Christ the Messiah Promised in the Old Testament
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." NASB
As we go through the narrative of the Old Testament, we see this redemptive history showing up in many places. It is in fact a record of how God has worked out the Plan Redemption down through the ages of history, tracing the genealogy of the Savior all the way from Adam to Christ. (See Genesis 5, 1 Chronicles 1-9, Matthew 1:1-16). The Old Testament is filled with “types”, “shadows” and specific “Messianic Prophecies” of the Christ the Messiah. We see “types” (typical prophecies) or “shadows” of the Messiah in different stories of the Old Testament which reveal different aspects of the Gospel or the coming Messiah’s ministry. There are also many specific “Messianic Prophecies” of the Christ and His ministry in the Old Testament. According to the Old Testament, the coming Messiah would:
· Be a descendant of Abraham (compare Gen. 22:18 with Gal. 3:16)
· Be a descendant of Jacob (compare Num. 24:17 with Lk. 3:23, 34)
· Be from the tribe of Judah (compare Gen. 49:10 with Lk. 3:23, 33)
· Be from the family of Jesse (compare Is. 11:1 with Lk. 3:23, 32)
· Be from the house of David (compare Jer. 23:5 with Lk. 3:23, 31)
· Be born at Bethlehem (compare Micah 5:2 with Matt. 2:1)
· Be the pre-existent one (compare Micah 5:2 with Col. 1:17)
· Be the Lord (compare Psalm 110:1 with Matt. 22:43-45)
· Be God with us (compare Isaiah 7:14 with Matt. 1:23)
· Be a prophet (compare Deut. 18:18 with Matt. 21:11)
· Be a priest (compare Psalm 110:4 with Heb. 3:1; 5-6)
· Be a king (compare Psalm 2:6 with Matt. 27:37)
· Be anointed by the Spirit (compare Is. 11:2 with Matt. 3:16, 17)
· Be zealous for God (compare Ps. 69:9 with John 2:15, 16)
· Have a forerunner (compare Is. 40:3; Mal. 3:1 with Matt. 3:1,2)
· Begin His ministry in Galilee (compare Is. 9:1 with Matt. 4:12-17)
· Have a ministry of miracles (compare Is. 35:5,6 with Matt. 9:35)
· Bring healing and spiritual life (compare Is. 61:1-2 with Lk. 4:18).
· Enter Jerusalem on a donkey (compare Zech. 9:9 with Lk. 19:35-37)
· Be rejected by the Jews (compare Psalm 118:22 with 1 Pet. 2:7)
· Be silent before His accusers (compare Is. 53:7 with Matt. 27:12)
· Be wounded and bruised (compare Is. 53:5 with Matt. 27:26)
· Be smitten and spit upon (compare Is. 50:6 with Matt. 26:67)
· Be crucified with thieves (compare Is. 53:12 with Matt. 27:38)
· Have His garments divided (compare Ps. 22:18 with John 19:23,24)
· Have his side pierced (compare Zech. 12:10 with John 19:34)
· Be buried in a rich man’s tomb (compare Is. 53:9 with Matt. 27:57ff)
· Come before Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed (compare Dan. 9:26 with Matt. 24:2)
Even Jesus Himself spoke of the fact that the Old Testament Scriptures bore witness to His coming.
John 5:39 – 39"You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; NASB
Luke also describes how Jesus taught the disciples on the road to Emmaus from the Old Testament, including Moses and the Prophets, the “things concerning Himself.”
Luke 24:27 – 27 And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures. NASB
The New Testament speaks in many places about the fact that the Old Testament pointed to Christ as the coming Redeemer and Savior.
Acts 4:10-12 – 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead — by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 "He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone. 12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." NASB
1 Corinthians 10:1- 4 – For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. NASB
Hebrews 5:5-6 – 5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, "Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee"; 6 just as He says also in another passage, "Thou art a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." NASB
So when we consider the storyline of the Old Testament, it is important that we see it as a unified whole, woven together with the New Testament and fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He is the Old Testament Messiah who was promised by God to redeem His people and save them from death and suffering and usher in a Kingdom which shall never be shaken.
Throughout the Old Testament record, beginning at the fall of man in Genesis chapter 3, the promise of a coming Redeemer is woven into the biblical text. As soon as sin enters into the storyline, redemption becomes necessary as mankind is tragically separated from God by his sin and in a hopeless and desperate state. This was the fearful warning from God about eating from the tree….
Genesis 2:16-17 – 16And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die." NASB
Upon temptation from that liar the cunning serpent, the woman and man were deceived and ate from the tree, and sin entered the world and all of the subsequent consequences and sufferings of mankind from that day followed.
Genesis 3:4-7 – 4 And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. NASB
It was right at this point in the biblical record that God enters with a promise of redemption. The Gospel is first announced in Genesis 3:15 when God curses the serpent….
