Jesus In The Old Testament
Did Jesus appear in the Old Testament? Nearly all Bible scholars agree that He did indeed! The question is, “How many times did He appear? This is where it gets interesting!
I believe He appeared more than many people think. Honestly, I have never heard anyone teach on this subject in great depth, and that is what I want to do here. I am going to share why I believe He appeared in “many” places, and give a lot of Bible verses to back this up. You can then make your own decisions.
Why is this important? Let me ask this question: “How were people saved in the Old Testament? This is a commonly asked question. Many mistakenly think that people were saved by sacrifices and keeping the Law. However, the Bible teaches that this is false, and that man can only be saved by faith, and not by keeping the Law (Gal 2:16)(Gal 3:11)(Rom 3:20,28)(Acts 13:39)(Phil 3:9), just as we are today.
In addition, because of their faith, they were declared “righteous,” just as we are today.
(Rom 4:3) “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Also see: Gen 15:6, Gal 3:6, James 2:23)
(Rom 4:6) continues, quoting David, and saying a man is blessed “whom God imputeth righteousness without works.”
(Heb 11:4) says Abel was declared righteous by faith.
(Heb 11:7) says Noah, “became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”
So, since Jesus had not yet been born until the New Testament, who did the people of the Old Testament have to place their faith in? By whom were they made “righteous?”
***Note: While Jesus has always existed as God, He took on human form to come to earth, and become the sacrifice for our sins. This is known as the “Incarnation.” While on earth, Jesus was “fully God and fully man.”
A commonly used phrase is that in the Old Testament, people looked forward to Jesus (the Messiah), and today we look back to Jesus. Dozens upon dozens of things in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus (i.e. the Tabernacle, and the things in it, blood sacrifices, the unblemished lamb, the Passover, manna from heaven, ceremonial cleansing laws, the Sabbath, etc). In addition, many verses in the OT prophesied a Messiah was coming (Gen 3:15)(Gen 12:2-3)(Gen 49:8-12)(Num 24:15-19)(Deut 18:15-18)(Ps 78:2)(Isa 7:14)(Isa 53:3)(Mic 5:2)(Zech 9:9). New Testament verses also back this up (Jn 1:19-25,41,45)(Jn 4:25)(Jn 6:14)(Jn 7:40-41)(Acts 3:17-26)(Acts 7:37).
HOWEVER, what if the God and Lord who appeared, and spoke with those in the Old Testament was indeed JESUS in a majority of cases? Could their faith and trust in Him have played a role in their salvation? I believe this is possible, and also what makes this study important, and interesting!
The technical terms given to Old Testament appearances of Christ are called a “theophany” or a “Christophany.” Some of these appearances are rarely disputed (i.e. the 4th man in the fiery furnace in Dan 3:24-28, or a few appearances of the “Angel of the Lord” [verses below]), but I want to go beyond the “rarely disputed” instances in this study.
*** Get your Bible, and be prepared to do some reading! ***
First, we need to look at this. The Bible tells us that no man has ever seen God:
(Ex 33:20)(NKJV) “But He (God) said, You cannot see my face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Remember: “and LIVE”)
(1 Tim 6:16) “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting . Amen.”
(1 Jn 4:12) “No man hath seen God at any time…”
The way that most explain this is that no man can see God in His glory, or His true essence, or see His face (as God said to Moses in Ex 33:18-23)(Also see: Ex 40:35, 1 Kin 8:10-11).
However, the Bible says in other places that God’s glory “was” seen (Deut 5:24)(Ex 24:16-17)(Lev 9:23)(Num 16:19,42). God was also seen face to face. In (Gen 32:24-32), Jacob wrestled with God, and God told him in (Gen 32:28), “you have struggled with God.” Jacob then named the place where they wrestled “Peniel,” which meant the “face of God,” and he said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Gen 32:30). (Also see: Hos 12:3-4)
Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel also saw God in (Ex 24:9-11), yet, God “laid not His hand” upon them. We will also see, when discussing the “Angel of the Lord,” that others believed they had seen God face to face.
So, how can the Bible say in one place that no man has seen God’s face or glory, and yet say in another place that His face and glory “were” seen?
THIS is where I believe Jesus comes in! Clearly, men “have” seen Jesus. Jesus is God, and was God in human form while on earth. He was seen over and over during the 33 years he lived on earth. He appeared to people 10 times during the 40 days on earth after His Resurrection. He was also seen after He left earth, and ascended into Heaven (i.e. Paul – Acts 9:3-6, Acts 26:12-18, and Stephen – Acts 7:38).
