Richard Dawkins, one of the new atheists, describes God in this way:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it, a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
Because of statements like this, some Christians have conceded to the atheist description of the Old Testament God as a moral monster who supported genocide, slavery, etc. . . but let’s think about this! If the church gives in to this narrative, then we will also lose Jesus, because He said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9b, KJV).
Something is amiss here! Is God the Father a bloodthirsty, cruel brute, while the Son is more hip and compassionate?
Perish the thought!
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. They are the same in heart, mind, and purpose. So why does there seem to be a difference between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus of the New Testament?
The reason there is a difference between the Old and New Testaments is because of the blood of Jesus.
The blood of Jesus acts as a forcefield against the anger of God. God’s rage is still there, but the demand for justice is being temporarily appeased by the powerful blood of his Son. This pause from receiving God’s wrath is a period of grace to the nations.
God’s anger is justified because sin hurts people. He has seen incest, murder, child trafficking, domestic abuse, racial injustice, lynchings, bullying, neglect, starvation, religious tyranny, and torture, and just as it angers us and causes us to cry out for justice, God’s anger, like that of a father whose child has been harmed, is zealous—but it’s being held back by the blood of Jesus.
“And he is the propitiation [appeasement] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”– 1 John 2:2, KJV
This period of grace is a time for us to receive Christ as the payment for our sins. The Scriptures say that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:20, KJV) and God demanded that blood be shed as a consequence for sin because “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11, KJV), so for a time, animal blood was shed as way to appease for sin, but now Jesus shed His blood “once for all” (Heb. 7:27, ESV).
Why would God demand something that seems so harsh and archaic? Is he a bloody overlord with “gnarled hands” who wants to “drag us back to the catacombs and the reeking altars and the guilty pleasures of subjection and abjection,” as Christopher Hitchens described with his usual flair?
The plan of God demanded a blood sacrifice because it was the only way he could pay for the sin himself!
Would a just judge place the penalty on another person? No. This is why Jesus is now the judge:
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” – John 5:22, KJV
In his mercy and love, the Judge took upon himself the punishment that the universal court of law had established for sin (crime).
Yet why didn’t Jesus just immediately come to the world and shed his blood? Christopher Hitchens looked upon this concern as evidence of God’s injustice and passive disregard for the condition of humanity:
Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, suffering, misery, all of that for 98,000 years. Heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then 2000 years ago, thinks “That’s enough of that. It’s time to intervene.”
But I look at this statement as evidence that God wants to reason with humanity. He has been intervening in human history by revealing, through the law and the prophets, the identity of the Savior. He doesn’t demand blind faith. He gives proof of his existence through the revelation of the Messiah in the Old Testament.
Jesus used the law and the prophets to reveal how they spoke of him. On the road to Emmaus, after listening to Cleopas and his friend talk about the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection, and seeing that they were downcast because Jesus wasn’t the hoped-for redeemer of Israel who would set them free from Roman occupation, Jesus responded with this explanation:
“And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses [the Law] and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke 24:25-27, ESV
It was only after he had a meal with them that their eyes were opened to his identity. Afterward, they shared these wonderful words describing their time with the resurrected Jesus:
“They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” – Luke 24:32, ESV
The revelation of how Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets made their hearts burn with awe and passion because it revealed that God had a plan and communicated it ahead of time to individuals who recorded it in writing, preserved it, and set it apart as sacred. The Hebrews took this responsibility so seriously that the Scribes (copiers) had to count the verses, words, and even the letters of each book in the Old Testament. Later, the Talmudists would follow very precise rules concerning the material the Scriptures were written on, the number and length of columns, and so on. They could not record any letter from memory, and besides this . . .
. . . the copyist must sit in full Jewish dress, wash his whole body, not begin to write the name of God with a pen newly dipped in ink, and should a king address him while writing that name he must take no notice of him.
The solemn responsibility of preserving the words of those who had a “message from God” could seem silly to modernists—but in hindsight we are grateful for their painstaking work. Their labors have given humanity proof of a celestial visitation to our planet. Something out there in the universe (that the devout have called “heaven”) worked through Abraham and his descendants to convey their message to humanity. The proclamation of this plan is important because if somebody (an alien visitor, for example) claimed he was the savior of the world (I will be referring to the alien as a “he” for the sake of expediency), how could we trust him? Would signs and wonders convince us that he was who he said he was? Would his words convince us? How would we know whether he was a liar? How would we know that this extraterrestrial visitor had our best interest at heart?
