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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Is Jesus in the Old Testament?

Years ago, a friend accused me, saying, "you just want to study the New Testament because you want to focus on Jesus." Guilty! She was absolutely right. I want to know all I possibly can about Jesus. But then I realized Jesus is all over the Old Testament too!

Surprisingly, there are different views on this subject. For example, if you ask a Jewish scholar or even a Jew on the street if Jesus appears in the Old Testament, he will deny it. Likewise, if you ask a Mormon or a Jehovah Witness, they will also tell you Jesus is not in the Old Testament.

The reason all three of these groups say Jesus is not in the Old Testament is simply because they do not believe Jesus is Jehovah God, the Lord Almighty over all the earth. So they don't want to acknowledge the attributes of God to someone who they believe, is not God. They don't want to worship someone who is not God. Isn't that a great mindset? Shouldn't we all have that mindset; to not worship anything or anyone but the LORD God alone?

On the other hand, if Jesus truly is God Almighty and we refuse to acknowledge Him as God and worship Him as God, that certainly can't be good, can it? That would mean we are denying the way God reveals Himself to us. So it's imperative that we seek the truth through Scripture.

But is there enough evidence in Scripture to prove that Jesus appeared in the Old Testament? If there is, that means, Jesus is God Almighty.

So let's examine Scripture for ourselves:

  • Colossians 1:15 He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God. [16] For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Paul is describing Jesus here to the Colossians. He tells them Jesus is the image of the invisible God. So that means God Almighty does not exist in a physical form. But when He manifests Himself to us in human form, it is Jesus. This isn't the first time we've seen this. This matches the description of God in the first book and first chapter of the Old Testament:

  • Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness."

The God of all creation is describing Himself as "Us," plural!!! God is one who appears to us in different forms: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But God, who is one, relates to mankind in these three different forms:

  • God the Father is the directing invisible force of God.

  • God the Son is the agent of creation, the agent of salvation, and the image of the invisible God.

  • God the Holy Spirit teaches and guides our mind and spirit to know truth and obey God.

I like to think of it like this: my husband is one person. To me, he is my husband. To his father, he is his son. To our children, he is their dad. He is one person but he has different roles.

Likewise, we worship one God who relates to us in three different forms or roles. All three of these forms are clearly seen in the first three verses of Genesis chapter 1:

  • Genesis 1:1-3 [1] In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. [2] The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. [3] Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

If the sun and the moon and the stars were not created until Day 4, what was this "light" which appeared on Day 1 of creation? Did you know this same word "light" is used in Isaiah 10:17 to refer to Jesus.

  • Isaiah 10:17 The LORD, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame.

But also note how God created everything in Genesis 1: "Then God said .."

Everything was created by the Word of God.

  • Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made.

  • Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created

Who is the Word of the LORD by whom all things were created? Jesus

  • John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God.

  • Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Jesus is the Word of the Lord. He is God. He has always existed. All things were created by Him, "then God said."

But where do we actually see Jesus appearing in the Old Testament as the image of the invisible God?

Jesus, appeared before Hagar, Ishmael's mother, as "the angel of the Lord":

  • Genesis 16:10, 13 [10] Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” .. [13] Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”

Then in Genesis 14:17-20 Abraham gives an offering to Melchizedek, the mysterious priest of God Most High who is the king of Salem. Then in the New Testament, in Hebrews 7, we are given more information about the true identity of Melchizedek:

  • Hebrews 7:1-3 [1] For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, [2] to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. [3] Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

So we are told Melchizedek was eternal (no beginning and no end) and was made like the Son of God. Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus (the image of the invisible God) in the Old Testament.

But then there's also the time when God Almighty appeared to Abraham in the form of a man with two angels with him, also appearing in the form of men:

  • Genesis 18:1-3, 22, 19:1 [1] Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. [2] When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, [3] and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. .. [22] Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. [19:1] Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.

Clearly this is God and two angels appearing to Abraham in human form. Since Jesus is the image of the invisible God, this again has to be a pre-incarnate image of Jesus with two angels who are sent down to destroy Sodom.

Pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus in human form in the Old Testament are called a theophany or more specifically a Christophany.

But still some people will say, how can we know for sure that Jesus is truly God who we should worship?

  • John 10:30 Jesus said, "I and the Father are one."

  • John 14:9 Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father"

God the Father and Jesus are one God. When we worship Jesus, we are worshiping the God of the universe, the agent of creation.

But there is one more attribute of Jesus that we need to make sure we understand, one by which He is described both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the one who takes away our sins and gives us eternal life:

(1) John the Baptist through the Spirit proclaimed that Jesus is the Messiah:

  • John 1:28-29 [28] These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. [29] The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

(2) Jesus, Himself, told the Samaritan woman at the well that He is the Messiah:

  • John 4:25-26 [25] The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” [26] Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.

(3) In the Old Testament book of Zechariah, Jesus declared that He is the One who takes away the sins of Joshua, the high priest in Zechariah's time:

  • Zechariah 3:4 He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”

In the New Testament, Jesus is called the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God. In the Old Testament, Jesus is called the LORD, a God Who Sees, the Angel of the Lord, Melchizedek, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

  • Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

But our human nature still wants to say that Jesus didn't come into existence until He took on human flesh through the virgin birth of Mary. The problem with this view is it does not match Scripture:

  • John said, "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

  • Paul said that "Jesus is the image of the invisible God." (Colossians 1:15)

  • Most importantly, Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)

But if people are worshiping God and just haven't resolved in their mind whether or not Jesus is truly God in human flesh, why is this such a problem?

Jesus gives us two reasons why refusing to acknowledge Him as God is a problem:

(1) John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

(2) Matthew 7:22-23 [22] Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ [23] And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

If people refuse to examine the Scriptures which God has provided so that we can know Him, will He say to them on that day, "well done good and faithful servant," or "I never knew you?"

The Scriptures have been given to us so that we can know God and worship God. In the last book of the New Testament, we are given a beautiful picture of all creation worshiping God the Father and Jesus, the Lamb:

  • Revelation 5:13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: "Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever."

Dear Lord, Thank you for drawing me to Yourself and revealing Yourself to me through Your Word. Thank you for letting me get to know your invisible attributes and your role in all creation. Lord, the more I get to know You, the more I am in awe of your love, mercy, and grace. Thank you for forgiving me, for loving me, and for allowing me to know You. Lord, I pray for those who are seeking and those who are not. I pray that through Your Word, their eyes would be opened to truly know You and fall down in worship before You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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