High Holy Days
It’s too early to wish you a Merry Christmas, so I won’t! Although it’s just a matter of a few short weeks before Christmas merchandising begins.
The month of Kislev (November/December) is also when Hanukkah, the Feast of Dedication is celebrated on the Jewish calendar. As important as Hanukkah and Purim (February) are to Israelis and Jews the world over, neither is one of the seven festivals ordained by God in the Torah.
For Judaism and Jews, even the secular among them, four of these festivals bear more significance than the others: Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot.
Passover is observed during the month of Nisan (March/April). The Christian counterpart is Good Friday and Easter Sunday—when the Passover Lamb of God, Messiah Jesus was slain for the sins of the world, then arose from the dead three days later to seal the New Covenant God made with Israel almost 2,000 years ago. The other three commemorations take place in the Hebrew month of Tishrei (September/October … occasionally into early November), making it the single-most important month of the year for Jews … the High Holy Days.
Rosh Hashana—Jewish (civil) New Year Feast of Trumpets, Tishrei 1.
Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement, Tishrei 10.
Sukkot—Feast of Tabernacles, Tishrei 15-21.
Then one extra-day called Simchat Torah that means Rejoicing in the Torah, which is all the Hebrew Scriptures, but more specifically (especially for Orthodox Jews) the five books of Moses and The Law.
Today’s Eye of Prophecy article posted on September 29th is the 6th day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the 20th day of Tishrei. This is also the time of year in which many Christian scholars (me included) believe that Messiah Jesus was born. Some narrowing it down to the seven-day Festival of Tabernacles.
(Jews celebrating Feast of Tabernacles in a Sukkah, a makeshift hut or tent)
Whatever month/day a person is born is important to them … it’s their birthday!
On a brief personal note, this time of the year is meaningful to me for another reason: my birthday was yesterday, September 28th. Long before learning what day on the Hebrew calendar I was born; my favorite numbers were and still are three and seven. My email address contains those numbers … 773. When I discovered my Hebrew calendar birthdate, those numbers became even more relevant (for me). I was born on the 3rd day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the religious (original) Hebrew calendar. And in a Hebrew year that contains two sevens (as does the current Jewish year … 5779).
Jesus’s exact birth date would be great to know. Yet, it is not as imperative (to know) as is remembrance of the fact that he came into this world and why. Sadly, many who honor the Christmas season don’t know why Jesus was born and/or ignore the reason in favor of just celebrating the season. For example: among other magnificent names and titles ascribed to him (such as found in Isaiah 9:6-7), the coming Messiah would be Immanuel—God with us.
“As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ‘Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’
“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us’” (Matthew 1:20-23, quoting Isaiah 7:14).
Messiah would literally “tabernacle” among his people.
No Sacrificial Offerings … No Redemption
Notably, the Feast of Tabernacles is the final of the seven ordained feasts which makes it exceptional for that reason alone. Sukkot brings together the six previous festivals of the year by remembering everything the Lord did for his people before, during, and after the Exodus. Beginning with Abraham, God manifested himself (appeared), then dwelt among them in the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies and later the Temple, from the time of Moses to the time of Ezekiel … approximately 700 years.
First, the Lord redeemed his people physically from Egyptian slavery and spiritually from themselves—through the atoning sacrifice of the Passover Lambs. He provided everything they needed in preparation for their entrance into the Promised Land (given to them as a perpetual inheritance) to serve him and to be a conduit of God’s Word and the light of his salvation to all people.
In spectacular fashion, he gave them the Law of Moses with universal moral decrees found in the Ten Commandments (written by the finger of God on stone tablets) as well as civil and ceremonial regulations. Included in the Covenant of the Law was the (mandatory) Levitical sacrificial system; on-going atonement for sins of commission and omission—individually and as a nation. Setting apart Israel from the pagan nations that idolized many man-made gods, whose standards or lack thereof resulted in self-absorption, immorality, slavery to sin and to each other (tyranny).