When we think of appearances of God in the Old Testament, most automatically believe that these appearances were God the Father. However, since God cannot be seen, and Jesus “has” been seen, could we be speaking of Jesus rather than the Father when the Old Testament says God was “seen?” Let’s look at 3 more verses where Jesus addressed this in the Book of John:
(Jn 6:46) Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
(Jn 5:37) And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
(Jn 1:18) No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
OK! So keeping in mind the above, let’s spend the rest of our time looking at what I believe are physical appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament. We will begin with the “Angel of the Lord,” who nearly all scholars are united in believing was Jesus (at least in most instances). As you will see, the vast majority of “physical appearances” by Jesus in the Old Testament are called the “Angel of the Lord.” We will spend much of the rest of our time explaining why we know these appearances are indeed Jesus, and how these appearances end up placing Jesus all over the Old Testament in “key” places.
*** Note: Going forward, it is important to remember that Jesus is not, nor ever was an “angel” (see: Heb 1). (Jesus actually created the angels: Col 1:15-16, Jn 1:1-3.) The Hebrew word used for “angel” in the Old Testament is “malak,” (Gr. “aggelos” in the NT), and it means “a messenger, or sent one.” In other words, Jesus was sent by God the Father as the “Angel (“messenger”) of the Lord” in the Old Testament, just as Jesus was sent to earth by God the Father in the New Testament (Rom 8:3)(Gal 4:4)(1 Jn 4:14)(Jn 5:37)(Jn 6:44,57).
First, let’s look at what Jesus said to the “scribes and Pharisees” in the book of John.
(Jn 8:58-59)(NKJV) “Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (59) Then they took up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them…”
Let’s also look at two things Jesus said before this in John Ch. 8.
(Jn 8:24) “I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.”
(Jn 8:28) “Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am He.”
In verses 24 and 28, the word “He” is a bad translation. If you look at the Greek (check out an “interlinear Bible”) of these verses, you can see that the word “He” was not originally a part of them. Leaving out the “He,” we have Jesus saying people must “believe He is the I AM (ego eimi),” and when He was crucified (“lifted up”), people “will know He is the I AM (ego eimi).”
Why is this important to our discussion? Let’s go to (Ex 3:2,4).
(Ex 3:2,4) “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him (Moses) in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. (4) And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush…”
Notice, in verse #2, that we see the Angel of the Lord is the flame in the midst of the bush, and verse #4 says that this is God. But, was this Jesus? If we continue on in (Ex Ch. 3), and go to (Ex 3:14), we can see that the Angel of the Lord, who was God, told Moses that His name was “I AM THAT I AM.”
Do you see what I see?
***Note: It is also worth noting that when Jesus repeats that He is “I AM” in (Jn 18:6), the crowd who came to arrest him suddenly “fell to the ground” under the power of that declaration.
Next, remembering the verses above, that “no man can see God (and live),” let’s look at 3 other appearances of the “Angel of the Lord.”
(Judg 6:22-23) Gideon was afraid he would die after seeing the “Angel of the Lord” because he had seen God face to face.
(Judg 13:20-22) Manoah said after seeing the “Angel of the Lord,” “We shall surely die because we have seen God.”
(Gen 16:13)(NASB) Hagar called the Angel of the Lord who spoke to her “You are a God who sees” and “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”
Gideon, Manoah, and Hagar all realized after speaking to the “Angel of the Lord,” that they had seen God, and they would die as a result! (Gideon and Manoah would have known they should die from Exodus. We don’t know how Hagar knew.) We learn 2 things from these verses: (#1) The “Angel of the Lord” was God, (#2) God was seen, and yet they didn’t die! Why? Most agree that these were appearances of Jesus (who is God, but not God the Father).
Looking for even better evidence that these verses are speaking of Jesus? Look at how the “Angel of the Lord” replied to Manoah when he asked for his name in (Judg 13:17): “And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is WONDERFUL? (Judg 13:18)(NKJV)” Now, let’s look at (Isa 9:6), which is a well-known prophetic verse about Jesus:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called WONDERFUL, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (caps emphasis mine)
Want more evidence? Notice in (Judg 13:11) that when Manoah asked the “Man” if he was the “Angel of the Lord” who had spoken to his wife, the “Angel’s” reply was simply, “I am.”
Let’s quickly look at two places which show that the “Angel of the Lord” is not “God the Father.” Look at the difference in these verses.
(Judg 13:8-9)(NKJV) “Then Manoah prayed to the LORD, and said, O my Lord, please let the Man of God (the “Angel of the Lord”) whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” (9) “And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God came to the woman again as she was sitting in the field…”
Also, let’s compare (Ex 33:2) and (Ex 3:8).
(Ex 33:1-3)(NKJV) “Then the Lord said to Moses… (2) And I WILL SEND MY ANGEL before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. (3) Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey…”
And the “Angel of the Lord” speaking to Moses from the “burning bush:”
(Ex 3:8)(NKJV) “SO I (the “Angel”) HAVE COME DOWN TO DELIVER THEM out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.”
