09: How to Hope in Old Testament Promises through Christ

“The Promises … Yes in Him” (2 Cor 1:20)

Yahweh’s promises (old and new) are vital for Christians. If we fail to trustingly embrace OT promises, we will lose three-fourths of the life-giving words of truth that our trustworthy God has given us. Yet we must appropriate them through Christ.

“This Will Turn Out for My Deliverance”

Consider how Paul lived in hope by claiming promises that encouraged Job. The apostle opens his Philippian letter noting that he was in prison for Christ (Phil 1:7) and that his imprisonment had itself advanced the gospel’s spread (1:12–13). He then asserts: “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (1:18–19, italics added).

With the italicized words in verse 19, Paul alludes to the Greek translation of Job 13:16, the only other place in Scripture where the clause occurs (see the NIV). Thus, just as Job anticipated that even death would not keep him from being saved, so Paul declared that his imprisonment would “turn out for [his] deliverance, … whether by life or by death” (Phil 1:19–20). Like Job, Paul was convinced that he would be delivered, but this salvation could even come “by death.”

Paul’s sole hope for attaining Job’s resurrection hope (3:11) was that he be found in Christ (3:9). The apostle, therefore, claims Job’s promise through Jesus, whose own resurrection power (3:10) made both Job and Paul’s hope possible. The very promises that kept Job fearing God were Paul’s in Christ. And today they belong to all who are in Jesus.

Four Ways Jesus Makes Every Promise “Yes”

Truly, every promise in Scripture is “yes” in Christ (2 Cor 1:20). Yet Jesus fulfills the OT’s promises in more than one way, and this means Christians cannot approach all OT promises in the same manner. Believers must claim Scripture’s promises using a salvation-historical framework that has Jesus at the center. Christ is the lens that clarifies and focuses the lasting significance of all God’s promises for us (see fig. 1).

Figure 1. The Fulfillment of OT Promises through the Lens of Christ

1. Christ Maintains Some OT Promises with No Extension

Christ maintains certain promises without adding any further beneficiaries. For example, Daniel 12:2 envisioned a resurrection of some to everlasting life and of others to eternal contempt. Alluding to this passage, Jesus associated this same resurrection with his second coming: “An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of Man’s] voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29).

Christians should claim Daniel 12:2’s promise of resurrection as our own. We do so, however, recognizing that we will only rise because Christ was first raised. “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…. Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor 15:20, 23). This resurrection has an “already and not yet” dimension, as the redeemed saints from both the OT and NT epochs benefit from it. Jesus maintains the OT promise without altering those profiting from it.

2. Christ Maintains Some OT Promises with Extension

When Christ fulfills some OT promises, he extends the parties related to the promise. For instance, consider how Moses and Yahweh’s promises to Joshua extend to Christians. Speaking to Joshua, Moses declared: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut 31:8). Later, Yahweh said to Joshua, “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Josh 1:5). And it is on this basis that the author of Hebrews writes: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb 13:5, italics added).

In Hebrews, the OT’s wilderness and conquest narratives play an important role in magnifying Christ and the new covenant. Moses was faithful to God “as a servant,” whereas Christ was faithful “as a son” (3:5). Some, like Joshua, believed that God was able to secure rest, but all others died because of unbelief (4:2). Later, Joshua led Israel into the promised land, but the rest he secured was only predictive of the greater rest that the more supreme Joshua (i.e., Jesus) would secure for all in him (4:8).

So, if the Lord was with the first Joshua and all who followed him, how much more can we be assured that he will be with those identify with the greater Joshua! The original promise God gave to one man bore implications for the whole community (Deut 31:6), and now in the new covenant the same promise expands to all who are in Christ. We already share in Christ Jesus (Heb 3:14) but do not yet fully enjoy all that God promised (6:12). But because God has pledged, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (13:5), Christians can rest secure knowing that we will one day fully enjoy the inheritance.

God promises to be with Joshua as he leads God’s people into the promised land.
All those following Joshua would also enjoy God’s presence.
Joshua’s name and role points ahead to Jesus, the greater Joshua.
Jesus is “God with us” and is leading God’s people into a greater promised land.
All those following Jesus also enjoy God’s presence.

Figure 2. God Maintains the Promise of His Presence While Extending It to All in Christ

3. Christ Himself Completes or Uniquely Realizes Some OT Promises

Some OT promises Christ has already completed or realized. For example, the prophet Micah predicted that a ruler in Israel would arise from Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), and Christ exclusively fulfilled that promise at his birth (Matt 2:6). Nevertheless, his birth was to spark a global return of “his brothers,” and as king he would “shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,” thus establishing lasting peace and enjoying a great name (Mic. 5:3–5). All these added promises continue to give Christians comfort and hope, and Christ’s birth in Bethlehem validates for us the certainty of his permanent and global exaltation.

Another example is Yahweh’s promise to Solomon that, because he asked for wisdom rather than long life, riches, or punishment on his enemies, God would give him wisdom, riches, and honor (1 Kgs 3:11–13). This promise is “yes” in Christ in that on the cross Jesus purchased every divine bestowal of kindness, forbearance, and patience experienced in the realm of common grace (Gen 8:20–21; Rom 2:4; 3:25–26). Nevertheless, because the promise was contingent on one man’s request and was related to his specific reign, the promise’s specificity indicates that this is not a promise that every believer always enjoys. Instead, it was unique to Solomon himself, with others benefiting only from the wisdom, riches, and honor he himself enjoyed.

4. Christ Transforms Some OT Promises

At times, Jesus develops an OT promise’s makeup and audience. The land that Yahweh promised to Abraham and his offspring is of this kind (Gen 13:15; 17:8; 48:4; Exod 32:13). The patriarch would serve as a father of a single nation who would dwell in the land of Canaan (Gen 17:8) and oversee an even broader geopolitical sphere (15:18). These realities are initially fulfilled in the Mosaic covenant (Exod 2:24; 6:8; Deut 1:8; 6:10; 9:5; 30:20; 34:4) and realized in the days of Joshua (Josh 11:23; 21:43) and Solomon (1 Kgs 4:20–21). Nevertheless, Genesis already foresees Abraham becoming the father of not just one nation but nations (Gen 17:4–6) and anticipates his influence reaching beyond the land (singular) to lands (plural) (26:3–4). This would happen when the royal offspring possesses the gate of his enemies and all nations count themselves blessed in him (22:17b–18; 24:60).

In the new covenant, Christ transforms the type into the antitype by fulfilling the original land promise in himself and by extending it to the whole world through his people. In Paul’s words, God promised “Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world” (Rom 4:13); at the consummation, the new earth will fully realize the antitype. While Christ maintains (without extension) Genesis’s promises of the antitypical lands (plural), he does this by transforming the promises to Israel of the land (singular) as an “everlasting possession” (Gen 17:8; 48:4). The nature of his fulfillment indicates that the land (singular) was but a type, which he transforms into the antitype, just as God had already foretold to the patriarchs.


God’s promises are often associated with life or death and conditioned on whether his covenant partner obeys. Whereas the old Mosaic covenant was conditional and revocable (and thus temporary considering Israel’s disobedience), the Abrahamic covenant was conditional and irrevocable. This means that God would indeed realize all the promises but would do so only through an obedient Son. Representing Abraham and Israel, Jesus actively obeys and secures OT promises for all who are in him. Christ maintains some promises without extension, maintains others with extension, completes some, and transforms others.

 ¹William L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, WBC 47B (Dallas: Word, 1991), 520.


This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

Am I A Good Mom?

I feel like such a failure.

Growing up, I became accustomed to objective standards of success defining whether or not I had succeeded. An ‘A+’ signifies a job well done. A winning record in my collegiate sport proves my hard work. Even in marriage, a “Great job!” from my husband means I am accomplishing my goal of loving him well. Until recently, I didn’t realize how much I had begun to rely on these exterior praises to determine whether I had accomplished a job well done.

Every day, I am faced with opportunities to fail or succeed but there is no one other than my three kids under three to see. For the last three years, I have constantly strived to be the best and most God-honoring mother I can be. In my striving, I have never, ever felt more like a failure. Even the encouragement from my husband hasn’t been good enough for me. My kids aren’t old enough to understand what a good mom does and is, so I’m left pursuing an elusive affirmation that won’t come. In my struggle to understand why I often feel dissatisfied and discouraged in my homemaking and parenting, I turned to Scripture. By God’s grace, I found five truths regarding the unseen work of motherhood.

First, the work of caring for my home and for my children is good and godly work. In Titus 2, the call for older women to teach younger women includes the phrase “to be workers at home.” This section of text spells out for us what it looks like to be godly women. It is good for us to be working in our homes, loving our husbands and children. Whether it is wiping tables or wiping buns, God has given us the job of raising the blessing of children for his glory.1 It is good for you and I to pursue God’s glory in our most mundane and boring tasks.2

Second, the pursuit of the approval of man regarding my performance can be sinful idolatry. Galatians 1:10 says “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” If my work is dedicated merely to serving man, then I am missing the point and the proper motivation of why my work matters. If I rely constantly on the approval of my husband to affirm my value and worth as a mother, then I am seeking to serve man and not God. Colossians 3:23-24 directly commands us to serve God and not man. Now this is not to say that in serving God, I don’t also serve man. A clean home and fed children obviously serves them as well, but the main motivating factor in our work should be God’s glory. To pursue a clean home and obedient children for reasons other than honoring Christ can quickly become idolatry of man’s approval.

