By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
The Bible makes it clear that the death of Christ was a part of the Godhead’s eternal plan:
1 Peter 1:19-20-19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
The cross of Calvary has always been at the heart of God’s Word. Throughout the Old Testament, several events foreshadowed what took place on the cross of Calvary.
Amazingly, the very first word of the Bible tells us about the cross of Jesus.
“I began to wonder about the Hebrew pictographs. The pictographs can be dated back many thousands of years even before the time of Christ. Each picture tells a part of a story or message; I believe it is a message from eternity to those who are willing to listen and believe….The above illustration is a generalisation of the meanings of each letter. For instance Aleph can also mean sacrifice as it is in the shape of an ox and an ox was used to sacrifice or it can mean God himself as the first above all. Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew “Aleph- bet” and like Aleph and many of the other letters can simply mean cross because of its shape. Again I wondered is there a message here somewhere? I began my search in the very first word of the Old Testament “Bereshit” meaning “In the beginning.” What would happen if I took the ancient pictographs and substituted them for the Hebrew letters in Bereshit? Would there be a message hidden beneath the surface text?…In the pictograph of Bereshit, the first word of Genesis 1, we read from right to left: ְבּ Beit which is a picture of a house or the temple, ֵר Resh meaning the highest, אAleph which can mean God or sacrifice, שׁ Shin meaning to be destroyed or to destroy, יYod meaning hand or one’s own hand, ת Tav meaning a cross. (See fig 4) The stunning message we receive from Genesis 1 in ancient Hebrew Pictographs and Bereshit the very first Hebrew word in the bible is: The house / temple of the highest sacrifice (or God) will be destroyed by his own hand on a cross. (Fig 4)….Isn’t that incredible? To discover the Gospel message hidden in the first Hebrew word of the bible? Hidden in ancient Hebrew pictographs. All the more stunning when one realises the modern religious Jew does not believe God would come and die on a cross for their sins. Yet here it is revealed in the Hebrew pictographs proving, yet again, God authored the bible; placing within the Hebrew text proof they cannot deny from their own ancient pictographic history. Yeshua is God and came and died on the cross for our sins. The message was placed there by a divine hand at the very beginning of the Hebrew bible thousands of years before crucifixion was ever invented!” (Bob Mitchell, The Messiah Code, 77-103 (Kindle Edition))
The Words Of The Psalmist
Psalm 22:16-For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet;
Long before the time of Christ, this passage was understood by the Hebrews as being Messianic.
“On Ps. xxii. 7 [All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, [saying]] (v 8 in the Hebrew) a remarkable comment appears in Yalkut on Is. lx., applying this passage to the Messiah (the second, or son of Ephraim), and using almost the same words in which the Evangelists describe the mocking behaviour of the Jews at the Cross. Ps. xxii. 15 [My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death] (v 16 in the Hebrew). There is a similarly remarkable application to the Messiah of this verse in Yalkut.” (Alfred Edersheim, Edited by Robert C. Newman, Messianic Passages in the Old Testament as Cited in Rabbinic Literature: IBRI Occasional Paper #35, 538-545 (Kindle Edition); Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute http://www.ibri.org)
One of the reasons why this is so obviously Messianic is because the death of the Person here brings about the conversion of the world. As Smith has pointed out:
“No Old Testament person could have imagined that his personal deliverance from death could be the occasion for the world’s conversion. Such a hope must be restricted to the future Redeemer. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David in Psalm 22 saw his descendants resembling, but far surpassing, himself in suffering. Furthermore, the deliverance of this descendant would have meaning for all mankind.” (James Smith, The Promised Messiah, 146, cited in Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament, 113)
Please notice that the text says the Messiah’s hands and feet. This is a powerful depiction of crucifixion.
Incredibly, this prophecy was made nearly eight hundred years before crucifixion was known to the Hebrews!
