Shadows Point Us To Christ: OT Saints

In our last study we began looking at “shadows” or “types” of Christ in the Old Testament.  These “picture prophecies” foretold the coming of Jesus, at times in great detail. The first example of a shadow we  looked at which is the Old Testament sacrificial system. This system of blood atonement pointed to a time in which a much better sacrifice (Jesus) would be given that could perfectly take away sin. Let’s explore a couple more examples of these types and shadows of Christ in the Old Testament.

The Sacrifice of Isaac, The Only Begotten Son

After being blessed by God with the child whom He had been promised, Abraham was put to the ultimate test. He was told by God in Genesis 22:1-2 to take his son Isaac, his only begotten son (Hebrews 11:17), to the land of Moriah to offer him there as a burnt offering. God was calling Abraham to offer the son he loved so much – the son on whom all the promises of God hinged upon. This is the son he had waited so long to have. But Abraham did not hesitate the next morning to leave with his son to go to the mountain God would take him to in order to perform the sacrifice. The journey would take three days. For this period of time, his son was as good as dead to him. He was going to do what God had commanded him. When they got to the mountain in the land of Moriah, Abraham laid the wood on Isaac so he could carry it to the place of his own sacrifice. While on their way, the following discussion ensued between Abraham and his son, “But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8  And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together” (Genesis 22:7-8). When they came to the place which God designated, Abraham bound his son Isaac and placed him on the wood to offer him to God. Then as he stretched out his hand with the knife in it to slay his son, the Angel of the Lord stopped Abraham. After three days of his son being dead in his own mind, Abraham “received him back as a type” (Hebrews 11:19). Did you see the similarities in this account to what happened to Jesus Christ?

Let’s begin with Abraham’s statement to Isaac, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” If you finish reading the account, God did not provide Abraham a lamb in place of his son, but a ram (Gen 22:13). God would wait another 2000 years to provide a Lamb for a sacrifice. Jesus is “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29). Instead of Abraham’s only begotten son being offered, it would be God’s only begotten Son (John 3:16). Just as Isaac had to carry his wood to his place of execution, Jesus had to carry wood (the cross) to the place where He would be executed. It is also interesting that the location of the sacrifice of Isaac would have been on Mount Moriah. This is where Jerusalem would later be. It is at this location where God would have the temple built (2 Chronicles 3:1), and it would also be the place where God offered up His Son as His Lamb in place of Isaac (and us). And finally, just as Abraham’s son was in his own mind “dead” to him for three days, Jesus would later be dead for three days before he would be brought back from the dead. He received Isaac back after three days as a type (or a shadow) of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The parallels between the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, with this account of the sacrifice of Isaac, are impossible to miss. It is clear that God wanted us to see Isaac as a type of Christ in the Old Testament.

Joseph: The Betrayed Deliverer

joseph-in-egyptJoseph was the first son who was born to Jacob through his favorite wife, Rachel. He is the main figure in the final fourteen chapters of Genesis. Joseph was not popular with his brothers for several reasons. He tattled on them one time to their father. He also told his father and brothers about two dreams that implied that his brothers would bow down to him as servants. If this wasn’t bad enough, Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, which was shown not just in how he was treated, but his father gave him a special tunic of many colors that made him stand out amongst his brothers as the one Jacob loved more. This made them resent Joseph. To get back at Joseph, they planned one day (when they were away from their father) to kill him. But Reuben, the oldest brother, talked them out of it. They then decided to throw him into a pit. Then while Reuben was gone, they took Joseph out of the pit and sold him to some traders who were on their way to Egypt. Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold as a servant. To cover up what they had done, Joseph’s brothers took the tunic of Joseph and covered it with the blood of an animal to make it look like he was killed and eaten by a wild animal.

During Joseph’s time in Egypt as a slave, he was falsely accused by his master’s wife of trying to sleep with her. Because of this, he was thrown into prison. But while in prison, he helped two fellow prisoners by interpreting their dreams. One of these prisoners ended up being restored to their position as the cupbearer to Pharaoh. After a period of time went by, Pharaoh had a dream that no one can interpret. The cupbearer then remembered Joseph as one who could interpret dreams. Upon interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, which was a warning of a terrible famine by God, Joseph was given great authority by Pharaoh. He was placed as second in charge over all of Egypt and was given the duty of preparing Egypt for this great famine. They were ready for the famine. It came as God predicted. Not only did Egypt have enough food for themselves, they had enough extra food to sell to foreigners. Many came from surrounding lands, including Joseph’s brothers. They came two times. The first time, only ten of the brothers came. Then Joseph asked them to return with the eleventh brother, his dearest brother Benjamin. All of his brothers ended up bowing down to him as he had dreamed many years earlier. Joseph was used by God to be a deliverer during this time of famine. He saved not only Egypt, but provided also for his family.

This account of Joseph has many parallels between Joseph and Jesus Christ. Read what’s below and answer the question, “Who is this?”

“I am my Father’s beloved son. I was sent far away to my “brothers” to do an act of kindness for my Father. While away, I was delivered into the hands of strangers because of jealousy. I was stripped of my clothes. I was sold for a few shekels of silver. I was strongly tempted. I was falsely accused and condemned. Two others were punished with me, and one of those who were punished was restored. God was with me and reversed the terrible injustices done to me. I was risen from my state of lowliness and given great authority, second only to the Supreme Ruler of the land Himself. Even those who mistreated me ended up bowing before me as their master. After my “death”, I first encountered the ten, and then the eleven. And ironically, I became the means that God used to save those who had wronged me. Who am I?”

Two answers can be given to this story. These things can be said of both Joseph and Jesus. These things all happened to Joseph, as described above, but they all happened to Jesus also. Jesus, God’s beloved Son, was sent from Heaven to this earth. He was strongly tempted by Satan. He was betrayed and sold for thirty shekels of silver. The Jews delivered Him to the Gentiles, after they had trials, in which Jesus was falsely accused of doing wrong and condemned. The Jews did this to Him out of jealousy. Before He was crucified, He was stripped of His clothes. He was crucified alongside two thieves, one of which came to repentance while on the cross. But God was still with Jesus. After three days, He was exalted by God. He was raised from His tomb, and was given all authority over Heaven and earth by God. He was first seen by ten of his disciples, then later by the eleven (Thomas was not present during the first appearance). Even those who mistreated Him and killed Him would bow to Him as their Lord, either in this life or the next. He died to give life to those who had sinned against Him.

These two shadows are two great examples of how people in the Old Testament point us to Christ. There are many others we could have looked at, but hopefully these two suffice to show you how wise God is through history in giving His word. He gives it in such a way that it points so clearly to His Son; to the One He would send to this earth to bring the hope of redemption to each one of us who are in bondage to sin.

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  1. Kimberly Cruz says:


    Thank you for this article. I love the comparison between Christ and Joseph. One of my favorite pastors did an activity with the congregation where we were to find as many of the similarities between these two biblical figures, and the results were incredible! Best sermon ever!

    I am planning a 4-day children’s program for ages 10-12 on August 4th, and I’m using Joseph & Jesus as two of our pivotal characters. I’d like to hang posters on the wall so the children can see them. May I have permission to download, print, and use the photo of Joseph in Egypt? How can I go about this, if it’s possible? Please let me know. Thank you.

    Blessings in Christ,


    • Hello Kimberly,

      I do not recall where I got the photo of Joseph that I use in this article… I don’t remember if I got it from a free service or a paid one… With this said, I would be surprised if those I got it from would be upset if you used it to teach children.

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