Have you ever heard someone say, or a preacher preach that Jesus can be found in every book of the Bible, but you wonder if that’s really true? I’d like to help you a little with that problem by showing you just how prevalent Jesus is in the Old Testament. And to make my point I want to show you six ways Jesus is pre-figured in the Old Testament. But not the whole Old Testament, just the book of Genesis. But not the whole book of Genesis. Just the first three chapters. You see, if Jesus is really pre-figured in the Old Testament, we ought to find him in many places, and the first three chapters of Genesis set this stage with six instances.
Where do I find Jesus in Genesis 1-3? Try this on for size: In Genesis 1:1 the scripture says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Where is Jesus? Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus that, “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible.”
Moving on, I find Jesus in Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Jesus is the perfect image of God made manifest. Colossians 1:15 states, “He is the image of the invisible God.”
In Genesis 2:9 we are told, “Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The Tree Of Life is symbolic of Jesus. It was on a “tree” that Jesus was crucified (Acts 5:30). As Adam was allowed to partake of that tree for eternal life, so too when we look to the cross we are given the free gift of eternal life. Jesus is the true Tree Of Life.
Genesis 3:8 reveals that after Adam and Eve had sinned and eaten from the Tree Of Life that they hid themselves. Then, “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” This is what theologians call a “theophany.” That means it is an instance of God accommodating himself to man by appearing to man in some kind of physical form. In this case, Jesus takes on the form of a man and walks the garden, enjoying the creation he has made. Theophanies are, ultimately, a pre-cursor to Jesus’ incarnation that later happens in the Gospels. Theophanies are markers, pointers, to what God intended to do later, become a man in Jesus Christ.
In Genesis 3:15 God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” This is a direct prophecy about the coming of Jesus to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8).
Finally, here is a picture of Jesus in Genesis that most Christians miss. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). How is this a picture of Jesus? This is the first instance of substitutionary atonement. Remember that God warned Adam and Eve that if they took of the fruit of the tree of knowledge that, “In the day you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). But on that day they did not physically die. Instead, God took out his wrath on an animal, pre-figuring not only the eventual levitical system of sacrifice for sin, but prefiguring the coming of Christ to die for our sins: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
In just three short chapters we find at least six instances where Jesus is pre-figured. Admittedly, some of this would have been hard to discover in advance. But as with all prophecy, it is hindsight which gives us the clearest vision as to what they things mean, and who they point to. And just as Jesus taught his friends on the road to Emmaus (“Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” Luke 24:27), so too we can find Jesus throughout the Old Testament.
Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. Spend some time there and look for him in as many passages as you can find. When you do, you will come to know his character better.