If you were asked to name the Gospels, you’d likely whip off the usual common answer: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then, you’d leave it at that.
Of course that’s true. And no one would oppose.
But what about the Gospels in the Old Testament? Can you list them? I think that would give you a bit of a pause. In fact, you might even argue the point that there are no Gospels in the Old Testament, because the Old Testament belongs to Judaism. You might even press your case with sophisticated assurance that the Gospels tell of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. You might add that is the story of the New Testament and the foundation of Christianity.
The fact is, these are also in the Old Testament.
The Apostle Paul says in Hebrews 4:2, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them.” Who is Paul referring to when he said “them”? A reading of the previous chapter (Hebrews 3) obviously points back to the wilderness sojourners with Moses. Nevertheless, during the walk to Emmaus on the day of His resurrection, Jesus Himself began at Moses and taught the two unsuspecting listeners “all the scriptures” concerning Himself. At that time, only the Old Testament was in existence.
That same evening, Jesus appeared to at least the eleven disciples and His two earlier listeners. He said, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44).
How is it that Moses taught of Jesus?
“By means of the sanctuary and its services, a complete system of truth given by God Himself to Israel at Sinai. The sanctuary was for the sole purpose of revealing Christ not only to the Hebrew nation in times past, but to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people to the very end of time, at which time it reaches its climax and reveals the everlasting gospel in its fullness and beauty. Let us ever remember that while the sanctuary was given to ancient Israel, God’s truth there revealed was written for modern Israel, especially for us ‘upon whom the ends of the world are come.’ 1 Cor. 10:11.” Sarah Elizabeth Peck, Path to the Throne of God: The Sanctuary, p. 6, par. 2. (PTG 6.2)
Further, although it is generally understood that the Old Testament contains prophecies of the Messiah, these prophecies are not commonly thought of as connected to the sanctuary. Nevertheless, “the tabernacle, through its service of sacrifice, was to teach–the lesson of pardon of sin, and power through the Savior for obedience unto life. Through Christ was to be fulfilled the purpose of which the tabernacle was a symbol.” Ellen G. White, Education, 36 (Ed 36)
“The New Testament is an inspired commentary on the sanctuary of the Old Testament; on the other hand, a spiritual understanding of the sanctuary is essential to a spiritual understanding of the New Testament. . . . A spiritual understanding of the sanctuary building as described in the book of Exodus is the true foundation of all sanctuary study. Without this foundation, we cannot so well appreciate the significance of the offerings as recorded in the book of Leviticus, nor can we so well understand the force of the many allusions to the sanctuary which pervade the entire Bible. . . . The Sanctuary in its fullness is a complete revelation of the gospel of Christ, symbolized for the entire human family. The more fully we understand its details, the more easily and completely shall we comprehend the important closing events now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary–events that most deeply concern our own personal salvation.” (PTG 36, 37)
So then, are you ready to list which books of the OT tell The Gospel According to Moses?
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy: each respectively focuses on Christ as our Sanctuary, our Sacrifice, our Guide, and our Reward. These four books together present in type or symbols the actual work of salvation through Christ. And the four Gospels respectively present Christ as King, as Servant, as Human, and as Divine.
“Through the sanctuary of the Old Testament, the gospel is presented in type; the New Testament presents its antitype.” (PTG, 9)
True story: In a meeting, the cover of a concert program was being discussed. I suggested a picture of the sanctuary candlestick. An immediate objection was, “But that’s a menorah!”
Time would not permit, nor was it the place to give a study of the relation of the articles of the sanctuary, as typically used in Jewish worship, to Jesus, the Messiah. Even here, I will only say that, made of pure beaten gold and weighing about 120 pounds, the menorah “represented Christ, ‘the light of the world.’ Matt. 5:14. Especially did the central shaft to which all the branches are joined, represent Christ who walk in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks [or seven churches according to Revelation 1:20]. The candlestick had seventy ornaments, and the Lord sent out seventy to preach. Luke 10:1. The Sanhedrin also was composed of seventy of the leaders of Israel. As the gold was beaten, so Christ and His faithful followers ‘shall suffer persecution.’ 2 Tim. 3:12.” (PTG 136)
In fact, every article of the Old Testament or “Jewish” sanctuary is symbolic of the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ as explained in the New Testament. Indeed, the Gospels are in the Old Testament. There’s more. Stay tuned. Or begin your own journey through the sanctuary to the throne of God. My personal favorite sanctuary study guide is Sarah Elizabeth Peck’s The Path to the Throne of God: The Sanctuary.