The Preincarnate Jesus Christ
"Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me. And ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life." - John 5:39-40
“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” - Luke 24:27
The Son of God | The Creator | The Alpha & The Omega
Jesus Christ preexisted the Incarnation (John 8:58). He existed in a preincarnate form before He was incarnated (Php. 2:6). However, in this preexisting form He had no beginning. Jesus Christ is "the Beginning" (Rev. 3:14, 21:6, 22:13). We can be sure that He preexisted the creation of the world in the genesis of time; for, in actuality, He Created it (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5, Col. 1:16-17, Eph. 3:9). Jesus is one among the plurality of people, who said, "Let us make man in our Image" (Gen. 1:26), when the mighty and strong creator God, called, Elohim (Gen. 1:26), created mankind. Herein, from eternity past, long before Jesus became the Son of Man, He was always the Son of God in whom the Father delights (Prov. 8:22-31); and, as the Son of God, Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega (Rev. 1:8, 11, 21:6, 22:13) - the Second Person of the Godhead who has interposed Himself on behalf of mankind from the beginning, even before the fall of Adam, theretofore until the incarnation, and much more forevermore (1 Cor. 5:1-5, Ps. 110:1, Matt. 28:19-20, Rom. 5:10).
The Invisible & Visible Preincarnate Forms of Jesus Christ
Everywhere, anywhere, and anytime salvation existed, the Savior of Mankind was responsible for it (Isa. 45:21). Therefore, whenever men of former times were saved in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ was there on location performing the exploits of redemption in a preincarnate form ("...being in the form of God" - Php. 2:6). This is abundantly clear in the salvation of the Exodus Generation, as described in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, specifically in the noted fact that "Christ" was there on location in spiritual communion with them in the described exploits of salvific symbolism (1 Cor. 10:9). Actually, howbeit invisibly, the Lord Jesus was on location acting as their Savior in a preincarnate form (Ex. 15:1-2, 13; Ps. 106:8, 10, 12; Jer. 2:2-3; Isa. 63:7-14; Deut. 32:7-14). Not much can be said of this "form" except that it was perfectly divine (Php. 2:6, John 17:5) and apparently distinct from the Person of the Father (Ps. 110:1). Nevertheless, this invisible preincarnate form of Christ must not be confused with the rare physical appearances of Christ in the Old Testament; nor should these physical appearances of Christ be confused with the general and ordinary divine usage of angels in the Old Testament.
It is unlawful to assume that God the Father ever personally manifested through an angel's body. For, in a characteristically different manner than the Son of God, the Father is said to be "invisible" to man (1 Tim. 1:17). Partly, we can assume this is because "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24); but, additionally, the Scripture is emphatic to state that "no man hath seen God at any time" (John 1:18, 1 Tim. 6:16). Even after the incarnation of Christ (John 14:8-10) it still remains true that no man "can see" God the Father (1 Tim. 6:16, 1 Jn. 4:12). This fact underscores the preincarnate and post-incarnate significance of Jesus Christ because He has in fact seen and known the Father (John 1:18, Lk. 10:22). This is why John the Baptist felt unworthy to even touch or loose the latchet of earthly sandals on the feet of the Son of God incarnated into human flesh. Awestruck with adoration, John testified: "He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what He hath seen and heard, that He testifieth; and no man receiveth His testimony." (John 3:31-32).
When and if Jesus Christ did manifest personally to men in a physical and visible form in the Old Testament, the LORD used the form, disposition, and voices of angels. These are visible or audible forms that the invisible preincarnate Christ would utilize. However, remember, this is not to be confused with God's general employment of angels in the Old Testament (Acts 7:53, Gal. 3:19, Ps. 68:17). For, in at least a few of the many occasions where the "the Angel of the LORD" is interacting with men in Church History, we can be sure that the text implies someone more than a mere angel's presence (Ex. 3:2, Judges 6:22, 13:22). For, on special occasions where this term is used, and in other instances where an Angel is depicted interacting with men (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, & Joshua among others), the angelic body being used by God was allowably seen, touched, or worshiped by redeemed men (Gen. 18:1-5, 13-14, 33, 19:1, 32:1-2, 24-30; Josh 5:13-15; Judges 6:12-24, 13:15-23; Hos. 12:2-6, Acts 7:30-38, Exodus 3:2-5), rather than men simply hearing the word of God through the voices of angels.
Of course, it is strictly forbidden to worship angels in normal circumstances (Rev. 19:10, 22:9). That's exactly what's abnormal and extraordinary about these few other occasions. They prove that fact that Christ was physically and visibly manifesting in the body of an Angel. For, only this would be grounds for worship (Ex. 3:2-5, Josh. 5:13-15, Hos. 12:5). In retrospect, the rarity of these occasions do certainly imply the incompetency of all angelic forms to permanently manifest the Son of God; also, they foreshadow the ultimate divine objective of redemption in the incarnation. Namely, that it pleased God to be incarnated into human flesh to permanently become manifest before mankind to be "heard" and "seen" with human "eyes" and "handled" with human "hands" (1 John 1:1-3; Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7; John 20:27-29, 1 John 3:2, Zech. 12:10). Further attesting to this ultimate divine purpose, while contextually proving the superiority of the New Testament over the Old Testament, the writer of Hebrews compared "the word spoken by angels" (Heb. 2:1-4) with the word spoken by the Son of God (Heb. 1:1-3). This further proves the general divine usage of angels in the Old Testament (Acts 7:53, Gal. 3:19), while the greater comparison being made by the author shows the superiority of the Son of God above angels in Hebrews 1:1-2:4. The shock and awe of this event shouldn't be overlooked by the ungrateful "Christians" of the 21st Century. Marvelously, through incarnation, the Son of God has permanently become "the Image of the invisible God" in human form (Col. 1:15); and, as the one and only Mediator of Mankind, Jesus said: "No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6).
Christ in Biblical Typology | The Gospel in Shadows | Abraham
Redeemed men from all ages and Covenants were only and always saved by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 4; Heb. 11). That's why Abraham is called "the father of all them that believe" (Rom. 4:11). The Gospel of Jesus Christ was presented to them in shadows - which means that the image or figure that was cast before their eyes depicted the reality of something else. This shadow isn't the real thing. The shadow shouldn't be mistaken for the reality; for, it is merely the image or figure of the reality like the shadow of man captures his silhouette. The life & testimony of Abraham abundantly testifies to this as an authentic means to believe the Gospel and receive Jesus Christ by faith (The Gospel Call: Gen. 12:1-3, Heb. 11:8-10; Justification by Faith: Gen. 15:6, Rom. 4:3, Gen. 17:15-19, Rom. 4:17-22, Heb. 11:11-12; Justification by Works: Gen. 22:12, James 2:14-26, Heb. 6:11-20, 11:17-19). Obviously, given the frequency of Abraham being spoken about in the New Testament, Abraham is set forth by God as an admirable example of faith; however, most people of Christendom treat Old Testament believers like shameful inferiors who were preoccupied with dead ritualism.