(Also see: Num 20:16)
Next, let’s look at what an angel says to John in the Book of Revelation:
(Rev 22:8-9) “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. (9) Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Also see: Rev 19:10)
In other words, no angel would “ever” allow himself to be worshiped. However, notice that the “Angel of the Lord” (and “Captain of the Host of the Lord”) allowed themselves to be worshiped in (Num 22:31)(Josh 5:13-15).
Looking for better evidence that the “Angel of the Lord” is Jesus here? Look at what the “Angel” says to Joshua in (Josh 5:15)(NKJV) “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” Sound familiar? The “burning bush” said this to Moses in (Ex 3:5)!
Now, let’s look at (Heb 6:13)(NKJV) “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself.”
Where did God made this “promise to Abraham,” and “swear by Himself?”
(Gen 22:15-17) “And the ANGEL OF THE LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, (16) and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld they son, thine only son: (17) that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed…” (caps emphasis mine)
Hebrews tells us that the “Angel of the Lord” who made the promise to Abraham was “God” (JESUS)!!
Also, don’t miss the “Angel of the Lord” saying here, “I will multiply thy seed!” We are told that “God” said this in (Gen 13:16)(Gen 26:4)(Gen 28:14)(Gen 32:12)(Ex 32:12). (More on this below with the “Abrahamic Covenant.”)
(First Rabbit Trail!!!) With the “Angel of the Lord” who “swore by Himself” above being Jesus (God), is it possible that when “God” swears by Himself in other places in the Old Testament, it is also Jesus (or is it the Father)? If it is indeed Jesus, we have even more examples of Jesus speaking / appearing in the Old Testament including: (Ex 17:16)(Ps 89:35)(Isa 14:24)(Isa 45:23)(Isa 62:8)(Jer 22:5)(Jer 49:13)(Jer 51:14)(Amos 4:2)(Amos 6:8)(Amos 8:7).
Want proof that these verses are likely speaking of Jesus? Check out (Isa 45:21-23).
(Isa 45:21-23) Tell ye, and bring them near; Yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? Have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; A JUST God and a SAVIOUR; there is none beside me. (22) LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, all the ends of the earth: For I AM God, and there is none else. (23) I HAVE SWORN BY MYSELF, The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, THAT UNTO ME EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW, Every tongue shall swear. (caps emphasis mine)
These verses tell us a LOT! Look at what the New Testament says about the “God” who is speaking here!
Jesus is called “JUST” in (Mt 27:19,24)(Acts 3:14)(Acts 7:52)(Acts 22:14)(1 Pet 3:18)(Rev 15:3).
Jesus is called “SAVIOUR” in (Lk 2:11)(Phil 3:20)(Jn 4:42)(2 Tim 1:10). We “LOOK TO HIM TO BE SAVED.”
Jesus called Himself “I AM” (verses above).
Jesus is the God to whom “EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW” (Phil 2:10). To whom shall “every knee bow?” “ME,” the one who has “SWORN BY MYSELF.”
***Note: Before the above verses, in (Isa 45:11), the God who is speaking calls Himself “The Holy One of Israel.” In 6 verses in the New Testament, Jesus is given the title of “Holy One” (Acts 2:27)(Acts 3:14)(Acts 13:35)(Mk 1:24)(Lk 4:34)(1 Jn 2:20).
The title of “Holy One” was given to God on many occasions in the Old Testament (I counted 44). The “Holy One” is mentioned in the books of: Deuteronomy (1 [time]), 2 Kings (1), Job (1), Psalms (5), Isaiah (31), Jeremiah (2), Ezekiel (1), and Habakkuk (2). Could the “Holy One” in these books be Jesus too?
Next, we have two HUGE, HUGE things in one verse regarding the “Angel of the Lord!” So, let me ask you two questions.
First, how would you answer if I was to ask you, “Who led the Israelites out of Egypt when they were set free from their captivity?”
Second, how would you answer if I was to ask you, “Who promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that they would be given the “Promised Land?”
Well, check out this appearance of the “Angel of the Lord” in (Judg 2:1)!
(Judg 2:1)(NKJV) Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the LAND of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. (caps emphasis mine)
The answer to the first question: The “Angel of the Lord” led the Israelites out of Egypt! (Two other verses telling us this: [Isa 63:9][Num 20:16 – also shows the “Angel” is not God the Father])
HUGE NOTE: The Bible makes it clear that the God who led the Israelites out of Egypt was the same God who gave the laws and worship instructions in the Book of Leviticus (Lev 11:45)(Lev 19:36)(Lev 23:43)(Lev 25:42,55)(Lev 26:13,45). He was the God who gave the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:2)(Deut 5:6). He was also the God for whom the Temple was built (1 Kin 8:16,21,51,53)(1 Kin 9:9)(2 Chr 6:5)(2 Chr 7:21-22).
