UP0047: In what ways is Christ present in the Old Testament?

  • UP0047: In what ways is Christ present in the Old Testament? 00:00

David Murray explores the ways the Old Testament saints knew and trusted in Christ as he ‘tried on the clothes of his incarnation’ before time.



Welcome to up the Union Podcast. I’m talking with David Murray. And last time we spoke about the way the Old Testament believers were saved by faith in Christ. So David, what does that mean? How was Christ available to view Old Testament believers? With a trusting in the promise of his coming? How exactly did they have faith in Christ?

It’s very common today to speak of the Old Testament pointing to Christ. The end of the Old Testament, and the end of redemptive history. And that’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. The Old Testament didn’t just point to Christ, it revealed Christ. It revealed a present Christ. Christ was present and active through the Old Testament. It wasn’t just the last chapter for which all the others were setting the scene, he was present from the very first chapter and in every chapter of redemptive history. One of the best books on this I found is Jonathan Edwards, his book on the history of redemption. Unlike many of Edwards’ books, this is extremely readable, revealing, and enlightening about Christ’s present and active presence in the Old Testament. 

First of all, Christ is present in creation. The Bible says that of him in John 1:1–3. 

He’s present in providence: Hebrews tells us that he upholds all things by the word of his power. He’s done that from the beginning, not just from his incarnation. 

He’s present in salvation. Who saved the Old Testament saints if it wasn’t the Son of God, as we previously talked about? He is the Word of God that was being revealed through the Old Testament. 

And perhaps most beautifully, and for me, most wonderfully, he’s present as the Angel of the Lord as a pre-incarnate, a pre-Christ in human flesh appearance in the Old Testament. And we see that in encounters between the Angel of the Lord and, and Hagar, Jacob, Gideon, Moses, Samson’s parents, and numerous occasions. And this was no ordinary Angel. This was someone who claimed divine authority, who was clearly a distinct divine person from Jehovah. He exhibited divine attributes he performed divine actions, he receives divine homage, and he’s actually identified as God by a number of the believers who encountered him. And I think it’s just it’s so beautiful to see that the Son of God coming down even before his incarnation not in human flesh, but in human form to minister to as needy people from the very beginning and throughout the Old Testament and probably many more times than we know about, as revealed in the Old Testament. 

Jesus himself says that the scriptures testify of him—that he’s to be found in all the Old Testament scripture. So he’s not just the end of the Old Testament. It’s not just the destination. He’s in it from the beginning, and throughout.

Yeah, and I know in writing, you’ve spoken of Jesus, Old Testament appearances and you’ve talked about what you call his holy impatience.

You have talked about Jesus’ “Holy Impatience?” What do you mean?

Yeah, that’s the way I love to think about it as well, that he just cannot wait to be in human flesh. He cannot wait to come down as man and so it comes down in the form of human flesh, often mistaken, initially at least as a mere man. But as the encounter progresses, the believers realized more and more or less as no mere man, this is this is God himself. 

Some of the older people in my previous congregation in the Highlands of Scotland had this phrase that the use of these angels the Lord appearance:, that was Christ, “trying on the claws of his incarnation,” and again, just a lovely way to think about the Lord Jesus, as it were, getting a little sips —a little taste, a little appetizer of his great coming work.


UP Episodes

UP0001: Why Think About the Incarnation When It Isn’t Christmas? Peter Mead

UP0002: How is Christ Becoming Man Vital for our Salvation? Peter Mead

UP0003 What Does the Incarnation Mean for Me Every Day? Peter Mead

UP0004: Does Emphasising the Incarnation Risk De-emphasising the Cross? Peter Mead

UP0005: Does Understanding the Incarnation Change the Way We Share the Gospel? Peter Mead

UP0006: What is Our Starting Point for a Doctrine of Scripture? Andrew Wilson

UP0007: How Can Jesus Really be the Centre of Scripture? Andrew Wilson

UP0008: Wasn’t the Canon of Scripture Decided Really Late? Andrew Wilson

UP0009: Why Does the Bible Seem so Outdated on Issues like Gender and Sexuality? Andrew Wilson

UP0010: Why Have You Debated Steve Chalke and Rob Bell? Andrew Wilson

UP0011: Does “Read Your Bible Pray Every Day And You’ll Grow” Work in Adult Life? Dane Ortlund

UP0012: How Can I Stop My Daily Devotions Being Legalistic? Dane Ortlund

UP0013: What Should I Expect From My Daily Devotions? Dane Ortlund

UP0014: How Has the Bible Been Important to You? Dane Ortlund

UP0015: What Advice Would You Give to Someone Who Struggles to Read the Bible? Dane Ortlund

UP0016: Luther on the First Commandment 1: What is a god?

UP0017: Luther on the First Commandment 2: True Worship

UP0018: Luther on the First Commandment 3: Receiving from God

UP0019: Luther on the First Commandment 4: A Threat and a Promise

UP0020: Luther on the First Commandment 5: Reflect for Yourself

UP0021: How Should We Talk about the Presence of God? Kyle Strobel

UP0022: What Does it Mean to See God? Kyle Strobel

UP0023: Is God Religious? Kyle Strobel

UP0024: What Is Christian Spirituality All About? Kyle Strobel

UP0025: What Is Missing From Our Prayer Life? Kyle Strobel

UP0026: What Challenges Face Christian Parents? Gloria Furman

UP0027: How Does Becoming a Mother Change Your Spiritual Life? Gloria Furman

UP0028: How Do You Teach Your Children and Stay Spiritually Healthy Yourself? Gloria Furman

UP0029: Why is it Important to Keep Christ at the Centre of Family Life? Gloria Furman

UP0030: How Can We Treasure Christ Each Day in Our Busyness? Gloria Furman

UP0031: What Is The Nature Of Spiritual Authority and How is it Open to Misuse? Mark Stirling

UP0032 What is Power in the Bible and What is it for? Mark Stirling

UP0033: How Does Jesus Teach Us About Power? Mark Stirling

UP0034: Should Christians Avoid Power? Mark Stirling

UP0035: What Can I do if I’ve Exercised my Power Sinfully? Mark Stirling

UP0036: What was Luther’s spiritual background and how did he change? Graham Tomlin

UP0037: What was Luther’s “Theology of the Cross”? Graham Tomlin

UP0038 How Did Luther Understand Law, Gospel, and the Word? Graham Tomlin

UP0039: Are Good Works Important at All? Graham Tomlin

UP0040: What aspect of Luther’s theology do we most need to hear today? Graham Tomlin

UP0041: How did you discover John Newton and how has he blessed you? Tony Reinke

UP0043: How did Newton pastor his people? Tony Reinke

UP0044: What was the central message of Newton’s life and ministry? Tony Reinke

UP0045: What encouragements and challenges might Newton direct towards believers today? Tony Reinke

UP0046: How were Old Testament believers saved? David Murray

UP0047: In what ways is Christ present in the Old Testament? David Murray

UP0048: How can I see more of Christ in the Old Testament? David Murray

UP0049: Is there a difference between happiness and joy? David Murray

UP0050: Why is happiness so important in the Christian life? David Murray

UP0051 Why the Reformation Still Matters Michael Reeves

UP0052: The Ascension of Jesus Gerrit Scott Dawson

UP0053: The Star of Bethlehem Colin Nicholl

UP0054: A New Day Emma Scrivener

UP0055: Escaping Escapism Dave Griffith-Jones

Picture of David Murray

David Murray

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is also pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Jesus on Every Page and The Happy Christian.
Picture of David Murray

David Murray

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He is also pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Jesus on Every Page and The Happy Christian.