“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV).
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called; Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV).
The story of Jesus does not begin with the gospels, and He did not live his life in a vacuum. Jesus was the Word made flesh (John 1:14), and His purpose is to save His people from their sins. There are many Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled to prove that He is the Messiah and not just a good teacher or a prophet. When we read the gospel of Matthew, we find an often repeated phrase, “that it might be fulfilled.”
I love the Old Testament because it is the story of the people of God, the nation of Israel, and the story of the law and the promises given to them. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, and at the time of the end, we will see the complete restoration of the people and the land of Israel.
Jesus is not found in every verse of Scripture, but He is the theme of the whole of Scripture. In Genesis, He is the seed of the woman, in Exodus, the Passover Lamb, in Leviticus, our High Priest, in Numbers, the pillar and the cloud, in Deuteronomy, a prophet like unto Moses, in Joshua He is the commander of the Lord’s army. In Matthew, He is the King of the Jews; in Mark, He is the Servant; in Luke, He is the Son of Man; in John, He is the Son of God, and in the book of Revelation, He is our coming and conquering King.
When you read the Old Testament, look for promises of Jesus’s first and second coming. An easy way to do this is to read the gospels and cross-references to Old Testament verses. Pastor John MacArthur once said when you get to know Jesus in the New Testament, it will be easier to recognize Him in the Old Testament. In the back of the ESV Study Bible, two sections help identify Old Testament passages that point to Jesus; Old Testament Passages Cited in the New Testament and History of Salvation in the Old Testament: Preparing The way For Christ.
The New Testament alone cannot prove who Jesus is; without the Old Testament, there is nothing to prove. The Bible is a whole book, both Old and New Testaments, and in reality, the Old Testament isn’t old; it’s just first. We wouldn’t know what the New Covenant is without Jeremiah 31:31-40 and Ezekiel 36:22-28. Let the New Testament help you get to know the Old Testament, and let the Old Testament give you a deeper and fuller understanding of the New Testament. If you’ve ever struggled with Leviticus, read Hebrews and learn how to see Jesus in the sacrificial system, Leviticus will take on another level of interest after you do.
Like I said previously, the Bible is a whole book, and we miss out on so much when we neglect the Old Testament. Learn to see Jesus throughout the Old Testament. Matthew and Hebrews are a big help where that is concerned. Enjoy the Old Testament, delight in the law of God, and see it as holy, just, and good.