Literally, when Abraham believed the Gospel preached through shadows, it was written that "he received Him [Jesus] in a figure" (Heb. 11:17-19). Oh, for a thousand tongues to declare this momentous occasion setup by Jehovahjireh (Gen. 22:14)! The use of the word "figure" in Hebrews 11:17-19 speaks of the conveyance of Christ through typology. Herein, the Person of the Gospel was personally received and immediately in communion with the Old Testament believers (1 Cor. 10:1-5, 2 Cor. 6:16). Marvelously, the whole of the Old Testament should be understood directly or indirectly as exemplary figures, patterns, or shadows ("figure" - Heb. 9:9; "figures" - Heb. 9:24), even as God said to Moses on Mount Sinai ("pattern" - Ex. 25:40; "shadow of heavenly things" - Heb. 8:1-5). Therefore, we can be sure that if we have eyes to see (Lk. 24:27), the glorious mystery of the whole story would be visible in the narrative of the Old Testament - namely, how everything in the Law is a "shadow of things to come" (Col. 2:17, Heb. 10:1). Even if the heroes of faith in the Old Testament didn't fully understand it, through the shadows they were embracing the realities and hereby they were looking for the glory of another age. "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:39-40).
Forgiveness | Animal Sacrifice | Substantial Atonement | Moral Law
Knowingly or unknowingly, every saint of the O.T. was looking forward to Christ (Heb. 11:13, 39-40; Job 19:25-27). Nevertheless, because the Lamb of God was not yet offered at the Cross of Calvary (Jn. 1:29), the Jewish believers were provisionally forgiven even without being substantially redeemed. For, it is impossible for animal blood to remit the sins of mankind in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament (Rom. 3:21-28, Heb. 9:15, 10:4). The Old Testament was problematic and insufficient to mediate a lasting and eternal forgiveness before God (Heb. 10:1-14). Though the LORD honestly declared the words “atonement” and “forgiven” in the Old Testament (atonement: Ex. 29:37, 30:10, 16, Lev. 4:1; forgiven: Lev. 4:20, 26, 31, 35), the atonement of animal’s blood was ultimately insufficient. However, as men looked to Christ in faith (through shadows), God provisionally gave mankind the blessing of forgiveness based upon what Christ would eventually accomplish on their behalf substantially and in reality. The "blood" of Jesus is the eternal provision (Rom. 3:25). No man has or ever will be forgiven by any other means. “His blood” is the benefaction because “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Rom. 3:25, Heb. 10:4). The LORD, Jehovahsidkenu, is our eternal righteousness (Jer. 23:6)!
Nevertheless, the Law of the Old Testament serves its purpose. Through the Law the LORD was preparing mankind to comprehend the enormity of what would be accomplished in Jesus Christ. This is God making immoral men feel their need for moral redemption (Rom. 7:9). In being tutored by the Moral Law men are put before the blazing light of God's personality depicted in the Moral Law. Hereby, the glory of God exposes the ingloriousness of man. The morally perfect personality of God is "the glory of God" (Rom. 3:19-23). Contrastingly, man's ingloriousness is our total moral depravity and utter imperfection (Rom. 3:9-20, 8:5-8). Without this reeducation process it would be impossible for mankind to even fathom the meaning of blood-bought reconciliation to God in spiritual communion (Ps. 10:4-5, 50:21, Eph. 4:18). The LORD, who is our Lawgiver (Isa. 33:22), did also give to redeemed mankind his only begotten Son (John 3:16).
Ceremonial Law | Pharisaical Judaism | Biblical Judaism | Regeneration
Marvelously, the Ceremonial Law works to tutor and educate men in the same fashion as the Moral Law. Nevertheless, most readers are dismayed at the attention given to the Ceremonial Law in the Old Testament. This is because most people know more about Pharisaical Judaism than true Biblical Judaism. Hence, they know very little about Jehovahchaqaq (Isa. 33:22, Hos. 6:6, Micah 6:8). Christians, like the Pharisees, read the Law as one blinded to its loveliness &spirituality ("O how love I Thy Law!" - Ps. 119:97). Newly converted believers in Christ who are generally oblivious to the complexity of Scripture and easily manipulated by false teachers are especially susceptible to adopting an extremely negative perspective of the Old Testament. They read the New Testament and misunderstand the teachings that pertain to Judaism. For example, they misunderstand Jesus inthe Sermon on the Mount. Or, they misunderstand Paul when he spoke about Pharisaical Judaism, and they confuse his statements about Pharisaical Judaism to be directed towards Biblical Judaism, or vice versa. Clearly there was confusion about what Paul was teaching and preaching concerning the Law among the Gentiles (Acts 21:28, 26:22-23). Popular misconceptions about Judaism were prevailing upon Gentile Christians as far away as Rome. Therefore, in the Book of Romans, Paul was compelled to clarify the difference between true and false Judaism.
Two millennia later things have only gotten worse. The controversies on the subject have only increased in ferocity over the years. Yet, this is to be expected (Eccl. 1:9). This has been going on for ages. Long before the apostle Paul engaged the conflict, the Prophets of old had the same problems in their respective generations. False Judaism has always been a problem. Hypocrites of every generation are prone to ritualize and de-spiritualize the teachings of true religion (Jas. 1:27); and, this is especially easy to do when it comes to the Ceremonial Law in Biblical Judaism. Nevertheless, the Ceremonial Law was never divinely intended to be understood as mere outward rituals that are dead, formalistic, & unspiritual. Rather, the outward ceremonial commandments represent various kinds of outward and inward salvific spiritual realities. Therefore, in combat against the rampant misunderstandings at hand, the Prophets of old would explain the proper use of the Ceremonial Law as it relates to the Jews having inward spiritual communion with God instead of dead religion.
Lawfully speaking, if the Jews weren't having spiritual fellowship with God in their observance of the Ceremonial Law, then it was a mock observance of thoroughly spiritual ceremonies being desecrated by men who were becoming an abomination to God. Remember, "the Law is spiritual" (Rom. 7:14); therefore, only spiritual men can comprehend the spirituality of the Ceremonial Law (Ps. 50:8-23, 51:6-19). The outward form of religious piety means absolutely nothing to God (Micah 6:7). Therefore, for good reason, Jehovah threatened death and at sundry times justly executed anyone from among the Congregation of Israel who refused to properly observe these Laws. This may seem harsh to religious men today but it was the glory of real Jews who walked with God in Biblical Judaism (Rom. 2:25-29; Ps. 19:7-14; Ps. 101:1-8; Ps. 139:19-24). The justice of God is vindicated in the lives of those who happily declared, "the Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul" (Ps. 19:7). Through regeneration they agreed with the moral rightness of God's righteous judgment in this matter ("Shall not the Judge of all the Earth do right?" - Gen. 18:25), and all degenerate fellows who disagreed wouldn't live long (Num. 15:30-31, Heb. 10:26-29). These are the just and equal ways of Jehovahshaphat (Judges 11:27, Isa. 33:22, Joel 3:12).
