The longer I actively live for Christ the more the Old Testament grows dear to me. And the more I read the New Testament the more I see connections with the Old. Various New Testament writers look to the Old Testament to explain Jesus, and refer to Jesus to explain the Old Testament.
Through Jesus we find Old Testament theology confirmed, its prophecy fulfilled, history reread through the proper lens, people expanded, and religion renewed. Matthew looked at Isaiah’s prophecies, John looked to Moses’ words, Stephen referred to Abraham and the temple, Paul drew from Old Testament prophecy about the ingrafting of the Gentiles, and the author of Hebrews cited the Psalms.
As I read through the Bible repeatedly, I see more and more connection between the two testaments, and God’s word comes to life and changes me. There are over 300 prophecies, written 250 years before Jesus’ arrival on earth, which refer to his birth, ministry, death and resurrection, and his role in the church. The following ten fulfilled prophecies listed refer to the work of Jesus’ ministry.
2. Jesus as the Perfect Sacrifice
In Leviticus, the list of laws, sacrifices, and the process to move from an unclean to a clean state grow weighty. It makes me thankful for the prophecy in Exodus 12:5 and Psalm 40:6-8 and its fulfillment in Hebrews 9:14 and 10:5-10 about Jesus as the perfect sacrifice. The law highlights an inability to live a blameless life and to experience a holy relationship with God.
However, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice to take away the temporary covering that those offerings provided. No longer will repeated sacrifices have to stand in the place for our sinful state, but one man, one God-man, sacrificed himself once and for all for the benefit of you and me.
3. Jesus Humbled to Serve
Jesus, our ultimate example of servanthood, lived, breathed, sweated, grew, and learned the same way we do. God, dependent on two humans for life and sustenance, humbled himself and left his heavenly majesty to love and live among us. Jesus revealed the Father’s heart to serve his people and taught us the importance of serving each other. He washed his disciples’ feet, met the needs of those around him, and in his humility received his crown of glory and honor as he died and rose again. We find this prophecy in Psalm 8:5-6 and the fulfillment in Hebrews 2:5-9.
4. Jesus Would Preach Righteousness to the Israelites
In Psalm 40:9, we find the Old Testament prophecy that Jesus came to preach righteousness to the Israelites, and we find its fulfillment in Matthew 4:17. The Lord wants the Israelites to understand that his righteousness comes through belief. According to Romans 10:1-4, the Israelites sought to establish their own righteousness rather than submit to God’s, and although they served God with zeal, their hearts were far from him.
If you read through the Old Testament, you find that the Israelites struggled with faithfulness towards God. It didn’t take them long to turn to idol worship, often requiring devastating circumstances to redirect their attention to the state of their hearts. Jesus came so that they might submit to God’s righteousness through belief.
5. Jesus Would Teach in Stories that Would Fall on Deaf Ears
How many times do we need something repeated? Psalms 78:1-2 shares the prophecy that Jesus’ teaching would fall on deaf ears, and we find that fulfillment in Matthew 13:34-35. We can be told the same thing over and over again, but still not hear the intended message. Our preconceived notions, sin-driven filter, or a hardened heart can cause us to miss the truth behind the grace Jesus brings. Jesus wove his messages through story so that we would dig for truth as for hidden treasure.
6. A Stone that Causes People to Stumble
We attempt to regulate grace because it’s a concept that’s so foreign to our works-based mentality. Jesus is the stone that people stumble upon as Isaiah 8:14 prophesied because we struggle receiving an undeserved gift. Instinctively, due to our finite, flawed nature, we know we don’t deserve unmerited favor. We long for it, but we struggle to receive it.
To be born again fully formed, is, as Nicodemus stated, impossible until we realize it’s a heart renewal: our stone hearts exchanged for new hearts. Sin hardens us and when we refuse to receive God’s salvation through believing in Jesus, we stumble, as Peter references the fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy in 1 Peter 2:7-8.
7. Jesus Draws Gentiles to Himself
Jesus came to draw all men to him as we find prophesied in Isaiah 11:10 and fulfilled in John 12:18-21. Isn’t it wonderful that God doesn’t play favorites? He embraces all for he created all. He chose the Israelites to demonstrate his love, care and power to the surrounding nations, but he also chooses us. Our God is not an exclusive God, but an inclusive one. Jesus is the way to know Him, and all who come to God by way of Jesus get to know God’s heart for us. It’s beautiful to know that we were made for relationship, and that He longs for us to draw near to him.
8. Jesus Would Have a Miraculous Ministry
The forerunner to Christ, John the Baptist, cleared the way for the Messiah. While John languished in prison, he sent word to Jesus, asking if he was the one to come. What prompted John to ask this question? John was the man who, as an unborn baby, leapt in his mother’s womb when he heard Mary’s voice. This man who lived a desert life – a life outside societal norms, a life of prophecy – needed reassurance that his suffering was not in vain.
In a world filled with anguish, disease, and pain, Jesus answered John with the words of Isaiah’s prophecy from Isaiah 33:5-6 and its fulfillment in Matthew 11:2-6: the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the good news is preached. Miracle after miracle marked Jesus’ ministry.
9. Jesus Came to Set Captives Free
Our natural selves lean towards bondage. We wrestle with our flesh, pride, idols, gossip, and anything that we love more than the Lord. Captivity is the anti-thesis to freedom, but we think freedom means that we get to live life how we want. Yet that leads us to fall into the insidious trap of doing what is right in our own eyes. Jesus came to set us free from our sin, pride, unholy ambitions, fears, and skewed perspectives. You no longer have to live in bondage as Isaiah 61:1 prophesied, for you find it fulfilled in Luke 4:16-21. You’ve been set free. Run in freedom. Live for God, not yourself. Your freedom is for Christ’s sake—steward it well.
10. Jesus’ Everlasting Throne
In a world of inconsistencies, constancy seems unimaginable. My midwestern weather has been vacillating between teasing me with spring and torturing me with frigid windchill. People take sides and cast more judgement instead of extending compassion. Churches forget that it’s not about our desires as individuals as much as it’s about corporately declaring and living for Christ.
But in Daniel 7:13-14 we find Christ portrayed as the everlasting ruler with its fulfillment in Luke 1:31-33. Jesus’s reign never ends. He is consistently constant. And in that, we find peace and everlasting comfort.
The Old Testament testifies to the coming of Christ, and we find the story of grace and love woven throughout like a gossamer thread. May God reveal himself to you as you read the Word of God. Rely on the Holy Spirit to illuminate and make known his heart.
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