Is Jesus in the Old Testament?

Isaac is a picture of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sin (Genesis 22:1-19):

One of the best pictures of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament is God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. The command to sacrifice Isaac, the solitary ascend by Abraham and his only son to the place of sacrifice, the painful process of binding him and laying him on the altar, Isaac’s willing submission to his father, the last minute intervention from heaven, is a clear picture of Jesus’ sufferings up to His resurrection. (Carson… [et al], 1994:76). From a New Testament perspective, there is more to the sacrifice of Isaac than the supreme example by Abraham to obey God completely (Heb. 11:17-19). It is a picture of our heavenly Father’s sacrificial love. Abraham gave his only son as a sacrifice, and in the same way the Father did not spare His own Son for the world (Rom. 8:32; John 3:16).

The greatest theme of the Bible is about Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. In Genesis 4, we see Abel bringing the first offering of the best of his flock. In Genesis 22, we see how Abraham had to go and offer his own son. In Exodus 12, we saw the Passover lamb to protect the Jews against the death of the first-born. In Isaiah 53, we read about the lamb which was led to be slaughtered. In John 1, we read about the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world. In the final book of the Bible (Revelations 5), we read about the Lion of the tribe of Judah who was slain like a Lamb for the sins of the world. He bought people for God with His blood. The final book of the Bible conclude with praise and glory to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who is worthy to receive all honor as the greatest theme of the Bible.  

In Genesis 22, the words “test” and “love” are used for the first time in the Bible (Johnson, 2007). When we read Matthew, Mark and Luke in the New Testament, the first reference to love is when God the Father announced His love for His son Jesus Christ. In the book of John, the first reference of love is in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is therefore significant to notice that the first incident of love in the Old Testament was about a father who loves his only son. In the New Testament, it was about our Heavenly Father who loved His only son. Our heavenly Father sacrificed His son for us as Abraham had symbolically sacrificed his son. God also provided a replacement for Isaac as foreshadowing to Jesus Christ who was sacrificed in our place.

The Old Testament narrative of Abraham and Isaac is a foreshadow of the New Testament atonement of Jesus Christ as the Son of God the Father (Houdmann, 2009). Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross as the lamb for the sins of humanity. God the Father loved His own son and gave Him, as a sacrifice in our place, just like the ram was offered in Isaac’s place. Abraham loved his son Isaac who was the heir of the covenant promised by God. Jesus said many centuries later, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). Through faith, Abraham saw Jesus Christ in the testing he underwent with the sacrifice of his own son. His faith in God’s promises was reckoned to him as righteousness.

From the Biblical accounts of Isaac and Jesus Christ, there are certain parallels (Houdmann, 2007):

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac” (Gen. 22:2); “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…” (John 3:16).
“…with him, and his son Isaac…” (Gen. 22:2); “he went out, bearing his own cross” (John 19:17). Abraham and his son was on their Via Dolorosa in the same way as God the Father and His son.
“Go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there…” (Gen. 22:2); it is believed that this area is where the city of Jerusalem was built many years later (Johnson, 2007), where Jesus was crucified outside its city walls (Hebrews 13:12).
“Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” (Gen. 22:2); “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
“Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac” (Gen. 22:6); Jesus, “carrying his own cross. . .” (John 19:17).
“But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen 22:7); John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Isaac, the son, acted in obedience to his father in becoming the sacrifice (Gen 22:9); Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
Resurrection – Isaac (figuratively) and Jesus in reality: “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.” (Hebrews 11:17-19); Jesus, “that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4).

The covenant of salvation to the whole world: 

After the testing of Abraham’s faith, God pronounced a covenant with Abraham. This covenant was recorded in Genesis 22:15-18. God swore by Himself to ensure the outcome of this covenant (Gen. 22:15; Heb. 6:13-18). The covenant contains two parts (Crossway, 2010:88). The covenant was for Abraham and all his descendants. This covenant was looking forward to Jesus Christ and the gospel to all the nations (Eph. 3:6; Rom. 4:13-17). Abraham was obedient to God in the call to sacrifice his own son (Gen. 22:16, 17), and in the same way God the Father will send His own Son as a sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 3:16). People from every language, tribe and nation (Rev. 5:6) will also look to Christ in faith, in the same way as Abraham (Gal. 3:8, 9). This faith will be counted to them as righteousness in the same way as Abraham looked forward to Christ. Everyone who believes in Christ, is a descendant of Abraham (Gal. 3:7). In this way, Abraham is blessed and his descendants multiplied as the sand of the see and the stars of the sky (Gen. 22:17).

