“The Jesus Mission” in the Old Testament

John Calvin once wrote, “The Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them. Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, he will never [understand the Scriptures].”  Divorcing the life, personhood, and mission of Jesus from any story, prophecy, psalm, law, or narrative in the Old Testament would be an immense hermeneutical Jesus - Christ_Mosaicblunder.  Through the lens of the New Testament we can many foreshadowings of Christ – e.g., we can see Christ’s kingdom, sufferings and glory foretold through the prophets, we can see Christ’s sacrifice in the Hebrew sacrificial system, we can see Christ’s perfection and life in the law, and we can see Christ’s wisdom and truth, as well his grace and warmth in the poetic writings.

The “Jesus Mission” is the Old Testament’s running theme and purpose - the plan of God to make right and correct the wayward world.  Throughout the writings of the Old Testament we see the hope of Christ, the One appointed by God to crush evil and sufferings – to put an end to sin and all its horrible ramifications. 

This plan is first revealed in Genesis 3:15 where God promises to put an end to the rebellion and perverted-nature of sin by crushing the serpent's head through the seed of the woman.  And thus begins the line of Christ, “the seed of promise.”  This line (Gen. 11) can be traced to Abraham when God makes a covenant promising that through Abraham “all the peoples on the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 11:3) and that kings (a kingdom of blessing) would come through him (Gen. 17).  The line of Christ (“the seed of promise”) continues from Abraham, to his son Isaac, and from Isaac to his son Jacob.  In Genesis 25, Jacob is chosen/favored by God not because he was better than his older brother, Esau, or because God was arbitrarily choosing one person over another.  It was the promise of Christ in Jacob that God favored, for Jacob, not Esau, was going to be in the line of Christ. 

God promised the continuation of the blessing and promise of Christ to Jacob in Genesis 35, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” When it came time for Jacob’s passing, he blessed all 12 of his children (from whom the 12 tribes of Israel would later be derived); but we see the promise of a unique blessing given to Judah and his descendants, namely, the promise of a future kingdom - “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his” (Gen. 49:10).  The line of this promised seed continues on to David and where the idea of the scepter not departing from Judah’s hand is carried forward. The promise of a lasting dynasty for David (2 Sam. 7:16) becomes the expectation that a final heir of his line will one day arise, in the latter days take his “Davidic Throne,” and lead his people in the great task of bringing light to the Gentiles and bringing blessing to entire world (Ps. 2:8; 72:8–11, 17 [using Gen. 22:18]; Isa. 9:6–7; 11:1–10).

Of course, Jesus Christ is revealed in the New Testament as the fulfillment of these Old Testament anticipations. He is revealed as a worldwide savior, inaugurating and ruling over a kingdom of peace, justice, healing, and victory over all (e.g.,  John 1:9; Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Col. 1:13-15; Rev. 21:1-8).

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” ~ Revelation 7:9-10

Every Old Testament story, every prophecy, every ancestry lineage and genealogy…everything reveals God’s marvelous agenda which he had planned before the dawn of life – “The Jesus Mission” (Eph. 1:1-14).

The reality of this promise should bring such rich encouragement and immense purpose to our lives!  God had planned all along for us to be with him and through “The Jesus Mission” (which is the Gospel) God has made it all possible.  May the reality of this promise and hope define our lives!  May it begin to filter into every nook and cranny of our being and make us completely his.

What can separate us from the love of Christ?  ...not trouble, not hatred, not hunger, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.…  Praise God.