We are going to take a slight step backward this evening after taking a step forward. Luke 24 describes one of the later meetings between Christ and His disciples. The ladies had delivered their exciting news, and the two from Emmaus had also returned. “As they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Twice in this scripture Christ encouraged the disciples to return to the Old Testament scriptures. In verse 46, He specifically says, “Thus it is WRITTEN, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.” Not only is there prophecy in the Old Testament about the gospel, but there is prophecy speaking specifically about resurrection. And not only is there prophecy about resurrection in general, but there are prophesies of the resurrection of Christ.
In my research this week, I ran across a comment about Old Testament TYPES of Jesus’ resurrection. They were interesting to me so I thought that they might also be interesting to you. I’m sure that Israel did not see them as pictures of Christ and His resurrection, and maybe you won’t either. But they are a little fun just to consider.
Let’s start with Old Testament TYPES of Christ’s resurrection.
We have looked at the most prominent one so often that even I quickly tire of it. Of course I refer to Jonah to whom Jesus refers several times – twice here in Matthew. Matthew 12:39 – “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” Four chapters later Christ brings up Jonah again. “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.” And what was the sign of the prophet Jonas? That both he and Christ were buried for three days and three nights before emerging once again. I won’t call Jonah a dead horse, but we have beaten on this parable quite sufficiently already.
But how about some more obscure illustrations and types, like that of Genesis 14. After Lot left his uncle and moved away, Kings Chedorlaomer and Tidal, took the people of Sodom, including foolish Lot, taking them away into captivity. When Abraham learned about it, he pursued the foreigners with a handful of his own servants. God blessed, the enemy was routed and the people of the valley were freed. Even though he refused to profit from the spoils, Abraham did tithe on all that he possessed. And to whom did he give those tithes? To the enigmatic king of Salem – “Melchizedek.”
Two thousand years later, Paul pointed out in the Book of Hebrews that there are two lines of Biblical priests. Aaron, the brother of Moses was drafted by God to become His priest before the nation of Israel. But the Aaronic priesthood had one inherent problem – death – the priests kept on dying. In contrast to that priesthood, Paul pointed to another – an older and more permanent priesthood – one belonging to Melchizedek. Hebrews 7:1-3 – “For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” Paul then reached back into one of the prophetic, Messianic Psalms – Psalm 110, quoting Jehovah – “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 7:22 – “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better Testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
How is Melchizedek a type of Christ? By His eternal nature – His eternal life. Yes, Christ died, and by doing so He provided the sacrifice necessary for our redemption. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” But then as the eternal High Priest Melchizedek, Christ presented that sacrifice to God the Father. Melchizedek’s mysterious entrance into the scriptures and his apparent eternal life, provide a type or picture of the eternal life of Christ – one which required His resurrection.
Here is another such picture – Leviticus 14 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.” These two identical birds present a single picture of the saving ministry of Christ. Obviously, the first bird is slain – crucified – it dies to provide deliverance for the sin-cursed leper. Then the second bird is dipped in the blood of the first – the blood which has been applied to the sinner, then it is set free – rising and ascending into the air, taking the sacrificial blood toward heaven. It’s not the leper who is freed, but the sacrifice – or at least half of the sacrifice. Can you see that second bird as a picture of Christ in His resurrection?
Another type of the resurrected Lord is to be seen in the offering of the First Fruits. Leviticus 23:9 – “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.” We don’t have to stretch our imaginations in order to apply this type, because once again Paul does it for us in I Corinthians 15. Verse 19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 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.” Every year the people of Israel were commanded to bring the first of their harvests to the tabernacle. These gifts were a special kind of sacrifice – not for sin, but for joy and thanksgiving. One sheaf of wheat or barley or whatever, was given to the priest to wave before the Lord. You could say that it died, but then it rose again in a multitude of other sheaves. Again, this is not an application that I have to force upon you, because the Bible tells us that “Christ is the first fruits of them that slept” – I Corinthians 15:20.
Yet another type of Christ’s resurrection could be the resurrection of Aaron’s scepter or rod. In Numbers 16 there was a rebellion against the authority of Moses and the High Priest Aaron. In essence this was a rebellion against God who set Moses in his office. The immediate leaders of this rebellion died, when “the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up.” But the spirit of rebellion persisted and, in fact, intensified, because it was seen as Moses’ attempt at solidifying his position. Only as Aaron ran out with a censer full of coals from the altar was the nation spared from a plague which the Lord sent against them. In the following chapter, the Lord ordered the leaders of each of the tribes to prepare a rod. Each rod was to be clearly marked according to the tribe – Judah; Dan; Reuben, Gad, etc. “And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ ho
uses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses laid up the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.” At that time, Aaron was God’s designated High Priest, even though his authority was being questioned. As a symbol of this authority, he brought a piece of wood – the branch of an almond tree, adding it to the other eleven. It was a dead and dry stick. But after eight or ten hours in the tabernacle, it was resurrected – the wood sprang back to life. None of the other rods showed any sign of life – Only Aaron’s rod was touched by the power of God. Someone might argue that one has to really push this event into becoming a type of the resurrection of Christ, and that is their prerogative, but I can have mine as well.
Perhaps preceding the types of Christ’s resurrection, we have the PROPHECIES.
There are at least a dozen prophesies of human resurrections, some of which may be applied to Christ. But in addition to them, we have at least three which speak about Jesus’ resurrection. Since we have looked at some of these already, I’m just going to close by reading them once again.
Psalm 16:9-10 is quoted by Peter as a prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection, so I don’t have much work to do. “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”
On the day of Pentecost Peter said, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”
Paul took up this same theme and application while preaching to the Jews in Antioch. Acts 13: 26 – “Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things…”
Psalm 118 also makes a statement which relates to Christ’s resurrection. Verse 22 says, “The stone which the builder refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing, it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Christ Jesus was the first to make reference to this scripture, applying it to himself. But it was the apostle Peter who directly tied it to Jesus in his resurrection. In Acts 4 after the healing of the lame man in at the beautiful gate of the temple, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
While there is no doubt but that the resurrection of Christ is a New Testament doctrine, it should be admitted that it is Old Testament as well. The resurrection of Christ is one of the most critical, most important doctrines of Bible Christianity. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.”