Why Should We Expect Appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament?
“For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me, for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46)
Simply put, because Jesus is the “eternal” Son – the Second Person of the Trinity. Jesus said “Before Abraham was, I AM”. Although He took on “flesh” and became a human, to live as a man and die, paying the
penalty for all humankind’s sins, Jesus was and is the the eternal Son of God.
As it it is written in the Gospel according to John, “In the beginning WAS the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in he beginning with God.. and the Word BECAME flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory..”. In this passage, the writer makes it clear that “in the beginning” – ie., at the point when the universe was created – the Word “was” – in other words, He already was existing. Jesus was and is the eternal Son, the second Person of the Trinity.
Yet for a brief period of time,what the Bible refers to as “in the fullness of time”, Jesus – the eternal Son – took on human flesh and became a baby. He left eternity and entered earth’s three dimensional time-space reality, and was born of a virgin, over 2,000 years ago. He lived as a person, yet at the same time He maintained His “oneness” with the Father (“I and the Father are one”). While He was here, He divested Himself of His glory and majesty, and lived as one of us – so that He could show us the way, become a ‘ransom’ for us, and bring us all back into a right relationship with our heavenly Father. Yes, He performed miracles, to attest that He was who He claimed to be – so that “whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
After He died a real death as a human, as He had predicted so many times and as the Old Testament scriptures had foretold, He was raised up by God and exited the earth’s time/space reality, to return to His eternal estate. And just as the scriptures have foretold, He will one day come again to judge the living and the dead, and usher in His kingdom – a “new heaven and a new earth”.
So it should not surprise us if we find many evidences of Jesus appearing in the Old Testament. In fact, we should expectevidence of Christ in the Old Testament Hebrew scriptures, prior to His birth and life in human form. Here are some examples of Jesus appearances in the Old Testament, before He was born some 2,000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem …
Appearances of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament
Gen 3:8-24 Jesus appears in the Old Testament as the LORD God walking in the Garden
- “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
- “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
- “So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
The verses go on to describe the physical manifestation of the LORD speaking with Adam, to enquire how he became aware of being ‘naked’, and what events led up to this knowledge.
Points to note: (1) the first humans hear the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden, which can only mean physical manifestation o f the eternal One; (2) the LORD God calls out to Adam, and converses with him; (3) its not like the LORD God did not ‘know’ where Adam was – He said this make it plain to the reader that Adam had broken a spiritual bond with his Maker, and as a consequence had fallen out of communion with the God of all Creation.
Since the eternal Creator God is Spirit (John 4:24), and “no man has seen God at any time”, except the Son who has revealed Him (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12), this constitutes the first appearance of the pre-incarnate Jesus in the Old Testament – Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).
Gen 16:7-13 Jesus appears in the Old Testament as the “Angel of the LORD”
In this passage Jesus is identified as the “Angel of the LORD”. In this form, Jesus is very distinct from other angels or “messengers” that appear in the Bible…
- The Angel tells Hagar that ‘I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.” Only God can so multiple a people.
- The Angel then tells Hagar what will become of her son Ishmael (which means ‘God hears‘), letting her know what the future holds for her offspring. One of the characteristics of God is to foretell the future, as He exists outside of space and time, and already knows what is to come.
- In verse 13, Hagar ‘called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also seen Him who sees me?”
In verse 13 Hagar is stating that she has seen the LORD – a physical manifestation of YHVH, the all powerful, eternal LORD. Since “God is a Spirit”, and “no man has seen God at any time”, this manifestation must be non other that the pre-incarnate Jesus, “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15).
Gen 18: 1-14 Jesus appears in the Old Testament to Abraham and is called Lord.
- The above statement indicates that a physical manifestation of the eternal YHVH (“LORD”) appeared to Abraham.
- Three ‘men’ appeared before Abraham – the pre-incarnate Jesus, the eternal Son of God, along with two angels.
- A few lines later Abraham declares “My Lord, if I have found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.” Here Abraham refers to one of the three person as ‘Lord’ (the New Testament states in numerous places that ‘Jesus is Lord’).
- Later the person eats a meal prepared by Abraham, indicating that He is in a physical, human manifestation.
- In verse 16 ‘the men’ rose and looked toward Sodom, and ‘Abraham went with them to send them on their way.’ In the next verse, the ‘LORD’ speaks – indicating that one of the three was indeed the eternal Son of God.
- In verse 22, the two men left and went toward Sodom, “but Abraham stood before the LORD.” Here again we have evidence of Abraham standing before a physical manifestation of YHVH. Abraham then engages in a lengthy discussion about the fate of Sodom.
- In verse 33, “the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham..” Again evidence of the LORD not only appearing but speaking.