Salvation | Children of God | Spiritual Birth | Regeneration | The Church
Even in Adam we behold a "figure" (Rom. 5:14) that points to the coming of another Adam; this is the second Adam whom the apostle Paul called, "the Last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45, Rom. 5:1-21, Gal. 3:16, 29). Adam, as the former federal head of humanity, is the figurehead of our fallen, depraved, and lost condition (Rom. 5:12-14). Christ, as the new federal head of humanity, is the figurehead of resurrection, righteousness, and reconciliation (1 Cor. 15:22, Jn. 11:25). This was the plan of Immanuel from the beginning (Isa. 7:14, Jn. 12:27-28, Ps. 40:7). Yet, what people often fail to remember is that Christ was there on location with Adam after the fall to save him from his sins through faith in Gospel Shadows (Gen. 3:15, 21), just like He was salvifically present in and among the Exodus Generation (1 Cor. 10:1-5, 2 Cor. 6:16).
Comprehending the glory of this, Moses worshiped God, saying, "Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations" (Ps. 90:1). Dogmatically, this acknowledgement affirms that Adam and his redeemed family members were the first Jews of redeemed mankind and together as a congregation they were the first Church of the earth (2 Cor. 6:16). This can be clearly seen in the excommunication of Cain from the Early Church (Gen. 4:13-14). Granted, not much clarity is provided in the history recorded in Genesis, but as usual things become more clear and developed in Scripture over time. At the very least, a spiritual lineage of the Children of God can be traced from Adam in contrast to the sinful lineage of Cain. Hereby, the Church can be traced from Adam to Abraham throughout their generations.
However, thereafter, the Church can be traced with much more clarity beginning as follows: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, & the Exodus Generation (Acts 7:38). Evidently, the working of salvation and the existence of the Church was progressively revealed in scripture through the aforementioned figureheads. Divine argumentation weaves these four generations together in a culmination of unprecedented detail devoted to the salvation of Israel in the Exodus Generation, affectionately called, “the Church in the Wilderness” (Acts 7:38). Since the beginning of time, this is the first occasion an inspired writer was moved to directly reference a particular group of people in the Old Testament, calling them, "the Church" (Acts 7:38). Why? Well, the scriptural detail used to account for the history of the Israelite people in the Exodus Generation defines and memorializes the true essence of what a Church is in God’s sight for generations to come. This is the story of El-Elohe-Israel ("God the God of Israel" - Gen. 33:20). Henceforth, without looking to Israel, one cannot truly understand God; and, without looking to God, one cannot truly understand Israel. Therefore, to affirm that "Salvation is of the Jews" isn't an overstatement (Jn. 4:22).
Marvelously, like Abraham, the Israelites of the Exodus Generation received Jesus Christ through figures and shadows (Heb. 11:17-19). In other words, the Law of Moses preached Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:39-40, Lk. 24:27). Hereby, the Exodus Generation was saved by faith in the following Shadow Gospels. All of these shadow messages were explicitly named in identification with Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and therefore it is not a stretch to call them Gospel Messages (Gal. 3:8, Heb. 4:2). The Exodus Generation was saved by faith in the Gospel of Sacrifice (the Passover | Ex. 12:23-28, Heb. 11:28, 1 Cor. 5:7), the Gospel of the Spirit's Baptism (faith in the Red Sea Crossing | Ex. 14:30-31, 15:1-2, 13, Ps. 106:8-12, 1 Cor. 10:1-2, Heb. 11:29), the Gospel of the Imperishable Life of Christ (the Manna | Jn. 6:32-33, 35, 1 Cor. 10:3, Neh. 9:20), and the Gospel of Living Water (Water from the Rock | Ps. 78:15-16, 105:41, 107:35, Ex. 17:6, Deut. 8:15 Neh. 9:15 (Isa. 48:21, 41:18; Rev. 21:6), 1 Cor. 10:4, John 4:10, 13-14, 7:38, Jer. 2:13). Undeniably, they were saved (Ex. 15:1-2, 13; Ps. 106:8, 10, 12; Jer. 2:2-3; Isa. 63:7-14; Deut. 32:7-14, Jude 1:5). They were born again and morally regenerated (Rom. 9:6-8, Gal. 4:28-29; Num. 15:30-31, Heb. 10:26-29); and, we can be certain that this change of heart (a salvation of the will) is impossible without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:10). For, without a spiritual birth, they couldn't become the children of God (Lk. 3:38, Gen. 6:2; Hos. 11:1, Deut. 1:31, 32:19; Ps. 82:6, Isa. 1:2, 46:3-4; Jer. 31:9). They had to be spiritual in order to be truly Jewish (Rom. 2:25-29).
"For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children in the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." - Rom. 9:6-8 [John 8:31-51, Php. 3:3, Jn. 1:47]
For example, Ishmael was not a true Jew even though he was the physical son of Abraham. He wasn't a spiritual son of Abraham or God. For, according to Galatians 4:28-29, Ishmael was "born after the flesh" and Isaac was "born after the Spirit", and only the latter are the children of God in the Old Testament or the New Testament. One must be born of the Spirit or born again to spiritually become the children of God (John 1:12-13). This is an ancient and well-known Jewish Doctrine among the remnant of true believers in Jehovah. That's why Jesus of Nazareth was so displeased with Nicodemus when he, being a ruler of Israel, didn't know what it meant to be "born again" or "born...of the Spirit" in John 3:1-12.
The Attributes of God | Knowing Jesus & the Father | The Names of God
Undoubtedly, Jesus Christ is the mystery of the Old Testament (John 5:39-40, 46-47; Lk. 16:31, 24:27). Ages of human redemption under the confines of former Covenants have been divinely used to set the stage for the unveiling of Jesus Christ to the world. Therefore, to learn about Jehovah is to learn about Jesus Christ. However, that's not to say that Jesus, the Son of God, wasn't distinctly present in a preincarnate form all throughout the Old Testament. This was indeed the case, as formerly explained (Ps. 110:1); howbeit, the actual Person of Jesus is rarely mentioned in the Old Testament as one directly and invisibly involved in the affairs at hand. Rather, Jesus is most often referred to as one who would eventually come in the future via an incarnation into human flesh (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7).
Only now, in retrospect, after the world has been graced with the coming of Jesus Christ (John 1:15-18), are we able to look back at former generations and behold the mysteries unknowable to the saints of the Old Testament. We, being illuminated by the light of the New Testament, have come to learn just how central and domineering the figure of Jesus Christ was in former times, even while He was in a preincarnate form (1 Cor. 10:1-5, 1 Pet. 1:11). For example, consider the apostle John's clarification of Isaiah's personal vision of the Lord (Isaiah 6:1-5). It is very apparent that Isaiah "saw" the Lord sitting upon a Throne in the Temple (Isa. 6:1), and thus he cried out, "Mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts" (Isa. 6:5); however, speaking of this event, John was very specific to clarify that Isaiah was in fact seeing the glory of Jesus Christ in a preincarnate form (Jn. 12:35-43, Php. 2:6). One can hardly imagine a more dominating figure than the One described in Isaiah's vision (Isa. 6:1-4). Truly. Yet, the same could be said about the portrayal of Christ in Colossians 1:15-18. Who could read such accolades and not be awestruck with amazement? For, evidently, the towering enormity of this Person's significance and involvement in everything is virtually impossible to exaggerate; and now in being incarnated the Man has become "the Image of the Invisible God" (Col. 1:15)!
