Saturday, June 9, 2012

The thrill of discovering Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

Luke 24:44 "Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'

The thrill of discovering Jesus Christ pictured in the Old Testament
When Jesus had raised from the dead He engaged some disciples walking on a road near Jerusalem who were distraught over the recent events surrounding His crucifixion.  In disguising Himself from their recognition, Jesus Christ began to teach them from the Old Testament all the things concerning Himself. 

As a Christian begins to study God's Word, the common practice is to only focus on the New Testament and skip the Old, since it is assumed that the Old Testament was only for Israel, and now that Jesus has come, we as the "New Testament Church" should only focus on the New Testament.  This is tragic on several fronts:

1. 2 Timothy 3:16b plainly tells us that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God,, and is profitiable...".  The phrase "all scripture" is referring by extension to all 66 books.  The point being we cannot skip 2/3 of the Bible - it is "all profitable".

2. When we consider that 333 Old Testament prophecies made predictions about the person and work of Jesus Christ (109 pertaining to His first coming and 224 to His second), it lies incumbent upon us to know the Old Testament, since it aids us to a deeper understanding of Christ.

3. Jesus Himself took seriously the Old Testament, acting out, preaching upon and living out some 600 Old Testament texts.

It truly is a thrill to study the Old Testament because even though I may not find Jesus named in every verse, yet from each of the 22,314 Old Testament verses I can find my way back to Jesus Christ.  He is pictured in such things as Noah's Ark, The Tabernacle of Moses and the Priesthood.  He makes personal appearances in such figures as Melchizedek in Genesis 14 (compaare Hebrews 5 and 7)  The Angel of the Lord, who is ascribed divine characteristics some 15 times in the Old Testament. 

Why would anyone want to explore the Old Testament through New Testament light?  As one commentator has noted: "The New in the Old is concealed and the Old and the New is revealed". 

New Testament authority for finding pictures of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament
I want to briefly list verses below which encourage us to use the Old Testament as our picture book of Jesus Christ:

1. Luke 24:44 We have already looked above at this text.  This is from Jesus' own lips on the allowance of the Old Testament in picturing His person and work.

2. Romans 15:4-5 "whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus".  The "scriptures" of course are referring to the Old Testament.  Notice what they yield: "the same mind with one another according to Jesus Christ".

3. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, 11 (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; 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3and all ate the same spiritual food; 4and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. " (11) "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."

4. Hebrews 9:9-11 "The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. 11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation."

Here we see the writer connecting the ministry of the Old Testament Tabernacle and Jewish system that pictures Jesus to the Person of Jesus in the New Testament!

As Dr. Steven Lawson, a Southern Baptist Pastor and prolific author has often said: "Although I may not be able to find Jesus Christ in every verse of the Bible, yet from every verse I can get you back to Jesus Christ."

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