The answer to the second question: The “Angel of the Lord” made a “covenant” (the “Abrahamic Covenant”) with their fathers to give them the “Promised Land.” Do you see the HUGENESS in this?? In other words, the “GOD” who spoke to “their fathers” (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and promised to give them the “Promised Land” was the God who is also the “Angel of the Lord!!” JESUS!
To Abraham: (Gen 17:7-8) – “And I will establish my covenant between me and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (8) And I give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the LAND wherein thou art a stranger, all the LAND of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Also see: Gen 12:7, Gen 13:14-17, Gen 15:18, Gen 24:7)
To Isaac: (Gen 26:3-4) – “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee (Isaac) and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these LANDS (countries), and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; (4) And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, I will give unto thy seed all these LANDS (countries); and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”
To Jacob: (Gen 28:13-14) – “… I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; (14) And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (*caps emphasis on all above mine) (***Remember these verses for the next proof***)
***Note: This would also make Jesus the “Lord” who spoke to Moses in (Deut 34:4), when He mentions the “covenant” He made with Abraham regarding the “Promised Land.”
***Note: In (Ex 3:6-8), the “Angel of the Lord” (Jesus) from the “burning bush” also said:
(Ex 3:6-8)(NKJV) …”I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look on God. (7) And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. (8) So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a GOOD AND LARGE LAND, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites, and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.” (caps emphasis mine)
*** Interesting note!! *** It is very interesting to note that the last place we saw the “Angel of the Lord” prior to (Judg 2:1) was at “Gilgal… on the plains of Jericho” in (Josh 5:13-15). When the “Angel of the Lord” appears to the Israelites in (Judg 2:1), He has “come (came) up from Gilgal.”
Departing briefly from the “Angel of the Lord,” but connected with the above verses, we have another HUGE thing in (Jude 5)! Check this out!
(Jude 1:5)(ESV) “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that JESUS, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (caps emphasis mine)
Most versions of the Bible use “Lord” here instead of “Jesus.” However, the use of “Jesus” certainly goes with what we just proved above about Jesus leading the Israelites out of Egypt. And, as I studied this, several commentaries say the following about Jude 5: (Ellicott’s – “There is strong evidence in favor of substituting Jesus for Lord.”) (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown – “The oldest manuscripts and versions read “Jesus.”) (John Gill – “the Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions, instead of “the Lord,” read “Jesus.”).
Why is this a HUGE thing? It is the second part of the verse! Jesus “AFTERWARD DESTROYED THOSE WHO DID NOT BELIEVE!”
For a little back up support, here is a quote from R.C. Sproul, “Jude 5… reminds us that though Jesus saved a people out of Egypt, He later destroyed those who did not believe” (ligonier.org devotional 12-19-2005).
In context, I believe this is talking about those who were “destroyed” during the 40 years that the Israelites were in the desert. Therefore, Jesus “destroyed:”
(Ex 32:35) By plague, “the people because of what they did with the (golden) calf.”
(Num 3:4) Nadab and Abihu, who “offered profane fire before the Lord in the Wilderness of Sinai.”
(Num 11:1-3) By fire, some “in the outskirts of the camp” who complained.
(Num 11:31-35) By plague, some who complained about not having meat to eat.
(Num 13:31-33, 14:36-38) By plague, the 10 men who spied out the Promised Land, and gave a bad report.
(Num 16:25-34) Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their families, by opening up the earth beneath them, and having it swallow them alive, because they “rejected the Lord.”
(Num 16:35) By fire, “250 men who were offering incense.”
(Num 16:41-50) By plague, 14,700 who “complained against Moses and Aaron.” (Notice, this happened the day “after” [v. 41] they saw the two previous things in Chapter 16! How foolish can they be???)
(Num 21:4-9) By poisonous serpents, some who complained about the lack of food (only manna) and water.
BIG NOTE!! – Looking for more confirmation that (Num 21:4-9) is speaking of Jesus? Check out (1 Cor 10:9) “nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were DESTROYED BY SERPENTS.” (caps emphasis mine)
(Num 25:1-18) By plague, 24,000 were “destroyed” because “Israel was joined to Baal of Peor.”
This is certainly not a picture of the passive, loving, non-judgmental Jesus that most think of today when they think about Jesus, right? In fact, the Bible says that God the Father has given ALL judgment to Jesus (Jn 5:22,27)(Acts 17:31)(2 Tim 4:1)(2 Cor 5:10). This “judging” Jesus will return in the end times, and destroy “many who do not believe” (2 Th 1:8-9)(2 Pet 3:10-13)(Rev 14:14-16).
Keeping this “judging,” and “destroying” Jesus in mind, let’s return to the “Angel of the Lord,” and look at two things He does.
In (2 Sam 24:15-25)(1 Chr 21:14-30), we see the “Angel” bringing a plague on the Israelites in which 70,000 men died.
In (2 Kin 19:35)(Isa 37:36), we see the “Angel” killing 185,000 Assyrians!
