SYNOPSIS – The types and “shadows” of the old covenant find their substance in the Son, Christ Jesus.
The New Testament places the fulfillment of the promises of the Hebrew Bible in Jesus Christ – “In him” – All the promises of God find their “yea” and “amen” in Jesus. Likewise, the things “hidden” in the past, His “mysteries,” are fully revealed in the Life, Death, Resurrection, and the Exaltation of His Son.
This is not a radical redesign or even the abandonment of the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham – It is the bringing of its types and promises to their intended conclusions – What could easily be labeled – “Fulfillment Theology.”
For example, 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” in him is brought to fruition when both Jews and Gentiles are united in Jesus as one new people.
- (2 Corinthians 1:19-20) – “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus—who, among you, through us, was proclaimed…became not Yea and Nay,—but Yea, in him hath it become; For how many soever be the promises of God, in him is the Yea,—wherefore also, through him [be] the Amen, unto God for glory through us.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
- (Romans 16:25) – “Now, unto him who hath power to establish you according to my glad-message—even the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of a sacred secret, in age-past times kept silent, But now made manifest, and through means of prophetic scriptures, according to the command of the age-abiding God for obedience of faith unto all the nations made known.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel who came to fulfill all the Law and the Prophets, a key theme threaded throughout Matthew. In him, the Hebrew Scriptures find their fulfillment, including the Torah given by Yahweh at Mount Sinai – (Matthew 1:22, 2:15, 2:17, 2:23, 4:17, 5:17-20, 8:17, etc.).
In the gospel of John, Jesus is declared the true Tabernacle in which the unveiled glory of God now resides. In him, “grace instead of (anti) grace” has arrived. The Law came through Moses, but “grace and truth came to be in Jesus.” He is the true Temple and the place where the presence of Yahweh is found, not in any physical building in the city of old Jerusalem – (John 1:14-18, 2:19-21).
The time has now come when the true worshippers of God no longer worship him in sacred places, but instead “in the Spirit and truth.” Debates about where to locate the Temple, or how and when to build it have become pointless – (John 4:23-24).
Likewise, the ancient feasts of Israel find their fulfillment and significance in Jesus. 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).
The book of Acts records how when the day of Pentecost was “fully filled up,” the Spirit was poured out on all the saints gathered “with one accord” in Jerusalem. Peter proclaimed that this was in fulfillment of the promised Spirit predicted hundreds of years earlier by the prophets. It was the “promise of the Spirit” given to Jesus upon his exaltation that he began to pour out that very day; what was promised became reality through him – (Acts 2:16-21, Joel 2:28-30).
In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle 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,” which is Jesus. The covenant with Abraham always envisioned the inclusion of the Gentiles, which was achieved by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus – (Galatians 3:13).
The Law was given to Israel to serve as a custodian until the time of fulfillment when the “seed” should arrive. Now that Jesus has arrived, the time of the “custodian” is at an end; he is the “end of the Law for righteousness to all who believe” – (Galatians 3:19-25, Romans 10:4).
The Law was an interim stage between the original promise and its fulfillment. Jesus came in “the fullness of time” to redeem those under the Law, consequently – For those who are “in Christ” – No longer can be “Jew or Greek, bond or free, male and female.” The social and ethnic distinctions inherent in the Torahhave no place in the New Covenant inaugurated by him. All who have “put on Christ” are one in him – “Abraham’s seed and according to promise, heirs” – (Galatians 3:26-29, 4:4-7, Colossians 3:11).
To return to the observation of “days, months, seasons and years” required by the Torah amounts to submitting again to the“weak and beggarly elemental spirits” – The very rudiments of the law that used to tyrannize us. That is regression – Exchanging the Spirit and liberty for the death-dealing letter of the Law and its ever-present curse – (2 Corinthians 3:6-7, Galatians 3:10, 4:8-10, 5:1-3).
God, “in many parts and many ways, long ago spoke to the fathers in the prophets; upon these last of days he spoke to us in a Son.” Before his arrival, Yahweh spoke partially – Here a little, there a little – Now He speaks with finality in His Son. His previous word was true but promissory, preparatory but partial.
The priesthood of the Son surpasses and supersedes the Levitical priesthood. His self-sacrifice achieved what no animal sacrifice could ever do under the old system. In Jesus, the vastly superior New Covenant has arrived, rendering the old one obsolete – (Hebrews 8:4-10:18).
Jesus is the “guarantee of a better covenant legislated on better promises.” If the first covenant had been “faultless” there would have been no need for a second one. The old covenant constituted “glimpses and shadows of the heavenly realities,” mere patterns of the real and permanent originals – (Hebrews 8:1-7, 9:9-10, 9:23-24).
“Let no one; therefore; be disqualifying you in eating and in drinking; or in respect of feast or new moon or Sabbath; which are a shadow of the things to come; whereas the substance is of the Christ.” To turn from the substance to the shadow is regression, not progress – (Colossians 2:9-17).
All of us were once “dead because of our trespasses and sins…but God being rich in mercy…gave us life together in Christ by grace,” to both Jew and Gentile believers. The Gentiles were previously “separated from Christ; alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise; having no hope and godless in the world; yet now in Christ Jesus we who at one time were afar off have been made nigh by the blood of the Christ” – (Ephesians 2:1-13).
Jesus is the promised Seed of Abraham who — “Dismantled the middle wall of partition and in his flesh brought to nothing the law of commandments in decrees; that the two he might create in himself into one man of new mold.” In him, both Jews and Gentiles receive their “introduction in one Spirit to the Father” and, therefore, no longer are “strangers and sojourners, but fellow-citizens of the saints and members of the household of God” – (Ephesians 2:14-19).
The Church is built on the “foundation of the apostles and prophets; there being for chief cornerstone Jesus Christ himself; in whom an entire building is being fitly joined together growing into a holy Temple in the Lord…a habitation of God” – (Ephesians 2:20-22).
The Church is comprised of believers in Jesus – Both Jewish and Gentiles – Who are now “resident aliens” and “sojourners” in this world, a people without a national homeland that, nonetheless, possess the incorruptible inheritance of salvation to be “revealed in the last ripe time” – (1 Peter 1:1-12).
But now, in Christ Jesus, Christians are — “The living stones being built up into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood; to offer spiritual sacrifices well-pleasing unto God through Jesus Christ.” This honor is to “those who believe,” regardless of ethnicity or gender.
In Christ, we 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.” In this passage, the Apostle Peter strings together several appellations applied originally to Israel, but now to the church of Jesus Christ – (1 Peter 2:4-10, Exodus 19:5-6).
Jesus established his church to be “a kingdom of priests for his God and Father.” All creation will declare the “slain Lamb worthy” of all power and sovereignty because, by pouring out his life, he “redeemed unto God men out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation; and made them a kingdom and priests unto our God,” a company that, even now, is in the process of becoming a “great innumerable multitude from every nation” that will stand before the Throne of God and the Lamb in the coming New Creation – (Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 20:6, 7:9-17).
The theme of fulfillment IN JESUS is found throughout the New Testament. It is, in Christ that “all the promises of God are, ‘Yea!’; and in him, ‘Amen!’” God defeated Sin, Satan, and Death on Calvary, not on the altar of the Jerusalem temple. The “mystery of God” hidden in past ages has been revealed fully in Jesus, especially in the proclamation of “Christ crucified” – (Romans 16:25, 1 Corinthians 2:1-9, 2 Corinthians 1:19-20).
So, if the substance of the promises of God is available NOWin Jesus, why cling or return to the types and shadows of the former and incomplete revelation?