However, even though Jesus Christ existed in and was vitally present through preincarnate forms (one of them being an angelic body) in the Old Testament, and even though Jesus Christ exists in a post-incarnate form in the New Testament as "the Image of the Invisible God" (Col. 1:15), it is important to remember that Jesus Christ and the Father are everlastingly and transcendentally one ("I and My Father are one." - John 10:30). Literally, and actually, Jesus of Nazareth is God coming to be with us (Immanuel - Isa. 7:14, Matt. 1:23). Therefore, assuredly, when we learn about Jehovah in the Old Testament we are learning about Jesus Christ. Also, whatever attributes we learn about the Father do characteristically apply to the Son of God. For, in being one, the two are inseparable; which means that their identities in character and essence are truly indistinguishable. Marvelously, this is why Jesus Christ said, "if ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also" (John 8:19). Also, this is why the apostle John said, "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also" (1 John 2:23). The two identities of these Persons of the Godhead are so intertwined and interdependent, it is impossible for mankind to consciously distinguish one independently from the other. Whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, it's impossible to know Jehovah without coming to know Jesus Christ; and, it's impossible to know Jesus Christ without coming to know Jehovah. Professedly, as no one else can, Jesus Christ spoke of this mystery in Matthew 11:27, Luke 10:22, & John 5:23.
"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
"All things are delivered to me of My Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." - Luke 10:22
"That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him." - John 5:23
Of course, this affects our study of the Preincarnate Jesus Christ. For, any attribute observed in Jehovah is also an observation of the character of Jesus Christ, whether we observe that attribute in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Therefore, as follows, in a more extensive analysis of the Attributes of God in Jesus Christ, the attributes revealed in Jehovah do automatically and indistinguishably characterize Jesus Christ. Henceforth, it is to be assumed that the reader understands and agrees to this wonderful fact of God revealing Himself in Holy Scripture. Furthermore, in turning our attention to the Names of God, we can behold how perfectly and completely the whole body of Scripture does unveil GOD as one revelatory masterpiece.
Every detail of Scripture does finely sculpt before mankind the image and personality of God. Progressively, according to the providence of God, there are various acts of special significance or sudden intervention at critical moments of Biblical History that are commemorated by a new Name given to God. These profound instances exist to demonstrate and reinforce the attributes of God. Therefore, to truly comprehend the attributes of God, one must know and understand the Names of God. For example, in Genesis 1, in a uni-plural term indicative of the Trinity, God is revealed in creation as Elohim (the Mighty & Strong Creator God). In the 26th verse of the first chapter of the Bible, God spoke of His own creative purposes in making mankind, saying, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." (Gen. 1:26). Emphatically, a Triune God is the Creator of mankind. However, what's less apparent is if anyone from among the Trinity was ever created. Therefore, to hush all inordinate speculations of this kind, in Genesis 2:4 the same Triune God is revealed as Jehovah Elohim (the Eternal Self-Existent Mighty Creator God). Hereby, in knowing God as Jehovah Elohim, we can understand that the Triune God is uncreated and self-existent.
A considerable portrait of God took shape through all that was divinely revealed to the Patriarchs: in Genesis 14:18-20, God is revealed as El Elyon (the Most High God); in Genesis 16:13, God is revealed as El Roi (God that Seest); in Genesis 17:1, God is revealed as El Shaddai (God Almighty or God All-Sufficient); in Genesis 21:33, God is revealed as El Olam (the Everlasting God); in Genesis 22:14, God is revealed as Jehovahjireh (the Lord Sees & Provides); in Genesis 33:20, God is revealed as El-Elohe-Israel (God the God of Israel). All these Names ascribe to God and demonstrate to man various attributes in God: namely, that God is most high over all kings, nations, and armies (Gen. 14:18-20); that He sees when and where no one else is looking (Gen. 16:13); that He is sufficient to perform mighty and otherwise impossible miracles in fulfillment of covenant promises (Gen. 17:1); that He outlives and outlasts men like trees do the withering grass of the field (Gen. 21:33); that He provides atonement mercy for the undeserving (Gen. 22:14); and that He will be further revealed through Israel and his seed throughout their generations in a special way, for He is once and for all the mighty God of Israel (Gen. 33:20).
"And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them." - Exodus 6:3
Accordingly, with the salvation of Israel in the Exodus Generation, the divinely orchestrated characterization continued. As formerly explained, in Exodus 6:3 God is revealed as Jehovah ("I Am that I Am" or "He that Is") to Moses. Upon encountering God at Sinai in Exodus 3:13-15, this subject (the Name of God) was of utmost concern to Moses. No wonder, considering how God chose to reveal His own personality and attributes theretofore in Genesis. However, as emphatically stated in Exodus 6:1-8, this is the beginning of a new era of honorary ascription in naming God what each occasion requires. The famous and renowned "LORD God of the Hebrews" will be known especially as Jehovah in the Exodus and beyond (Ex. 3:18, 5:3, 7:16, 9:1, 13). Jehovah Elohe-Israel, "the LORD God of Israel" (Ex. 5:1, 24:10, 32:27, 34:23; Gen. 33:20), will be quintessentially revealed in the salvation of Israel.
In Exodus 3:20, 7:17, 8:2, 16, 9:15, 12:12-13, & 23, God is revealed as Jehovah-Nakah (the LORD that Smitteth; Ezek. 7:9); in Exodus 8:10, 9:14, & 29, God is revealed as El-ehudiah (God is One LORD; Deut. 6:4); in Exodus 8:22-23, God is revealed as Jehovah Beh-Kerehv Ha-Eretz (the LORD in the Midst of the Earth); in Exodus 15:26 & 23:25, God is revealed as Jehovah Rapha (the LORD our Eternal Healer; Deut. 7:15, Ps. 103:3, 105:37); in Exodus 17:15, God is revealed as Jehovah-Nissi (the LORD our Eternal Banner); in Exodus 19:9-24, 24:9-18, 33:1-6, & 33:12-34:28, God is revealed as El-esh-oklah (God the Consuming Fire; Deut. 4:24, Heb. 12:28-29); in Exodus 20:1-21, & 33:12-34:28, God is revealed as El-Kanah (Jealous God; Deut. 4:24, 5:9, 6:15); and in Exodus 25:8, 21-22, 30:38-46, 31:13-15, & 40:1-38, God is revealed as Jehovah M'Kaddesh (the LORD who Sanctifieth; Ex. 33:12-17).
In Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7-8, 26, 21:8, 23, & 22:9, 16, 32, God is revealed as Jehovah M'Kaddesh (the LORD who Sanctifieth; Ps. 111:9, 145:17); and in Numbers 1:3, 2:3, 9, 10, 16, 18, 24-25, 10:14, 18, 22, 28, 33:1, 33-36, God is revealed as Jehovah Sabaoth (the Eternal LORD of Hosts; Ex. 6:26, 7:4, 12:17, 31, 41, 51, Deut. 20:9, 1 Sam. 3:1, 11, 4:4, 15:2, 17:45, 2 Sam. 5:10, 6:2, 18, 7:8, 26-27, James 5:4).