Third, the goodness of my work is determined by God, not by how I feel about it. What if I go to bed and the dishes aren’t done? What if I feel worn out from disciplining my children all day? What if I am completely discouraged by the insurmountable task of faithfully mothering? The goodness of my job as a mother is not determined by how ecstatic I am to be doing it. We all know that not every day feels like Disneyland, and often, even Disneyland isn’t all that great. This is why we must be reminded that God judges the heart.3 When your home is a wreck and your children are sick and it seems like everything is falling apart, God sees your heart, Mama. He knows your desire to honor him and he is not disappointed in the laundry that is undone. When you are patient and long-suffering yet your children still disobey, be encouraged that God has called your job of parenting good.

Fourth, when I inevitably fail, God’s grace is sufficient for me. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been angry with your kids. The fight against the temptation to respond in sinful anger toward my children is one I fight every single day. Often, that fight happens minute to minute. I am keenly aware of my failure in motherhood, but that failure is not found in an imperfect house or undone laundry. It is in a heart of grumbling, in a posture of discontentment, in impatience and anger, in envy and gossip. Part of my problem is that I displace what failure actually is. I am less concerned with the sin of anger if my kids obey. Yet, God says my sin is the true problem I face, not teenagers with attitudes. We are creatures of disordered values. We measure success in the final product, not in the heart of the process. Despite our many failures, God remembers that we are but dust.4 He promises to shower us with grace upon grace as we continually return to him in our failure.5 We serve a God that is acquainted with the hardship of living in a sin cursed world and he sympathizes with our striving and he is honored in our pursuit of faithful mothering.6

Finally, my value is found in Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf, not my striving in this life. When I don’t receive that A+ for the day or even if I do, my value as a mother is not measured in my wins and losses or my grade on the imaginary parenting report card. My life is hidden with Christ and it is no longer I who live but him who lives in me.7 I am called to be faithful and I will inevitably fail, but the truth is that because of Christ’s death and resurrection on my behalf, there is no failure, no sin too big, no utter parenting loss that can strip me from God’s right hand.8 This is the gospel! Through Christ’s sacrifice, we are secure and we do not have to strive for God’s love or seek the approval of our husbands to be considered good. God has declared us righteous in his sight and there is no better place to be.

So be encouraged sweet Mama, we are not striving in vain. The Lord has given us the good work of motherhood and no matter how we feel about it at this moment, this is a good work for us to do. We don’t need the approval of man. We don’t need a winning record. We need God’s grace in our failure and we need to be reminded over and over of the precious good news of the gospel.

1. Psalm 127:3-5, Ephesians 6:4
2. 1 Corinthians 10:31
3. 1 Samuel 16:7
4. Psalm 103:14
5. John 1:16
6. Hebrews 4:15
7. Galatians 2:20
8. John 10:28

On Vice and Virtue

In volume two of his trilogy, Ethics as Theology, Oliver O’Donovan attempts to “follow moral thought from self-awareness to decision through the sequence of virtues from faith to hope.”1 Here, O’Donovan begins with a sort of reorientation related to the ‘Spirit and Self.’ This reorientation is attempting to respond rightly to the divine summons in Psalm 95:7 to not harden one’s heart.

However, following Augustine, O’Donovan notes the disordered nature of our love(s). In relation to ourselves, love is disordered because it “clings to a self that is self-conceived.”2 This self-enclosure, as Luther described it, is a vicious circularity.3 Not only does this disordered love long to be the object of admiration, but in this self-enclosure there is a failed agency where shame and doubt block any further view of God’s wisdom rescuing us from indifference, folly, excuse, and despair.

As O’Donovan’s second volume addresses, I want to briefly reflect on a few vices of self-enclosure and a few virtues of our renewed agency as united to Christ Jesus.

On Vices of Folly & Anger

From the book of Proverbs, folly is a basic vice. Its contrast to wisdom is a major theme in the book. “The proud person” says Basil, “lacks the capacity to recognize God’s gifts in his or her life.”4 Folly blinds a man from the sight of beauty and good. Folly cripples a man from walking the path of godliness and wisdom. Folly hardens the heart of a man as he looks too long in the mirror.

The vice of anger has many faces because we are self-enclosed either in terms of deficiency or excess. Anger might rend the face of irritability as a deficiency of patience. Anger might rend the face of quarrelsomeness as the excess of courage. Anger might rend the face of resentment or grudge-holding as the deficiency of forgiveness. Anger might rend the face of self-righteousness as the excess of truthfulness. In other words, those who are easily provoked are “led by their rage and do not know what they do on account of their anger, nor do they know what they suffer in themselves. What’s even worse, they sometimes think that the stimulus of their anger is the zeal of righteousness. As we know, when vice is believed to be virtue, sin accumulates without fear.”5

On Virtues of Humility & Forbearance

However, the Psalmist is clear: “The humble will hear and be glad.” Likewise, Solomon says, “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.” Humility is the substance of our imitation of Him, for in doing so, we become who we were made to be. Indeed, this is what virtue is; imitating Christ Jesus “so that out of our humility there may arise for us everlasting glory, the perfect and true gift of Christ…the soul grows like what it pursues, and is molded and shaped according to what it does.”6 Thus, as arrogance is a deficiency of humility and self-deprecation is an excess of humility, humility is boasting in the Lord of glory alone for we “have not embraced Christ through virtue, but Christ has embraced you through his advent.”7

The virtue of forbearance (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13), closely linked with the virtue of fortitude, lays out the moral responsibility of those predestined and loved in Christ to “bear with” or exhibit “long-suffering” with those brothers and sisters who may irritate, frustrate, annoy, hurt our feelings, or make this world more difficult than it already is. Whereas forbearance is a command by Christ, it is also a virtue that we cultivate and practice as we endure and live with those around us under the rule of Christ’s peace. Thus, the virtue of forbearance is the long-suffering practice of bearing with those who we may want to quarrel with in anger or disregard in strife.

On Vices of Strife & Discord

Augustine notes: “whoever follows after what is inferior to himself, becomes himself inferior…For if happiness consists in the enjoyment of a good than which there is nothing better, which we call the chief good, how can a man be properly called happy who has not yet attained to his chief good?”8 Strife, then, can be conceived as a deficiency of the loving Peace, or it may be conceived of as an excess of justice. Those caught in the vicious circularity of strife have disregarded the chief good, God himself, and are trapped in their own self-enclosure.

The vice of discord is the deficiency of peace wherein charity is destroyed, and self-regard is perpetrated. Gregory says: “let those who sow strife consider the extent to which they sin. For when they perpetrate this particular sin, they also eradicate every virtue that they may have in their heart…whoever destroys the charity of his neighbor by sowing strife acts as though he were in the service of God’s enemy.”9

On Virtues of Forgiveness & Peace-making

Forgiveness is the flip side of forbearance or “bearing with one another.” (Col. 3:13; Prov. 10:12) Keller notes in his recent book: “Forgiveness…is a promise to not exact the price of sin from the person who hurt you…It is possible to inwardly forgive without being able to reconcile with the offending party. Yet anyone who truly forgives from the heart will be open to and willing to reconcile.”10 In those times of personal conflict or hurt or pain, we are faced with a critical dilemma: remain self-enclosed or live in the participation of the life of God. Of course, there are nuanced times when forgiveness may occur and the relationship will take time to be reconciled. Nevertheless, the principle remains: the life of the Christian who shares in the life of God is one of forgiveness in the little & big things.

The virtue of peace-making is first grounded in the heavenly peace of Christ’s reign such that an earthly peace lends no path for sin. Further, as Thomas explains, the virtue of peace is more than an absence of conflict; rather, true peace requires charity between two persons who share the same desire for the chief good in each other.11

On Virtue of Love

In summary, Augustine describes the four cardinal virtues as four forms of love: “Temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore rightly ruling; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it. The object of this love is not anything, but only God, the chief good, the highest wisdom, the perfect harmony.”12

Living well is a way of being with God as our highest and chief good. Therefore, in seeking that chief good (Col. 3:1-4), we live a happy life (Ps. 34:8-10). As the apostle Paul says, without love we are nothing, but with love we experience the fullness of our participation in the life of God. Furthermore, we experience this happy life through friendship. As one dear friend recently reminded me, the discord, estrangement, and relational strife we experience in this pilgrim land will heighten our beatific vision in our homeland. And we’ll do this together as we look back and see all the great things He has done, even through our vices.

1. Oliver O’Donovan, Ethics as Theology, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), ix.
2. Ibid., 21.
3. Ibid.
4. Basil the Great, On Christian Doctrine and Practice (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Press, 2012), 103.
5. Gregory the Great, Book of Pastoral Rule, (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Press, 2007), 127-128.
6. Basil, On Christian Doctrine and Practice, 117.
7. Ibid., 113.
8. Augustine, On the Morals of the Catholic Church, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, series 1, volume 4. (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2012), 47-48.
9. Gregory the Great, Book of Pastoral Rule, 155.
10. Tim Keller, Forgive, (Viking, 2022), 185.
11. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II.IIQ29
12. Augustine, On the Morals of the Catholic Church, 58.

What is the Doctrine of Adoption?

Editor’s Note: The Theology in the Everyday series seeks to introduce and explain theological concepts in 500 words or less, with a 200-word section helping explain the doctrine to kids. At For The Church, we believe that theology should not be designated to the academy alone but lived out by faith in everyday life. We hope this series will present theology in such a way as to make it enjoyable, connecting theological ideas to everyday experience and encouraging believers to study theology for the glory of God and the good of the Church. This week, adoption.

There are hundreds of thousands of orphans in the United States alone and millions around the world. A distinctive feature of Christianity has been caring for these orphans (Ja. 1:27), but this was always expected of God’s people (Isa. 1:17). In the Old Testament, the ethical imperative to care for orphans was grounded in God’s character. He is a Father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5). However, in the New Testament, we receive a fuller revelation, teaching us that Father is a proper name. God is eternally Father, Son, and Holy Spirit apart from the created order.