Secondly, this covenant looked at a Person (offspring) named Jesus Christ and how he will destroy His enemies (Gen. 22:17) and mediate blessing to all the nations of the earth (Gen. 22:18). This offspring is a single person (Gal. 3:16) and a fulfillment of what God promised in Gen. 3:15 (Crossway, 2010:88). The “offspring” of Eve will crush Satan’s head. Genesis traces a single unique offspring which will eventually bring forth a special King, who will rule over Jew and Gentile. Isaac is set apart from Ishmael as Abraham’s heir. The oath to Abraham was fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 3:25–26; Gal. 3:16).

Reference List:

Crossway.  2010.  The ESV Study Bible.  Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles.

Houdmann, S.M.  2009.  Got Questions: Bible Questions Answered – Answers to the Questions People Are Really Asking.  Enumclaw, WA: WinePress Publishing.  Date of access: 20 May 2013.

Johnson, S.L.  2007.  The Old Testament’s Greatest Scene: Genesis 22:1-24.  Dallas, Texas: Believers Chapel.  Date of access: 21 May 2013.

Carson, D.A., France, R.T., Mortyer, J.A., Wenham, G.J., eds.  1994.  New Bible commentary: 21st century edition.  4th ed.  Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Why was it important that Jesus Christ was both God and man?

The humanity and deity of Jesus is equally important. Jesus is firstly the second person of the trinity, which existed with God for all eternity with no beginning and no end. Jesus was equal to God before His incarnation as a man (Phil. 2:6). He did not hold on to His equality with God, but took upon Himself another form (Lloyd-Jones, 2003:Location 4317). He did not empty Himself of His equality with God. Jesus never forsook His status as God when He became a man. He took on another form and was born in the likeness of men (Phill. 2:7). The humanity of Jesus coexists with His deity. This concept is difficult for the human mind to comprehend. It is a Biblical fact that Jesus’ nature is wholly man and wholly God.

The virgin birth of Jesus is proof that He was sinless and God. The prophet Isaiah said that God would give Israel a sign (Is. 7:3). The sign would be a virgin that will bear a son and He will be called Immanuel, which means God with us. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she will bear a son without being with a man (Luke 1:28-38). The baby will be created by the power of the Holy Spirit in her womb, thus ensure His deity and Holiness. God fulfilled the Scriptures in the incarnation of Jesus to reveal Himself to humankind. Paul wrote that God revealed Himself to Israel through prophets, but in these last days revealed Himself in His son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-5). Jesus was the exact radiance and imprint of God. Jesus was also God (Heb. 1:8)

The Bible teaches Jesus Christ is one person with two natures (Lloyd-Jones, 2003:Location 4245). Martin Lloyd-Jones commented on the Chalcedon confession as follows: “Notice that its emphasis is this: one person, two natures, the two natures unmixed, joined but not mixed, not fused,  not intermingled, remaining separate, God and man.”

Jesus had to be born as a human being for several reasons:

1. Jesus had to be born as a human being under the law:

Galatians 4:4-5 state that Jesus had to be born as a human being under the law so that He could redeem those who are under the law. By doing that, we received the full right to become sons and daughters of God. Only a human being could be born under the law. No spiritual being or angelic being or animal is under the law. Only a human being born under the law can redeem another human being born under the law (Houdmann, 2009). Born under the law, all humans are guilty of transgressing the law of God (Exodus 20, Matthew 5- 6). Only a perfect human being with the divine ability to obey every command of God, can redeem those under the law who are guilty of transgressing the law of God. Jesus Christ became a man under the law, lived a sinless life because He was God, and exchanged our sins for His perfect righteousness on the cross (2 Corinthian 5:21). If Jesus was a sinful human like us, born under the law, then He could not redeem us, because then He would have needed a redeemer Himself.

2. The shedding of blood for the remission of sins:

Another reason Jesus had to be fully human is that God established the necessity of the shedding of blood for the remission of sins (Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22). In the Old Testament, God established the slaughter of a lamb without any defect, to be sacrificed for sins (Exodus 12). This was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God that will be sacrificed for our sins (Houdmann, 2009). The blood of animals, although acceptable on a temporary basis as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrifice, were insufficient for the permanent remission of sin, because it was impossible for the blood of animals to take away the penalty and guilt of our sin (Hebrews 10:4). If Jesus did not become a sinless human being, he could not be sacrificed for our sins.  If He came in any other form or in a spiritual form, He could not be sacrificed for a human being’s sin.

3. The humanity of Jesus enables Him to relate to humans:

The humanity of Jesus enabled Him to relate to us in a way angels or animals never could (Houdmann, 2009). Jesus was tempted and suffered like us (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus experienced fear, joy, pain, heartache and various human emotions (John 11:35, Mark 13:34, Luke 10:21), to proof that He is our true high priest in heaven. The Bible says that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, because Jesus was a human being like us, so that we can find help in our difficulties (Hebrews 4:14-16). Jesus was tempted like us, yet did not sin. Through the incarnation of Jesus, we can relate to God who is Spirit. Only a human being can relate to our weaknesses and temptations. In His humanity, Jesus was subjected to the same trials we are. He was tempted. He was persecuted. He was poor. He was despised. He suffered physical pain. He endured the sorrows of a lingering and most cruel death. Only a human being could fully experience these things and only a human being could fully understand them through experience.

