Christ in the Old Testament

In Luke 24 Jesus showed Himself alive to His disciples and explained that the cross and resurrection, and indeed much else in His life, were predicted in Scripture. Verse 27 states: “Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” Then in verse 44, He told them “that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

In the preaching of the apostles in Acts, the evidence given in the Gospels, and the rest of the New Testament, many (OT) texts are applied to Jesus. This practice likely reflects Jesus’ own teachings about how the OT relates to Him. Furthermore, because themes are repeated and developed in Scripture, the application of a particular text to Jesus is suggestive of other texts that relate to or repeat that theme. In this way we can see a rich portrait of OT patterns, types, allusions, and predictions that present to us the Person and Work of Christ.

From beginning to end the OT exudes an expectation that someone is coming.

From beginning to end the OT exudes an expectation that someone is coming. Genesis 3:15 speaks of the “seed” of the woman who comes to crush the tempter’s head (Gn 3:15). To Abraham the promise was made that through his “offspring” blessing or curse would come to all nations (Gn 12:1-3; 22:15-18). Among the descendants of Abraham many patterns and types pointed to a Coming One. Isaac, born of promise (Gn 15:3-6; 17:19), was offered to God as a sacrifice but was redeemed by a substitute (Gn 22:1-14). Joseph, raised up to bless all peoples, was first rejected by his brothers but later was sought by them for forgiveness (Gn 37; 41-48; 50:15-21). Judah offered himself in place of his brother and received a promise of a scepter and the obedience of all peoples (Gn 49:1,9-12). Moses failed to enter the promised land despite all his works, but it was said that a prophet like him would arise in the future (Dt 18:15-19). David, of the tribe of Judah, was raised up by God to deliver and shepherd Israel. God made a covenant to raise up David’s son and seat him on his throne, establishing his kingdom forever (2Sm 7:8 17; 1Ch 17:7-15). God would be his Father, and he would be His son (2Sm 7:14).

The covenant with David is the key to messianic prophecy. It incorporates all former prophecies of a coming king, such as Balaam’s prophecy that a star would arise from Jacob and exercise dominion (Nm 24:15-19; cp. 23:24; 24:7-9), plus it serves as the basis for later prophecies such as Isaiah 9:6-7 of a son who establishes the throne of David forever with peace, justice, and righteousness; Isaiah 11:1-10 of a “shoot . . . from the stump of Jesse” upon whom the Spirit rests and who destroys the wicked, brings peace, righteousness, and extends the knowledge of God to the entire earth; Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15 of a righteous “Branch” of David who will reign with justice and wisdom; and Zechariah 9:9-10 of a humble, righteous king, bringing salvation, speaking peace to the nations and ruling from sea to sea.

David’s experiences of suffering, deliverance, and exaltation become types and patterns replayed and brought to a higher level of fulfillment in the experiences of his later son (descendant), Jesus. These include the rejected stone that becomes the cornerstone (Ps 118); the suffering that becomes a literal depiction of the cross (Ps 22); and the soul not abandoned to Sheol, the flesh that does not see decay (Ps 16).

The covenant with David is the key to messianic prophecy. It incorporates all former prophecies of a coming king … plus it serves as the basis for later prophecies …

Key among the prophecies of Isaiah are predictions of a coming servant who will bring Israel to God and be a light for the nations (Is 49), who will bear our sorrows, our griefs, be wounded for our iniquities, be bruised for our transgressions, and by whose stripes we will be healed. He would be like a lamb led to slaughter, and yet resurrected (Is 53:3-12). Through this prophecy, we are able to see types and images of Christ in the sacrificial system, especially the Passover and Day of Atonement.

But we see more. In the house of David, One became incarnate whom we know across the pages of the OT: One who forgives sins and heals diseases (Ps 103:3), feeds bread to a multitude in the wilderness (Ex 16), stills the sea (Jb 26:12), and is coming to reign as King (Zch 14). That son of David, son of Abraham, seed of Eve, is none other than the eternal Son of God.


This article first appeared on the B&H Academic Blog is taken from the HCSB Study Bible, Copyright © 2010 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN. All Rights Reserved. Visit