(Scene from Movie, The Ten Commandments)
Judaism continues to adhere to the Law of Moses as the ultimate means of redemption, despite the loss of the Temple and the all-important sacrificial system. That is the subject of the last two Eye of Prophecy articles: God’s New Covenant with Israel … Minus the Temple, Part I & II, posted 9-8 & 9-15-18.
It’s good that many Jews continue to observe the festivals enacted by their (and our) Creator—the God of the universe; also called the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From the Patriarchs came the Promised Child to bring salvation to the Jew first, then to the Gentiles.
Yet, they keep these festivals without the required sacrifices, most notably Passover, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Why? Because they are in denial that Messiah has already come; that the New Covenant promised through Jeremiah arrived two thousand years ago with the birth, life, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. That his sacrifice was the once-for-all redemption for sin, freely given to all Jews and Gentiles who would believe and receive him as personal Savior.
The substitutionary sacrifice of God’s Son, Messiah Jesus, not only ended the repeated offerings for atonement, it solved the otherwise unsolvable dilemma of (practicing) Judaism. As first expressed in Eye of Prophecy trilogy Where is the Temple? (Posted 11-29-14 through 12-13-14). And repeated in the articles listed above. As follows:
No Temple, no sacrificial offerings. No sacrifices, no atonement forgiveness of sins. No forgiveness, no redemption. No redemption, no right standing with God.
Except for tens of thousands of Messianic Jews around the world, to this day Judaism cannot or will not make the cause and effect connection between rejection of their Messiah Savior to the subsequent loss of the Temple and sacrificial system. Even though both Daniel and Jesus foretold these ominous events and in the order of their occurrence: Messiah would be killed, then Jerusalem and the Temple destroyed (Daniel 9 and Matthew 23-24).
This week’s article and next week’s sequel will examine one other point of denial or dismissal, one that comes in two parts:
(1) Judaism’s denial that Jesus is the Son of God or even that God has a Son, with a corresponding conclusion that Messiah is not divine. As alluded in several Eye of Prophecy articles and thoroughly covered in two articles (Does God Really Have A Son? Part I & II posted 10-31 & 11-7-15): not just the New Testament, but the Old Testament emphatically and incontrovertibly declare that God does, in fact, have a Son. That the Son is also God, with compelling evidence that God’s Son is the Messiah; therefore, the Messiah is of divine origin.
Although there are more, the most recognizable passages are: Psalm 2 & 110; Micah 5; Isaiah 9. With, of course, New Testament Scriptures identifying Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God, e.g. Matthew 1, Luke 2, John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, and many other passages, not the least of which is John 3:16. Plus, the historical fact that Jesus precisely fulfilled dozens of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. All in keeping with crystal clear testimony that the true and living God is one God in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—as found in several portions of Scripture.
Beginning with Genesis in which the Lord says, “…Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…” (Genesis 1:26, emphasis added). Culminating with the last book of the Bible: Revelation—in which God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ (the Son) are all mentioned.
(2) Accordingly, most Jews, even those knowledgeable in the Hebrew Scriptures, have overlooked, minimized, or dismissed altogether several amazing Old Testament events that had one thing in common: In addition to God’s appearances to people (in other than bodily form), the Lord ALSO appeared on select occasions as a man. What has been termed: Pre-Incarnate Appearances of Messiah Jesus.
It’s not just non-Messianic Jews. Many students, teachers, and commentators of the Bible don’t always grasp or differentiate between the distinct ways in which God communicated or interacted directly with people in Old Testament times. Meaning which Person of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit appears and/or speaks to someone (however, with consensus that the Holy Spirit never appeared, rather He “came upon” people or inspired the writers of Scripture). Or the difference between an angel of the Lord and the Angel of the Lord who manifested themselves in human form on special occasions.
I suppose an Orthodox rabbi would respond: If Christians would simply discard their belief that God has a Son and the Holy Spirit is not the third Person of the (non-existent) Trinity, then there wouldn’t be any confusion over the Lord’s palpable appearances to people.
