Grace For The Journey
This is the sixth and final blog in our series on how the Bible is all about Jesus. We have looked at of the events that God instituted in the Old Testament that point to Jesus. We learned about Who Jesus in the Old Testament through titles. We have also learned about how the prophecies in the Old Testament teach us about Who Jesus is, what He would do, and even where He would be born. And, we at how the appearances of Christ in the Old Testament are further proof of Who Jesus is. Today, we will summarize how the Bible teaches about Jesus.
From Genesis to Revelation to end, the Bible reveals the person, purpose, and glory of Jesus. While we know Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s plan not only for the children of Israel but for the entire world (Genesis 22:14-18). Many today do not understand how the Old Testament and New Testament relate to one another. They are often unsure how the Bible’s many stories, characters, and events relate to each other – especially to Jesus. Some are tempted to force the Bible’s many pieces together, making superficial jumps from the Hebrew Scriptures to the New Testament. But most are left wondering:
The ultimate question we have been looking at the past several days is . . .
“Does Jesus and his story connect to the Old Testament?”
If so . . . “Where is Jesus in the Old Testament?”
How does the Old Testament inform our understanding of Jesus – His life and teachings, death and resurrection. As we answer these questions, we will get a clear understanding of the Bible’s unity and central message – which includes the ways Jesus is found in the Old Testament. Here are seven ways.
1) Jesus is the Last Adam.
From the beginning, the full story of the Bible reveals the full glory of Christ – even with Adam. Adam was not just the first man in God’s story. He is the representative of humanity and the head of creation itself (Romans 5:12-21). God gave Adam responsibilities and roles later expressed in Israel:
- God spoke directly to Adam, and Adam (in a prophetic role) was responsible to mediate God’s word by trusting, keeping, and preaching it to his wife and children.
- Adam (in a priestly role) was responsible to mediate God’s presence to the world by filling Eden with image-bearers, and ruling over creation.
- Adam (in a kingly role) was given dominion over the world as a servant king, who was to act as God’s image, his representative and son.
While he did not possess any explicit title or office, Adam functioned as a prophet, priest, and king. As the Bible’s story progresses, these titles identify other people who carry on these original tasks—which all anticipated a greater office holder: Jesus Christ. These roles express the deeper role God originally intended for humans. That role was first established in Adam, but then only Jesus as the last Adam and God the Son perfectly fulfills it. Then He restores it in us (Hebrews 2:5–18).
2) Jesus is testified to by ‘the Law and the Prophets.
The New Testament is clear about Christ’s whereabouts in the Old Testament. Paul is led to write in Romans 3:21, “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.”
The Law and the Prophets is shorthand for the Old Testament, which Paul says prophecies and testifies of the salvation that later comes in Christ. In other words, Jesus is present throughout the Old Testament. In these pages we find both hope and help.
God is providing for our instruction, endurance, encouragement, and, ultimately, our hope. As we see how God unfolds His glorious plan of redemption in Christ and how He keeps all of His promises, we learn to trust, love, and obey Him. The Bible is given to us for a reason. It prepares us to see and receive Jesus as the only solution to our problem and the only Savior from our sin.
The Law and the prophets are written in such a way as to perfectly portray the greatness of our problem and the greatness of God’s grace in Christ. God’s promises in Genesis 3:15 find their fulfillment in Jesus and the Old Testament’s characters, events, and story all point to Jesus.
3) Noah: a Foretaste of judgment and salvation through Christ.
If Jesus is the last Adam, Noah was meant as a new Adam. In his story, two themes emerge – judgment and salvation – which offer a foretaste of Jesus in the Old Testament.
As we learn about Noah’s flood, we are confronted with the harsh reality of what humanity deserves for its sin and rejection of God. More accurately, the flood is a foretaste of coming judgment, of what humanity will receive. Jesus compares His return and the future judgment to Noah’s flood in the Old Testament (Matthew 24:37). Yet the final judgment will be far worse. In the final judgment there is no relief, and in this way Noah’s flood becomes a reminder to us of a greater judgment to come, which we ought to take seriously.
But positively, Noah’s salvation is a foretaste of coming salvation in Christ. The Bible says in Isaiah 54:9-10, “’For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, Who has mercy on you.” The Bible also says on 1 Peter 3:20–22, “Who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that, eight souls, were saved through water.” As Noah passed through the waters of God’s judgment, now men and women will pass safely through the greater rescue from God’s wrath. How? Jesus will save us from God’s judgment by taking that judgment on himself.”
4) Isaac: Jesus is the “seed” of Abraham and true substitute.
God promised Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). God repeated that promise in Genesis 22:18, “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” Don’t miss an important point about the fulfillment of this promise through the story of Abraham’s son, Isaac:
It is through Isaac, the promised seed,
That God’s salvation will come to the world.
