Jesus in the Old Testament

“The Christmas story doesn’t first start in Matthew 1, but in Genesis 1.”

Here we are in November and for about a month now my wife, Ashley, and I have been listening to Christmas music and watching cheesy Christmas movies. It has taken all my willpower not to put up Christmas decorations yet. And for the record; yes, I am allowed to sing about my savior’s birth all year round!

As I have been planning for the December sermon series I was reflecting on just how connected to the Old Testament Jesus was and is. We celebrate the Messiah’s birth once a year, but for an Old Testament believer, it was something they looked forward to daily!

The Christmas story doesn’t first start in Matthew 1, but in Genesis 1.

The relationship between Jesus and the Old Testament is a bond that is unbreakable. The Old Testament speaks of Jesus, not only on occasion but in every book it points to the coming Messiah. Let’s take a quick look at a few times that the Old Testament points to Jesus.

First, a few rules to interpreting the Old Testament…It is important to view the text in light of its original contexts to its original audience. The Bible was written to real people in a real place at a specific time. It is also important for the reader to not perform eisegesis and impress onto the text a view that was not originally intended to be there. Only after good exegeses is done can proper interpretation and application take place.

With those qualifications in mind let’s move forward.

            -The first significant point to consider is how Jesus is the New Adam or Second Man. While this is New Testament language the concept finds itself in the very first book of the Pentateuch. In Genesis chapter 3, while God is in the middle of handing out punishments to man, woman and the serpent, he makes an extraordinary promise in verse 15. God promises that one day the woman’s seed (we know this to be Jesus born of the virgin) although his heel will be bruised ultimately He, will crush the head of the serpent, the enemy. We know this to be found in Jesus death, resurrection, and second coming!

            -The next point to explore is how Jesus fulfills God’s promise to Abraham. God promises to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12 that He will use Abraham and his many descendants to ultimately bless the whole world. Again this is fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross to take away the sins of the world. His grace and mercy provided a blessing of eternal life for all who believe. While there are other specifics to the Mosaic Covenant this is clearly one that is fulfilled through Jesus Christ.

            -Another key point in the OT that points, eludes to, and is fulfilled through Jesus, is God’s promise to David. The Davidic Covenant is set up because in 2 Samuel 7 David desires to build a house for God. Because of David’s heart attitude God promises to make his name great. Additionally, He promises that one of David’s offspring will be raised up and they will always be reigning on the throne. When we read Matthew chapter 1 we see that Jesus is clearly in the line of David who will set up His kingdom and thus reign forever. As well, Luke 1:33 states specifically that Jesus is the one who will reign over Jacob’s descendants (Israel) and that His reign will never end.  Praise God!

            -The last key that we will look at today is how Israel and the prophets continually look forward to the day that the Messiah will come. With our knowledge of the New Testament we can clearly see how Jesus fulfills each prophecy about the Messiah. He will be born of a virgin, He will be born in Bethlehem, He will enter into Jerusalem on a colt, He will be a prophet like Moses, He will be of the tribe of Judah, He will suffer, He will be betrayed, and the list goes on and on.

If we put ourselves in the shoes of the Israelites right before, during, and after the exile we can see their desperate need for a physical savior. However, we can also see their desperate need for a spiritual savior as well since the exile was a result of their suffering spiritual state. The prophets understood this as they looked for the coming Messiah.

Closing Thoughts

It is important that we, 21st-century believers, understand that Jesus coming to earth was all part of God’s plan from the very beginning. That is why God the Son can be seen so brightly in the Old Testament. This is something that we must never forget because it emphasizes God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace.

Joy to the world the Lord has come…just as God always planned.

The Overlooked Testament

“The unfortunate reality is that many believers willfully ignore the Scriptures that Jesus Himself would have read and studied.”

I have talked with quite a few Christians who find themselves either confused or bored by the Old Testament. There seems to be a fog surrounding the first 39 books of the Christian Bible for many modern day believers. The unfortunate reality is that many believers willfully ignore the Scriptures that Jesus Himself would have read and studied.

Part of the reason why many believers might run from the Old Testament is because of a lack of understanding of how to read and interpret it. Many believers find portions like Leviticus 17:10-14 and struggle to see how it impacts them at all today. So, while we don’t have time today to dissect all of the O.T. we will take a brief look at this one passage. Hopefully, understanding one passage will lead to a desire to understand the rest.

The first place to begin is context. What is the context of Leviticus 17:10-14? Well, in short, it is part of the Law given by God through Moses to the people of Israel. The best way to understand the Mosaic Law is to understand it as a covenant between God and His people at a specific time for a specific reason.

When interpreting the Law in its proper context it is shown to have a more clear and deeper meaning. This was not simply a list of do’s and don’ts set up by an impersonal God, this literally was a personal agreement between a loving God and His people. God was teaching them how to live holy with a holy God in their midst. Like the rest of Scripture, when doing hermeneutics, we must first always start with the original meaning to the original audience. Context is always the key.

Leviticus 17:10-14 is a very interesting passage take the time right now to open your Bible or swipe open your app and read it. At first glance, it looks like God preferred well-done steak to rare and unfortunately I have known some Christians to actually take this stance. However, when we take a closer look at the text we can understand its deeper and special meaning. We must look at the text in light of the narrative of the Israelites as well as the greater redemptive story of the whole Bible.

Verse 11 gets at the heart of the issue when God says, “for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” In the context of the ancient Israelites, blood had a very significant role. It symbolized life, of which God had ultimate control over. When we read the Mosaic Law we will find that there are special arrangements to be made for each life that is taken, and how those arrangements must be done in a respectful manner. Death is a serious thing. This is because God as creator is the life-giver. Death had no place in God’s paradise and it still is not to be taken lightly in a fallen world.

The blood more specifically not only represents life in general, but it is also the avenue through which sin can be atoned for. If an Israelite were to eat or touch blood they would be dishonoring the life that God had given, as well as disrespecting the atonement process that God had set up. The blood of a sacrifice was used to purify, and as Hebrews 9:22 lets us know without blood there could be no forgiveness of sins. This system is, as Hebrews says, “but of shadow” of what was to come.” Because although blood was needed, Hebrews 10:4 tells us that the blood of animals is inadequate to take away sins. The only blood sufficient is Jesus’.

This understanding of blood in the Old Testament relates to a New Covenant believer (one who is not bound by the Mosaic Law) in the most significant of ways. Jesus gave Himself (His blood) for the forgiveness of the sins of the world. Today we can look at this passage and see the link between this particular law and the atonement that Christ made for us. To see the relationship between this passage and Jesus, the Lamb of God whose blood was poured out for our sake, is to see our Savior more clearly.

So with all of that said, read your Old Testament. It makes the New Testament even more clear. It’s God’s Word. It’s Worth it.

Till next time,

Josh