As we explore this message series revealing the truths about Jesus, you may be surprised to see Jesus show up in the Old Testament, long before His New Testament birth. He is part of the eternal Triune God that has no beginning or end. Jesus is much bigger, more eternal, more powerful, more loving, and more merciful that you can imagine!
Today Pastor Miles will show us four Old Testament stories that reveal Christ before His appearance in the New Testament. Theophany: An appearance of God to man.
1. Jesus is the I AM who independently exists. Exodus 3, John 8:58
To recap last weeks message, Pastor Miles shared an example about the evidence of relationship: if you were to visit the house of Miles parents and he is truly their son, you should find pictures of him in their house. Following this logic, if Jesus really is the Son of God, then we should find evidence of Him in the Old Testament before His human birth on earth. As we learned last week, Jesus exists independently and uses the same name for Himself that God reveals to Moses, I AM. (John 8:58)
2. Jesus receives our prayers. Genesis 32, John 16:23
Jesus receives our prayers and He also teaches us how to pray. In Genesis 32, Jacob has swindled away his brother Esaus birthright and now is running from the angry Esau who wants to kill him. When Jacob is alone, Jesus shows up and wrestles with him. Jacob refuses to let go until he receives blessing, even after Jesus touches Jacobs hip and dislocates it. Dont be confused about this character. He is not an angel, for angels do not bless people, but God does. At the break of day, the Man (Jesus) blesses Jacob and says, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed. (v. 28)
Jacob is desperate, afraid for his life, so he continues to wrestle with God even after his hip is dislocated. He knows this is his only chance for survival and does not want to move forward without Gods blessing. Do you pray like that, or do you give up when it seems difficult? Pray like your relationship with God is only thing you have! (See also Jesus parable in Luke 18:1-8).
3. Jesus judges sin. Genesis 18, John 5:26-27
In Genesis 18, we find another appearance of Jesus as, the LORD appeared to [Abraham] (v. 1) And the LORD said, Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know. (v. 20-21)
The Lord doesnt need to come down to earth to handle a problem, but He does so to reveal Himself to Abraham so that we may learn more about Him. In this passage, Jesus reveals that He is about to judge the sin about which He has received an outcry.
Only God judges sin. In John 5, we can learn that even though Jesus is loving and merciful, even sacrificial for us unto death, He has also been commissioned to judge sin. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. John 5:26-27
4. Jesus fights our enemies. Joshua 5:13-15, Revelation 19:11-16
Another appearance of Jesus occurs in the Book of Joshua as the Israelites are preparing to go into battle to claim the Promiseland. As Joshua leads this conquest, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand (v. 13). This is the Lord Jesus, who reveals Himself as Commander of the army of the LORD (v. 14).
At this point, Joshua falls to the ground and worships; Joshua would only worship God. This is not an angel, but the Lord. He tells Joshua, Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy, just as he said to Moses from the burning bush.
We all have enemiespeople in our lives who try to thwart our efforts or simply dont care for us. One of the reason Jesus had a traitor was to remind us that we will have enemies as well. As Jesus followers, we should treat our enemies as He would: pray for them.
Remember, forgiveness doesnt mean you approve of the persons actions, nor does it mean that you have to be the persons friend. It means that you choose to go to God for comfort instead of requiring that person relieve your pain. Pray for God to release you from the burden on an unforgiving heart. Your real enemy, the devil, can use another persons wrongdoings to torment you (and the one who hurt you may not even know it). But if you want to experience real empowerment, start praying that your enemies would be empowered by the presence of God.
5. Jesus protects from hell fire. Daniel 3, Matthew 25:34, John 3:16, John 5:24
In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are under fire by the Chaldeans who are jealous of their favor and position in the government. In an effort to take them out, they know their only chance is to use Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednegos faith against them. They trick the king Nebuchadnezzar into making a decree that everyone should bow to the 90-foot idol in his own image. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse, they are cast into a blazing furnace so hot that it kills the mighty men who are to throw them in.
However, when the three men are thrown in, they are not harmed. In fact, they are joined by Jesus there in the fire. Nebuchadnezzar himself is amazed when he beholds this. 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. (v. 25)
Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him (v. 28) As we learned last week, this Angel is another name for Jesus.
(And remember, God can protect you from anything for His names sake, even a firey furnace!)