Types of Christ in the Old Testament

By Rick Brunson 

The Lord revealed to the prophet Hosea that he often used the lives of many Old Testament prophets to act as “similitudes,” or “types,” of Christ. [1]  What is a type?  A type is a model that represents something else, something bigger.  Perhaps the best example of a prophet being a “type of Christ,” is in the story of Abraham and Isaac.  The sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham was a type for the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

While the story of Abraham and Isaac is the most obvious example, there are many other prophets in the Old Testament whose lives closely mirrored the life of Christ.  Here are a few less common examples.

Joseph in Egypt

  • Joseph was a shepherd.[2] Christ is the Good Shepherd.[3]
  • Both were most loved by their Father.[4]
  • Both were betrayed and striped of their garments.[5]
  • Both were sold for silver,[6] the price of a slave.
  • Both were falsely accused.[7]
  • Both were thirty at the start of their ministry.[8]
  • Joseph served in prison, and was later elevated to sit second in command next to Pharaoh.[9] Similarly, Christ served in the spirit prison and was later exhaled to sit on the right hand of God.[10]
  • Both were Saviors for their people, one temporally and one spiritually.
  • Just like Christ, who was not recognized as a Messiah by his own people at his first coming, Joseph was similarly not recognized by his own brothers at their first meeting.[11] It was not until they meet for the second time that Joseph was recognized by them.[12] Similarly, it will not be until the Second Coming that the Jews recognize Jesus as their Messiah. The Lord tells us, that during the battle of Armageddon, Jesus will set foot upon the Mount of Olives, at which time, “shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord” (D&C 45:51-52). 
  • Joseph gathered his Father’s house, the House of Israel.[13] Christ will gather the House of Israel before the Second Coming.
  • All bowed before Joseph,[14] just like all will bow the knee to Christ.[15]

Moses
  • God said to Moses, “thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten.”[16]
  • As infants, both Jesus and Moses’ lives were threatened by an evil king.[17] Only by miracles were they able to survive.
  • Both fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.[18]
  • Both were confronted and tempted by Satan in the wilderness,[19] and both were able to cast Satan out of their presence.[20] During these temptations, both were also ministered to by God.[21] For these reasons, many have concluded that both Moses and Christ received their endowments at this time of their ministry.[22] Some additional reasons for this assumption are as follows:
·   This was right before each started their respective missions, and as we learn in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord always endows his servants with power before sending them into the mission field.[23] 
·   Shortly after Satan was cast out from Moses’ presence, Moses beheld the creation of the earth, and the fall of Adam in vision.[24]
·   Christ was tempted by Satan with money and wealth.[25]
·   We learn from Joseph Smith that Jesus received his Calling and Election during the events that occurred on the Mount of Transfiguration,[26] which means that Jesus must have been endowed prior to this stage of his ministry.  At the same time, it is logical to assume that Christ was endowed sometime after his baptism.  Christ’s temptation in the wilderness fits both the time frame, and also the necessary circumstances for such an endowment. 
  • Christ’s first miracle was turning water into wine.[27] Similarly, Moses’ first plague was turning the Nile into blood.[28]
  • Both fulfilled a prophecy by leaving Egypt.[29]
  • Moses feed the Israelites with manna from heaven,[30] representing Christ feeding us spiritually as the Bread of Life.[31]
  • Moses descended twice from Mount Sinai. These two descents were types for each of the two comings of Christ. It is interesting that during the second descent from the mount, the Old Testament emphasized the glory that radiated from Moses’ person.[32] Similarly, during Christ’s Second Coming, “so great shall be the glory of his presence that the sun shall hide his face in shame” (D&C 133:49). In fact, the Doctrine and Covenants specifically compares the Second Coming to the events that occurred on Mount Sinai.[33]
  • Both gave Israel a new law.[34]
  • Although God denied his request, Moses, much like Christ, offered to make an atonement for Israel’s sins.[35] He even offered his own life on their behalf so the Lord would forgive them.[36]
  • Moses lead the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt to promised land. Similarly, much like Christ leads us out of this wicked world, into the Celestial Kingdom.[37]
  • Both ascended into heaven into a cloud at the conclusion of their mortal ministry.[38]

Cain and Abel
  • Abel was another type for Christ. Abel was a shepherd,[39] and Christ is the Good Shepherd.[40]
  • Abel’s brother Cain is a type for Satan, for both Cain and Satan were responsible for the death of their innocent brothers. 
  • Just as Satan’s plan in the pre-existence did not involve the shedding of blood and was rejected by God,[41] so too was Cain's offering rejected by God because it did not involve the shedding of blood.[42]
  • Both were called perdition.[43]
  • Both fell and were cast out of their father’s presence.[44]
  • Just as Satan convinced 1/3rd of his brother and sisters to follow him, so too did Cain convince many of his brothers and sisters to follow him into another land.[45]

Read about Isaac as a "type of Christ" here.
Read about the Golden Plates as a "type of Christ" here.

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Notes:


[1] Hosea 12:10.
[2] Genesis 37:2.
[3] John 10:14.
[4] Genesis 37:3.
[5] Genesis 37:23-28; Mark 15:24.
[6] Genesis 37:26-28; Matthew 26:15.
[7] Genesis 39:16-19; Matthew 26:59-60.
[8] Genesis 41:46; Luke 3:23.
[9] Genesis 41:39-43.
[10] 1 Peter 3:19.
[11] Genesis 42: 6-8.
[12] Genesis 45:1-3.
[13] Genesis 45.
[14] Genesis 41:39; Genesis 43:26-28.
[15] D&C 76:110.
[16] Moses 1:6.
[17] Exodus 1:22; Matthew 2:16.
[18] Exodus 24:18; Matthew 4:2.
[19] Moses 1:12; Matthew 4:1.
[20] Moses 1:21-22; Matthew 4:10.
[21] Moses 1:2; JST Matthew 4:2.
[22] See for example, Nibley, Approaching Zion, p. 127. 
[23] D&C 105:10-12; D&C 95:9; Luke 24:49.
[24] Moses 1:27; See also Moses 1-5.
[25] Matthew 4:8-9.
[26] See The Words of Joseph Smith, p. 246, and Temples of the Ancient World, p. 69.
[27] John 2:9-11.
[28] Exodus 7:20.  For more information on these 10 plagues, see Brunson, “The 10 Plagues of the Exodus.”
[29] JST Genesis 50:29; Matthew 2:15.
[30] Exodus 16:15.
[31] John 6:35.
[32] Exodus 34:29-30.
[33] D&C 29:13.
[34] Exodus 34:4 ; Matthew 5:17.
[35] Exodus 32:30.
[36] Exodus 32:30-32.
[37] For more information on this exodus, see Brunson, “The Exodus Pattern.
[38] Acts 1:9; Alma 45:19; Jude 1:9.  See also McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary 3:420-423.
[39] Moses 5:17.
[40] John 10:14.
[41] Abraham 3:27-28.
[42] Moses 5:18-41.  For more information ab out this offering, see Brunson, “Adam’s Coat of Skins.”
[43] Moses 5:24; D&C 76:26.
[44] Moses 5:41; D&C 76:26-27.
[45] Moses 5:41; Abraham 3:28.