In Deuteronomy 1:29-33, 8:1-6, 11:1-32, God is revealed as Ad-ab (the Everlasting Father; Isa. 9:6, Matt. 6:9, 1 Pet. 1:17); in Deuteronomy 2:14-16, 4:1-4, 9-40, 5:1-5, 22-33, 6:10-25, 9:1-10:10, 13:1-18, 17:1-13, 18:9-19, 19:1-21, 20:1-20, 21:18-23, & 23:1-14, God is revealed as El-esh-oklah (God the Consuming Fire; Ex. 19:9-24, 24:9-18, 33:1-6, & 33:12-34:28); in Deuteronomy 4:9-28, 5:9-11, 6:10-25, God is revealed as El-Kanah (Jealous God; Ex. 20:1-21, 33:12-34:28); in Deuteronomy 3:21-24, 4:32-40, 5:7, 6:1-9, God is revealed as El-ehudiah (God is One LORD; Ex. 8:10, 22-23, 9:14, 29); in Deuteronomy 4:29-31, God is revealed as El-Rachum (God of Mercy; Deut. 4:31, Jonah 4:2, Jer. 3:12, Neh. 9:17, 31); in Deuteronomy 4:5-8, 7:1-6, 12:1-32, God is revealed as Jehovah M'Kaddesh (the LORD who Sanctifieth; Ex. 33:12-17; Leviticus); in Deuteronomy 7:7-16, God is revealed as El-Aman (the Faithful God; Ex. 20:5-7, 32:34, 34:5-7, Deut. 5:9, 29:20; 2 Tim. 2:11-13); in Deuteronomy 7:17-26 & 10:11-22, God is revealed as El-Gibbor (the Mighty God; Isa. 9:6); in Deuteronomy 7:17-26, 10:11-22, God is revealed as El-Ira (the Terrible God; Deut. 7:21, 31:3-8, Ex. 34:10, Deut. 10:17, Neh. 1:5, Ps. 68:35, 99:3; Matt. 10:28, Lk. 12:4-5; Ps. 111:9, Heb. 12:28, Deut. 28:58); in Deuteronomy 8:7-20, God is revealed as Jehovah-Rohi (the LORD our Eternal Shepherd; Gen. 49:24, Ex. 13:21-22, Deut. 1:31-33, Ps. 23:1); in Deuteronomy 10:11-22, God is revealed as Elohe Ha Elohim (God of gods), Adonai Ha'adonim (Lord of lords), & El-Haggadol (the Great God); and in Deuteronomy 25:17-19, God is revealed as Jehovah-Nissi (the LORD our Eternal Banner; Ex. 17:15).
In Judges 6:24, God is revealed as Jehovah-Shalom (the LORD is our Eternal Peace); in Judges 11:27, Isaiah 33:22, & Joel 3:12, God is revealed as Jehovah-Shaphat (the LORD the Judge); in Isaiah 7:6 (Matt. 1:23), God is revealed as Emmanuel (God With Us); in Isaiah 54:5, God is revealed as El-Eretz (the God of the Whole Earth); in Isaiah 33:22, God is revealed as Jehovah-Melek (the LORD is our King; Ps. 44:4, 74:12, 89:18; Jer. 23:5-6); also, in Isaiah, 33:22, God is revealed as Jehovah-Chaqaq (the LORD is our Lawgiver); in Jeremiah 23:6, God is revealed as Jehovah-Sidkenu (the LORD our Eternal Righteousness); in Ezekiel 7:9, God is revealed as Jehovah-Nakah (the LORD that Smiteth); and in Ezekiel 48:35, God is revealed as Jehovah-Shammah (the LORD who is Eternally There in the City of God).
Every divine attribute of God that is attached to the name, Jehovah, by virtue of its meaning ("I Am that I Am" or "He that Is"), is hereby declared to be an eternal and unchanging characteristic in the LORD. Remember, the name Jehovah was used as early as Genesis 2:4 to formally eternalize in Scripture the fact that Elohim is the Trinity. Therefore, in one sense, the name Jehovah gives eternal significance to the other Names of God in the Bible. God wants to memorialize his character in a changeless, eternal, and permanent fashion to leave men without any doubt concerning the nature of divine attributes (Ps. 90:2, Mal. 3:6, Ja. 1:17, Heb. 11:6, 12:5, 13:8). The LORD was always intending to make a Name for Himself for redemptive purposes (Deut. 28:58). Therefore, in Exodus 34, God definitively immortalized His own character when He "descended in a cloud, and stood...and proclaimed the name of the LORD" before Moses. Speaking of this occasion, it was written,
"And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, Merciful and Gracious, Longsuffering, and abundant in Goodness and Truth, Keeping Mercy for thousands, Forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means Clear the guilty; Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” - Exodus 34:6-7
Only one other time in redemptive history is comparable to this shocking occasion at Mount Sinai. Similarly, howbeit superiorly, when Jesus of Nazareth ascended the holy Mount with Peter, James, and John (2 Pet. 1:17-18), lo and behold: "...a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him" (Matt. 17:5; Matt. 3:7). With Moses and Elijah standing by with illuminated countenances (both of whom are the most famous prophets of the Old Testament, now effectively standing in the galleries), and while Peter, James, and John were looking on, the Father of Heaven made yet another proclamation: "This is My beloved Son" (Matt. 17:5; John 3:31)! Herein, gloriously, Jehovah is pointing all men to the Son of God; but this begs the question: What is the meaning and significance of the name of the Son of God in the Hebrew language?
Well, the angel Gabriel said to Joseph, "...thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21; Matt. 1:23 & Isa. 7:14). As is often the case with biblical names, the name Jesus or Jehoshua (Num. 13:8, 16; Heb. 4:8) is a combination of two different names: Jehovah & Oshea. As explained before, Jehovah means "I AM" (John 8:58). Oshea literally means "Salvation". Being combined together, the name Jesus or Jehoshua is an open proclamation of Jehovah that literally means: "I AM SALVATION". This is the title rightfully assumed by Jehovah being incarnated into human flesh for our salvation. Literally, and actually, Jehovah has become our salvation in Jesus Christ!
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." - Php. 2:5-11
Gloriously, the name Jesus has become the Name above every other name, even surpassing the significance of all the former Names ascribed to God in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, the human being called Jesus is definitively the incarnation of Jehovah (Isa. 7:14, Matt. 1:23). All the attributes and characteristics of Jehovah are most clearly and visibly embodied and demonstrated in Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament or the New Testament, it is impossible to know One without the Other (John 10:30); and we can be sure that all true believers in Jehovah became believers in Jesus of Nazareth during His earthly ministry (John 8:19, 15:23-24; 2 John 1:9). Likewise, on the contrary, if anyone who comes to believe in Jesus having never known the Father, in coming to know Jesus they are believers in the Father (1 John 2:23). Therefore, when Philip asked Jesus, saying, "Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us" (John 14:8), Jesus responded as a living extension of the Father, saying,
"Have I been so long 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?" - John 14:9 (1 John 4:14-15, Col 2:9; see John 14:8-11)
Literally, and actually, Jesus is "the Everlasting Father" (Isa. 9:6, Jn. 10:30). Therefore, Jesus is not overstepping his prophetic authority in speaking as the Father in John 14:8-11. This behavior is to be expected. This is the Messiah foreseen by Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6-7. Herein, Isaiah prophesied that they day would come when a "child" would be born who would be a legitimate "son" of David, and yet: "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). Therefore, apparently, Jesus of Nazareth is the physical manifestation of "the brightness of [Jehovah's] glory, and the express Image of His Person" (Heb. 1:3; John 3:31, 8:14). "All hail." (Matt. 28:9)!