In the fictional book, Contact, by the agnostic astronomer Carl Sagan, the main character, Ellie, says this concern over alien intentions was a subject of discussion for those involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI):
There were passionate debates in the commissary or during the long and undemanding watches about the intentions of the putative extraterrestrials. We could not guess how different from us they might be. It was hard enough to guess the intentions of our elected representatives in Washington. What would the intentions be of fundamentally different kinds of beings on physically different worlds hundreds or thousands of light years away?
In the 1980s TV series, V, aliens came to the earth claiming to be able to help humanity, but as the series progressed, we discovered they were actually here to harvest human beings and use them for food. In light of this concern over intentions, how would we be able to trust any visitor to our planet?
Could this be why the God of heaven (a realm outside of our earthly habitat) slowly revealed himself to humanity, meticulously using Hebrew history, through the ministry of the law and the prophets, as a road map to lead us to Jesus as a Savior we could trust?
Sagan pointed out in Contact that there has never been an intelligent signal from outer space:
In the scant few decades in which humans have pursued radio astronomy, there has never been a real signal from the depths of space, something manufactured, something artificial, something contrived by an alien mind [emphasis added].
The Bible is sacred to humanity because it is evidence that something from an intelligent extraterrestrial being has contacted our planet, communicating with us, not through the use of relaying prime numbers through radio signals (as in the movies Contact or The Arrival), but through the use of the law and the prophets as conveyed through the history of Israel.
Consider these prophecies claiming the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matt. 2:1), would die by being pierced (Psalm 22:16, Isaiah 53:5, Luke 32:33), would arrive on a certain date (Dan. 9:24-26), that he would be buried in a rich man’s grave (Isa. 53:9, Matt. 27:59-60), that he would be a descendant of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1, Rom. 15:12), and on and on. In God’s wisdom, Jesus didn’t just drop out of the sky. His entrance into the world was foretold, over time, in an unearthly and supernatural way.
These prophecies had to be supernatural (to have a source outside of the natural realm), because to have precise knowledge of a very detailed event hundreds or even thousands of years before the event occurred means that the authors (all of them) had to either have access to a time machine or they were helped by something that wasn’t bound by the restrictions of time.
Sagan’s character, Ellie, also reflected on the issue of extraterrestrial time:
What if an interstellar message were being received by Project Argus, but very slowly—one bit of information every hour, say, or every week, or every decade? What if there were very old, very patient murmurs of some transmitting civilization, which had no way of knowing that we get tired of pattern recognition after seconds or minutes? Suppose they lived for tens of thousands of years. And taaaaalked verrrry slooooowwwwly. Argus would never know. Could such long-lived creatures exist?
God didn’t transmit a single message slowly (like sending one word per decade in order to create a sentence), but the way He revealed the identity of the Messiah over time would confirm the supernatural nature of the message.
One or two prophecies could, by chance, be fulfilled in one person, but dozens of prophecies, written over more than a millennia by dozens of different people? These prophecies could not have been designed by any one man, yet in one man they were all meticulously fulfilled!
God’s patient plan also revealed that the Messiah was trustworthy. The Gospels show us that the person who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies was kind. He healed the sick, cared for the poor, fed the hungry, opposed false and cruel religious leaders, cast out tormenting demons, and even died on our behalf! He would go like a lamb to the slaughter to pay for our sins, just as it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah:
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” –Isaiah 53:5, ESV
When we see these prophecies fulfilled in Christ (as recorded by the eyewitness accounts of the disciples) we know he was someone in whom we could put our trust. He was a brother and a friend. He had no designs to hurt us. He only wanted to bless us and lay down his life for us. Even though something supernatural and extraterrestrial was involved in revealing this person, the way he lived his life proved that his intentions were good.
And when he returns, we will be able to recognize him as the true Messiah because the dead in Christ will rise first, and then we who are alive and remain will meet him in the air (1 Thes. 4:17). He was the firstfuits of the resurrection and he alone is the Resurrection and the Life. If an alien shows up and claims to be a savior—without raising the dead—could we believe his claims? How would we know we could trust him?
I hope this website reveals another aspect of the trustworthiness of Jesus: We’ve had nearly 2000 years of church history—which reveals the goodness and beauty of Jesus as his faithful followers live out his Word.
The Law as Evidence that Jesus is the Messiah
Not only did Jesus fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament, He also said he came to fulfill the law. The Greek word for “fulfill” is pleroo. It means “to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full.”
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:17-19, ESV
He also said He didn’t come to abolish (dissolve, destroy) the law. So why don’t we still operate under the old Jewish religious system?
