In the previous post we began to examine the nature of the Old Testament’s witness to Christ by considering the Bible’s use of typology.
Promise in the Old Testament
A second key way in which the OT bears witness to the person and work of Christ is through promises of a coming Savior and salvation. God’s promises directed the hopes of his people toward a time when his redemptive purposes would be fulfilled (Heb. 10:39-40). Although there were immediate and partial fulfillments of many of the promises in OT times, the OT ends as an incomplete story.1 The promise of a glorious day of salvation had yet to be fulfilled. The good news proclaimed by the NT is that God’s promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20).
Jesus Fulfills God’s Promises
Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3, 7; 15; 17). He is the promised offspring (Gal. 3:16). Through faith in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles become true children of Abraham thus fulfilling God’s promises to him of innumerable descendants and worldwide blessing (Gal. 3:14, 29).
God’s promises to David are also fulfilled in Christ. He is the son of David (Matt. 1:1; 9:27; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8) whose kingdom is everlasting (2 Sam. 7:12-13; Luke 1:32-33). As God’s Son (Matt. 3:17; 11:25-27), Jesus enjoys the unique relationship with the Father promised to David’s heir (2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:7; Heb. 1:5). He is the promised Davidic Messiah (Isa. 7:14; 9:1-7; Jer. 23:5-6; Matt. 1:22-23; 4:15-16) who sits at God’s right hand (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:3, 13) and faithfully shepherds God’s people (2 Sam. 5:2; Ezek. 34:11-24; 37:15-28; Mic. 5:2; cf. Matt. 2:5-6; John 10:1-18). Yet, as the Servant of the Lord who gives his life as an atonement for the sins of the people (Isa. 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12; Acts 8:29-35; 1 Pet. 2:24-25), Jesus fulfilled these promises in a way that surprised his disciples (Matt. 16:21-23) and his opponents (Matt. 27:39-44).2
Finally, as Dennis Johnson has insightfully observed, Jesus fulfills the OT promises of a future “superior redemptive arrangement.”3 He is the Melchizedekan priest whose priesthood “surpasses Aaron’s in its permanence, grounded in [Jesus’] eternal life and the Father’s unbreakable oath” (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 6:20; 7:11-28).4 In contrast to the Aaronic priests who repeatedly offered sacrifices for the sins of the people, Jesus, as the great high priest, offered a single sacrifice that has secured eternal redemption for his people (Heb. 7:27; 9:11-14, 24-28; 10:1-18). He is mediator of the promised new covenant, a covenant “characterized by internalization of God’s law, expansion of intimate knowledge of God, and forgiveness of sins.”5
God’s ancient promises pointed forward to and have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
- For discussions of the concept of multiple levels of fulfillment of OT promises, see David L. Baker. Two Testaments, One Bible: The Theological Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010), 208-217; Christopher J.H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 70-77. [↩]
- Bruce K. Waltke and Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 888-889; Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grank Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 205-232. [↩]
- Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007), 180. [↩]
- Ibid., 179. [↩]
- Ibid., 182. [↩]