There are a few instances of Jesus Christ appearing in the Old Testament. These are called Christophanies. And in a metaphorical sense, Jesus appears in many more stories throughout the Old Testament.
After Jesus’s resurrection, he enlightens two disciples about this: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27)
Read through God's word, see how it points to Jesus.
Jesus in the Old Testament
Jesus in the Book of Genesis
Dr. Josh Moody discusses how we see Jesus from the very start of the Bible:
(transcript of the video above, edited for readability)
So Genesis 1 and 2, famous foundational chapters of the Bible obviously can get a little controversial in terms of how that relates to modern geological theories and all the rest. How do you preach Genesis in a way that doesn't just talk about the Creator, God, but goes in a Christ-centered direction?
And one way is to notice that in Genesis 3 you have the protoevangelium, the foreshadowing of the gospel that Luther notices in terms of Genesis chapter three, that, "The heel will be bruised, the serpent will be crushed," and these are things that are fulfilled in the New Testament. That's one way.
Another way, so there's a textual linchpin in the first few chapters of Genesis that you can point to. And the question that then asks with this textual linchpin, the question that that asks is, "Who is going to be this serpent crusher?" Right? "Where's that going to come from?" In some ways, the rest of Genesis, and indeed the rest of the Old Testament, are asking, "Who is this serpent crusher?" So Cain and Abel, when they come along, Adam and Eve, in a sense, Eve is almost immediately beginning to wonder, "Could this be the serpent crusher because of this promise?" And so, immediately, you're set up right from the beginning, this theme of creation, fall, and then the hope of God's promise for a serpent crusher. So it's not only a textual sort of hint, it's also a question mark that the rest of Genesis and throughout the rest of the Old Testament, you're looking for this figure to crush the serpent.
("How Is Jesus Shown in the Book of Genesis?" previously published on Christianity.com on October 3, 2012)
Jesus in the Book of Exodus
Jesus gave us a vital piece of inside information as we try to exploit the riches of God's Word, that information is that He is the one unifying theme that runs through each testament, every book, every chapter, and every verse of the Book. According to Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44-45 Christ is found in "all the Scriptures." It is Christ in ALL the Scriptures.
If you want to understand the Bible, become a Christ tracker, one who sights and marks the trail for finding Him from cover to cover. That is what we are doing today as we continue this quest to get a strategic grasp on the Bible. We are finding Christ in Exodus.
CHRIST IN EXODUS:
In Exodus 33:17, He is the One greater than the deliverer, Moses - He is Christ in ALL the Scriptures! In Exodus we find Christ:
The Voice in the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-6)
The Passover Lamb of God (Exodus 12:1-28)
The Unleavened Bread (Exodus 13:3-10)
The Rock/Pillar of Cloud and Fire leading them (Exodus 13:21-22)
The Red Sea Crossing (Exodus 14)
The Manna from Heaven (Exodus 16)
The Source of Living Water (Exodus 17:1-7)
We can see Pictures of Christ in every section of Exodus.
(Taken from "The Key to Scripture" by Discover the Book Ministries. Used by permission).
Jesus Symbolized in the Old Testament Sacrificial System
In the video below, Charles Dyer discusses specific Old Testament prophecies and symbols that point to Jesus. The system of sacrificing, often a spotless lamb, symbolized the coming Christ.
“Sacrifices took away sins – covered over sins. And the Day of Atonement would come along that would cover their sins for a whole year, but that all pointed toward the ultimate Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.”
Jesus in the Book of Daniel
When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the flames in Daniel 3:24-27, he expected to see the three young men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) burning to death. Instead, he saw them walking around, unharmed and unbound, along with a fourth man with them. Who was the fourth man? The Lord Jesus Christ himself. This is a Christophany, an Old Testament appearance of the Son of God coming down from heaven in bodily form.
(Taken from “Jesus in the Book of Daniel?” by Dr. Ray Pritchard.)
Jesus Symbolized in the Tabernacle
In the video below, Ben Skaug discusses different stations of the tabernacle and how they are a symbol of the coming Christ.
“You can read throughout the gospel of John and see how Jesus is the fulfillment of each station inside the tabernacle. In John 1:29, John the Baptist says, ‘Behold,’ as he point to Jesus Christ, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’ And there you have the first station inside the tabernacle – the alter of sacrifice.
