The Old Testament represents an expository of the Good News that God would at some future time rescue mankind from its fallen state, its absence from God’s intimate presence. As the prophets expounded, this position of hopelessness would not always exist, for the redemption of mankind was in the heart of God, and this redemption would come through a person known as the Messiah. He would bless the world and break down the barrier between man and God. This restoration plan to reclaim a wayward creation existed with God from the beginning of time. A new life had to be formed in the hearts of men. A new creature had to come forth from the midst of their old lives. Although hopelessly lost, someday a newness of life would come to the souls of men and women, saving them for all eternity. The plan of creating new life in a lost, sinful people was evident in how God dealt with Noah. He destroyed the people of that era, knowing their constant sinfulness, their destructive, self-willed nature, would never change. He decided to save a few, a remnant, even though they too were evil from their conception, for they were conceived out of sinful flesh. We find in God’s covenant with Noah, God said, Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:11) And He set a rainbow in the clouds as a sign of his commitment to mercy. In this covenant with Noah, we see the anguish of God toward his wayward creation. God decides not to extinguish mankind, but allows them to exist to eventually fulfill his purpose of knowing him in an intimate manner. He made mankind in his image; He made them to live harmoniously with him, without experiencing good and evil, designed to know only good. God gloried in mankind; He interacted with Adam and Eve in the evening time. He knew that once again, in the last days, after the Holy Spirit was poured out on all people who accepted Christ, He would glory in their interaction with him.
Later on in the Old Testament, we see God dealing with the man Abraham. Just as with Noah, God picks out a man who has a desire to know God, to hear his voice, to obey what he hears from God. Just as God’s voice caused Noah to build an ark, He caused Abraham to leave his country of origin in obedience to his will. Because of Abraham’s willingness to believe God, the covenant of mercy and grace by faith was presented to mankind. Mankind would find an acceptance by God, a rightness with him through their belief in his promises to them. God’s foundational promise to Abraham was that He would bless all nations eventually through the seed of Abraham; of course, that seed was the Messiah who would come in due time. All nations would be blessed through the loins of the man Abraham. God said, I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:2) The law was introduced 400 years after Abraham to protect the promise God made to the man of faith. The law was to keep the seed of Abraham preserved from destruction. Mankind’s waywardness, sinfulness, always leads to death—sin left unchecked will result in chaos and destruction. The law brought order to the Jewish people, restraining them from doing everything their flesh desired. The Jewish people constantly broke away from these laws, but the efficacious nature of the law saved a remnant. Through this remnant, the promise of Abraham came to fruition; the Messiah was born, the Son of Man, as Jesus Christ called himself. Speaking of himself, Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37)
Of course, this knowledge of the Messiah coming to rescue the Jewish nation and the world from the corruption of sin was central in the prophets’ proclamations. We see the prophet Isaiah’s prediction of the Savior: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. (7:14-15) Jesus himself quotes from Isaiah. In Luke 4 we see Jesus going to Nazareth, where he grew up, and He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath where he read from the scroll of Isaiah, and selected the place where we find Isaiah 61:1-2: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah coming to save the world from its destructive nature was realized in Jesus Christ, for He takes this mantel of the Messiah on himself. His many miracles and his eventual death and resurrection fulfill God’s plan of creating new life, a new people who can intimately be with him in perfection for all of eternity. The culmination of God’s plan for a wayward creation came to realization through the works and death of Jesus Christ. Who of us cannot praise God with great joy for another of Isaiah’s prophecies: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his named shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (6:9 KJV)
The Spirit of God has carried this wonderful good news of restoring mankind to their Creator through the ages; from generation to generation; from century to century; from millennium to millennium. The prophets, the angels desired to see this good news come to realization, always looking forward to that day when the Messiah would come and fulfill the plan of God for mankind. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10) The reclamation of the people made in God’s image was completed through Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. He lived a sinless life and then died as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He was without sin, yet brutalized for our benefit. He paid the righteous judgment for sin—all our human imperfections—which is death. We who were lost, who could never enter into the perfection of eternity, needed redemption, needed to be new creatures, with the nature eternity could accept. But now, because of the Messiah who was predicted ages ago to be the balm of Gilead, we now have found great favor with God the Father because his only begotten Son lives with him in great favor. We are blessed for we are IN JESUS, AND HE IS IN US. With Simeon, the man who saw the baby Jesus and took him in his arms to bless him, we also who are alive IN CHRIST, praise God for the salvation He prepared for us. At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2: 25-32) God let Simeon die in peace, rejoicing in seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise to him and to all people in the light of Jesus, God’s Son. May we all rejoice today in this great gift of mercy and grace, for God has revealed his great love to us through his Son’s victory over sin and death.