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The First Testament of Jesus Christ - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2004-12-19 AM
  • The First Testament of Jesus Christ
  • Sermons


Well, as I mentioned, I was back with my family for a couple of days, and as the last of ten children, it's always fascinating to see what we have in common. There are a lot of differences. We each have our own distinct personalities and likes and dislikes, but there are things that we hold in common. One of those is, we have an opinion about everything. You can ask a Pennington about any topic, and every Pennington will always have an opinion. The other thing that we share in common is a great sense of planning, and desire to organize our lives. I saw that played out even as we gathered as a family and my five sisters expended a great deal of discussion and effort to decide whether to put the lettuce and tomato after the condiments or before them, to make sure that the flow was right, a great deal of planning.

As we discussed a few of the episodes that have happened recently in our family, we came across one that is completely out of character for our family. I had a nephew who, a couple of months ago got married. And he married into a good family, but a family that is the opposite of organized and planners. And so, the day of the wedding arrived, and there were still a lot of details to care for. A lot of things that needed to be accomplished, including some fairly essential things like picking up the tuxedos, and a couple of the dresses for the bridesmaids. And so, they were running around, scurrying about trying to handle these last-minute details.

Well, the mother of the bride had two responsibilities that day. One of them was to get ready for the reception which the family was throwing, which was offsite, and things weren't in a great deal of order there, and so that consumed a lot of her time and attention. The other responsibility she had was to get her daughter, the bride, from her house to the church for the wedding. Well, she got one of those responsibilities fulfilled. The reception came off very smoothly. But she forgot to go to the house and pick up her daughter and bring her daughter to the church, and so, there are these wonderful photographs and videos of her daughter pulling up to the church, having driven herself there on her wedding day, in her tiny little car, with her veil trailing behind her, not exactly the way you want to begin your wedding day.

As I thought about that, I thought, you know, there're so many times in life when we tend to neglect the principal issue, the main character, in this case the bride. And as I realized that that is a propensity we all have, it occurred to me that is a propensity we as Christians tend to specifically have when it comes to the Old Testament. We read the Old Testament, and we get a lot of the details. You talk to many Christians, and they can tell you what the tenth toe on the beast is in prophecy, but they miss the main character—they miss the big picture. They leave out the bride, if you will. Or in this case, the bridegroom. You see, for most Christians, they think of the Old Testament as only containing a few prophecies about Christ here and there, dotted about the landscape of the Old Testament. And if you were to take their Old Testament away, the only books they would really miss would be Psalms and Proverbs, because they see it not as anti-Christian, but as almost sub-Christian.

Because of these misperceptions about the Old Testament, they are led to several common misconceptions about the birth of Christ. For example, some think that when Christ came in Bethlehem, in the womb of Mary, and then was born in Bethlehem, that that was really His first visit to earth. Others think that, no they understand that there were a few times in the Old Testament when Christ showed up, but they think that Bethlehem was really His first significant appearance. The truth is, Christ had been here and interacted with men on earth many times during the four millennia leading up to His birth in Bethlehem. In fact, it would be accurate to say that Christ permeates Old Testament history.

What was unique about Bethlehem was not that He came to earth, but that He became one of us, as John 1:14 says and we'll look at, Lord willing, next week. You see, Christ is not only the primary focus of Old Testament prophecy, Christ is the primary character of Old Testament history. The second person of the Trinity is so much a part of the Old Testament, that the Old Testament could rightfully be called the First Testament of Jesus Christ. And I want, over the next few minutes that we have together, to give you a kind of jet tour through the Old Testament—through Christ's involvement in the events of the Old Testament. And I hope when I'm done, that you'll have the big picture. That you won't leave out the bridegroom from the Old Testament.

