Theology: CHRISTOLOGY – OLD TESTAMENT VIEW OF CHRIST

In this section we want to see that Christ is not just a person, or being of the Gospels and the church age, but that He was an active participant in the Old Testament economies as well.

 

Let it be said first of all that the Lord Jesus does not appear in the Old Testament by name — as Jesus, or Christ or Messiah — because He had not been born of Mary as yet.

 

This does not negate the fact that He could be in the Old Testament in his divine existence, nor does this negate the fact that He is mentioned in prophecy.

 

Christ’s appearances in the Old Testament are called Christophanies. There is also the term theophany which relates to “God’s” appearances in the Old Testament. The question of whether the Theophanies were always Christ is subject to research. The terms may well be synonymous.

 

I. CHRIST IN PROPHECY

 

Genesis 3:15 was the first indication of one to come. In retrospect, we of the church age, can understand that He is mentioned many times throughout the Old Testament as the coming Messiah. The Jewish people were always looking for the Messiah that would one day come.

 

It is suggested by some that this may well be a part of God’s thinking in his command to Noah and his family to multiply and fill the earth in Genesis 9:1. Had the occupants of the ark not multiplied in the physical realm, there could not have been a Messiah or savior for mankind.

 

We will not dwell on the point of Christ being the Messiah, and that He is in view often in the Old Testament for this is a well-known fact.

 

The Messiah in the Old Testament was prophesied and the Messiah in the New Testament is revealed.

 

 

II. CHRIST IN ACTION

 

A. THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

 

I will list this information in quick, outline order, because most of it is quite self explanatory.

 

1. The Angel of the Lord had physical attributes:

 

a. He could speak. Genesis 16:7,8

 

b. He could be seen. Genesis 16:13

 

c. He could eat. Genesis 18:1,8

 

d. He could see. Genesis 18:16

 

e. He could move. Genesis 18:16

 

f. He was limited or limited Himself. Genesis 32:24,25

 

g. He was limited in time. Genesis 32:26

 

2. The Angel of the Lord had Divine attributes:

 

a. He made great promises that only God could make and keep. Genesis 16:8 A promise to multiply the seed of Hagar.

 

b. He foretold the future. Genesis 16:12 We have our modern day prophets, but none that can foretell the future perfectly, each and every time an attempt is made.

 

c. He was compassionate. Genesis 18:23-32

 

d. He could deal in judgment. Genesis 18:1-33 We deal in judgment at times don’t we. We can judge a person in this life, yet we have no power to judge in the next life and that is where judgment tells the REAL tale.

 

e. He had access to heaven. Genesis 22:11

 

f. He could prosper individuals. Genesis 24:7,40

 

g. He could appear in dreams. Genesis 31:11

 

 

h. He was omnipresent. Genesis 31:12

 

i. He kept men from evil. Genesis 48:16, “An angel who redeemed me from all evil….”

 

j. He could do the supernatural. Exodus 3:1-4

 

k. He wasn’t confined to the human form. Exodus 3:1-4; Exodus 13:21 mentions the cloud of smoke was the Lord; Exodus 14:19 mentions this is the Angel of the Lord.

 

l. He could keep believers. Genesis 28:20, Jacob; Exodus 23:20

 

m. He could draw people to places. Exodus 23:20

 

n. He could kill enemies. 2 Kings 19:35

 

o. He could kill Israelites in Judgment. 1 Chronicles 21:15-18

 

p. He was sent by God. 1 Chronicles 21:15,26 This also shows the Angel of the Lord is not God the Father.

 

q. He could be concerned in the delay of judgment. Zechariah 1:12-14

 

r. He was worshiped. Exodus 3:1-5. Angels of the normal kind, do not allow worship. Revelation 19:10; 22:8,9

 

3. The Angel of the Lord had eyewitness accounts:

 

a. Abraham Genesis 18:1-33; Genesis 22:11-18

 

b. Hagar Genesis 16:13, “she called the name of the Lord who spoke unto her”

 

c. Jacob Genesis 31:11-13; 48:16

 

d. Moses Exodus 3:1-5; 13:21 cf 14:19

 

e. Joshua Joshua 5:13-6:2

 

f. Others 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chronicles 21:14-18; Daniel 3:15-28;

Zechariah 1:12-14

 

4. The Angel of the Lord gave personal testimony of His being God:

 

 

“And the angel of God spoke unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are striped, speckled,

and spotted; for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.” Genesis 31:11-13 cf

 

“And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on.” Genesis 28:19,20

 

5. The Angel of the Lord had to have been Christ pre-incarnate.

 

a. The Angel of the Lord must be God if he has the attributes of God.

 

b. The Father is not the Angel of the Lord. (The Angel of the Lord was sent by the Father.)

 

c. The Holy Spirit is never mentioned as appearing except at the coming of Christ and we have no indication that he has ever appeared other than that.

 

d. The Son has appeared, and this is consistent with the thought that no man has ever seen God. John 1:18 Colossians 1:15, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation;”

 

Christ is the visible part of the trinity due to His becoming man. God in all of his glory has not been seen. Christ mentioned that anyone that had seen Him had seen the Father. (John 14:8-9)

 

e. The Angel of the Lord is not in the New Testament thus it can be assumed that it was Christ as well, for he was incarnate.

