Many Christians believe that the Old Testament is no longer relevant for them. They presume, because we are partakers of the “New Covenant” (Jeremiah 31), the Old Testament has become invalid. They couldn’t be more wrong! But they confuse Old Testament with Old Covenant. These are two different things!
Yes, as believers in Jesus, we are included in the New Covenant (and not the Old Covenant) but God’s word is unchanging and everlasting (see also Isaiah 40:8, Matthew 24:35). The Old Testament, also known as Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, continues to be God’s eternal word.
Where is Jesus in the Old Testament?
Even Jesus himself and the Apostles affirmed the continued validity of the Hebrew Scriptures (in Hebrew “Tanakh”). By quoting countless passages from the Old Testament, they affirmed that the Hebrew Scriptures are the foundation of everything they taught themselves. The Old Testament underlines the credibility of Jesus, the Gospel and the entire New Testament.
Jesus said in Luke 24:44 that he had to fulfill what Moses (the Torah), the Prophets and the Psalms (the poetry books) wrote about him. And this is what many Christians miss: Jesus is the focus of the Old Testament. Every book of the Old Testament points to him. So how can anyone claim it has become invalid?
What Old Testament scriptures point to Jesus?
Every book of the Old Testament points to a future Messiah, a future King of Israel. Jesus is hinted at in the first verses of Genesis, when God created heaven and earth.
Jesus is found in the feasts of Israel which all point to God’s plan of world redemption.
- The Passover lamb is a type of Jesus and its blood protected the Israelites from certain death.
- The giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt Sinai point towards the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out and God inscribed his law on our hearts.
Jesus is also found in people on the Old Testament whose life mirrors his. We call these “types of Christ”. Moses is such a type of Christ.
What does Tanakh mean?
The Hebrew word for the Old Testament is Tanakh. It is an acronym of the words Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, which reflects the order of the Hebrew Bible.
Torah, lit. “instruction”, corresponds to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.
Nevi’im, lit. “prophets”, are the prophets (except Daniel), plus the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings.
Ketuvim, lit. “writings”, are all other books, most prominently the Psalms, but also Daniel, Ruth, Esther, Ezra, Lamentations and 1 and 2 Chronicles.
When Jesus says in Luke 24:44 that he had to fulfill what Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms wrote about him, he was referring to the Tanakh, in the above state order.
Jesus’ reference to religious but ungodly leaders perecuting God’s prophets (Luke 11:51) also has the Tanakh in mind. Abel was killed in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Tanakh. Zechariah was killed in 2 Chronicles, which is the last book of the Hebrew Bible.
Find Jesus in the Old Testament
- Jesus is our PassoverThe lamb the Israelites slaughtered in the night of the Exodus was an image pointing to the true Lamb that was to come – Jesus our Passover.
- Moses: A type of ChristAll the books of the Torah point to Jesus. Moses himself is a type of Christ and there a countless parallels between Moses and Jesus.
- The messianic meaning of ShavuotOn Shavuot, God made a covenant with Israel at Mt Sinai. In Jeremiah 31 we read of the messianic meaning of this Biblical feast.
- Yom Kippur: He bore the sins of many.On Yom Kippur, the High Priest chose a goat to carry the sins of the people into the wilderness. Isaiah 53 tells us that one day, God will put our sin on the true scapegoat who will bear our sin.
- Who is a God like ours? The meaning of Rosh haShanaRosh haShana is one of the High Holidays in the Jewish calendar. For Christians it is of interest to know that Rosh haShana points to Jesus our Messiah and his Second Coming.
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