Do we believe what the bible says, and what Jesus himself told us, or not? He testified that NO ONE has seen God the Father, EVER, at ANY TIME!
Who then fellowshipped with Adam and Eve in the Garden? Who did Moses see on the Mount? With whom did Moses speak in the burning bush (who affirmed himself as the IAM, Yahweh). There are many similar passages in the Old Testament.
Exodus 24:9-11 says, “Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
It seems plain to me that Jesus, himself God, proceeded out of the Godhead to be the active interface with mankind, the WORD, certainly from creation onwards but most probably before. (From “the beginning” says John’s gospel.)
God the Father, Son and Spirit are ONE but they manifest themselves to mankind in different ways, and the eternal “Son” of God is the one we read of in the bible, both New and Old Testaments. He is the One seen by the OT saints.
Jesus is Called the SON
Above, I have put “Son” in quote marks because, although that is his title, affirmed personally by God at his baptism, and Jesus referred to himself as the Son, and God as “my father”, this is a description that appeals more to our human understanding than to divine reality.
It almost causes our human minds to make the wrong kind of distinction, so that we begin to see Jesus as different from God, a lesser God, a unique Person in Himself, and not ONE with the Godhead. BUT: “in Him dwells ALL the fullness of the Godhead bodily”.
Even though for a short while Jesus allowed himself to be human and thus limited in some ways, and on earth said that “The Father is greater than I” [John 14:28], this was temporary and by choice:
…how can Jesus be equal to God when by His own admission He is subservient to the will of God? The answer to this question lies within the nature of the incarnation [in which] Jesus was temporarily “made lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:9), which refers to Jesus’ status. … Jesus was fully human and “made lower than the angels.” … How do we reconcile the fact that the second Person of the Trinity is fully divine yet fully human and by definition “lower than the angels”? The answer to that question can be found in Philippians 2:5-11. When the second Person of the Trinity took on human form, something amazing occurred. Christ “made himself nothing.” This phrase has generated more ink than almost any other phrase in the Bible. In essence, what it means is that Jesus voluntarily relinquished the prerogative of freely exercising His divine attributes and subjected Himself to the will of the Father while on earth. [Source]
And so, to the main point of my post, that the Person seen and heard before the incarnation was the Word of God, whom we now call Jesus.
Nobody Has Seen God the Father
Jesus said: “The Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. … 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.”
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself.
Moses, who fellowshipped with God “face to face”, wrote about JESUS (as we now know him). Before his incarnation he was the LORD, the “Angel of God”, and Yahweh – but I’ll get to that shortly.
Jesus says “you have not heard his voice at any time“. And yet, there are those who did hear the voice of the Father – Jesus himself of course, and for instance at his baptism, where God said “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased“. So, in the verse above was Jesus addressing just the unbelieving Jews, who were not prepared to “hear” or be instructed by God? This is a question we cannot easily answer. But the bible never contradicts itself.
God Speaks in the Old Testament
And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice.
The glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.
Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.
God is Seen in the Old Testament
Everyone who has heard [that is, been led, informed and directed by] the Father and learned from Him comes to Me — not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only He has seen the Father.
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.
1 John 4:12
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
1 Timothy 6:14-16
the blessed and only Sovereign One — the King of kings and Lord of lords — will bring about [the second coming] in His own time. He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable light. No one has ever seen Him, nor can anyone see Him. To Him be honour and eternal dominion!
How do we explain that the bible says no-one has ever seen the Father, only Jesus his Son, yet there are so many appearances of God in the bible?
As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.
So here, God is both seen and heard
What can we conclude – that Jesus and the apostles had it wrong? Or that the GOD who was seen, heard and worshipped was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Word?
The Lord declares that HE is GOD
Isaiah 45:5-8 [He says to Cyrus]:
I am the LORD, and there is no other;
there is no God but Me….
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form the light and create the darkness;
I bring prosperity and create calamity.
I, the LORD, do all these things.
Where the bible puts the word ‘Lord’ into capital letters, LORD, it denotes the sacred name of God, Yahweh. So the Creator is Yahweh. [See Explanation]
Notice that John’s gospel says that JESUS is the Creator, he who forms light and darkness – All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. [John 1:3]
Jeremiah speaks of Jesus the Creator
“But God made the earth by his power, and he preserves it by his wisdom. With his own understanding, he stretched out the heavens. When he speaks in the thunder, the heavens roar with rain. He causes the clouds to rise over the earth. He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.”
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
Jesus is not “Human”
I think we all tend to visualise Jesus in his human form, encouraged by the many paintings and illustrations we see from day to day.
Yes, Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, and he retains that form now in Heaven. But we should begin to grasp the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ, that HE IS GOD.
We should not limit him in our understanding as the same human who walked the earth, but know him also as the mighty one who created the universe, parted the seas, sent the flood, and the plagues of Egypt, caused the sun and moon to stand still (1 Sam 5), send down fire on the prophets of Baal, delivered Daniel and the three Israelites from death (Daniel 3 and 6) and much more!
- Old Testament Mircales – https://www.biblestudy.org/bible-study-by-topic/old-testament-miracles.html
Those who saw Jesus as God in the Old Testament were terrified (awed) by his presence, they fell down in worship, and quaked at the knowledge they had seen God, because none could look upon his face and live.
