Christ In The Old Testament

Lesson 1.16

Have you realized you can easily find Jesus Christ in the Old Testament? Our lesson today will focus on the fascinating discoveries of the pre-incarnate Christ in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Please read 1 Chronicles 21:1-27 before starting GraspingGod.com's free Bible study lessons, #1.16

Previous lesson: King David of Israel #1.15

Preliminary Bible Study Questions:

1) What were Jesus Christ's main interests when he visited earth in the Old Testament?

2) What were Jesus Christ's main activities when he appeared?

This will be an enlightening lesson for you, if you were unaware that Jesus was active in the Bible's Old Testament. Let's see when and where he showed up in history. Grab a sweet tea and let's get started.

Christ In the Old Testament Explained

Pre-incarnate means that Jesus was alive before being born to the Virgin Mary. Amazing, huh? No one else in history can lay claim to anything of the sort. Jesus is the unique pre-existent person, the Son of God and Son of man.

We know that when God made a bodily personal appearance in the Old Testament it was the Christ who appeared. God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the other two members of the Trinity, do not have a "body" like the Christ. So, when the Lord (aka Angel of Yahweh) visited earth, visibly encountering people, it was the pre-incarnate Christ. I omitted any of God's appearances if the biblical record only consisted of the voice of God, because that could be any one of the Trinity members.

Christ In the Old Testament Appearances:

I've developed a list with a summary capsule of each of the appearances of Christ in the Old Testament. Let me know if you find any other occurrences which I missed.

  • Genesis 3:8-24. Christ visited Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they broke the commandment. They heard him "walking in the garden" so we know that it was Christ. He cursed them, and Satan, mankind as a whole, and the earth, while in the Garden of Eden. This wasn't one of his happier appearances.
  • Genesis 16:7-13. The Angel of the Lord (Yehweh) is an Old Testament name for the pre-incarnate Christ. So when we see the Lord referred to in this manner it will be listed. Christ visited, comforted, and conversed with Abraham's mistress, Hagar, who had Abraham's son Ishmael with her.
  • Genesis 18:1-33. Christ and two of his angels visited with Abraham, and announced the birth of Isaac. Christ also announced the soon destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which his two angels carried out the next day.
  • Genesis 21:17-18. The Angel of the Lord comforted Hagar once again, and informed her that a great nation would come out of her son, Ishmael.
  • Genesis 22:11-18. Abraham was obeying God's command to sacrifice Isaac when the Angel of the Lord stopped him from thrusting the knife into Isaac. Christ then provided a ram for the sacrifice.
  • Genesis 31:11-13. The Angel of the Lord introduced himself to Jacob, and told him to return to the land of his birth.
  • Genesis 32:24-32. Jacob wrestles with the Lord, and the Lord renames him Israel.
  • Exodus 3:1-4:27. The Angel of the Lord gave Moses instructions on leading the captive nation of Israel out of their bondage to Egypt. Christ appeared to Moses from a burning bush. Note: Moses may have returned to the Angel throughout the plagues, but the biblical text doesn't necessarily confirm it.
  • Exodus 12:1-29. The night of the Passover Lamb brought death to all of the Egyptian firstborn human and animal males. Since this is a preview of the Lamb of God, the Messiah, I would presume that it was the pre-incarnate Christ who inflicted the punishment.
  • Exodus 34:5-28. Verses 5-6 says that "The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him,... then the Lord passed by in front of him." There is strong evidence that this occurrence was definitely the Christ.

More Christ In the Old Testament Appearances:

  • Numbers 22:22-35. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Balaam in order that he stop his false prophesies. Christ spoke through Balaam's donkey, but then revealed himself holding a sword.
  • Deuteronomy 34:1-6. Christ was possibly present at Moses' death. Verse 6 says, "And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-Peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day." Jewish tradition also suggested that it was the Angel of the Lord who buried Moses.
  • 1 Kings 19:4-8. The Angel of the Lord strengthened Elijah when he was fleeing from Jezebel.
  • 2 Kings 19:35. The Angel of the Lord slaughtered 185,000 soldiers of Sennacherib's army.
  • Judges 2:1-4. The Angel of the Lord chastised Israel for not doing as he commanded. He, therefore, put a curse on the future of Israel in the land. Joshua died soon after this visit from the Lord.
  • Judges 5:23. The Angel of the Lord cursed Meroz. Christ in the Old Testament, as you see, was a fairly common occurrence.
  • Judges 6:11-22. The Angel of the Lord met Gideon face-to-face and commissioned Gideon to service. He was to deliver the Israelites from the nation of Midian. Displaying a lack of faith, Gideon didn't trust in the Lord's presence. He also had to lay out the fleece of wool to see if the Lord would send a sign. God did, and everything came to pass as Christ commanded.
  • Judges 13:3-22. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah and his wife to announce the coming birth of Samson.

