Jesus Christ in the Old Testament
The Old Testament is full of promises of Jesus Christ, even though the book was completed 400 years before Christ was born. This can now be proved by the evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered between 1947 and 1956, having been preserved for centuries in ceramic jars hidden in caves. However, Jesus himself confirm his place in the Old Testament scriptures when he said to the Pharisees,
“Search the scriptures...for they are they which testify of me” John 5:39
and again in Luke
“Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” Luke 24:27, 44
In the confines of a short article it would be impossible to exhaust the references appropriate to this subject, but let us then ask a series of questions and let the Old Testament answer for itself.
The Old Testament looks forward
The message of Israel’s prophets was relevant to all ages. Though they foretold disaster and scattering for the Jews, they also spoke of hope. This hope was centred in the coming “Messiah” (the Hebrew word for “Christ”). The word means “anointed”, and all the prophets looked forward with enthusiasm to this coming Saviour. Now to the questions:-
1) Of which nation will Christ come?
“The angel of the Lord called unto Abraham (he was the father of the Jewish nation)...By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord...thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed” Genesis 22:16-18
For proof that God spoke to Abraham of Christ,
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." Galatian 3:16
2) If he was to be a Jew, where will he be born?
“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”. (Micah 5:2 this verse also tells us he will come from the tribe of Judah).
3) Who will be his mother?
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 - his birth was a divine miracle).
4) Who will be his Father?
“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” Hebrews 1.5
5) What kind of man will he be?
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold: mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. "Isaiah 42:1, 6-7
6) Will his message be accepted by the Jews?
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief...he was despised and we esteemed him not" Isaiah 53:3
7) Will this rejection involve violence?
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter...He was taken from prison and from judgment...for he was cut off out of the land of the living” Isaiah 53:7-8
8) Who will betray him into the hands of his enemies?
“Yea, mine own familiar friend (Judas), in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” Psalm 41:9
9) What kind of death will he suffer?
“Thou hast brought me into the dust of death...the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet” Psalm 22:15-16
10) Will God leave him in the grave?
“My flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (original Hebrew means “the grave”); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” Psalm 16:9-10
11) Where will he go after resurrection?
“Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” Psalm 110:1
"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:11
The quotations above are but a very small selection from the great visions of the prophets of the coming King of Israel. There is another selection which shows this great king in another role - that of king of the Jews, reigning over Israel and over the whole world.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness” Jeremiah 23:5-6
The return of Christ
To fulfil this prophecy, Christ must return to the earth in power and great glory, and this is the main theme of the New Testament from Acts to Revelation. For example.
"Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11
As you would expect, the prophets are as clear on the second advent of Christ as on the first. More of our time has been spent on prophecies concerning Christ’s suffering as a sacrifice for sin, because these prophecies have been fulfilled, and so give us complete confidence that those concerning his second coming as a powerful ruler of the world, will also be as accurate in every detail.
If you will take out your Bible and read Psalm 72, you will get a beautiful picture of Christ as king, after he has destroyed all opposition to his claim as God’s appointed ruler, as indicated in Psalm 2:
“I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me (i.e., Christ), Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” Psalm 2:7-8. The whole Psalm is very relevant.
The Old Testament abounds with references to Jesus Christ, for he is the centre of God’s purpose with this planet. He now waits in heaven to return to the earth to establish God’s kingdom and bring with him peace for the whole world.
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and fall nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:2-4