As well as Christophanies and explicit predictions, there are other ways in which the person of Christ is to be found in the Old Testament. Jesus told the Pharisees that the Scriptures speak of Him. He showed the two on the road to Emmaus. To what else did he perhaps point?
3. Thematic fulfillment – There are legitimate themes working their way through the Old Testament. We need to go beyond a children’s story with moral morales and see how the Hebrew Scriptures are woven together to build a gripping revelation of God and His plan. His Son is central to that thematic design.
4. Legitimate types – There are some legitimate types of Christ in the Old Testament. It is hard to miss, if our hearts are sensitive and tuned to the full story, when we read of the sacrifices, the feasts, etc. We need to be careful not to become fanciful or appear to abuse the communicative intent of the original authors.
5. The macro story goal – Sometimes people abuse the text by making every sentence speak of Christ no matter what it originally said. It is healthier to grow attuned to the goal of the whole, the Christo-telic intent of the Hebrew Scriptures. We don’t have to make things say what they could not have been understood to say. Instead let’s be clearer on how the whole fits together with the goal of God’s promise plan fulfilled in Christ.
With these five aspects of Christ in the Old Testament, we should have plenty to be going on with (probably more than could be communicated in a seven mile walk to Emmaus!) And this means we don’t need to fall into a common error:
X. The subsumed or twisted biblical character – There are hundreds of characters in the Old Testament plot lines. Many of them were not intended to be either a type of Christ, nor a foil for Christ. Let’s not miss the many characters in the grand narrative responding to God. Let’s not twist their stories to tell a different story. Let’s trust God’s communication and not try to be cleverer than the God who inspired a wonderful canon! If the text doesn’t push us to directly tie the character to Christ, let’s do the work of understanding how the text in its context communicates specifically and relevantly. Sometimes the Christ-leap that is made undermines any sense that God is an effective communicator in His Word.