Christ was there At the World’s Foundation
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:1-5
And with that declaration, the Apostle John begins his Gospel account of Jesus life an ministry. And what better way to introduce the Savior than starting from the beginning. In the beginning was the Word– the Word that was used to create everything (as Genesis stated, God spoke and it was so) is this same Word.
The mind marvels at the idea of creating all things. The sheer number of items in Creation boggles the mind. That God could speak and have not only the basic foundational building blocks put together, of which it would be difficult to number, but also plan for the variation of what we see today… That suggests a mind-boggling intelligence! Though the modern man certainly is creative and there are “Wonders of the World”, nothing can compare to that– especially since our creations sometimes do not come out right, but His did, and He proclaimed that it was very good.
Take a moment to stop and think about the power needed to create all this with just a Word. Is there anything that is too big for Him?
Hebrews 1:1-4 states:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Jesus upholds the world by the Word of His Power. Not only did He create all things, but all things are sustained by Him! He is highly exalted for the word done on the cross, and that is on top of everything He already has by virtue of His being.
Christ was at Work in the Old Testament
Christ wasn’t limited to Creation, He also made multiple appearances before being born of Mary. He appeared in many different ways:
In Human Form
Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” – Genesis 32:29-30
Jacob stopped for the night and saw the ladder going to and from Heaven. Then he wrestled with a man all night, even to the point that he gained a limp. What you read above was Jacob’s assertion of who he was engaged with– he believed that he wrestled with God. It was well known that no one could see the Father and live, but the Son is a different matter, and God changed Jacob’s name to Israel at this time.
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank. – Ex 24:9–11
In a vision
Baalam, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel all saw God in a vision. Isaiah’s famous recounting was of seeing God high and lifted up, and his train filling the temple in Isaiah 6. Daniel looked and saw the Ancient of Days taking his seat in Daniel 7:9. Numbers 24:3-4 recounts that Baalam had a vision of the Almighty, and Ezekiel 1 recounts that Ezekiel had visions of God.
Angel of the Lord
Jesus also appeared as the Angel of the Lord to Hagar in Genesis 16:7-13 to tell her that he had heard and would bless her son.
Not in human form
Lastly, Jesus appeared in the Burning Bush in Exodus 3 and the Pillar of Cloud and of Fire for guidance, as mentioned in Acts 7:30 and Exodus 16:10.
The Difference Between a Theophany and the Incarnation
A Theophany was for a temporary period of time for a specific purpose. Jesus would appear to deliver a message or prophecy and then disappear. This is different than the Incarnation, because in the incarnation Christ took on humanity. He was born, He grew, lived and died. We have no need of a Theophany now because the NT doctrine is final and complete.
God is always present in the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit. Still, at times, God’s people are more aware of that presence than at others.1
- Feinberg, C. L. (2003). Theophany. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen & T. C. Butler, Ed.) (1586). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.