Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 73
THEOPHANIES: GOD THE SON APPEARING IN HUMAN FORM – 2
Genesis 17:1 and Various Other Scriptures
I want to again remind our audience of the one and only book we’ve ever published, and yet it’s been so well received. It’s just amazing how they keep going out. We go to seminars and they go by the box full. If you are interested in that, it’s eighty-eight questions and answers taken from our program material and covers the whole gambit, and the cost is only $11. This book saves me a lot of letter writing, instead of having to answer them all.
I do answer questions in long hand, and you know why? I don’t want people to think that someone like a staff member is answering my mail. We do it ourselves. And they may have a hard time reading my handwriting. We thank you so much out there in television for all your prayers and your letters of encouragement. My, as I’ve said before, mail time is the best time of the day. And then your financial help, we never ask for money, never have had to and the Lord provides, but we still have to thank you for it. And it is the same way with all of you here.
All right, we’re going to keep on with our teaching this afternoon on Theophanies. If we get beyond them, we’ll go on to some of the appearances of God in the incarnate. But hopefully we can spend the afternoon on the Old Testament Theophanies. We’re going to bring you now up to Genesis chapter 12, where we have the next direct spoken appearance of God the Son. As I mentioned in the last half-hour, whenever you have God speaking or creating, or doing anything, I think I’m without danger of being in error when I say it’s always God the Son. God the Son is always the Creator. He’s always the One who speaks things and they happen. And He’s the One that always has direct contact with the human race.
Now, like I said, in programs to come we’ll be dealing with the work of the Holy Spirit, but that’s something totally different. When God the Son speaks and creation happens, yes, the Holy Spirit is involved; so is the Father. But the Scripture, especially in the New Testament, gives all the credit for it to God the Son.
All right, let’s come back to Genesis chapter 12 for a moment. We’ll start at verse 1. We’ve jumped several hundred years now from Adam. We’re up to Abraham at about 2,000 B.C.
“Now the LORD…” Now again the word LORD, capitalized, is Jehovah. And Jehovah is the I AM. And the I AM is God the Son. So, here we come right back full circle. We’re dealing with God the Son.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.” All right, but now the word appeared still doesn’t come up, does it? And as I said in the last program, I am a little uncomfortable if I can’t use the word appeared.
Now, I’m going to bring you all the way up to Acts chapter 7, where we have Stephen giving the whole rehearsal of Israel’s history starting with Abraham. And he uses the word that I’m looking for. Acts chapter 7, starting at verse 1, I always like to give you time to look. I had a letter the other day thanking us for giving time, because I think all of our listeners must use their Bible while they listen to the program. And that’s the only way we would have it. So we do want to give you time to find these verses and see them with your own eyes, because most people just do not know how to read and see what they’re reading. They read, but they don’t see it. All right, chapter 7 verse 1, and we’ve been dealing with Stephen up in chapter 6.
“Then said the high priest, Are these things so? (And Stephen answers.) 2. Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory (What’s the word?) appeared unto our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran.” Now the word appeared there is the Greek word optomahei, from which we get optometry. And it literally is translated—visibly seen.
Stephen, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes it plain that the God of glory appeared visibly, physically, in a theophany. He did not take on human flesh like Christ did at Bethlehem, but He merely appeared to Abraham in human form and then went up from Abraham, as we’re going to see in one of the other accounts in a little bit. He left off and went up from Abraham. No doubt back into that invisible Godhead that we pointed out in our last program.
All right, now if you’ll come back with me to Genesis chapter 12, here God appears to this pagan citizen of Ur of the Chaldees, evidently knowing that he had the ability to believe and be obedient to what He would have done. So Abram then becomes the key player from 2,000 B.C. right on up through to our present day. Because everything in our Christian gospel—our Messiah, the Redeemer, the Savior, however you want to refer to Christ—naturally has to go back to this promise made to Abraham. All right, chapter 12 verse 1 again.
“Now the LORD had said (having had appeared) unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: 2. And I will make of thee a great nation,…” Now, never forget or lose sight of the fact, who’s making it happen? God is! This isn’t just an accident of genealogy. This is a particular act of God that brings about the nation of Israel.
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:…” And history has proven that over and over. When a king or a kingdom or an empire turns on the Nation of Israel, in time, not always immediately, the wrath of God will fall upon them. And that’s why we are so stressing constantly that you pray for America that we will never turn on His people, the Nation of Israel.
All right, but then the last part of verse 3 is where you and I come in. Two thousand years before Christ but already we have the plan of salvation for the Gentile world alluded to.
“…and in thee (In this man Abram, as he’s still called here, in this man Abram.) shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Now of course, that’s a reference to the fact that the Messiah would come to the Nation of Israel, and as the rejected Messiah then became the epitome of the work of the cross. All right, so here we have God the Son starting the Nation of Israel on its role through human history by an appearance to this great man of faith, Abraham.
