Old Testament Windows on Christ and Salvation

Old Testament Windows on Christ and Salvation

Written on 08/10/2022
Rev. Aaron Vriesman

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“If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” —John 5:46 

Every Old Testament story can stand on its own as a great story. These are stories that have inspired and encouraged one generation after another. David and Goliath is synonymous for an underdog victor. Cain and Abel connotate sibling rivalry. Samson is known for physical strength. Yet the Old Testament stories are more than great stories.

In the Christian Reformed Church, we “believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God.” If the Bible is the written Word of God, and Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, then every Bible story reveals Jesus Christ and his salvation.

Jesus himself puts it this way: “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44).

The Hebrew Bible is organized into Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy), Prophets (including Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings), and Psalms (including Job, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and 1 & 2 Chronicles). Jesus is effectively declaring in Luke 24:44 that the entire Old Testament is pointing to him.

If we consider the familiar story of David and Goliath, some have used the story as a spiritual self-help lesson on courage. Others have used the story to motivate personal success. The story has served innumerable sports metaphors and even the 37th season of the reality series Survivor. The story has its own wonderful qualities.

What about the story as a window on the person and work of Jesus Christ?

The story of David and Goliath is about an unremarkable boy from Bethlehem who was victorious over an undefeated super soldier. All of Israel’s soldiers fled in terror before Goliath, but David volunteered to fight. If Las Vegas gave odds for this contest, only a fool would have put money on a David victory. Everyone was skeptical, but David was undeterred. David refused the armor and weapons of Saul for his everyday items—essentially facing the undefeated killer with faith. David’s victory over Goliath was absolute. It wasn’t even a contest. Goliath fell facedown as if to bow in shame before David. The victory was not only David’s but also for his people. Once the undefeated champion fell, the frightened Israelite soldiers suddenly had courage and put the Philistines to flight.

The story of David and Goliath is a window on Jesus Christ, an unremarkable man from Bethlehem who was victorious over the enemy of all humanity. Before Jesus, death was an undefeated killer. It had overcome everyone and brought fear everywhere, but then this man, Jesus, volunteered to fight. The religious leaders ridiculed him, and even his own disciples were skeptical, but Jesus was undeterred. Jesus refused to fight with the weapons of the world, telling one companion to put the sword away (Matt. 26:52). Jesus faced death with essentially nothing but faith, and his victory was absolute (Rom. 6:9; 2 Tim. 1:10). In the end, the undefeated enemy had no chance against Jesus (Acts 2:24). Jesus was not only victorious but put his enemies to open shame (Col. 2:15). The victory was not only for Jesus but also for all his people (John 8:51; Rom. 6:5; 1 Cor. 15:56-57). Once Jesus defeated death, all of his people had no reason to fear but were now empowered to put their sworn enemies—the devil, the world, and the flesh—to flight (Heb. 2:14-15).

David’s Story and Our Stories

I would submit that David’s story is not ultimately about David, just like our lives are not ultimately about us. Jesus, the Word of God made flesh, is the subject of every story in the written Word of God. He is also the subject of every believer's story.

Believers are not their own. We belong body and soul, life and death to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ. All believers are members of Christ himself (1 Cor. 12:27). Each one is a small TV screen with a story. But the believer’s screen is joined to those of all the others, making up one large mosaic screen depicting Christ to the world. His life, death, and resurrection reverberate throughout history into the lives of each individual with true faith. All of them have been brought from death to life, dying to sin in each resistance to temptation and rising again in every act of Christian love. All believers are part of one grand story of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. The story of Christ is the story of every Christian.

We often miss the large mosaic screen of Christ for our own small screens. Focusing on the small screen raises self-importance and anxiety. My troubles are the greatest ones in the purview. My debtors are the worst of sinners. My sorrows are the greatest tragedies of all. Focusing on Christ, the small screen becomes large. My troubles are for building up trust in the Lord who will someday end all trouble. Forgiving my debtors brings me closer to the Savior who forgives all sins. My sorrows put me in the sandals of the man of sorrows who was familiar with suffering. The chronic torments are thorns in the flesh that demonstrate how God’s grace is sufficient.

In Christ we join the great cloud of witnesses who faced countless challenges of life even as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith faced the cross. Because of the joy before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame and then sat down on the heavenly throne (Heb. 12:1-3). His story is my story. As I share in his troubles and sufferings, I will share his glory. My story might only be one pixel on the cosmic screen of Jesus Christ saving the world, but my story doesn’t die with me. My story carries all the significance of the Savior that my life reflects.