A Personal God | The People of God | Walking with God | Knowing God
God has always wanted to dwell with and walk among men. Whether in Eden, or after the Fall, or at the Resurrection, this crystalline purpose of God is manifest. One can only imagine the blissful scenes of Eden when Adam walked with God in the cool of the day before the Fall (Gen. 3:8). However, tragically, what was then very simple and blissful is now very difficult and hardly accomplished. God is holy. Sin has greatly frustrated this divine purpose. Yet, it isn't impossible.
"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" - Micah 6:8
Reconciliation is possible through salvation; and, hereby, sinful men are enabled to know and walk with God (Ex. 29:46, Ps. 9:10, Jer. 9:23-24). In particular, I am speaking about salvation as it existed in the Old Testament (Micah 6:8). For, in reality, howbeit through shadows, the fascinating character of redemption in the Old Testament was being revealed to mankind: GOD.
"And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?" - Deut. 10:12-13
Universally, inter-covenantally, and everlastingly, human redemption comes by knowing the Redeemer (Isa. 59:20, 60:12). This enables the redeemed of the earth to knowingly walk in the ways of God in love for the LORD (Deut. 10:12-13). Therefore, by necessity, the Old Testament tells the story of salvation through the knowledge of the one and only Savior of Mankind, even as the LORD solemnly testified, saying, "there is no God beside Me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me." (Isa. 45:21). In the storyline of the Old Testament (and much more in the hindsight provided in the New Testament) the nature and attributes of the LORD are revealed; and, contrastingly, the nature and attributes of sinful man. This is the overall purpose of Holy Scripture (Ps. 19:7-11, 119:9). Hereby, men are enabled to know and walk with God (Ps. 9:10, 91:1, 14-15; Deut. 4:4).
Accordingly, the purposes of God in salvation are familial, intimate, and paternal. Namely, that sinful men would be brought into the presence of God as adopted children of a heavenly Father (Ezek. 16:1-14; Ex. 4:22, Hos. 11:1; Deut. 1:31, 32:6, 19; Ps. 82:6, Isa. 1:2, 46:3-4; Jer. 3:19, 31:9; Mal. 1:6, 2:10; Matt. 6:9). In knowing God, and in walking with God, redeemed men become the people of God. (Ex. 6:7-8, 29:45-46; Lev. 11:43-45 [1 Pet. 1:15-16]). This is what it means to become the Church. Like all redeemed men, this is how Enoch and Noah "walked with God" in their generations (Gen. 5:22, 24, 6:9); and, contrastingly, this is why Cain's excommunication from the Church drove him from the Face of the LORD (Gen. 4:13-14). This banishment exiled Cain from the special and immediate presence of God that is universally experienced by all Church Members. For, in reality (despite the inferiority of former covenants), the LORD was the dwelling place of truly saved people in all generations ("Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations." - Ps. 90:1). Accordingly, this is how Abraham was enabled to "walk before [God]" (Gen. 17:1-2). This is the divine call of the Gospel in every generation. However, it was never more apparent as with Israel in the Exodus Generation, when the LORD said, "Ye have seen...how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself" (Ex. 19:4; 1 Pet. 2:9).
The Israelites were chosen by El-Elohe-Israel (Gen. 33:20). They were liberated and removed from Egypt for the purpose of consecration to God. This spiritual experience of consecration is exclusive to "the Church" in all ages (Acts 7:38, Hos. 11:1). In other words, this is a salvific separation from sin for a holy consecration to God. Herein, Abraham separated from Terah, Isaac separated from Ishmael, Jacob separated from Esau, and Israel separated from Egypt. For, the divine calling of the Gospel always separates men from sin and consecrates them to God. This is necessary. The LORD will not dwell with and walk among those who are by nature at enmity with Him (Ps. 5:4-5, Isa. 57:15, Ps. 34:18, 140:13; Rom. 8:7). This is impossible (Ps. 11:4-7, Jer. 9:2). For, the LORD is perfectly pure and completely unable to countenance immorality and wickedness (Hab. 1:13, Isa. 66:1-2). In other words, there are terms and conditions that allow for a people to safely "meet with God" (Ex. 19:17), and a failure to meet these terms would result in catastrophe ("...prepare to meet thy God, O Israel." - Amos 4:12).
"And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God." - Ex. 29:45-46
When the LORD joins with men in redemption to "walk among [them]" (Lev. 26:12) and "dwell" in "the midst" of them (Ex. 29:45-46; Num. 5:3, Deut. 23:14), it is implied that these men are personally, individually, & spiritually walking with God. For, one must be spiritually born into the family of God, or be "of God", to be a part of "the people of God" (Rom. 9:6-8). In other words, the LORD will not dwell among men without being in them; nor can men be expected to walk with God without being spiritually united to God. Paul clarified this to be his understanding of the Old Testament as he quoted a combination of verses, where God said, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (2 Cor. 6:16). Therefore, understandably, the persons who are "of God" make up "the people of God", and because they are "of God" they are expected to be characteristically like God in behavior.
"For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." - Lev. 11:44-45 [1 Pet. 1:15-16]
When the LORD becomes a personal God to a person or a people, as stated in Leviticus 11:44-45, such ones are expected to behave in harmony with the character and attributes of God. For, by virtue of being "of God" - the people are expected to walk with God. Therefore, because God is holy, the people must be holy; and, by virtue of being savingly brought into the presence of Jehovah-M'Kaddesh (Ex. 31:13, Lev. 22:32), the people have become holy, but only let the newly consecrated people be mindful to walk with God and in so doing they will walk in holiness (Isa. 63:7-14; Ps. 51:11). Of course, differing aspects of the Ceremonial Law & the Moral Law were authored to consciously ensure the spiritual conformity of the people to the character of God for the purpose of walking with God. This is the end goal of everything.
God is holy (Lev. 19:2, 20:26); therefore, to walk with the LORD is to walk in holiness (Ex. 31:13, Lev. 22:32; 1 Pet. 1:16). "God is a Spirit" (Jn. 4:24); therefore, to walk with the LORD one must "walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:16, 25; Rev. 1:12-13, 16, 20, 2:1). Accordingly, as described in Leviticus 26, all men of Israel were spiritually required to walk with God rather than walking "contrary" to God (Lev. 26:21, 23-24, 27-28, 40-41), otherwise there would be judgment. The moral implications of this is that the Church ("the Called-Out Ones") is required to live and walk righteously in holiness. Therefore, all the Assemblies or Congregations of the Israelite People, in any place or for any purpose within the Land of Israel, or anywhere in the Kingdom of God, especially within the City of Jerusalem & upon Mount Zion, or anywhere of closer proximity to the Temple of God, were required by Law to be entirely populated by righteous and godly persons.