Let's start, where every good story starts, at the beginning, Genesis 1:1. Christ appears in the very first verse of the Old Testament. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Now, at first reading it isn't obvious that Christ is there, but when we have the full revelation of God to read and inform this verse, we understand that the person of the Trinity who is doing the creating was none other than Jesus Christ Himself. John 1:3 says, "all things came into being by Him, and apart from Him, nothing came into being that has come into being." First Corinthians 8:6. "Jesus Christ, by whom are all things." Colossians 1:16) "For by … [Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created by Him and for Him." Hebrews 1:2, God … "has spoken to us in His Son, [through] whom He made the world." The earth, and the universe as we know it was spoken into existence out of nothing by the eternal Son of God. Old Testament history in Genesis 1:1, and the rest of the story gives us the truth about Jesus Christ. The world itself began through the sovereign creative act of Jesus Christ. And as you go through the rest of the history of the Old Testament, He regularly, constantly, appears.

Now let me ask you, in what form do you think Christ most commonly appears in the Old Testament? A mysterious person called the angel of the LORD. The angel of the LORD. It's always expressed with the definite article, the angel of the LORD, never the indefinite. And it's always the angel of the LORD, and the word LORD is in all capitals in our English Bibles, because it translates God's personal name, JHWH. Or as some grew up hearing it, Jehovah. It is God's personal name, the angel of Jahweh. Now when you hear that title, it can be confusing, and many people who read the stories that describe the actions of the angel of Jahweh assume that in fact it is a created being, the person acting is a created being that we call angels.

But the Hebrew word that's translated "angel" can refer also to a messenger. In fact, 50% of the time that word occurs in the Old Testament, it's translated messenger. But this is not an angel in the technical sense, and it's not even an ordinary messenger. This is a very special person. This is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the history of the church, theologians and Bible scholars have identified the angel of the LORD, the angel of Jahweh, as none other than Jesus Christ.

Listen to Justin Martyr, one of the early church fathers. Barely a generation after the apostles, he says, "Permit me, further, to show you from the book of Exodus, how this same one who is both angel and God and Lord and man, and who had appeared in human form to Abraham and Isaac, appeared also in a flame of fire from the bush, and conversed with Moses." Early on in the church's history, they understood that the Old Testament is permeated with the person of Jesus Christ in the form of "The angel of Jahweh". Now, let me give you the arguments for this before we look at a few of the passages. How do we know that the angel of Jahweh is Jesus Christ?

Well, there are several points. Number one: this angel of the LORD is called LORD, or Jahweh in several passages. For example, in Genesis 16:13 you remember the story of Hagar. It says the angel of the LORD spoke to Hagar, and then verse 13 says Hagar called the name of Jahweh, who spoke to her, You are a God who sees, for she said have I even remained alive after seeing Him. So, the angel of the LORD speaks to her, and she says, "I have seen Jahweh." So, the angel of the LORD is called Jahweh.

Secondly: although He's called Jahweh, He's also distinct from Jahweh in some sense. For example, in Zechariah 1:12 and 13. We read that … "the angel of Jahweh [there it is] answered, and the angel said, O Jahweh.

So, you have the angel of Jahweh speaking to Jahweh. So, He is Jahweh, and yet He's speaking to Jahweh. Immediately becomes clear that this person must be a member of the Trinity. He must be the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God. He's the only person, that is the Son of God, who's revealed bodily in the New Testament. He also, this angel of the LORD, no longer appears after the incarnation—after Christ has come. Both the angel of the LORD and Christ are sent by the Father, and in John 1:18, we're told that no one has ever seen the Father. But Christ, the only begotten One has exegeted Him. So, by process of elimination, we know that the angel of Jahweh is God, and we know that He's Jesus Christ. Now, once you understand who the angel of the LORD is, immediately you begin to see how frequently Jesus Christ is a part of Old Testament history. It just opens up the Old Testament to us.

Let me show you just a few of the occurrences of this amazing person. Genesis 16, I already mentioned in passing. Genesis 16, you remember that Abraham has the bright idea of having a child by Hagar, and she becomes pregnant, and when she becomes pregnant, she despises Sarah. Sarah becomes embittered against her, and Sarah kicks her out. And Hagar finds herself pregnant and wandering in the wilderness. And verse 7 says,

Now the angel of the LORD [there's the formula] the angel of [all caps] the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by a spring on the way to Shur. [And He comforts her.] Notice verse 9. … the angel of the LORD said … "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority." Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants, so that they will be too many to count." … [You'll] call your son Ishmael, [He says in verse 11. Here is Jesus Christ talking to the mother, if you will, of all the Arab nations. Ishmael was the father of all the Arab nations, and He's saying, I'm going to make your descendants multiply. Jesus Christ, setting the future direction of the Middle East. You notice, over in verse 13, once He speaks to her, this angel,] she called the name of Jahweh who spoke to her, "You are a God who sees"; for she said, "Have I even remained alive after seeing Him." [She understood that the angel of the LORD was God Himself.]

