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Watch 2022 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - Jesus Appearing In The Old Testament

Jonathan Bernis - Jesus Appearing In The Old Testament

Jonathan Bernis - Jesus Appearing In The Old Testament
TOPICS: Theophany

Jonathan Bernis: Of course, we all know the stories of Jesus written in the gospels in the New Testament, but did you know that Jesus actually appeared in human form before his birth a number of times in the Old Testament? Ezra Benjamin is back with me today as my co-host, but we also have a guest, Troy Wallace, who is a member of our leadership team here at Jewish Voice. Troy oversees both the congregational development in places like Africa, where we're working, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and he also heads up our leadership development, and he's a great teacher. Troy, I can't believe in all the years you've been working with me, we haven't had you on this program.

Troy Wallace: I'm just glad to be here, Jonathan. It's a real joy.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, it's great to have you.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: So, we're going to tackle an issue today that, I love this, this is one of my favorite things. We're going to be talking about Jesus appearing, actually in human form, in the Old Testament. Troy, let me put up a graph here to look at.

Troy Wallace: Okay.

Jonathan Bernis: Just an illustration. So, this is something we talked about earlier, and this is maybe the way that you view, or kind of have viewed without maybe even thinking about it, the old and New Testaments. So, here's kind of a traditional view that I find with Christians. There's the old and the new, and they're delineated. So, old is the law. The New Testament is grace. Old is Moses, the new is Jesus. The old is history and context. The new is now.

Troy Wallace: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: This is what we believe now. We're New Testament believers. The old is prophecy. There's Messianic prophecies, maybe types and shadows. The New Testament is the fulfillment.

Troy Wallace: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: The fulfillment - in other words, the completion. And then, the old is about the Father and the new is about the Son. So, this is... Maybe this is oversimplified.

Troy Wallace: A lot of people think that way. I think a lot of people think like that.

Jonathan Bernis: It's oversimplified, but it's a framework that I think many would agree with.

Troy Wallace: Yeah. I mean, I think I've heard the same thing in conversation for many years. You know, Jesus came to give us grace and Moses came to give us the law. But if you really look into it, the system of the Levitical priesthood is a grace-based system.

Jonathan Bernis: That's good.

Troy Wallace: It's not the Son who's come to make atonement once and for all, it's the grace-based system of the blood of bulls and goats, which the writer of Hebrews tells us has real power to forgive sin, it's just temporary. It's not the once and for all effect that Jesus has with his blood.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and there is some law in the new and there's some judgment in the new.

Troy Wallace: Absolutely. You know, I heard one scholar say that actually, if you look at the commandments in the New Testament, in the new covenant scriptures, there's 1.100, so it doubles the 613 from the Torah. So, just the scholarship on that really challenges a little bit of the way that we think. And so, if we think about just the picture - not just the picture or the types and shadow of the Son in the Old Testament, if I may, but really, he shows up there a few times, too.

Jonathan Bernis: He does. We're presenting, I think, a different biblical view on Jewish Voice, which is not this dichotomy of the old and the new history, and now Father/Son, but the Father's in the new, the Son is in the old.

Troy Wallace: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Right? And we, I love this expression, Torah foundational.

Troy Wallace: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: We believe in the foundation of the old covenant scriptures providing a context for understanding the new.

Troy Wallace: Right, and just the idea that it's the same story from cover to cover. There's new episodes, there's new things that show up. There's different pictures. We learn new stuff. But from cover to cover, the narrative is consistent.

Jonathan Bernis: It is.

Ezra Benjamin: That's so important. Now, Troy, you said Jesus actually showing up or appearing in the Old Testament, there's kind of a fancy theological word maybe you haven't heard before at home - "Theophany". Now, before you think, "This is way above my level," and change the channel, explain that to us. What's that?

Troy Wallace: Well, it's just a real simple principle that we see images of God in the form of a man in the text. In the Old Testament text, we see these appearances.

Ezra Benjamin: Okay.

