Since the time of Adam, God has promised that one will come who will defeat Satan and restore his people. As the books of the Old Testament unfold, we see that God gives more and more detail about this promised one.
This promised one was known to the Jews as the “Anointed One” (Daniel 9:25). To the Hebrew-speaking Jews of the Old Testament times, they would refer to The Anointed One by the Hebrew translation: “Messiah”. To the Greek and Aramaic speaking Jews of the New Testament times (and in between), they would refer to The Anointed One by the Greek translation: “Christ”.
The information below shows what was revealed about the Messiah through all 39 of the Old Testament Books. Note that this list is far from exhaustive but I wanted to highlight the most significant themes regarding from Messiah in each book. Most Jews of the First Century were very educated in their Law and Prophets (these books), and were anxiously awaiting the promised Messiah.
See also an excellent post here showing how all 66 books of the Bible point to Jesus Christ: https://sapphiresky.org/2013/11/09/its-all-about-jesus-christ/
- The messiah is an offspring of the woman (Eve). He will be bruised by Satan and will crush his head (3:15).
- All the families of the earth will be blessed through Abraham’s descendant (12:3, 18:18).
- Melchizedek is (briefly) introduced as the great high priest (Psalm 110:4).
- The royal line of the Messiah will be through Judah (49:10).
- The Passover is instituted as a time to celebrate God’s deliverance of the nation and to sacrifice a lamb. Jesus is identified as the eternal Passover Lamb in the New Testament (John 1:29, 36; 1 Cor 5:7). Jesus died on the day of Passover.
- The office of the High Priest is instituted. This also foreshadows the ministry of Jesus Christ in the New Testament (see Hebrews 4:14-16, 9:11-15).
- The ritual of sacrifices is instituted to cover personal and national sins. However, the sacrifice is only a foreshadowing of the permanent sacrifice made by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:11-15).
- Moses raises a bronze serpent so that all who are dying can look on it and be healed (21:6-9). Jesus compares himself to this scene, saying that he will be lifted up for all to look on (John 3:14-15).
- From the words of Balaam, “A star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel” (24:17).
- Moses promoses that God will raise up a “prophet like me” (18:15-19). In the New Testament, Peter applies this to Jesus (Acts 3:22).
- Joshua himself is a portrayal of the Messiah as he leads the people to both reform and victory. Note that Joshua’s name is the same Hebrew word as Jesus.
- Rahab, a gentile prostitute, is part of the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:5).
- There are no direct references to the Messiah in Judges. However, each of the Judges shows the role of the Messiah in that they rescue, lead, and reform the people.
- The kinsman-redeemer in Ruth portrays Christ in that he is related to the bride and is willing to pay the price of redemption.
- Ruth is another gentile woman in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
- The kingdom of David is presented in First and Second Samuel. David’s kingdom is promised to be ultimately fulfilled by the Messiah in his kingdom. (7:16 – “your throne will be established forever”).
- Elijah is presented in 1 Kings, and we are told later that Elijah will precede the Messiah (see Malachi).
- Through both good and bad kings, God is faithful to his covenant with David to preserve his royal line.
- The tribe of Judah is given prominence since this tribe holds both the Kingship and the Messiah.
- God remains faithful to the line of David despite wickedness and treachery.
- God shows his promise to restore the people and to preserve the line of David.
- The decree of Cyrus starts the 70 weeks to the Messiah as prophesied by Daniel (see Daniel).
- Like in Ezra, God shows that he will restore the people.
- The rebuilt temple restores the priesthood and the sacrifices as they prefigure the Messiah.
- God will keep his promises and preserve his people — even in the face of overwhelming opposition.
- “I know that my redeemer lives” (19:25-27).
- Job tells of his need for a mediator (9:33).
- Many of the psalms either directly or indirectly tell of the Messiah. Some examples:
- Psalm 2 – God declares him as his Son
- Psalm 16 – He will rise from the dead
- Psalm 22 – This gives great detail of the crucifixion experience. He will be scorned and mocked, his hands and feet pierced, and others will gamble for his clothes.
- Psalm 34 – Not a bone will be broken
- Psalm 35 – He will be accused by false witnesses and hated without a cause
- Psalm 41 – He will be betrayed by a close friend
- Psalm 45 – His throne will endure forever
- Psalm 69 – Zeal for God’s house will consume him; he will be given sour wine to drink
- Psalm 72 – Kings of the earth will pay tribute to him
- Psalm 110 – His enemies will become his footstool; he will be a priest like Melchizedek
- Psalm 118 – He is the chief cornerstone; “Blessed is he who comes in the name of The Lord!”
- Psalm 132 – He is the descendant of David
- Wisdom is personified in chapter 8. Jesus became the fullness of wisdom (Col 2:3, 1 Cor 1:30).