The Kingdom of God | Judgment | The Church | The Fear of God
The Church is the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ is the King in perpetuity (Ps. 110:1; Ps. 47:2, 48:2, 95:3; Mal. 1:14, Matt. 5:35). Manifestly, this will become more visible than ever in the 2nd Coming of Christ ("Kings of Kings, & Lord of Lords" - Rev. 17:14, 19:16); howbeit, invisibly, as discussed formerly, this has always been the case (Ps. 110:1; Deut. 33:5; 1 Sam. 10:19; 1 Sam. 12:12, 17-19; compare "the King" of Isaiah 6:5 with John 12:41). Therefore, the ordering and establishment of judgment in the Kingdom speaks volumes about the character and personality of the King (Isa. 9:6-7). Hence, in reality, a study of the Kingdom is a study of the King (Ps. 2:6-12; Rev. 2:27; Isa. 11:1-16, 32:1-2, 33:17-18). In other words, Theology must include the study of Jehovah-Melek - "The LORD is our King" (Isa. 33:22, Ps. 44:4, 74:12, 89:18, Jer. 23:5-6). It is simply impossible to study God; or, in studying, it is simply impossible to discover the attributes of God without touring the dominion of the King in the enforcement of law and judgment.
"For the LORD is our Judge, the LORD is our Lawgiver, the LORD is our King; He will save us." - Isaiah 33:22
Those who despise God and incur wrath upon their souls do abominate the Kingly nature of divine rule in all ages (Ps. 12:4, Job 21:14-15), while all those who are truly saved do adore the Law of God and gladly enslave themselves to it (Ps. 119:97, 113, 163; 1 Cor. 7:22, James 1:25, Rom. 8:4). For this cause men rebelled against the King during the eras of time pre-incarnation and post-incarnation. Even more manifestly, at Christ being manifest in real time physically and visibly, men acted in rebellion against the Messiah's incarnated person because he is the coming King who lives to rule mankind. In response, they said, "We will not have this Man to reign over us." (Lk. 19:14). Meanwhile, those beholden to the beauty of Christ do yield to the confines of his rulership as King. To steadfastly act contrary to the rule of God in the Kingdom of God is an unforgivable offense. Therefore, to all such malefactors, the LORD says, "But those Mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before Me." (Lk. 19:27).
As a student of Church History who was beholden to this mystery, Peter dogmatically stated, "judgment must begin at the House of God" (1 Pet. 4:17-18). This may be a foreign concept today but it wasn't among the Jews in the Church of the Old Testament. Essentially and characteristically, "The LORD is a God of Judgment" (Isa. 30:18). Literally, God sat as the enthroned King in the midst of the people while presiding transcendentally over the people. Through spiritual judgments the visitation of justice upon law-breakers was unavoidable and inescapable. Of course, this is cause for fear. Jehovah Shaphat walked and talked with the people and made them know that He was their God (Isa. 33:22, Joel 3:12). Particularly, in the immediacy of judgment executed upon sinners the people came to know "the fear of the LORD" (Prov. 1:7). Hereby the whole population of Israel came under an intense awareness of God’s imminent judgment upon any uncleanness and impurity existing in the Land of Israel (Prov. 2:21-22, Isa. 57:13, Ezek. 13:9, Hos. 9:3). Solomon detailed how the judgments of God pursued the objectives of Church Purity to the vanquishing of unlawful sex, thievery, and covetousness, establishing a love for God, a love for the Brethren, and a bridling of the tongue.
"And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it." - Deut. 1:16-17
Ideally, God's judgment of the Church on this wise was executed by Church Officers. This is what we could call Civil Justice. Yet, because these officers were the channels of divine judgment, this is a divinely empowered civil justice that was effective to promote and establish holiness ("And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you." - Deut. 13:11). Hereby, the backsliders of the Church were recovered, dishonesty and slothfulness was purged, thievery was forsaken, covetousness via oppressing the poor was disdained and avoided, fighting ceased, and, all the while, scorners were made to fear and fools became wise. How? The Glory of God did effectively operate the material government of Israel for the enforcement of Civil Justice.
Certainly, this wasn't the case in most generations (Ps. 12:1). Most of the time sin prevailed and wickedness abounded among the Jews (Rom. 9:6). Howbeit, even this was divinely allowed by God for the greater good in the end (Prov. 11:21, 16:5). Certainly, the glory of God was not in operation in the ideal channels during these times of apostasy (Ps. 12:8), and therefore for the time civil justice was ineffective to save the backsliders of Israel, but God always has a backup plan (2 Chron. 36:16). Even if iniquity pervaded the Church like leaven rendering all Church Officers delinquent and unusable, the LORD still has the ability to execute justice upon the people (Isa. 26:8-10). Ultimately, Babylon is God's backup plan. This too is a testimony to the Kingship and Majesty of the LORD (Isa. 24:14).
The Covenants | The Promises | The Breaches | The Wilderness
Any true confession of faith must be according to the Covenant of God. The saints are covenant-keepers and sinners are covenant-breakers. The God of the Bible is a covenantal God. The ages of time could be separated into covenantal dispensations, though not as dispensationalism reckons or interprets them. They could be reckoned up as the Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, & Davidic Covenants, while the combination of them all does make the Old Covenant. That being said, there is only one biblical reformation that is truly worthy of the title, and that's "the Reformation" spoken about in Hebrews 7, 8, 9, & 10 (Heb. 9:10). This is the reformation of the Old Covenant into the New Covenant; or, if you will, the reformation of the Old Testament into the New Testament. Likewise, there's only one biblical Reformer who is capable of authoring the "Testament" of the Reformation, and that Reformer is the "Testator" of the New Testament (Heb. 9:16-17) who goes by the name Jesus Christ ("the Apostle & High Priest of our Profession" - Heb. 3:1; "the Author...of our Faith" - Heb. 12:2; Php. 2:9-10).
Necessarily, God covenanted with Adam as the first man of the original "old world" (2 Pet. 2:5); with Noah as a restart in a new world (Heb. 11:7); with Abraham as a choice lineage of mankind in the new world (Gen. 12:1-3); through Moses as the Prophet of the Law to Israel (Deut. 18:15-19); with David as a faithful earthly King in a newly formed material government in Israel (Ezek. 34:23-24, 37:24-25); and at last with Jesus Christ as the first Man of the new creation who alone is worthy to usher in a new world which is soon to come (2 Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21:1). This is not a start of something new in the abolition of the old; this is a start of something new in the fulfillment of the old (Matt 5:17-19, Rom. 3:31, Rev. 5:1-5).