The apostle Paul prays to “the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph. 3:14). In other words, creaturely fatherhood derives from the eternal Father, who eternally begets His beloved Son. Similarly, all sonship is derivative of the Son. We might be tempted to think that when the Bible speaks of believers being adopted, it is merely a metaphor based on the context of adoption in the ancient Greco-Roman world. But to the contrary, earthly adoption is a metaphor, a shadow, a sign to the reality of salvific adoption, whereby a spiritual orphan becomes a son of God. Fatherhood and Sonship precede all creation, and adoption is nothing less than participation in the life of the Trinity through union with the natural Son of God. In love, the Father predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:4-5). In Him we have obtained an inheritance—a fitting thing for a son to receive—and the Holy Spirit is our downpayment (Eph. 1:11-14). The distinct missions of the Son and the Spirit are achieved in order for us to become sons and heirs (Gal. 4:4-7). As Fred Sanders has written, “Salvation by adoption is the salvation than which nothing more fitting can be imagined by a triune God.”[1]

Adoption is a much “bigger” doctrine than most recognize. Our predestination, effectual calling, justification, and glorification are centered around adoption (Rom. 8:12-30), containing legal, transformational, and eschatological elements. The doctrine of new birth (or regeneration) is distinct but intertwined with adoption, given that both testify to our soteriological sonship through the Son. Adoption is admittedly a more Pauline way of speaking, while becoming children of God by being “born of God” or “born from above” is Johannine language (John 1:12-13, 3:3), but both of these distinct emphases testify to a salvation that participates in the eternal Father-Son relation. We are granted a filial status because we enter into that union as the Spirit of the Father and the Son fills us with His presence.

The entire New Testament also assumes this doctrine through two marvelous notions we haven’t yet mentioned: the family of God and prayer. Every apostolic writer presupposes that Christians have become a family, which consists of brothers and sisters, even fathers and mothers. How can Jews and Gentiles, Pharisees and tax collectors, bondservants and masters—people of every tribe, tongue, and nation—be considered a family? Jews may cry, “Abba,” and Greeks, “Father (patēr),” but it is by the same Spirit of adoption to the one Father of all (Gal. 4:6). Sonship is the underlying framework for our basic ecclesiology. Furthermore, our communion with God depends on this reality. We approach the throne of God in prayer, not as orphans but as children, and we beseech Him with the pattern of prayer handed down to us, “Our Father in Heaven” (Matt. 6:9). We pray to our Father through His Son in the Holy Spirit!

For the Kids:

Can you imagine not having a mom or a dad? As sad as it is to think about, some children grow up without parents. They don’t have anybody to take care of them—to feed them, clothe them, play with them, discipline them, or teach them about Jesus. But God cares about every orphan. That’s why he commands Christians like us to care for them (Ja. 1:27). There are different ways to care for kids without parents, but one of the most obvious and beautiful ways is by adopting them into your own family. If your parents adopted a child, they would become your new brother or sister, and they would have a new mother and father. If you’ve been adopted or know anybody who’s been adopted (or even if you can imagine it), then you’ve seen a picture of how the gospel works.

God is a Trinity. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that is who He’s always been. God never changes. So before there were any families with fathers and sons—before anything was created at all—God the Father had a Son, the Son had the Father, and they both had the Holy Spirit. And before the world even existed yet, God the Father chose us to be adopted into His family through His Son. But why did we need adopted?

We’re born as sinners, which means that we’ve been separated from God and have become spiritual orphans without God as our Father. But the Father sent His own Son to save us by His life, death, and resurrection, so that we could be brought into His family forever. When we believe in Jesus the Son, we become adopted by God the Father, receive the Holy Spirit, and get lots of new brothers and sisters too!

[1] Fred Sanders, Fountain of Salvation: Trinity and Soteriology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing), 102.

08: The Christian’s Connection to Old Testament Promises

“Heirs according to Promise” (Gal 3:29)

Paul claims, “All the promises of God find their Yes in [Jesus]” (2 Cor 1:20), but is he referring only to NT promises or OT promises as well? After citing a list of OT promises later in the epistle (6:16–18), he urges the Corinthians to pursue holiness “since we have these promises” (7:1). For Paul, both OT and NT promises belong to Christians, but only in Jesus. What follows are five principles that shape how the NT authors relate OT promises to Christians.

1. Christians Benefit from OT Promises Only through Christ

In Galatians 3, Paul confronts claims that for Gentiles to become full inheritors of God’s OT promises, they need to submit to circumcision and the Mosaic law. In contrast, the apostle asserts that, while the old-covenant law served as a “guardian until Christ came … , now that [the age of] faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (3:24–25). Furthermore, he stresses that only identifying with Christ Jesus by faith secures inheritance rights for Jew and Greek alike. All must receive “adoption as sons” (4:5).

Apparently with the promise of “lands” (plural) in Genesis 26:3 in mind, along with an allusion to 22:17–18, Paul says, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Gal 3:16). Paul recognizes that Genesis places the hope of the world not on a people but on a person––not on a corporate Israel but on a representative, royal, messianic Deliverer. And now that this offspring has come, “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (3:29). For Paul, only in Christ Jesus can anyone inherit the OT’s promised blessings. This is what Paul means when he declares that in Christ all of God’s promises find their “yes” (2 Cor 1:20).

God makes promises to Abraham and his seed.
Christ is the seed
Faith unites us to Christ.
Union with Christ makes us seed with him.
We become heirs of the promises.

Figure 1. OT Promises Reach Believers Only through Christ

2. All Old-Covenant Curses Become New-Covenant Curses

With a heart full of hope, Moses wrote: “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring…. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you” (Deut 30:6–7). Notice here that in the age of new-covenant heart circumcision, Yahweh will take Deuteronomy’s curses (see table 1) and pour them out on the enemies of God’s restored community. This suggests that the old-covenant curses become new-covenant curses, which Yahweh brings not on the members of the new covenant but on their enemies. As in the Abrahamic covenant, where Yahweh promised to curse anyone who dishonored the patriarch and those he represented (Gen 12:3), so will Yahweh confront those who spurn his new-covenant community.

1. Yahweh’s presence / favor / loyalty (Lev 26:11-12)
2. Confirmation of the covenant (Lev 26:9)
3. Be a holy people to Yahweh (Deut 28:9)
4. Rains in season (Lev 26:4; Deut 28:12)
5. Abounding prosperity and productivity:
a. General (Deut 28:12);
b. Fruit of the womb (Lev 26:9; Deut 28:4,11)
c. Fruit of the livestock (Deut 28:4,11);
d. Fruid of the ground (Lev 26:4-5,10; Deut 28:4,8,11)
6. General and unspecified (Deut 28:2, 6, 8, 12-13)
7. Peace and security in the land with no fear:
a. General (Lev 26:5-6)
b. From harmful animals (Lev 26:6);
c. From enemies (Lev 26:6)
8. Vicotry over enemies (Lev 26:7-8; Deut 28:7)
9. Freedom from slavery (Lev 26:13)
10. Global influence and witness (Deut 28:1,10,12)
1. Anger and rejection from Yahweh (Lev 26:17,24,28,41; Deut 4:24-25; 29:20,24,27-28; 31:17-18,29; 32:16,19-22,30)
2. Rejection and destruction of the cult (Lev 26:31)
3. War and its ravages:
a. General (Lev 26:17,25,33,37; 28:25,49,52; 32:23-24,30,41-42);
b. Siege (Lev 26:25-26,29; Deut 28:52-53,55,57);
4. Fear, terror, and horror (Lev 26:16-17,36-37; Deut 28:66-67; 32:25);
5. Occupation and oppression by enemies and aliens (Lev 26:16-17,32; Deut 28:31,33,43-44,48,68; 32:21);
6. Agricultural disaster and non-productivity:
a. General (Lev 26:20; Deut 28:17-18,22,40; 29:23);
b. Drought (Lev 26:19; Deut 28:22-24);
c. Crop Pests (Deut 28:38-42)
7. Starvation / famine (Lev 26:26,29,45; Deut 28:53-56; 32:24)
8. Illness, Pestilence, and contamination (Lev 26:16; Deut 28:21-22,27-28,35,59-61; 29:22; 32:24,39)
9. Desolation:
a. Of holy places (Lev 26:31);
b. Of cities and towns (Lev 26:31,33);
c. Of the land (Lev 26:32-35,43; Deut 28:51; 29:23)
10. Destruction by fire (Deut Deut 28:24; 32:22)
11. Harm from wild animals (Lev 26:22; Deut 32:24)
12. Decimation and infertility:
a. Of family (Lev 26:22; Deut 28:18,59);
b. Of cattle (Lev 26:22; Deut 28:18,51);
c. Of population generally (Lev 26:22,36; Deut 4:27; 28:62; 32:36)
13. Exile and captivity:
a. Of the people (Lev 26:33-34,36,38-39,41; Deut 4:27; 28:36-37,41,63-64,68; 29:28; 30:4; 32:26);
b. Of the king (Deut 28:36)
14. Forced idolatry in exile (Deut 4:28; 28:36,64)
15. Futility (Lev 26:16,20; Deut 28:20,29-31,33,38-41)
16. Dishonor and degradation (Lev 26:19; Deut 28:20,25,37,43-44,68)
17. Loss of possessions and impoverishment (Deut 28:31)
18. Loss of family (Deut 28:30,32,41; 32:25)
19. Helplessness and stumbling (Lev 26:36-37; Deut 28:29,32; 32:35-36,38-39)
20. Psychological afflictions (Deut 28:20,28,34,65-67)
21. Lack of peace and rest (Deut 28:65)
22. Denial of burial (Deut 28:26)
23. Becoming like the cities of the plain (Deut 29:23)
24. Death and destruction (Lev 26:36,39; Deut 4:26; 28:20-22,44,48,51,61; 29:20; 30:15,18-19; 31:17; 32:25-26,35,39,42)
25. General and unspecified (Deut 4:30; 28:20,24,45,59,61,63; 29:19,21-22; 31:17,21,29; 32:23,35)
26. General punishment, curse, and vengeance (Lev 26:41,43; Deut 28:16,20-21,27; 30:19; 32:35,41,43)
27. Multiple punishments (Lev 26:18,21,24,28)
Restoration Blessings
1. Renewal of Yahweh’s presence, favor, and loyalty (Lev 26:42,45; Deut 4:29,31; 30:3,9)
2. Renewal of the covenant (Lev 26:42,44-45; Deut 4:31)
3. Restoration of true worship and ability to be faithful (Deut 4:30; 30:6,8)
4. Population increase (Deut 30:5,9)
5. Agricultural bounty (Lev 26:42; Deut 30:9)
6. Restoration of general prosperity, well-being, and wealth (Deut 30:3,5,9; 32:39)
7. Return from exile and repossession of the land (Deut 30:3-5)
8. Reunification (Deut 30:3-4)
9. Power over enemies and aliens (Deut 30:7)
10. Freedom and restoration from death and destruction (Lev 26:44; Deut 30:6; 32:39)

