Jesus Christ: Prefigured and Prophesied
Last week I finished my opening argument with a reference to Genesis:
The LORD God made garments from skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
This is Christianity’s foundation teaching:
- Sin deserves death
- Sacrifice offers a covering for sin
- Only God can provide a sin-covering sacrifice; a sacrifice which is “other than God”
The OT repeats three principles constantly. They underpin the entire Law of Moses, which underpins NT atonement theology. It is essential to understand these principles and recognise how they were fulfilled by Christ, as they inform our understanding of his identity and purpose. The OT was a guidebook pointing forward to Christ (Galatians 3:24); thus any interpretation contradicting the OT’s view of Christ must be rejected.
The OT refers to Christ in two ways: typology (symbolism) and prophecy. As Rob and I both agree Jesus appears in prophecy, I’ll look closely at the typology and its implications for NT Christology:
- Atoning sacrifice for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21)
- Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18; cp. Hebrews 5:10, 7:1-10, 9:11)
- Ram sacrificed by Abraham (Genesis 22:11-13)
- Passover lamb (Exodus 12; cp. John 1:29, I Peter 1:19, Revelation 5:6)
- Sin offering for high priest & (Leviticus 4)
- Brass serpent on pole (Numbers 21:8-9; cp. John 3:14)
- Joseph (Genesis 37-41)
- Boaz (Ruth 2-4)
- King David (I Samuel 17-I Kings 2)
- King Solomon (I Kings 4-I Kings 11)
Jesus is represented in four primary roles: (a) sacrifice for sin, (b) priest; (c) redeemer; (d) divinely anointed king in King David’s family line. As the Jewish Messiah he incorporates all four roles, none of which requires him to be God, and two (sacrifice for sin and descendent of King David) requiring he is not God.
Jesus Christ: Predestined, not Pre-existent
The connections between typology and prophecy in Jewish religious interpretation and ideas of prefiguration and predestination cannot be overlooked; thus, if God says something, it is as good as done, a prophecy uttered is as good as fulfilled, a promise made is as good as kept. If God determines to create something at a future date, it can be described as existing already. Likewise, the subject of a typological reference can be said to have “existed” in the past via a figurative reference made before their literal existence (e.g. I Corinthians 10:4, 9, “For they were all drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ … Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents”).
We find examples in the Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 39b:
Seven things were created before the world, viz., The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah. The Torah, for it is written, The Lord possessed me [the Torah] in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. Repentance, for it is written, Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world … Thou turnest man to destruction, and sayest, Repent, ye sons of men.
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