There's a fascinating account over in Genesis 22, in the story of the offering of Isaac. You remember the story, and beginning in verse 9 it says

… they came to the place which God had told him and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, bound his son Isaac, laid him on the altar on top of the wood, and Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son, but the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said here I am, and he said do not stretch out your hand against the lad and do nothing to him, for now I know that you fear God [watch this] since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me."

The angel of the LORD says, I told you to offer him, and now I see that you're not going to withhold him from Me. Again, Jesus Christ, testing the commitment of the father of the Jewish nation. What's fascinating as you read on, verse 13,

"… Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns, and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering, in the place of his son, and Abraham called the name of that place [Jehovah-jirah, or Jahweh Jireh] the LORD will provide, as it is said to this day, in the mount of the LORD it will be provided." Verse 15, "… the angel of the LORD called Abraham a second time and said from heaven … By Myself I have sworn declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son … I will greatly bless you and I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies." Verse 18, "… because you have obeyed My voice." [What fascinates me about that passage is the LORD does provide. The angel of the LORD does, Himself, provide the ultimate sacrifice. The irony is incredible.]

Turn to chapter 32. In chapter 32, Jacob wrestles with, he's called a man in verse 24, but in Hosea 12:4 we're told that Jacob wrestled with the angel, referring to the angel of the LORD. This again is the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God. He wrestles with him (you remember the story) through the night, and in verse 29 he says,

"Please tell me your name," But He … [says] "Why is it that you ask My name?" And He blessed him there. So Jacob named the place Peniel, … [that is, the Face of God.] "For he said, "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." [But from that day he had a permanent limp as a reminder of his striving with God. It was Jesus Christ who wrestled with Jacob.]

Notice chapter 48 of Genesis. Jacob blesses the sons of Joseph, and in 48:15,

He blessed Joseph and said, "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, The Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads;"

Notice he calls God by several names. He describes Him in several ways. He said, the God that my fathers, Abraham and Isaac knew, and the God that has been my shepherd is the Angel who has redeemed me from evil. Jacob was saying that he and Abraham and Isaac interacted with and encountered over and over again, no one else than the Angel of Jahweh, the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

You come to Numbers 22. Again, you encounter this mysterious character, the angel of the LORD. Numbers 22, you remember the story that Balaam had determined for money to sell out his nation. He had determined that he would prophesy for money against the nation of Israel. And as he goes, verse 21,

… [he] [a]rose early in the morning, … saddled his donkey and went with the leaders of Moab. But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him. [and] When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, [and here's not a way we're used to seeing Christ in the New Testament, but here is how He's portrayed in the Old Testament, and how He will one day be portrayed again when He returns with His strong sword in His hand.] the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way. [Balaam can't see what his dumb animal can.] Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path of the vineyards with a wall on this side and a wall on that …, [and] When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD she pressed herself to the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall, so that he struck her again. The angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right hand or the left. [and] When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she laid down under Balaam;" [Balaam's having a very bad day.] so Balaam was angry and [he] struck the donkey with a stick. And [then] the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you struck me these three times?" [and Balaam is so carried away with anger that he doesn't realize that he's talking to his donkey. He says,] "Because you made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now." The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? [pretty bright donkey] Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said "No."

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in His hand, and he bowed all the way to the ground. [And] The angel of the LORD [speaks and says,] … "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary because your way was … [literally reckless]. But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now and let her live." Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back" [Here is Jesus Christ confronting a prophet who was selling out for money.]