That skeptical viewpoint is precisely the point (theme) of this and next week’s article that begs the question: How does one explain those differences considering what Scripture plainly teaches about God (the Father)? To wit: God is Spirit; moreover, no man or woman can look on God and live to tell about it. In many of the Lord’s manifestations as a man, the person or people to whom he appeared voiced relief that they did not die from that direct encounter with the Lord. Why did they not die when they knew from even before Moses’ era that a face to face (so to speak) meeting with God would be fatal?
We’ll look at both types of the Lord’s astounding appearances; this week focusing on God the Father’s direct meeting with people. (Plus, a third means of God’s indirect interaction with people through angels). With an emphasis next week on the powerful Pre-Incarnate Epiphanes of the Son of God—Messiah Jesus.
God (the Father) Speaking and/or Appearing to People
Normally these engagements were with the Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—or God’s prophets; in visions or dreams or audibly (or personally!).
Regarding the non-tangible events, the Bible is not always clear whether God the Father spoke to someone externally (audibly) or they internally processed the Lord’s message through inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Nor does that really matter, as Scripture plainly indicates the person heard precisely what God was saying, sometimes answering back. Frequently, the Lord conversed in the first person … I, my, me. God even spoke to a child, although the child didn’t at first know that it was the Lord speaking to him. Do you know the name of that child?
Correct: Samuel. Who would grow up to be one of Israel’s greatest prophets.
Beginning with Adam and Eve, who experienced first-hand the awesome presence of God in the Garden of Eden; with the obvious implication that the Lord spoke with them from the time they were created, though they could not see him. Obvious, because right after they sinned against God, we read the following with the clear connotation that Adam and Eve weren’t at all surprised that the Lord showed up and spoke to them. In fact, they foolishly hid themselves thinking the Lord wouldn’t find them.
“When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He replied, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ the Lord God asked…” (Genesis 3:8-11).
You probably know the entirety of that scene, one that changed mankind’s destiny; yet one that God would remedy with his awesome plan of redemption and restoration.
Later the Lord spoke audibly to Cain. Do you know or remember the reason? Hint: It had to do with the first murder in the world.
Next up was Noah and again the subject was sin and wickedness, but not Noah’s.
“So God said to Noah, ‘I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth! Build a large boat…’” (Genesis 6:13-14a). Before, during, and after the Great Flood, the Lord spoke to Noah several times.
In the post-Flood era, Abram (God later changed his name to Abraham) was the next person with whom God spoke: “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country … and go to the land that I will show you’” (Genesis 12:1, capitals in the text as in many other passages because it was YHWH, himself speaking).
Whenever LORD is capitalized in Scripture (over 6,000 times), it is a substitute for Yahweh, God’s Holy Name … I AM.
In the next five verses of Chapter 12, we read that Abram obeyed the Lord and journeyed to this land, called Canaan at the time. Later we’re told that Abraham’s faith in God and obedience to what the Lord told him to do was “credited to Abraham as righteousness;” right standing with God—forever (Genesis 15:6). It is this same faith (trust) that is the basis of redemption for all people—first in God’s promise of the Promised Child (through Isaac), then in the Promised Child, himself—Messiah Jesus whom God sent at his appointed time in history.
Some forget that Abram and his family (virtually all the people of his time) worshipped many gods … polytheistic. I’ve convinced that one of the reasons—most likely the main or only reason—that Abraham believed it was, in fact, the LORD (the true and living God) who had graciously chosen him to be the progenitor of a nation in a land promised to Abraham and his descendants was because God spoke to him. No other (man-made, non-existent) god had ever spoken to anyone. They can’t … they’re not real. However, hundreds of times we read in the Bible that, “God said.” Or, “I, the Lord, have spoken.”
Soon after Abraham and his family (including Lot) arrived in Canaan, something even more breathtaking took place—though most people including observant Jews and even we believers in Yeshua tend to take for granted. We do so because we read that God spoke to people so often, which is amazing enough; but is not quite the same thing as what comes next in Abraham’s life.
“Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the LORD, who had appeared to him” (Genesis 12:7, italics for emphasis). Where and why did Abram build an altar? He built it there because the LORD appeared to him (there).
Astounding! God appeared to Abraham, but not bodily. Otherwise Scripture (as it does in many scenes in which the Lord shows himself in person as the Preincarnate Christ) would have said so. Nor does that chapter tell us how the Lord’s appearance was manifested. Later, however, when the Lord appeared again to confirm His covenant with Abram, God’s presence was revealed in a “flaming torch” (Genesis 15:17).
And, of course, many—both believers and unbelievers—know that God tangibly appeared to Moses in/from a blazing bush. A bush that burned without being consumed; the purpose of which was to protect Moses from God’s glory. Even then, Moses could only get so close to the bush. Obviously, this was no ordinary fire. Nor any ordinary god!
“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of the bush… When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’
‘Here I am!’ Moses replied.
‘Do not come any closer,’ the Lord warned. ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God” (Exodus 3:2-6).
Before Moses knew that it was the Lord God talking to him from the fire, he began by saying, the angel of the Lord (appeared to him).
The word angel means messenger. That is what angels are: messengers and agents of God who speak and act on behalf of the Lord. In just a few seconds, Moses knew full well that it was God himself who was there, speaking to him … not one of God’s angels. This is one time when the angel of the Lord turned out to be God. However, notice that God wasn’t there in bodily form, another indication that it was God the Father who met with Moses.
Face to Face
God spoke with and appeared to Moses far more than any other person in history. So much so, Scripture tells us in the context of Moses’ eulogy: “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10).
When the Lord summoned Moses’ brother and sister (Aaron and Miriam) to stand in front of him alongside Moses, he admonished them for challenging Moses’ authority: “And the Lord said to them, ‘Now listen to what I say: If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face … He sees the Lord as he is…” (Numbers 12:6-8).
However, whether these face-to-face encounters were on Mt. Sinai or at/in the Tabernacle or elsewhere, Scripture is abundantly clear that God’s presence (his holy, brilliant, lethal light… as he is) was veiled by a dark cloud or fie. Why? Because no man can look directly at God and survive.
In the scene just described, the Lord told them to meet him at the Tabernacle. “Then the Lord descended in the pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle. ‘Aaron and Miriam!’ he called, and they stepped forward” (Numbers 12:5).
As many people know, it was in a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night through which God (his very presence) led his people for forty years in the wilderness.
The one time that God permitted Moses to look at God’s unshielded glory, he was not allowed to look at God straight on.
“Moses responded, ‘Then show me your glorious presence.’ The Lord replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you … But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live … As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen’” (Exodus 33:18-23).
*Note: God the Father is Spirit … always has been, always will be. That’s why he sometimes used anthropomorphic terms, ascribing human features to himself, i.e. hand, face.
(God’s glory passing in front of Moses took place when Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments on stone the second time)
From Abraham’s time (even before God told/reminded Moses) those who subsequently believed in the Lord—including the entire nation of Israel during Moses’s ministry and thereafter—knew that no one could look on the LORD and live to tell about it.
Thus, Scripture is unequivocally clear that whenever God’s actual (proximate) presence appeared to people, his glory (the very essence/holiness of God) was concealed in some fashion. For example, when the Lord met with Job, he spoke and protected Job from God’s glory through a whirlwind.
God the Father’s manifested appearances ended with the prophet Ezekiel, who witnessed “the glory of the LORD” depart from Solomon’s Temple, even before the Temple was destroyed some six years later. At the beginning of his ministry, Ezekiel witnessed God’s glory that radiated from within, “…a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone with brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber” (Ezekiel 1:4).
Yet, there are several other events in which the Lord appeared to someone as a man. Was this man, God? Answer: Yes and no. Yes, he was God. No, he was not God the Father. He was God the Son. The Bible is not contradicting itself, as Scripture is equally transparent that God is Three in One.
