Finding Jesus In The Old Testament

We don’t often think of Jesus as showing up in the Old Testament books of the Bible. But Christ didn’t just pop into the book of Matthew, unexpected and unannounced. He was actually in the Scriptures all along. 

Seeing Jesus In The Old Testament

The redemption story is truly woven all throughout the pages of Scripture, written by the hand of God through many different human authors. 

We can see from the following two passages that Jesus was right there with God at the dawn of time. 

Genesis 1:26 (NKJV)

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. “ “

John 1:1-2 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” 

So, beginning with Genesis and ending with Revelation, The Bible is an entire connected story, woven perfectly together and dedicated to introducing the saving work of the Messiah, which is the Gospel. 

The Gospel message is the purpose of the entire Bible. It is the Good News that God wants His children to know, told over and over again in those pages, through many different presentations. 

The people we read about in the Old Testament didn’t have the advantage of the New Testament writings that we now have to help us understand these prophecies and signs.

Is Jesus in the Old Testament? 

The First Sign of Jesus In The Old Testament

The first time we see the Messiah in the Old Testament, Adam and Eve have eaten of the forbidden fruit, and find themselves banned from Eden.

God pronounces an edict that has great significance to the entire Scripture and the world for eternity. He puts a curse on the serpent (Satan) and introduces Adam and Eve to the realities of life outside of paradise. 

Genesis 1:15

 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” 

This enmity, or hostility, has nothing to do with fear of snakes. It speaks of the incredible evil that will infuse the world, working hard to trap every single human that will ever live, Eve being the first. 

The One who will crush the head of the serpent – Jesus. Yes, Satan and all of his evil will be defeated and destroyed by none other than Jesus Christ. 

Adam and Eve went on to have offspring after their eviction from Eden, and after hearing God’s words to the serpent, do you think that Eve thought one of her own male children would be this offspring that He had spoken of, who would crush the serpent’s head? 

It was many, many years before this prophecy would be fulfilled, but in the waiting, it was common for an Israelite woman to wonder what it would be like if she were to be the mother of this coming Messiah. 

Prophecies Of Jesus In The Old Testament

Besides the above notice in Genesis, there are many other prophecies, or foretellings, of the birth of the Messiah that were given in the Old Testament, spoken by various people and by God Himself, centuries before Jesus was actually born. 

As we look backward from our vantage point in time, we see how the below Scripture prophecies have already come to pass with amazing accuracy.

Genesis 12:1-2 (NLT)

“The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.” “

Genesis 22:18 (NLT)

“And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed – all because you have obeyed me.”

Jesus was of the seed of Abraham, every nation and family on earth is blessed by Jesus through His ancestor, Abraham. Because of Abraham’s obedience, everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13)

Micah 5:2 (CSB)

“Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.”

Isaiah 7:14 (CSB)

“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.”

Jesus’ name and place of birth were already foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament. 

Isaiah 61:1 (NCV)

“The Lord has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor. He has sent me to those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free, and to tell the prisoners they are released.”

This is the mission God gave Jesus to do – to set free the hearts of all who would believe in Him, and to save them from their own sin, the thing they could never do for themselves.

This is the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that all believers are commanded to go and to spread, the mission that God’s faithful people will give their very lives to carry out until the end of time.

Isaiah 53:5-6 (CSB)

But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we have all turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished him for the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 11:1 (CSB))

“Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 23:5 (CSB) 

“Look, the days are coming,” this is the Lord’s declaration – “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch for David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land.”

Both David and his father Jesse are named as ancestors in the family line of Jesus. David was known by God as ‘ a man after My own heart’, and God rewarded him by carrying his line all the way to the Savior of the world.

Psalm 72:9-11 (CSB)

“May desert tribes kneel before him and his enemies lick the dust. May the kings of Tarshish and the coasts and islands bring tribute, the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts. Let all kings bow in homage to him, all nations serve him.”

