Is the Old Testament just a bunch of stories and instruction for what we should and shouldn’t do? Or is it one big story compiled of smaller stories, that all make up an unfolding drama of redemption from Genesis to Revelation, in which God reveals hints and pictures that all point to the grand climax of this story: the perfect, law-fulling life, sacrificial death and hope filled resurrection, ascension and return of Christ? I would argue the latter. For instance, the writer of Hebrews says of Moses:
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. – Hebrews 11:24-26
Pay close attention to what the writer of Hebrews says there: “[Moses] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Reproach of Christ? Someone might rightly say, “But Christ wasn’t incarnated at the time of Moses.” It seems the point the writer is making is that the suffering Moses endured was for the name of Christ. Jesus was intimately involved in what occurred in Egypt with Moses basically, for He is the One through whom the whole world came into being and is the One who upholds all things by His powerful word. Moses was suffering the reproach of Christ Himself, for it is after this story that the drama of redemption continued and unfolded in greater and greater revelation until Christ came. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Hebrews 1:1)
All these stories are pointers to something greater, something ultimate and final. Jesus said of Himself, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) In using the word “fulfill” there, we typically think in terms of a prophecy being fulfilled, or coming to pass exactly as predicted. But this word “fulfill” literally means “filled full of meaning”. The Old Testament speaks about Christ, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. The stories of Moses and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the prophecies of Ezekiel, Daniel, the poems of the Psalms, the wisdom of the Proverbs, all make up a greater story, a story God is putting together to display the glories of His grace in Christ Jesus.
The writer of Hebrews interprets Moses as having looked forward to and rested in the everlasting promise of God, a promise that would be fulfilled in Christ Himself, God made man, who suffered on behalf of His people for all time. All of the specifics of how God would procure this salvation and redemption were not revealed to Moses or any of the other people prior to the incarnation of Jesus. But Moses looked forward to an assured, resting hope in the overarching, salvific promise of God: eternal life with Himself. Moses’s ultimate and final hope was not set on the physical promise land, in the land of Canaan, but was set upon the eternal rest of God Himself, the final and ultimate Promise Land of heaven.
Abraham never even saw his descendants that were to number the stars, the very thing God had promised him. So how could there have been any hope for him, especially in light of this story in which he is about to kill his own child? His hope was not upon the temporal things of earth, but rather upon the final rest and Promise Land of God in heaven where Christ is, where these very descendants would be (i.e all believers of the faith of Abraham), including Isaac, his son. Abraham believed God and it was credited, reckoned, imputed to him as righteousness. Those in the Old Testament were saved just as we are: through faith alone in the promises, acts and Person of Christ. (see Romans 4)