I love reading through the Old Testament. The Old Testament is rich with threads of the gospel—hints of what God was planning from before the world began. However, it is easy to overlook look them. They are often understated—they’re not the main point of the passage, but they are present.
There are several gospel themes in Genesis alone, more than enough to help us see how the story was beginning to take shape. Here are just a few that are fairly clear:
- God promises death to the serpent (Genesis 3). The first hint at the gospel comes on the heels of humanity’s rebellion against God. Sin will die and death will be defeated. The “seed” of the woman will crush the head of the serpent.
- God covers Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). Prior to casting the first humans out of the garden, God clothes them in animal skins that he makes. So there are a couple of key things we see here: God covers shame, and another dies in their place.
- God’s favor toward Noah (Genesis 6-9). The language of Genesis s pretty clear that “every inclination of the human mind was nothing but evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). And God determined that he would destroy all humanity. Yet, Noah found favor with the Lord (6:8). God’s favor (or grace) to Noah gives us a picture of a greater rescue to come—that just as God preserved humanity in judgment through one man, he would preserve a people for himself in Christ.
- The promised offspring (Genesis 12). Paul explicitly addresses this in Galatians: the promised offspring, the seed, is a singular person—Jesus.
- Abraham is justified by faith (Genesis 15). Paul also explicitly calls this out in Romans: Abraham’s righteousness comes not from his actions, but from his belief in his God.
- Isaac is spared (Genesis 22). Abraham was faithful to bring Isaac to the mountain, to place him on the altar, and to raise the knife. Isaac faithfully carried the wood. He didn’t fight as he was tied up, or when he was placed on the altar. He watched as his father prepared to kill him. Both knew God’s promise. They knew Isaac was a child of promise—born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. They trusted the Lord to fulfill His purposes. And God did. After God stayed Abraham’s hand, they found a ram in the thicket. This event hinted at a sacrifice still to come: a Father sent His Son into this world. The Son carried the wood to the place of His sacrifice. There the Son died, in the place of any who trusted in Him. The Son was the Lamb.
There are more than these, of course. The gospel lurks in the shadows of the stories of Cain and Abel, of Jacob and Esau, of Joseph and his brothers. And when you see them, you can’t miss them. The gospel is the whole story of the Bible, and it is waiting for us in every book from beginning to end.