Jesus in the Old Testament

This past Sunday, I led a small group study on Jesus in the Old Testament. I forgot to bring the handouts, so we had to wing it. Great discussions! Here’s the notes:


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 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

In these first words of John (quoted above), we learn that Jesus, The Word, was there at the creation. So, why isn’t the Old Testament filled with Jesus appearances? Maybe it is! The term Theophany is used to describe a physical appearance of God in the Bible. In Genesis, for example, God is heard walking through the garden calling for Adam and Eve after they have sinned. God speaks to Moses, Abraham, and others in the Old Testament.

However, scripture tells us that no man has ever seen God. No man has heard the Father’s voice.

 

No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father’s side — he has made him known. John 1:18

“And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.” John 5:37

So, who did they see? “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures,” (Luke 24:27). Was Jesus the physical body of God in the Old Testament? Many people think so.

Question: We have learned that the Old Testament points to Christ, it does, but it also reveals Christ. What does that mean to you?

Question: Christ existed with God and was God. Has his role changed over time?

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul teaches the believers at Corinth that their ancestors in the time of Moses followed the cloud, walked across the sea, and were baptized by the cloud and the sea. They ate the spiritual food and drank the spiritual water of the spiritual rock that was with them. He says that rock was Christ.

Christ was with them in the desert. Not in the form of Jesus of Nazareth, but as The Word. God provided manna, bread from Heaven, during the Exodus. Christ is the true spiritual bread (John 6:31-33). 

In 1 Kings (18:1 and 19:9), Elijah is visited by The Word of God. He had grown weary and The Word came to him and gave him comfort and instruction.

Daniel 3 tells the story many of us learned, and sang about, in Bible school as kids. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were cast into the fire, but when King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire, he saw four men there.

“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.”

In many ways, as we discussed, the role of Jesus has changed since the beginning. He was with God (and was God) at creation. His ministry as Messiah was the subject of prophecy but that had a place in time and in the New Testament. However, what is the same about Jesus from beginning to end? From Alpha to Omega? Judge of all of the earth (Genesis 18:25)?

When we studied Melchizedek, I mentioned that some scholars believe he was an early appearance of Jesus on Earth. True or not, scripture tells us that Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 6:19-20 – note OT and NT references).  Hebrews 7 goes further in describing Melchizedek as being without father or mother, without beginning or end and like the son of God. Interestingly, in his first appearance in Genesis 14, he brings Abraham bread and wine, blesses him, and receives a tithe. He is described as God’s high priest and a king of Salem. Salem, an early name for Jerusalem, means peace. King of Peace?

Rabbi Jonathan Bernis, a Messianic teacher, writes that the Old Testament contains about 150 appearances of Jesus. He counts many appearances of the Angel of the Lord as early Jesus appearances. Can you think of other times in the Old Testament where you believe that Jesus could have been actively involved in the lives of men?

Scripture activity

Zechariah 1
Isaiah 6:1-13, cross reference John 12:41

Cross reference this with the THREE who appeared twice to Abraham.
Your father Abraham was very happy that he would see the day when I came. He saw that day and was happy.”The Jews said to Jesus, “What? How can you say you have seen Abraham? You are not even 50 years old!”Jesus answered, “The fact is, before Abraham was born, I Am.” John 8:56-58. 

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