Jesus – The Great and Better Israel

Since our book study on the Old Testament so nicely coincides with the Christmas season, I thought it would be beneficial to show you some things I have been learning about Jesus in the New Testament in particular and how they relate to the Old Testament in general.  We will learn through the book study of the OT that one of its main purposes, if not the main purpose, is to point the nation of Israel (and us today) to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.  As the Jesus Storybook Bible says it, “Every story whispers His name.”  As it relates to Christmas, we’ll look at a few of the direct prophecies fulfilled through Christ’s birth and then I’ll point out a few things from Jesus’ early years up through the beginning of his ministry that parallel the OT and the Israel.  Hopefully, when we’re done, you’ll have a new appreciation for the OT and how we today can get more out of it than just laws and genealogies. 

Take some time to look these verses up:

  • OT Prophecy – Born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14
  • NT Fulfillment – Matthew 1:20-23
  • OT Prophecy – Born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:1-2
  • NT Fulfillment – Matthew 2:1-6
  • OT Prophecy – Born through the line of David – Jeremiah 23:5
  • NT Fulfillment – Luke 1:32-33
  • OT Prophecy – Messiah would be of the tribe of Judah – Genesis 49:10
  • NT Fulfillment – Matthew 1:2-3 (the genealogy of Jesus)

And there are probably 100 other Messianic prophecies. that is, prophecies directly fulfilled through Jesus.  Those listed above are just a handful of commonly known prophecies that we are all probably aware of.  The one I thought was really cool was this one…

  • OT Prophecy – Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”
  • NT Fulfillment – Matthew 2:14-15, “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.  And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son.’”

On the surface this doesn’t seem like a direct prophecy in Hosea concerning Jesus.  Hosea wasn’t knowingly predicting something about Jesus.  Yes Matthew says that the words of the prophet were “fulfilled,” but fulfillment can have a broader meaning.  “It can refer to the filling up of the Old Testament; that is, the bringing to light what previously had been in the shadows.  In other words, Matthew can claim that this Hosea passage, which talks about the Exodus of Israel out of Egypt, is fulfilled in Jesus, because Jesus is the embodiment of Israel.”  It is this point I want to focus on.  This is how we find Jesus in the pages of the Old Testament.  Let’s look at the parallels.

The first book of the NT, Matthew, begins with the Greek words “biblos geneseos Iesou Christou” – a book of the beginning of Jesus Christ.  Recognize any of those words?  Geneseos is a form of the word genesis, as in the first book of the Bible.  Matthew is suggesting that this marks a new chapter in the book of the people of God, a new beginning.

Not only is Jesus the new beginning, or new genesis, He is also the new Exodus.  Just after Christ’s birth, he and his parents flee the wrath of King Herod who ordered all the young boys to be killed.  Where else do we see this?  In the OT when Pharaoh ordered all the children killed, yet Moses was spared because his mother hid him in a basket on the river.  In the same way, Jesus was spared by being hidden in Egypt by his parents.

Following Jesus “exodus” from Egypt, we come to the story of His baptism in Matthew 3.  This parallels the nation of Israel as they flee Egypt and pass through the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:2).  And finally after their baptism in the sea, Israel wanders for 40 years in the desert.  What happened to Jesus after His baptism?  He was led into the desert alone for 40 days and 40 nights to be tempted by Satan.  This temptation is paralleled in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were victimized by their own desires.  Jesus stands firm and does not succumb to the same desires Adam and Eve fell too so many centuries ago.

Jesus is the new and better Israel.  He is the great embodiment of the people of Israel.  Where they fell, He succeeded and God said to Jesus, “This is my Son, whom I love; in Him I am well pleased.”  Christ fulfilled (or filled up) all of Israel’s idolatry, disobedience, and faithlessness.  What they could not do, He did.  He is the fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham.  He is the fulfillment of the covenant God made with His people at Sinai.  The people broke that covenant and deserved the wrath of God.  Instead God sent Jesus to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.  That little boy in the manger grew up to be the fulfillment and embodiment of God’s plan of redemption for all who would believe.  Remember this when you celebrate this year.

And remember as we study the Old Testament, that it is not just a tired old worn out history book.  Rather, it is alive and inspired just as much as the New Testament and there is much to learn about why we are where we are within its pages.  As you read the stories of the Israelites and how hard headed, faithless, wayward and disobedient they were, remember that we are not at all unlike them.

Merry Christmas!

Adapted from a blog post by Kevin DeYoung on thegospelcoalition.org titled “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

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One response to “Jesus – The Great and Better Israel

  1. Pingback: Suffering Now, Glory Later | all things loss

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