4. Jesus became a man to set an example for us to follow:

In 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 21 we read this: “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” Jesus also said in John 13:34-35, that we must love one another as He loved us so that the world can know that we are His disciples. We understand that the life of Christ was an exemplary life. Jesus demonstrated what he expected of His followers, by example. The word disciple mean an active adherent, pupil or professed follower of someone. When Jesus became man, He chose twelve disciples whom He taught and showed how to be followers (disciples) of Him. The apostles could then teach others because they experienced Christ. That is why John could wrote (1 John 1:1-5) that they heard Him, they saw Him, they looked at Him and they touched Him; the Word of Life. John wrote deep experiential detail about the reality of Jesus they witnessed. He could wrote this because they experienced Jesus as a human and as God.

5. The Word became flesh:

The Word became flesh (John 1:1-5). After God spoke out the curse of sin (Gen 3), He promised that a person would come through Eve who will destroy the work of Satan (Gen 3:15). Right through the Old Testament, God spoke of a Messiah who would come and save His people from sin. The perfect Lamb of God that would take their sin upon Himself, would suffer physically, and die for their sin (Isaiah 53). The Bible spoke of Him being raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10). The Bible spoke of Him being glorified as Lord at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1). This spoken word of God became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ. Without the fulfilment of these promises, the spoken word of God, Jesus would remain a philosophy. By becoming a man, Jesus fulfilled all those promises and prophesies. God showed His word is alive and God is real, trustworthy and authentic. The Word truly became flesh and dwelled among us. The Word was in the beginning, the Word created everything and the Word is God.

6. Jesus was the revelation of God in the flesh:

Jesus is the revelation of God in the flesh by His miracles and teachings. He came to do it among us, so people could witness the revelation of the kingdom of God. God Himself revealed the kingdom of God among us. In this sense, Christianity is different from any other religion, as other religions do not have concrete proof of their gods and only remains in ideas and philosophies.

The miracles of Jesus was much more than just proof of who He was. The miracles of Jesus was part of the revelation and are a means of revelation (Williams, 2000:68). When Jesus said, “I am the light”, He proceeded to open the eyes of a blind man (John 9:5-7). God demonstrated through the deity and humanity of Jesus, on earth who He is. The virgin birth (Luke 1:26-35, Matt. 1:18-25) and resurrection (Luke 24:6-7) of Jesus which were part of his humanity and deity, were the essential revelations of Jesus as God in the flesh.

7. Jesus experienced death in our place:

The penalty for sin is death. Jesus then experienced death in our place. He conquered death and was the first human being to be raised from the dead. Jesus overcame death so that those who believe in Him can be raised from the dead as well (1 Cor. 15:20-23).

8. Jesus redeemed us from Adam:

Jesus had to become man to redeem us from Adam. Sin, mortality and death entered the world through Adam (1 Cor. 15:22). Adam’s sin cursed nature. Adam transferred sin and death to every human being (Rom. 5:12-21). Adam’s one act of disobedience brought sin and death over humankind. Jesus came in the form of Adam and by His one act of obedience, many are made alive (Rom. 5:18-21).


Jesus could only perform all these righteous deeds to redeem us from our fallen state if He was sinless human being and God. He must have had the power to endure temptation and not sin. He must have obeyed the law and met the righteous requirements of God. He must have taken the form of sinful man upon Himself and overcome it. He must have died on the cross without sin, while taking our sins to the cross.  He paid for our sins while He himself was not guilty. He rose from the dead to proof that God accepts His sacrifice on our behalf, and that He was what He said. Jesus could only do all of that because He was fully God and fully man.

Once a person is saved are they always saved?

Once a person is saved are they always saved? When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their salvation as eternally secure. Numerous passages of Scripture declare this fact.
(a) Romans 8:30 declares, “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.” This verse tells us that from the moment God chooses us, it is as if we are glorified in His presence in heaven. There is nothing that can prevent a believer from one day being glorified because God has already purposed it in heaven. Once a person is justified, his salvation is guaranteed – he is as secure as if he is already glorified in heaven.
(b) Paul asks two crucial questions in Romans 8:33-34 “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? No one will, because Christ is our advocate. Who will condemn us? No one will, because Christ, the One who died for us, is the one who condemns. We have both the advocate and judge as our Savior.
(c) Believers are born again (regenerated) when they believe (John 3:3; Titus 3:5). For a Christian to lose his salvation, he would have to be un-regenerated. The Bible gives no evidence that the new birth can be taken away.
(d) The Holy Spirit indwells all believers (John 14:17; Romans 8:9) and baptizes all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). For a believer to become unsaved, he would have to be “un-indwelt” and detached from the Body of Christ.
(e) John 3:15 states that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If you believe in Christ today and have eternal life, but lose it tomorrow, then it was never “eternal” at all. Hence if you lose your salvation, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.
(f) For the most conclusive argument, Scripture says it best itself, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Remember the same God who saved you is the same God who will keep you. Once we are saved we are always saved. Our salvation is most definitely eternally secure!
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What is general revelation and special revelation?