When the law was first delivered, it was given to a physical nation, with a physical temple (or tabernacle), and its commands were written on tablets of stone. It had physical rituals (such as cutting away the flesh in circumcision) and physical sacrifices, but the writer of Hebrews explained that these material aspects of the law were only a “shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:17, ESV).
This old system has now ended—in the sense that it is no longer practiced in the old way—but gloriously, it’s now practiced in a new and fuller way!
Jesus described how the kingdom was like a tiny mustard seed that would grow into the largest of “all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches” (Matt. 13:32, ESV). What started as the little seed of the Hebrew religion would now expand to become the large tree of the spiritual kingdom of God! For example:
- The temple was fulfilled (expanded) because the church is now the spiritual temple of God. It no longer has a physical location. Jesus predicted that the temple would be destroyed, and he would raise it up in three days. The Pharisees didn’t understand that he meant his body was going to be raised from the dead. In the future his disciples would be called the Body of Christ, the temple of the living God.
- Old Testament: “And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place.” – Ezra 5:15, KJV
- New Testament fulfillment: “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body.” – John 2:19-21, ESV
- New Testament fulfillment: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:19-22, ESV
- The Sabbath was fulfilled (expanded) because it was a symbol of Jesus, who offers rest from religious works to all people of God.
- Old Testament: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” – Exodus 20:8, KJV
- New Testament fulfillment:“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” – Hebrews 4:10, KJV
- Circumcision was fulfilled (expanded) because even Gentiles were considered to be circumcised if they had a soft heart toward God:
- Old Testament: “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child . . . on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” – Leviticus 12:2-3. KJV
- New Testament fulfillment: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” – Romans 2:28-29, KJV
- The tithe was fulfilled (expanded) because it represented the resurrection. Jesus was the firstfruits of the harvest from the dead. Because he was raised from the dead, those who put their trust in him will also be raised from the dead at his coming.
- Old Testament: “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.” –Exod. 34:26a, KJV
- New Testament fulfillment: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” – 1 Cor. 15:22-23, KJV
- The sacrifice of animals was fulfilled (expanded) because the blood of animals was once used as a covering for the sins of Israel, but the sacrifices merely represented Jesus “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”(John 1:29, ESV).
- Old Testament: “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.” – 16:15, ESV.
- New Testament fulfillment: “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” – Heb. 9:12, ESV
Incidentally, Bethlehem, the town where Jesus was born, was the place where the lambs for the temple sacrifice were born and prepared, and because they couldn’t have any imperfections or blemishes, the shepherds would wrap them in swaddling clothes, so that while they were still wobbly they wouldn’t fall down and get cuts or bruises. When the unblemished lambs were finally sacrificed at the temple in Jerusalem, the priests would come out and declare, “It is finished.”
Jesus was born in a stable like a sacrificial lamb, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and just like a temple lamb, he was crucified on the day of the Passover Feast, declaring, “it is finished” (John 19:30) right before he died. Just as the prophet Isaiah foretold, nearly 700 years before the birth of Jesus, the future Messiah would be like a temple lamb who would die for the sins of others.
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth . . . for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgressions of my people was he stricken.” –Isaiah 53:7-8, KJV
- The priesthood was fulfilled (expanded) because the earthly Hebrew priests were only a symbol of Jesus, our heavenly high priest who “always lives to make intercession” for all believers before the throne of grace (Heb. 7:25, ESV). Because the veil has been torn, there is no need for any “mediator” between man and God (1 Timothy 2:5) In the Old Testament, the priest would enter into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies once a year, but now all people can enter into God’s presence at any time through the blood of Jesus.
- Old Testament: “And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.” – Exodus 28:1, KJV
- New Testament fulfillment: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 2:5, KJV
- The prohibition against eating unclean foods (such as pork or shellfish) has been fulfilled (expanded). It represented the Gentilenations which are no longer unclean due to the gospel.
- Old Testament: “This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and living creature that may not be eaten”. – Leviticus 11:46-47, ESV
- New Testament fulfillment: “Peter. . . fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’” – Acts 10:9-15, ESV
The ways that Jesus fulfilled the physical laws of Israel could fill many books! Even the Old Testament law forbidding the blending of woollen and linen was fulfilled. It was a type and shadow of the grace that would come through Jesus!