***Note: It is interesting to note that the “Angel” appears to both Balaam (Num 22:31), and Joshua (Josh 5:13) with a “sword” in His hand.
Now, let’s connect “four sets” of verses, all involving Jacob, one in which the “Angel of the Lord” actually says “I am God!!”
The “first set” of verses in (Gen 28:10-22) come from an appearance of God to Jacob in a dream (sometimes called “Jacob’s Ladder”), and the events that occur after that.
First, in the dream (angels going up and down a ladder that reached to Heaven), we see “God” saying He was the “God” of the covenant to Abraham and Isaac (see: Gen 28:13-14 – a few paragraphs up). Then, in (Gen 28:16-19), look at what follows:
(Gen 28:16-19)(NKJV) “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” (17) And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (18) Then Jacob arose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. (19) And he called the name of that place BETHEL, but the name of that city had been Luz previously.” (In verses 20-22, Jacob then MAKES A VOW to God.)
In the “second set” of verses (Gen 31:10-13), the “Angel of God” (the “Angel of the Lord”) appears to Jacob in another dream. Check this out!
(Gen 31:11-13)(NKJV) “Then the ANGEL OF GOD spoke to me in a dream, saying, “Jacob.” And I said, “Here I am.” (12) And he said, “Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. (13) I AM THE GOD OF BETHEL, WHERE YOU MADE A VOW TO ME.”
There it is!!! But, let’s continue! There is more!
The “third set” of verses are found in (Gen 35:1-15). In (Verse 1), God tells Jacob to return to Bethel (also called Luz), dwell there, and “make an altar to God” (a second altar). In the following verses (2-7), Jacob does this. Then, in verses 9-11 we have two VERY interesting things related to Jesus!!
(Gen 35:9-11) “And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan Aram, and blessed him. (10) And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called anymore Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and He called his name Israel. (11) And God said unto him, I am God ALMIGHTY: be fruitful and multiply…” (God then continues renewing His “Covenant” again.)
Interesting thing #1: Previously, in (Gen 28:24-32), when Jacob “wrestled with God,” we saw Jesus (God) changing Jacob’s name to Israel. Since the name change is repeated by God here, we can assume this is also Jesus speaking in Ch. 35. In the New Testament, Jesus also changed “Simon’s” name to “Peter” in (Mt 16:17-18). Based upon these two name changes, given by Jesus, we have even more proof that when Jesus (God) made the “Abrahamic Covenant” with Abraham in Gen Ch. 17, and changed “Abram’s” name to “Abraham” (Gen 17:5) (and “Sarai’s” to Sarah: Gen 17:15), that these name changes were made by Jesus.
Interesting thing #2: The God who is speaking here in Ch. 35 says He is the “Almighty” (Gen 35:11)! After saying He is the “Almighty,” “God” (Jesus) repeats the “Covenant” He has made (Gen 35:11-13). Note that in (Gen 17:1), the God who made the covenant with Abram called himself “Almighty God.” And, look at what Jesus is called in (Rev 1:8)(Rev 4:8): “ALMIGHTY!”
***Note: In (Gen 48:3), Jacob calls the “God” who appeared to him at Bethel (Luz) (“first set” of verses above) “Almighty.”
***Note: The word “Almighty” (Heb: “Shaddai” [or “Shadday”]) is used 48 times in the Old Testament (31 in Job). Carrying out that Jesus is the “Almighty” in the above verses, we have a number of other possibilities for Jesus being the “Almighty” when that name is used the Old Testament. Here are some of those: (Gen 43:14)(Gen 49:25)(Num 24:4,16)(Ruth 1:20-21)(Job: In 20 of the 31 uses in Job, “Almighty” and “God” are used interchangeably in the same verse)(Ps 68:14)(Ps 91:1)(Isa 13:6)(Ezek 1:24)(Ezek 10:5)(Joel 1:15).
Finally, in the “fourth set” of verses, we are checking out the blessing that Jacob (Israel) bestowed upon Joseph’s son Ephraim in (Gen 48:15-16).
(Gen 48:15-16) “And he blessed Joseph, and said, GOD, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the GOD which fed me all my life long until this day, (16) The ANGEL which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (caps emphasis mine)
Two things we see here:
1. Jacob / Israel using the names “GOD” and “the ANGEL” interchangeably in his blessing. As we have already shown above, by this time late in his life, Jacob / Israel understood that the “Angel” was God Himself (Gen 28:10-22)(Gen 31:11-13)(Gen 32:24-32)(Hos 12:3-4).
