As He was waling on the road to Emmaus on the day He resurrected, Jesus came upon 2 disciples who were sad and confused over their Messiah’s death. While walking with them He went back through the Old Testament and explained to them all the things it had to say about Him (Luke 24:13-35). That night back in Jerusalem He gave this same talk to all His disciples gathered in the upper room (Luke 24:45). What a lesson that must have been!
Too often we relegate Jesus to the New Testament miss all the Old Testament has to say about Him. There are hundreds of prophecies (456 the rabbi’s say) and many, many types as well. These are pictures of Him, like Joshua being a picture of Jesus as deliver, Melchizedek a picture of Jesus as eternal king and priest in one, Joseph a picture of one rejected by his brothers despite no recorded sin in his life, Passover and the innocent blood of a lamb to cover sin and hundreds more. But what we often overlook is Jesus’ appearances in the Old Testament.
Now understand that He wasn’t called ‘Jesus’ until He took up our humanity at His birth, but He always existed as the Second Person of the Trinity (John 1:1, 15; 8:58). He was with the Father before creation (John 17:5, 24) and took part in creation itself (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17). He even walked and talked with Adam and Eve in Eden (Genesis 3:8-24). The Bible tells us that no man has seen God (the Father) at any time (John 1:18) and the Holy Spirit is unseen with no visible form. Therefore every appearance of God to man is the Second Person of the Trinity, before His birth, when He was on earth as the man Jesus, and when He returns at the end of the Tribulation to rule and reign on earth (Revelation 19-22). Not only did this same Person walk and talk with Adam and Eve, He killed the animals whose skins were used to cover their shame and guilt. In doing this He knew that it was just a picture of what He Himself would do to cover sin when He came to earth.
It was this same Second Person of the Trinity, this ‘Jesus’ before His birth, who spoke with Noah, then closed the door of the ark and joined them inside. He rescued Hagar when she fled Abraham (Genesis 16:7-14) and appeared to Abraham to reaffirm the covenant (Genesis 17:1-27). He came to Abraham to assure Him He would have a son the next year (Genesis 18:1-15) and then later told about the coming destruction of Sodom (Genesis 18:16-19:22). He stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and provided a substitute instead (Genesis 22:10-11). In fact, this was done in the same place where He Himself would die on the cross as the final substitute for all our sins.
He also spoke to Jacob in a dream (Genesis 31:11-13) and wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 32:24-32). He appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-14). He brought the plagues on the Egyptians and led the Jews out of Egypt in the cloud of fire. He gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai and appeared many, many times to speak with Moses (Exodus 33:11).
He blocked the way of Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22:21-35), gave Joshua instructions as to how to conquer Jericho (Joshua 5:13 – 6:2) and appeared to Gideon (Judges 6:11-23 and Samson’s father (Judges 13:1-7). He appeared to many of the prophets like Ezekiel (1:1-28) and Zechariah (1:12; 12:8). He was in the fiery furnace with Daniel’s three friends (Daniel 3:25) and killed 185,000 Assyrians in a single night when they surrounded Jerusalem (II Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36). In fact, when He came it was to bring judgment on sin. That is true in Old Testament where He brought judgment in the form of the flood, to Sodom and Gomorrah, in Egypt, on the Canaanites through Joshua, on the Assyrian army and many others. In the future He will return to earth to bring judgment at the end of the tribulation. When He was born as Jesus and grew up as a man, that was to bring judgment on sin as well. Only instead of the judgment being poured out on guilty mankind He took it Himself on the cross to spare us results of His judgment (Romans 8:1). Coming as the meek and mild Jesus, full of grace and mercy, is only possible because He became our substitute.
Every time God appears to man in the Bible it is the Second Person of the Trinity. In New Testament He is called Jesus. In the Old He is referred to as ‘God’, ‘Lord’ or more commonly ‘The Angel of the LORD.’ ‘Angel’ is Hebrew word which means ‘messenger.’ Jesus was God’s messenger. ‘LORD’ is the special covenant name God used with His people. It was composed of 4 consonants, Y, H, W, H. In honor and respect the Jews never pronounced this name so no one knows what the vowels were, but ‘Jehovah’ and ‘Yahweh’ or the most common suggestions. Basically it means “I AM,” referring to God’s eternal existence, The Fist and Last, the Alpha and Omega. When Jesus used this name for Himself (John 8:58) the Jews understand He was claiming to be the One Who appeared to man in the Old Testament and tried to stone Him for blasphemy (John 8:59f).
Think through the Old Testament, even go back and reread it. Each time God appears to man think of Him as ‘Jesus’ before His birth. Your understanding and appreciation for Him will grow greatly, as well as your love and trust. It is very moving to see how many times God has reached out to man, and to us as well. It is humbling to realizing that the only reason He didn’t come to bring judgment to us as well is because He volunteered to take that judgment Himself. He stepped in front of us to take the bullet of eternal condemnation for us. What a wonderful God we serve!
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT
Read Matthew 8:22-32. Write down questions you would have asked Matthew were you there when he was writing or reading this passage. Look at the context, what happened before and after this passage, to get additional insight to what it is all about. Then see if you can discover the significance of calling Jesus ‘Son of God’ after this event? Why that name? Why did it become so common? See what you can discover.
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