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Yom Shabbat, 1 Heshvan 5778

 



 







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Did the Messiah appear in the Tenach (OT)

Like other debatable subjects of biblical mysteries and theology we have a subject that is known to us as Theophany and Christophany.  These cases for some suggest that G-d or the Son of G-d were made manifested in Old Testament times. After consulting the many passages and examining common opinions on the subject I have come to find that there are a few instances in which the Living G-d did make manifestations of himself in the Old Testament era. However as far as suggesting that the Son of G-d was the Angel of the Lord during Old Testament times is very questionable but worth the examination.

I do find that this topic is one that is a highly debatable issue; therefore I will share basic concepts of information and let the reader reach their own conclusion to the issue.

First let’s answer the questions in regarding what is a Theophany?

A theophany is a manifestation of G-d in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of G-d in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form. Some of the theophanies are found in these passages:

1. Genesis 12:7-9–The Lord appeared to Abraham on his arrival in the land G-d had promised to him and his descendants.
2. Genesis 18:1-33–One day, Abraham had some visitors: two angels and G-d Himself. He invited them to come to his home, and he and Sarah entertained them. Many commentators believe this could also be a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.
3. Genesis 32:22-30–Jacob wrestled with what appeared to be a man, but was actually God (vv. 28-30). This may also have been a Christophany.
4. Exodus 3:2 - 4:17–God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, telling him exactly what He wanted him to do.
5. Exodus 24:9-11–God appeared to Moses with Aaron and his sons and the seventy elders.
6. Deuteronomy 31:14-15–God appeared to Moses and Joshuah in the transfer of leadership to Joshua.
7. Job 38–42–God answered Job out of the tempest and spoke at great length in answer to Job’s questions.

By examining the mentioned scriptures above we will find that certainly there were places where the living G-d manifested himself to his people. We even find that G-d appears as a stranger passing through with a few angels in disguise. But the issue here for some is that no man can see G-d and live (Ex 33:20) yet in Be’reysheet (Gen 18:1-33) we see the person talking to Avraham was indeed G-d himself (cf.18:14,17-33). If this were not G-d in disguise who then was it? Many suggest then that this may be an instant where the son is made incarnate making the event a Christophany. Some Bible commentators believe that whenever someone received a visit from G-d or “the angel of the Lord,” that this was in fact the pre-incarnate Christ. However questionably some of these appearances can be seen in Genesis 16:7-14; Genesis 22:11-18; Judges 5:23; 2 Kings 19:35; and other passages. Other commentators believe these were in fact angelophanies, or appearances of just angels. While there are disputable Christophanies in the Old Testament, every theophany wherein G-d takes on human form foreshadows the incarnation, where G-d took the form of a man to live among us as Emmanuel, “G-d with us” (Matthew 1:23).

The confusion in this area sometimes occurs when most do not distinguish theophanies but insist that they are in fact christophanies becomes the problem. The reader should not speculate that in every place of scripture where the living G-d was made manifest supports the idea that it was or had to be a pre-incarnate appearance of the Messiah. There must be a distinguishing between the events of manifestations. Because not all manifestations support that they were all pre-incarnate appearances of the Messiah. The question to ask on this subject is that if there are pre-incarnate appearances of the Messiah where do exist?

According to some we find the mention of the Angel of the Lord as being said to be the pre-incarnate Messiah. The below scriptures mention this Angel.

Genesis 16:7, 9, 10, 11,21:17, 22:11,15,31:11, Exodus 3:2, 14:19, Numbers 22:22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 22:31, 32, 33, 34, 35, Judges 2:1,4; 5:23; 6:11,12, 20-22; 13:3,6,9,13,15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21, 1Samuel 29:9, 2Samuel 14:17; 14:20; 19:27; 24:16, , 1Kings 19:7; 2Kings 1:3; 1:15; 19:35; , 1Chronicles 21:12; 21:15, 16; 21:18; 21:30, Psalms 34:7; 35:5; 35:6, Isaiah 37:36, Zechariah 1:11, 12; 3:1, 5, 6;12:8

However the biblical disputes of some is that the Messiah or the Son of the Living G-d is NOT a created Angel or being. His origin unlike created angels or beings is existent eternal and has always been since and before the foundation of all creation (Yohanan-John 17:5. Which I can fully agree, however if we examine the nature and position of the created angel which from the Hebrew (Malach) definition is only identified as (1) A messenger (2) or representative. In many new covenant cases we can also identify that the position of the Messiah was one who also was sent by the father as G-ds own personal messenger or representative (Mattiyahu-Matt 10:40, Yohanan-John 20:21, Luke 10:16). Only he is not a created being sent to do a mission, but is G-ds very own Son who again represents G-d to the fullest manifestation, that being G-d in the flesh which no angel could have done. This is the distinction mark between created being and existent eternal one. So it is assumable to some that G-ds Son on occasion in the old testament era made special appearances on behalf of G-d only then being recognized as an angelic messenger (not one who was created but one sent to fully represent) called the Angel of the Lord or the Angel of the presence of G-d, yet perhaps not like all the others which distinguishes him above and from the others.

These may hold as speculations or dogmatic dispute for some but it is fair to say that the Messiah was not recognized by man as G-d personal Son in the Old Testament times. This revelation was not fully made clear until he was actually born many; many years later (see point C in our article The angel of the Lord). Though we have the Messianic prophecies which foretold of his coming they were not fully realized or fulfilled until his physical appearance came in new covenant times.

For more detail on this issue see

The Angel of the Lord