Describe the Christ of the Old Testament.
Christ of the Old Testament plays an extremely significant role in comprehending the Christ of the New Testament. In the study of Theophany, which is God appearing to man in human form, some evangelical commentators feel that this could have been the Lord Jesus. Noah and Enoch “walked with God”. God spoke to Noah concerning the ark. In Genesis 18, the Lord appeared to Abraham. “There is good reason to think that theophanies before the incarnation of Christ were visible manifestations of the pre-incarnate Son of God.” (p. 847, Merril C. Tenney, 1963) Christ therefore has appeared to man in human form in the Old Testament and the Christ of the Old Testament, whether in the form of theophany or prophesy, is as significant as the Christ of the New Testament.
The Messiah: The word Messiah means the anointed one. Messiah also means the Saviour promised to the world through the children of Israel. Messiah is derived from Mashaeh which means to consecrate an individual or objects with the use of the sacred anointing oil. The term Messiah has different meanings for the Jews and the Christians. For the Jews, the term Messiah is one who would be king, a spiritual leader, a political head, and through whom they can enjoy peace and prosperity. For the Christian on the other hand, the term Messiah refers to Jesus Christ as mediator who came to set his people free from sin and death and who is our spiritual deliverer. Jesus Christ is therefore called Messiah because He is the original, essential and eternal Son of God (Merril C. Tenney, p. 529, Dr James Smith, p. 1, Jack W. Hayford, p. 699, Luis Berkhof, p. 92).
Messianic Prophecies: The Messianic prophecies are divided into two groups – the general messianic prophecies and the personal messianic prophecies. The general messianic prophecies refer to the eschatological sequence or the new age to come. The personal messianic prophecies refer to Jesus Christ as the king, prophet, counsellor eg Isaiah 9:6 which tells us “And he will be called wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.
The messianic prophecy is divided into two pre-supposition, which ultimately are:
- The possibility of prediction (not being a rationalist, not a skeptic; these predictions have come true and other spheres and aspects of the prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled today).
- The omniscience of God (“Our God is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient”). Our God is all knowing, when one looks deeper into the angle of omniscience with a Biblical point of view, one sees numerous spheres of hidden truths. But the prophecies are not a hidden truth, they are an “open truth” which was fulfilled and which are being fulfilled even today, with historical data proving it. Therefore our God is omniscient or all knowing. God predestined us; but above all God spoke to us concerning the Messiah and what He spoke He fulfilled. (Italics my own) (Dr James Smith, p. 415)
The First Messianic prophecy: Gen. 3:15 tells us that God would put enmity between the serpent (which is the devil) and man (and Jesus was the representative of man). So in other words, the devil and Jesus Christ. This verse shows us the deity and the humanity of Christ (Jack W. Hayford).
Prophecies of His ministry:
Herbert Lockyer, p. 101, 1973 says: “The sacred sublime task of the Christ of prophecy when He became the Christ of history was to become the Christ of redemption”. The miracles that Jesus performed and the teaching of Jesus are a proof that Jesus is the authentic son of God.
- The Ministry of Jesus began in Galilee: Ish 9:1,2 “Beyond Jordan in Galilee the light shines”.
- The Continuation of the ministry of Jesus went forth into Jerusalem. “Rejoice greatly .. shout O daughter of Jerusalem, behold thy King cometh” (Zech. 9:9).
- Christ played a major role in the temple of God: “I will fill this house with glory’ (Hag. 2:7).
- Christ ministry was the proclamation of salvation. “Loose the bands undo the heavy burdens let the oppressed go free.” (Ish 58:6) “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me to preach … to bind up … to proclaim.” (Ish 61:1,2)
- The ministry of Jesus was both to the Jews and the Gentiles: “My people hath been lost sheep” (Jer. 50:6); “Rejoice o ye nations with his people (Jews)” (Deut. 32:43, Ps. 18:49).
- The ministry of Jesus flowed with the anointing of the holy spirit: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me” (Ish 61:1) (Herbert Lockyer, 1973, p. 101, 102)
Messianic Prophecies of the Crucifixion of Christ: Ish 53:1-12. These verses give us a detailed and accurate account of the crucifixion of Christ. The purpose of the atonement for our sin is because we are all sinners but as Christ came to earth to die for our sins we are declared righteous and through the atonement of Christ we now have abundant life, abundance physically, spiritually and financially.
Ps. 22 can be divided into two parts, the first part denotes the suffering of Jesus on the Cross and the second part denotes the glory of Christ after his resurrection.
Christ’s suffering (vs 1-21)
- (vs 1-5) denote the theme of God the father forsaking Jesus Christ.
- (vs 6-10) denote the rejection of men that Christ went through
- (vs 12-18) denote the indescribable physical agony that Christ went through on the cross.
