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Jesus in the Old Testament: Finding the Savior

Have you ever tried to find Waldo in the Where’s Waldo? books? Those were some of my favorite books as a kid. Sometimes he was easy to find, but other times I would spend hours searching for him. I’ll admit that there are some scenes where I’ve yet to find him.

When it comes to the Bible, Jesus can be a lot like Waldo: hard to find. Sure, Jesus is obvious in the gospels. In the rest of the New Testament he’s all over the place. But, when it comes to the Old Testament, you need to pull out the magnifying glass and look closely if you’re going to find Jesus.

If you’re struggling to find Jesus in the Old Testament, here are five tips that will make him easier to spot.

1. The Angel of the Lord

Many times throughout the Old Testament a character appears out of nowhere called the Angel of the Lord. He is usually gone just as fast as he appears. Because angels often make appearances in the Bible, many readers are quick to assume that this is just another angel. But, this angel is different. The Angel of the Lord has God-like qualities, claims divine authority, and is even called God.

Since no one can see God and live, and Jesus is God in the flesh, we are safe in assuming the Angel of the Lord is a preincarnate Jesus.

2. The Law

Some of the most boring parts of the Old Testament are found in the giving of the Law of Moses. Do this, do that. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Yawn! Yet, we can find Jesus here too.

When we look at the Mosaic Law, we find a lot of the attributes and character of Jesus. If we want to know what both God and Jesus were like, then we need look no further than the Law. The Law shows us God’s character and Jesus is the only one who lived it perfectly. In a book like Leviticus, that is all about the Law and sacrifices, we can see Jesus because he is our greater sacrifice.

3. Old Testament Characters

If we want to find Jesus, we need look no further than some of the characters in the Old Testament. Jesus didn’t appear out of nowhere. He has a family history that we can trace through the pages of the Old Testament. Take some time to read through the genealogies in both Matthew and Luke, and read how these individuals played a part in the consummation of the Savior.

Look at it this way: you’re learning about Jesus’ family when you read the Old Testament.

In addition, many Old Testament characters, at moments in their lives, give us glimpses and foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. For example, Isaac was offered as a sacrifice by Abraham, but spared; yet, Jesus was not spared by his father. Jesus is also the greater David and son of David (Solomon). We see him in Joshua as someone who will conquer his foes. And the list goes on.

4. Prophecy

One of the more significant places we find Jesus in the Old Testament is through the medium of prophecy. Through the mouths of his prophets, God told the world that Jesus was coming. When Jesus showed up on the scene there was no question about who he was or claimed to be. There were hundreds of prophecies spoken about him, including where he would be born and the type of death he would die. This is why Simeon and Anna could rejoice when they saw the baby Jesus at his dedication (Luke 2:22ff).

Search the Old Testament prophecies and see how they are fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

5. Proverbs

The Old Testament’s wisdom literature isn’t a place where we often think to look for Jesus, especially a book like Proverbs. Proverbs is a book of one-liners, so how can we possibly learn anything about Jesus? Well, when we look at the book’s subject matter we see it’s a book of wise sayings, many coming from the wisest man to walk the earth (Solomon). We recognize Jesus for his wisdom; and, being God, he is far wiser than Solomon. Thus, Jesus shows us what it means to live according to the sayings found in Proverbs. All the proverbs that talk about living righteously are embodied in Jesus and point to him as our example.

When we walk through a book like this, we can see Jesus’ character at every corner. Even when Proverbs 8 talks about wisdom’s role in creation we get a clear picture of Jesus. He is all over this book.

Jesus on Every Page

When we diligently study the Bible, it becomes easier to find Jesus in every nook and cranny of Scripture. If we look hard enough, we can find Jesus on every page of the Bible.

If you want more ways to find Jesus in the Old Testament I recommend picking up a copy of Jesus on Every Page by David Murray.

Weekly Study Prompts

This week, meditate and journal on the following passages:

  • Monday – Luke 1
  • Tuesday – Luke 2
  • Wednesday – Matthew 1-2
  • Thursday – Mark 1
  • Friday – John 1
  • Memory Verses: John 1:1-2, 14

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