Today's Devotional: The Law was given to foreshadow Christ

We’ve seen that the second main purpose for the law was to show men that not merely are they sinful, but they are wholly unable to save themselves from sin and make themselves righteous by their own efforts.

The third main purpose for which the law was given was to foretell and to foreshadow the Saviour who was to come, and through whom alone it would be possible for man to receive true salvation and righteousness. This was done through the law in two main ways: the Saviour was foretold through direct prophecy, and He was foreshadowed through the types and ceremonies of the ordinances of the law.

An example of direct prophecy, within the framework of the law, is found in Deuteronomy 18:18-19, where the Lord says to Israel through Moses:

I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.

Peter later quotes these words of Moses and applies them directly to Jesus Christ (see Acts 3:22-26). Thus, the prophet foretold by Moses in the law is fulfilled in the Person of Christ in the New Testament.

In the sacrifices and ordinances of the law, many types foreshadow Jesus Christ as the Saviour who was to come. For example, in Exodus 12 the ordinance of the Passover lamb foreshadows salvation through faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, shed at the Passover season upon the cross at Calvary. Similarly, the various sacrifices connected with the expiation of sin and approach to God, described in the first seven chapters of Leviticus, all foreshadow various aspects of the sacrificial, atoning death of Jesus Christ upon the cross.

For this reason, John the Baptist introduced Christ to Israel with these words:

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).

By the comparison of Christ to a sacrificial lamb, the people of Israel were directed to see in Christ the One who had been foreshadowed by all the sacrificial ordinances of the law.

This purpose of the law is summed up in Paul’s words in Galatians:

But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise of faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterwards be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (3:22-24).

The Greek word here translated “tutor” denotes a senior slave in the household of a wealthy man whose special responsibility it was to give the first elementary stages of teaching to the wealthy man’s children, and thereafter to escort them each day to the school where they could receive more advanced instruction.

In a corresponding way, the law gave Israel their first elementary instruction in God’s basic requirements concerning righteousness, and thereafter it was a means to direct them to put their faith in Jesus Christ and to learn from Christ the lesson of the true righteousness which is by faith, without the works of the law. Just as this slave’s educational task was complete as soon as he had delivered his master’s children into the care of the fully trained teacher in the school, so the law’s task was complete once it had brought Israel to their Messiah, Jesus Christ, and had caused them to see their need of salvation through faith in Him.

Prayer Response

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You are constantly working in My life through Your Holy Spirit, so that I do not need to try to earn justice by law, but that Your Holy Spirit leads me day-by-day in the full truth! Amen.


Memory verse

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)


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