You come to the book of Judges, and as you enter the darkest period of Israel's history, that period when every man does that which is right in his own eyes. It begins with a sermon from the servant of Jahweh. Jesus Christ preaches a sermon to the people of Israel, and He says, in 2:1,

Now the angel of Jahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and He said, I have brought you up out of Egypt … [Now I want you to notice what Christ claims to have done for the nation.] "I brought you up out of Egypt and I led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers, and I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? "Therefore, I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.'" [And] When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. … and … [then] they [made] … [sacrifice] to the LORD.

But in spite of their sin, when they cry out to God, God intervenes in the person of the angel of the LORD. You come to chapter 6 of Judges 6:11.

… the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash ... as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress in order to save it from the Midianites. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him [and I love this] The LORD is with you O valiant warrior."

You know, Gideon is beating out wheat trying to hide from the Midianites, and Christ appears to him and says, I've chosen you to give victory to my people. And that's exactly what happens. You notice over in verse 14, the LORD looked at him, or looked at him and said, "Go in this your strength, and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?" [Notice, you change from the angel of the LORD to the LORD. That's because the angel of the LORD is, in fact, God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ.] Verse 22,

When Gideon saw that … [it] was the angel of the LORD, he said, "Alas, oh Lord God! for now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face." The LORD said to him, "Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there to Jahweh, and named it [Jahweh] is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah….

God appears to Manoah, and to his wife in Judges 13. You remember, the parents of Samson. It's Jesus Christ as the angel of the LORD who picks Samson to deliver Israel from the Philistines. And in Judges 13, notice verse 20. After they've interacted with this angel, the angel of the LORD, verse 17.

Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?" But the angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is …" [literally incomprehensible. You can't understand it.] So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD, and He [that is, this angel of the LORD] performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on. [It would have interesting to have been there, wouldn't it?] For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame.... When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. Now the angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. So … [he] said to his wife, "We will surely die for we have seen God."

It was Jesus Christ who picked the deliverers who would deliver Israel from her oppressors. We won't turn there, but you turn to 1 Kings 19:5 – 7, you find it was the angel of the LORD who provided food for Elijah. In 2 Kings 1 it's the angel of the LORD who sends Elijah on a mission. I do want you to turn to 2 Kings 19 because this is one of the most terrifying appearances of the angel of the LORD, 2 Kings 19. The circumstances are: Assyria, one of the most powerful kingdoms on the face of the earth at that time has come up and besieged the city of Jerusalem in the nation Judah. Hezekiah is king, and Hezekiah is a righteous man, and he cries out to God to deliver His people. And therefore, verse 32.

"Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria. 'He will not come to the city or shoot an arrow there. And he will not come before it with a shield or throw up a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he shall not come to this city,' declares the LORD, for I will defend this city to save it for My own sake, and for My servant David's sake.'" [Verse 35,] Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; [I love this next line.] and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.

What I want you to see is that this is not a common picture of the meek and mild Jesus that many want to present. But this is none other than the eternal Son of God appearing as the angel of the LORD, and in one night, to save and rescue His people, He kills 185,000 Assyrians.

What about David? What was David's relationship to this messenger from God, Jesus Christ Himself? Well, we won't turn there, but you can look at 1 Chronicles 21:11 - 30. That's the story of David taking that sinful census, the count of the people. He did it because he was so proud of his military might and all that he had accomplished as the military leader, and he didn't acknowledge God was the one Who had accomplished it. And therefore, God judged him, and He said, look—you're going to have to either suffer at the hand of your enemies, or you're going to have to endure the plague from God. He said this through the prophet. And David says, I'm not going to suffer from my enemies, but there's mercy with God. I'll throw myself on the mercy of God and the plague started at the hand of the angel of the LORD. And there's a fascinating account there, because it describes David, and he sees the angel of the LORD at the threshing floor of Ornan. You remember that story? It's probably the very site that is now the Dome of the Rock, under that rock that's under the Dome of the Rock there on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. And David makes a sacrifice, but it says that when he saw the angel of the LORD, that is, Jesus Christ with His sword drawn, he was terrified. You know, I think we take too much for granted with Christ sometimes.

