And the last bit is this: Calvary is foreshadowed plainly, touchingly, by the old Hebrew prophets. Those rare rugged preachers have set the standard of the world’s preaching for all time by their fidelity, their ruggedness, and the clearness of their message; and furthermore, by the way in which they lived their messages before they spoke them, and while they were speaking them. The foreshadowings here are of two sorts. First, in the experience of these men. I suggest to you that you take time, and run through the old Hebrew prophets, and trace, bit by bit, their sacrificial suffering as prophets on behalf of their people, and, furthermore, mark that life came to their people through their personal sufferings.
A single reference I make here now. It is regarding Jeremiah. He is called “the weeping prophet.” And yet if that word “weeping” suggests anything of weakness to you, it quite leads you astray, for I hold Jeremiah to be the giant of the whole group of Hebrew prophets. He is put to the whip and the rod; he is put in prison; he is killed in the King’s intent; he suffers torment and indignity and reproach for years, because of his message. And out of it all, undeserved by him, out of it there comes a new, fine, spiritual life for his people.
But I want to refer to the second thing in this prophetic foreshadowing, namely, the messages of the prophets. Turn to only three passages. The first of these is the Fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. In that our Lord’s suffering is depicted marvellously, although the mode of His death is never touched upon in the least detail.
I have marvelled much as I have realised that there must have been a historical setting to this Chapter. Originally it depicts what Isaiah suffered in his own life because of being God’s messenger. Although we know, and the whole Church has recognised that the chapter finds its fullest fulfilment—its deepest significance-only as you come to the Hill of the Gross. But if there Be anywhere in the Old Testament a foreshadowing of the Cross, in principle, it is in that Fifty-third of Isaiah.
The story is told, that when Mr. Moody was beginning his career in England, he went to London to attend a meeting of ministers. They asked him about his creed,—quite a favourite question, then and always. They said, “Mr. Moody, if you will just give us a simple statement of your creed.” And he bluntly said, “My creed is in print.” “Oh!” and maybe as many as five hundred pencils were pulled out; “Where? In what book?” “The Fifty-third of Isaiah,” Mr. Moody said quietly.—“He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities ; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” He said, “I have no other creed.” And Great Britain knows full well how faithfully he lived and preached his blood-red creed of Calvary from Isaiah Fifty-third.
Then if you will turn at your leisure to the ninth chapter of the prophecy of Daniel. This old man Daniel, on his knees in that chapter, gets a vision of the coming day when the Prince of his people is coming. And his heart almost stands still, he is startled to find this, that the Prince is to be “cut off, but not for Himself.” And he writes down the word, under the impelling of the Holy Spirit, and wonders what it can mean. The glorious king “cut off!”
Then in Zechariah, chapter eleven, the picture element of the Old Testament mingles with direct teaching. The prophet Zechariah is serving as a shepherd, and he asks for, and is paid his wages, which they fix at the small sum of thirty pieces of silver, a common slave's price. And Jehovah, speaking of Zechariah as His own representative, ironically says, “the goodly price that I was prized at by them.” How graphically that pictures a detail of what actually took place in our Lord’s experience! In the thirteenth chapter of Zechariah, you recall, God Himself says, “Awake, oh sword, against the man that is My fellow”—that is, on an equal with Himself. “Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” These words find their keenest significance on our Master’s lips.