Jonathan Bernis: So, he's making himself known and it's in the form of a man. Some people call it the "Christophany" as well, the idea of Christ, preincarnate, appearing in the form of a man. And we see it, really - actually, it was 56 times that we see that.

Jonathan Bernis: Wow.

Troy Wallace: In the Tanakh, in the Hebrew scriptures.

Ezra Benjamin: Jesus shows up 56 times in the Hebrew scriptures?

Troy Wallace: Well, let me say it this way. The God of Israel shows up 56 times in the form of a man.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow!

Troy Wallace: In the Hebrew scriptures. Now, he wasn't born yet.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: He didn't get born until, you know, Gabriel showed up with Mary. But God, the God of Israel, is in the form of a man with the patriarchs and matriarchs of Israel, and usually, he gets worshipped.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow!

Jonathan Bernis: Like, it's the God of Israel in the form of a man. It's so beautiful.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: It's such a big deal because we're not talking just about Messianic prophecy pointing to the future.

Troy Wallace: Correct.

Jonathan Bernis: But in that context.

Troy Wallace: Right. So, Messianic prophecies, there's different ways to interpret it. But when we look at the Hebrew text and it says, "God appeared as a man," like, it's really hard to interpret that to mean something else.

Ezra Benjamin: To explain it away.

Troy Wallace: Right, exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: So, you've read the Old Testament, and most of you watching have read it numerous times. Have you ever seen this before? And maybe we need eyes to see.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah. Jonathan, our audience, I hope you're being a berean, as they say, and you're saying, "Show me in the scriptures 1 of these 56 times and maybe I'll believe you". Troy, give us an example.

Troy Wallace: Just one.

Jonathan Bernis: Let's jump in.

Troy Wallace: Maybe just one. Genesis 18:1-2, and just two simple verses. It says, "Then the Lord appeared to him," that is to Abraham, "By the terebinth trees of mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he," Abraham, "Lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him: and when Abraham saw these three men," one of whom was the Lord, "He ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself down in worship".

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Troy Wallace: It's the Lord. It's unqualified. Abraham saw the Lord as one of three men in the middle of the day, and his response was to run up, and bow down and worship him.

Jonathan Bernis: This is not just three angels. This is Abraham recognizing that one of the three is the Lord himself.

Troy Wallace: That's right. The text says it's the Lord. Unqualified, the Lord appears as a man. Abraham worships him.

Ezra Benjamin: Troy, it's incredible. I think we can sometimes read the scriptures so many times that we don't really read what it says. And even in my own, you know, experience reading through the Bible over and over, I can sort of replace the idea here with, "And the Lord sent three messengers". But you're saying look at the scripture.

Troy Wallace: Look.

Ezra Benjamin: The Lord is one of the three messengers.

Troy Wallace: He's one of the three who appears to Abraham in the heat of the day.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow. Nuts. So, what does Abraham do in response to this. Abraham knows one of these three guys is Adonai, is the Lord.

Troy Wallace: Well, I think... Let's talk a minute about how does he know who he is?

Ezra Benjamin: Okay.

Troy Wallace: Like, this isn't the first time actually that Abraham encountered this figure.

Jonathan Bernis: That was my question because you see angels.

Troy Wallace: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: You know, it could be an automatic response.

Troy Wallace: Right. But he meets the Lord. The Lord is the one who speaks to him in Genesis 12 and tells him to leave. So, he knows the sound of his voice. In Genesis 15, the Lord appears. Now, it's not as a man in this case, it's in a smoking pot and a flaming pillar, is the way that it says. And then, in Genesis 17, the chapter right before, the Lord appeared to Abraham and told him that he needed to circumcise all of the men in his household. So, Abraham, like, he'd interacted with this figure before. He knew what he looked like.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Jonathan Bernis: So, when he saw him, his response was to get up, even in the heat of the day - to get right up and run out there, and bow down and worship.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Jonathan Bernis: This is such a great point, that he knew.

