For those unfamiliar with the story of the Bible who may be seeking to remedy that unfamiliarity, I would recommend that they start reading in the New Testament. It is there that they will be introduced immediately to Jesus who is the central character of the whole Bible. For many novice readers of the Bible who then attempt to read the Old Testament of the Bible (its first 39 books), it initially seems like they are reading a completely unrelated story which seems to describe a completely different God.
But with a little patience and persistence the reader will begin to suspect that this is not a different story but is in fact the prequel to the New Testament. Then a strange supernatural thing happens as they continue to become acquainted with the lives of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, as these characters interact with enemies, giants, angels, strange heavenly beings, and GOD Himself, the reader begins to see in a similar way to what a photographer could not previously see clearly until his camera’s focus was adjusted to make the picture clear — the GOD who created, acted, spoke and judged, frequently referred to Himself as ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’, and at times seemed to have conversations with divine characters identified as ‘the LORD’ and ‘Me’ and ‘His Spirit’ (Isa. 48:16).
And this all begins to sound very reminiscent of the GOD described in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With a growing knowledge of the Bible and hunger to understand it, the follower of Christ discovers that literally for thousands of years prior to this day there have been many many others who have also walked the journey of discovery through the mysterious pages of the Bible and have each made a startling discovery about the human Jesus’ pre-existence throughout the pages of the Old Testament.
As a young Christian I used to hear the old-timers say about the Bible, “The New is concealed in the Old and the Old is revealed in the New.” Apparently, what they were saying was that things that would one day be revealed in the New Testament were already in the Old Testament, but were disguised. Those very same disguised things in the Old Testament are then like the disguised super-hero who takes his disguise off to reveal his true identity. The apostle Paul revealed that it was Jesus who created the heavens and the earth in the beginning (Gen. 1:1; Col. 1:15-18). It was the apostle John who recorded that it was the ‘pre-incarnate’ (that is, before Jesus came into the world through the womb of Mary) Jesus who appeared to Abraham with two accompanying heavenly beings before these two accompanists went to Sodom and Gomorrah to destroy its citizens for their sexual perversion (Jn. 8:56). The writer of The Epistle to the Hebrews revealed that it was Jesus who sent the prophets to wayward Israel summoning them to repent, and that throughout this time it was Jesus who was sustaining the entire universe (Heb. 1:1-3). And it was Matthew and Luke who recorded Jesus walking out of Jerusalem to ascend up the overlooking Mount of Olives where Jesus sat down to look at the city that had just rejected Him. Christ then said something that clearly shocked His Jewish disciples. “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, I sent you prophets…and you rejected them.”
This is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion. Buddha did not claim to be GOD (in fact, he claimed there was no GOD). Zoroaster did not claim to be GOD. Mohammed did not claim to be GOD. But Jesus did. Unlike the claim of Mormons (“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”) Jesus was not a human who became a god. And unlike the claim of Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus was not the Archangel Michael who then became the Christ (we note in Revelation 12 that Jesus is distinguished from Michael as He ascended to His Father and was enthroned at His Father’s right hand while the archangel Michael overthrew Satan casting him and his fellow fallen evil beings out of the heaven (Rev. 12:7-9).
& ‘THE ANGEL OF THE LORD’
An “epiphany” is an appearing. A theophany is ‘an appearance of God.’ A Christophany is ‘an appearance of the Second Person of the Godhead (Jesus).’ If you would like to dive a little deeper into the study of theophanies and Christophanies then refer to diagram extract from Holman Bible Dictionary adjacent. There are significant instances of these in which most biblical scholars have reasons to believe that they all refer to pre-incarnate appearances of Christ.
These reasons include:
(i) The theophany is sometimes referred to as the Angel of the LORD who then spoke in the first person as GOD (“I say…” or “I will…”) (Gen 16:7-13) unlike prophets or mere angels who spoke on behalf of the LORD, (“Thus says the LORD…” )
(ii) The theophany often received worship as GOD (Gen. 17:3; Josh. 5:14)
(iii) The theophany is sometimes referred to as the Glory of the Lord (Exo. 33:9-10; Ezek. 10:4) and the Name of the Lord (Isa. 30:27; 59:19).
The Lord Jesus Christ was revealed within the Old Testament as the LORD, GOD, the Angel of the Lord, the Commander of the Army of the Lord, the Name of the Lord, and the Glory of the Lord. The Old Testament writers also revealed that He was the Son of God (Psalm 2:7; Prov. 30:4). In the intertestamental period there was a growing awareness that the God of Israel had an eternal Son (Wisd. of Sol. 2:18; 4Ezra 7:28-29; 13:32, 37, 52; 14:9; Book of Enoch 105:2). This pre-New Testament literature reveals that the Lord Jesus Christ was the eternal Son of God whom the prophet Isaiah not only said that the day was coming when He would be born as a human from the womb of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), the prophet also revealed His magnificent identity:
For to us a child is born,
to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
WHAT THIS ALL MEANS FOR YOU
The GOD who created the universe, our earth, our first father and mother, and you, is your LORD! You were made by Him and for Him. You are not an accident. He has a purpose for your life. But you can choose either to embrace Him as your LORD – leading to your eternal life and divine bliss; or, despise Him and reject His claim to Lordship and declare your eternal opposition to Him. For those who choose the former, and accept Christ as the rightful Lord of their life, they also discover that He cares infinitely for them with an unconditional love. Accepting Christ’s Lordship is a deeply spiritual transaction where He does for the believer what only the True Lord can do – forgive their sins and gift them with eternal life. Knowing Christ as Lord gives the believer a new heart of love and care for others which leads the believer to have a burden to pray for those who do not know the Lord. It is also gives the believer the confidence that their prayers are being heard. And this is why I want you to realise who Jesus really is, and what His Lordship means for you!
Next: Chapter 4
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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Apologetics Part 1 – Introduction To Apologetics, Premium Audio
Apologetics Part 2 – The Apologetic Arguments For God, Premium Audio
Apologetics Part 3 – The Apologetic Arguments For The Bible, Premium Audio