The whole Bible is actually the story of Jesus Christ - the Son of God who came down to earth as a man to be the Savior of everyone who chooses to put their trust in him. The Old Testament of the Bible anticipated the coming of Jesus. One of the means that God used to help us understand Jesus Christ was the similarity between prominent Old Testament characters and Christ. There are several characters in the Old Testament whose life mirrors that of Jesus Christ. The existence of such figures of Christ highlights the following:-
Joseph lived around 1900 BC. You can read about him in Genesis 37:1 to 50:26. He was the son of Jacob, the ancestor of all Jews, and spent his childhood in Israel. His brothers were jealous of him because he was his father's pet. So they plotted to kill him when he visited them in the fields where they were tending their sheep. Joseph's brothers sold him to traders going to Egypt. After a series of ups and downs, Joseph became the lord of all Egypt, next only to Pharaoh the king. A famine caused Joseph's brothers to come to Egypt to buy food. Joseph first treated them harshly, but then had an emotional reunion with them. He then made his entire family come to Egypt and provided for them there.
Moses lived around 1500 BC. You can read about him in Exodus through Deuteronomy. Moses was raised in the palace of Pharaoh as a prince of Egypt. At this time, the Israelis who had come to Egypt at Joseph's behest were enslaved by the Pharaohs who ruled after Joseph's death. Though raised as a prince, Moses' heart was with his own people, who were slaves. He wanted to free them and went to visit them. They however misunderstood him, and Moses had to flee from Egypt. He went to Midian (in modern Saudi Arabia). He married there and lived in obscurity for forty years, after which God sent him back to Egypt. This time the Israelis accepted him, and with God's help, he liberated the Israelis and led them out of Egypt to Canaan (modern Israel).
The following are the similarities between Joseph, Moses and Christ.
|Joseph ||Moses ||Jesus Christ |
|Joseph spent his early days as his father's beloved son.||Moses spent his early days in the palace of Egypt.||The Lord Jesus was the beloved Son of God for eternity (John 1:1, John 17:26) living in glory.|
|When Joseph presented himself to his brothers, they were offended. They dismissed him as a worthless dreamer.||When Moses presented himself to his brothers (the Jews), they were offended because he tried to correct them.||When Jesus presented himself to his brothers (the Jews), they were offended at him (Mark 6:3, Matthew 15:12, etc)|
|Joseph's brothers tried to kill him and handed him over to foreigners (Ishmaelites - the ancestors of the Saudis), and they took him to faraway Egypt.||Partly because of Jewish hostility to him, Moses feared for his life and left his people and go to a foreign place (Midian).||The Jews tried to kill Jesus. They handed him over to foreigners (the Romans). After rising from the dead, Jesus went to heaven. He however, inhabits his disciples, who are mostly non-Jewish today.|
|Joseph first spent time in obscurity, and then rose to great authority in Egypt, becoming second only to Pharaoh.||Moses spent time in obscurity, tending sheep in the desert.||After Jesus' ascension, God the Father has specifically exalted him, making him next to none (Philippians 2:9-11, Ephesians 1:20-22, etc). Jesus is also obscure today - many humans don't know who he is, and most do not acknowledge him as God. Unlike the Vatican bosses, Jesus' true followers are an obscure, persecuted lot.|
|Joseph got a foreigner (non-Jew) as his bride in Egypt.||Moses got a foreigner (non-Jew) as his bride in Midian.||Christ has got a mostly non-Jewish church today, which is also called his bride (2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7,8)|
The above are the parallels that have already been fulfilled. There are more parallels whose fulfillment is yet future (current events suggest that it may not be long).
|Joseph||Moses ||Jesus Christ |
|Joseph met his brothers when they were in big trouble. His brothers expressed remorse for what they had done to him. They had an emotional reunion.||Moses met his brothers (the Jews) when Egyptian oppression was at its peak. This time they accepted him.||Many Bible passages point to a big time of trouble for Israel (see Jeremiah 30:7 for example). All the nations of the world will gather to war against Israel (predicted 2700 years ago by the prophet Joel in Joel 3:2). This was an impossibility in Joel's time, but in today's climate of Islamic resurgence and globalization, not to mention the barrage of UN resolutions condemning Israel, it's evident the day is not far. The Bible says that Jesus will return to earth just when Israel is on the brink of defeat. The Jews will have an emotional reunion with Jesus (Matthew 24:30, Zechariah 12:10, written 2500 years ago).|
|Joseph rescued his brothers from starvation, and gave them the best place in Egypt to stay in.||Moses rescued Israel from Egypt, and led them out towards the promised land (what is now Israel).||Jesus Christ will rescue Israel from defeat, severely punish all those who lift a finger against Israel; he will nourish Israel, and make Israel the greatest of all nations (it already is, but He'll make its greatness even more prominent) (see Zechariah 12-14).|
The life of David, a direct ancestor of Jesus who lived ~ 1000 BC also parallels that of the Lord Jesus. David first became a public figure in Israel when he killed Goliath, a giant. However, his initial popularity soon turned to hostility (contrast 1 Samuel 18:16 with 1 Samuel 26:1, for instance). Exactly the same thing happened with Jesus - he became popular with his miracles and practical teaching, but the Israeli religious leaders soon became hostile to him when he lambasted their hypocrisy. Even the common people turned against him, as you can see from John 6, among other passages in the first four books of the New Testament.
After David became unpopular, he spent time in obscurity as a fugitive, including time spent outside Israel, and then returned in glory to become king over Israel, taking the nation to heights hitherto unreached. Similarly, the Lord Jesus is now outside Israel, but he will return; he will rule Israel, making it the greatest nation on earth (see Zechariah 14:1-21).
Yet another type of Jesus in the Bible is Isaac (Genesis 21 to 35, 1900 BC). In Genesis 22:1-14, we read of a great test of faith for Abraham (who was Isaac's father): God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, who was miraculously born as a fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham. So Abraham took Isaac to the mountain God told him of. At the last minute, God asked Abraham to spare Isaac; by trying to carry out God's command, Abraham demonstrated that he was willing to obey God to the uttermost. A ram was sacrificed instead of Isaac. Shortly after Isaac came back from the dead (as it were), the Bible records him getting a bride.
Just as Abraham laid the wood on Isaac's shoulder, and they climbed the mountain, God the Father laid the burden of humankind on Jesus. On the day of his death, Jesus carried his wooden cross, in fact the burden of the sins of the entire human race, when he ascended mount Golgotha for his crucifixion. Although Isaac could be spared, it was not possible to spare Jesus because no one else was qualified to offer the sacrifice that Jesus was going to offer. Shortly after he rose from the dead, the church was formed, which is the bride of Jesus Christ.
The evidence is unmistakable that Jesus Christ is the man sent from God. In order to clarify this, God has made sure that not only were there prophecies predicting details about Jesus, but there were individuals whose lives paralleled that of Jesus. The great Messiah (Anointed One) had several fore-runners, none of whom ever equaled him.