The Feasts of Israel
The law required the Jews to celebrate festivals (feasts) on certain days. There were seven feasts:
- The Feast of Passover
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread
- The Feast of Firstfruits
- The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)
- The Feast of Trumpets
- The Feast Day of Atonement
- The Feast of Tabernacles
Each of these feasts was (or will be) fulfilled in Christ! The first four feasts were to be celebrated at the times of the early rains of the year. Then there was to be a dry period until the final feasts were celebrated at the time of the latter rains. There are so many more Scriptures and teachings that could fill out this teaching, but here are a few examples of how Jesus fulfilled the feasts:
The Feast of Passover represented the commemoration of the time in Egypt when the blood of a lamb was placed on the doorpost of the home as a protection so that the death angel would “pass over” that family. It would be fulfilled in Christ, the unblemished lamb whose blood was shed so that we would “not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV). The apostle Paul used this imagery when he said, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5: 7b, ESV). Jesus also used the imagery of shed blood when he presented the wine at the Last Supper: “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:27-28, KJV).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread represented the need to root out sin, as symbolized by leaven (yeast). Jesus was the unblemished, sinless Lamb whose body was sacrificed. “In the Last Supper he explained that the bread represented his broken body: “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body” (Matt. 26:26, KJV). The apostle Paul explained that God made “him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21, KJV).
The Feast of Firstfruits was celebrated by giving tithes (one-tenth) from the harvest of the ground. These tithes represented Jesus, the firstfruits of the resurrection of the dead. All who died in Christ or who are alive and have remained in him will participate in the final resurrection and will be changed from mortal to immortal in the twinkling of an eye.
The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits. This festival represented the early harvest and was fulfilled at Pentecost when the power of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples and they preached with tongues of fire, bringing a great harvest of souls from all nations into the kingdom of God (Acts 2).
The Feast of Trumpets was to be observed in the law by the blowing of a trumpet. According to the apostle Paul, this would be fulfilled at the return of Jesus because his appearance in the clouds would be accompanied by a trumpet blast.
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” – 1 Cor. 15:51-52, ESV
The Feast Day of Atonement would represent the day when the Jews were to be “afflicted” (Lev. 23:29, KJV). The prophet Zechariah foretells of the moment this feast will be fulfilled:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” – Zech. 12:10, ESV
The Feast of Tabernacles would represent the final culmination of the relationship between God and His people. It would be symbolized by tabernacles (tents), commemorating the time when Israel was with God in the wilderness as they were being delivered from the bondage of Egypt. The prophet Ezekiel said it was at that time that Israel became God’s bride (Ezekiel 16). (Entering a tent was an indication of the consummation of a marriage, as seen in the example of Isaac and Rebekah [Gen. 24:67]). Jesus will also celebrate the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9, KJV) with His Bride who “has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7, ESV). John described this time of consummation in his vision of the future:
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” – Rev. 21:3, KJV
Jesus Fulfilled the Moral Law
Jesus also fulfilled the moral law. He accomplished this, first of all, by leading a holy, perfect, and sinless life, something no other man could accomplish, but Jesus could because “in him dwelled all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).
Secondly, he fulfilled the law by expanding the ability to obey it to His people. Remember, he didn’t abolish the law; he expanded it. Jesus said, “whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven . . .” (Matt. 5:19, ESV). In fact, Jesus listed the sins that make a person unclean and they align with the Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:1-17)!
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are what defile a person.” – Matt. 15:19-20a, KJV
Notice that Jesus mentioned “evil thoughts” in the list of sins, showing that he even strengthened the laws imposed by the Old Testament. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said adultery was wrong, but then he took it even further and said that even if a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart, he’s committed adultery (Matt. 5:27-28). Why would Jesus expand the law?! Wasn’t it hard enough to obey?! Paul also made it clear that the law is good:
“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” — Romans 7:12, KJV
Trying to live out the law without the power of the Holy Spirit led Paul to call the law a “ministry of death” (2 Cor. 3:7), not because the laws were bad or evil, but because the inability to obey them led to death. But Paul also rejoiced that God sent “the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead” (Rom. 8:11, KJV) to dwell in us and give us freedom from the bondage of sin. We are now “more than conquerors through him who loved us!” (Rom. 8:37, KJV).
The purpose of the New Covenant wasn’t to remove the law as the standard of behavior; it was to empower those who believed in Jesus to live out the law in an even greater way by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told his disciples he had to leave because he had to send back a “helper” (John 16:7, ESV). Under the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit only anointed a few people, but under the New Covenant, all who come to him are anointed with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:21). (He sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, fulfilling the Old Testament feast.) The power to live holy lives is called the “law of the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2, KJV). This was in contrast to the Old Testament “law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2, KJV).