- (vs 19-21) denotes the love, fellowship and trust between God the father and God the son. As Jesus calls upon God the father for deliverance. (Hayford, Dr James Smith)
Eschatological Expectation of the Messiah: There was a strong eschatological and apocalyptic expectation about two centuries before the ministry of Jesus commenced.
Let us now look into the context of Jesus as the Priest Messiah. Jesus as high priest can be seen in the form Melchizedek (Heb. 5:7) (James H. Charlesworth, p. 372).
The Qumran and the Messiah: What is the Qumran? The Qumran is a region where there are eleven caves in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were situated. The importance of the study of the Qumran documents for early Christianity is of immense significance. According to F. F. Bruce, p. 72, “the Qumran community was sometimes called the community of Aaron and Israel. A Messiah from Aaron and Israel should probably be taken to mean a priestly Messiah and a lay Messiah”.
The Messianic prophecies therefore are very significant, illuminating the life of Christ or Messiah as He was prophesied about in the Old Testament. There are a few simple ways of viewing prophesy. The first being the predictive element of prophecy and the second being to emphasise the message in modern day situations. Both these points are evident in Biblical prophecy. God is omniscient or all knowing and in Ephesians 1:5 it tells us the God pre-destined us. God has a foreknowledge of the future and He knew exactly when the Messiah was to come and bring us salvation and when He is coming back again. (Italics my own.)
Prophecy is therefore like a window that God reveals to his saints the prophets. The Messianic prophesies are not just windows but doors that Jesus walked through when He came into the world bringing salvation. (Italics my own.) (David Allen, Fredric William Sanford, p. 305
Types of Christ from the Old Testament:
Adam. Adam, made by God for a divine plan and purpose, who was to commune with our Creator. Adam, made by divine word. How did Adam handle this responsibility? Adam fell through disobedience and this fellowship with our Creator was marred. But Christ in the New Testament, the second Adam, came to bridge this gap, by becoming the mediator between man and God. (Andrew Jukes) (Italics my own).
Melchizedek: James Strong calls Melchizedek a patriarch. Who is this Melchizedek? Genesis 14-18 tells us that this Melchizedek is both priest and king. Zech. 6:13 tells us that he shall be a priest upon his throne. Ish 32:1 “Behold a king shall reign in righteousness. These verses show us that Melchizedek is both priest and king. Another important point to note here is that after Abraham was victorious over the kings, Melchizedek refreshed Abraham with bread and wine and blessed Abraham. This clearly shows us the character of Christ. Abraham also gave Melchizedek, who is both king and priest, tithes of all that he had taken. This clearly tells us that Melchizedek for me was not just a type of Christ, but was Christ himself who appeared to Abraham. This leads us to the study of theophany. Melchizedek is a good example of Christ appearing to man in the Old Testament. Alfred Edershiem says “Melchizedek appears like a meteor in the sky – suddenly, unexpectedly, mysteriously – and then as suddenly disappears”. Ps. 110 tells us the priest, king must belong to “the order of Melchizedek”. Jesus Christ, not with earthly priesthood such as the Levitical priesthood, but a heavenly priesthood.’ (Herbert Lockyer, Merril C. Tenny) Italics my own.
Isaac: Isaac is a type of Christ because when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the altar, it was symbolic of the sacrifice that God the father required Jesus to go through. The union of Isaac and Rebekkah was symbolic of the union between Christ and the church. Therefore Isaac plays a very important role to symbolize Christ because Isaac was the sacrifice his father Abraham was to offer just as God the Father offered Jesus as the sacrifice for the sins of the world so that the world might be saved. Herbert Lockyer says “In Melchizedek we see Jesus as the priest of the Most High God. In Moses we see Jesus as the mediator between God and Man. In David, we see Jesus as shepherd, ruler and king. In Joseph, we see Jesus as preserver, provider and Saviour.
Conclusion: In conclusion, I would like to say that the Christ of the Old Testament is as real as the Christ of the New Testament and the characters and events that occurred in the Old Testament are symbolic of the New Testament. Christ is the fulfillment of the prophesies of the Old Testament. Therefore, Christ is the chief cornerstone that the Holy Spirit has written his word on. The whole Scripture is therefore like a sphere which starts and ends with Christ.
Bruce, F. F., Jews and Christianity Origins outside the New Testament, USA, 1974.
Charlesworth, James H., The Messiah, Fortress Press Minneapolis, 1992.
Edersheim, Alfred, Old Testament Bible History, William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1977.
Hayford, Jack W., Hayford’s Bible Handbook, Nashville, 1995.
Jukes, Andrew, Types in Genesis, Kregel Publications, 1976.
Lockyer, Herbert, AU The Messianic Prophecies of the Bible, Grand Rapids, 1973.
Sanford, William, Allen, David, William Frederic, Old Testament Survey, Michigan, Zondervan, 1982.
Smith, Dr James, The Promised Messiah, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1993.
Strong, James, The Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, Ablingdon Press, New York.
Tenney, Merril C., Pictorial Bible Dictionary, Michigan, Zondervan,