In the remainder of today’s article and in the entirety of next week’s sequel, we’ll look at some of these remarkable occurrences. Beginning with one of the most well-known stories in the Bible. Talk about “face to face!” This encounter was so up-close and personal that the person touched God.
I’m thinking that some of you already know which one.
Read with me a portion of this extraordinary episode: “This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break…. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!’
But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’
‘What is your name?’ the man asked.
“He replied, ‘Jacob.’
‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ the man told him. ‘From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.’
‘Please tell me your name,’ Jacob said.
‘Why do you want to know my name?’ the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.
“Jacob named the place Peniel (which means ‘face of God’), for he said, ‘I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared’” (Genesis 32:24-30, parenthesis in the text).
There’s no doubt whatsoever: Jacob knew that this mysterious man was God. Who but the Lord had the authority to change Jacob’s name to Israel or Abram’s name to Abraham, or Sarai to Sarah? Who but God had the sovereign power to bless Jacob, thus confirming God’s covenant with Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob. A covenant that would create an entire nation, a nation that would be called Israel. In the context of when this scene took place, it’s also deductively evident that Jacob wanted the man’s (God’s) immediate blessing to spare Jacob from the wrath of his brother Esau, whom he would meet that very day.
What Jacob didn’t know, nor others who had subsequent encounters with the Lord in human form during Old Testament times: this man with whom he wrestled was the Incarnate Son of God. The God/man who could have easily defeated Jacob in a minute but wanted to test Jacob’s perseverance to obtain the blessing. The same man who would arrive once-for-all as Mary’s child—the Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Man (Messiah) to establish God’s New Covenant with Israel. A Covenant that would also extend to Gentiles who believed and received this man as their Lord and Savior.
That’s why Messiah (Jesus) didn’t reveal his name to Jacob. His entrance into the human race that he created, permanently taking on human form and bearing a human name (in addition to all his divine titles) wouldn’t take place until the appointed time, over a thousand years later.
God Interaction Directly with People Via His Angels—angelic beings
In lieu of God the Father or God the Son (whose description is sometimes the angel of the Lord, as opposed to an angel), some of the Lord’s messages to or actions on behalf of people came through angels. With these angels appearing either as a man or in their actual angelic form (heavenly beings/bodies), depending on the situation.
One example of angels in the form of men were the two who met with Abraham and Sarah. Along with a third man, who was clearly the Lord himself—the 2nd Pre-Incarnate appearance of Christ to Abraham. The first being that of Melchizedek. (See Eye of Prophecy article, Melchizedek … A Man of Mystery! Posted 3-3-18).
Abraham knew convincingly that this third man was the LORD, because he called him by that very title. And exclaimed during his intercession for Lot and his family: “…Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25).
An example of angels materializing (crossing dimensions) in their created form is first found in the book of Genesis following God’s indictments against Adam and Eve. “So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden … After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24).
(See Ezekiel Chapters 1 & 10 & Revelation 4, for description of Cherubim–living beings–which are somewhat accurately depicted in this painting)
One other well-known scene is that of angels (as angels) descending and ascending on Jacob’s stairway or ladder; a real occurrence but experienced as a dream or what could be termed a vision while asleep … rather than a fully conscious (awake) encounter. Also, when Gabriel approached Daniel in real-time and place and conveyed to him some of the most astonishing end-times revelations found in the Bible (see Daniel 8 & 9).
Something I hadn’t fully realized until writing this article: There aren’t that many instances in the Old Testament in which angels appear to men in their angelic form. At least not compared to the number of Pre-Incarnate appearances of Messiah Jesus. However, there are several angelic appearances in the New Testament, including Gabriel to Mary to announce that through her the Messiah would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. And before that, Gabriel’s announcement in the Temple’s Holy of Holies to Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth (in their old age) would conceive a son whose name would be John (the Baptist).