This is a double prophecy – in its fulfillment, the shepherds in the fields on the night of His birth would run to find Him, kneeling before Him. And later a star would lead the wise men to find Him, and they would bow before Him as they offered their gifts.

True Prophecy Becomes History

You can see that Jesus Christ truly is found throughout the Old Testament, long before He arrived on earth as a man. It’s the way God actually wrote the story. 

When we have the advantage of seeing prophecies that have become history, that’s when we can truly believe them. There are many more prophecies in the Bible that have happened and are now history, than there are ones that haven’t yet come to pass.

We must be careful not to believe everything we hear, though. Every prophecy doesn’t come from God and we are to test these predictions carefully and Biblically. 

Deuteronomy 18 tells us the sign of a true prophet: “You might be thinking, “How can we know if a message is not from the Lord?” If what a prophet says in the name of the Lord does not happen, it is not the Lord’s message. That prophet was speaking his own ideas. Don’t be afraid of him.” Deuteronomy 18:21-22 (NCV)

Imagine for a minute, being one of the apostles, witnessing the well-lived life of Jesus, and then the unspeakable crucifixion and His miraculous resurrection.

The apostles were Jewish, which goes to say without question that they were very familiar with the Torah, which is the first part of the Old Testament. They would have been raised hearing and reciting these Scriptures.

Word-Of-The-Year-Coloring Pages

I cannot even imagine the awe they experienced when they fully realized that they had been walking and learning from the Messiah who was foretold from the beginning of time. 

We too, can look back on these prophecies and see them fulfilled in history. We can also look ahead into the New Testament to see how God prepared His people well for this Messiah, who would do for us what we could never do for ourselves – save us from sin.

For further reading on God’s Word throughout the Bible, read The Living And Active Word Of God.

More Signs of Jesus In The Old Testament

When we study the Scriptures, we can spot many signs and symbols that preceded and even introduced Jesus throughout the Old Testament writings. Once you see their significance, it’s nearly impossible to miss. 

God’s rescue of His people the Israelites, from slavery in Egypt; the building of the Tabernacle by God’s specific instructions to the Israelites through Moses; the Jewish sacrificial system for the cleansing from sin. 

These are only a few samples of the symbols and signs of the Gospel that we read about in the Old Testament. 

  • When Adam and Eve sinned for the first time in the perfect garden, and when they tried to hide their sin and nakedness, and when God killed and skinned the animals whose hides He clothed them with, they learned something about forgiveness and the covering of sin. (Genesis 3)
  • When Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son at God’s command, but was provided with a ram in the brush to sacrifice instead, he learned something about sacrifice and substitution. (Genesis 22)
  • When the Israelites were led by Moses and God out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt, they learned something about freedom from bondage. (Exodus 1-40)
  • When they built the tabernacle in the wilderness for the presence of God to dwell in and when God came down and filled the tabernacle with His glory, and when He led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire in the sky by night, they learned something about His presence, “God with us”. (Exodus 13, specifically verses 21-22)
  • When they offered unblemished livestock on the altar according to God’s exact instructions, they learned something about atonement, the saving power of the perfect blood sacrifice. (Leviticus 1:3, 4:3, 22:18-24, Deuteronomy 15:21)
  • And when bread called manna fell from heaven to nourish them, yet rotted if they tried to provide for themselves by gathering extra, they learned something about God’s daily provision. (Exodus 16)
  • When Jonah was swallowed by and kept in the belly of a giant fish for 2 days, then spit out on the shore, alive and unharmed, he learned something about God’s mercy, and also about resurrection. (Jonah 1-4, Matthew 12:38-41)

Isn’t it exciting that no matter where we start reading the Bible, we are going to come across the very words that God meant for us to find there? 

The Bible – it’s the story of the saving of all humankind, a story prepared for over centuries and told of for ages before the Savior, Jesus, actually appeared in the flesh, sent specifically for US!

I urge you to use these few examples as a starting point to find out more about finding Jesus in the Old Testament. Yes, He is really there, all the way from beginning to end, from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.

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