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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Gen-Deu; The Law

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The Law

Genesis to Deuteronomy
A Collection of Portraits of Christ

The materials in this section have been collected not only to show the golden thread of the Promise Doctrine throughout the Law, but also hopefully to provide helpful commentary on key passages of the Bible, as well as to encourage pastors to preach Christ to their people.

“The Beginning”

What happens when people, who once embraced the idea of the Bible as their authoritative Word from God, begin to regard the Scriptures as only another source for daily wisdom and principles?

  • Is it possible that the true Gospel itself becomes at risk?
  • What is the Gospel anyway?
  • Is the Gospel only found in the New Testament?
  • Will people read the Bible but not see Christ in it?
  • If you think this an impossibility, read John 3 to learn about a religious man named Nicodemus.
  • He met with Jesus at night for fear of discovery.
  • He recognized Christ’s authoritative teaching and miracle working as a sign that God was with Him.
  • But he wanted to learn more.
  • After Jesus explained the need of spiritual birth Nicodemus asked, “How can these things be?”
  • Notice Jesus’ direct and accusatory question in John 3:10.
  • What was it he should have known as a learned man of the Scriptures from John 3:11-15?
  • Jesus said he should have known the Son of Man must be lifted up even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness.
  • The bronze snake was a symbol of the cross and the curse of death on sin.
  • Moses’ bronze serpent looked like a snake impaled upon a spear.
  • It was lifted up for all Israel to see and understand the penalty of sin would be removed by Christ the Messiah.
  • In John 12:32 Jesus explained, “If I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
  • This He said to signify by what death He would die.
  • In other words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was foretold in the life and words of Moses.

What if Christ came to evangelical Christians today and asked, “You claim to be Bible believing Christians, but do you know the Gospel as taught in both the Old and the New Testament? Can you trace my life from Genesis through Revelation? If not why?

  • You may be asking, “Is that really important and realistic for lay people to know the Gospel from cover to cover?”
  • Let me be so bold as to say, “If a pastor can’t trace the promises of Christ throughout the Bible, he is giving his people far less than they deserve to know about their Redeemer.”
  • Let me substantiate this claim.

The essential curriculum taught by our Lord to His Apostles, which they taught to others, is essential to understanding Christ and the Gospel.

  • What was the Gospel, according to Jesus?
  • What is the “Gospel”? It is the “Good News” that “Christ died for our sins was buried and raised the third day, according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3)
  • Jesus taught He was the Christ revealed in Genesis, as well the rest of Scripture.
  • Let us look at just a few examples of Jesus’ teaching.
  1. On the first Easter morning, a disciple by the name of Cleopas and a companion were walking on the road to Emmaus.
    • As they walked and talked together a stranger joined their procession.
    • The two disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus.
    • A lively conversation began concerning the events of that week in Jerusalem.
    • They were reviewing the events of that week for the stranger.
    • There was disappointment in their voices.
    • Israel, they believed, would not be redeemed by Jesus of Nazareth.
    • Likewise, they lamented His death and questioned the rumors of His resurrection.
    • What they failed to remember was the Gospel that Jesus taught them from all the Scriptures.
    • Jesus reprimanded them for their lack of faith and misunderstanding of the Scriptures. (Luke 24:25-32)
    • He began to explain to them again beginning with Genesis all the things concerning Himself.
    • He showed them from Genesis the Gospel.
    • His curriculum for understanding the Gospel began with Genesis and then went through the rest of the Scriptures.
    • Later, when the eleven Apostles met together in the Upper Room, Christ appeared to them.
    • In Luke 24:44-49, Jesus once again explained the Gospel that is contained in the Scriptures.
    • He reminded them of all He had previously taught them about the Scriptures.
    • All the Scriptures had to be fulfilled beginning with Moses.
    • He opened their understanding that, “It was written and it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.”
  2. In Luke 16, Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus.
    • Both men died, but the rich man was tormented in the flames of Hades.
    • Across a great chasm, Lazarus was resting in the arms of Father Abraham.
    • The rich man cries out to Abraham for mercy.
    • But Abraham replies to the rich man that he had his day of mercy and rejected it.
    • The rich man, concerned about his living brothers, asked if Lazarus could be sent back to his father’s house to warn them of Hades.
    • Abraham then responded. (Luke 16:29-31)
    • The key in this passage is: “If they didn’t hear and understand Moses…neither will they be persuaded even if one rises from the dead.”
    • Why? Because the rich man had rejected the Gospel written about by Moses and the prophets.
  3. When Jesus was harassed by the Pharisees, He reminded them that the Scriptures gave witness to Him.
    • They prided themselves on knowing how to live by the Law, but they didn’t recognize Christ when He came. (John 5:37-47)
    • Jesus declared that Moses would be their accuser, because he wrote about Christ and they did not believe him.
    • They believed the Law of Moses, but not in the Christ that Moses promised.
    • After Christ’s resurrection, He put His disciples through a forty-day crash course on Moses and the prophets.
    • They never forgot their lesson.
    • The Gospel according to Moses and the prophets became their theological basis for their preaching.
    • Peter, for example, later preached in Jerusalem the Gospel according to Moses and the prophets.
    • His message is recorded in Acts 3:13-15, 18-23.
    • Note that Peter says Christ was preached to them, “since the world began.”