I'm reminded of C.S. Lewis in his Chronicles of Narnia. We've talked about Christ as Aslan, the lion, and he said, he had Lucy say, "is He safe"? And the response was, "of course He's not safe, but He's good." Folks, He's not safe, and David learned that as he saw Him with sword drawn. He feared Him, and he made sacrifice to Him. But David also came to love Him. He came to put his confidence in Him. Turn to Psalm 35. You see when David writes, and we're told in the book of Acts he prophesied about the Messiah, David knew the Messiah. He met Him. Psalm 34, David writes, verse 4,

I sought the LORD and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to him and were radiant. Their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried and the LORD heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him And He rescues them. O taste and see that the LORD is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! [David had learned that in the angel of the LORD—not only was He to be feared, but He was a place to run when you are afraid. For He] … encamps around those who fear Him…. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.

Over in Psalm 35 David says the same thing. Something very similar. Verse 5, He's talking about the evil, those who would undermine the purposes of God. He says,

Let them be like chaff before the wind, With the angel of the LORD driving them on. Let their way be dark and slippery, With the angel of the LORD pursuing them."

He describes Jesus Christ as the pursuing warrior chasing down, hunting down His enemies until they're destroyed.

In the interest of time, let me fast-forward to the end of Old Testament history. We come to the prophet Zechariah, and I won't turn there, but I want you to note that throughout (let me change my mind). Let's do turn. When you come to Zechariah, you come to almost the end of Old Testament history. He was one of the last Old Testament prophets. He prophesied around 500 BC. He prophesied to those people who returned after the Babylonian exile. They were supposed to rebuild the temple. They came back under Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple. Sixteen years later, there's just a bare foundation, and there's really nothing done. And so, God raises up Zechariah. And I want you to notice how much the angel of the LORD permeates the book of Zechariah. Verse 12 of chapter 1.

… the angel of the LORD said, "O LORD of hosts, how long will you have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah with which you've been indignant these seventy years?" The LORD answered the angel who was speaking to me with gracious words, comforting words.

And you go on through the rest of this chapter with this conversation between the angel of the LORD, the LORD, and Zechariah. You come to chapter 3, and I wish we had time. There's a fascinating picture in chapter 3 of the angel of the LORD, that is Jesus Christ, providing new robes, providing righteousness, if you will, forgiveness of sins to Joshua the High Priest. Not the same Joshua of the book, but the Joshua who was high priest during the return from the Babylonian captivity. It's a beautiful picture. I encourage you to read Zechariah 3. But there again, is the angel of the LORD. So not only does He plead for God to withdraw His chastening hand from Israel, but He cleans and restores Israel as God's priestly nation, starting with the high priest, Joshua. In 12:8 we learn that it's the angel of the LORD who will be Israel's strength.

What I want you to see is that the angel of the LORD absolutely permeates Old Testament Scripture, and that He is none other than Jesus Christ. The angel of the LORD provides a wonderful illustration of how Christ ministered then and now. I mean, if you take all of those times when He appears, you find Him giving comfort and assurance, appointing leaders, warning His people, judging His people, and at times punishing His people, protecting His people from danger, dealing with their sin, providing for those in need, guiding them into the path and will of God. It's amazing to see how Jesus Christ directed and worked with His people in the Old Testament.

While the angel of the LORD is the most common way Christ appears in the Old Testament, it's not the only way. In fact, there are a number of other appearances. We call them theophanies, coming from two Greek words, "God" and "to appear". Or they're sometimes called Christophanies. The appearance of Christ, that is, a pre-incarnate, a pre-Bethlehem appearance of Jesus Christ. Let me just set the background for you for how pervasive these appearances are.

To really understand how much they permeate the Old Testament, you have to turn to John 1. John 1:18. John says, "No one has seen God at any time." That's an odd thing for John to say. Because he's just about to describe Jesus Christ, whom he saw. So, what does he mean? He means no one can see God in His essential nature. Why is that? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First of all, because no one could see Him as He is and live. He told Moses that in Exodus 33. You can't see me and live, so I'm going to have to cover you until I pass by. His glory and majesty would be too great for anyone to really see and survive. We would be incinerated by the blazing glory of His majesty.

