame and then to the far right and the far left as well. This is a picture of the coming Messiah, Jesus, who bled from His head and His outstretched hands, one to the left and the other to the right. The blood of the lamb was applied to the doorpost as a sign marking those to be protected. The blood of Jesus brings freedom and protection for those who remain in Him.
Stay tuned for more ‘Seven Miles From Jerusalem’ where we will see Jesus again.
Follower of Jesus