|Vol. 13 No. 5 May 2011||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Precursor as to whether Christ can be found in the Old Testament, either by way of prophecy or physically active on earth, is the question as to the nature and eternality of Christ. Respecting the latter, which says much about the former, Jesus Christ affirmed of Himself His pre-existence to the Incarnation when He uttered, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58; cf. Exodus 3:14 KJV). Add to that our Lord’s statement, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). Christ existed before “the beginning” (Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16; 1 Peter 1:18-20) and was coequal with God the Father (John 1:1-3, 14, 18) and the Holy Spirit (Genesis 1:2). There are three, eternal, coequal Divine Persons (Matthew 28:19) Who possess the quality and essence of being God or the Godhead (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 2:9). Since Christ is a Member of the Godhead and has existed eternally, it should be of no surprise were we to discover Christ in the Old Testament through prophecy, some activities on earth prior to His Incarnation or both.
Everywhere one looks with discernment in the Old Testament, he sees the eternality of Him best known to us as Jesus Christ. Just one specimen is the Old Testament passage the first century Jews (Matthew 2:4-6; John 7:42) and Christians today without the least hesitation invoke as prophetic as to in what city the Savior was to be born. “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).
In a marvelous prophecy concerning the coming Messiah, the prophet Micah described Him as being the one “whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2) With this statement in mind, it must be understood that the Lord’s conception and birth into the world was not the beginning of His existence. Rather, this phrase identifies Him as already existing: He is “from everlasting.” He is eternal and has no beginning or end. (Daugherty 8)
Furthermore, respecting Old Testament prophecies and New Testament fulfillments concerning Jesus Christ, J.J. Turner and Edward P. Myers make the observation that “many passages in the Old Testament that refer to Jehovah are found to be fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus in the New Testament. Thus, the Holy Spirit (as He inspired men to write) gives His testimony to the fact that Jesus is Deity by asserting His pre-existence in that Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament” (78). Likewise, Roy H. Lanier, Sr. concurs that “we must conclude that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is Jesus of the New Testament” (166). For an example, compare Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of one that crieth, Prepare ye in the wilderness the way of Jehovah; make level in the desert a highway for our God” (ASV) and Matthew 3:1-3, “And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (ASV).
One does not have to merely muse as to whether Christ can be found in the Old Testament, since Jesus Christ Himself forcefully avowed that the Old Testament declared Him before His birth and subsequent earthly ministry. Following the resurrection, Jesus specifically instructed some of His disciples about this very thing. “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27 KJV). The primary, divine theme of all the prophets, our Lord averred, was about the Christ; the Old Testament is replete with references to Jesus Christ. “You can find Christ in every part of the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27). What a delight it is to meet Christ in the Old Testament Law, the types, the Psalms, and the writings of the prophets” (Wiersbe).
Of course, long before His death, burial and resurrection, at the commencement of His ministry, Jesus declared His divine Role as the anointed One, and He did this by applying an Old Testament prophecy to Himself. Entering the synagogue in Nazareth, our Lord volunteered to read Scripture, whereupon He unrolled the scroll of Isaiah to what is now 61:1-2, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings…” “And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). Clearly, Jesus claimed to be the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Savior at the onset of His earthly ministry. One commentator remarked, “In all the Word of God there is not a page that does not testify of Him” (G.F. Pentecost qtd. in Exell). It is generally acknowledged that there exist approximately 333 specific prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah that are completely and minutely fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.
In addition to the Old Testament being filled with prophetic Scripture references to Jesus Christ, the work of the Second Person of the Godhead – Christ – is evident on earth in the Old Testament. For instance, the Angel sent ahead of the wandering Israelites (Exodus 23:20) is commonly understood to be a reference to the One we know best as Jesus Christ. “We view the ‘angel’ as the pro-incarnate Logos - Christ in the Old Testament. Israel’s guide was the Son of God - the same Divine Person who is now conducting ‘many sons unto glory,’ and who is become ‘the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him’ (Heb 2:10; 5:9)” (Spence and Exell). This same Angel or reference to Christ appears in Exodus 19:14, and the Angel speaking from the burning bush (Exodus 3:2) is a reference as well to Christ (Fields 516); the context of Exodus 3:2-8 identifies the Angel speaking from the burning bush as Deity. The inspired penman Luke recorded the inspired words of Stephen, which confirm that Christ was the Angel at the bush and Who gave the commandments to wandering Israel. “This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us” (Acts 7:38). In addition, the apostle Paul with no less inspiration declared that Jesus Christ participated directly with wandering Israel.
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)
Other Old Testament passages refer to the “Angel of" ["Jehovah" ASV] ["the LORD" KJV] where the reference pertains to the Second Person of the Godhead – Christ. “The first mention of this special angel is found in Genesis 15. The appearance occurs in the context of a crisis in the life of Hagar” (Ball 48). It was the Divine Person we know best as Christ who appeared to Hagar (Genesis 16:7-13). The “Angel of Jehovah” stayed Abraham’s hand as Abraham was about to slay Isaac (Genesis 22:11-18 ASV) and further identified Himself as Jehovah who promised blessings upon Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 22:16).