This new way of living was prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel. He said a time was coming when the people of God would be given new hearts and new spirits, causing them to be able to obey the Lord’s commandments.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27, ESV
Paul explained how living the life of the Spirit was supposed to go beyond the prohibitive commands of the law—the “thou shalt nots”—by enlarging the law to include the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22, KJV). Even though he said those who are “led by the Spirit” are not “under the law,” (Gal. 5:18), he still listed the “works of the flesh” and warned Christians that if they did such things they would not inherit the kingdom of God.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Gal. 5:19-21, ESV
On the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23, ESV). The first fruit listed is love. Paul told the Corinthians that love was greater than the gift of prophecy, having faith to move mountains, giving to the poor, or even martyrdom.
Jesus also referred to love as being the most important aspect of the law. He said the commands to love God and love our neighbor could sum up all the other commandments, but does that mean that love should take precedence over the law? No, because the moral commands are an expression of love!
The Spirit of love has been the testimony of the faithful church throughout the ages as they worshiped God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, KJV), but those who promote a worldly form of “love” over lawfulness are of an antichrist spirit, not the Holy Spirit. The Antichrist is called the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thes. 2:3, ESV).
Christians are to go forth into the world in obedience to the Word of truth and live out the commands of Jesus. We are no longer slaves to sin. It has no dominion over us (Rom. 6:9). The Son has set us free—not from having to obey the moral law, but free from the inability to keep the law!
We aren’t saved by obeying the law (because no one is able to keep the law perfectly, except Jesus, and he paid the penalty for our sins), but being able to keep the law is evidence that we’ve been saved. John, the beloved disciple of Jesus explained:
“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” – 1 John 3:4-6, ESV
John even said that any person who was born again could not make a practice of sinning.
“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” – 1 John 3:9, ESV
If we sin, Jesus will be our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1, KJV), but we must not have an unrepentant lifestyle of sin, causing the spirit of grace to be grieved.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” – Rom. 6:1-2, ESV
Because Jesus didn’t abolish the law, but fulfilled it (expanded it), we can see why there are so many instructions in the New Testament which line up with the Old Testament moral law. These lists are accompanied by the warning that those who remain in their sins won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Here is an example of a typical list in the New Testament that aligns with the Old Testament law:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Cor. 6:9-11, ESV
The kingdom of God is made up of people who have become new creations in Christ—people who have been empowered to love God and love their neighbor. James, the brother of Jesus, described the Christian faith this way: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27, KJV). Caring for the “least of these” has been a great mission of the church—but as I hope I’ve shown in the pages of this book, our efforts must remain “unspotted” by worldly views.
The History of Israel as Evidence for Jesus as the Messiah
Not only do the law and the prophets point us to Jesus, but the history of Israel is another way to identify Jesus as the Messiah. Nearly every story in the Bible has types and shadows of Jesus.
When I hear sermons about how the Exodus story represents the gospel, my faith grows! For example, God’s plan for the Passover Lamb was to be a symbol of Jesus, especially as its blood is placed on the doorposts of the houses in the same places that Jesus bled from the wounds in His hands and from the crown of thorns. It was this blood that caused the death angel to “pass over” the home. In the same way, if we are under the blood of Jesus, we are safe from eternal death.
Jesus also used a story from the history of Israel when he said Jonah’s time in the tummy of the whale was a sign that was symbolic of how he would be in the grave for three days (Matt. 12:38-41). The story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is also a type and shadow of Jesus.
What mastermind could have woven these types and shadows into Hebrew history, along with fulfilled prophecies and the fulfillment of the law, into an intricate cohesive narrative, worked out in real life over time (supported by archaeology!), and which would make the claim, in so many different ways, that a Lamb was coming to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin? Yet Richard Dawkins describes the Bible in this way:
To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled-together anthology of disjointed documents [emphasis added], composed, revised, translated, distorted and ‘improved’ by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries.
To me, this statement by Dawkins, describing the haphazard formation of the Bible, is inadvertently giving it more credibility. Since the Scriptures were produced over a period of 1500 years by authors as diverse as kings, farmers, tax collectors, doctors, shepherds, generals, tent makers, and fishermen, on three different continents, in places as high as a palace and as low as a dungeon, how would it be possible for any human being to have designed the story? And yet, the narrative of the coming sacrificial Lamb runs like a scarlet thread through the entire Bible, beginning with the Lord clothing Adam and Eve with furs after the Fall (Gen. 3:21), and ending with the River of the Water of Life flowing from “the throne of God and the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1, KJV). And because of the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered by a shepherd boy in 1947, we also know that the biblical text hasn’t changed over time—as Dawkins seems to claim.
