“… And on the third day He rose again, according to the scriptures.”
As we have seen in the last two articles, the Old Testament is filled with prophecies that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The prophecies are obviously in verbal form. However, in addition to these there are actions or events in the Old Testament which point forward to Jesus Christ and other aspects of the Christian faith.
For example, Moses encounters a bush that was burning and not consumed (Exodus 3:2).
“And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.”
The Fathers usually says that this points forward to the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God who gave birth but never ceased to be a virgin. In the story of the Exodus when the Jewish people were escaping slavery in Egypt, Moses parts the waters of the Red Sea so that the Hebrews could escape (Exodus 14:21-22).
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”
In other words, the Jewish people were saved by descending into the waters and coming out of them. This prefigures baptism, when we are saved by doing down into the water of the baptismal font. We remember that when the Jewish people were in the desert they were short of food so God sent them manna from heaven to earth (Exodus 16:13-15).
“In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning dew lay round about the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.”
This miraculous food which nourished the Jewish people physically points forward to Holy Communion when we receive another kind of bread from heaven. In another incident in the Book of Exodus the Jews were fighting with Amalek and his soldiers. Moses was watching the battle from a hill. Whenever Moses lifted up his hands the Jews were winning against Amalek. But when he lowered his hand the forces of Amalek prevailed. Moses’ armd grew tired so two men held up his arms on each side (Exodus 17:12).
“But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”
Moses outstretched arms which gave victory to Israel over its enemies point forward to Christ’s victory on the cross when we are saved from our enemies by Christ who stretches his arms out on the cross.
All of these examples so far have come from the Book of Exodus. This is because this book is about Israel’s escape from slavery in Egypt and this whole book points forward to our escape from the slavery of sin, death and the devil through Jesus Christ.
One final example: we remember the story of Jonah who was cast into the sea and swallowed by a great fish (Jonah 1:17, 2:1-2, 10).
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, “I called to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and thou didst hear my voice. And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”
In other words, just as Jonah emerged from the fish after three days Jesus Christ came out of the depths of the earth after three days. In these last three articles we have seen how the Old Testament points forward to the New Testament in prophesies and prefiguring events. There are many more prophesies and events than those mentioned here so further study of the Old Testament with the help of a study bible can help us to understand our faith better.