All right, now then, if you’ll go with me to chapter 17. We come over to the birth of Ishmael. Isaac has not yet been born. Abram thinks, of course, that Ishmael is all he needs to get a nation of people going. But in Genesis 17 verse 1, we’ve got the word that I’m always looking for.
“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, (That’s almost a hundred.) the LORD (Now what’s the word?) appeared (Visibly. Physically. In human form. Temporarily.) unto Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; (Now, the Hebrew word there is El Shaddai, the Almighty.) walk before me, and be thou perfect.” In other words, be upright and be a mature man of faith.
“And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. (Now, you see how this has to come from Deity? Nobody but the Creator God could make those kind of statements. But God can.) 3. And Abram fell on his face: and God…” Don’t forget, where does God the Son come out of? The invisible Godhead.
In fact, I always have to do this, can’t help it. Jump up with me to Exodus chapter 3. The burning bush, it has got to be Exodus chapter 3. Just to make the point how that these terms of Deity become interchangeable. Even though we’re only dealing with One person of the Three, and it’s God the Son, all the terms of Deity apply. Exodus chapter 3 verse 5, it’s when Moses is confronted with the burning bush out there on the desert.
“And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6. Moreover he said, (Now watch this carefully.) I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”
All right, now as you come down through the account of Moses dealing with God in the burning bush, you come all the way down to verse 11.
“And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12. And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” All right, now we come to verse 13, where Moses said:
“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” Remember when we taught this not too long ago on the daily program? Why was Moses immediately interested in His name? Because every god in Egypt had a name. That was just part of his Egyptian culture. If you’re a god, you’ve got to have a name. So that is what Moses is anticipating. The children of Israel are going to say, well, what is His name?
“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” Now, all the way through here we find this burning bush voice. I don’t think it was an appearance here. That’s why it’s not in my list of Theophanies. But here this voice is the voice of God, and what person of the Godhead? God the Son. Well, now the first question the doubter may say is, how do you know it’s God the Son? Well, the I AM THAT I AM.
Turn back with me to John’s Gospel. That’s why we have to go back Old and New, it’s the only way it makes sense. Now, you come back to John’s Gospel chapter 8, and we’ve done this before. But repetition is the mother of learning. So, I never really apologize for repetition. But on the other hand, I sometimes shrink from it a little. All right, here in John’s Gospel chapter 8 you remember that the religious leaders of Israel are trying to trap Him one way or another. And then in verse 48:
“Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon? (What an accusation, just awful.) 49. Jesus answered, I have not a demon; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.” So, the conversation carries on up to verse 52.
“Then said the Jews unto him, (Now this is Jesus, of course. I trust you know that. This is His earthly ministry.) Now we know that thou hast a demon. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my father who honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55. Yet ye have not known him;…”
Boy, now that was quite an accusation to the Jew, wasn’t it? Because the Jew figured that by being the child and son of Abraham they had everything they needed. No, they didn’t. They were still without saving faith, even though they were under the covenant promises. All right, so Jesus makes it so plain that of “whom you say he is your God yet you have not known him.” They were religious, but what? Lost. Lost. Oh, they had all the religion in the world, but they knew nothing of God. And Jesus makes it plain.
“Yet ye have not known him; but I know him; and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: (What a statement! Almost unbelievable, isn’t it?) but I know him, and keep his saying. 56. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” See how this fits with our theophany? Of course He did. Face to face! All right, then verse 58, here’s why I know the I AM of the burning bush was God the Son.
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, (What?) I AM.” And what was the name of God in the burning bush? I AM. And so all through the Book of John, especially, He is constantly referring to Himself as the great I AM.
All right, now if you’ll come back with me to Genesis once again, to chapter 17. We find that–oh, I knew a point I was going to make at the beginning of the last program. I mean maybe that’s where I should make a note or two. That might help. You know a lot of people question, “Well, doesn’t the Bible say that no man can ever look on God at any time and live?”
Yes, that’s what the Bible says. Well, then how can you sit up there and teach that here He appeared to Adam and Eve. He appeared to Abraham, and they looked on God. All right, now what’s the big difference? No human being has ever looked in on or has seen the invisible Godhead. And if they were to, it would be instant death. That’s what the Scripture means when it says that no man has ever seen God. They have never seen this invisible Godhead. But that doesn’t mean they can’t see God the Son.
Got that? And that’s why we can take these verses, and you’re going to see more and more. I think the most obvious one is Jacob, and he names the place Peniel. Why? For I have seen God. How? Face to face. Well, it didn’t kill him, because he wasn’t looking at the invisible Triune God. He was dealing with God the Son. Okay, so back to Genesis chapter 17. And again, God appeared unto him and He said:
“…I AM the Almighty God;…” I AM the El Shaddai. And He promises this covenant promise between God and the Nation of Israel. And then it’s up here in verse 4.