Could it be that the more we discover about the Bible, the more we realize its message, played out in Hebrew history, was intelligently designed and coordinated by someone that wasn’t limited by the constraints of time?
Why Do We Need A Savior?
Not only did the Old Testament reveal the Savior, it also led us to understand why we needed one. Because God holds us accountable for our actions, we have to have the freedom to obey or disobey his commands. Unfortunately, all of us disobeyed. All of us sinned. We were unable to keep the law in our own strength and abilities.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.”—Romans:3:10, KJV
That left all of us in a hopeless condition. We all failed. But God didn’t leave us in despair. He had a plan, established in the Lamb who was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8, KJV), that would mend his broken relationship with humanity. Every year the Israelites could offer a blood sacrifice on the Day of Atonement to appease God’s anger at sin. If they followed God’s way, they would be safe from his wrath for another year. It was a temporary plan, but in due time it would point us to the true Messiah!
The blood sacrifice was a requirement ever since Adam and Eve sinned and God covered them with furs from animals (rather than letting them be covered by fig leaves). The message of a blood sacrifice as a covering for sin was passed on to their children. We know this because God was angry with Cain when he disobediently offered a vegetable sacrifice, while Abel was pleasing to God when he offered the required blood sacrifice of a lamb from his flock (Heb. 11:4).
Over time, the message of animal sacrifice was lost (except by Noah) and God destroyed all of humanity, whose thoughts and intentions, he said, had become “only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5, KJV). Only Noah and his family were preserved, and his first act after getting off the Ark was a blood sacrifice (Gen. 8:20).
At the Tower of Babel, the message of blood sacrifice was corrupted. Nimrod, the rebel, promoted a form of oneness and unity to build his tower to the heavens, but this wasn’t pleasing to God and he scattered the people, who spread this same message of reaching the heavens through high places, all over the world. We can still see these ziggurats, and in many instances (as with the Aztecs) there is evidence that human sacrifices took place. This was a corruption of the message of the blood of the lamb.
In the story of Abraham, we see how God stopped the Hebrews from offering human sacrifices. Although the gods of the surrounding nations would demand human sacrifice, God would use Abraham and Isaac to reveal the true plan of salvation. Abraham traveled to a high place and readied his son for sacrifice (this was a common demand made by the gods), but the angel stopped the knife from being plunged into Isaac, and God instead provided a ram caught in the thorns (a picture of the future Messiah who would wear a crown of thorns).
The Canaanites sacrificed little babies in the fire instead of sacrificing an animal, so they had no proper covering for their sin and were under God’s wrath. Even though the Scripture says he patiently strived with them for a four-hundred-year period of grace, in his wrath he would finally command the Israelites to destroy the Canaanite rebels.
There were times when even Israel was unfaithful to the Lord and suffered God’s wrath. They worshiped Baal, even building high altars where they would burn their children. When the Lord sent prophets to warn of God’s judgment, the people mocked and rejected them. Because of their failure to obey God and make the commanded blood sacrifices, the Lord allowed the Babylonians to lay siege to Jerusalem, and in 587 BC the Jews were exiled for 70 years.
When John the Baptist declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, ESV), he was revealing that the Mosaic law wasn’t just a set of barbaric rules; it was another way to identify Jesus as the Messiah. All of those laws concerning the sprinkling and pouring out of animal blood would point to Jesus.
The gospel message begins with the wrath of the God of the Old Testament—and the bloody sacrifice required to appease it. We are unable to placate the anger of God with our rituals or works. He required blood as the payment for sin—so that he could pay the penalty!
Do you now understand why the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament? It has nothing to do with a change in character or an ethical flaw. He isn’t a “moral monster!” He’s a compassionate Father who grieves for victims and feels anger toward their perpetrators, but his wrath is being held back for a time by the powerful blood of Jesus, giving the whole world an opportunity to respond to the gospel. One day that opportunity will end. Jesus will come in the clouds (like an alien invasion!) and all who don’t have the blood of the Lamb applied to the doorposts of their hearts will face God’s anger, since they have no blood covering to avert the “death angel.”
Why Does There Need to be a System of Justice in the Universe?