But God is also revealing that Isaac is not enough.
Isaac, too, is a sinner in need of a savior.
God’s promise will come through Isaac,
But ultimately Isaac cannot save.
The Savior must come outside of Isaac,
By God’s own provision.
This is the meaning of the ram that God provides. In sparing Isaac, a substitute must still take his place.
Of course, that substitute ultimately comes through Christ.
God did provide a substitute for Isaac, stating that God Himself must ultimately provide the proper substitute to pardon human sin. Isaac needed a substitute to die in his place, and God provided it. As Abraham is obeying the instruction that the Lord had given the voice from heaven says, “Stop! There is another to take his place.” Yet, when the Father and Son walk to Calvary, there is no voice saying, “Stop. Here is another.
As the Bible’s story unfolds, we learn that it is only through the true ‘seed’ of Abraham, Christ Jesus, that believers from all nations become children of Abraham (Galatians 3:9).
5) Jesus is greater than the Law-covenant
The New Testament clearly shows that Christ and His covenant are so much better than the Old Testament’s Law-covenant! This is exactly what the Law-covenant was given to help us see. Imbedded into the Law-covenant were carefully designed limitations that pointed toward something greater. The Bible teaches us in Hebrews 9:8, “The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience.”
The Old Testament outlines several divine patterns that reveal past limitations and beautifully point us to Christ in God’s dealings with Israel through Moses and the Law-covenant. Here are a few of them:
- A Greater Exodus. Israel’s exodus from Egypt was more than a one-time event. It became the paradigm for all of God’s redeeming acts to follow culminating in ultimate liberation and redemption from sins. In Christ, an even greater exodus from slavery has occurred.
- A Greater Rest. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy-ladened and I will give you rest.” Through the Law-covenant, God structured foretastes of ultimate rest into the life of the nation. But since it couldn’t deal with sin, the people couldn’t experience true rest; Jesus offers this rest which the Law-Covenant anticipated.
- A Greater Prophet. Moses was a great prophet, but Jesus is far greater. Moses himself pointed toward him when he says in Deuteronomy 18:15: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” The people were still waiting for this prophet when Jesus came.
- A Greater Tabernacle. In the Book of Exodus, the Lord instructed Israel to erect a tabernacle for Him to dwell with His people, which was “a copy and shadow of what is in heaven” (Hebrews 8:5). Just as the tabernacle symbolized God’s greater presence in heaven, so its priesthood and sacrifices symbolized the greater salvation to come. Jesus was this greater salvation and tabernacle.
6) Jesus is a greater future King David.
In King David, all of God’s promises from Noah to Abraham to Moses converge. And yet, as with all parts of the Old Testament the Davidic narratives look ahead to a greater future king. Psalm 72 explains how Jesus is found in this part of the Old Testament, which “helps us look ahead to a ‘greater’ David, a future king.
Jesus Christ is unveiled in Psalm 72:
- Royalty with Righteousness – Psalm 72:1–4. This is the king our world needs. Our world cries out for justice, but because of sin, even our best leaders are dangerous if we give them too much power. A truly righteous kingdom awaits God’s righteous king.
- As Long as the Sun Rises – Psalm 72:5–7. Despite the faithlessness of David’s sons, God’s promise of an eternal king through David is going to happen. The Lord will see to it.
- A King for Everyone, Everywhere – Psalm 72:8–11. This is a picture of total dominion over the world. This King’s rule will achieve the universal rule that God first intended for humanity. And in light of these Davidic promises, the Bible tells us to look ahead to the coming of the Davidic son/king who will fully bring God’s rule to the entire world..
- A Heart of Compassion – Psalm 72:12–19. The rule of David’s future son would not conform to the patterns of this world’s rulers. He would not take from His people. He would only give! But at a cost: As David did, he will suffer on his way to exaltation. He will bring about great reversals for others by means of a great reversal of his own.
7) A vivid portrait of our suffering servant
The prophet Jonah reminds us, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). And all along the way in God’s story, the story of salvation advances a step further as the Lord takes the initiative to save. The prophets continued this message, carrying it forward.
How do they reveal this salvation will be accomplished? The Lord’s salvation is made possible through a sinless sufferer. The prophet Isaiah particularly speaks of this coming servant, one who is from Israel but who is also distinct from Israel. A servant who represents Israel because He is Israel’s king and a truly obedient Son..
We have a problem: sinful humans need to be reconciled to a holy God. Isaiah reveals how this will be made possible: the Lord will accomplish a substitutionary sacrifice for sin. He will do it through the suffering of His obedient servant… The servant who is our Savior is God’s answer to the tension we have highlighted time and again.
That the Suffering-Servant is Jesus Christ. He will do two things in His substitutionary death: (1) He will take what is ours – our iniquities; and (2) He will give us what is His – His righteousness.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”