Gen 19:24 “The LORD rained fire … from the LORD”
In this passage, it describes how the LORD, standing on the earth, rained fire ‘from the LORD out of the heavens.”
- “Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.”
This illustrates that the LORD is in two places at the same time – eternal in the heavens, and on the earth at a point in space and time. My interpretation of the passage is that it is Jesus, as the pre-incarnate LORD, calling fire from the LORD – the eternal Father – in heaven. One GOD, omnipresent, but present in two persons – The eternal Son of God, and the Father of lights.
Gen 32: 24-30 “A Man appears and wrestles with Jacob”. Yet another Old Testament appearance of the pre-incarnate Jesus?
An interesting passage appears later in Genesis, when Jacob istraveling across the land. Jacob is wrestling with someone referred to as “a Man”. The Man touches Jacob’s hip in answer to his struggle against the Man. Jacob then presents a strange request to the Man – to please bless him! The Man does so, and Jacob pronounces he has ‘seen God face to face’:
- “Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.
- Now when He [the Man] saw that He did not prevail against him [Jacob], He [the Man] touched the socket of his [Jacob’s] hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as he wrestled with Him.
- And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he [Jacob] said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!“
- So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said “Jacob.”
- And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
- Then Jacob asked, saying “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about my name?” And He blesses him there.
- So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
Notice that: (1) the person wrestling with Jacob is referred to as a Man; (2) He merely has to touch Jacob’s hip to disable him, evidence of a supernatural act (3) Jacob asks for a blessing, implying that the Man is entitled to bless, and (4) Jacob declares he has ‘seen God face to face’, and (5) Jacob even names the place “Peniel”, which means “the face of God”.
The Bible declares that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24), and that “no man has seen God at any time”, except the Son who has revealed Him (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12). Its interesting to note that Jacob called this place “the face of God” and that Jesus is referred to in the New Testament as the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). In fact, Jesus declared to His followers that “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) It follows therefore that this “Man” must have been the pre-incarnate Jesus, “the image [face] of the invisible God”.
Daniel 3:23-28 “One Like the Son of God” Appears in the Old Testament and Rescues His Servants
In this passage three believers – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego – are thrown into a fiery furnace because of their refusal to worship an image which the king Nebuchadnezzar had created. The surprise comes when one additional “person” appears in the furnace, when all had thought that only three should be in there! Here is the passage:
- And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
- Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste [and] spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
- “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” [fn]
- Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace [and] spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come [here].” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire.
- And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
- Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel [fn] and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!
Why this is likely a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament?: (1) the forth person is a physical being walking like the others, protecting those that are His from harm; (2) the “person” is referred to by the king as “one like the Son of God” (or a son of the gods). Why would this expression be used, if this was merely an angel? Jesus is referred to as the Son of God in NT passages (ref Hebrews 7:3); (3) the unexpected visitor performs a miracle, and shields God’s servants from the flaming furnace; (4) the three exit the furnace when called by the king, but not the forth; (5) the king recognizes that this “person” was indeed an Angel (or angel – messenger) sent from the Most High God to protect His servants.
You’ve Tried Everything Else – Give Jesus a Chance
Jesus said that “Many will come to me and say ‘Lord, Lord – did we not do many good works in your name? But I will say to them, I never knew you.” What’s important to our Lord is relationship, not works.
Good works, although they are by nature good and prepared in advance by God for us to take advantage of, are not sufficient. “Man looks on he outward appearance, but God looks on the heart”. God is interested in your heart – your will, the core of your being. He wants nothing less than to be inside of you, by His Holy Spirit, guiding you and leading you by an intimate relationship with your spirit, every day of your life.
He said in the book of Revelation: “Behold I stand at the door and knock, and if any man open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him.” However, the door of your heart is locked on the inside – only you can unlock the door of your heart and let The Lord Jesus inside. He will not break down the door of your heart – He will never violate your own free will. You must choose to open the door of your heart, and let Him in of your own accord. Then He will come in by His Holy Spirit, and make you a new creation in Christ! You will be ‘born again’ into God’s family, filled with His Holy Spirit, and have a whole new life – God’s life – within you!
Know for certain that you were made for a purpose, and receiving the Lord into your heart and walking daily with Him will help you come to realize His purpose in your life and fulfill it. Jesus said “I am come that you might have life, and that MORE abundantly”. You will have so much MORE in this life, and life eternally as well! If you don’t have a relationship with your Creator, you can! Here is a link to Billy Graham’s web site that can show you how you can accept the Lord into your heart, and begin a right relationship with Him…
Invite JESUS into your heart! Click on: http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/
Old Testament Appearances of Jesus
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