Jesus in the Old Testament Part 1

There are hints in the Bible that the God who interacted with people in much of Old Testament history was actually Yahshua, Jesus, the Son of God and not Yahweh, the Father. For example:

“And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor 10:4)

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zech 12:10)

Read from the start of Zechariah 12 to see who was speaking – it was “the LORD” (vs 1, 4,5,7,8, KJV). So, then who was pierced?

The Father and Son are Distinct Beings

Before going further, let’s be clear that the Father and the Son are distinct beings as shown in these verses:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17)

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:” (John 17:1)

These verses above show that:

  • The Father begat His Son
  • The Father sent His Son
  • The Father spoke to His Son
  • The Son prayed to His Father

And there are many like verses. The Father and the Son are seen as having different roles and as operating in different time periods. But the question is who was the deity active in the Old Testament?

Has Anyone Actually Seen God?

It is commonly assumed that the God of the Old Testament who rescued Israel from slavery, gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, sent fire down on Elijah’s sacrifice etc was the Father and that the Son’s activities are largely restricted to the New Testament. However, consider these statements:

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18)

“And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” (John 5:37)

“Which in his (Jesus Christ’s) times he (Jesus Christ) shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords (the Father); Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” (1 Tim 6:15-16)

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)

If the Father has not been seen by humans, then who was appearing as God in the Old Testament? If we look through the Old Testament, we see many occasions when God/the LORD interacted directly with human beings. Here is an interesting verse describing one such interaction:

“And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.” (Exo 33:11)

This seems to be in contradiction to Jesus’ statements that no man has seen God, assuming “God” to be referring to the Father. Could it be that “the LORD” in Exodus 33 is Yahshua the Son?

The answer will come with a closer examination of which divine being was active in the Old Testament. In fact, we will see much evidence, as we examine many passages, that it was Yahshua, the Son of God, not Yahweh, the Father.

This has some interesting implications for our understanding of the issue of the character of God – discussed further at the end of this page.

 Father and Son do not change – in what way?

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Mal 3:6)

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb 13:8)

“The same” and “change not” must be references to character rather than individual actions as actions depend on circumstances. Perhaps the best question is to ask is whether God has always acted in a loving manner. Since He claims love as His basic character attribute (“God is love” – 1 John 4:8,16) that is what is most important to not change.

What Jesus said of Himself

“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:  Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46)

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)

This, of course, connects to God’s declaration of Himself to Moses:

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” (Exo 3:14)

“I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:30-33)

Were they saying that Jesus was claiming to be simply the Messiah or Yahweh Himself?

Divine Names and Titles

An important aspect of Jewish faith to this day is what is called the Shema which simply means “hear.”

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” (Deut 6:4)

It is like saying “Israel, listen this is important …” Apparently, a more accurate translation would be:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut 6:4, NASB)

“The LORD is one” but what does that mean in light of Jesus’ statement:

“I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)

Is it possible that “Yahweh” is more like a family name and could include both the Father and the Son? Another example of both Father and Son using the same names/titles is seen in:

“Thus saith the LORD [Yahweh] the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (Isa 44:6)

Jesus, in Revelation also claims the title “the first and the last.”

“Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” (Rev 1:11)

The same title is claimed in verse 17 and, in both cases, the context shows that it is Jesus speaking.

Most actions of God in the Old Testament are attributed to “the LORD” or “the angel of the LORD.” In those, “LORD” is translated from “Yahweh” (Strong’s H3068).

Yahweh (Strong’s H3068) occurs 6519 times in the OT in 5521 verses. It is translated in the KJV as:

  • 6510 times as “LORD”
  • 4 times as “Jehovah”
  • 4 times as “God”
  • 1 time as a variant

Yahweh means “the One who is,” or” the self-existent One.” Some point out that the verb form can be causative, and therefore can mean something like “the One who causes to be” or “the one who brings about.” This study will use the names as in the King James Version.

So is it possible that references to Yahweh in the Old Testament could (in many, perhaps most cases) be referring to the Son? Is this confusion of Divine names? Consider this verse:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6)

There one name that is given to the Savior is “Father.” It seems that He shares that name with His Father. Could He not also share the name Yahweh?

Was Jesus contradicting one of the Jew’s most treasured doctrines – that God is composed of strictly one divine being? Is it possible that “God” and “Yahweh” are terms designating more like a family including both the Father and the Son? Here a couple more verses pointing to that possibility:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Tim 3:16)

It seems that the Father may have given the work of dealing with this rebellious planet to His Son:

“Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;” (John 13:3)

“All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Matt 11:27.

Implications

What are the implications of understanding that the God of the Old Testament was actually Jesus? In terms of the issue of the character of God they are rather profound.

The Father is commonly seen as an often-wrathful deity. Jesus is seen as gentle and forgiving and even as shielding sinners from His Father. So if the God of the Old Testament was actually Jesus, are there contradictions about His character? Was He wrathful in the Old Testament but gentle and forgiving in the New Testament? Perhaps we need to look at those Old Testament events again and see if they can be better understood in light of the character of Jesus (who came to show us the character of His Father) as revealed in the gospels.

Part two of this study will examine many Biblical events which also suggest that the divine being involved in very many Old Testament stories was Yahshua, Jesus, the Son.

Note: This study came from discussions in our weekly Bible study group. I am grateful for the input from the group. Comments are welcome. This study will likely be edited as we look into this further.  Part 2 will examine many Old Testament stories to see if they also suggest that God or the LORD involved was in fact Yahshua/Jesus, the Son.

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