Without a universal system of justice, and the power to be obedient to the commands of Jesus, the whole cosmos would crumble into lawlessness, a kind of Mad Max world where the strong could rule over the weak and the survival of the fittest would be the governing law. This is what most of the world looked like before the gospel was preached to all nations. This is what Lucifer wrought when he rebelled against God and led the seduction in the Garden. This is what any society looks like when they abandon the Scriptures.
The Old Testament prophet Zechariah (in chapter 3) showed us a vision of the future courtroom scene that happened after Jesus was crucified and died. Jesus stood in filthy garments before the angel of the Lord. Satan stood next to the angel, accusing Jesus. (The Old Testament name for Jesus is “Joshua,” which means “Jehovah is salvation” in the Hebrew language.) “Joshua” was heading to judgment, but he was “a brand plucked from the fire” (verse 2) who would have his filthy garments removed and replaced with clean garments instead (verse 5). And because he had walked in God’s ways and kept the charge that was given to him (to be the sinless Lamb of God), He would now become the Judge of the heavenly court (verse 7).
This Old Testament vision is a picture of the universal system of justice. It foretells how Jesus would take our sin upon himself, but since he was actually sinless, it wouldn’t be just for him to die (the wages of sin is death), instead he would be raised from the dead and be given the authority to judge. This prophecy was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, but it gives a precise narrative of how Jesus became our salvation.
It’s just another piece of evidence showing how the law and the prophets revealed that an Entity that isn’t restrained by time is trying to communicate with our planet. The main message being conveyed is that there is a universal system of justice, and we will all be held accountable in that system, but Jesus (“Joshua”) was revealed beforehand by the prophet Zechariah as God’s salvation for us.
The Church as a Ministry of God’s Grace to the Nations
Since Jesus shed his blood, the church is under the same restraint as God. Like Christ we are to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1). We are not allowed to avenge ourselves. (“Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord, I will repay” [Rom. 12:19].) We are commanded to “turn the other cheek” (Matt. 5:44, Rom. 12:20), to “love our enemies” (Matt. 5:44), and “bless them which persecute you” (Rom. 12:14).
In the Old Testament, the law demanded an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exod. 21:24, Matt. 5:38), but under Christ we are told not to repay evil for evil, but to “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20). Following the example of our Lord, for centuries Christians have gone like lambs before the slaughter for the sake of the gospel. The grace of God is to be manifested through us at this time—until the time of grace is over at the return of Jesus in the clouds (Rev. 6:16-17).
Under the Old Covenant, God always sent prophets (like Isaiah or Jeremiah) to plead with people to repent and turn from their sins before his anger was revealed. When those prophets were mocked, jailed, tortured, or even murdered, the time of grace ended and the judgment came.
Under the New Covenant, the messengers of warning are Christians who indicate to people that their sin has placed them under the wrath of God, and that they must now repent (change their way of thinking) and place themselves under the blood of Jesus.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” – 2 Cor. 5:20, ESV
The Good News is that there’s still time to be saved, and by putting our trust in what Jesus did for us, our sin can be covered and we can be reconciled to God. Only the blood of Jesus is sufficient for salvation, but when a person identifies with Christ in His death (as a sacrificial lamb), they can be raised to new life in the Spirit.
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:4, ESV
This message of baptism is part of the Great Commission given to the church by Jesus right before he ascended to heaven.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” – Matthew 28:19-20, KJV
This is the true gospel message. If we remove the blood of Jesus—or God’s anger at sin—we are preaching a “different gospel” (Gal. 1:7-9) which provides no justice, no payment for sin, no blood covering by grace, no true way to be reconciled to God, and no way for the Holy Spirit to empower us to obey the laws of love and become new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Without Jesus we are condemned and still under the penalties of the law, but in Christ we are under grace and there is no longer any condemnation or penalties.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” – Col. 2:13-14, ESV
If we aren’t alone in the universe, the Bible is the only evidence we have that somebody out there has tried to contact us—and their message to us is that they won’t allow injustice to happen without accountability. Every cross on every steeple shouts out that there is no survival-of-the-fittest in the Cosmos. The strong do not rule over the weak in the kingdom of God. All of us are subject to laws that are upheld by a universal court system. All of us will face judgment, but the Good News is, because of Jesus’ death on the cross, there is hope and assurance that we won’t have to face the penalty of eternal death for our sins.
 Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2008), 51.
 Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve, 2007), 283.
 Samuel Davidson, Hebrew Text of the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, 1859), 89.
 Carl Sagan, Contact (New York: Pocket Books, 1986), 48.
 Ibid., 41.