Later, another disciple by the name of Stephen declared his faith in Christ by following the history of God’s promises given to Israel as recorded in Genesis. (Acts 7:51-53)

  • He retold the story of God’s promises given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.
  • Then he told the story of Moses.
  • But he specifically identified Jesus with “The Prophet” promised by God through Moses to Israel.
  • He also pointed out that Christ was “The Tabernacle” in the desert.
  • Then in Acts 7:51-53, Stephen boldly accused his audience that they had murdered the “Just One” promised by Moses.

Paul likewise declared “the Gospel according to Moses,” to King Agrippa. (Acts 26:19-23)

  • He began by declaring God had promised from the beginning of creation to send a “Just One,” Who must suffer and die for sin, and be raised up from the dead.
  • This Gospel began in Genesis and finds ultimate fulfillment in Revelation.
  • The Gospel was first announced by God in the Garden of Eden.
  • The Gospel was lived-out later in the Garden of Gethsemane, and will be fulfilled in the Garden of the New Jerusalem.
  • Earthly life began in a “Garden,” but eternal life will be realized in “the Garden” described by the Apostle John in Revelation.
  • To miss or neglect the golden thread of the Gospel throughout the Scriptures is to risk not comprehending the very meaning of the Bible.

But going back even before the beginning of time to learn about Christ.

  1. Isaiah tells of God’s eternal plan for our salvation prior to creation. (Isaiah 46:9-13)
  2. The Apostle John having been taught by Jesus, spoke of Christ before creation. (John 1:1-3)
    • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
    • John identified Jesus Christ as “The Word.”
    • He was a co-equal within the Triune Godhead and was fully God in the beginning.
    • He was the one who spoke all things into existence out of nothing.
    • He was the author of life and light.
    • He spoke light into existence in Genesis.
    • Christ will be the light of His people in Revelation 21. “The city has no need of the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God illumined it. The Lamb is its light.” Those who are saved will walk in its light. (Revelation 21:23-24)
  3. Jesus’ prayer in John 17:5 refers to the glory Christ had with the Father before His incarnation.
    • “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
    • In other words, the beginning of the Gospel precedes creation with Christ as the Beloved Son.
  4. The Bible also teaches that the Father promised to give His Son a progeny from the earth who would glorify Him forever.
    • “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.” (John 17:9-11)
    • The Inter-Trinitarian Covenant (as theologians refer to the Father’s promise to give the Son a people) was made before creation and it is the reason for us to be continually grateful today.
    • “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our Gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

The Bible Speaks of Christ at Creation

  1. “Christ is the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15-18)
    • “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
    • This means He will be the Inheritor of all creation…a gift from the Father.
  2. Jesus Christ laid the foundation of the earth. “You, Lord in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.” (Hebrews 1:10-12)
  3. When we read Genesis, we must keep in mind that it was Jesus Christ Who created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
    • These seven words, “God created the heavens and the earth,” are the basis for all that is contained in the Scriptures.

There is a three-fold purpose for this seven-word statement.

  1. Genesis chapter one identifies God as the Creator.
    • He is identified as “Eloheim,” which is a plural name for God.
    • This will help us understand when Genesis says, “Eloheim and the Spirit declared, ‘Let Us make…’” (Genesis 1:26)
    • The God of creation is also the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
    • He is the God Who promised a son of the woman would crush the head of the serpent in defeat.
    • He is the God Who promised One from Abraham’s seed would bless all the families of the world.
    • He is the God Who promised He Himself would provide a Lamb on Mount Carmel.
    • He is the same God Who promised a Shepherd Redeemer to Jacob.
    • He is the same God Who promised Judah a Son from His Seed would be the King of Israel.
  2. Genesis chapter one also explains the origin of man and creation.
    • God alone is self-existent.
    • Creation cannot be explained apart from God.
    • All that exists was created for God’s glory.
    • Man’s existence cannot be explained as “time plus chance,” or a “creature that evolved out of primeval ooze.”
    • Man was created by God in His image, for His pleasure.
  3. Genesis chapter one helps us tie together the work of God throughout all time and eternity.
    • He created time and space.
    • There is purpose to life on earth.
    • It is defined by God Himself.
    • “In the beginning” is a reference point to all of history that follows.
    • There is the “beginning of time,” as well as the “end of time.”
    • For example, Isaiah says, “Behold I will create a new heaven and a new earth.”
    • Revelation 21:1 says, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth.”
    • In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul parallels God’s creation of the earth with a new creation of humanity. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Christ is identified with the beginning as well as the end of history.

  1. He is called, “The Alpha and Omega.”
    • Jesus claims in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
    • Jesus declared in Revelation 21:6, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.”
    • Notice the similarity to the Garden of Eden with its stream and even its Tree of Life.
    • Christ’s last recorded words in Revelation 22:12-13 make a final affirmation of His identity. “And behold, I am coming quickly and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
  2. The first words of the Bible, “In the beginning,” are more than a historical prologue.
    • They are the very name of Christ…He is “the Beginning.”
    • In Revelation 3:14, Christ is identified by this name. “These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God.”
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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