The promises of the Hebrew Bible find their fulfillment and substance in the Son of God – in Jesus.
According to the New Testament, the promises of God are fulfilled in Jesus. “IN HIM,” all His promises find their “yea” and their “amen.” The things that were “hidden” in the past are revealed in the life, words, death, resurrection, and exaltation of His Son, and in whom, all the shadows and types prefigured in the Hebrew Bible crystallize.
In the era that dawned in Christ, the nation of Israel is not “replaced” by the New Covenant people of God. Instead, the original promise to Abraham to bless “all the nations” is fulfilled as Jews and Gentiles are united in Jesus into one new people – (Romans 16:25, Galatians 2:28, 2 Corinthians 1:19-2:0).
In Matthew, Jesus is presented as the promised Messiah who came to fulfill “all the Law and the Prophets.” In fact, fulfillment in him is the key theme threaded throughout this gospel account. In him, what was “written” beforehand finds its intended fulfillment – (Matthew 1:22, 2:15, 2:17, 2:23, 4:17, 5:17-20, 8:17, etc.).
In John, Jesus becomes the true Tabernacle in which the unveiled glory of God resides. “Grace instead of grace” has arrived in the “word made flesh.” Though the Law came through Moses, “grace and truth came to be in Jesus.” He is the true Temple, the place where the presence of Yahweh is found, and no longer in any building “made with hands” – (John 1:14-18, 2:19-21).
The time has arrived for the true worshippers of God to worship him “in the Spirit and truth.” The old limitations of holy space and holy time no longer apply. With his arrival, all debates about where to locate the Temple have become now pointless – (John 4:23-24).
Likewise, the ancient feasts of Israel now find their significance in the Son of God. He is the true “living bread from heaven” that imparts life; not the manna given by Moses in the Wilderness – (John 6:50-51, 7:37-39).
According to the book of Acts, when the day of Pentecost was “fully filled up,” the Spirit was poured out on the saints who were gathered “with one accord” in Jerusalem. Peter proclaimed this was the promised gift of the Spirit predicted by the prophets. It was the “promise of the Father” given to Jesus upon his exaltation that he was now bestowing on his disciples – (Acts 2:16-21, Joel 2:28-30).
In Galatians, Paul explained that Jesus came to “redeem us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse in our behalf.” This was so “the blessing of Abraham should come to the Gentiles.” The promise was to Abraham and to his “seed,” and that “seed” is none other than Jesus. The original covenant always envisioned the inclusion of the Gentiles, and that has been achieved in his death and resurrection – (Galatians 3:13).
The Law served as a “custodian” until the time of fulfillment when the “seed” came. But now, the time of “custodianship” has ceased, for he is the “end of the Law for righteousness to all who believe” – (Galatians 3:19-25, Romans 10:4).
Thus, the Law was an interim stage between promise and fulfillment. The Son came in the “fullness of time” to redeem those who were under the Law. Consequently, for those who are “in Christ,” no longer can there be “Jew or Greek, bond or free, male and female.” The social and ethnic distinctions inherent in the Mosaic Law have no place under the New Covenant. All who have “put on Christ” are one in him, and are now “Abraham’s children, and according to promise, heirs” – (Galatians 3:26-29, 4:4-7, Colossians 3:11).
To again observe “days, months, seasons, and years” as required by the Torah amounts to submission to the “weak and beggarly elemental spirits” that previously tyrannized us. In doing so, we exchange the Spirit and liberty for the death-dealing letter of the Law with its ever-present curse on all men and women who do not do all that it requires – (2 Corinthians 3:6-7, Galatians 3:10, 4:8-10, 5:1-3).
God has spoken with great finality “upon these last of days in His Son.” Previously, He spoke partially – Here a little, there a little. The earlier word was true but promissory, preparatory, and partial, but He has spoken fully in Jesus, the only one who “achieved the purification of sins” and now reigns at His side over all things – (Hebrews 1:1).
The priesthood of the Son surpasses and supersedes the Aaronic priesthood. His death achieved what no animal sacrifice could ever do. Jesus is the “guarantee of a better covenant, one legislated on better promises.” If the first covenant had been “faultless,” there would be no need for another. And this vastly superior New Covenant has rendered the old one obsolete, including its sacrifices, and rituals – (Hebrews 8:4-10:18).
The old system constituted “glimpses and shadows of the heavenly realities,” mere patterns of the real and permanent originals. “Let no one, therefore, be disqualifying you in eating and in drinking, or in respect of a feast, new moon and Sabbaths, which were shadows of the coming things, but the substance is of the Christ” – (Colossians 2:9-17, Hebrews 8:1-7, 9:9-10, 9:23-24).
In Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles receive their “introduction in one Spirit to the Father,” therefore, no longer are they “strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God.” In Christ, He has dismantled the earlier “wall of partition” that separated Jews and Gentiles so that “the two he might create in himself into one new man” – (Ephesians 2:14-22).
The body of Christ is composed of believers in Jesus, both Jewish and Gentile, who are now “resident aliens” and “sojourners” in this world, a people without a national homeland that, nonetheless, possess the incorruptible inheritance of salvation that is too be “revealed in the last ripe time.” The Apostle Peter strung together several appellations that originally applied to Israel but now have been inherited by the church:
- “But now, in Christ Jesus, you are the living stones being built up into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices well-pleasing to God, through Jesus Christ…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a peculiar treasure,” a people that “at one time were a no-people but now are the people of God” – (1 Peter 2:4-10, Exodus 19:5-6).
Thus, the theme of fulfillment IN JESUS is found throughout the New Testament. In HIM, “all the promises of God are, ‘Yea!’; and, in him, ‘Amen!’” God defeated Sin, Satan, and Death on Calvary, and not on the altar of the Temple in Old Jerusalem. The “mystery of God” that was hidden in past ages has been revealed in His Son, and especially so in the proclamation of “Christ crucified” – (Romans 16:25, 1 Corinthians 2:1-9, 2 Corinthians 1:19-20).
And since the substance of God’s promises and the disclosure of His eternal “mysteries” are available in Jesus, and freely so, it would be foolhardy in the extreme to return to the types and shadows of the old and incomplete revelation. All His promises are fulfilled “in him.”