The first five books of the Bible are called the Pentateuch, which means “five books.” They are also known as the books of the law because they contain the laws and instruction given by the Lord through Moses to the people of Israel. These books were written by Moses, except for the last portion of Deuteronomy because it tells about the death of Moses.
Over one fourth of the Bible – 27% – is prophetic. At least one half of all biblical predictions have already been fulfilled precisely as God had declared. The amount of prophecy in the Bible is one of the things that make it unique among religious books. There is absolutely no emphasis on predictive prophecy in the Qu’ran or the Hindu Vedas, for example. In contrast, the Bible repeatedly points to fulfilled prophecy as direct proof that it is God who speaks.
In the Pentateuch there is a specific prediction, repeated five times, that the Hebrew nation was established for the one express purpose of blessing all nations. These books also contain specific predictions that there would be one Person through whom the nation would fulfill its mission. And there are various hints about the nature of this Person’s work, especially His sacrificial death. Thus some leading characteristics of Christ’s life were drawn, in fairly distinct lines, some 1,400 years before Christ came.
The following are 12 of the most remarkable predictions of Jesus found throughout the Pentateuch:
Genesis 3:15. The Seed of the Woman
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
God is determined, in spite of Adam and Eve’s sin, to bring His creation of mankind to a successful end. As the Fall was set in motion through Eve, so will redemption come through woman. It will be the “seed of the woman,” that is, born of woman without the agency of man. It is a primeval hint of the virgin birth of Christ, for there has been only one descendant of Eve who was born of woman without being begotten by man.
Genesis 4:3–5. Abel’s Offering
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.
This indicates the institution of blood sacrifice, right at the start, as the condition for humanity’s acceptance by God. It is a hint that stands at the beginning of a long line of pictures and predictions of Christ’s atoning death for human sin.
Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18. The Call of Abraham
“Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.”
Here is a clear, definite statement to Abraham, repeated three times, that in him God was founding a nation for the express purpose of blessing all nations through it. This was the nation through whom the Messiah would come.
Genesis 14:18–20. Melchizedek
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
In Psalm 110:4 it is said of the coming Messiah, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” In Hebrews 7, Melchizedek, as a king-priest, is called a “type” (a foreshadowing) of Jesus. Thus Melchizedek is a foreshadowing of the coming Person who was the purpose behind the formation of Abraham’s nation—the Messiah, the Savior of mankind. Little is known about Melchizedek other than that he was a king-priest who gave blessings and received tithes.
Melchizedek lived in Salem (Jerusalem), the same city where Jesus was crucified. And the bread and
wine are a marvelous primeval picture of the Lord’s Supper and all that it means!
Genesis 22:1–19. Abraham Offers Isaac
We see a father offering his son, who was, for three days, as good as dead in his father’s mind (22:4); a substitutionary sacrifice (22:13); on Mount Moriah (22:2), the same place where Abraham had paid tithes to Melchizedek (14:18; Salem is on Mount Moriah), the same place where Jesus was crucified.
As Melchizedek was a foreshadowing of the Person Abraham’s nation would bring into the world, so this sacrifice seems to be a foreshadowing of the event in that Person’s life by which He would do His work. What an apt picture of the death and resurrection of Christ!
Genesis 26:4; 28:14. The Promise Repeated
“All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”
The same promise that was made three times to Abraham is here repeated to Isaac and then to
Genesis 49:10–11. “He to Whom the Scepter Belongs”
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. . . . He will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes.”
Here is the first clear, definite prediction that one Person would arise in Abraham’s nation to rule all nations (Heb. Shiloh, He whose right it is). He must be the One of whom Melchizedek was a shadow. He would appear in the tribe of Judah. His garments washed in the blood of grapes may be an image of His crucifixion.
Exodus 12. Institution of the Passover
Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt through the death of Egypt’s firstborn. The Lord spared the firstborn in the houses of the Israelites that were marked with the blood of a lamb. This feast was to be kept annually throughout all generations. It became Israel’s principal feast, observed in memory of their deliverance.
The Passover was celebrated for 1,400 years, the central feast of the Hebrew nation. It was unmistakably designed by God to foreshadow the basic event of human redemption, the death of Christ, the Lamb of God. He died on the cross at a Passover feast, bringing eternal deliverance from sin for those marked with His blood, even as the first Passover brought deliverance from Egypt for Israel. It shows how much God’s mind was on the coming of Christ long before He came.
Leviticus 16. The Day of Atonement
The Day of Atonement took place once a year. It involved two goats. One was killed as a sin offering. The high priest laid hands on the head of the other, called the scapegoat, confessing the people’s sin. Then the scapegoat was led away and let go in the wilderness.
This, and the whole system of Levitical sacrifices that were so much part of Hebrew life, are clear, historical foreshadowings of the atoning death of the coming Messiah.
Numbers 21:6–9. The Bronze Snake
Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
This happened in the wilderness, after the Exodus, on the way to the Promised Land. Jesus understood this to be a picture of Himself being lifted up on the cross (John 3:14). Mankind, bitten by sin in the Garden of Eden, may look to Him and live.
Numbers 24:17, 19. The Star
“A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. . . . A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city.”
Here is another definite prediction of a person, a brilliant ruler: evidently meaning the same person as “He to whom the scepter belongs” of Genesis 49:10, who is to rule the nations.
Deuteronomy 18:15–19. A Prophet Like Moses
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”
The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.”
God would raise up a prophet like Moses, through whom God would speak to mankind.
The five books, the Pentateuch, lay the foundation for the coming of Christ in that here God chooses and brings into being the nation of Israel. As God’s chosen people, Israel became the custodians of the Old Testament, the recipients of the covenants of promise, and the channel of Messiah:
So what advantage does the Jew have? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Considerable in every way. First, they were entrusted with the spoken words of God. (Romans 3:1-2)
They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen. (Romans 9:4-5)
If you are not sure that you are saved, you can accept Christ into your life right now, by praying:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior.”
Fascinating. Wrangler, July 31, 2021
What a BEAUTIFULLY written article. It made my heart SING. Fay, August 8, 2021