Table 1. Mosaic-Covenant Blessings, Curses, and Restoration Blessings

The NT displays new-covenant curses as warnings against permanently falling away from Christ and against all who oppose God and his people (see Matt 25:31–46; Luke 6:20–26; 2 Tim 2:12; Heb 10:26–27). Those in Christ will not experience curse in a punitive way, for Christ bears upon himself God’s curse against all believers (Gal 3:13). While Christians still experience the Lord’s fatherly discipline, no level of earthly discipline or consequence calls into question the eternal security of any believer (Rom 5:9). Instead, new-covenant curses serve as a means of grace to those in Christ to generate within them reverent fear of God leading to greater holiness (cf. Lev 26:18, 21, 23, 27; Rom 2:4; Heb 12:11).

3. In the New Covenant, Christians Inherit the Old Covenant’s Original and Restoration Blessings

As already noted, Paul uses a string of OT promises to motivate Christians to “not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor 6:14). Significant here is the first citation: “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’” (6:16). Paul here combines citations from an original old-covenant blessing (Lev 26:11–12) and a restoration blessing (Ezek 37:27). Table 2 compares the texts.

2 Corinthians 6:16 (ESV)
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Leviticus 26:11-12 Ezekiel 37:27
NETS(translation from the Greek Old Testament) NETS(Translation from the Greek Old Testament)
If you walk by my ordinances and observe my commandments and do them …I will place my tent [Lit., “covenant”] among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk about among you and will be your God, and you shall be for me a nation. And my encamping shall be among them, and I will be a god for them, and they shall be my people.
ESV(translation from the Hebrew Old Testament) ESV(Translation from the Hebrew Old Testament)
If you walk in my statues and observe my commandments and do them, …I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall no abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Table 2. Paul’s Use of the OT in 2 Corinthians 6:16

Note that whereas the Greek of Ezekiel 37:27 reads “my dwelling shall be with them,” Paul’s wording is “I will make my dwelling among them.” This difference suggests that the apostle is either quoting from memory or supplying his own rendering directly from the Hebrew. Regardless, the second half of the promise parallels closely the Greek translation. What is missing in Ezekiel, however, is any mention of God’s “walking” among his people, and this suggests that, along with Ezekiel 37:27, Paul also has in mind the original Mosaic-covenant blessing of Leviticus 26:11–12.

Two conclusions follow from how Paul applies OT promises in 2 Corinthians 6:16: (1) The restoration blessings of the old covenant include all the original blessings but in escalation and without the chance of loss. (2) Through Christ, the original old-covenant blessings and the restoration blessings have direct bearing on Christians. Paul draws together both texts, suggesting not only their close tie in the OT but also that, along with the new-covenant restoration blessings, the original old-covenant blessings do indeed relate to believers.

4. Christians Already Possess All Blessings of Their Inheritance but Will Enjoy Them Fully Only at Christ’s Final Coming

Paul once prayed, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing …. In him you also … were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:3, 13–14). Most scholars believe that “every spiritual blessing” here refers to all the blessings that Christ’s Spirit secures for the saints, including election, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, sealing, and all that we will enjoy when we gain our full inheritance (cf. 2 Cor 1:20, 22; 1 Pet 1:3–4).

All these blessings fulfill the OT’s end-time hopes associated with the promises of new-covenant restoration (e.g., Deut 30:6; Isa 53:11; Jer 31:33–34; 32:40; Ezek 36:27; Dan 9:24). Yet while all God’s promises already find their “yes” for those in Christ (2 Cor 1:20), a Christian’s full enjoyment awaits the coming inheritance—truly now, fully later. As Paul put it in 2 Corinthians 1:22, “[God] has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

5. All True Christians Will Persevere and Enjoy Their Full Inheritance

Like other NT teachers (e.g., Matt 5:8; 2 Cor 7:1; Rev 21:27), the author of Hebrews emphasizes that “without [holiness] no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). Persevering fruitfulness is a necessary condition to enjoy the future inheritance, for future judgment will be in accord with (though not based on) deeds we do in this life (Matt 16:27; Rom 2:6; 2 Cor 5:10; 1 Pet 1:17; Rev 2:23; 20:12). Thus, Paul can stress, “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13).

These things stated, Paul clarifies that this new-covenant call to persevere is not like the old covenant’s call to obey (Lev 18:5). Speaking predominantly to the unregenerate, the old covenant charged Israel to pursue righteousness (Deut 16:20), and it declared that they would only secure life and be counted righteous if they met all the covenant’s demands (6:25; 8:1). Yet for Paul, “the very commandment that promised life proved to be death” (Rom 7:10). Paul can thus declare that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (10:4), because by Christ’s perfect obedience, God frees believers from sin’s power (5:18–19; 8:1; Col 2:14), declares us righteous (Rom 5:9–10; 2 Cor 5:21), and enables us to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4, 17, 22). In doing so, God generates persevering faith, hope, and love and thus makes certain the endurance of all new-covenant members.


The NT authors were guided by at least five principles when they related OT promises to Christians: (1) Believers benefit from OT promises only through Christ. (2) Old-covenant curses become new-covenant curses. (3) As part of the new covenant, Christians inherit the old covenant’s original and restoration blessings. (4) Christians already possess all blessings of their inheritance but will enjoy them fully only at Christ’s final coming. (5) All true Christians will persevere and enjoy their full inheritance. The next post will overview four ways Christ serves as a lens for claiming OT promises as Christians.


¹John Piper, “Isaiah 41:10: Are the Old Testament Promises Made to Us?,” Desiring God, accessed 21 February 2017, http://www.desiringgod.org/labs/are-the-old-testament-promises-made-to-us.

²“Curses” and “Restoration Blessings” are adapted from Douglas Stuart, “Malachi,” in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary, ed. Thomas Edward McComiskey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 1259–60.

This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

What is Eschatology?

Editor’s Note: The Theology in the Everyday series seeks to introduce and explain theological concepts in 500 words or less, with a 200-word section helping explain the doctrine to kids. At For The Church, we believe that theology should not be designated to the academy alone but lived out by faith in everyday life. We hope this series will present theology in such a way as to make it enjoyable, connecting theological ideas to everyday experience and encouraging believers to study theology for the glory of God and the good of the Church. This week, eschatology.

Conversations on “eschatology” can go off the rails quick. The word conjures up in many of our minds debates about Israel, or images of books with dark and threatening titles and covers with fire and red moons, and the whole topic can leave us befuddled and tired. Because of this, many of us are tempted to just avoid the topic altogether. This is unfortunate because the hope of God’s climactic conclusion to human history is one of the Bible’s central hopes. If this area of Christian theology gripped the minds and hearts of the biblical authors, we cannot ignore it. However, this does not mean that we have no reason to be skittish. Why? Because the whole conversation has, unfortunately, been boxed into a very narrow set of concerns. For the most part, the sum and substance of our eschatological debates surround questions related to the timing and sequence of the return of Christ and the final events of judgment and restoration. To talk about eschatology, we think, is to talk about Revelation 20 and the thousand years mentioned there. Are they literal or figurative? Are they referring to an earthly kingdom before the final judgment or do they refer to Christ’s reign in heaven right now? If the former, are they describing a golden age of earthly prosperity before or after the return of Christ?

Now, to be clear, these questions are not unimportant. We tend to ride what we might call the “millennium pendulum,” swinging from one excess to another—either we minimize the significance of these questions, or we maximize their significance as something worth dividing over. The truth is, neither extreme is important. On the one hand, an ambivalence is wrong because the way we answer these specific questions about Revelation 20 is determined by our understanding of the whole Bible. The way you relate New Covenant Christians to Old Testament prophecies about “Zion” and “Israel” and “Jacob” is not a small matter—your whole understanding of how to put the Bible together is going to shape the questions and answers generated by your reading of Revelation 20. On the other hand, the topic of eschatology is way more massive than even those important questions.

Eschatology is about God’s ultimate goal—his telos, his purpose, his intended end—of creation. God makes nothing purposelessly—to exist is to have a telos. And the telos of creation is its glorification. Which means, eschatology precedes creation. For you to exist as a human being is for you to be a character within a story that is being written by a sovereign Author who is in the process of bringing his story to its perfect conclusion. This is what all creation was made for, and what all human beings in their fullest realization of God’s purpose for them can hope to experience: God’s glory in their glorification. This means that despite the many differences the divide Christian Eschatologies from one another, the most significant difference regarding eschatology is not a matter of what distinguishes premillennialists from postmillennialist or amillennialists, but rather what distinguishes all Christians from every other portrayal of history.