- Ecclesiastes shows the emptiness of life without God, who has created eternity in their hearts (3:11).
Song of Solomon
- The church is depicted in the New Testament as the bride of Christ.
- Isaiah has more about the Messiah than any other book in the Old Testament. The central section of the suffering of the messiah is Chapters 52-53. Some of the specific prophecies about the messiah:
- 7:14 – He will be born of a virgin
- 9:1-2 – Light for those who have walked in darkness; his major work will be in Galilee
- 9:6 – Wonderful, counselor, the almighty God, the everlasting father
- 11:1-5 – He will be a descendant of Jesse
- 28:16 – He is the precious cornerstone
- 35:5-6 – He will make the blind see the deaf hear, and the lame walk
- 40:3-5 – a voice crying, “In the wilderness prepare the way of The Lord”. John the Baptist considered himself to be this voice as he prepared the way for the Messiah’s coming (John 1).
- 42:1-4 – God’s chosen servant will have his Spirit on him. He will bring justice to the earth.
- 42:6-7 – He is a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind and to save the prisoners.
- 50:6 – He will be beaten, mocked, and spit on
- 52:14 – His appearance was marred beyond recognition
- 53:1-12 – He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; … and by his wounds we are healed. He will be rejected and killed. He will be silent before his accusers. He will be condemned with criminals and buried with the rich.
- 59:16 – He will intercede for the people.
- 61:1-2 – He will bring good news to poor and liberty for the captives. Jesus personally read this passage in his home town of Nazareth, applying it to himself (Luke 4:16-21).
- Prophecies about the Messiah that are not yet fulfilled:
- 11:2-10 -he will rule with righteousness, equity, and force
- 32:1-8 – He is the king who will reign in righteousness
- 49:7 – Kings and princes will pay homage
- 52:13-15 – He will silence kings
- 60:1-3 – Darkness will cover the earth but brightness will shine from the Messiah
- 61:2-4 – He will restore and repair the nation
- Jesus directly quotes from Isaiah 61 when he describes himself to his home town.
- John the Baptist uses Isaiah 40 to describe himself as the “voice of one crying in the wilderness”.
- God promises to raise up from David a Righteous Branch (23:5-6) who will reign as king and act wisely and save the people. He will be called “The Lord our righteousness”.
- God promises a new covenant with his people (31:31-34).
- Jeremiah weeps over Jerusalem, just like Jesus will weep over Jerusalem many centuries later (Matt 23:37-38).
- The messiah is the tender twig that grows into a great tree (17:22-24).
- God will give judgement to him (21:26-27).
- The Messiah will be the shepherd over his flock (34:11-31).
- The Messiah rules as the prince over his restored people (chapters 44-47).
- He is the great stone cut out of the mountainside which will crush the other kingdoms (2:34-35, 44).
- He is presented as the “son of man” and is given a kingdom that will never end (7:13-14).
- Daniel 9 tells of 70 weeks to the coming of the Messiah. Specifically, 9:25-26 gives a specific pinpoint of time between when the decree to restore Jerusalem to he coming of the Messiah.
- Daniel 9 specifically identifies “the anointed one” (i.e. Messiah).
- 11:1 says, “out of Egypt if called my son”. This is referenced in Matthew (2:15) as referring to Jesus.
- Hosea’s relationship with his sinful wife (Gomer) illustrates the Messiah’s work of redemption.
- Joel 3 tells of the Messiah sitting in judgement over the nations in the valley of Jehoshaphat.
- He promises to restore the “booth of David” (9:11).
- The book culminates with the restored kingdom, which will belong to The Lord.
- Jesus compared himself directly to Jonah. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so he would be three days and three nights in the earth. (Matt 12:38-42).
- Micah 5:2 clearly states that the Messiah (ruler in Israel; timeless one) will come from Bethlehem.
- Micah 4 gives great detail of the Messiah’s reign over the whole earth.
- We see the Messiah judging the nations.
- Salvation comes from the Lord (3:13, 3:18).
- The Messiah will preside over the restored kingdom (chapter 3).
- The new temple will be part of God’s plan for peace (2:9).
- He is The Branch (3:8, 6:12-13).
- He will be the king and priest (6:13-14).
- He is coming humbly and mounted on a donkey (9:9).
- He is rejected and sold for 30 pieces of silver (11:4-13).
- He will be pierced (12:10).
- He is the shepherd who will be struck and abandoned (13:7).
- The messenger will prepare the way for the Messiah (3:1, Isaiah 40:3)
- He will purify the nation (3:2-3)
- Elijah the prophet will come before the day of The Lord (4:5-6)
Primary Source, The New Open Bible, Study Edition, (c) 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.