2. Jacob / Israel saying that the “Angel… redeemed him from all evil!” This is the first use of the word “redeemed” in the Bible. The Hebrew word used for “redeemed” here is “gaal,” and it means “to redeem, deliver, avenge, or act as a kinsman” (Strong’s). In context here, I believe that “redeemed” is better said as “delivered.” In other words, the “Angel” (Jesus) “delivered” Jacob’s life from “evil” (or harm) i.e. from (Esau – Gen 27:41-45) or (Laban – Gen 31:5,7,24,29,42). This same Hebrew word is used of the “Angel” “delivering” the Israelites from captivity in Egypt: (Isa 63:9)(NKJV), “In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the Angel of His Presence (the “Angel of the Lord”) saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed (“gaal” – “delivered”) them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old.” (For a parallel verse, see: 2 Tim 4:18.)
***Trivia note: In (Gen 48:9-20), when Jacob laid his hands on the heads of Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh to bless them, this was the first instance of the “laying on of hands” in the Bible.
Next, let’s look at the “cloud” that led the Israelites during their 40 years in the desert. See (Num 9:15-23) for a good description of this “cloud.” We are told that it was a “pillar of cloud” by day, and a “pillar of fire” at night (Ex 13:21-22)(Num 9:16). Check out who this cloud was!
(Ex 14:19-20)(NKJV) “And the Angel of God (the “Angel of the Lord”), who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. (20) So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.” (Ex 14:24)(Ex 13:21) tell us this cloud was the “Lord.”
In (Ex 33:9-11) we are told: (Verse 9) “…when Moses entered the tabernacle, the PILLAR OF CLOUD descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.” (Verse 11) continues, “the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Notice: “face to face,” but yet “no one has seen God”) (***Later, in [Ex 40:34-38] when the tabernacle was completed, the “cloud covered the tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled it.” Apparently, God’s “glory” was so powerful at this time that “Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle.”)
For more on the “cloud,” see: (Ex 16:10)(Ex 19:9)(Num 10:11-13,34)(Num 11:25)(Num 12:5,10)(Num 14:14)(Num 16:42)(Deut 1:33)(Deut 31:15)(1 Kin 8:10-12)(2 Chr 5:13-14)(Neh 9:12,19)(Ps 78:14)(Ps 99:7)(Ps 105:39)(Isa 4:5)(1 Cor 10:1-2)
***Note: So, if the “cloud” was the “Angel of the Lord,” and the “Angel” was Jesus (God), then everything in these verses about the “cloud” would be speaking about Jesus too, right? For example, in (Num 14:14), Moses prays to God, calling Him the “cloud,” therefore, we have Moses praying to Jesus.
***Note: In a possible parallel to Jesus being the “pillar of cloud” in the Old Testament, we have a prophecy of Jesus (the “Messiah”) in the “end times” found in (Dan 7:13).
(Dan 7:13)(NKJV) “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the CLOUDS of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him.”
In the New Testament, this verse is re-quoted when speaking of Jesus, and His Second Coming (Mt 24:27-31)(Mk 13:24-27)(Lk 21:25-28)(Mt 26:64)(Mk 14:62)(Rev 1:7)(Rev 14:14). If this IS a parallel, we clearly see a separation between the one (Jesus) who is the “cloud” (“with the clouds”), and the Father, who is the “Ancient of Days” here.
Finally, to close out our look at the “Angel of the Lord,” it should be noted that the “Angel” is shown over and over to be delivering prophecy to Zechariah in the book of Zechariah. Other places we have not mentioned where “Angel of the Lord” can be found are (1 Kin 19:5-8)(2 Kin 1:3-4,15)(Ps 35:5)
Moving on from the “Angel of the Lord,” let’s now look at some other proofs which show that Jesus was the God who “physically” appeared in the Old Testament.
Let’s begin with Daniel Chapter 3. In this chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden image of himself (about 90’ high and 9’ wide!), and demanded that all of the people “fall down and worship” it. Three Jews named “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego” refused to do so. Nebuchadnezzar then threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace if they didn’t change their mind, saying, “And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego replied with this GREAT answer, which ALL Christians should remember:
(Dan 3:16-18)(NKJV) “… O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. (17) If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. (18) But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
In response to this, Nebuchadnezzar was “full of fury,” and he bound the 3 of them, and threw them “into the burning fiery furnace.” Afterwards, Nebuchadnezzar says this:
(Dan 3:24-25,28)(NKJV) “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.” (25) “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.”
This is one of the clearest proofs of Jesus “physically appearing” in the Old Testament.
***Note: Later, in (Dan 6:22), the “Angel” who “shut the lions’ mouths,” to prevent them from killing Daniel “may” have been the “Angel of the Lord.”
This “could” be AWESOME! Look at (Ex 6:2-3) “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: (3) And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not know to them.”
Virtually all commentators struggle to understand this verse, since “God” had already appeared as JEHOVAH in Genesis. They generally try to explain this by saying that the divine attributes of JEHOVAH were not fully known by those He had previously appeared to (i.e. His omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence). HOWEVER, what if it means something else? What if it means that they did not understand that the JEHOVAH who was appearing to them was the pre-incarnate Messiah (JESUS)! I must stress that I have found no one who holds this view, but “I” think it is possible, and I am going with it!
