An important aspect of understanding the Bible is understanding it as a story. One crucial aspect of understanding this story is how the story’s hero — Jesus Christ — relates to certain figures, events, and institutions in the Old Testament. Without understanding how these figures ultimately point to Christ, you’ll miss out on a wealth of Bible understanding. How exactly do certain Old Testament realities point to Jesus?
Recently, I was looking through some of my notes from Tim Keller’s book, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism. In the book, he argues that preachers should “preach Christ in every major figure of the Bible.”
He adds, “all anointed leaders in the Bible — every prophet, priest, king, and judge who bring about ‘salvation’ or deliverance or redemption of any kind or level — are pointers to Christ . . .”
Keller outlines a few of these figures and how they point to Christ, which you can find below:
The Bible is about Jesus
Jesus is the true and better Adam, who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us (1 Corinthians 15).
Jesus is the true and better Abel, who, though innocently slain, has blood that cries out for our acquittal, not our condemnation (Hebrews 12:24).
Jesus is the true and better Abraham, who answered the call of God to leave the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void “not knowing whither he went” to create a new people of God.
Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us all. God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love, from me.” Now we can say to God, “Now we know that you love us, because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love, from us.”
Jesus is the true and better Jacob, who wrestled with God and took the blow of justice we deserved so that we, like Jacob, receive only the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.
Jesus is the true and better Joseph, who at the right hand of the King forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.
Jesus is the true and better Moses, who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant (Hebrews 3).
Jesus is the true and better rock of Moses, who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.
Jesus is the true and better Job — the truly innocent sufferer — who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends (Job 42).
Jesus is the true and better David, whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.
Jesus is the true and better Esther, who didn’t just risk losing an earthly palace but lost the ultimate heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life but gave his life — to save his people.
Jesus is the true and better Jonah, who was cast out in the storm so we can be brought in.
True & Better Video
I love how Tim Keller points us to Jesus from the Old Testament. If you want to view this idea from Keller in video format, you can do so here:
In Christopher Wright’s book, How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth, Wright also points us to this idea. Apparently, those who write books on preaching want to make sure we get this point right!
In the book, Wright shows how various Old Testament realities point us to Christ. It looks a little something like this:
Creation -> Jesus is the Word of God through whom all things were created.
Exodus -> Jesus is the one who defeats all oppressing powers and liberates people from slavery.
Gift of land -> Jesus is our inheritance and grants “rest” from enemies.
Anointed Kind David -> Jesus is the anointed messianic King, son of David.
Return from exile -> Jesus brings forgiveness, restoration to God, and a new covenant.
Adam -> Jesus is the perfect image of God.
Noah -> Jesus rescues from judgment.
Abraham -> Jesus lived in perfect faith and obedience.
Melchizedek/Aaron -> Jesus is the perfect High Priest.
Moses -> Jesus is the liberator of his people and the mediator of the new covenant.
Joshua -> Jesus (the Greek form of Joshua) is the Savior and leader of his people.
David and Solomon -> Jesus is God’s anointed King.
Esther -> Jesus is the one who saved his people, at the risk/cost of his own life.
Passover -> Jesus is the sacrificial lamb whose blood protects from death.
Temple, priesthood, sacrifices -> Jesus is the “place” through whom we have perfect atonement, forgiveness, and access to God’s presence.
Jubilee -> Jesus brings release and restoration for those enslaved.
The Bible is truly amazing. The more you realize how the Scriptures point to the Savior, the more your love for him will grow.
You may also like:
- 25 Bible Reading Tips
- Is the Old Testament Still Relevant Today
- The Best Bible Reading Advice I’ve Ever Received