Christ in the Old Testament scriptures

“Search the scriptures... they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).

These “scriptures” which Jesus was encouraging the Jews to study were the sacred writings of the Old Testament. Its 39 books were compiled over the course of 1100 years and were completed some 400 years before Jesus commenced His earthly ministry.

Three Main Divisions

The Old Testament has three distinct categories.

It should be noted that Christ is the heart of the Old Testament, just as He is of the New.

Each book focuses on Him, exactly as He explained to His disciples in Luke 24:44: “... All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses [the Historical section], and in the prophets [Prophetical], and in the psalms [Poetical], concerning Me” (cf. Luke 24:27, Acts 10:43, Revelation 19:10).

1 – The Historical Books

These writings, that lay the Foundation for the coming of Christ, can be further divided into two sections:

The books of the law (Genesis to Deuteronomy).

Here God chooses and brings into being the nation of Israel. As God’s chosen people, Israel become the custodians of the Old Testament, the recipients of the covenants of promise, and the channel of Messiah (Romans 3:2; 9:1-5).

These first five books reveal Christ:


Immediately after the fall in Genesis, the promise of a Saviour is given in the seed of the woman (3:15). A further announcement concerning Messiah’s coming and ultimate victory appears at the end of the book (49:10).

One of the clearest prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament appears in Deuteronomy 18:15, where His prophetic office is outlined.


Several characters typify the Saviour, most notably:

and, of course, Moses. He is the only figure other than Christ to fill all three of the offices of prophet (Deuteronomy 34:10-12), priest (Exodus 32:31-35), and king (although Moses was not king, he functioned as ruler of Israel; Deuteronomy 33:4-5).

Christ is also presented to us through a variety of distinctive ceremonies and objects.

There are no clearer portraits of Christ and His crucifixion than in:

Others include:

(b) The rest of the Historical books (Joshua - Esther) chart 800 years in the life of the nation of Israel.

These twelve books detail the conquest of Canaan, the reigns of the judges, the establishment of kings, the division of Israel into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, the fall of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria, the exile of the Southern Kingdom into Babylon, and the return to Jerusalem under the leadership of men like Nehemiah and Ezra.

Examples of how these books prepare us for the coming of Christ include:

2 – The Poetical Books

The Poetical section is much smaller, consisting of just five books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.

These books portray real human experience, grapple with profound problems, and express big realities. They especially concern themselves with the experiences of the godly in the changing circumstances of life. Concentrating on the longings of the human heart, these poetical writings reveal the Aspiration for Christ.

The following list serves as an overall guide to the Christ-centred aspirations of the poetical books:

3 – The Prophetical Books

The seventeen books in this section (Isaiah to Malachi) are classified in our English Bible as the Prophets.

Mostly because of their size, the Prophets are subdivided into the Major Prophets (the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel), and the twelve Minor Prophets (Hosea to Malachi).

Each of these prophets fulfilled the role of preachers, expounding the Mosaic Law to the nation and sounding the trumpet of warning against apostasy, and predictors, announcing coming judgment, deliverance, and events relating to the Messiah and His kingdom.

This third group of Old Testament books focuses on the Expectation of Christ.

Isaiah’s treatment of the coming Messiah deserves particular attention. No book of the Old Testament presents a portrait of Christ that is as complete and comprehensive as does Isaiah.

Isaiah portrays Messiah in:

Little wonder Isaiah is described as, “the evangelical prophet.”

The messages of the other prophets may be summarised as:

This then prepares the way for the bodily appearance of Christ who had been typified and anticipated for centuries - and sets the stage for the apostles to witness to His light, warmth and quickening power.


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