“Blinzler states, “Crucifixion was unknown in Jewish criminal law. The hanging on a gibbet, which was prescribed by Jewish law for idolaters and blasphemers who had been stoned, was not a death penalty, but an additional punishment after death designed to brand the executed person as one accursed of God, in accordance with Deut. 21:23 (LXX): ‘For he is accursed of God that hangeth on a tree.’ The Jews applied these words also to one who had been crucified. If crucifixion was the most shameful and degrading death penalty even in the eyes of the pagan world, the Jews in the time of Jesus regarded a person so executed as being, over and above, accursed of God.” 2/247,248 The Encyclopedia Americana records: “The history of crucifixion as a mode of punishment for crime must be studied as a part of the Roman system of jurisprudence…. The Hebrews, for example, adopted or accepted it only under Roman compulsion: under their own system, before Palestine became Roman territory, they inflicted the death penalty by stoning.” 8/253 ” . . . In 63 B.C., Pompey’s legions cut their way into the Judean capital. Palestine became a Roman province, though nominally a puppet Jewish dynasty survived.” 29/262 Thus, the type of death pictured in Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22 did not come into practice under the Jewish system until hundreds of years after the account was written.” (Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict: Historical Evidences For The Christian Faith-Volume One, 161-162 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers)
One of the common Jewish objections to Christianity is that the translators of the Bible have mistranslated this passage. Brown provides a powerful refutation of this claim in the following linguistic and etymological study:
“As for Psalm 22:16, almost all of the standard medieval Hebrew manuscripts (known as Masoretic) read ka’ari, followed by the words “my hands and my feet.” According to Rashi, the meaning is “as though they are crushed in a lion’s mouth,” while the commentary of Metsudat David states, “They crush my hands and my feet as the lion which crushes the bones of the prey in its mouth.” Thus, the imagery is clear: These lions are not licking the psalmist’s feet! They are tearing and ripping at them.245 Given the metaphorical language of the surrounding verses (cf. w. 12-21[13-22]), this vivid image of mauling lions graphically conveys the great physical agony of the sufferer. Would this in any way contradict the picture of a crucified victim, his bones out of joint, mockers surrounding him and jeering at him, his garments stripped off of him and divided among his enemies, his feet and hands torn with nails, and his body hung on pieces of wood?246 “But you’re avoiding something here,” you argue. “Where did the King James translators come up with this idea of ‘piercing’ the hands and feet? That’s not what the Hebrew says.” Actually, the Septuagint, the oldest existing Jewish translation of the Tanakh, was the first to translate the Hebrew as “they pierced my hands and feet” (using the verb oruxan in Greek), followed by the Syriac Peshitta version two or three centuries later (rendering with baz‘u). Not only so, but the oldest Hebrew copy of the Psalms we possess (from the Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to the century before Yeshua) reads the verb in this verse as ka’aru (not ka‘ari, “like a lion”),247 a reading also found in about a dozen medieval Masoretic manuscripts—recognized as the authoritative texts in traditional Jewish thought—where instead of ka’ari (found in almost all other Masoretic manuscripts) the texts say either ka‘aru or karu. 248 (Hebrew scholars believe this comes from a root meaning “to dig out” or “to bore through.” ) So, the oldest Jewish translation (the Septuagint) translates “they pierced”; the oldest Jewish manuscript (from the Dead Sea Scrolls) reads ka’aru, not ka‘ari; and several Masoretic manuscripts read ka’aru or karu rather than ka’ari. This is not a Christian fabrication. I have copies of the manuscript evidence in front of my eyes as I write these words.249 There is also an interesting notation made by the Masoretic scholars in the margin to Isaiah 38:13, where the Hebrew word ka‘ari, “like a lion,” also occurs—the only other time in the Tanakh that ka’ari is found with the preposition k-, “like,” joined to this form of the word.250 In this instance, however, ka‘ari occurs with a verb explaining the lion’s activity (“break”), whereas in Psalm 22:16 the meaning is ambiguous. As noted by Franz Delitzsch, “Perceiving this, the Masora [i.e., the marginal system of notation of the Masoretic scholars to the Hebrew biblical text] on Isaiah xxxviii. 13 observes, that k’ry in the two passages in which it occurs (Ps. xxii. 17, Isa. xxxviii. 13), occurs in two different meanings [Aramaic lyshny btry], just as the Midrash then also understands k‘ry in the Psalm as a verb used of marking with conjuring, magic characters.”251 So, the Masoretes indicated that k’ry in Psalm 22 was to be understood differently than k’ry in Isaiah 38, where it certainly meant “like a lion.”…In reality, there is no stunning mistranslation, no Christian interpolation, no Christian contrivance to be found. Rather, the Christian translations vilified by the anti-missionaries simply reflect an extremely honest and valid attempt to accurately translate the Hebrew text based on ancient Jewish manuscripts and translations. Those are the facts.” (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus-Volume Three: Messianic Prophecy Objections, 125-127 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Abraham, Isaac, And The Ram
In order to demonstrate his faith, God “tested” Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The Bible teaches that when Abraham was sacrificing his son Isaac, God provided a ram for him to sacrifice in place of his son Isaac:
Genesis 22:13-Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.