Regardless of your position on the millennium, then, I think it’s possible to sketch out what we might call a “mere Christian eschatology.” Here’s how I would describe it: Eschatology is the theology of last things. This area of theology encompasses the biblical purpose of creation, the biblical prophetic disclosure of the events and circumstances leading up to final telos of the cosmos, as well as the major elements of this telos’s realization, including (a) the bodily return of Jesus Christ to earth (Acts 17:31; Jn 5:22-27; 1 Thess 4:17; Rev 19:11-16), (b) the bodily resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:32-46; Jn 5:28-29; Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:12-49), (c) divine judgment, whereby the unrighteous are condemned to hell and the righteous are glorified to inherit the fullness of eternal life (Matt 12:36; 25:32-46; Is 66:24; Dan 12:1-3; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:11-15), and (d) the glorification of all creation, with the consummation of the New Heavens and the New Earth, where the saints will dwell bodily in perfect communion with God forever (Is 65:17; 66:22-23; Rom 8:22-25; 2 Pet 3:8-13; Rev 21:1-22:5).

How can we be certain these things are actually going to happen? Because, in a very real way, the end has already been inaugurated with the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus! The day he rose from the dead, he guaranteed that all these biblical promises were not just pipe dreams or wishful thinking. The glorification of the heavens and the earth (or, you might say, the resurrection of the heavens and the earth) is no longer a distant, hoped-for dream—it hasn’t been that for over two millennia, because when Jesus busted out of the grave, he was the first fruits—the early spring budding—of all those glorious promises coming to fruition.

We who have trusted in Christ have come to know what Martha learned from Jesus’s own lips: He is the resurrection and the life (cf., Jn 11:17-26). Knowing these things, and believing them, infuses every part of our lives with meaning. Eschatology means that all the atrocities we see, all the pain and natural and moral evil we experience, all have an expiration date. It means that the stakes in evangelism cannot be higher—we are talking about matters of everlasting life and death. It means that no one who has ever been buried will stay that way—all the “garden” graveyards will yield their dead who will inherit either everlasting life or everlasting judgment (1 Cor 15:23). It means that our final hope isn’t to die and go to heaven, but rather for heaven to come to earth. It means that those whom we love who have died trusting in Christ, though they are currently present with him—perfectly joyful—in a (mysteriously) bodiless way (Phil 1:23-24), are waiting for the very thing you are waiting for: resurrection and the glorification of the heavens and the earth. Perfect, ceaseless enjoyment of God in a glorified body in a glorified cosmos—this is our hope and our promise.

For the Kids:

Kids, do you love stories? Of course you do! Everyone does. That’s because God made us to love stories. Do you know why? Well, there’s a lot of reasons, but the main reason is that God also loves stories, and He made us to be like Him in that way. Now, what if I were to tell you that you are in a story? It’s true; you are a character within God’s story—all of us are. You see, God is writing a story called “history”—it began in the beginning (of course) with creation, when He spoke and said, “let the universe exist” and the universe came to exist. It’s the story we read about in the Bible—and this story—the history of our world—is still being written by God. So, you’re here because God decided this story could use a “you” character in it.

Now, you know—if your parents are Christians and have taught you about the Bible—that one of the most important parts of this story is when God the Father’s eternal Son became a man, when He lived, and died, and was buried, and rose again from the dead, and came back to heaven. You also know, I hope, that if you trust in Jesus to take away your sins and give you a heart to love and worship Him, you will get to go to heaven when you die—your soul will get to be with Jesus. But did you know that that’s not the end of the story. No, the end of the story is way better than that!

There’s a lot that we don’t know about what will happen in this story between now and the end, but we know several things about what will happen at the very end. We know, for example, that Jesus will return to this earth in the same body that went up to heaven. We know that Satan and all his followers will be defeated by Jesus—the warrior-King—and that every wrong ever committed in this world will be righted. We know that after He comes back, Jesus is going to heal this world of every hurt and will bind up and mend every broken thing. And we know that when He comes back, we will get new bodies. We don’t know exactly what those new bodies will be like, but we know that they will be unimaginably better than we could even dream of; and they will be matched by a new world that is just as amazing. And, most importantly, we know that we will be with Jesus and will enjoy being with Him forever and ever and ever!

07: Should Christians Hope in Old Testament Promises?

“Your Promise Gives Me Life” (Ps 119:50)

To promise is to assure that one will do a particular thing or that a certain thing will happen. God’s promises of blessing and curse play a key role in helping believers grow in sanctification (2 Pet 1:4) and suffer with hope (Ps 119:50). Promises are one of Scripture’s unifying motifs, and some scholars have even argued that divine promise is the theological center of the Christian canon. This post overviews the major divine promises in Scripture and considers the challenge and the need for Christians to claim OT promises.

The Importance of God’s Promises for Christians

God’s promises confront a whole host of sins. For instance, if we are anxious about having enough food, clothing, and shelter, we heed Jesus’s call to “seek first the kingdom of God,” confident that “all these things will be added to [us]” (Matt 6:33). When covetousness rises in our soul, we nurture contentment by recalling promises like, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). And in our passion for sexual purity, we fight lust by remembering the promise, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8).

But not only this. When we face suffering, God’s promises in Scripture supply one of our bulwarks of hope. As the psalmist declared, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life” (Ps 119:50). Christians must recognize the importance of God’s promises for both our pursuit of holiness and our hope in suffering.

God’s Major Promises in Scripture

Addressing the first human, God’s initial promise in Scripture is this: “In the day that you eat of [the forbidden tree] you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). Following their disobedience, Adam and Eve’s spiritual death and exile from the garden proved Yahweh’s faithfulness (3:22–24). But even prior to punishing them, Yahweh also cursed the serpent and promised that one of the woman’s male descendants would triumph over him (3:15). From this point forward, salvation history discloses a hope in this coming offspring and in the global reconciliation that he would ignite.

Scripture next anticipates the curse’s reversal in God’s promises to the patriarchs, which relate to offspring, land, blessing, and divine presence.

  1. Offspring. God will grow the patriarchs into a great nation (Gen 12:2; 46:3) and raise up kings in their midst who will influence the nations (17:6, 16; 49:10). In time, Abraham’s fatherhood would include the nation of Israel and the nations more broadly (17:4–6, 16). This would occur through the rise of a single male descendant (22:18).
  2. Land. Yahweh committed not only to give the patriarchs the land of Canaan (17:8); he also promised that a royal deliverer would expand it to include the rest of the world (22:17–18; 26:3–4)—realities that are now inaugurated in Christ’s first coming and will be consummated in his second.
  3. Blessing. God promised to bless Abraham and his offspring through Sarah (12:2; 49:25–26). Ultimately, he would use one of Abraham’s descendants to overcome his enemies (22:17; 24:60) and bless the nations (12:3; 28:14).
  4. Presence. From the beginning, God’s blessing is associated with humanity’s ability to represent him rightly in the world (1:28). By contrast, curse brings only tragedy. In such a setting, Yahweh affirmed that he would be present with the patriarchs and their offspring (9:27; 48:21).

Most of these patriarchal promises are initially and partially fulfilled in the Mosaic covenant, but all are only completely fulfilled through Christ and the new covenant.

Some Reflections on Prosperity Preaching

If “all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in [Jesus]” (2 Cor 1:20), should we as Christians claim all the Bible’s promises as our own, including the OT’s? Prosperity preachers quickly answer Yes, contending that Christ has already secured every spiritual and physical blessing for us to enjoy today.

Health and Wealth

Consider the words of prosperity author Gordon Lindsay:

In Deuteronomy 28 God lists various diseases that will come upon the Israelites if they do not obey the voice of the LORD…. Some contend … that sickness was spoken of as a curse then, but since today we are under a different covenant, the situation concerning sickness and healing is reversed…. How ridiculous! The New Testament teaches divine health for the believer just as much as the Old Testament does.

Similarly, Joel Osteen stresses that Moses’s charge to “choose life” (Deut 30:19) is “a choice we have to make on a moment-by-moment basis. We must choose to dwell on the positive” and thereby live our best life. Finally, Oral Roberts appeals to passages like 2 Corinthians 9:10 when offering the following financial principle: “If you sow it, God will grow it.”

The principle of sowing and reaping is, of course, biblical. But do these texts indeed promise increases in material wealth or status as the blessing for which we should hope? Importantly, Paul introduces his discussion of sowing and reaping with the words, “Though [Christ] was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). Prosperity teachers assume that riches and poverty here mean material gain and lack, respectively.

However, when Paul speaks of Jesus’s shift from rich to poor, he refers not to a change in Christ’s economic status but to his incarnation and his willingness to die on our behalf (Phil 2:6–7). Second, what Paul means by sowing and reaping is that, as we give to others, God will “make [us] abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9:8). The harvest is not more money or bigger businesses but “righteousness” and “thanksgiving to God” (9:10–11).

The Pain-Free Life

Jesus often healed physical sickness and charged his disciples to do the same (Matt 4:23; 10:6–8). Indeed, after a series of Jesus’s healings, Matthew cites Isaiah 53:4–5: “‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases’” (Matt 8:17). Reflecting on this passage, Lindsay comments, “If [Christ] paid for our sicknesses, then we do not have to be sick.” Instead, “We must recognize sickness as a curse, the work of Satan and something to be banished from our lives.”

However, Jesus did not right all wrongs or relieve all pains during his first coming (Luke 4:16–21; 7:18–23). For instance, we know of him only raising three people from the dead (Mark 5:35–36, 41–43; Luke 7:12–15; John 11:38–46). There is, then, a tension we must hold in this “already-but-not-yet” period. 

Living in the Overlap of the Ages

Believers should boldly claim all of God’s promises in Scripture. Every promise is truly ours already, but those we tangibly experience now are related to God’s presence, power, and pleasure. All promises addressing physical, material provision will be realized fully only at the consummation (Rev 21:4).

