Theophany and a Christophany.
A Theophany is an appearance of God.
A Christophany is a pre-incarnate
appearance of Messiah-Christ in the
The God of the Tanakh-Old Testament is not and cannot be any different from the God of the New Testament.
First let’s look at the Oneness and
The Plurality of God.
The Tanakh-Old Testament indicates that this one God did not act alone in either creation or redemption. There was Another with Him who, by definition, would have to be a part of this one God. It is easy to find God’s Co-creator in the book of Genesis:
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Here He is called “Elohim,” the plural of “El” or “Eloha,” the word for God. Why is the word plural? Critics would say it is “the plural of majesty,” similar to the “editorial we” when a royal person speaks in the plural. But “the plural of majesty” was unknown in Scripture. Furthermore, the plural pronoun is used for God: "Let us make humankind in our image, in the likeness of ourselves” in verse 26. And when God created man in His image, He did not create a single individual, but a family (Adam = mankind) to mirror the divine image. Some argue that God is speaking in the plural with the heavenly court in mind-the angels: “Let us make.” But angels did not “make” man, and man is not made in their image. God also uses the plural pronoun in Genesis 3:22; 11:6-7, and Isaiah 6:8.
God appears in the Tanakh-Old Testament in different ways:
1. As an angel of the LORD* Acts 7:30-32
“After forty more years, an angel appeared to him in the desert near Mount Sinai in the flames of a burning thorn bush. When Moses saw this, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to get a better look, there came the voice of the LORD, 'I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' But Moses trembled with fear and didn't dare to look. The angel of the LORD* appeared to him in a fire blazing from the middle of a bush. He looked and saw that although the bush was flaming with fire, yet the bush was not being burned up.”
He made Himself lower than Moses in order to speak to him. At the same time He insisted upon His divinity: “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground”. (v. 5) Was He foreshadowing a future time when He would humble Himself to enter human flesh?
When Hagar fled from her mistress, Sarah, The angel of the LORD found her by a spring in the desert,” and appeared to her. But he is also the LORD Himself: “So she named the LordI who had spoken with her El Ro'i [God of seeing],” because she said, "Have I really seen the One who sees me [and stayed alive]?" Genesis 16:7, 13
God told Abraham to sacrifice his son (Genesis 22), but at the crucial moment “the angel of the LORD” called from heaven reversing the command (v. 11). In His second speech He says, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this...I will surely bless you” (vv. 15-17). Once again the LORD’s messenger is identified as the LORD.
When Jacob blessed his grandsons, he recognized the Angel as God: “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has led me all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads". Genesis 48:15-16
Judges 2:1 Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bokhim and said, "I brought you up out of Egypt, led you to the land I swore to your fathers and said, 'I will never break my covenant with you.’”
During the exodus from Egypt “the angel of God” traveled with Israel in the pillar of cloud, separating Israel from the Egyptians. Exodus 14:19 The next morning it was ”the LORD” who looked down from the cloud and troubled the Egyptians (v. 24). God’s angel, traveling with Israel in the cloud, was the LORD.
God tells more about this angel in Exodus 23: “Behold, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him. . . . My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites,” etc. (vv. 20-23). This angel is distinct from God -- he is sent by God. The distinction is further emphasized in God’s pronouncement after the golden calf incident: “I will send an angel before you... but I will not go with you”. Exodus. 33:2-3 But this “angel of the LORD” is also God.
Judges 13:20-21. As the “flame went up toward the sky from the altar, the angel of the LORD went up in the flame from the altar. When Manoach and his wife saw it, they fell to the ground on their faces. Then Manoach realized it had been the angel of the LORD, That they had seen God and lived.”
2. Apparently in physical form.
Genesis 3:8 “They heard the voice of the LORD, God, walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, so the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD, God, among the trees in the garden.”
Genesis 18 On one occasion Abraham looked up and saw three men standing by. The text indicates that one was the LORD and the other two were angels. They took on physical bodies, feeling the heat of the day, needing their dusty feet to be washed, and eating an unkosher dinner of veal, bread, curds, and milk. Afterward the LORD walked with Abraham down the dusty road toward Sodom, professing to be on a mission to investigate for Himself whether conditions there were as bad as He had heard. He let Abraham bargain with Him about the fate of the city. Almighty God condescended to come down to earth as a man and dialog with his friend Abraham!
Exodus 24:9-11 “Moses, Aaron, Nadav, Avihu and seventy of the leaders went up; and they saw the God of Isra'el. Under his feet was something like a sapphire stone pavement as clear as the sky itself. He did not reach out his hand against these notables of Isra'el; on the contrary, they saw God, even as they were eating and drinking.”
In Joshua’s encounter with the LORD outside of Jericho, there are two Persons mentioned. “As commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Joshua 5:14 The commander of the army is presumably second in command to the LORD of the army. But in his instructions to Joshua regarding the conquest of Jericho, this commander of the army himself is called “the LORD.” “And the LORD said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given into your hand Jericho,’”. Joshua 6:22ff So again there is the LORD on earth speaking to Joshua in behalf of the LORD in heaven.