Troy Wallace: He knew who he was.

Jonathan Bernis: He had a relationship already.

Troy Wallace: Right, right. He heard his voice before. He had seen him before, maybe in a slightly different manifestation, if I could say it that way.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure. Sure.

Troy Wallace: But he'd interacted with him. Like, I don't want to overdo it and say that they're friends, but they are acquaintances. They know each other.

Ezra Benjamin: Abraham, he has a history in God so that he knows when God shows up in his life.

Troy Wallace: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Right?

Troy Wallace: And his response is not like a polite, Middle Eastern bow, you know, or like maybe an asian culture bow, like from the waist. He gets all the way down on the ground and worships. I mean, it's incredible. And then, he says, “hey, Sarah! Sarah, we've got to get some food together here”. By the way, then he serves them lunch. He serves them lunch, and what does he serve them? He serves them milk and meat together, which is interesting.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: God in the form of a man.

Ezra Benjamin: And that's a whole other story.

Jonathan Bernis: That's for another program.

Troy Wallace: Right. They get together and have lunch, and in the midst of the dialogue, the Lord who appears starts talking to Abraham and Sarah about their progeny. He continues the covenant of offspring. They start talking. He starts to share with them about what's going to come for Sodom and Gomorrah. Like, they have a conversation. It's like this, except it's a little warmer. They're just getting to know each other.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And God's making promises.

Ezra Benjamin: It's incredible.

Jonathan Bernis: Troy, is this the preincarnate Messiah?

Troy Wallace: I'm very comfortable saying yes. And maybe we'll get a chance to talk about why I think so in a few minutes here.

Jonathan Bernis: Gosh. God wants you to re-read the Old Testament, and it will come alive for you, really. From Genesis to revelation, this is the inspired Word of God. We need to take a short break to let you know how you can get involved in changing lives by supporting Jewish Voice. I know that you may be presented with a lot of different opportunities to give, but I want you to know that your donations to Jewish Voice are truly making a difference. Please take a moment to listen to our announcer and we'll be right back with much more.

Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back. We're talking about incredible appearances of God in human form in the Old Testament, but before we do, can I just take a moment to say thank you? We honestly could not do this work without you, so thank you for your generous giving and especially for joining Jewish Voice as a monthly shalom partner. Your ongoing monthly support of this ministry is so valued. We appreciate it. The people that we're helping and sharing the gospel with appreciate it. We appreciate you. So, thank you. Troy, I love this topic, one of my favorite topics. It makes the Old Testament come alive. It's not Jesus appearing in the new, he's found throughout the old. It completely changes the way that we read the Old Testament. I wanted you to just quickly comment on Jacob becoming Israel, because that also is a theophany. It's an appearance of the Lord, very clearly, because Jacob recognizes that he's seen the Lord.

Troy Wallace: That's what he says afterwards.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah.

Troy Wallace: "I've seen the Lord

Ezra Benjamin: Right, and maybe you've read it a hundred times and you go, "Yeah, yeah, the angel of the Lord," but what's really, and maybe you'll look closer and go, "Wait a minute, there's a capital a there. What does that mean"? What's going on here with Jacob?

Troy Wallace: Well, I mean, Jacob, like Abraham, has an encounter with the God of Israel, with his own God, in the form of a man.

Ezra Benjamin: Okay.

Jonathan Bernis: And he wrestles with him all night. And I think this is just such an interesting passage for many reasons, but one of the reasons I find it so interesting is the Lord blesses him because he wrestles with him. Like, that's very different maybe than some Christian, like formal, we're serene and severe with God. Like, God blesses Jacob because he's willing to wrestle with him, and the effect of that wrestling is that Jacob's contending with God for a blessing.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Jonathan Bernis: He's, "I'm not going to let you go until you bless me! You've got to bless me"!

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: And the Lord overcomes him finally by punching him in the leg and he limps for the rest of his life. He lets him go.

