Did Old Testament Saints “Look Forward” to the Cross?

When describing salvation in the Old Testament, it is common to hear one say:

“Old Testament saints looked forward to the cross, like we look back at the cross.”

While it is a nice, understandable saying, it is simply incorrect.

We need not even go back to the Old Testament to show the error of this teaching. Let’s just look at Peter for a minute.  Peter was an Apostle of Christ living with the Lord during his earthly ministry.  Surely of anyone was looking forward to the cross before Calvary, Peter would have been?

Here is the Lord Jesus Christ putting “the cross” in a nutshell:

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

What was Peter’s response?

Mark 8:32 And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.

Peter’s response was to rebuke the Lord. Today, when someone rebukes the Gospel, we call that person lost.

Peter certainly wasn’t “looking forward to the cross.” What about looking “back” to the cross?

Luke 24:6-11 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

What do we call someone who “believes not” the resurrection? Lost! If Peter (and the other Apostles) were “looking forward to the cross” they certainly would not have denied the resurrection after it happened.

Author: Brandon

Brandon is the owner of StudyLamp Software and designer of SwordSearcher Bible Software.

12 thoughts on “Did Old Testament Saints “Look Forward” to the Cross?”

      1. Brandon ,if the saints did not look forward to the cross , Genesis 3:15 is the first mention of Christ in the Bible , that’s why I believe they looked forward !

  1. Amen. Even Romans Ch. 10, which I like to call the salvation verses, doesn’t mention the cross.
    …and believe in thine heart God raised Him from the dead….

    The resurrection is what we are told to believe. He’s alive! And He’s coming back! Praise Jesus! Praise God!

    1. Not to be contentious, now, but in I Corinthinans 1:17-22, the Apostle makes it more than clear that the gospel and the cross are indistinguishable. For certain, the cross without the resurrection makes us the most miserable of men, but the resurrection without the cross would mean only one Son for the Father – a Firstfruits without the harvest! Remember, it is the “Lamb as it had been slain” who is “worthy to take book, and to open the seals thereof,” (Rev. 5:6,8) thus redeeming mankind.

  2. You’re a resident of Oklahoma! My husband grew up in OK city. We’ve visited OK city many times, to see his mother. I’ve been to the malls there, eaten at “Jimmy’s Egg” a couple of times, been thru the Cowboy Hall of Fame, etc.
    (I used to call Oklahoma okra homey)
    Just read your bio, too. Must be nice to be a programmer, knowing so much about computers.
    Well, back to AV1611.
    And, no, I’m not “kissing up” so to speak. You happen to have a good believing study blog, and I like to comment and get to know other true Christians.

  3. All through the Old testament the promise of a Savior is mentioned who was to die for the sins of humanity. From Adam until Christ came into the world, so they looked forward until he came all of the sacrifices mentioned were symbolic of the death he would die, without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Isaiah 53, 1cointhians 15:1-5 : 1 Corinthians 1:17 There has to be a death before a resurrection- Not one dead animal came to life that was sacrificed, it was what they were a symbol and type of that which was to come Acts 3:12-26 The full gospel ,The incarnate Son of God lived ,died ,and resurrected and is cming again Read the book of Hebrews and it will explain it very good.

  4. It’s amazing how many people can’t see this. The statement you gave is exactly what my church teaches. They have no idea about how God dealt differently with man in different dispensations. True Bible believing churches are few and far between in our part of the country.So I have to get most of my Bible teaching from Dr.Ruckman or the internet.May God richly bless you.

  5. I will have to strongly agree with Greg. Very few churches teach dispensationalism. Most of the people in my church are dispensationalist, but the preacher is a follower of one who claims to be dispensational, but is not. So we hear sermons that are mostly covenant theology branded. Yet in morning Bible study we all teach dispensationalism. I don’t understand our deacons.
    The Southern Baptists were mostly dispensational 40 years ago, but a lot of them are moving toward covenant because of the seminaries. I went to one of these Southern Baptist Seminaries and heard all the liberal theology. We need more E.C. Moore’s and C.R. Stam’s in the pulpits across the nation.

  6. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son], Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” Heb 11:17-19

    “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw [it], and was glad.” Jn 8:56

    God tested Abraham’s faith at the Jehoveh-Jireh altar in Gen 22. Abraham obeyed God’s instruction to sacrifice his son. He believed God could raise Isaac from the dead and fulfill his destiny for Abraham’s true inherited seed.

    It is my conviction that at this altar God taught the prophet Abraham (Gen 20:7) about God the Father’s role (Abraham’s name means father…), and God The Son’s role (only begotten to be sacrificed). Hebrews tells us Abraham’s inner hope; resurrection hope. And God made it clear that Isaac was not the atonement God wanted; so God gave Abraham a mature lamb, a ram, a substitute sacrifice for sin. Being a man who God inspired to see the future of his nation, Abraham was a quick learner and saw Christ’s day (in figure) through this incredible testing of his faith. Was God hastening Abraham the founding father of Israel’s belief in the coming Messiah? Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that Abraham saw His day. Whatever could this mean but that Abraham understood the very purpose for which Christ came told plainly in John 3:16. This is the right way to start a nation after the heart of God don’t you think? And after Abraham died, believers went to Sheol, Abraham’s bosom, a testimony to his faith and foresight. Even Christ praised Abraham’s vision in Sheol as the standard for belief before the cross. The Apostle Paul tells us the O.T. gospel should be called the gospel of the righteousness of God. The holy temple taught God’s righteousness. The most holy Passover Lamb was slain by all households on the day the high priest symbolically entered behind the veil into the holy of holies seeking God’s presence and blessing of atonement for Israel’s (mankind’s) sin at the mercy seat. The temple offerings were teachers of God’s righteous gospel in the face of mankind’s sin. When Christ’s day finally came it was heralded by John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Seeing the future, Christ’s day, was even difficult for John the Baptist who wanted Christ to verify that He was the Messiah. John fulfilled his mission in life, but like the Apostle Peter, foreseeing the future Savior was difficult. And yet, John the Baptist was described by Christ as a great believer. So what do we make of O.T. belief in Christ? First and foremost they were believers, saved. Did they understand the cross? Not in detail, but in principle. They knew they needed a Savior, they needed the grace, the mercy of a most holy God to forgive their sins, otherwise they were hopelessly lost. But God wanted His saving grace to be clear, really, really clear. So he took the worst legalistic sinner, the man Saul, and graced his socks off on the road to Damascus so he understood God’s grace and could become a founding father, if you will, of the Church. Times changed. Covenants’ changed. The light of our salvation became bright. And the Apostle Paul’s first book was Galatians, the magna carta of the grace of God.

    By the way, I live near Saint Francis hospital.

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