Church columnist: Great themes of the Bible — Jesus
As we began this series of “Great Themes Of The Bible,” we started out where the Bible starts – with God.
In that article on the God of the Bible we briefly saw the nature of the Godhead as the Divine Nature being expressed in three distinct Persons. Sometimes these three Persons of the Godhead are referred to as the first Person, second Person, and third Person of the Godhead.
The order of these persons is based primarily on Jesus’ statement in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father (first Person) and of the Son (second Person) and of the Holy Spirit (third Person).”
So, Jesus, the son of God, is sometimes referred to as the second Person of the Godhead. This ordering or the three Persons also reflects their place in the scheme of redemption. The work of Jesus was done in subjection to the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit was done in subjection to the Son (John 8:28; 16:12-15).
The Father is God, The Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God (Ephesians 1:3; John 20:28; Acts 5:3, 4). So, the very first thing to know about this great Bible theme of Jesus is that He is our Great God and Savior (Titus 2:13).
Though the second Person of the Godhead, the son of God, wasn’t named “Jesus” until He “became flesh” (John 1:1, 14), we find Him throughout the pages of Scripture doing His work of making Himself “the way” (Jn. 14:6) of salvation. Not only do we find Him revealed hundreds of times in prophecy, we also see Him in actual personal interaction with God’s people.
Jesus, the son of God, is the same Person that spoke to Moses from the burning bush – the Great I AM. In Exodus 3:2, it says that the “Angel of the LORD” appeared to Moses there on mount Horeb. In verse four it says that the LORD called to Moses from the burning bush.
When Moses wanted to know how to identify Him to the children of Israel, he was told to “say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14, 15). Jesus identified Himself as the Great I AM when facing His rejection by the rebellious Jews (John 8:56, 58).
Recognizing that Jesus was the physical manifestation of the I AM, from which the Divine name “Jehovah” comes, we also recognize that the Son of God was present in the Old Testament as “the Angel of the LORD.” Again, in Exodus 3, the terms LORD (i.e. Jehovah) and “the Angel of the LORD” are used interchangeably.
Both terms are used in reference to the same Person. Steven, in Acts 7, also used the terms interchangeably, using both to refer to the same Person (Acts 7:30-34).
There are numerous times in the Old Testament that we see “the Angel of the LORD” being referred to as the LORD Himself (Genesis 16:9-13; 22:15-17; Exodus 3:2, 4; Judges 2:1; 13:19-22; etc.). The Angel of the LORD was the preincarnate Christ!
The apostle Paul makes a comment about the Son of God that shows Him to have been the active Person all through the preparations for His coming in the flesh. In referring to Israel as an example for us in what acceptable obedience looks like and what it doesn’t look like, he said “they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).
Paul identifies Christ as Jehovah that provided for and protected Israel through the wilderness wanderings. He was that pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night! (Exodus 13:21). He was the one who provided the manna from heaven and the water from the rock. He was the active agent in carrying out the Father’s plan for man’s redemption.
Going back to the place of the son of God in the Godhead, it is sometimes described as the parts that each Person played in the scheme of redemption. The Father is the Planner, the Son carried out the Father’s plan, and the Holy Spirit revealed God’s plan to man (Ephesians 3:8-13; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
God’s plan to save man from sin, as revealed by the Holy Spirit of God, shows the son of God carrying out that plan from the very creation right up to the time He purchased the church with His own blood and sat down at the right hand of God (Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 1:1-4; Acts 20:28).
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