The cross wasn’t Plan B. It wasn’t God’s attempt to fix a plan spiraling out of control:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
In fact, God shouted his plan – to rescue his people at a tremendous price – from the very beginning. Let’s look to some of the major signs and symbols God gave along the way pointing to the cross of Christ:
The Curse on the Serpent
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.
God promised a killing blow (bruise to the serpent’s head) at the expense of Christ’s life (bruise to the offspring’s heel).
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Through unjust suffering Joseph was put in the place to save many lives.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old… Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it… It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
When the children of God were covered with the blood of the spotless lamb God’s judgment passed over them.
The Bronze Serpent
And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.”
Moses put a serpent – emblematic of the sin of the venom coming from the people’s mouths - in a high place. When they looked to it in faith God healed them. Similarly, Jesus was held up as he took on our sin (2 Cor 5:21) so that we who look to him in faith are healed.
Day of Atonement
And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.
The scapegoat had the sin of the people placed on it and was cast out from the people so they could live with God. This pointed forward to Christ who took our sin upon himself (2 Cor 5:21) and was abandoned (Matt 27:46) so we could live with God.
These are just a taste of the ways God foreshadowed his plan of redemption throughout the Old Testament. Some further reading: