Glimpses of Christ in the Old Testament
Based on the words of the Lord on the road to Emmaus we have a legitimate foundation to see Christ in all the Scriptures (Lk 24:27). As we shine the doctrinal spotlight of the New Testament on the picture book of the Old it suddenly becomes alive with beautiful portraits and foreshadows of the Lord Jesus. As we walk through the Old Testament art gallery this morning and consider a few types, may the New Testament tour guide help us see the glory of Christ in his word – after all, he is the central theme of the Bible.
Type 1 – Adam
Adam was made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour and exercised dominion over all creation (Ps 8:5); he was the head of the created world. As he was naming the animals early on the 6thday of creation, there was something incomplete about this man for we read “there was not found a helper compatible to him” (Gen 2:20, NKJV). In order for Adam to have a wife God caused a deep sleep to fall on him, and from his wounded side there came a bride who was his glory (1 Cor 11:7). For a brief time Adam ruled with a bride by his side. Though the first man fell through sin, we know the second man will never fall, but will fulfil all that Adam was supposed to do. One day God will “head up all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10, DBY) and this fallen world will be under a new head. In order for Christ to have a bride he too was made a little lower than the angels – not to exercise dominion, but for the suffering of death (Heb 2:9). Just as Adam suffered (pictured by a wife being taken from his rib) we read “Christ ... loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph 5:25). Adam being put to sleep prefigured Christ voluntarily entering into the sleep of death. The picture is clear, through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus he has formed a bride, so that as he sits on the throne of the universe, she is his fitting complement (Eph 1:20 – 23). Just as Eve was the glory of Adam, the church as the bride of Christ will display his glory – she is the “fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph 1:23).
Type 2 – Isaac
One day Abraham was told “take, I pray thee, thy son, thine only one, whom thou hast loved, even Isaac … and cause him to ascend … for a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I speak unto thee” (Gen 22:2, YLT). As father and son went together up the mountain, we read that Abraham laid the wood on Isaac. In this we are reminded that the cross was not an accident – but was orchestrated by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23). We read of the Lord Jesus – “he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull” (Jn 19:17), man gave him the cross, but ultimately, he accepted it from God. In type, as Abraham carried a knife and the fire up the mountain, we are reminded that God would sacrifice his own Son and that the Son would endure the fiery wrath of God on account of sin. As with all typology there is always a great contrast, Isaac was spared that day, and a ram was offered instead. Isaac was a foreshadowing of God providing a lamb, the ram was a foreshadowing of the substitutionary death of Christ for his people; he died instead of us. Abraham told the young men that he and Isaac would come again to them (Gen 22:5), we also read that Abraham believed “God was able to raise (Isaac) up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb 11:19). The type is clear, we see here a great foreshadowing of the resurrection of Christ after his death. It is significant then that in chapter 24 the unnamed servant is sent into a distant land to get a wife for Isaac. This certainly has New Testament backing, since the Spirit of God has descended from heaven to form a bride for Christ. Dispensationally, we could also see chapter 23 as God putting Israel to one side prefigured by the death of Sarah and then resuming his dealings with Israel prefigured by the marrying of Keturah in chapter 25.
Type 3 – Joseph
We see foreshadowing’s of Christ in the life of Joseph by observing the different houses he occupied. In his father’s house we read “Israel loved Jospeh … and he made him a coat of many colours” (Gen 37:3). Joseph is a type of the Lord Jesus as the only begotten of the Father. He is unique and one-of-a-kind, in intimate relationship with the Father, and perfectly shows the character of God. Just as Joseph was near to his father, the Lord Jesus is eternally “in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18).
There came a day however, when he left his father’s house and ended up in Egypt. Before ascending to the throne, we read that “his soul came into irons” (Ps 105:18) as he endured the dungeon house of the King. After the prison experience, Joseph was catapulted into Pharaoh’s house, and was set over all of Egypt. Pharaoh told him “thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou” (Gen 41:40). Similarly, the Lord Jesus entered the prison house of death (his soul came into irons) but ultimately, we read that “God hath raised(him) up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Ac 2:24). Just as Joseph administered the kingdom on behalf of Pharaoh, Christ will administer the kingdom in a millennial day, having defeated death. Paul tells us “the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death … (God) hath put all things under his feet” (1 Cor 15:26-27). It is interesting too, that Joseph had a gentile bride in Egypt, again bringing to our minds the glory and fruitfulness that has come about as a result of the cross. Today the Lord Jesus is calling out from the nations a people for himself (Rev 5:9), and he will see of the travail of his soul be satisfied (Is 53:11) – praise his name.