3. In visions and dreams
Numbers 12:6-8 He said, "Listen to what I say: when there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. But it isn't that way with my servant Moses. He is the only one who is faithful in my entire household. With him I speak face to face and clearly, not in riddles; he sees the image of the LORD. So why weren't you afraid to criticize my servant Moses?”
4. In a cloud and a column of smoke
Exodus 13:21 “the LORD went ahead of them in a column of cloud during the daytime to lead them on their way, and at night in a column of fire to give them light; thus they could travel both by day and by night.”
Exodus 14:19-20 “Next, the angel of God, who was going ahead of the camp of Isra'el, moved away and went behind them; and the column of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them. It stationed itself between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Isra'el - there was cloud and darkness here, but light by night there; so that the one did not come near the other all night long.”
Exodus 34:5-6 “Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed His Name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God....’”.
In the Bible God defines Himself by His great acts. He alone is the Creator. For says the LORD, who formed the earth and made it: “I am the LORD, and there is no other”. Isaiah 45:18
Remember …. He alone is the Redeemer.
Would God Become a Man?
In the Old Testament we have seen God becoming a man. Scripture tells us God will take on humanity before His birth at Bethlehem! Micah 5:2 says: “But you, Bethlehem near Efrat, so small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come forth to me the future ruler of Isra'el, whose origins are far in the past, back in ancient times.”
Jesus told His opponents that He had known Abraham, “Abraham, your father, was glad that he would see my day; then he saw it and was overjoyed." "Why, you're not yet fifty years old," the Judeans replied, "and you have seen Abraham?" Yeshua-Jesus said to them, "Yes, indeed! Before Abraham came into being, I AM!" John 8:56-58
Isaiah predicted in explicit terms that God would be born in human flesh. “Therefore the LORD himself will give you people a sign: the young woman [virgin] will become pregnant, bear a son and name him 'Immanu El [God is with us]”. (7:14) Matthew applies this text to Yeshua-Jesus: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means `ADONAI saves,'] because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
The name of this child means God dwelling with humanity -- “God with us.” Isaiah’s prophecy of a child called Emmanuel, then, had a local application of deliverance and judgment, but became a type of a greater Child who would bring salvation to believers and judgment to unbelievers. Isaiah describes this Child as follows: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. Isaiah. 9:6
Isaiah explains what “mighty God” (“El Gibbor” in Hebrew) means, since he is the only one who uses the term. It occurs just a few verses later: “A remnant will return . . . to the mighty God” (10:21)! The term definitely means God Himself. Isaiah goes on to explain the expression “wonderful Counselor” -- “the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel”. (28:29) The other expressions, “Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” are equally divine. The text continues by saying that His government will have no end. It is indisputable that the passage is referring to God -- the God who would be born as a son to the human race!
We have reviewed some Tanakh-Old Testament passages which reveal a second Person called God and Yahweh-hwhy who appeared in ancient times to His people as “the angel of the LORD,” as God in human form, and as God to be born a son to humanity. It is clear that the one God of the Shema includes a second Person whom we know as Yeshua Hamashiakh, Jesus Christ. "Sh'ma, Yisra'el! The LORD Eloheinu, The LORD echad [Hear, Isra'el! The LORD our God, The LORD is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4
The Shema itself tells us that there are two divine Persons, “The LORD our God” and “the LORD”? The Shema tells us that these two are one? The Hebrew word one (echad) is related to the verb yachad which means to unite. God, here, is a unity of two Beings in one. Two because God is love and love cannot exist alone. One because love unites Them in character, mind, and purpose. Clearly the plurality of God is visible and seen as a united single being.
What difference does it make if Jesus is God or not? And how could He be God when the Bible says “The LORD our God, the LORD is one” ? Deuteronomy 6:4 If we believe that the Father, Son, and also the Holy Spirit are God, do we then worship three Gods? No, the Godhead is a unity of three Persons who are one in character and purpose, cemented together by love. Out of this love relationship all things animate and inanimate were created. Three gods would have to be lesser, rival gods, competing with each other for dominance. Their massive conflicts, as described in heathen pantheons, would place the whole cosmos in jeopardy. The security of the universe depends on the unity of the Godhead. See: www.menorah.org/the trinity.html
But why must Jesus be God? Why couldn’t God create a savior to redeem us? First, because the task was so huge that only God could accomplish it. “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior”. Isaiah 43:11 Only the Creator Himself has power to re-create human beings in His image. Second, a created being has only one life to give. His life would not have sufficient value to redeem the millions of lost humanity. Only the life of the Creator Himself had sufficient value to redeem His creation. Third, only one equal with the Torah-law could meet the demands of the law. The law is an expression of the character of God and His instructions. Only God could satisfy His own requirements. Fourth, God was not willing to send a substitute. He would not stand aside and watch someone else suffer to vindicate His name. He chose to become personally involved in the struggle to save His lost family. Philippians 2:5-11
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How about you?
Have you received your Redeemer, the Stone whom the builders rejected?
In Him is life, light and joy and in His sacrifice is forgiveness of sin.
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