But there's a second reason that no one's ever seen God. It's because there's nothing visual to see. What does Christ tell us? God is spirit. But He goes on to say in verse 18, "the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has … [exegeted] Him. Jesus Christ is the one who makes the invisible God visible.

The practical conclusion of John's statement, listen carefully to this, is that every visible manifestation of God in the Old Testament is Jesus Christ. Every visible manifestation of God in the Old Testament is the second person of the Trinity. Listen again to a couple of the early church fathers. This is not something new I'm teaching you. Irenaus writes about the books of Moses,

The Son of God is implanted everywhere throughout His writings. At one time, indeed, speaking with Abraham when about to eat with him, at another time with Noah, giving to him the dimensions of the ark. At another inquiring after Adam. At another, bringing down judgment upon the Sodomites. And again, when He becomes visible and directs Jacob on his journey and speaks with Moses from the bush.

Tertullian, around the same time period, another of the early church fathers say,

Therefore it is the Son who has been from the beginning administering judgment, throwing down the haughty tower [that is of Babel] and dividing the tongues, punishing the whole world by the violence of waters, raining upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone, as the Lord from the Lord. It is He who at all times came down to hold converse with men, from Adam to the patriarchs to the prophets. Thus, He was ever learning, even as God, to converse with men upon earth, being no other than the Word which was to be made flesh.

From the very beginning, Christians have understood that Jesus Christ permeates the Old Testament, not merely in its prophecies, but in its history. You can find it in a number of places. You can find it in Exodus 2. We won't turn there, but the Hebrews commentary, the writer of Hebrews' commentary on why Moses left Egypt is, he said he considered the reproach of whom, of the Messiah greater than the riches of Egypt. Moses made a life-changing decision on the basis of his relationship to the Messiah. So, it's no wonder, when you come to Exodus 2 you find, or excuse me Exodus 3, you find,

The angel of the LORD [verse 2] appeared to Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of the bush. And he looked and behold the bush was burning with fire and yet the bush was not consumed. … Moses said, "[I've got to] … turn aside … and see [it]." [And] When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush….

When Jesus Christ says to Moses, Take off the shoes from your feet because the ground on which you stand is holy ground. And then what does He go on to reveal to Moses? Tell them I AM has sent you. That was Jesus Christ. So, it's no wonder when you come to John 8, and the Jews are saying, you're not 50 years old, and have you seen Abraham, that Jesus says, before Abraham was, what, "I AM." It's the same name He used with Moses.

You come to Joshua, or let's turn to Exodus. One more passage in Exodus. Exodus 3—13 rather. Exodus 13:21. The children of Israel. "The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light that they might travel by day and by night." So the LORD was going before them in the pillar of cloud and fire, but if you compare that with 1 Corinthians 10:1 – 4, you find out that the one who was guiding them through the desert was none other than Jesus Christ. It's what Paul says. So, it was Christ that brought them out of Egypt. It was Christ that led them across the desert. There're so many more.

You come to Psalm 2. The last verse of Psalm 2 says "Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and you perish in the way." Put your confidence in the Son. Isaiah 6:1, you know that wonderful revelation of Jesus Christ, or that wonderful revelation of God I should say, of JHWH, where it says I saw the Lord in the year that King Uzziah died, high and lifted up and His train filled the temple, and he says mine eyes have seen JHWH. But then you turn to John 12:41, and John quotes from Isaiah 6, and he says, Isaiah spoke these words when he saw Christ's glory and He spoke to him. "It was Christ that Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6:1."

There are many other appearances of the Son of God in the Old Testament. But the one I want to finish with this morning is the one that's the most moving and compelling to me personally. It's found in Genesis 2, Genesis 2. We've already learned that Christ is the one who created everything, and so when we come to chapter 7 of—or excuse me, 2:7, it says,

[then] The LORD God [that is, Christ] formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. [And Christ] … planted a garden toward the east in Eden; … [where] He placed the man whom He's formed.