And not the least of which are angels appearing at the birth of Jesus, in his anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, at his resurrection, and immediately after his ascension back to heaven.
“So they went in (to the tomb), but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, ‘Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!’” (Luke 24:3-6).
Although appearing as men, their dazzling attire left no doubt that they were angels.
He is risen, indeed!
Things to Ponder
Yeshua never sinned. He perfectly kept and faultlessly fulfilled the Law of Moses. Thus, he alone qualified as the once for all substitutionary offering to atone for our rebellion against God. The Father accepted that incredible sacrifice; the innocent for the guilty, just for the unjust, righteous for the unrighteous and will pardon the penalty of sin (eternal death—separation from God) for all who believe and receive His Son as personal Savior.
From the time when Jesus of Nazareth came into this world and altered time itself (B.C. to A.D.), the greater majority of people have refused to believe that Jesus is both man and God.
Yet unbelieving Gentiles ascribed human characteristics to their pagan gods, e.g. Zeus, Venus, Mars. Modern-day comic-book (and other genre) movies do the same thing. Both super heroes and super villains are imbued with supernatural powers, able to transform themselves into whatever suits the writer’s and director’s fancy and whatever entices audiences. With an underlying implication that is anything but subtle: these characters possess God-like features in the flesh. But when it comes to the real thing, the real-deal; so many dismiss and even ridicule any thought that God would become man through the Son.
Most Jews to this day believe it’s an anathema to claim that God has a Son; thus, except for Messianic Jews, they do not believe that the coming Messiah (for believers, His return) is Divine.
As we’ve seen and will see more of next week, this conflicts with the indisputable evidence found in the Hebrew Scriptures: God appeared to men not only as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also in the form of a man. When that happened, the people whom the man met in person recognized that they had come “face-to-face” with God. Yet, this man couldn’t have been God, the Father, because God is Spirit, and no one can look on him and live. Moreover, when God the Father (his glory) did appear before men, it was never in bodily form.
Why is it so difficult to apprehend and accept clear Biblical truth that God is one God in Three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Especially when we see perceptible examples (albeit not totally adequate to explain the Trinity) in nature. Such as water in three forms—liquid, ice, and gas. Or the essence of the sun itself, visible only by its burning rays (light) and felt only by its heat.
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1:15).
The people involved in these direct Old-Testament encounters didn’t realize at the time that their face to face meeting with the Lord was the 2nd Person of the Godhead, the coming Messiah. Nonetheless, by the time the entire Old Testament was written, all of God’s people could have and should have known that the man who appeared personally to some of their ancestors was Divine—the Lord. Just as King David said he was.
While teaching in the Temple, Jesus presented David’s astounding proclamation regarding the Son of God (Psalm 110) as a question … a probing challenge. In doing so, he identified all three Persons of the Godhead:
“…Why do the teachers of religious law claim that the Messiah is the son of David? For David, himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David himself called the Messiah, ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?’” (Mark 12:35-37).
Jesus’s question was rhetorical. The answer was obvious. David had already announced that God has a Son (Psalm 2). And this Son (of David) was also David’s Lord, as much as “the LORD” (God the Father) was David’s Lord.
Though David’s Lord was a descendant of David, he also preexisted David. As the prophet Micah later said: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past…. And he will be the source of peace” (Micah 5:2 & 9).
Messiah Jesus said the same thing regarding himself and Abraham. “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!’” (John 8:58).
Don’t miss next week’s sequel. More of God’s physical appearances to people will be identified, some of which even ardent students of Scripture sometimes fail to recognize as the Pre-Incarnate Messiah (Jesus).
Hopefully, with two significant results: (1) To demonstrate especially to the Jews and Judaism that these appearances were a prototype preview to prepare 1st century Jews (and Gentiles) for the stunning reality of God in human form—in the person of God’s Son. (2) The correlation of these encounters to God’s choice of Israel and the Jews to accomplish his magnificent plan for them, for the entire human race.