 

f. The Father sent both the Angel of the Lord, (I Chron. 21:15; and Christ, (John 4:34).

 

g. Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 that the Lord Jesus was in the wilderness with the Israelites. This was the Lord pre-incarnate. He was there (Exodus 13:21 cf 14:19) thus there is no reason that the Angel of the Lord could not be Christ pre-incarnate.

 

 

Misc. texts of interest: Judges 13:15-18 cf. Isaiah 9:6; 28:29 Malachi 3:1

 

You might find a study of the term “LORD” in the Old Testament interesting. It is the word for Jehovah and is related to the Angel of the Lord. Jehovah is the Angel of the Lord, is LORD, is Christ, is Messiah. Bancroft in Elemental Theology has a section on the Jehovah of the Old Testament revealed in the New Testament. (p 145ff)

 

Might we draw some application from our study thus far?

 

1. Everything we know of the Angel of the Lord is directly transferable to God.

 

His power, His compassion, His leading, His care, His keeping of the believer, and all these concerning Christ we know from the Bible and experience. All of the Old Testament texts further prove all these things about Him as well. Both testaments give witness of these attributes of our Lord.

 

2. We tend to see God the Father as the God of the Old Testament and Christ as God of the New Testament. NOT SO. Christ is ALWAYS, New and Old, the manifestation of God to mankind, be it before or after the incarnation.

 

3. Much of what we’ve seen of Christ pre-incarnate show him

ACTIVELY involved in the lives of God’s people. In this age we have that involvement via the Holy Spirit.

 

4. Some of the Old Testament saints had a personal meeting with God. What an awesome thought, to have a meeting with God. The pillar of fire and smoke — not just fire and smoke but God. All the time in the wilderness knowing that every time you walked out of the tent, you would know that God was watching over you.

 

B. THE ROCK

 

1 Corinthians 10:1-12. When Paul was speaking of the Israelites in the wilderness, he mentions the food that they ate and the water that they drank. That water came from a rock we remember from the Old Testament. Paul says of this rock, “And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”

 

From this text we can draw the fact that not only was Christ the Angel of the Lord, and the Cloud of smoke and pillar of fire that led them in the wilderness, but that He was also the rock that provided water for them in the wilderness.

 

Indeed if you check into some of the following references, you will find that the Lord is mentioned many times as a rock: Exodus 17:1-9, Numbers 20:12, Numbers 27:14, Deuteronomy 32:3,4, Deuteronomy 32:51, 1 Samuel 2:2, 2 Samuel 22:2,3, Psalm 18:2,46, Psalm 106:33, Isaiah 8:13-14,

Isaiah 17:10, Isaiah 26:4.

 

And for some sermon material try the following: Daniel 2:34, Matthew 21:42-44, Matthew 7:24ff, John 4:13, John 6:35, 1 Corinthians 10:4,

Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:1-10, 2 Peter 2:8.

 

III. CHRIST IN SONSHIP

 

Some today suggest that Christ was not the Son of God until He became man. This thought suggests that there was no “Son” relationship until Mary bore Christ.

 

Logically then would there be no “Father” relationship? Proverbs 30:4, “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?”

 

MacArthur states that this reference is looking forward to when Christ would be the Son, but that the son ship did not begin until the incarnation. “As was noted, Son is an incarnaional title of Christ. Though His sonship was anticipated in the Old Testament (Proverbs 30:40), He did not become a Son until He was begotten into time. Prior to time and His incarnation He was eternal God with God. The term Son has only to do with Jesus Christ in His incarnation. It is only an analogy to say that God is Father and Jesus is Son — God’s way of helping us understand the essential relationship between the first and second Persons of the Trinity.” (Taken from: “New Testament Commentary: Hebrews”; MacArthur, John;

 

 

Copyright 1983, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 27)

 

Strong speaks of the eternal generation of the Son, “Not a commencement of existence, but an eternal relation to the Father, –there never having been a time when the Son began to be, or when the Son did not exist as God with the Father.”

 

Romans 8:3 Tells us,

 

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the

likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,”

 

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Begotten Son….”

 

1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

 

This seems to indicate that He was the Son before He was manifested to man. Hebrews 13:8 also indicates this fact. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

 

The use of the term with the Father and Holy Spirit in the baptismal formula and elsewhere would be curious if the term Son is only for the incarnation as MacArthur mentions. One might decide that the term Father was also for the incarnation only. Indeed, the Holy Spirit’s name might also be for the incarnation only.

 

Indeed, to follow MacArthur’s logic we might suggest that the Holy Spirit is a name to allow us to understand the Holy Spirit. His name is actually not Holy Spirit, but God. That makes the Baptismal formula “The God and of The God and of the God.”

 

Technically the eternal generation of the Son deals with His eternality. It was a doctrine that was formed as a result of some of the thinking of Arius and his idea that Christ was created.