Keep in mind what we said above, that Jesus is called “Almighty” (Rev 1:8)(Rev 4:8). In addition, in the verses that follow (Ex 6:3), we see the God who is speaking describe things He has previously done, that we have already attributed to Jesus above (i.e. the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).
For another great proof, let’s look at (Mt 9:1-8).
(Mt 9:1-8) “So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. (2) Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” (3) And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” (4) But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? (5) For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? (6) But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” – then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” (7) And he arose and departed to his house. (8) Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.” (Also see: Mk 2:1-12, Lk 5:20-25, Lk 7:47-50)
When I first became a Christian, after reading this, I asked the question, “Why was it “blasphemy” for Jesus to forgive sins? Aren’t we all supposed to forgive people’s sins? What I did not know is that in the Old Testament, God never commanded His people to “forgive” the sins of someone who sinned against them. When a sin was committed by one person against another, there was always some sort of God instituted payment for that sin: an “eye for an eye” (Ex 21:24-25), or restitution (Ex Ch. 21 &22). This being the case, the only one who could forgive sins committed against him was God. (For some verses mentioning this, see: Gen 50:15-19, Ex 34:6-7, Num 14:18-20, Ps 32:1,5, Ps 85:2, Ps 99:8, Ps 103:1-3,12, 2 Chr 7:14, Isa 43:25, Jer 36:3, Dan 9:9)
Therefore, when Jesus “forgave” the sins of people, the “scribes” knew He was doing something that only the God of the Old Testament could do. They called it “blasphemy,” but Jesus was proclaiming He “WAS” that God!
***Note: In the New Testament, Jesus tells the people that rather than to expect an “eye for an eye” or “restitution” from those who have sinned against them, the higher calling is to humble themselves, and “forgive” the one who has sinned against them (see: Mt 5:38-42, Mt 6:12,14-15).
In the Bible, when a word was used back to back, it signified that what was being said was VERY important. For example, (Jn 3:3) says, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Jesus did this same thing with people’s names several times when He had something important to say to them: i.e. (“Martha, Martha” – Lk 10:41-42), (“Simon, Simon” – Lk 22:31-32), (“My God, My God” – Mt 27:46 [prophesied in Ps 22:1]), (“Saul, Saul” – Acts 9:4). Jesus also did this with the city of Jerusalem: (“Jerusalem, Jerusalem” – Mt 23:37). Isn’t it interesting that the God of the Old Testament also did this: i.e. (“Abraham, Abraham” – Gen 22:11), (“Jacob, Jacob” – Gen 46:2), (“Moses, Moses” – Ex 3:4), (“Samuel, Samuel” – 1 Sam 3:10)? Could the God of the Old Testament who was speaking to these OT saints have been Jesus? You know I believe so!
This is VERY cool! I found this in writing a Bible study outline for the Book of John.
In (Jn 12:40), John quotes a prophetic verse from (Isa 6:10) in the Old Testament that was being fulfilled at the time of John’s writing concerning Jerusalem. This prophetic verse from Isaiah was part of a conversation that Isaiah had with “GOD” in (Isa 6:1-13). In (Isa 6:1) and (Isa 6:5), Isaiah recognized that he had personally “seen” God during this conversation. However, in (Jn 12:41), John tells us that the “God” who Isaiah had a conversation with, and whose “glory” he had “seen” was JESUS! Jesus was speaking with Isaiah!
Keeping in mind that (Jn 12:41) says that Isaiah “saw God’s (Jesus’) glory” during that conversation in (Isa 6:1-13), we also have this to consider. Remember our verses from above that “no man hath seen the Father” (Jn 6:46)(Jn 5:37)(Jn 1:18). So, when “God’s glory” was seen in a number of other places in the Old Testament i.e. (Ex 16:6-10)(Ex 24:16-18)(Ex 33:18-23)(Ex 40:34-38)(Lev 9:22-24)(Num 14:10,22-24)(Num 16:19,42)(Num 20:6)(Deut 4:24-27)(1 Kin 8:10-13)(2 Chr 5:14)(2 Chr 7:1-3)(and numerous verses in Ezekiel), could these instances have been Jesus? Yes!
In the Old Testament, we see that while in the desert, the Israelites drank water from a “rock” on two occasions: (Ex 17:1-7) and (Num 20:2-13). Who is this “Rock?” Check out this verse in (1 Cor 10:4)!!
(1 Cor 10:4) “and all did drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST.” (caps emphasis mine)
In (1 Cor 10:1-10), the “Rock” is also identified with things we have already discussed above as being Jesus: the “cloud,” the “spiritual food = manna,” the God who was “displeased with the Israelites, and scattered their bodies in the wilderness” (remember Jude 5), the God who ordered the death of idolaters at the Golden Calf, and who sent a plague on them (which killed 23,000), and the God who sent serpents upon the Israelites (because they were “tempting Christ”).