Heb 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Heb 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Heb 1:4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Heb 1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?
Heb 1:6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
Heb 1:7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”
Heb 1:8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
Heb 1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

General revelation and special revelation are the two ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

In regard to general revelation, Psalm 19:1-4 declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” According to this passage, God’s existence and power can be clearly seen through observing the universe. The order, intricacy, and wonder of creation speak to the existence of a powerful and glorious Creator.

General revelation is also taught in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Like Psalm 19,Romans 1:20teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.”

Special revelation is how God has chosen to reveal Himself through miraculous means. Special revelation includes physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ. The Bible records God appearing in physical form many times (Genesis 3:8,18:1;Exodus 3:1-4,34:5-7), and the Bible records God speaking to people through dreams (Genesis 28:12,37:5;1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) and visions (Genesis 15:1;Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7;2 Corinthians 12:1-7).

Of primary importance in the revealing of God is His Word, the Bible, which is also a form of special revelation. God miraculously guided the authors of Scripture to correctly record His message to mankind, while still using their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God determined to have the truth regarding Him recorded in written form because He knew the inaccuracy and unreliability of oral tradition. He also understood that the dreams and visions of man can be misinterpreted. God decided to reveal everything that humanity needs to know about Him, what He expects, and what He has done for us in the Bible.

The ultimate form of special revelation is the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1,14).Hebrews 1:1-3summarizes it best, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to identify with us, to set an example for us, to teach us, to reveal Himself to us, and, most importantly, to provide salvation for us by humbling Himself in death on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus Christ is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.

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Spiritual resurrection

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  (Eph 2:1)

The state of a person before he is born again, is spiritually dead, darkness and incapable of any spiritual life on its own. He is a slave to sin and controlled by his nature which is sinful at that time. It is from this state of darkness and death, that the Holy Spirit open our eyes and give us life in the inner being. We then see our sin and we see Jesus Christ.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  (John 3:3)

Please note the words “see the kingdom of God” in John 3:3. Without regeneration, a person will not see Jesus and thus see the kingdom. He will not understand it. He will not understand the Bible. He will be blind to the truths about God.

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  (John 3:5, ESV)

The second thing that happen when you are born again, is that you enter the kingdom of God. You become part of it. You become a heavenly citizen. You share in the devine life of the kingdom of God. It come and live in you. The Holy Spirit take up residence in you. He start controlling your life and actions. You see and feel different. You start seeing sin. You experience conviction of sin. You start to see the deep things of God.

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.  (1Cor 2:10-12, ESV)

Below is an extract from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon which explains this very idea.

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1

Suggested Further Reading: Colossians 2:9-14

Does it not seem a strange thing, that you, who have walked to this place this morning, shall be carried to
your graves; that the eyes with which you now behold me shall soon be glazed in everlasting darkness; that the tongues, which just now moved in song, shall soon be silent lumps of clay; and that your strong and stalwart frame, now standing in this place, will soon be unable to move a muscle, and become a loathsome thing, the brother of the worm and the sister of corruption? You can scarcely get hold of the idea; death does such awful work with us, it is such a vandal with this mortal fabric, it so rends to pieces this fair thing that God has built up, that we can scarcely bear to contemplate his works of ruin. Now, endeavour, as well as you can, to get the idea of a dead corpse, and when you have done so, please to understand, that this is the metaphor employed in my text, to set forth the condition of your soul by nature. Just as the body is dead, incapable, unable, unfeeling, and soon about to become corrupt and putrid, so are we if we be unquickened by divine grace; dead in trespasses and sins, having within us death, which is capable of developing itself in worse and worse stages of sin and wickedness, until all of us here, left by God’s grace, should become loathsome beings; loathsome through sin and wickedness, even as the corpse through natural decay. Understand, that the doctrine of the Holy Scripture is, that man by nature, since the fall, is dead; he is a corrupt and ruined thing; in a spiritual sense, utterly and entirely dead. And if any of us shall come to spiritual life, it must be by the quickening of God’s Spirit, given to us sovereignly through the good will of God the Father, not for any merits of our own, but entirely of his own abounding and infinite grace.

For meditation: Have you passed from death to life by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:24)? Better to be a nobody alive in Christ than a king dead in trespasses and sins (Ecclesiastes 9:4).

Sermon no. 127
12 April (Easter 1857)