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Does The Old Testament Mention Jesus?
The Old Testament is the first part of the Bible, containing sacred scripture texts composed by prophets and later Jews, written centuries prior to the time of Jesus Christ. As such, the Old Testament does not explicitly mention Jesus himself as the son of God or the Messiah.
However, the Old Testament does provide numerous prophetic clues and references to Jesus ascending as the Saviour of the world. These prophecies are veiled in figures of speech and allusions, which point to Jesus and his mission of redemption. Such prophecies include images of a suffering servant, a conquering Lion of Judah, and the Shepherd who guides his people.
The idea of Jesus as a suffering servant is found throughout the scriptures, beginning in Isaiah chapter 53. This chapter speaks of a servant who is rejected and despised, “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). This text has been interpreted by many as a direct reference to Jesus, and as a sign of God’s love in sending his son to suffer for our sins.
The Lion of Judah, another image of Jesus, is first mentioned in Genesis 49:9-10, when Jacob refers to Judah as a lion who will “tear the prey.” This symbol of strength and power is later attributed to Jesus in Revelation 5:5, calling him “a lion from the tribe of Judah.” This allusion to Jesus is a reminder of his power to save us from death, as well as fulfill his other acts of redemption.
The figure of the shepherd is particularly significant, as it is associated with Jesus throughout the New Testament. This image appears in the Old Testament, too; in Psalm 23, for example, it is written that God is “My Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). This powerful image of Jesus taking on the role of a shepherd and protector is later elaborated on in the New Testament.
In summary, although the Old Testament does not explicitly mention Jesus, there are many biblical passages that allude to him. Through the use of symbols and figures, the Old Testament speaks to the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of the people of God. Thus, in many ways, Jesus is very much a part of the Old Testament.