In view of his steadfast love (Ps. 30:7), though, God may still bring our future hope into the present by means of a miracle. We must, then, not only pray that God would heal the suffering (Jas 5:13–15) but also help the poor (Deut 10:17–19; 1 John 3:17)—all for his glory and his kingdom’s advance. God will relieve our suffering in his own way, but we can trust that he is working all things for our good (Rom 8:28) and that he will one day restore creation.

The NT’s Application of OT Promises to Christians

In grasping how OT promises relate to us, we must not say, “We are part of the new covenant, and therefore old covenant promises do not apply to us.” In fact, the NT is very quick to cite OT promises—assuming their lasting significance!

For example, Paul charges: “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19). The apostle cites Deuteronomy 32:35, which Yahweh declares against all oppressors. Evidently, Paul believes that we can love our enemies when we trust that God will judge in the future. And we believe this because of an OT promise.

Similarly, the author of Hebrews says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb 13:5). Christians should not look to money for security because God has promised to be with us always! He draws on the pledge that Moses gave to Joshua and that Yahweh reaffirmed to Joshua just before Israel’s conquest of Canaan (Deut 31:8; Josh 1:5). Somehow, Christians can and should legitimately use this promise to help us battle giants like covetousness in our own lives.


God’s promises of provision and protection, including those from the OT, are vital for helping us in our pursuit of godliness. Yet Christians need a framework for benefiting from OT promises in a way that does not produce abuses, like those seen in prosperity teaching. The next post will consider five principles that inform how Christians relate to OT promises.

¹See, e.g., Walter C. Kaiser Jr., The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008).

²Gordon Lindsay, The Bible Secret of Divine Health (Santa Ana, CA: Trinity Broadcasting Network, 1987), 19–20, 21–22. 

³Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (New York: Warner Faith, 2004), 115.

Oral Roberts, If You Need to Be Blessed Financially Do These Things (Tulsa, OK: Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, 1982), 5. 

 ⁵Lindsay, Bible Secret of Divine Health, 12. 

 ⁶Lindsay, Bible Secret of Divine Health, 5–6.


This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

What is the Afterlife?

Editor’s Note: The Theology in the Everyday series seeks to introduce and explain theological concepts in 500 words or less, with a 200-word section helping explain the doctrine to kids. At For The Church, we believe that theology should not be designated to the academy alone but lived out by faith in everyday life. We hope this series will present theology in such a way as to make it enjoyable, connecting theological ideas to everyday experience and encouraging believers to study theology for the glory of God and the good of the Church. This week, the afterlife.

Is there life after death? Will I live on in a state of eternal bliss or in a state of eternal torment? Or will I simply cease to exist? These questions have intrigued and haunted human beings from our origins. Every world religion and philosophy has had some answer or other to these most pressing questions, from the ancient Egyptians, who mummified the dead and gave them provisions for the netherworld, to modern atheists who reject any notion of personal existence after death. The answers to these questions shape not only a one’s hope for the future, but they also give purpose and meaning to life in the present. From a Christian perspective, the answers to these questions are woven throughout the whole fabric of Christian theology: what we believe about God, the person and work of Christ, the identity, destiny, and constitution of human beings (body and soul), the meaning of salvation, the mission of the Church, and the end of history.

So, what does the Bible say about the afterlife? The best place to begin is not at the end but at the beginning. In the creation account, God formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life, constituting our first father as a “living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Likewise, Eve was taken from Adam’s side (Gen. 2:21-22), as a co-equal divine image bearer (Gen. 1:27), and Adam’s posterity share in that same image as well (Gen. 5:3). Thus, all human beings possess dignity and goodness as ensouled bodies (or embodied souls). The tragic sin of our first parents, however, introduces the sentence of death to the human race. Now, after the fall, the unnatural state of death is our common human lot. Death introduces not only a spiritual separation from God, a relational separation from one another, and an existential separation from our own selves; it also introduces a separation of the soul and the body.

Sometimes the Old Testament can speak of death as a definitive end (Psalm 6:5; 30:9; 88:10-12; 115:17; Isa. 38:18), but this is only from the perspective of life on earth. In other places, the Old Testament speaks of some kind of ongoing personal existence after death. The righteous dead are said to “go to [their] fathers in peace” (Gen. 15:15) or to be “gathered to [their] people” in death (Gen. 25:8, 17; 35:29; 49:33; Num. 20:24; 27:13). Echoing the creation language of Genesis 2, the Preacher writes that “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7). For the unrighteous, a more sobering prospect remains after death. Those who participated in Korah’s rebellion were swallowed up by the earth and went “down alive to Sheol,” the place of the dead (Num. 16:30, 32). Elsewhere, the Old Testament speaks about the possibility of “going down to Sheol” in “mourning” (Gen. 37:35). Sheol (the Greek term was Hades) was the abode for all of the dead in the Old Testament, but it appears that there were at least two possible outcomes in that netherworld: the righteous dead experience the peace of being gathered to their people and the unrighteous dead experience Sheol as judgment. The calling up of Samuel from the dead by the medium at En-Dor, though an illicit attempt to communicate with the dead, is further evidence of this teaching in the Old Testament (1 Sam. 28).

But the Old Testament also points to another, more glorious state of life after death: the resurrection of the body. There are hints of this teaching in multiple places in the Old Testament. After all of his suffering, Job waxes poetic about the prospect of an embodied afterlife: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25–26). Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones being restored to life also points in this direction (Ezek. 37). But the clearest teaching on the resurrection of the body in the Old Testament comes in Daniel 12 in his vision of the end of history:

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (Dan. 12:2-3).

From this teaching, the ancient Hebrews began to see that the afterlife comes in two stages. At death, the soul departs the body and goes to the place of the dead (Sheol/Hades), where the righteous dead are comforted in Abraham’s Bosom/Paradise (Luke 16:22; 23:43) and where the unrighteous dead suffer in torment (Luke 16:23). But this is merely a provisional or intermediate state. The final state of human existence will come at the end of history when all of the dead will be raised bodily, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting judgment. Each person’s body and soul will be reunited in an immortal, resurrected state.

The New Testament writers assume the Old Testament teaching on the afterlife, but they see it as fundamentally altered by the work of Jesus Christ. Death was definitively defeated through the atoning death of Jesus. Furthermore, Jesus himself descended to the place of the dead in his own intermediate state, the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday (Eph. 4:9). In Sheol/Hades, Jesus proclaimed his victory over death (1 Pet. 3:19), seized the keys to Death and Hades (Rev. 1:18), and liberated the souls of the Old Testament saints in Sheol (for more on Christ’s descent to the dead, see this important work). This is the so-called “harrowing of hell”: Jesus entered into death, that most harrowing (that is, distressing) human prospect, and rather than being himself harrowed by hell, he harrows it! Then, on that glorious Easter morning, Jesus burst the bonds of death and emerged from the tomb as the firstfruits of the general resurrection which will happen at the end of the age. From now on, all who die in the Lord can rest assured that they will also be raised in glory with him (Rom. 6:5; 1 Cor. 15).

Some Christians and sectarian groups have espoused a notion of “soul sleep,” in which the soul at death simply passes from consciousness until the resurrection of the body at the second coming of Christ. Others have argued that believers are immediately resurrected upon death—that they are somehow translated in time to the eschaton (that is, the end of history). But the New Testament seems to teach the same two-stage afterlife as the Old Testament, only reoriented by the work of Christ. After death comes the judgment. So, when unbelievers die, their souls go to hell, where they await the resurrection of their bodies, at which point they will experience the final judgment: the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20). Until the second coming, believers too must experience the painful separation of death. In this intermediate state between death and resurrection, the souls of believers are “away from the body” but are consciously “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). They “depart” the “flesh” in order to “be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23-24). But this disembodied state is not the final word. The martyred souls under the throne in heaven await their final vindication: “They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (Rev. 6:10-11). The final vindication, not only for the martyrs but for all the believing dead, will come at the return of Christ when “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess. 4:16). Then, those who are alive at the second coming will be immediately translated into their resurrected state.

There are several important lessons that we can draw from this rich biblical teaching on the afterlife.

First, be prepared for death. No one knows the time of his departure from this life. We should order our affairs each day with our death in view. The Christian faith is as much about learning to die well as it is about learning to live well (though it is about both and they are intimately related). The most important thing that we can do to prepare for death is to repent of our sins and to trust in the guilt-removing, death-destroying gospel of Jesus Christ.

Second, help others prepare for death. The mission is urgent. Share the gospel with your unbelieving family members and friends. Support global missions by going or sending. Recognize that unbelievers are not our ultimate enemy. They too have an enemy who seeks to enslave them to fear and unbelief (Heb. 2:14-15).

Third, live in hope. Death is a frightening prospect, to be sure. The death of loved ones leaves a painful scar on our souls. But Christians can face death with confidence in the mercy and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the apostle John saw a vision of the Risen Lord, he “fell at his feet as though dead.” The response of the Lord to John’s fear should hearten every believer in the face of death: “But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades’” (Rev. 1:17-18).

For the Kids:

It is sad to think about, but every person will die one day. Maybe you know someone who has died, a grandparent or someone else in your life. It is important to know that this is not the way it is supposed to be! People die because of sin, not necessarily because their own sin but because of the sin of all humanity in Adam and Eve.

Death brings about a separation. Each person is made up of two main parts: a body, which you can see, and a soul, which you cannot see. The soul is that part of you that was made to know and love God and that will live forever. When a person dies, his soul is separated from his body. For those who believe in and follow Jesus, their souls will go to be with Jesus in heaven. For those who do not believe in and follow Jesus, their souls will go to a place of judgment called Hell.