Therefore, without understanding the Old Covenant, it is impossible to understand the New Covenant. Or, without understanding the Old Testament, it is impossible to understand the Testator of the New Testament. Without engaging God on covenantal grounds it is literally impossible to have a relationship with the LORD. In particular, without understanding the Abrahamic, Mosaic, & Davidic Covenants, it is impossible to understand the New Covenant. For, in reality, the subsequent & newly formed Covenants are the divinely authored fulfillments of formerly unfulfilled Covenants. None of them are independent or separate from one another. The Mosaic Covenant was formed as a fruition of the Abrahamic Covenant; the Davidic Covenant was formed as a fruition of the Mosaic Covenant (Abraham to David); and because all holy men were found to be unfit and incapable of performing the full extent of these Covenants, the man Jesus Christ was incarnated into human flesh (Rev. 5:1-5). Accordingly, through the lens of these Covenants, we are enabled to behold the ongoing operations of redemption that serve as Wilderness Experiences in their kind. Or, in other words, through the lens of the promises that pertain to these Covenants, we are enabled to behold the generations of Israel that experienced Covenantal Idealism and the necessary and cyclical Tribulation Periods that were divinely ordained to correct the backslidden Church.
Specifically speaking, only upon understanding the Abrahamic Covenant and Israel's shortcomings in pursuit of the glory of God promised to Abraham; or, only upon understanding the Mosaic Covenant in how it functioned as a fruition of the Abrahamic Covenant in the Exodus Generation, can one comprehend the significance of the various outbreaks of near annihilation in those days and the shocking "breach of promise" that finally took place at the reprobation of 600,000 men of war (Num. 14:34). Also, only upon understanding the Davidic Covenant and Solomon's shortcomings in pursuit of the glory of God promised to David, can one understand the subsequent bewilderment that befell the following generations. The historical testimonies of these former Covenants bring into view the real danger of divine wrath in how it interrupted the promises of God that served as the fabric of these Covenants; and, also, herein, the ministry of intercessors in their kind do find vital significance. Furthermore, without understanding such things, it would be impossible to comprehend how or why the LORD was wearied over time, and said, "I am weary with repenting" (Jer. 15:6), when the only remaining resort for rescuing the backsliders meant judgment and tribulation under the hand of Babylon.
Many claim to be implacable in their beliefs and dogmatic in their understanding of sovereign mercy, and yet they are largely ignorant of the aforementioned doctrines of biblical Church History. This is an outrageous oversight of a whole network of ancient doctrines that span the pages of Holy Scripture in the Old Testament - all of which are used by God to forge the Doctrine of Sovereign Grace as it is in truth. Therefore, as such, without consulting the Old Covenant, one will never come to realize the shocking nature of sovereign mercy as it was disposed upon man from above according to the divine proclamation, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (Rom. 9:15). Nor could anyone come close to comprehending the justice of God in the contrary experience of unstoppable damnation under the wrath of God.
The mercy and justice of God are attributes we simply can't afford to misunderstand. Sadly, those who erroneously boast in the Doctrine of Election do outrageously disregard the Doctrine of Reprobation to their own hurt and insecurity. Nevertheless, in all such cases the deception of God is warranted. For, only by studying the former times will we be enabled to discern our own time and judgment (Eccl. 8:5). The mysteries of the present and future become visible in the mighty scope of the past. Therefore, I plead, let us learn to look at the present through the luminous scope of history - and therefrom let's look into futurity. Or else, at last, the great sight will be hidden from the eyes; and, justifiably, it will be said of us in our day, as it was said of those who were unprepared for the Messiah in the 1st Century: “Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?” (Luke 12:56).
Declension | Assyria & Babylon | Restoration Doctrine | The Last Days
At the formation of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-16, 1 Chron. 17:10-14), all the eyes of Israel were fixed upon Solomon as the chosen one who would fulfill the promises of God. However, because of Solomon’s backsliding the remaining promises of the Covenant were forfeited. Then, in the fallout, the Kingdom of Israel was divided (1 Kings 12) and a sense of spiritual bewilderment like dark clouds settled upon the people; thus began the general declension of the Church in the days of the Kings. It’s been a long time coming. Respectively, Moses foresaw the declension of old (Deut. 32, Ps. 90), and David beheld it anew (Ps. 88, 89), each one to the disquietness of their righteous souls. Howbeit, most modern readers of the Old Testament think it’s normal. They read 1st & 2nd Kings & Chronicles without the shock and awe of the Prophets of old.
Such readers are not comprehending the divine storyline: they don’t see the Church Defined in the Wilderness, nor are they properly amazed at the manifestation & operation of the Glory of God in the Exodus Generation; and, consequentially, neither do they appreciate the shocking accomplishments of David and company in how they beheld a restoration of the Glory of God in their day. This is a shocking disregard for El-Elohe-Israel and Elah Yerushelem (Gen. 33:20, Ezra 5:1, 7:19). In other words, this disregard for what God did for Israel and Jerusalem respectively amounts to a contemptuous rejection of "the God of Israel" and "the God of Jerusalem". Partly, this is because modern readers don’t realize how the Church transitioned from the Wilderness into a Civilization at the conquest of the Promised Land (Acts 7:38, Ps. 68). Profoundly important changes took place in this time, specifically speaking, in how the operation of the Glory of God transitioned from being visible to invisible, and how it was still manifestly in operation in equal proportion through the divine empowerment of civil justice in the Civilization. Samuel, David, and Solomon told the story of it all in 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Kings, 1st & 2nd Chronicles, and especially in the Psalms and Proverbs (Exhibit #1, #2, #3, & #4).
Modern readers of the Old Testament are fast asleep in the "status quo" understanding of things (Isa. 29:9-14). They need a wakeup call as the Jews of the declension were thoroughly pled with by loud proclamations and earnest appeals as whole generations slumbered on the brink of divine judgment (Jer. 5:1-5). Herein, the ministries of the Prophets do find significance. Foremost of all, I speak of Isaiah, Jeremiah, & Ezekiel. Isaiah was divinely commissioned to wake up the backslidden Church to the coming judgment of God through Assyria (and through this Isaiah introduced the coming judgment of God through Babylon). Jeremiah & Ezekiel were divinely commissioned to wake up the backslidden Church to the coming judgment of God through Babylon. Meanwhile, all three Prophets were prophesying at length about the restoration of the Church through these judgments. This is where Restoration Doctrine becomes dominant in Holy Scripture. Also, it could be said that this is where the doctrines of the Last Days become dominant in the divine narrative of redemption (Exhibit #1 & #2).
However, one must not be hasty in the discovery of these doctrines. For, these prophecies were directed towards the 1st Restoration Generation as is explicitly stated by Jeremiah (Jer. 29:10-14, 25:11-12, 27:22) & Ezekiel (Ezek. 38-39) and duly accounted for in Ezra & Nehemiah; and, because the 1st Restoration Generation fell short of the promises committed to them in the prophetic vision, the prophecies were recalibrated and recasted to the 2nd Restoration Generation; and, because the 2nd Restoration Generation fell short of the promises committed to them in the prophetic vision, as duly accounted for in the Gospels & Acts & the Epistles, the prophecies were recalibrated and recasted to the 3rd Restoration Generation. Therefore, the narrative of restoration in the Last Days continues unto the present, howbeit it cannot be rightly understood without tracing its origins from the beginning. Too many hasty interpreters ignore centuries and generations of contextual backdrop and simply apply what they wish to the present.