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Jesus in the Old Testament

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Extended Version of O-311

Christians are familiar with the concept of ‘types of Christ’; they hear plenty of references to them in many sermons on the Old Testament. Very often these ‘types’ are more in the imagination than in biblical reality. Only some are correctly described as ‘types’. Others, persuaded by popular writers or by denominational ideas, tend to see these ‘types’ everywhere, just blindly repeating their sources when texts cannot sustain such an interpretation. Yet others, inexperienced in real biblical research, will paint flowery pictures they THINK are ‘types of Christ’... spiritualised versions of theological truth with little substance.

The inexperienced Christian is therefore advised to be careful. There ARE references to Christ in the Old Testament, but try to adhere to what is more obvious and leave the rest until you can examine the texts more carefully, with knowledge.

In this article I will look at a brief list of definite allusions to Jesus Christ. I will not cover them all, only those that are ‘more obvious’. I will not provide a detailed analysis of the texts, because my aim is simply to show that Jesus Christ is spoken of in the Old Testament.

Luke 24:27

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

Do you think Jesus would speak of what the Old Testament says of Himself, if it were not a fact, true? By saying this, Jesus confirmed that the Old Testament DOES contain references to Himself. The obvious texts are given, rather than compound texts with complex references.

Genesis 3:15

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Yes, this IS obvious, when we know the context and the historical information that supports it. Spoken to the serpent (and so, Satan), God is warning that Satan will not have his own way, but would be opposed by the coming Messiah. Yes, Satan would ‘bruise his heel’ (cause harm to Jesus as a man), but Jesus wold prevail, not Satan. None of this is immediately obvious until we know what scripture says throughout concerning the Messiah.

Genesis 22:18

“And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”

That this refers to the Messiah is obvious in context and historical narrative. Though Israel was the people chosen by God, His Gospel truth went out to “all the nations” after the resurrection. It is repeated in 26:4.

Numbers 24:17

“I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”

Another obvious reference, because no other could fulfil this role. The sceptre represents the kingship of Christ, and His coming destroyed the power of Satan (here symbolised by Moab and Seth).

Deuteronomy 18:15

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.”

In John we read of the belief of the ordinary Jews, that Jesus was “the Prophet”. In the Old Testament, then, the Jews thought of this ‘Prophet’ as the Messiah, Who would come to this earth in the form of humankind (see John 7:40).

Psalm 16:9-11

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

This is a prophecy of the death of the Messiah. His body in the tomb did not decay – compare the body of Lazarus. Christ’s body did not “see corruption” but remained pure and whole. And read the whole of Psalm 22, which speaks of the Messiah.

Psalm 22:1

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”

These words could apply to anyone, but for the fact that Jesus spoke the same words on the cross, thus ‘cross-referencing’ them to Himself. (Matthew 27:46):

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

God did not forsake His Son. Jesus spoke these words as proof that what David wrote applied to Himself.

Psalm 22:14, 16, 18

In these texts, verse 18 in particular proves that it is a prophecy of what would happen to Jesus while on the cross, over 1000 years later!

“14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”

The prophecy was fulfilled, as recorded in Luke 23:34

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Too specific to apply to anyone else!

Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

As found in the New Testament:

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:30-35)

See how specific these prophecies were and how specific are the fulfilments. The words could ONLY refer to the Messiah – Jesus Christ. ‘Immanuel’ is Hebrew for ‘God with us’. This applies to Jesus for a number of reasons: His name in Greek is virtually a translation of the Hebrew name; Jesus is ‘God with us’, as He Himself testified many times. (See Article, ‘Yes, Jesus said He was God’). Isaiah 9: 6,7 clearly indicates Jesus Christ:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

Isaiah 50:6

This is another very clear prophecy concerning Christ, Who suffered these injuries when being scourged.

“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.”

See Matthew 27:26, 29 and 30.

Isaiah 53:1-12

Though these verses do not mention Jesus Christ by name, they describe Him to the letter! To reject this as a reference to Christ is to display ignorance of the Bible.

“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But 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.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Ezekiel 34:23

We can link this text with the verses in Matthew 22:42-46, to show how the Old links to the New, proving that the subject is Jesus Christ.

Old

“And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd.”

New

“Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?”

Daniel 9:24-26

Note that some have determined the exact year of Jesus’ death (more than 400 years after Daniel wrote), by interpreting the timings shown in this text. Each week is said to be seven years. And, to quote biblestudysite.com: “Therefore, from the command to restore the Temple in 454 B.C. to the crucifixion of the Messiah in A.D. 29 you have exactly 483 years as prophesied.”

“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.”

In all these references (and I am only skimming the surface in this paper), you have to ask yourself “Who else could they possibly refer to?” the answer is – nobody!

Micah 5:2

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Another specific mention, this time of the place of Jesus’ birth. The next reference is yet another precise statement.

Zechariah 9:9

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass, to the shouts and praise of the people. He was called ‘King of the Jews’. He proclaimed a number of times that He alone could give salvation. Too precise to refer to anyone else! (Also see John 12:15, 16).

Then, in 13:7 we have this:

“Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”

Jesus Himself validated this text and reference to Himself (Matthew 26:31):

“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.”

Malachi 3:1

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

John the Baptist is here spoken of as the ‘messenger’ who prepared the way for Jesus. Jesus suddenly appeared in the Temple.

Conclusion

Though very brief, this paper shows that Jesus’ words are true: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). He pointed His listeners back in time to the Old Testament prophesies. Verse 46 reinforces this claim: “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” Jesus said that – so even if a reader does not believe me or my insistence that Jesus is referred to in the Old Testament, surely His own words prove it. This is again shown in Luke 24:27 (etc).

Many today think the New Testament usurps the Old Testament. This is an error. The Old runs seamlessly forward into the New, which is a fulfilment of the Old. Thus, it is easy to understand that the Messiah shown in the New is also mentioned in the Old.

Finally...

"And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;" (Genesis 18:1)

How did the Lord appear to Abraham? Verse two tells us that he saw three men walking towards his tent in the desert. Two of those men were angels, who later entered Sodom to bring out Lot and his family. But, Who was the third man?

He was God, Jesus Christ in human form. Only Jesus took on human form. In verse 13 the same Lord, identified here as Jehovah, spoke directly to Abraham. We know it must have been the third man for Sarah spoke to Him (verse 15).

The same Lord, Jehovah, conferred with the angels (verse 17-19). He then spoke to Abraham revealing His plan to destroy Sodom. That He was in human form is found in the words "I will go down" (verse 21), as if HE was going to walk towards the city. The two angels then started out for Sodom while Abraham remained with Jehovah, talking. Abraham begged God to spare the city if some were believers (verses 23-32).

After this personal discussion, "the Lord went His way" (verse 33). That is, He returned to Heaven, for the two angels entered Sodom on their own.

This encounter with Abraham was unique, and even more amazing than when Moses met Him on the mountain before receiving the Decalogue. Abraham actually saw Jesus and spoke with Him, after giving Him a meal. Jesus not found in the Old Testament? Of course He is there! Scripture is testimony to this.

© August 2001 (updated February 2015)

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

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