Jonathan Bernis: There's one more great one I want you to share with us from Daniel. Jump into this.

Troy Wallace: So, Daniel 10, Daniel has this experience with the Lord himself, and it says this in verse 5 of Daniel 10. It says, "I", Daniel, "Lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man" - I just want to pause there for a minute. There's this certain man that Daniel sees, and then he goes on to describe him. He's clothed. He's girded about his waist with gold. "His body is like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes are like torches of fire".

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Jonathan Bernis: "His arms and feet like burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude". And if you skip down a little bit to verse 9, it says when Daniel heard the sound of his words, he fell down, "In a deep sleep on his face, on the ground".

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Troy Wallace: It's this fantastic appearance, and Daniel's overcome with not only what he sees, and hears, and the experience that he has, but he's overcome with the sound of his voice. He falls down as if he's asleep, maybe almost like he's dead. And Daniel has this, it's just a glorious experience of seeing the Lord himself.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, the fear of the Lord, the awe of the Lord.

Troy Wallace: Absolutely!

Jonathan Bernis: But Troy, this is something, if you read this to most people without identifying where it was, they'd immediately say, "New Testament," right?

Troy Wallace: Yeah, I think they'd say one specific place in the New Testament.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, revelation.

Troy Wallace: And I thought it'd be fun to read it.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Troy Wallace: From revelation 1.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, exactly.

Troy Wallace: Now, here's the thing. In Daniel, the identity of this man is just described as, "A certain man".

Ezra Benjamin: Okay.

Troy Wallace: But when we get to revelation 1, which the full title of the Book of Revelation is, "The revelation of Jesus the Messiah". It's a revelation of who Jesus is.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Troy Wallace: And John is Jesus' best friend. Like, they are super-close. John sees him in a glorious form, but let's look at the description of it. It says this in verse 13. "There is one like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to his feet and girded about the chest with a golden band".

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Troy Wallace: "His eyes are like flames of fire, his feet like brass, and his voice as the sound of many waters".

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Troy Wallace: Like, it's almost the exact same description! But here's the amazing thing - because it's in the New Testament, it's surrounded by red letters. Like, we know that this appearance of, "One like the Son of Man," is Jesus because the things that this figure says are in red letters. But, what's John's response? Verse 17, John, Jesus' best friend, "When I saw him, I fell down at his feet as if dead".

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Troy Wallace: Very similar. Very similar to what happened to Daniel.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Troy Wallace: A deep sleep on his face. It's incredible the reality of it.

Jonathan Bernis: So, Troy, if there's any Christophany, if there's any appearance of the Messiah - so, "The God of Israel" leaves an open interpretation.

Troy Wallace: Agreed.

Jonathan Bernis: But this one...

Troy Wallace: It's so clear! Like, it's really hard to debate.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Troy Wallace: I mean, I know one's written in Greek and one's from the Tanakh, so there's some language differences if you get into some of the root words, but the visual, and the audio, and the response of Daniel and of John is exactly the same.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Troy Wallace: It's incredible how much that this can change the way we see things.

Ezra Benjamin: I'm thinking of the book of Hebrews, right? It says, "Yeshua the Messiah," or Jesus, "Is the same yesterday, today, and forever". And right here, cover to cover, it's there.

Troy Wallace: And here's the most amazing thing to me. This guy that appears to Daniel, the God of Israel, got born. Like, somehow he... I don't understand the mystery of the incarnation.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Troy Wallace: But somehow, the Holy Spirit overshadows Miriam and he just goes down inside of her. Like, it's the greatest miracle since creation as far as I'm concerned, the idea of the incarnation, the God of Israel becoming a man, and getting born, and taking the name Jesus - extraordinary.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. It's not something you can grasp with your mind.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Troy Wallace: It has to come alive in your heart.

Jonathan Bernis: Anymore than the triune nature of God.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Troy Wallace: But as we're talking, I hope the people at home, I hope you are having an experience where who Jesus is to you is expanding and coming alive in a more significant way.