Still More Christ In the Old Testament Appearances:

  • 2 Samuel 24:16. In this ugly scene the Angel of the Lord stopped the destroying angel from killing more Israelites. King David of Israel approached Christ, who was standing near Araunah the Jebusite's threshing floor. David repented and begged him to stop the slaughter. David asked that God's wrath come against him because the census was his idea.
  • Daniel 3:19-30. Three Hebrews refused to worship the earthly king, Nebuchadnezzar. He was enraged and threw them into a blazing hot furnace. The Angel of the Lord came and visited. Read about the miracle in Daniel.
  • Zechariah 1:12; 3:1-7; 12:8. This is a series of visits by the Angel of the Lord recorded by Zechariah the prophet.

Additionally, 1 Corinthians 10:4 confirmed that Christ was the Rock who followed the nation of Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 14:19; 23:20). How could we forget the Lord leading his nation out of Egypt?

Christ in the Old Testament recordings stopped at this point, but, as you'll see, his work never stops.

The Intertestamental Period

The prophecies and prophets also halted for centuries during a quiet era we refer to as the Intertestamental Period. The last recorded event is recorded in Nehemiah 13:4-30, and the last recorded prophecy is the book of Malachi. From those occurrences to the first records of the New Testament (Luke 1:5-25) 400 years had passed.

The "Angel of the Lord's" appearances notably ceased after Christ's human birth, giving strong evidence for him being the pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament.

This period was under God's sovereign control and critical for the coming Messiah's message. The 400 year era saw the Hebrew nation dispersed throughout a huge area of the eastern world, and into the western world. Most Jews came to live outside of Palestine through these centuries.

Why was this so important? Because the gospel of Jesus Christ largely spread via the Jewish synagogues found in distant lands. The propagation of Christianity was fueled by this situation. God was audibly quiet during this period, but he was very busy preparing the way for the salvation plan of Jesus Christ.

Grasp This!

Isn't it wonderful to know that the God of the Bible has always been alive and active in the universe he himself planned and created? Remember, he isn't simply the alpha, but also the omega. He cared for, and he visited, the earth before he was born as a human. He is also sustaining his creation to this very day (Colossians 1:17), after dying and rising from the grave. There is no stopping our awesome God!

His chosen nation was his main point of interest and activity in the Old Testament. His chosen people were his main point of interest in the New Testament, and this will never change. Are you counting yourself as one of the chosen?

Take comfort in the fact that your God will always be there, caring for you - because he loves you.

God is always at work around us. His plans are being fulfilled on a daily basis. We can't "see" him working, but, we can sense it, and we do know he is returning soon. He surprised the world 2000 years ago when he came as an infant, so please don't be fooled when the trumpet sounds and Jesus arrives on a cloud. Be prepared, don't be foolish. Be watching for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Join our next lesson: Fulfilled Prophecy #1.17

Bible Study Questions:

1) How does the fact of Christ in the Old Testament grow your faith?

2) Compare and contrast Christ in the Old Testament with Jesus in the New Testament.

Inspirational Bible Verses:

"After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:31-35

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Faith Quotes!

When we believe in nothing, we open the doors to believing anything. David Wells

If to believe in Jesus was man's first duty, not to believe in him was his chief sin. John Stott

Jesus Christ Quotes:

The Angel of the Lord, who does not appear after the birth of Christ, is often identified as the pre-incarnate Christ. John MacArthur

More Quotes about Jesus Christ In The Old Testament:

Today Jesus Christ is being dispatched as the Figurehead of a religion, a mere example. He is that, but he is infinitely more; He is salvation itself, He is the Gospel of God. C.S.Lewis Quotes

Not only do we not know God except through Jesus Christ; We do not even know ourselves except through Jesus Christ. Blaise Pascal Quotes

Prayers of Thanksgiving:

Dear Father, Christ in the Old Testament is so utterly mind-boggling that I can hardly grasp it. Please forgive me. Lord, the reality of Jesus being eternal is so comforting that it makes me want to fall into your arms. Nothing happens outside of your control. I can be perfectly peaceful and content knowing You are my God. This prayer is in our eternal Savior's name. Amen

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