In all the ages of the pre-Christian history of the Israelite people, there have been such believing Israelites who have lived by faith in the expected Redeemer. When they offered sacrifices in the temple, they understood that these sacrificial animals were merely speaking in type of the Redeemer, who had not yet come, but must come. Such Israelites had the joy of salvation, they believed that the tears of their repentance would not be lost in vain, and they could exclaim in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I will rejoice with Joy in the Lord, my soul will rejoice in my God; for He clothed me in the robe of salvation, clothed me with the robe of righteousness, as he laid a crown on the bridegroom, and as a bride he adorned me with ornaments.” 61,10). Most of the Israelites offered sacrifices formally, without thinking about their secret, symbolic meaning, making them according to tradition. And they looked upon the expected Messiah as the future great earthly king who would surpass king Solomon and create a Jewish state.
The clergy of the people of Israel (high priests, priests) were not on top: most of them looked at their service in the temple as a source of material enrichment. The prophets put forward by God, who denounced the clergy for wickedness, were fiercely attacked by the clergy. In their pride, the apostate priests believed that God could speak to the people only through them, and they looked upon all true prophets as impostors. Such as those which appeared repeatedly, along with the true prophets. In such impostors or false prophets, it was not the Spirit of God that worked, but another spirit.
This continued until the coming into our world of the Savior, who is called in the pages of Scripture the Son of God. In the person of Christ, God himself in human form came to our land. Turning to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul writes: “God, who spoke many times and in many ways to the fathers of old in the prophets, in these last days spoke to us in the Son, whom he made heir of all things, through Whom he created for ever” (Heb.1,1-2). In the person of Christ, God himself spoke to his people. But the Jewish people overwhelmingly rejected Christ. This was not the Messiah they had expected. They dreamed of a great earthly world-wide Jewish Kingdom, and Christ began to teach that His Kingdom was not of this world, and that all men were brothers. Such a Teacher, such a Messiah, they sent to the death penalty. Having died a painful death on the cross and then resurrected, Christ accomplished his redemptive mission. By shedding his Blood, He accomplished that atonement which all the animals slaughtered on the altar in the temple spoke of in type.
The Jews, having rejected Christ, ceased to be the people of God. In this respect the clock of the divine history of the Israelite people has stopped; it has stood for nearly two thousand years. But God had a new people immediately after the crucifixion of Christ and his resurrection, destined for special purposes. These people are Christians. If in the old Testament (pre-Christian) period the people of God consisted mainly of people of one nationality (Jews), then in the Christian period the people of God consists of people of different nationalities. All true Christians are the new Testament Church of Christ, and all sincere believers from the ancient Israelite people were the old Testament Church of God. The word “Church” means a society of believers. It is the society of the children of God.