Notice several things.
First, Isaac and Jesus both carried the “wood” of the sacrifices upon which they were to be offered.
Second, both Jesus and Isaac were roughly the same age when they were “offered.”
“Where did this concept of righteous martyrdom first arise? According ing to Jewish tradition, it went back to the binding of Isaac. When Abraham was ready to offer his own son as a sacrifice to God, this same Book of Fourth Maccabees states: “Isaac offered himself for the sake of righteousness…. Isaac did not shrink when he saw the knife lifted against him by his father’s hand” (4 Maccabees 13:12; 16:20). This was the understanding of the rabbis. They believed that Isaac was a grown man (actually, thirty-seven years old!) when God tested Abraham, commanding him to offer Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis sis 22). Although the biblical account emphasizes the obedience of Abraham, the rabbis also stressed the obedience of Isaac. In fact, there is a midrash that says at the time of creation, when God was about to make man, the angels asked what man’s significance was. One of his answers was this: “You shall see a father slay his son, and the son consenting to be slain, to sanctify my Name” (Tanhuma, Vayyera, sec. 18). That was the height of sacrificial service: A father offering up his own son, and the son willingly laying down his life for the glory of God. Yes, I know that sounds like the gospel. In fact, the midrash compares Isaac, who carried on his shoulder the wood for the burnt offering (himself!), to “one who carries his cross on his own shoulder.”270”. (Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus: Volume Two-Theological Objections, 158-159 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Third, Jesus and Isaac are referred to the “only begotten son” (Genesis 22:1-2; Hebrews 11:17; John 3:16).
Fourth, notice that it was on the “third day” that this sacrifice and ‘resurrection” take place (Genesis 22:4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
Fifth, notice the “thicket” in which the ram’s head is caught (Genesis 22:13). Then compare with the crown of thorns that Jesus wore on His head (Matthew 27:29).
“I mentioned earlier that I think we would all agree that in Abraham being commanded to offer up Isaac, this prefigured God offering up His Only-Begotten Son. But I never noticed the significance of some of the specific details until the early Christians pointed them out. For example, the account reads: “So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together” (Gen 22: 6). Do you see something there that happened in the life of Christ? As I mentioned, I think we all realize that Isaac represents Christ in this scene. Who carries the wood to the place of sacrifice? Isaac. Likewise, Jesus started out having to carry his own cross, until he was physically unable. There’s another interesting detail. Once God stopped Abraham from offering up Isaac, He pointed to a ram. Again, I think we would all recognize this ram as also prefiguring Christ. It says in our English Bibles: “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns” (Gen 22: 13). However, the Septuagint says that the ram was caught “in a sabek plant” by its horns. Now, the sabek plant was a thorny, Mideastern plant. Do you get the picture? The ram’s head was surrounded by thorns, just as Jesus’ head was circumscribed by the crown of thorns.” (David Bercot, Shadows Of Christ In The Old Testament, 323-332 (Kindle Edition); Amberson, PA; Scroll Publishing)
Finally, notice this interesting fact about the horns of the ram:
“The ram’s horn has its institution, its point of origin, in the Aqedah , the offering of Isaac at the hands of Abraham, when God provided the substitutionary ram. The ram had two horns, the left called “the first trump” and the right called “the last trump.” I believe the “last trump” is directly tied to the Feast of Trumpets without any connection to the judgment trumpets. The celebration traditionally involves the sounding of specific trumpet blasts on the shofar. There is first a single long sounding called T’qiah followed by three short blasts called Sh’varim. The T’ruah comes next, nine blasts in rapid succession. Even though each sounding of the shofar includes different numbers of blasts, the total length of the three are equal to each other. These three sets of blasts are repeated three times. Then the shofar is sounded one last time, the T’qiah g’dolah , a long, triumphant blast that lasts as long as the shofar blower has breath. This is the climax of the Feast of Trumpets, the great blowing of the T’qiah g’dolah. It’s not a display of judgment, but an audible pronouncement of victory!” (Chuck Missler & Dan Stolebarger, The Feasts Of Israel, 533-542 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)
1 Corinthians 15:51-52-51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
The Passover Lamb
One of the most important sacrifices of the Old Testament was the Passover lamb.
When God brought His judgments on the nation of Egypt, He instructed the Hebrews to put the blood of slain lambs on their homes. When the angel of God witnessed the blood, he would “pass over” the homes of the Hebrews (Exodus 12). The Hebrews were to commemorate this every year in the Passover feast (Leviticus 23:5). The New Testament is clear that these sacrifices were foreshadowing Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Amazingly, the ritual of the Passover itself pointed towards the cross of Christ:
“The lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit pierces right through from the lower parts up to the head, and another one pierces the lamb across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb. (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.215.)
Moses With Arms Lifted Up
In the Old Testament, we read about how when the Hebrews went to battle with their enemies, Moses would raise his hands towards Heaven (probably in prayer). When this happened, the people would advance in battle; but when he would drop his hands, the people would lose ground.
In Exodus, we find this interesting passage:
Exodus 17:9-13-9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”
10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
“The Spirit spoke to the heart of Moses, that he should make a figure of the cross. . . . Moses therefore placed one weapon above another in the midst of the hill, and standing upon it, so as to be higher than all the people, he stretched forth his hands, and thus again Israel acquired the mastery.” (Barnabas (c. 70–130, E), 1.145.)
“Moses himself prayed to God, stretching out both hands, and Hur with Aaron supported them during the whole day. . . . For if he gave up any part of this sign, which was an imitation of the cross, the people were beaten.” (Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.244.)
First, notice that Moses was on a hill (just like Jesus).
Second, Moses’ arms were stretched out in the form of a cross.
Third, his arms had to be held in place (like Jesus’ arms were held in place).
Fourth, it was only through the sign of the cross that the people were victorious.
The Camping Arrangement Of The Tribes
In the Old Testament, there were specific regulations for the Hebrews regarding where they were to camp (Numbers 2:3, 10, 18, 25).