 

The only, known to me, Old Testament reference to God as Father is in Isaiah 9:6 which speaks of the “Coming” Messiah. However, it seems that it would be difficult to view three persons of the trinity running around not having names for one another and then in 33 AD deciding that one would be The Father, and one would be The Son and one would be The Holy Spirit. Especially when the Spirit is called the Spirit before the incarnation. Genesis 1 for example.

 

Since Christ was slain from the foundation of the world in God’s mind it would be consistent to view Christ as the Son at least at that point. (Hebrews 4:3; 1 Peter 1:19-20; Ephesians 1:4) A study of the decree’s in relation to this might be of interest as well.

 

Walvoord mentions that the eternal Father Son relationship has been the thought of the Church Fathers since the Council of Nicaea. (Taken from: “Jesus Christ Our Lord”; Walvoord, John F.; Copyright 1969, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 39)

 

HE LISTS SEVERAL POSITIONS

 

1. He mentions that Wardlaw placed the idea that Christ became the Son at the time of the incarnation into existence.

 

“…sonship is inseparably linked with the incarnation and, while Christ existed from eternity past, He was not a Son until the incarnation.” (P 39 of Walvoord quoting Ralph Wardlaw, Systematic Theology, II, 32-60)

 

2. Some mention that the sonship came only after the Father declared Him his beloved Son at the baptism.

 

3. Some have suggested that Romans 1:4, “And declared to be the Son of God with power….” shows that the relationship came at the resurrection.

 

4. Some suggest that the son relation came at the exaltation. Hebrews 1:3 is given as evidence. The problem is that He is called a Son long before this in His incarnation.

 

5. The eternal sonship position presents the following references:

 

Galatians 44, “But, when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of woman, made under the law.”

 

John 316-17, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Begotten Son … For God sent not his Son into the world….”

 

Isaiah 9:6 mentions that a son will be given and it is clearly speaking of Christ.

 

Psalm 27, “I will declare the decree The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”

 

This seems to tie not only the sonship, but the idea of begotten, to the decree. This would place both in eternity past.

 

Walvoord states, “According to this passage, [Colossians 1:15-19] Christ is declared to be the Son of God and begotten in the day of the eternal decree. This is, in effect, a statement that Christ is eternally the Son of

God as the decree itself is eternal.” (Taken from: “Jesus Christ Our Lord”; Walvoord, John F.; Copyright 1969, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.)(See also, Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5)

 

HANDOUT

 

OLD TESTAMENT VIEW OF CHRIST

 

I. CHRIST IN PROPHECY

 

II. CHRIST IN ACTION

 

A. THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

 

1. The Angel of the Lord had physical attributes:

 

a. Genesis 16:8

 

b. Genesis 16:13

 

c. Genesis 18:8

 

d. Genesis 18:16

 

e. Genesis 18:16

 

f. Genesis 32:24,25

 

 

g. Genesis 32:26

 

2. The Angel of the Lord had Divine attributes:

 

a. Genesis 16:8

 

b. Genesis 16:12

 

c. Genesis 18:23-32

 

d. Genesis 18:1-33

 

e. Genesis 22:11

 

f. Genesis 24:7,4

 

g. Genesis 31:11

 

h. Genesis 31:12

 

i. Genesis 48:16

 

j. Exodus 3:1-4. Exodus 3:1-4; Exodus 13:21, cf Exodus 14:19 Exodus

23:20

 

k. Exodus 23:20

 

l. 2 Kings 19:35

 

m. 1 Chronicles 21:15-18

 

n. 1 Chronicles 21:15,26

 

o. Zechariah 1:12-14

 

p. Exodus 3:1-5 cf Revelation 19:10; 22:8,9

 

3. The Angel of the Lord had eyewitness accounts:

 

a. Genesis 18:1-33; Genesis 22:11-18

 

b. Genesis 16:13

 

c. Genesis 31:11-13; 48:16

 

d. Exodus 3:1-5; 13:21 cf. 14:19

 

e. Joshua 5:13-6:2

 

 

f. Others 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chronicles 21:14-18; Daniel 3:15-28;

Zechariah 1:12-14

 

4. The Angel of the Lord gave personal testimony of His being God: Genesis 31:11-13 cf. Genesis 28:19,20

 

5. The Angel of the Lord had to have been Christ pre-incarnate.

 

a.

 

b.

 

c.

 

d.

 

e.

 

f.

 

g.

 

MISC. TEXTS OF INTEREST

 

Judges 13:15-18 cf. Isaiah 9:6; 28:29 Malachi 3:1

 

B. THE ROCK

 

1 Corinthians 10:1-12 — Exodus 17:1-9 — Numbers 20:12 — Numbers

27:14 — Deuteronomy 32:3,4 — Deuteronomy 32:51 — 1 Samuel 2:2 —

2 Samuel 22:2,3 — Psalm 18:2,46 — Psalm 106:33 — Isaiah 8:13-14 —

Isaiah 17:10 — Isaiah 26:4

 

And for some sermon material try the following: Daniel 2:34, Matthew 21:42-44, Matthew 7:24ff, John 4:13, John 6:35, 1 Corinthians 10:4,

Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:1-10, 2 Peter 2:8.

 

III. CHRIST IN SONSHIP

 

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

 

4.

 

5.

[1]

 

 


[1] Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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