Even after the birth of Jesus on earth, and after his ascension, Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus was such that he was blinded by the glory.
Do we trivialise the utter majesty, power and glory of God? Surely, alongside our love and praise, we should retain the same awe, worship and righteous “fear” of God as those who encountered him in reality, for the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
“And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). A proper view of God includes a deep reverence and respect for our Creator and Savior. In Christ, we need not be afraid of God, but we are to fear Him, knowing it is only by His grace we are saved and can experience a relationship with Him (Ephesians 2:8-9). [Source]
The Appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament
The bible itself affirms that the One who led Israel in the fiery pillar and the cloud was the same One who would later be born as Jesus.
God agrees to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land (Exodus 33:15 – 17). But Paul says “the spiritual rock” that accompanied Israel was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
And the LORD answered [Moses}, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
In his letter, Paul is likening the supernatural provision of food and water (manna and water from the rock) to the spiritual food and drink of the Body and Blood of Jesus, that was given by him at the Last Supper and commemorated in what we know as Holy Communion, the bread and the wine that are symbolically the body and blood of our Saviour.
So he is making a straight comparison of the Israelites having come out of Egypt (symbolically the world), being “baptised” in water and Spirit in the Red Sea, [“baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea”] partaking of the Body and Blood – and then confirms that the ROCK that accompanied them and provided for them was the Lord Jesus!
Moses speaks of God the Rock: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” [Deut 32:4] and just a few lines later in his hymn of praise he says this, of the same Rock:
Verse 39 “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. 40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.”
This is the ROCK that Moses knew as God, of which Paul testifies, that he is the Christ of the New Testament.
The Word Speaks and Shows Himself to the Patriarchs
- He called to Hagar in the desert when she and Ishmael were cast out, and opened her eyes to a well of water.
- He helped Elijah flee from evil Queen Jezebel, providing him with food and drink.
- He appeared to Moses in the burning bush.
- Along with two angels, he appeared to Abraham and promised him an heir
- He spoke with Moses in the tabernacle Exodus 33:9-11
Moses and the Lord
As Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and remain at the entrance, and the LORD would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they would stand up and worship, each one at the entrance to his own tent. Thus the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
(Why would they worship, if this was not God?)
He allowed Moses to see him, although not in his full divine glory. (Exod 33: 18-23) And Moses said, “Please show me Your glory.”
“I will cause all My goodness to pass before you,” the LORD replied, “and I will proclaim My name —the LORD— [YAHWEH] in your presence. …But He added, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.”
The LORD continued, “There is a place near Me where you are to stand upon a rock, and when My glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away, and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.”
(So this is not God the Father who has never been seen. I should add that, when the scripture says Moses and the Lord spoke “face to face” it is an idiom meaning in a familiar friendly way, and does not imply that Moses saw the glorious face of Yahweh. Notice also that the Lord “proclaims his NAME Yahweh to Moses“.)
On two occasions, people had the boldness to ask the Lord his name. Who is this Person, and is he GOD?
We are told In Genesis 32 24-38 that Jacob wrestled with “a Man” all night, who refused to tell Jacob his name. What these verses say is very telling:
“Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”
And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
I have SEEN GOD!! Peniel means “The Face of GOD”. No doubt the Lord restricted his appearance in this encounter, as Jacob only pondered afterwards, not at the time, that he had seen God face to face. Jacob was in no doubt, so why should we doubt that the pre-incarnate Jesus appeared as God to mankind many times before his incarnation.
This is confirmed by God Himself later on. In Genesis 35 we read:
“After Jacob had returned from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. And God said to him, “Though your name is Jacob, you will no longer be called Jacob. Instead, your name will be Israel.” So God named him Israel.
And God told him, “I am God Almighty.” …Jacob called the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.” (Bet-EL The House of God).
God appears to the Parents of Samson
When Samson’s parents met a mysterious visitor, they affirmed afterwards that they had in fact seen GOD. (Judges 13:18, NIV)
“Then the woman came and told her husband (Manoah), saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name.”
“Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain You, and we will prepare a young goat for You.”
And the Angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Though you detain Me, I will not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, you must offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know He was the Angel of the Lord.)
Then Manoah said to the Angel of the Lord, “What is Your name, that when Your words come to pass we may honour You?”
And the Angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?”
So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the Lord. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on — it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord.
And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God!”
Sometimes, instead of help or a message, the one called in the OT the ‘angel of the Lord’ brought destruction. In 2 Samuel 24:15, he inflicted a plague on Israel that killed 70,000 people. In 2 Kings 19:35, he put to death 185,000 Assyrians.
Who else but God could do these things?
It seems very plain to me that God, in the person of the One we now know as Jesus the Christ (because he was given that name at birth) is ever-existent and – as he himself affirmed – “before Abraham was, I AM” (Yahweh), the LORD of the Old Testament. The Jews certainly understood this saying of Jesus, because they “picked up stones to stone him for blasphemy”, because he claimed to be God. (John 8:48)
Who are we to disagree?
Not only is Jesus God, but he always has been from the beginning, and he is the LORD who speaks, directs, rebukes and acts all through the ages.
- “Jesus is Yahweh.” https://www.makesureministries.com/jesus-yahweh/
- “Who Is the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament.” https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_26.cfm
- “Who is the angel of the Lord?” https://www.gotquestions.org/angel-of-the-Lord.html