Genesis 3:15 – And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." NASB
This is referred to as the “Proto-Evangel” or the first announcement of the good news in the Bible. Here the woman’s “seed” is said to “bruise the head of the serpent.” This is actually a very profound thought as woman are not said to have “seed,” that is a male function. Many believe this is none other than a prophecy of the Virgin Birth of Christ! In any case here we have the temptation of man being avenged by Eve’s own child, and this we know for sure is carried out by Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Themes present in OT Messianic Prophecies
Before we look at the clear references of Jesus Christ the Savior in the Old Testament, let us consider that certain themes season these Messianic Prophecies in the Bible. These themes are present to show us the nature of true and acceptable worship to God.
· Atonement for Sin/Sacrifice – Sin must be dealt with. OT types almost always stress the need for an “atoning sacrifice.” These show us the severe nature of sin and the desperate need we have to be reconciled to God (Example…Levitical Sacrificial system)
· Substitution – There must be a replacement. Because of the consequences of sin, it becomes necessary for a replacement to be sacrificed “in the place of” the one who has sinned. Otherwise one would have to die and be separated from God. (Example…the scapegoat in Day of Atonement)
· Faith Not Works – God’s Provision not man’s efforts. Even the Old Testament stresses God’s grace in providing the sacrifice needed for reconciliation. This is to show man’s utter inability to save himself and make himself right with God through works. (Example…Adam/Eve skins, or Abraham’s Moriah)
Therefore when we read the Old Testament narratives, let us open our eyes anew to see these Gospel themes and how God by His Holy Spirit has divinely placed them in the narrative to show us Christ the Savior! Consider the following examples…..
The Lord Shall Provide
In Genesis chapter 22 we read of the story of God testing Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Of course the background here is that Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren all her life until God came and promised them a son that Sarah would bear, and that he would be Abraham’s heir. This came after God had made a covenant with Abram and gave him a new name, Abraham, which means “father of many nations”, (Genesis 17:4-5).
Genesis 22:1-2 – 22 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." 23 And He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." NASB
Strange indeed that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son. Much could be said here as the story holds many treasures of Bible truth, but consider that in this brief chapter, Christ is foreseen in many ways. Notice here how Christ is pictured….
· The Father is to make a costly sacrifice of His only son
· The willing submission of the son
· Isaac carries the wood for the sacrifice even as Christ carried His cross
· The name given of the place “Moriah” by Abraham, “The Lord will provide” (Gen 22:14)
· God does provide the sacrifice, “a ram in a thicket caught by his horns” thus showing God’s gracious provision. This foreshadows the truths of faith not works, and substitutionary atonement.
· The place a mountain in the region of “Moriah” is the very place of Christ’s Crucifixion 2000 yrs later, also the mountain on which the Temple was later built and God was worshipped by the Jews (2 Chron 3:1)
In other words, the story of Abraham’s test is a type or “typical prophecy” of Christ the Messiah who would become the sacrifice that the Lord provides. Consider the profound words of Derek Tidball… “Glimpses of Calvary can be seen repeatedly in Genesis 22…. A constellation of clues bursts from the story like the shower of lights that explodes skyward from a splendid firework! Here the father gives. The son surrenders. The Lord provides. The ram dies, and the people profit. Here for sure the cross is anticipated.”
The Lamb’s Blood
In Exodus Chapter 12 we read of the Lord’s Passover (Ex 12:11). On this day Israel was to prepare a lamb for a meal, an unblemished male roasted with fire, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, and the whole family is to eat the lamb. Here the death angel “passes over” those families who have the blood of the Lamb smeared over the doorpost of their home as he comes to slay the firstborn. This of course is the night before the Lord will lead His people out of the bondage of slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt. As they eat, the family is to eat it with their bags packed and ready to leave town. This becomes an annual celebration for Israel in the years to come as God commands them to reenact this Passover each year in remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt.
Exodus 12:11-14 – 11 ‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste — it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 ‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments — I am the Lord. 13’And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. 14’Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. NASB
Of course the whole narrative of the Exodus reveals many attributes of God and portrays His gracious dealings with His people, but the Passover specifically points to Christ. Now here again we see in the narrative of the Old Testament Christ the Messiah pictured in a mysterious “typical prophecy.” Consider here some of the ways Christ is pictured…..
· A lamb is sacrificed and the blood is seen as a protection from God’s wrath in the plague of the firstborn. The destroying angel passes over all who have the blood applied.
· The lamb is to be an “unblemished male.” This portrays the perfect righteousness of Christ the Messiah.
· It is to be “roasted with fire, and eaten with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.” These portray the severe trial, bitter suffering and purity of Christ and His cross.
· The whole family is to “eat the flesh” of the lamb and it is to be totally consumed. This portrays the union of the sacrificed Christ that He has with His people. Later Jesus says, "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:56).
· Through this feast the people are set free from a life of slavery, bondage and bitter oppression and led into the desert to be led and shepherded by God Himself.
