Unsearchable Part 3: Pre-Incarnate Christ

Steve Stewart's picture

Increasingly, over the past few centuries, the evangelical church has (at least by implication) presented the Christ-story as beginning with the angelic appearances in the two opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel. It seems to me that this is an extension of the persistent impact of the rationalism of the Enlightenment. While virtually all evangelicals would reject the notion that Jesus was simply a wise teacher, nevertheless, it is all too easy to see Him as somehow less than God the Father; certainly Jesus is God, but a Son who was sent on assignment to fix a mess, that His part in the story doesn’t really begin until He comes to earth. But this ignores the clear testimony of the OT prophets, the apostles and the early church. There never was a time without the Son. There never was a time when the Son was not at work, fulfilling the desires of the Father.

For many years, I read the Old Testament with the unrealized assumption that the encounters that various Biblical characters had were with God the Father and with angels. When I finally saw Christ in the Old Testament, I saw Him everywhere. Century after century, the church believed and preached that Christ was to be found throughout all of the Old Testament, that it was Christ who held the scriptures together and that apart from Him, there could be no real scriptural understanding. In teaching this, the church was being faithful to the example of Jesus Himself. In Jn 5:39, He said, “You pour over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me.” In Luke 24 we read of Christ walking, unrecognized, with two of the disciples on the Emmaus road. As they walked, Jesus taught them. And what was it He taught? “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (v. 27)

Martin Luther wrote “Scripture is the cradle in which Christ lies.” Christ was revealed both through types and shadows, and through many actual appearances, called Christophanies. For the historic church, the One who encountered Abraham, Jacob and Moses was not the Father, but the Logos, Christ Himself. This is why the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor 10 wrote about the rock that Moses struck: “that rock was Christ.” One of the early church fathers, Ireneaus, wrote: “If anyone reads the Scriptures with attention, he will find in them an account of Christ…The treasure hidden in the Scriptures is Christ.”

The Bible tells us that no one can see God and live (Ex 33:20), yet the Old Testament is filled with encounters where God was seen––for example, Jacob wrestled with God (Gen 32:30; Moses spoke face to face with God (Ex 33:11); and Samson’s parents feared they would die because they had seen God (Ju 13:22). How can this be? It is John’s revelation of the true identity of Jesus that gives us the answer:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Jn 1:1)

Jesus was not just God’s representative to Israel in the 1st century; He is the eternal Word and Son and therefore has always been the Father’s representative on earth––in fact, His “exact expression” (Heb 1:3 CSB). When the Father wants to speak, He does so through His Son. Think about that the next time you read, “and the word of the Lord came to them”.

This is a topic too big for any one blog (or ten, for that matter); however, if we can begin to see Christ as present in all of Scripture from beginning to end, we will gain a greater understanding of the purposes of God built into the foundation of the cosmos, and our revelation of Christ will grow deeper and wider. Yes, Jesus is Savior; but He lives and has always lived as the eternal Son and Word of God, and the second Person of the Triune God.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Throughout the Old Testament, the Son is identified as the Lord, the word of the Lord and the Angel of the Lord. The early church fathers taught that it was Christ who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve (Gen 3:8). Christ appeared to Abraham at various times: simply as “the Lord” (Gen 12:7; 17:1; 19:1 etc.); as the “word of the Lord” (i.e. Gen 15:4); as a Man (Gen 18:1-3, 13, 17); and as the Angel of the Lord (Gen 22:11, 15), which is the most common designation in the Old Testament. Christ appears to many people throughout the Old Testament, for example: Hagar, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Solomon, Elijah and Daniel. These were all appearances of the pre-incarnate Jesus in the flesh. According to Jn 12:41, it was Jesus who Isaiah saw in his vision of the Lord “seated on a high and lofty throne.” (Is 6:1).

When we begin to see Jesus throughout the pages of the Old Testament, it creates a shift in how we understand God’s greater story. It certainly shines the light of the Holy Spirit on every page in a way that, for me, has made the Old Testament seem almost completely new. And more than that, as I have begun to see Jesus on every page, I find myself seeing Him with new eyes in the world around me.