The Second Person of the Godhead is far more active in the Old Testament than many people imagine He was. It is my deep conviction that He often came to earth on missions for the First Person. These He did as the Angel of the Lord, Angel of Jehovah, My Angel or Angel of His presence. Too many just assume that the basic meaning of angel is that of a created being such as Michael or Gabriel. However, the basic meaning of angel is that of messenger or agent. The Second Person often came to earth as Messenger or Agent for the First Person. (Taylor 25-26)
This Angel of the Lord is portrayed in the book of Joshua, in the book of Judges and in the lives of David, Elijah and other great worthies of the Old Testament. Zechariah… The Angel of the Lord figures prominently therein. (Taylor 27)
Besides this, Jehovah appeared to Abraham (Genesis 18:1) along with two angelic companions (Genesis 18:2) and declared that He would give Abraham and Sarah a son (Genesis 18:13-14). Later in the chapter, the two angelic companions to Jehovah went to Sodom to rescue Lot’s family and to destroy the cities overcome in homosexuality; Jehovah, though, remained behind, and Abraham attempted to negotiate with Jehovah the safety of any innocents in the cities (Genesis 18:20-33). Throughout the Old Testament, though, the word “Jehovah” sometimes refers to the Father in heaven, frequently, it refers to the Second Person of the Godhead before His Incarnation.
For a fuller treatment with numerous inspections of corresponding passages, see brother Lanier’s excellent book The Timeless Trinity for the Ceaseless Centuries. Still beyond these references to the Second Person of the Godhead in Scripture, numerous appellations or names are applied to the Christ in the Word of God (Derk) so that a Bible student could spend a very long time reexamining the Bible with an enhanced perspective of Christ in both testaments. Yes, Jesus Christ is in the Old Testament, both in hundreds of prophecies as well as in discernible activities.
Ball, Keith G. “Christ and the Angel of the Lord.” Christ, The Church and the Christian in the Old Testament. Chillicothe: Sunrush Church of Christ, 2004: 44-57.
Daugherty, Emanuel. “The Pre-Existence of Christ.” Upon the Rock March 1998: 8.
Derk, Francis H. The Names of Christ. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1976.
Exell, Joseph S. The Biblical Illustrator. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.
Fields, Wilbur. Exploring Exodus. CD-ROM. Joplin: College Press, 1979.
Lanier, Roy H., Sr. The Timeless Trinity for the Ceaseless Centuries. Denver: Roy H. Lanier, Sr., 1974.
Spence, H.D.M. and Joseph S. Exell, eds. The Pulpit Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.
Taylor, Robert R., Jr. “Jesus Christ: Exalted in the Old Testament.” Exalting Jesus Christ. Donald W. Walker ed. San Antonio: Shenandoah Church of Christ, 1999: 20-37.
Turner, J.J. and Edward P. Myers. Doctrine of the Godhead. Abilene: Quality Publications, 1985.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. CD-ROM. Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1989.
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Evangelism is the lifeblood of the church! If the saved fail to share, sinners will remain separated from the Lord. It is each Christian’s responsibility and blessed privilege to share the Gospel with those we meet (Mark 16:15-16). While most Christians understand the Lord’s directive, some are guilty by failing to make this directive personal. If evangelism is to be successful, it must be personal! “Go ye, means go me!” Yet, how can the “average” child of God make evangelism personal?
Firstly, evangelism must be a priority. It is quite interesting to note that just prior to our Lord’s ascension and exaltation, He made evangelism a priority for His followers. Teach, baptize and teach some more (Matthew 28:18-20) was the Lord’s plea. This edict was to become their daily priority and ours as well. For evangelism to be our priority, it must extend past the walls of the meetinghouse! Although congregational evangelism efforts are great and needed (Gospel meetings, door-knocking, supporting missionaries, et al), they are no substitute for personal, individual evangelism. Have you made evangelism personal? Is it an individual priority for you? We must change the often present mentality of “let someone else do it” when it comes to spreading the Lord’s message. Evangelism must be a priority!
Secondly, Evangelism requires a PERSON. While the world is certainly our “target” for evangelism (Mark 16:15), it begins with an individual person. Jesus saw individuals (Matthew 4:18). Both Philip and Ananias were directed to individuals (Acts 8:26-28; 9:17ff). Interestingly, God counts by ones; one sheep (Luke 15:3-7), one coin (Luke 15:8-10), and one boy (Luke 15:11-32)! If our Lord was to return today and ask you the name of the person you are actively seeking for His cause, could you honestly name a person? Making evangelism personal requires a person!
Thirdly, evangelism necessitates a plan. Success in any area of life requires a strategy or plan. Technique is extremely important when it comes to sharing the message of salvation. This plan involves inspection. Inspect and evaluate where the person is religiously that you desire to evangelize (Acts 8:30a). This plan also must include inquiry. Questions are powerful tools in the evangelist’s arsenal (Acts 8:30b). This plan must also include instruction. Sadly, this is where some stop. We often know where our friends and family are religiously through inspection, and we even engage in religious conversations and inquiry with these same ones, but sadly, some fail to complete the process by instructing. Instruction is the final key to evangelism (Acts 8:35).
Could it be that many have neglected the Lord’s directive for evangelism? The Lord’s church will never reach her full capacity until each and every member accepts his/her responsibility in evangelism. Evangelism must be personal! Personal evangelism that pleases the Lord is evangelism that becomes our priority, evangelism that involves a person and evangelism that involves a plan. May it be said of each Christian that which was said of our Master, He came to “seek and save the lost” (cf. Luke 19:10). Who are we seeking?