But there is hope in death. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, all who turn from their sins and believe in him can know that they will go to heaven when they die. But there is even better news! When Jesus comes back to earth one day, your body will be raised from the dead and reunited with your soul so that you can spend forever with Jesus in a beautiful and glorious body for ever and ever. So, Christians don’t have to fear death. We can put our hope in him, even when we are afraid.

06: Jesus in Genesis: A Case Study

“He Shall Bruise Your Head”(Gen 3:15)

While Exodus–Deuteronomy details Israel’s calling as a holy nation (Exod 19:5–6), Genesis clarifies the global context of that calling and the hope of a royal Deliverer. Accordingly, it describes the initial two KINGDOM stages: Kickoff and Rebellion (creation, fall, flood) and Instrument of Blessing (the patriarchs). It also details the initial two biblical covenants: the Adamic/Noahic and the Abrahamic covenants.

This post provides a case study in interpreting Genesis through the light and lens of Christ. As summarized in table 6.1, the previous two blog posts overviewed seven possible ways to treasure Christ in the OT.

1. Consider the OT’s salvation-historical trajectories.
2. See the OT’ direct messianic predictions.
3. Recognize similarities and contrasts within salvation history.
4. Identify OT types.
5. Revel in Yahweh’s identity and activity.
6. Observe the OT’s ethical ideals.
7. Use the OT to instruct others.

Table 6.1. Seven Ways to See and Celebrate Christ in the OT

Thought Flow

Genesis opens with a preface in 1:1–2:3. It then comprises ten units headed by the phrase “the generations of,” which are grouped into five larger units, given the fronting of the Hebrew word for “and” (see table 1).

The Preface and “Generations” Unit
1 Preface. Biblical worldview foundations (1:1-2:3)
2 i These are the generations of the heavens and the earth (2:4-4:26) N(+LG/SG)
3A ii This is the book of the generations of Adam (5:1-6:8) LG(+N)
iii These are the generations of Noah(6:9-9:29)
And these are the generations of Noah’s Sons(10:1-11:9)
3B iv These are the generations of Shem (11:10-26)
And these are the generations of Terah (11:27-25:11)
And these are the generations of Ishmael (25:12-18)
And these are the generations of Isaac (25:19-35:29)
And these are the generations of Esau (36:1-8,9-37:1)
v These are the generations of Jacob (37:2-50:26) N(+SG+N)

*KEY: N = Narrative; LG = Linear Genealogy; SG = Segmented Genealogy

Table 6.2. Genesis’s Structure

The first of these “generations” units has the only heading that does not include a human name (2:4); both this and the context suggest that the ensuing section (2:4–4:26) introduces the redemptive story that follows. As table 6.3 shows, this section also clarifies the world’s need for blessing, as it details humanity’s covenantal purpose (2:4–25); humanity’s sin, God’s curse, and its aftermath (3:1–4:26); and Yahweh’s promise of a curse-overcoming offspring (3:15).

After this, two genealogies (5:1–6:8; 11:10–26) introduce two parallel units that develop the world’s hope for blessing (5:1–11:9; 11:10–50:26). Part one reports the kingdom hope from Adam to Noah (5:1–6:8) and then describes how Yahweh protected the promised line and renewed his covenant with creation in the wake of the flood (6:9–11:9). Part two documents the perpetuation of kingdom hope from Shem to Terah and clarifies how God will use Abraham and his offspring to bless the nations (11:10–37:1). It then closes with a recounting of the promised line’s preservation in Egypt, while also developing the hope for a royal Deliverer (37:2–50:26).

I. Preface – God’s Blessing-Commission (1:1-2:3):God Purposes that Humanity Rule His World as His Image-Bearers
II. The Need for Blessing (2:4-4:26): Humanity Rebels and God Curses the World Yet Promises a Curse-Overcoming Offspring
III. The Hope for Blessing (5:1-50:26): God Preserves Humanity and Provides a Way for the World to Enjoy Kingdom Blessing
A. God Reaffirms Humanity’s Blessing-Commission (5:1-11:9)

  1. God Perpetuates Kingdom Hope from Adam to Noah in the Context of Threat (5:1-6:8)
  2. God Protects the Promised Line and Restores Humanity’s Kingdom Puprose in the Context of Punishment (6:9-11:9)

B. God Declares How His Kingdom Blessing Will Reach the World (11:10-50:26)

  1. God Perpetuates Kingdom Hope from Shem to Terah and Elevates Abraham and His Offspring as the Agents for Bringing Kingdom Blessing to the World (11:10-37:1)
  2. God Perserves the Promised Line through Famine in Egypt and Develops Kingdom Hope for a Royal Deliverer from Judah (37:2-50:26)

Table 6.3. Genesis’s Thought Flow

Major Movements

Preface (Gen 1:1-2:3)

At creation’s climax, God shapes humans in his image (1:26–27) and charges them to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion” (1:28). From the start, God’s covenant with creation stresses the themes of progeny, property, and power, all themes that resurface in Scripture’s covenantal progression culminating in Christ. The narrator characterizes the commission as a blessing, meaning that humankind would only increase and rule as God’s representatives if he empowered them to do so.

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 5: Revel in Yahweh’s Identity and Activity
God’s role as Creator (Gen 1:1) allows us to see and celebrate Christ, who was “in the beginning with God” and without whom “was not anything made that was made” (John 1:2-3; cf. Col 1:16).

The Heavens and the Earth’s Generations (Gen 2:4-4:26)

Yahweh set the first man as head over his creation (2:15–17) and then provided him a wife from his own body (2:21–25). When Adam rebelled (3:1–6), he secured his own death and the death of those he represented (2:17; Rom 5:12). He also transferred the world’s rule to the evil serpent (1 John 5:19). A new “Adam” figure, operating as a new covenantal head, would be the only one to reverse such a curse (Rom 5:18–19).

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 4: Identity OT Types
Paul notes that Adam “was a type of the one to come… For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous”(Rom 5:14,19).

God subjected creation to “futility,” but he did so “in hope” (8:20), for when he cursed the serpent, he promised: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15). The singular pronoun “he” here indicates the “offspring” is a male individual, who would triumph over the evil serpent, thus reversing the curse and bringing new creation.1

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 2: See the OT’s direct messianic predictions
Genesis 3:15 is direct messianic prophecy anticipating Christ, and Revelation 12:1-6,17 recalls the verse with respect to Jesus.

Adam’s Generations and Those of Noah and His Sons (Gen 5:1–11:9)

The genealogy from Adam to Noah highlights how God was preserving the “living,” whose hope was in the one to come. In typological foreshadowing of Genesis 3:15’s fulfillment, Lamech declared that his son Noah would overcome the curse (5:29). Through Noah, God preserved a remnant (8:14–19) and reaffirmed his blessing-commission and covenant with creation (9:1, 7, 9–17). By substitutionary atonement (8:20–22), which anticipated Christ’s saving work, Yahweh purchased common grace for all (Matt 5:45).

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 4: Identity OT Types
Along with being the “last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45), Christ is the antitypical human, who perfectly images God (2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15).

Following the flood, evil intentions led humans to rebel again (Gen 11:1–6). So, Yahweh confused their languages and dispersed them throughout the earth (11:7–9). Specifically, those dispersed were the “clans/families” of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, which together became seventy “nations” (10:32; 11:7–9). Yahweh would incorporate a remnant of these “families” (12:3; 28:14) and “nations” (18:18; 22:18; 26:4) into his global purposes.

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 7: Use the OT to instruct others
The “Noah walked with God” and “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Gen 6:8-9) magnifies Christ as the one whose sanctifying power made even Old Testament justified saints holy, thus providing us an example (He 11:7).

The Generations of Shem, Terah, Ishmael, Isaac, and Esau, as well as Jacob (Gen 11:10–50:26)

Shem’s and Terah’s Generations (Gen 11:10–26; 11:27–25:11)
The heading “the generations of Shem” (11:10) recalls Shem’s elevation among his brothers in Yahweh’s kingdom program (9:26–27), and Shem’s genealogy to Terah again highlights how Yahweh preserved people in every generation who hoped in the coming offspring (11:10–26). The progenitor in the next “generations” heading is Terah (11:27), because Moses wanted to devote much of the next section to the story of Abram, later named Abraham.
The plot develops significantly when Yahweh commissions Abram to “go” to Canaan and there “be a blessing.” As table 6.4 shows, these two coordinated commands (12:1b, 2d) are each followed by one or more conditional promises (12:2abc, 3ab), and the second command-promise unit includes the ultimate promissory result: global blessing (12:3c). The two units indicate how God would reverse the punishments of property and progeny promised in Genesis 3:14–19.2

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 1: Consider the OT’s salvation-historical trajectories
Through the two commands “Go!” and “Be a blessing!” in Genesis 12:1-3, Yahweh sets a salvation-historical trajectory that moves through Abraham’s behing a father of one nation ( = old covenant, Gen 17:7-8) to Christ’s saving work that makes Abraham the father of many nations ( = new covenant, 17:4-6).
And Yahweh said to Abram, 1
Phase 1: Realized in the Mosaic Covenant
Go from your land and your kindred and your father’s house to the lad that I will show you,”

so that I may make you into a great nation, 2
and may bless you, b
and may make your name great. c
Phase 2: Realized in the New Covenant
Then be a blessing,
so that I may bless those who bless you, 3
but him who dishonors you I will curse, b
with the result that in you all the families of the ground may be blessed. c

Table 6.4. The Structure of Genesis 12:1–3 (Author’s Translation)

The two units also foresee two major phases in God’s saving drama. Phase one relates to Abraham fathering a nation centered in Canaan. Yahweh would fulfill this through the Mosaic covenant (15:13, 18; 17:8). Phase two would occur when Abraham’s representative blessed the families Yahweh dispersed (12:2d–3). This would happen only when Abraham’s offspring perfectly obeyed (18:18–19)—something realized only through Abraham’s ultimate offspring who blesses the world (Gal 3:14, 16, 29). Jesus does this through his perfect life, culminating in his death and resurrection (Phil 2:8; 1 Pet 2:22).