List of Old Testament Stories Symbolizing Jesus
Christ is the Seed of woman and in Genesis 3:15 we are told He will one day crush Satan.
In Exodus we find the story of the Passover Lamb, and Christ is the sacrificial Lamb given for us.
In Leviticus we read of the high priests making sacrifices for the people, and Christ has become our High Priest, making the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins.
In Deuteronomy Moses prophesied of a prophet who would come that would be greater than Himself. Jesus is that Great Prophet.
In the book of Joshua, Joshua met the Captain of the Lord's host. That man is Jesus Christ.
In Judges, the leaders were judges who delivered God's people, each of them typifying the Lord Jesus.
Boaz, the kinsman who redeemed Ruth's inheritance, is a picture of Christ.
David, the anointed one, pictures Jesus and Jesus is described as being the Son of David.
In 2 Samuel when the king is being enthroned, the entire scene is descriptive of the Lord Jesus.
The books of Kings speak of the glory of God filling the temple and the Chronicles describe the glorious coming king, both referring to Jesus, the King of Kings.
Ezra depicts Jesus as the Lord of our fathers.
Esther offers a picture of Christ interceding for His people.
Job says clearly that the Redeemer is coming!
Christ appears time after time in the Psalms, including when David describes Him as "the Shepherd."
Isaiah details His glorious birth.
Jeremiah reveals that He will be acquainted with sorrows.
Joel describes Him as the Hope of His people.
Amos tells us that Jesus is the judge of all nations.
Obadiah warns of the coming eternal kingdom.
Jonah offers a picture of Jesus being dead for three days, then coming back to life to preach repentance.
Zephaniah says that He will be the king over Israel.
Zachariah is the prophet who speaks of Jesus riding on a colt.
Malachi is the one who calls Him the Son of Righteousness.
The entire Old Testament points toward Jesus as Savior, and if we miss that, we’ve missed the entire point of the Scriptures. Jesus is the Messiah and the fulfillment of prophecy.
Taken from "A Portrait Of Christ" by Adrian Rogers and Love Worth Finding Ministries (used by permission).
How to Read the Old Testament in a Christ-Centered Way
Jonathan Olsen talks about the “heartbeat of the Old Testament” in this interview.
(The following is transcribed from the above Video Q&A, edited for quality.)
When you think about the apostolic understanding of the Bible, when you open up the book of Acts in particular but really the whole New Testament, you see that the story of the Old Testament is not a story that just ends in and of itself. It is a story that has a trajectory. It is going somewhere. And this is true from the opening pages of the Bible all the way through Malachi. There is an anticipation of something, there is an anticipation of fulfillment. There is an anticipation of eschatological substance where there is something greater outside of that moment in the story. The heartbeat of the Old Testament is looking for that and looking for that. Wherever they go, whatever blessing the Old Testament people are in, whatever season of curse they might be in, whatever season of distress or joy they might be in, there is always something outside of them.
The apostles understood what Jesus himself taught. That is that the story of the Old Testament is pointing to Jesus Christ. And Jesus says in Luke 24, in essence, the whole Old Testament is really a story about me. That Moses and the prophets and the Psalms, these are all ultimately about me. He says in the gospels as well “today the Scripture has been fulfilled in your presence in me”. And it is really a story about Jesus.
When I was ordained, I was asked, “what Psalms are messianic psalms?” I probably didn’t say this in full humility, but the answer that I think is right is that all the psalms are pointing to Jesus Christ. Some are more clearly pointing towards Jesus with specificity, but at the end of the day he is the author, substance, and trajectory of all the Old Testament words.
You have all of these types of mediators and priests, and prophets, and kings in the Old Testament all pointing to that tri-fold office that Jesus alone can fulfill perfectly as both God and man. It is a challenge to preach the Old Testament sometimes with a Christ-centered trajectory. Because there is a lot of moralism and it is easy to say “you should be like this person”. And it can be easy to neglect saying, “You are already like this person, because they are sinful just like you and I. And Jesus is unlike you and me in that sense. Where he who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, in order that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” And no Old Testament man or woman could fulfill that or have that.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Priscilla du Preez
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