Since the “Rock” here in the Old Testament is Jesus, and the “Rock” is identified with things we have already shown to be Jesus, here are a few more places in the Old Testament that talk about God being a “Rock” (Deut 32:4,15,18,30-31)(1 Sam 2:2)(2 Sam 22:2,32,47)(2 Sam 23:3)(Isa 17:10)(Ps 18:2,31,46)(Ps 28:1)(Ps 31:2-3)(Ps 42:9)(Ps 61:2)(Ps 62:2,6-7)(Ps 71:3)(Ps 78:35)(Ps 89:26)(Ps 92:15)(Ps 94:22)(Ps 95:1). Could these also be Jesus? You know I believe so!
(Small Rabbit trail!!) Did you ever wonder why Moses was not allowed by God to go into the Promised Land? It is because the Rock, from which water came was a picture of Christ. In (Ex 17:1-7), when the people needed water, Moses was told to strike the Rock with his rod, and water would come out. In (Num 20:2-13), when the people thirsted again, God told Moses to SPEAK to the Rock and water would come out. However, Moses in his anger, struck the Rock with his rod again, instead of speaking to it as he was commanded to do. In other words, Moses had symbolically struck Jesus twice, and the Bible says we cannot do this (Heb 6:6).
Look at what (Mal 3:1)(NKJV) says, “Behold, I send MY messenger, And he will prepare the way before ME…. Says the LORD of hosts.” (caps emphasis on “My” / Me” mine)
This is a prophetic Old Testament verse, speaking of the one (the “messenger”) who would “prepare the way” for the Messiah. We are told in (Mt 3:1-3)(Mt 11:10-14)(Mt 17:11-13)(Mk 1:2-4)(Lk 1:13-17)(Lk 3:3-4) that this prophecy was fulfilled by John the Baptist, who “prepared the way” for Jesus. Notice the “ME” / “MY” in this verse. The “LORD of hosts” who is speaking here is JESUS!
***Note: The term “LORD of hosts” (“Yahweh Sabaoth”) is used 100’s of times in the Old Testament.” Since Jesus is the “LORD of hosts” here, could other uses also be Jesus? Here is one clue it is possible: (Isa 44:6) calls the “LORD of Hosts” the “first and the last” (also see Isa 41:4, Isa 48:12), which is what Jesus is called in (Rev 1:17-18)(Rev 2:8)(Rev 22:13).
Finally, let me share two things that are said about the God of the Old Testament, which are also said of Jesus in the New Testament (i.e. as we said above, at the name of God (Old Testament) / Jesus (New Testament) “every knee should bow”).
The God of the Old Testament is called “God of gods and Lord of lords” (Deut 10:17)(Ps 136:2-3)
Jesus is called the “King of kings, and Lord of Lords” (Rev 17:14)(Rev 19:16)(1 Tim 6:14-15)
The God of the Old Testament is called a “Shepherd” (Ps 23:1)(Ps 80:1)
Jesus is called a “Shepherd” (Jn 10:11,14)(Heb 13:20)(1 Pet 2:25)(1 Pet 5:1)
There are more of these as well. I believe that each time the God of the Old Testament is described in the same way as Jesus is in the New Testament of God, these were likely appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament too.
Let me close with this prayer of confession and worship that the Israelites offered to the Lord in Nehemiah Chapter 9. The prayer is to the “Creator of all things,” who is Jesus: (Col 1:16)(Jn 1:3)(Heb 1:10). It ties together many of the things that we have shown above to be “physical appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament.” Let’s start at verse #6.
(Neh 9:6) Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are within, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.
(9:7) Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram…, and gavest him the name of Abraham;
(9:8) … and madest a covenant with him…
(9:9) and didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red Sea;
(9:10) and shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh…
(9:11) And didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land…
(9:12) Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way wherein they should go.
(9:13) Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and speakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, and good statutes and commandments:
(9:14) and madest known unto them thy holy sabbath (Jesus claimed He was Lord of the Sabbath Mt 12:8, Mk 2:28, Lk 6:5), and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:
(9:15) and gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.
As I have taught on this subject in my Bible study classes, I have been told by some of my students that it helped them to see Old Testament in a different light. This same thing has happened to me as well as I have studied it, and it is my prayer and hope that it has done this for you. As I have stressed a number of times on the JesusAlive website, don’t take MY word for anything. I have purposely packed this study with Bible verses so that you can study them on your own, and with God’s guidance, draw your own conclusions.
There are many faiths (i.e. Jews and Muslims) that do not believe Jesus appeared at all in the Old Testament, let alone in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). What an amazing witnessing opportunity we can have if we are able to prove that Jesus was indeed the God who made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel), who set the Israelites free from captivity in Egypt, who led them in the desert, who was the “burning bush,” and who appeared as God in so many other places in the Old Testament as well!