“But God spoke to this effect, that his offspring would be aliens in a foreign land, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. ‘And whatever nation to which they shall be in bondage I Myself will judge,’ said God, ‘and after that they will come out and serve Me in this place.’ ” Acts 7:6-7
God’s plans fully revealed in the New Testament, as evangelist Steve Doty has remarked, cast a long shadow into the Old Testament.
We have written for our edification and example, the inspired message of Steven, the first recorded martyr of the New Testament era, using the plan of God to begin to explain foreshadowed events. One we seek to expound upon today is the statement the LORD made to father Abraham, then reconfirmed to Moses, concerning delivering His people from bondage “and after that they will come out and serve Me in this place.” Steven’s statement is a compilation of two Old Testament passages. Genesis 15:13-14, “And God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions.’ ” This, by the way, is a statement the LORD made in making His covenant with Abraham, having spoke of the “promised” land. The other passage is Exodus 3:12, “And He said, ‘Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.’ ” We know the mountain the LORD made reference to was Mount Sinai (a. k. a, Mount Horeb) in His command to Moses. But is that the place to which the people of God were destined to ultimately serve and worship Him? No. It was where the law was delivered, part of God’s purpose in preparing the people for the proper understanding of worship and service. The plan was to move them into the land and the place He had promised to Abraham. The very spot where Abraham served and worshipped the LORD, called Mount Moriah in his time. This was the location where Abraham willingly ascended to offer his son in sacrifice to the LORD (Gen. 22), the first foreshadowed example of resurrection faith (C. f. Heb. 11:19). Because of Abraham’s faith, the angel stayed Abraham’s hand and Isaac lived on to further the plan of God for the coming Messiah. There, where the city of Jerusalem was situated, the temple was built (2Chron. 3:1) where the LORD dwelt, also called Mount Zion (Isa. 8:18), the only acceptable site as a physical foreshadow for the nation of Israel to serve Him by means of the priesthood of Aaron and his descendents. At Golgotha outside Jerusalem’s gates, the substance of resurrection faith was realized in Christ Jesus, God’s Son. Willing to die for the world’s sins, He knew that not only did He have authority to lay down His life but He had authority to take it up again. (John 10:17-18). Jesus did this to deliver us from slavery to sin and service of the Devil, in whom all the nations are held captive to do his will. Having offered Himself, He has ascended to the throne in heaven, where John the Revelator says he saw by faith in a vision, “the Lamb standing on Mount Zion” (Rev. 14:1) Those of us in Christ understand we are “strangers and exiles on the earth”, that this is not our promised land. Ours is a heavenly land and city, just as Abraham and other faithful Old Testament heirs understood. (Heb. 11:13-16) God’s purpose for His people has not changed. Now that we’ve come out of “Egypt”, know to us as the world, we have “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Heb. 12:22-24) Resurrection faith equips you to now “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.” (Rom. 12:1b) Heavenly based (by faith) worship and spiritual service has always been the intended purpose of our LORD. By the way, you came out with many possessions. How about “everything pertaining to life and godliness”, or the fact that you’ll possess the gates of your enemies (Gen. 22:17), or possess nations (Isa. 54:3), or more importantly, possess the kingdom forever! (Dan. 7:18)