Jesus in the Old Testament, Part 6: Like Service

This is the final part in a series on how the Bible is all about Jesus. Read the series introduction, “How Jesus Taught the Bible,” part one, “Events,” part two, “Titles,” part three, “Prophecies,” part four, “Christophanies,” and part five, “Types.”

In the Old Testament we learn about Jesus through like service, where someone does something that Jesus does greater and better. Let’s make a few observations from the Old Testament.

Abel

Early in the Bible, the first two brothers are Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:1­­–2). ­Like many brothers, they’re competitive and they fight. Abel is a righteous man, and Cain is a jealous man. Cain’s jealousy of Abel leads him to kill his brother (Gen. 4:8). In like service, Jesus is a better Abel—and we’re a worse Cain. God comes to earth, and we kill him, though he’s the righteous one. Unlike Abel, however, Jesus rose from death.

Jesus is the greater Abel.

Abraham

When Abraham was living in the land of his father, God came to him and basically said, “I’m sending you on a mission to a new place to start a new people, a new humanity.” Abraham left his father’s house, and did as God commanded, giving birth to the nation of Israel. Like Abraham, Jesus left his Father’s house. He came to this forsaken earth. He came to set up a new humanity through faith in him. Abraham’s descendants are many, physically speaking; Jesus’ descendants are more, spiritually speaking. A few billion of us on the earth today are descendants of Jesus’ mission to leave his Father’s house, come here, and seek us out to be his people.

Jesus is the greater Abraham.

Isaac

Later in the life of Abraham, we meet his son, Isaac. Isaac was a promised son (Gen. 17:15–19). He was a beloved, first-born son. He was an anticipated son. He was a miraculous son. Though they were elderly and barren, Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah (Gen. 21:1–2). Sometime after the birth of Isaac, God came to Abraham and asked him to do something to his son that was unthinkable: offer him as a sacrifice (Gen. 22:2).

Though confused, I’m sure, but by faith, Abraham sought to obey God. Hebrews 11 essentially says, “He believed that even if Isaac died, God could bring him back from death.” What happens then is, Isaac, who is an adult, carries his own wood on his back to the place that God had designated for his death. He, though a younger, stronger man, willingly lays himself down to die at the hand of his own father. And as Abraham takes the knife and is about to plunge it into his firstborn, beloved, promised, covenantal son, a messenger of the Lord cries out, “Abraham, there’s no need to murder Isaac. I’ll provide another sacrifice in his place.” All of this happened to show us how God would save us.

Like Abraham, God the Father agreed to the death of his Son. Like Isaac, his Son, Jesus, carried his own wood on his back to the place where he would willingly lay down his life. And all of that was to show us how God would save us.

Jesus is the greater Isaac.

Joseph

There then comes along a man named Joseph (Gen. 30:24), who is betrayed by his brothers (Gen. 37). They plot to kill him and place him in a hole, but sell him into slavery instead. Many years after being lifted up out of the pit by traders and sold to the Ishmaelites (Gen. 37:28), Joseph comes forth to ultimately rise up to be a leader who saves many lives!

Jesus comes along as the greater Joseph. He is disowned, abandoned, and betrayed by his own brothers, put in a hole and left for dead, and later comes forth to save a multitude that is even greater than the multitude that Joseph saved.

Jesus is the greater Joseph.

Moses

After Joseph comes a man named Moses (Exod. 2:10). He was an unexpected man to become  a prophet and leader of God’s people. Nonetheless, God raised him up to proclaim deliverance for his people and to mightily proclaim the Word of God. Not only did he proclaim the Word of God, he also prophesied about the coming of the great prophet Jesus in places like Deuteronomy 13 and 18.

Jesus comes as the greatest prophet ever. Jesus spoke of himself as a prophet (Luke 13:33), and after seeing a sign that he performed, many people said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world” (John 6:14). He comes in the lineage, ministry-wise, of Moses (Acts 3:22–23). He proclaims the Word of God. He calls people to repent of sin. He comes to also deliver us from slavery to sin.

Jesus is the greater Moses.

Job

Job is an innocent man whom Satan opposes and harms (Job 1:6–2:10). His friends are of no help, but God ultimately vindicates him.

Jesus comes along as the greater Job. Satan opposes him too. Jesus suffers. His friends are of no help. But, God ultimately vindicates him and blesses him, as he did Job.

Jesus is the greater Job.

David

David comes along as an unexpected king. He’s a little boy from a poor family in a rural area, and he rises up to be the greatest king in the history of Israel.

Jesus comes from the lineage of David and is an unexpected leader. He comes from a teenage girl in a small town. He is the King of kings (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:16). He is the greatest King. He is God among us!

Jesus is the greater David.

Jonah

Jonah comes along and rebels against God’s call to communicate his truth to the lost, pagan nation of Nineveh (Jonah 1:1–3). He’s got racism, classism—all kinds of -ism issues. Ultimately, Jonah is thrown overboard off a boat for his rebellion (Jonah 1:7–16). A fish swallows him (Jonah 1:17). The fish then gives him a last-class ticket to Nineveh, and pukes him up on the beach (Jonah 2:10). After a weird three days of being in the fish’s belly, Jonah stinks and is frustrated. Jonah, the reluctant prophet, walks into Nineveh, and basically says a few words like, “God hates you. It’s going to go bad for you. Goodbye.” He walks away, and some half a million people get saved because the power is in the Word of God, not necessarily the messenger.

I know some of you will say, “I don’t think that happened.” Jesus did. Jesus comes along and basically says, “As Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, I’m going to go into the earth three days and three nights. As he came out alive, I’m coming out alive. As he was used to save a multitude, I’m going to save even more people.”

Jesus is the greater Jonah.

Boaz

There’s also a guy in the Bible named Boaz. After Jesus and the church, this is arguably the greatest love story in the whole Bible. Boaz is a godly man. The Bible calls him a worthy man. He’s holy, righteous, older, single, and has a job. And for his wife, he chooses the most unexpected woman, Ruth, a Moabite, cursed of God, from a people that are a product of incest. She’s not a virgin. She was previously married to an idiot who died. She’s from a foreign country and since in that time good Jews married only other good Jews, she wasn’t a desirable spouse. Oh, and she’s broke and homeless. She’s gleaning in the fields, which is basically dumpster diving. And she also comes with a bitter mother-in-law.

Amazingly, this couple is ultimately used by God as part of the family line that gave birth to a guy named Jesus. Jesus is from that crazy family line.

Jesus takes us—people who are worse than Ruth—and he marries us, loves us, and calls us his bride, the church (2 Cor. 11:2–3; Eph. 5:25–27; Rev. 19:7, 21:9).

Jesus is the greater Boaz.

Nehemiah

Then there’s this guy named Nehemiah. So that God’s people could have a home, Nehemiah rebuilds Jerusalem.

Like Nehemiah, Jesus is creating a new Jerusalem that will serve as an eternal home for God’s people (Rev. 21).

Jesus is the greater Nehemiah.

If you are curious about more on this subject, check out this sermon.