When we study the Old Testament, we find what are called "types" that are fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah. In these types, there is a correspondence between people, events or rituals of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ. For instance, the Passover was a foreshadow or type of the blood of the Lamb of God who would take away our sin and free us from bondage, who's covering would spare us from judgement, and who's mark separates and distinguishes us from the world. Paul taught us in his writings that the sacrifices and rituals were a shadow of things to come (Colossians 2:16-17; Hebrews 10:1). Some types point directly to the Messiah, such as the prophecy that He would be born in Bethlehem. "But thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah," Micah the prophet spoke, "yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2). Other types are shadows, such as the Passover and the killing of a spotless lamb. "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us," Paul told the believers at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Still others. however, were prophetic in nature, but the event or words spoken were unknown to be prophetic until revealed later in the New Testament. For instance, the Jewish exiles weeping as they marched past the tomb of Rachel in Ramah probably did not realize that their suffering was prophetic of the day that Herod commanded all children 2 years and under to be killed as he tried in vain to crush the Messiah. "Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." (Matthew 2:16-18; fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15).
The stories and events of the Old Testament were given to us for examples and for our instruction. Paul said to the Corinthians concerning the stories of Israel's redemption from Egypt and their wanderings in the wilderness, "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.... Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them..... Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed..... Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted..... Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmered..... Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition." (1 Corinthians 10: 1-11).
Then there is the great and beautiful "Faith Chapter" of the Book of Hebrews (Hebrews 11:4-12:2), which speaks of the great faith and works of the men and women of the Old Testament. If Heaven had a Hall of Fame, this would be it. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab. "These all died in the faith", Paul told us, "not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth..... They desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:13-16).
Paul continues..... "And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."