For a long time, I wondered why God had given specific regulations for such a seemingly unimportant subject. Then, I found this:
“Each of the camps, of three tribes each, were to encamp on one of the four cardinal compass directions (N, S, E, or W) with respect to the camp of the Levites enclosing the Tabernacle. 98 We can only guess at how much space was required by the Levites, whether it was 100 ft. on a side, 100 yards, or whatever. But whatever it was, we’ll assume that length as a basic unit. To fully appreciate all of the implications, you must try to think like a rabbi: you need to maintain an extremely high respect for the precise details of the instructions. They resorted to heroic measures in their attempt to comply with the letter of the law. The tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun—collectively called the Camp of Judah—had to encamp east of the Levites. This poses a technical problem. Notice that if the breadth of their camp was larger than that of the Levites, the excess would be southeast or northeast, not east. Therefore, if they were to strictly comply with their instructions, their camp could only be as wide as that of the Levites, and they then would have to extend eastward to obtain the required space. The camps of Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan had the same constraint on the south, west, and north respectively. The length of each leg would thus be proportional to the total population in each camp….If we assemble what we can infer from the Torah account, we can imagine what the camp of Israel looked like from above: the Tabernacle and the Levites in the center, surrounded by the four faces of the tribal standards, and each of the four camps of Judah, Ephraim, Reuben, and Dan, stretching out in the four cardinal directions. We can also tally the approximate size of each tribe to determine the relative length of each camp as they stretched out in each of the four cardinal directions. The startling results are on the next page….It would appear that when the Israelites encamped, they formed a giant cross! This is a graphic macrocode, indeed! And this is from the Torah, not the New Testament! The New Testament is, indeed, in the Old Testament concealed; the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.” (Chuck Missler, Hidden Treasures In The Biblical Text, 925-947 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816-0347 http://www.khouse.org; Koinonia House)
First, in the center of the camp was the Tabernacle, which represented the dwelling place of God on Earth.
Second, the people of God had to be in the cross in order to be in fellowship with God.
If we want to have fellowship with God, it is only when we are one of His people, brought to Him through the cross.
Ephesians 2:16-and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.
The Serpent On The Cross
When the Hebrews were afflicted because of their wickedness, God instructed Moses how to heal the people.
Numbers 21:7-9-7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”
9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
In the New Testament, Jesus points out that this was a foreshadowing of how He would be “lifted up” on the cross to provide healing for those who would be obedient to Him:
John 3:14-15-14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Sign Of The Cross
In Ezekiel, God instructs His angels to bring judgments on the people of Jerusalem for their wickedness.
Nevertheless, He instructs them to not punish His faithful remnant, who are to receive a special “mark.”
Ezekiel 9:3-4-3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side;
4 and the LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”
In the Book of Revelation, we see this passage symbolically applied to Christians
Revelation 7:2-3-2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea,
3 saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
Revelation 9:4-They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
Revelation 14;1-Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads.
What is truly remarkable about the prophecy is the word that is used here in Ezekiel, and translated with the word “mark.”
David Bercot explains:
“A third foreshadowing of the cross is found in the book of Ezekiel. However, this foreshadowing is not as apparent in our English Bibles…The passage goes on to explain that all those in Jerusalem were destroyed, except for those who had the mark on their forehead. As I mentioned, in English, few of us would see a foreshadow of the cross in this passage. However, in both Greek and Hebrew, the foreshadowing is a lot more obvious. That’s becuase what the text actually says is that the man with the writer’s inkhorn was to put the letter T or tau on the foreheads of those who were sighing and crying over the abominations in Jerusalem. And, of course, the letter T is in the shape of the cross. But our English Bibles inaccurately translate the passage by saying that the man was simply to put a ‘mark’ on the foreheads. The foreshadowing here was even more apparent to the early Christians because they frequently traced the sign of the cross on their foreheads to demonstrate that they belonged to Jesus. In fact, at least by the year 200, after a person was baptized, the bishop would anoint him with oil by tracing the sign of the cross on the forehead of the newly baptized person.” (David Bercot, Shadows Of Christ In The Old Testament, 295-307 (Kindle Edition); Amberson, PA; Scroll Publishing)
In so many incredible ways, the Bible makes it clear: it’s all about the cross.
Friends, the God of Heaven loves you so very much that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for your sins on the cross of Calvary (John 3:16). Jesus died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He invites all people everywhere to come to Him to be saved (Matthew 11:28-30). When a person hears God’s Word (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), repents of sin (Luke 13:3), confesses Jesus Christ as God’s Son (1 Timothy 6:12), and is baptized with Christ in water (Romans 6:3-4; Acts 10:47-48), God will forgive him and add him to the church of Christ (Acts 2:38, 41, 47).
When a Christian sins (Hebrews 12:1-2), the Lord will forgive him when he repents of sin and confesses it to the Lord in prayer (1 John 1:8-9).
It’s about the cross of Christ.
Why not turn to God today?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.