At first glance, the Old Testament just seems to be the history and stories of some fascinating people from ancient times. But it is much more than that. It is the detailed record of God’s unfolding plan to send Jesus to walk on earth and live a perfect, sinless life, and then die on a cross for the sins of the world.
The double-take value comes in when you realize that certain people, events, and practices recorded in the Old Testament serve as hints, clues, and pre-illustrations of the life of Jesus. These are sometimes called a “type” of Christ. In the Bible, a “type” is something that points to a future event and spiritual reality, either by similarity or by contrast. If there were just a handful of them, you could pass it off as coincidence. However the truth is that the Old Testament is filled with types that ultimately point to Christ. This is strong testimony as to the divine origin of the Bible, and more than that: to the divine identity Jesus Christ.
The first Old Testament type of Christ is in Genesis 1:26 when we learn of the creation of the first man, Adam. Just a few verses later, we read of the first sin as Adam disobeyed a direct command from God. As a result of his sin, death entered into the human race. Although we are not personally guilty of Adam’s sin, we are still under the consequences of his sin: death.
The New Testament book of Romans makes an interesting statement about Adam when it says that, “Adam was like the One who was coming in the future” (Romans 5:14, NIV). As you read the following verses, notice how the One who was coming brought a blessing, not a curse. Notice also what the similarities and/or differences are between Adam and Jesus.
15But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adam's sin. That one sin brought death to many others. Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God's gift of kindness to many people. 16There is a lot of difference between Adam's sin and God's gift. That one sin led to punishment. But God's gift made it possible for us to be acceptable to him, even though we have sinned many times. 17Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned. But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done. God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus. And so we will live and rule like kings. 18Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned. But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life. 19Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners. But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God. 20The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God's kindness was even more powerful. 21Sin ruled by means of death. But God's kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life. Romans 5:15-21 (NCV)
45The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 47Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48Every human being has an earthly body just like Adam’s, but our heavenly bodies will be just like Christ’s. 49Just as we are now like Adam, the man of the earth, so we will someday be like Christ, the man from heaven. I Corinthians 15:45, 47-49 (NLT)Notice some of the differences between Adam and Jesus. Adam avoided taking responsibility for his sin by blaming his wife. Speaking of Jesus, the Bible says that although “he committed no sin … he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:22, 23, NIV). I n other words, Jesus took personal responsibility for the sins of others. What a contrast.
When the moment of truth came, Adam chose to hide from God rather than be confronted with the truth. However the Bible records that when a mob of soldiers came to arrest Jesus and take him away to be crucified, Jesus stepped forward (John 18:4) and offered himself up for the sins of the world.
Adam and Jesus were alike in some ways, also. Neither Adam nor Jesus had a physical, earthly father. Their Father was God himself. Both Adam and Jesus came into the world without the stain of sin.
Well, not only is Adam a type of Christ, so is Moses and King David, Joseph and Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and many others. You can’t help but to have a double-take as you read through the Old Testament. Time and again Jesus is being represented through people, places, things, and events.
Now here is one final thought. In Genesis, God starts with nothing and makes something great. Out of nothing, God crated the universe and called it “good.” After Adam and Eve rebelled and sin and corruption entered into the world, Genesis 3:15 records the promise of God of one who would destroy the work of the serpent. That One was Jesus Christ. God went to a man named Abram, who was just an ordinary man. And because of God’s work in his life, Abraham’s story is known throughout the world still to this day. Joseph was young and despised by his brothers. He was sold into slavery and forgotten as though dead. However, God did not forget. He had other plans for Joseph and caused him to rise to great heights as the second in command throughout the ancient empire of Egypt. Through Joseph, countless people were spared of death by a famine.
God is in the business of taking nothing and making something great. He has not changed. He is not only able to do the same for you, but he desires to do so. The question for us is this: will we open our lives up to God’s leading and allow him to create in us something great?