The Old Testament is a promise of faithful love made and the New Testament is that promise kept.
The First Gospel Promise
Merriam-Webster define the word promise like this: “a statement telling someone that you will definitely do something or that something will definitely happen in the future.”
The entire Old Testament can be summarized as a promise made by God to keep on loving fallen humanity at any and all costs to Himself. The New Testament can be summarized as God following through to fulfill that promise in the life and death of Jesus Christ.
As soon as Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie about the character of God, they ceased to trust their Creator, and fell into sin, God immediately took the initiative to pursue them and to promise their rescue from the enemy:
“Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘________ _________ ________?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I his myself.’ And He said, ‘________ _________ _________ that you were naked? _________ _________ eat from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’” (Genesis 3:9-11).
Here we see God’s heart of grace on beautiful display. Of course, He knew exactly where they were. As they hid themselves in the bushes, He could have appeared right behind them, gave a tap on the shoulder, and terrified them, but he didn’t. He could have burst into the garden shouting words of condemnation, but He didn’t. He could have immediately wiped them out of existence, but He Didn’t. Rather, He came wooing, beckoning, initiating contact and asking disarming but probing questions to reveal that He meant them no harm, although the lie they had believed about Him aroused in them the expectation of harm. And then addressing Satan in their hearing, God declared what scholars call the first gospel promise:
“I will put __________ between you and the woman, and between your ________ and her __________; He shall bruise your _________, and you shall bruise His __________” (Genesis 3:15).
Notice the key aspects of the promise:
Enmity: even though humanity had fallen into sin, God would implant within us a sense of hostility toward evil, a desire for justice, an inclination to resist evil and long for restoration to our original state of innocence. Compare I John 1:9; Romans 7:14-15, 23.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and brining me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Seed: God will send salvation to the world in the form of a special human Seed (Offspring), in whom the promised enmity will take on full form in a singular and rippling conquest over Satan. Compare John 14:30; Galatians 3:16; Hebrews 1:9; Hebrews 2:14; I John 3:8
I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me (John 14:30)
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “and to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “and to your Seed,” who is Christ (Galatians 3:16)
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than your companions (Hebrews 1:9)
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14).
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8).
Head: The New International Version is stronger here saying, “He will crush your head.” The Offspring of the woman will conquer Satan on behalf of humanity. Compare John 12:31, 32; Colossians 2:15.
Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” (John 12:31, 32).
Having disarmed principalities and power, He made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15).
Heel: and yet, kin the process of crushing the head of Satan the Savior will be wounded. Compare Isaiah 53:4-6; Matthew 26:38; Matthew 27:46
Surely He was wounded for our griefs and carried out sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own ways; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:4-6).
Then he said to them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me. (Matthew 26:38).
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “Eli, Eli, Lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
From the initial promise of Genesis 3:15, Scripture proceeds to unfold the Messiah’s character and mission with added detail and deepening insight. Moses foretold that the promised One would come to the world as a prophet and as a sacrifice for sin (Deuteronomy 18:15; Leviticus 4:32). King David said the Messiah would undergo horrible abuse and abandonment (Psalm 22 and 88). Isaiah portrayed Him as a suffering servant and a non-violent revolutionary who would set in motion an unstoppable movement of justice (Isaiah 42 and 53). Prophet by prophet, vision by vision, symbol by symbol, song by song, the entire Old Testament spoke the mystery of the Promised One who would come to disclose God’s redeeming love to mankind and, in so doing, unmask the devil’s primal lie leveled against God’s character (Genesis 3:15).
The Time Foretold
Six hundred years in advance the prophet Daniel foretold the time when the Promised One would appear on the Public stage to begin His saving work as the Messiah, as well as when He would be crucified. Read the remarkable prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27.
The angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel and declared, “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Daniel 9:24).
Israel is here given a 70-week period of time fo fulfill covenant faithfulness with god. In Bible prophecy, a day is equal to a year (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34; Mark 1:15), so 70 weeks equates to 490 years. Gabriel then specified the specific historic event that would act as the starting date for the prophecy from which we can count forward to pinpoint the time when Jesus would launch His Messianic career:
“know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks (69 weeks)” (verse 25).
The command to restore Jerusalem was issued by the Persian King Artaxerxes in 457 BCE (BC) (Ezra 7:11-12). Sixty-nine weeks is equivalent in prophetic time to 483 years. Counting forward 483 years from 457 BCE we arrive, remarkably, at CE 27, (AD 27) the very year Jesus entered the public eye as the Messiah, a title that means “anointed” of God (Matthew 3:16-17; John 1:29; Acts 10:38).
Gabriel continued to unfold the prophecy to Daniel by stating that “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself” and that He “shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but n the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” In other words, in the middle of the 70th week – which would be CE31 – the Messiah will be crucified and, thus, bring an end to the symbolic sacrificial system of Israel. Thus, by His perfect self-sacrificing love manifested at the cross, Jesus fulfilled covenant faithfulness to God. Israel as a nation was now granted the opportunity to receive the Messiah and embrace His covenant faithfulness on their behalf. But, tragically, they finalized their rejection of the Messiah by the stoning of Stephen as he preached Christ to them, at which point the 490-year prophecy reached its completion in CE 34 (Acts 7:54-60).
The two most important features of the prophecy are these:
- “Jesus would be cut off, but not for Himself.”
- By His death He would “confirm the covenant.”
The term cut off is normative biblical language intended to covey the idea of complete separation from God. The word covenant indicates the strongest possible form of commitment – God’s “promise” of “faithful love” at any cost to Himself (Isaiah 54:10; Isiah 55:3 NIV). We see, then, that Daniel’s prophecy foretold that Jesus, the Messiah, would voluntarily submit Himself to undergo the most horrific demise possible – complete separation from God (Matthew 27:46). He would do this, Daniel said, “not for Himself,” but astoundingly, for the fallen human race. He died “for our sin” (I Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; I Peter 2:24; I John 2:2; IO John 3:5; I John 4:10). In so doing, He would reveal to the world the highest, strongest and most beautiful manifestation of love imaginable – absolute self-sacrifice for the eternal well-being of sinful human beings.
The apostle John declared, “By this we know _________, because He load down His life __________ ___________” (I John 3:16).
And Paul said, “God ______________ His Own _________ toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died ________ __________” (Romans 5:8).
This is the heartbreaking and beautiful point of the entire Old Testament – that God so deeply, so passionately, so selflessly loves each of us that He was willing to save us at any and all cost to Himself, and the cost was great.
When the bible says, “God is love,” it basically means that God is relationally faithful to all others at any and all cost to Himself. The voluntary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is the proof.
That is the whole bible in a nutshell. In the Old Testament God says, I love you with a faithful, unstoppable love that will never fail, and in the New Testament God demonstrates the truth of His love in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. When the apostle Paul looks at Jesus, he say, “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (II Corinthians 1:20). In other words, in Jesus all God promised through the prophets is fulfilled. Everything God said He would do, He has done. His love has proven itself reliable, faithful, true. We can trust Him because He is trustworthy.
I can see that Jesus is God’s promise of faithful love fulfilled, and my answer to Him is yes.
If you really stop and think about it, the most beautiful idea that can be conceived by the human mind is the idea of a perfectly faithful love. But the thing is, it’s not just an idea. The only reason we can conceive of it and desire it is because it really does exist awaiting our acceptance. Saying yes to Jesus is the first stop in opening your heart to God’s perfectly faithful love.
Our next lesson is “Journey To The Heart of God” and promises to be a really good lesson.