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Jesus said that the Old Testament scriptures “are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
As we read the Old Testament we should be looking for pictures of Christ. One picture of Christ is in the lives of Abraham and his son Isaac in Genesis 22. God told Abraham to take his son to a mountain and sacrifice him there. Abraham brought Isaac to the mount, laid him on an altar, and took a knife to kill him, but God then told him not to hurt Isaac. Abraham noticed a ram caught in a thicket, which he offered to God instead of Isaac. God had provided a substitute for Isaac.
God the Father is pictured here by Abraham, and Jesus is pictured by Isaac. As Isaac allowed Abraham to lay him on an altar, so Jesus allowed God to put him on the cross.
Unlike Abraham, God did not spare his only son at Calvary, but through his death Christ has become our substitute, taking God’s wrath against sinful mankind upon himself.
Another picture of Christ in Genesis is found in the life of Joseph. Joseph was rejected by his brothers because he was loved by his father, and because they were angry that his dreams indicated he would rule over them. They sent him into slavery in Egypt, where he was jailed for a crime he never committed, but God delivered him and caused him to rule Egypt. He fed the world during a long famine and became reconciled to his brothers.
Jesus Christ was loved by his heavenly father but rejected by many of his fellow countrymen who resented his claims, power, and teaching. He allowed himself to be condemned and then crucified as if he were an evildoer, but God raised him from the dead and exalted him to his right hand in heaven. One day he will return to rule this world in peace and righteousness, and the Jewish nation will receive him as their messiah.
A third picture of Christ is the passover lamb in Exodus. As the Jewish people prepared to leave Egypt, God commanded their families to kill an unblemished lamb and then smear its blood on the doorposts of their homes. They were to roast and then hastily eat the lamb along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread on the same night they left Egypt.
At midnight God passed through Egypt and slew all the Egyptian firstborn sons, but he spared the firstborn sons in all the Jewish homes that had smeared lambs’ blood on their doorposts. The Jews were commanded to celebrate the Passover every year from then on.
The Passover feast is a beautiful picture of Christ our passover lamb, who has been “sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). We deserve to suffer God’s wrath for our sins, but Christ suffered our punishment at Calvary.
As the Jews put blood on their doorposts, those who believe in Christ have accepted his shed blood as payment for their sins, and as a result they are safe from God’s wrath.
Believers in Christ are to live blamelessly in sincerity and truth, free from the “leaven” of malice and wickedness.
As you read the Bible, keep looking for pictures of Jesus.
Bob Lanning is pastor of Cornerstone Bible Church