“As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.”
Now, you want to remember that He does the same thing with Sarai. He changes her name from Sarai to Sarah, which brings in the letter ‘h,’ which is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. That is the letter of, or the number of, Grace. So, it is God’s Grace that brings about the promises made with Abram and Sarai.
All right, now I think we can go from Genesis 17 to, let’s see, let’s go to another one. Back up a chapter to chapter 16. Now we’re going to deal with Hagar, which means that God doesn’t appear just to the godly men. He sometimes appears to the secular, the unbelieving. And Hagar, of course, would be in that category. Hagar was the Egyptian gal from whom Ishmael was born. But nevertheless, God deals with her on a face-to-face basis. All right, in Genesis chapter 16 we’re going to take…it’s been a long time since we’ve taught Genesis. Even though you’ve been seeing it in the reruns, I’m comfortable with going over it again.
Here in chapter 16, after having been promised a son that would bring about a nation of people, Abram gets impatient, doesn’t he? Well, time is going by. Years are going by and still no son. So, of his own volition and Sarah of course encouraging it, he has a child by the slave girl Hagar. All right, now you know the story. I think I can bring it in up at verse 4, where he and Sarai have connived together that he would have a child by this slave girl, which was in accord with the laws of Hammurabi. It wasn’t immoral according to their custom. So, we can’t put any sinful connotation on it, except that God wasn’t in it. This is something they did without God’s instructions.
“And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.” Well, of course that goes back again to Middle Eastern customs. To have a son is the greatest thing that a woman can do. All right, verse 5:
“And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid unto thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: Now the LORD judge between me and thee. 6. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; (She’s yours. You’re the one that’s in control of Hagar.) do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.” Now verse 7:
“And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.” Now, I’ve got to stop again. I have to be careful, because there are some of our, what we call cults, who claim that Christ is nothing more than an angel, and they like to quote a verse like this to back up their false teachings. So, let’s right off the bat stop and let’s pick up who the angel of the LORD is, so that there’s no mistaking it.
Come ahead with me to Genesis chapter 48 verse 16. Genesis 48. We have to use these little tidbits of Scripture to solidify our thinking. Just because He’s now called angel of the LORD doesn’t mean that He’s less than Deity. It doesn’t mean that He’s part of the angelic hosts at all, because here Scripture defines it. Genesis 48 verse 16. Jacob is of course on his deathbed, and he’s pouring out his blessing on the sons, verse 16.
“The Angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” All right, but the key part here is, the Angel who what? Redeemed. How many Redeemers in Scripture? One! There is one Redeemer in Scripture. So the Angel of the LORD, the Angel who redeemed, is still God the Son.
So, when Hagar—now come back with me to Genesis 16—we find that Hagar is confronted in a theophany the same way that Adam and Eve were. The same way that Abraham was. And now she says it in plain English in verse 8. But first I’ve got to read verse 7 so that you don’t forget where we came from.
“And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain on the way to Shur. 8. And he (the Angel of the Lord) said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence comest thou? (Where’d you come from?) and whether wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. 10. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael;…” Now, who but God could make statements like that? Well, they can’t. So we’re still dealing with God the Son. All right, now come all the way down to verse 13.
“And she called the name of the LORD that spoke unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? 14. Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. 15. And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son’s name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. 16. And Abram was fourscore and six year old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram. “
But the point we want to make is that she says here that, “have I also looked after Him that seeth me?” She was on a face-to-face confrontation with God the Son.
Now we can come back once more, I think we’ve got a minute of time. If not, we’ll continue it in the next program. And that’s right on into chapter 18. And once again we come back to Abraham. Genesis chapter 18, and we start right at verse 1. The word is just going to jump right off the page, isn’t it? What is it? Appeared!
“And the LORD appeared unto him (Abraham) in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2. And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3. And said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:”
Well, now I haven’t got time to go any further here in this program. We’ll pick it up in the next one. But I usually make the emphasis that here in verse 3, when he uses the term “My Lord,” he’s not using the term Deity, Adonai. He’s merely respecting these three wayfaring men. So he refers to them like we would say, “sir,” “If now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away.”
Now again, I’m making that point because I do not think that he recognized the Lord in His theophany here, as he saw him back in a previous one. But, we’ll cover that in the next program, maybe to your satisfaction. But always remember, that the Scripture is so adamant and is so clear that when there were these appearances, it was Deity who was speaking—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and the God of Scripture. So, we’ll leave it at that, and we’ll pick it up in our next program.