Finding Christ in the Old Testament is not a theological or intellectual exercise; it is a journey into the truth that the apostle Paul expressed: “He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” (Col 1:17)

Below is a more detailed list (but certainly not complete) of appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament: 

  • Gen 12:1-7; 26:5; 49:3 
  • Gen 14:21-24; 15:4-8; 16:7-13; 17:1; 18:1-33; 19:13-24; 21:17-22:15; 24:7; 25:11; 26:2-25; 30:33-32:31; 35:1-13; 46:2; 48:3-16; 
  • Ex 1:6; 3:2-14; 6:2-7; 19:17-21; 20:21; 21:1; 23:20-25; 28:17-20; 32:34; 33:3-22; 34: 5-14 
  • Nu 1:1; 9:6-9; 12:5-7; 13:1-3; 14:6-11; 20:13-16; 22:22-23:5; 28:1-29; 
  • Dt 1:3; 5:5; 32:21-33 Jos 1:6; 8:17-20; 10:12,13
  • Ju 6:18-27; 13:3, 25 
  • 1 Ki 3:5; 9:2; 19:5-7 
  • 2 Ki 1:3,15 Is 6:1-7 
  • Dan 3:25; 7:13; 10:5,6 
  • Zech 1:11,12; 3:5,8; 6:12,13
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4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 305 Pages

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond?


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4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice (hard cover)

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 305 Pages

40% off the suggested retail price!

For the first time EVER! Hardcover copies of 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice. This is a magnificent, beautiful gift to give for any occasion. Retailing at $24.95, you can purchase it through our website at only $15.00! Bless people with the gift of spiritual intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. Get a souvenir copy for yourself. Only 600 copies produced, so order while supplies last!

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4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice Audio CD Package

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice Audio CD Package

By Mark Virkler | 4 Keys book | 10 hours of CDs | LEARN notebook

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond?

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4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice DVD Package

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice DVD Package

By Mark Virkler | 4 Keys book | 10 hours of DVDs | LEARN notebook

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond? When things don't seem to be going your way and your prayers aren't answered the way you had hoped, wouldn't it be great to hear Him tell you where He is in the midst of it, and what He is working out in your life? Are you ever just a little bit jealous of others who say with such confidence, "The Lord said...."?

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Dialogue with God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 296 Pages

This top seller for 30 years from Bridge Logos provides a narrative, right-brain presentation of the principles of how to hear God's voice. Especially enjoyable for personal use, it makes a great gift for introducing a loved one to the voice of God. This book teaches the four keys to hearing God's voice in readable style, and also devotes two entire chapters to moving samples of people's journaling (i.e. their two-way dialogue with God).

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Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

9 Books, 10 CDs, 10 DVDs now at a $30+ savings

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond? When things don't seem to be going your way and your prayers aren't answered the way you had hoped, wouldn't it be great to hear Him tell you where He is in the midst of it, and what He is working out in your life? Are you ever just a little bit jealous of others who say with such confidence, "The Lord said...."?

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How to Hear God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 317 Pages

We recommend that you order the newest revision of this book titled 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice. It includes 95% of the content of How to Hear God's Voice but is reorganized so it fits perfectly with the 10 DVDs on this subject by Mark Virkler. In addition, it gets you started using the four keys earlier in the book and gives you more journaling samples and exercises. Since we have removed the large margins, it is a smaller and less expensive book.

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LEARN 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice Notebook

LEARN 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler

This 49-page Life Enrichment And Review Notebook (previously called a "Seminar Guide") is designed to go along with the CD/ DVD series and/or PowerPoint presentation. If receiving training in a group, we highly recommend that EVERY member of the group have their own copy. It offers you the following four benefits:

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Prayers That Heal the Heart

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by Mark and Patti Virkler | 320 Pages

Prayer counseling that breaks every yoke! Everything you need to experience deep healing of your soul and spirit.

Did you know that you don’t need to be continually plagued by negative thoughts, feelings, pictures or memories?

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Counseled by God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 146 Pages

Have you ever been defeated by negative emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, inferiority, condemnation or depression? Have you tried to fight them off unsuccessfully? Is there an answer that is deeper than simply trying to mentally reason yourself out of these emotions? Is there a way that Jesus can speak a word of life into the depths of your emotional despair and bring healing on a deep level? Is there a form of Christian counseling that begins and ends with the movement of Christ within your heart, rather than simply with the words of man?

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