 Scientists and marketing experts have expounded on the value of storytelling as a way to learn, identify with, and remember specific details, rather than through the use of numerical graphs or random bullet points. Perhaps this is why God used the story of Israel to convey His message through the scriptures.
 For an amazing teaching on how the Messiah would be revealed—down to the day—see Diana Lesperance, “Daniel’s Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks,” The Faithful Church. May 14, 2012. https://thefaithfulchurch.com/2012/05/14/daniels-prophecy-of-the-70-weeks/.
 To learn about how Jesus fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies, see: “Fifty-Five Old Testament Prophecies About Jesus,” Jan. 4, 2018. Jesus Film Project. Accessed July 25, 2019. https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/old-testament-prophecies.html.
 Sagan, Contact, 55.
 Biblical prophecies don’t only tell of the coming Messiah, they also speak of Israel being regathered from the nations, signs of the last days, the temple being destroyed in AD 70, and many, many more prophecies that prove the Bible has an unnatural source.
 And whose existence was also confirmed by the extra-biblical writings of Josephus Flavius, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Seutonius, Lucian, Thallus, and Phlegon.
 The scriptures say that the Antichrist will come and claim to be the promised Messiah. He will come in peace (Dan. 8:25). He will perform miracles, signs and wonders (2 Thes. 2:9). He will declare that he is God (2 Thes. 2:4). He will appear to be resurrected from the dead (Rev. 13:3). He will even have his own “prophet” that, like Elijah, will call fire down from heaven (Rev. 13:13). If we didn’t know the scriptures, we might be deceived into receiving the Antichrist!
 “G4137 – plēroō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (ESV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 2 Sep, 2019. https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4137&t=ESV.
 Romans 14:5-6 makes it clear that keeping the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ. “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be persuaded in his own mind.” Colossians 2:16 also distinguishes the Sabbath from the moral law: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.”
 Howard Hewitt. “Story of Bethlehem Sheep More Than Legend,” March 14, 2014. Wabash.edu. Accessed Sept. 26, 2019. https://blog.wabash.edu/immersionlearning201314/2014/03/14/story-of-bethlehem-sheep-more-than-legend/.
 There are many people who turn to this scripture as a justification for claiming homosexuality is no longer a sin. After all, Christians freely eat pork and shellfish, so how can they claim that the laws against homosexuality are still in effect? But this change in dietary law points specifically to the fulfillment of many Old Testament scriptures which prophesy that Israel would be a blessing to many nations. God told Abraham that in him “all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3b). The prophet Isaiah reiterated this same message:
“I will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” – Isaiah 42:6-7, KJV
The prohibition against eating unclean foods was fulfilled in Jesus because it was a law that pointed to the prophecy that Jesus would be a light to the Gentiles, opening the door of the kingdom to them. How would the prohibitions against homosexuality point to Jesus’ fulfillment (expansion) of the Law—since both the Old and New Testaments specifically forbid it? (Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9, Jude 1:7, Rev. 21:8, 22:15)
 For a further teaching on this subject and how it points to Jesus, see: Diana Lesperance, “What Does It Mean to Not Blend the Woolen and the Linen?” Dec. 31, 2013. The Faithful Church. Accessed June 7, 2019. https://thefaithfulchurch.com/2013/12/31/what-does-it-mean-to-not-blend-the-woolen-and-the-linen/.
 The Jews were expecting a triumphant Messiah, but the feasts reveal that there would be two comings of the Christ: first as the Suffering Servant, the sacrificial Lamb, and later as the victorious King, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
 Honoring parents isn’t listed here, but Jesus confirmed that it’s a continuing command in Matt. 15:3-6, ESV:
“He answered them, ‘And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, ‘What you would have gained from me is given to God,’ he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the Word of God.’”
 The theologians of the Reformation saw the abuse of allegorical interpretation during the medieval era, so Luther thought their “bag of tricks” could be used to create any kind of biblical interpretation. This led to the Reformation principle of sticking to the “plain meaning” (the historical grammatical) interpretation of the scriptures. But this way of interpretation squelched any type of understanding of the types and shadows of Scripture, taking away much of the awe in how the Old and New Testaments are connected. But even Luther realized that the Scriptures allow for allegorical interpretations as long as they point to Jesus and are already used as interpretive examples in the Scriptures themselves.
 Dawkins, The God Delusion, 268.
 Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known manuscripts of the Hebrew text were dated to AD 1000, but the Dead Sea Scrolls were dated to over 1000 years before Christ. Amazingly, the older scrolls were almost exactly the same as the newer ones, proving that the transcription of the Scriptures over time has been extremely accurate!