Luke 24:44-46 (NRSV)
(44) Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”
(45) Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
(46) And he said to them, “Thus it is written: that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day.”
He also opened their minds to the awesome details of the prophecies in the Old Testament that were written about his suffering, death and resurrection—all the things they had been blinded to—so that they would have a complete portrait of the Messianic purpose of the ages and would thus be able to stand with him in the completion of his purposes. So that we can have a similarly complete picture and fully appreciate the miraculous way God worked to accomplish our redemption, we must also carefully read the Old Testament in light of its subject, Jesus Christ. We need to recognize the prophetic “target” that was set up in the corridor of eternity, toward which God, like the master archer, set His bow. Even before releasing the Messianic arrow at the birth of Jesus, He had already established its trajectory by a constellation of carefully crafted prophetic words, set as points of light to guide the arrow as it would eventually streak through the night. Beginning in Genesis 3:15 with the image of the promised seed of the woman, the Old Testament Scriptures lead the diligent seeker to a “bullseye” understanding of the suffering, death and resurrection through which the Messiah had to pass on the way to his glory. If he were to fly straight and true, it was incumbent upon Jesus to learn in detail the entire prophetic course of his life. This he did impeccably, and it is both available and important for us to learn it as well.
What follows is our best understanding of what such a synopsis of the Old Testament would be like, when looked at in light of “all the things” that were written concerning the coming Christ.
In Genesis he is the seed of the woman (3:15 – KJV).
In Exodus he is the Passover Lamb (12:11).
In Leviticus he is the High Priest (21:10).
In Numbers he is the one lifted on a pole who gives healing (21:9).
In Deuteronomy he is the prophet from among his brothers (18:15).
In Joshua he is the captain of the Lord’s host (5:14 – KJV).
In Judges he is the stone that crushes the heads of his enemies (9:53 – KJV).
In Ruth he is the kinsman-redeemer (3:9).
In 1 Samuel he is the ark and mercy seat before whom pagan gods bow (5:3).
In 2 Samuel he is the King—declared by prophets and anointed with oil (5:3).
In 1 Kings he is the true Temple where people meet God (8:11).
In 2 Kings he is the great miracle worker (2:9).
In 1 Chronicles he is the descendant of Adam who will rule forever (1:1).
In 2 Chronicles he is the child-king hidden and protected from his enemies (22:11).
In Ezra he is the teacher well-versed in the Law of Moses (7:10).
In Nehemiah he is the one who remembers us with favor (5:19).
In Esther he is the gold scepter of mercy in the hand of God the King (5:2).
In Job he is the daysman, the mediator between God and man, whom Job longed for (9:33).
In Psalms he is the stone the builders rejected (118:22).
In Proverbs he is the Word fitly spoken (25:11 – KJV).
In Ecclesiastes he is that which gives life meaning (2:25).
In Song of Solomon he is the lover and our beloved (2:16 – KJV).
In Isaiah he is the son of the virgin (7:14).
In Jeremiah he is the source of living waters (2:13).
In Lamentations he is the hope whose compassions are new every morning (3:23).
In Ezekiel he is the one who gives life to dry bones (37:11).
In Daniel he is the son of man coming in the clouds of heaven (7:13).
In Hosea he is the faithful husband who buys back his unfaithful wife (3:2).
In Joel he is the one who pours out the Lord’s spirit on all people (2:28).
In Amos he is God’s plumbline, making the straight and crooked obvious (7:8).
In Obadiah he is the deliverance on Mt. Zion (v. 17).
In Jonah he is the sign—three days and nights in the heart of the earth (1:17).
In Micah he is the peace that causes all nations to beat their swords into plowblades (4:3).
In Nahum he is God’s refuge to the good and God’s vengeance to the wicked (1:7).
In Habakkuk he is the righteous one who lived by faith (2:4).
In Zephaniah he is the one who will restore the fortunes of Judah (3:20).
In Haggai he is the desired of all nations (2:7).
In Zechariah he is the smitten shepherd (13:7 – KJV).
In Malachi he is the “sun of righteousness” risen with healing in his wings (4:2).
Who do you say that he is?
And he is so much more:
Like Abel’s sacrifice, he is the sacrifice that is pleasing to God.