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 6: Observe the OT’s ethical ideals
“Righteousness” was the ethical goal of law keeping (Deut 6:25). Yet God Cridits righteousness to Abraham by faith apart from works (Gen 15:16), thus justifying the ungodly (Rom 4:5) based on Christ’s perfect righteousness, which leads to “justification and life for all men” (5:18; cf. 3:21-26).

Through Isaac God would affirm his covenant and name the promised offspring (17:19, 21; 21:12). This one would serve as Abraham’s greater “son,” through whom, by his substitutionary sacrifice, “the LORD will provide” pardon for many (22:13–14; cf. Rom 8:32). By becoming numerous, this singular “offspring” will conquer his enemies’ gate (Gen 22:17; 24:60; cf. 26:3) and stand as the one in whom all nations count themselves blessed (22:18; cf. 26:4), thus expanding the patriarch’s fatherhood (17:4). Upon Abraham’s death, Yahweh blessed Isaac (25:11).

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 4: Identity OT Types
Way 2: See the OT’s direct messianic predictions
The account of Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac and Yahweh’s response in Genesis 22:1-19 typologically anticipates God sacrificially giving his own Son for us all (Gen 22:2; Rom 8:32) and directly predicts Abraham’s individual offspring, Christ (Gen 22:17-18), who would possess enemy gates (Matt 16:18) and in whom the nations would regard themselves blessed (Gal 3:8, 16,29; cf. Acts 3:25-26).

Ishmael’s, Isaac’s, and Esau’s Generations (Gen 25:12–18; 25:19–35:29; 36:1–37:1)

At this point, the narrative includes a genealogy devoted to “the generations of Ishmael” (25:12–18), whom Hagar bore to Abraham and whom Yahweh said would become a great nation but not as the agent of his covenant (22:20–21). His descendants represent those living under a curse, in need of the blessing Abraham’s offspring would supply.
With the narrative associated with “the generations of Isaac” (25:19–35:29), Yahweh reaffirmed and developed his patriarchal promises. Rebekah’s twins would be rival nations/peoples, with the older serving the younger (25:23)—something soon realized when the elder Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (25:29–34). Furthermore, in commissioning Isaac to sojourn in the “land” (singular), God promised his presence and blessing, which would include the promised offspring inheriting “lands” (plural; 26:3–4). Quoting this exact promise, Paul identified Christ as the “offspring” that blesses the world (Gal 3:16, 29).

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 3: Recognize similarities and contrasts within salvation history
The continuity and discontinuity between the “land” (singular, Gen 12:1-2; 15:18; cf Joshua 21:43; 1 Kings 4:21) and “lands” (plurar, Gen 26:3-4; Rom 4:13) magnifies Christ as the one in whom this redemptive-historical development happens, culminating in the new heavens and earth.

Lastly, we learn of Rachel and Isaac’s deaths just before two genealogies associated with “the generations of Esau,” the content of which, again, details those surrounding Israel who needed Yahweh’s blessing (36:1–37:1).

Jacob’s Generations (Gen 37:2–50:26)

The book’s final chapters are devoted to “the generations of Jacob” (37:2–50:26), recording the preservation of Jacob’s twelve sons and their descendants, who would become the nation of Israel and through whom the promised Deliverer would rise. While Joseph is the eleventh born son, his father treats him as the firstborn (37:3–4), and the narrative anticipates his rise above his brothers (37:5–11). Yet his brothers sell him into slavery (37:28).
After a brief interlude on Judah’s offspring (chap. 38), the narrative returns to Joseph, who moves from Egyptian prisoner to second in command (39:1–41:40). Yahweh uses him to preserve life during a famine (45:5, 7). Once his family secured refuge in Egypt (47:26–27), Jacob declared Yahweh’s special blessing of Joseph’s offspring (49:22–26). Concerning Judah, though, he also declared that kingship would remain in his line until the promised one comes (49:8–12). Joseph would retain the blessing of the firstborn, then, but Judah would be the one through whom the offspring-Deliverer would rise “in the last days” (49:1).

See and Celebrate Christ in the OT
Way 2: See the OT’s direct messianic predictions
Yahweh’s promis that “the scepter shall not depart from Judah” and that a king would rise to whom “shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen 49:10) directly predicts the rise of Jesus Christ, who is “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt 1:1), who will reign on “the throne of his father David,” and whose “kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).


Read within its close, continuing, and complete contexts, Genesis details gospel hope climaxing in Christ. Its main idea is this: Despite humanity’s losing the blessing of eternally reigning over a very good world as God’s image bearers, Yahweh will restore this blessing to all nations when they place their faith in the woman’s royal offspring, who will descend from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, crush the serpent, and claim all lands. In short, Genesis is Christian Scripture in which we can see and celebrate the Messiah and the gospel’s hope. Observing and evaluating other OT books carefully should allow prayerful Christians to enjoy similar results.

1C. John Collins, “A Syntactical Note (Genesis 3:15): Is the Woman’s Seed Singular or Plural?,” Tyndale Bulletin 48.1 (1997): 139–48.
2James M. Hamilton Jr., “The Seed of the Woman and the Blessing of Abraham,” Tyndale Bulletin 58.2 (2007): 253–73.

This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

Start With The End: 3 Reasons You Should Try Writing the Conclusion of Your Sermon First

Have you ever listened to a sermon and felt like the preacher did not know how to stop talking? “Just land the plane” is an encouragement you may have heard before. Preaching is hard and ending the sermon with a satisfying conclusion is even harder. You can have the most engaging opening story, great exegesis, and helpful application and yet leave the audience exasperated at the end because you keep circling the runway instead of landing the plane. Or even worse, you can take the people on a great exposition that glorifies God and edify the saints and just crash the plane at the end because you didn’t know how to get out of it. How you close a sermon is as important as how you start the sermon.

Quintilian, the classic orator said “The peroration (conclusion) is the most important part of forensic pleading.” The conclusion of the sermon is place where you make a final plea and argument for your people to believe what God’s Word has said and apply it to their lives. Yet the temptation is to haphazardly wrap things up with an application point or closing anecdote. You will serve your people well when you close a sermon with clarity and conviction. If you find that a particular airline has pilots that tend towards uncomfortably, bumpy, and startling landings you will fly with someone else. And as important as it is for a pilot to get you to the ground safely, it is even greater that those of us who labor in the proclamation of God’s Word to his church conclude with clarity and satisfaction. Here are three reasons why you should try writing your conclusion first.

Clarifies the Central Main Point

Any impactful sermon aims to communicate a central truth or main point. (Yes, your sermon should have a main point that you are proving.) Too often, preachers lose sight of this focus during the sermon development process. You found a hilarious illustration, a fascinating detail in the text, or a place to do cultural engagement but what if those great things don’t actually serve your main point. They are your favorite rabbit trails, but going down the rabbit hole is not what a sermon is meant to do. You need to know your main point that you are bringing to your people in order to conclude the sermon. Writing the conclusion first can serve as a powerful antidote to this problem. Your work in the Word will lead to the main point of the passage. If you do your work, starting at the end really isn’t that hard. The conclusion ought to hit that main point home one final and forceful time to stay in the mind of your audience.

By crafting the conclusion upfront, you crystallize the central message you want to leave with your congregation. This focused idea becomes the lighthouse guiding all other parts of your sermon. As you construct the introduction and the body, you are constantly reminded of the primary point you want to make. It enables you to be sure that every element of your sermon—be it scriptural exploration, real-life applications, or illustrations—directly contributes to driving home your main point.

Pulls Together the Movements in the Sermon

A sermon isn’t merely a linear progression of ideas; it’s a journey that the preacher takes the congregation on. This journey has different movements—sometimes through contrasting viewpoints, parts of a story, or your classic three-point sermon. Knowing your conclusion from the get-go offers clarity to these movements. Your subpoints work like turns on the road or rocks in a creek. They get you to your destination. If you don’t know your destination, your conclusion, then your subpoints will take you somewhere else, or perhaps leave your stranded.

When you write the conclusion first, you essentially establish your sermon’s destination. With the end point clear in your mind, you can thoughtfully plot the course you wish to navigate to get there. Each movement in the sermon becomes a strategic step toward that pre-determined conclusion. Whether you are using deductive reasoning, building an argument, or engaging in storytelling, the movements will be more coherent and logical, helping your people understand and remember the message.

Makes People Want to Come Back and Listen Again

A strong, memorable conclusion leaves a lasting impression. It’s the part of the sermon that often resonates most deeply with listeners and gives them something to ponder long after they’ve left the church building. It is the last thing they will likely hear you say. Consequently, the conclusion can be a significant factor in whether people will want to come back and listen again.

Writing the conclusion first allows you to tie up loose ends, identify the key takeaways, and the emotional tone you wish to set. By identifying this emotional and spiritual landing point early in your preparation, you are better prepared to craft a sermon that captures attention from the beginning, holds it throughout, and releases it only after imprinting a compelling message on the hearts of your listeners. That’s something that I would want to come back and hear again


The task of sermon writing is both a privilege and a responsibility, and the approach one takes can make all the difference. Writing the conclusion first might seem counterintuitive, all the more reason to try it. I’m not saying pick a conclusion apart from God’s Word. Do your exegetical work, find your main idea, and when you sit down to write the sermon start at the end. It clarifies your sermon’s central point, gives structure and clarity to its various movements, and most importantly, leaves your congregation eager to return for more. Look, there is nothing magical about when you write your conclusion. But having a good conclusion that reinforces the conclusion is important and too easily passed without thought. So, the next time you sit down to pen a sermon, consider starting at the end.