Jonathan Bernis: Amen.

Ezra Benjamin: I love it. Something comes alive in us when we get a fresh revelation, a new revelation of the fullness of who Jesus, Yeshua, is. Troy, you know, maybe our audience is listening, saying, “great, you gave me a couple examples. You said there's 56 appearances of God in the form of a man in the Old Testament alone”. But if you wanted to challenge our audience and say, “I'm going to show you one place to be sure that I'm sure that this is really what's happening,” where do we go in the scriptures?

Troy Wallace: You know, I think John 1:18 is a great passage, and maybe I'll just read it.

Ezra Benjamin: Sure.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, we'll put it on the screen now.

Troy Wallace: So people don't try to take my word for it. It says this in verse 18 of John 1. It says, “no one” - let me just pause. It doesn't say, “no man, no woman”. It says, “no one”. No person “has seen God at any time”.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Jonathan Bernis: And that was a big deal ‘cause we're talking about God in the form of a man appearing across the scriptures, but here's how John clarifies that, or qualifies it, and he says, “the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him”. So, if no one's seen God the Father at any time, but the only begotten Son, who's in the bosom of the Father, has made him known, has declared him to us, that means everywhere we see some form of the God of Israel in the sweep of scripture, it's the Son declaring him to us.

Jonathan Bernis: So, whenever there's appearance, based on this verse...

Troy Wallace: Based on this verse.

Jonathan Bernis: It's the preincarnate Messiah.

Troy Wallace: Right, and here's the thing, Jonathan and Ezra. John doesn't just say it in chapter 1, verse 18. He also says it in John 5:37, he says it in John 6:46, he says it in 1 John 4:12 and 1 John 4:20, but John's not the only one that says something like this. Paul also says, three different times, that people haven't seen the Father, or seen God.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow.

Troy Wallace: Paul says that the Son is the visible image of the invisible God, meaning God the Father's invisible. The Son is the only one who's visible.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah.

Troy Wallace: That applies not just once he was born, but applies to the sweep of scripture from cover to cover! It's so exciting!

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. If you go back to our little chart, it's not the old is the Father and the new is the Son. It's the old is the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit of God, all present.

Troy Wallace: And Jesus is from cover to cover. Like, we could understand and learn about who Jesus is from the beginning of this book to the end.

Ezra Benjamin: That's crazy.

Jonathan Bernis: Read your Old Testament! Anew, keeping that in mind, and find those 56, and list them. We'll have a reward for you if you send them. We need a moment to share with you how you can receive the resources that we're making available today, and also how you can get involved with Jewish Voice. Would you please pray about joining us as a shalom partner today? Your continued monthly support will quite literally change lives and give us the opportunity to share the gospel, that's the most important thing, share the gospel with thousands of precious people, many of them Jewish and hearing for the first time. Stay with us. After this short message, we'll be back to pray with you and come into agreement with you for your needs. Don't go away.

Jonathan Bernis: We want to take just a moment before we finish the program to pray over you and agree with you in prayer. We get a lot of prayer requests for financial provision, and family restoration, and healing. God hears those prayers and answers, and I love the scripture, "Where two or three agree on anything, it shall be done". So, Troy, would you just lead us in prayer and just agree with us together? We're standing with you right now. Just trust the Lord.

Troy Wallace: Lord, we thank you that you're the author of peace. You're not the author of confusion, you're the author of peace, and we just ask that whoever is hearing, whoever's tuning in with us, Lord, we just ask that you would touch their hearts and minds with peace. Maybe there's something going on in their family, maybe there's something that they're hearing in the news that's stirring up confusion and anxiety. Lord, we just say thank you that you are the author. You're the author of peace, and you're the author and finisher of our faith. Lord, we just ask that you would bless those who are with us today. Lord, we ask that you touch their hearts and minds with peace. In the name of Yeshua, amen.
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