So here again we see Christ the Messiah portrayed through the storyline of events that happened some 1500 years before He lived. Astounding! This is affirmed by the Apostle Paul in the New Testament when he says in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.” It would be good to note that the whole Passover account portrays the faithfulness, compassion, justice, and power of God in many marvelous ways.
My God why have you forsaken Me?
In Psalm 22 we have an amazing text that foreshadows Christ’s crucifixion on the cross, even though the Psalm was penned by King David some 1000 years before Christ was born. The parallels between this Psalm 22 and the Cross are striking. In fact they are nothing less than supernatural!
|Messianic Prophecies in Psalm 22|
|Description||OT Reference||NT Reference|
|The forsaken Christ||Psalm 22:1||Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34|
|Verbally abused by men||Psalm 22:6-7||Matthew 26:67-68, 27:27-31|
|Trust in God ridiculed||Psalm 22:8||Matthew 27:39-44, Mark 15:29-32, Luke 23:35, 39|
|Surrounded by enemies||Psalm 22:12||Matthew 27:27-31, Mark 15:16-20|
|Physically weakened||Psalm 22:14-15||Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26|
|Thirsty||Psalm 22:15||John 19:28|
|Surrounded by enemies||Psalm 22:16||Matthew 27:39-44|
|Hands and feet pierced||Psalm 22:16||John 20:20, 25|
|Bones not broken||Psalm 22:17||John 19:31-36|
|Stared at by the people||Psalm 22:17||Matthew 27:55-56, Luke 23:35, 48-49, John 19:20|
|Lots cast for His clothing||Psalm 22:18||Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24|
|God heard His prayers||Psalm 22:21, 24||Hebrews 5:7-8|
It is apparent that this Psalm is a Messianic Prophecy, bright shining as the sun! One can hardly imagine how someone could see the fulfillment of these ancient cries of the Psalmist in the suffering of Christ and not be awed and amazed! More than this, it is the incarnate Son of God pictured here….a bleeding God…What wondrous love is this Oh my soul? How can words describe the profound nature of these events? Ineffable! Let us see here how both Old and New Testaments come together as a unified whole to point us to Christ!
Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted
In Isaiah chapter 53 we have a Messianic Prophecy which is unmatched for its clarity and detail about the suffering of Christ the Messiah. As the Ethiopian Eunuch was riding along and speaking to Phillip, reading from Isaiah 53, Phillip explained to him that he was reading about Jesus the Christ (Acts 8:26-39).
Acts 8:32-35 – 32Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: "He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth. 33"In humiliation His judgment was taken away; Who shall relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth." 34And the eunuch answered Philip and said, "Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself, or of someone else?" 35And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. NASB
Not only does the text describe in detail the suffering of Christ the Messiah, but even explains the benefits of the atonement to us in great detail. This text was written some 700 years before Christ was born. Truly the description here provided of Christ and His suffering is astonishing!
|Messianic Prophecies in Isaiah 53|
|Description||OT Reference||NT Reference|
|Who has believed our report?||Isaiah 53:1||John 12:37-38, Romans 10:16|
|Despised and rejected||Isaiah 53:3||Mark 9:12, Luke 17:25, John 1:10-11, 1 Peter 2:4|
|He has borne our infirmities||Isaiah 53:4||Matthew 8:16-17|
|Considered smitten by God||Isaiah 53:4||Galatians 3:13, Matthew 27:38-44, Luke 23:35|
|Wounded for our transgressions||Isaiah 53:5||Romans 4:25|
|We are healed by his stripes||Isaiah 53:5||1 Peter 2:24|
|Jesus was flogged||Isaiah 53:5||Mark 15:15, Luke 22:63-65, John 19:1|
|Silent before His accusers||Isaiah 53:7||Matthew 26:62-63, 27:12-14, Mark 14:60-61, 15:3-15, John 19:9, Acts 8:32-35|
|Christ died for our sins||Isaiah 53:8||1 Corinthians 15:3|
|Died with the wicked||Isaiah 53:9||Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27-28, Luke 23:32-33|
|Buried with the rich||Isaiah 53:9||Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:43-46, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42|
|Lived a sinless life||Isaiah 53:9||1 Peter 2:22|
|Jesus was an offering for sin||Isaiah 53:10||1 Corinthians 15:3, Hebrews 10:12-14|
|He would justify many||Isaiah 53:11||Acts 13:38-39, Romans 5:17-19|
|He will be great||Isaiah 53:12||Matthew 28:18, Luke 24:27|
|Numbered with transgressors||Isaiah 53:12||Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27-28, Luke 23:32-33|
|Made intercession for sinners||Isaiah 53:12||Luke 23:34, 39-43, Romans 8:34|
The accuracy of these prophecies are clear evidence of the supernatural revelation of God in the Bible! If you cannot see it, cry out to God for a new set of eyes, for surely yours are failing. Again let us see here how both Old and New Testaments come together as a unified whole to point us to Christ! The volume of the book is written of Him!
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Pastor Shaan Sloan
Christ’s Servant at
Heritage Christian Fellowship
11104 Menaul Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112
The Lord is the Strength of My Life