And in verse 15, He

… took the man and put him into the garden to cultivate it and to keep it. [and] The LORD God commanded the man saying, "from any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

But of course, man chooses to do that, and verse 8 of chapter 3, Adam and Eve hide themselves.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. [Again, none other than the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.] The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said …, "Where are you?" [And you know the story. Christ then begins to lay out the penalty.]

But He says this in verse 15. "… I will put enmity, [talking to the serpent] Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you will bruise Him on the heel." To Adam it was made very plain that his hope lay in this future child of the woman. That through this child salvation would come to him from God, and the really remarkable thing was, that it was none other than Jesus Christ who would provide, who would be that child and who would provide that sacrifice, who was talking to Adam.

You get over to verse 21, and he does something remarkable. "The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." In other words, he killed an animal, the first sacrifice in the Scripture. The first sacrifice was made by Jesus Christ and the last sacrifice was made by Jesus Christ, Himself. All the Old Testament sacrifices pointed back to that great promise of Genesis 3:15 and that first sacrifice performed by Christ Himself.

So, when you read of the birth of Christ in the next few days, realize that that does not spell the beginning of His interaction with man. No, He created man. He walked in the garden with Adam. He pronounced the curse that He would one day overcome through His own death. He appeared to Abraham, and He walked with Isaac and with Jacob. He communed with Moses. He brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. He led them in the wilderness. He appeared to them again and again and again throughout their history; sometimes as the angel of the LORD and sometimes in other forms. He appears throughout Old Testament history from creation to the last of the prophets. The Old Testament is indeed the First Testament of Jesus Christ.

But what are the practical implications for us? Let me give you a couple. First of all: the fact that Christ is the central figure of both the Old and the New Testaments immediately raises the value of the Old Testament for every Christian. Listen, that isn't sub-Christian. That isn't sort of, stuff you can just ignore, now that you have the epistles. That too is a revelation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ told the Pharisees in John 5:39, the Old Testament Scriptures speak of Me.

Secondly: Christ's presence in the Old Testament underscores the consistency and continuity between the testaments. In the Old Testament, Christ continually appears. In the gospel, He becomes man, and in the rest of the New Testament He appears in the person of His Spirit.

Thirdly: and this is crucial, Christ has been, and always will be the only mediator between God and man. John 14:6. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me." First Timothy 2:5, "There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus."

Fourthly: the fact that Christ is so permeating the Old Testament punctuates for us the importance of the birth of Christ. As you celebrate Christmas this week, remember that Christ had entered our world hundreds of times before. He had interacted with men and women for at least 4000 years from the creation on. But that night in Bethlehem, He didn't simply come again to visit, to direct, to judge, or even to help. But He came as one of us for us

And finally: the lesson for us all from the fact that Christ is from beginning to end in this book highlights and underscores the fact that it is God's intention that someday every knee bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.

Listen, every person in this room this morning will bow before Jesus Christ and confess Him to be Lord. It will either be voluntarily in adoration and worship because you have loved Him and served Him with your life, or it will be before Him as your Judge before you are condemned by this serious, unsafe One that we've read about this morning. And that's God's plan. The First Testament of Jesus Christ, and the Second Testament of Jesus Christ, the Old and the New. Both make God's eternal plan crystal clear.

Let's pray together.

Father, we do come before You this morning with fear. We realize that the One we love, the One we adore isn't safe, but we thank You that He's good.

Lord, we thank You that we have taken refuge in Him by Your grace, and we don't have to fear as others ought to fear. Lord, help us treasure, not simply the New Testament, but the rest of the Scripture as well, in which Christ is so clearly revealed throughout the history of Your nation Israel. Lord, I pray that You'd make us students of the book, but most of all, make us students of Christ.

Lord, I pray for the person here this morning who has never bowed the knee to Your Son. Lord may this be the day when they lay down their arms and surrender their souls to Him as their Sovereign, as their Savior, as their Deliverer.

And Lord, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord this week, help us to think on these things, to see Him not as a babe in a manger, but as the eternal Son of God, our Lord.

We pray it in Jesus' name. Amen.

The First Testament of Jesus Christ