Like Noah’s ark, he is the shelter from God’s wrath.
Like Moses’ staff, he is the one who makes a way for us in impossible situations.
Like manna, he is the bread from heaven.
Like Joshua’s pile of rocks, he is the faithful witness.
Like Shamgar’s ox goad, he is our victory against certain death.
Like Gideon’s fleece, he is God’s sure sign that gives hope to the hopeless.
Like Samson’s jawbone, he is of little value to the worldly but is the key to victory in life.
Like Joab’s trumpet, he is sounding a clear call to gather his faithful army.
Like Elijah’s mantle, he is both a shelter from the storms of the world and the power of
God in the hands of a faithful believer.
Like the “fourth man” in Daniel, he is our protection from fiery extinction.
Who do you say that he is?
The godly characteristics of all Old Testament heroes are embodied in Christ, the ultimate hero:
Like Noah, he prepared his life before the storm.
Like Abraham, he obeyed God and went where God led him.
Like Isaac, he willingly accepted the bride provided by his Father.
Like Jacob, he learned obedience through the things that he suffered.
Like Joseph, he kept his heart from bitterness although he was mistreated by those
Like Moses, he was meek before God.
Like Joshua, he was a fearless leader.
Like Othniel, he forsook worldly wealth to deliver God’s people.
Like Ehud, he ignored the fact that the world thought him cursed.
Like Deborah, he did not mind breaking cultural stereotypes.
Like Gideon, he tore down altars of false religion.
Like Jephthah, he had family problems but overcame them.
Like Samson, he was aggressive and sought an occasion against the enemy.
Like Samuel, he kept himself pure when the priests around him were corrupt.
Like David, he started with a small, untrained group but trained them faithfully.
Like Solomon, he grew in wisdom until it was vast.
Like Elijah, he combined his words with power.
Like Job, he was a righteous sufferer.
Like Esther, he concealed his true identity until the proper time.
Like Isaiah, he continually set before the people the future hope.
Like Jeremiah, he was passionate, even weeping for his people.
Like Daniel, he prayed fervently to God.
Who do you say that he is?
Jesus Christ is the “golden thread” that holds together the Royal Tapestry of truth. He is the star out of Jacob. He is the “great light” foretold by Isaiah. He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He is the one who unites the priesthood with the kingship. He is the king coming with salvation, and the king who comes in the name of the Lord.
The Messiah is pictured in so many ways in the Old Testament that it would be a daunting task indeed to list them. Some of the references to him are very clear and straightforward, while others are veiled to a greater or lesser extent. A brief overview of Genesis alone shows that there are many clear prophecies and foreshadowings of the coming Messiah:
He is the Last Adam, foreshadowed by the first Adam (1:27).
He is the seed of the woman (3:15).
He is the one who will shed his blood to cover the sins of man (3:21).
He is an ark, and those who take refuge in him will not perish in the Judgment
He is the Shemite with whom God is most blessed (9:26).
He is the “seed” of Abraham who will bless all the nations (12:3).
He is the promised child, as Isaac was (18:10).
He will destroy the wicked with fire (19:24).
He is the lamb Yahweh will provide for sacrifice (22:8).
He is the son willing unto death (22:9).
He walks with us to make our journey a success (24:40).
He is the seed of Isaac who will bless all nations (26:4).
He is the one whom the nations will serve and before whom the people will bow (27:29).
He is the stairway to God (28:12).
He is the seed of Jacob who will bless all nations (28:14).
He is “Judah,” the praise of the Lord (29:35).
He is the faithful witness who witnesses our actions, both good and bad (31:44-52).
He wrestles with us, shows up our weaknesses, and works to make us into
his image (32:24-30).
He is the one the nations will obey (49:10).
He, like Joseph, was the favorite son, betrayed by his brethren, tempted with evil, but finally elevated to the right hand of the ruler. Although others meant him harm, God turned their actions into good that many might be saved (50:20).
Who do you say that he is?
The overview of the Messiah in Genesis that we just read is by no means exhaustive. A similar overview can be done for each book in the Old Testament because Jesus Christ, the Messiah of God, is its grand subject. Noah’s ark, Moses’ staff, etc., were all literal, physical things. Nevertheless, behind the literal meanings we can also see some of what God is communicating to us about Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.