In Hebrews 1:4–14, the writer of Hebrews pulls at least four examples from the Old Testament in which God the Father is speaking to God the Son. In Psalm 2:7, the Father tells the Son, “You are my Son”; in Psalm 45:6–7, He tells the Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever”; in Psalm 102:25–27, He tells the Son, “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth”; and in Psalm 110:1, He tells the Son, “Sit at my right hand.” The Father spoke these words to the Son in the pages of the Old Testament. Jesus read these as declarations from His Father to Him regarding His divine nature. This was necessary to carry Him on in His messianic work in the incarnation.
Jesus read in the Old Testament that He would be the law-keeping Redeemer of His people (compare Ps. 40:7 with Heb. 10:7). Jesus is the willing Servant of the Lord who submitted Himself to all of His Father’s commands and who always did His Father’s will for His people.
Jesus knew that all the promises of God were made first and foremost to Him as the Son of Abraham and Son of David. The Apostle Paul explicitly tells us that the promises made to Abraham and his Seed are made to Christ, as the Seed, before they are made to any of the other covenant people (Gal. 3:16). Jesus had to become “the heir of all things” (Heb. 1:1–4) before any of those who believe in Him become “heirs of all things” in union with Him. The Apostle Paul explained that “all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20). Jesus said yes to the covenant curses that we deserve for our sin in order to merit the covenant blessings for us. Jesus read the legal demands of the covenant law as being dependent on His becoming a curse for us so that we might inherit the blessings (Gal. 3:10–14).
Jesus knew that the Old Testament spoke preeminently of His sufferings and glories (1 Peter 1:10–12), as revealed by His Spirit through the prophets. For instance, Jesus was the only One who would read Psalm 22:1 as referring to the experience He would have on the cross. David was not crucified. David was not actually forsaken of God. The Spirit of Christ revealed the sufferings and glories of Christ to the incarnate Christ in order to prepare Him to experience them in His messianic experience. We see this same principle at work in Psalms 16 and 110 (see Acts 2:23–36). Jesus knew that the whole of the Old Testament was related to His death and resurrection. He explicitly told the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. . . . Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead” (Luke 24:44–46).
Jesus knew that He was the Passover Lamb slain for the sin of His people. He knew that He would be the ram that is substituted for His people just like the ram that stood in for Isaac. He knew that He was to be the goat on which judgment fell, as well as the scapegoat that was sent into the wilderness. Jesus knew that all of the sacrificial animals in the Old Testament were symbolic of His substitutionary, atoning death on the cross. When Jesus read about the cup of God’s wrath in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, He was conscious that He would stand in the place of His people and drink the cup of wrath for them. This explains why He used “cup” symbolism in the garden of Gethsemane when He prayed to His Father. This way of reading the Old Testament is also seen in Jesus’ appeal to Zechariah 13:7 as He went to the cross (Matt. 26:31). Jesus is the Shepherd of Israel who was struck with the sword of God’s wrath for the redemption of His people.
Jesus understood that all the Old Testament types, shadows, and symbols pointed to some aspect of His saving work or benefits. We know this because He pointed to Jacob’s ladder, the serpent on the pole, and the water from the rock (John 1:51; 3:14; 7:37–39) as examples of this principle. Jesus read the Jonah narrative, in part, as typological of His own saving work. He also explained that David, Solomon, and the temple all existed as types that pointed forward to Him (Matt. 12).