Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 73
THEOPHANIES: GOD THE SON APPEARING IN HUMAN FORM – 4
Genesis 17:1 and Various Other Scriptures
Again, I want to thank all you folks for coming in and making this possible. For those of you out in television, again we never want to forget to thank you for everything. Your loyalty and your faithfulness—how we appreciate that.
All right, we’re going to keep right on going on the Theophanies today. I think we can finish up most of them. We’re going to jump back to where we left off in Genesis chapter 26 with Isaac. And the reason I’m using this is because again the word is used that the Lord “appeared” to him.
“The LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt;” Plain language? Can’t get any plainer, can it? Go not down into Egypt.
All right, now here’s where people get curves thrown at them. They say, “Well, the Scripture contradicts itself.” Well, on the surface maybe it does. But God changes His program from time to time. Now come back with me just for comparison sake to chapter 46, where God doesn’t give us a theophany. He, in a vision, speaks to Jacob. Now this is interesting. On the one hand, face-to-face with Isaac, He says don’t you go down into Egypt. You stay back here in Canaan, and I’ll take care of you. But now 100 years later look at the difference. Genesis chapter 46 and we’ll start at verse 1, just for comparison sake.
“And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.” This is all down in what today is called the Negev. This is that area south of Jerusalem, south even of Hebron, which is due east of Egypt.
“And God spake unto Israel (that is Jacob) in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. (Now watch verse 3.) 3. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; (For what reason?) for I will there (in Egypt) make of thee a great nation:”
Opposite directions? Just as opposite as you can get. On the one hand Isaac is told you stay here in Canaan. Don’t even think about going down into Egypt, because Egypt was the world. That’s where later on the nation in general got in trouble. Because if they heard of a Babylonian invasion, who would they run to for help? Well, the Egyptians. If they thought the Egyptians were invading, who would they run to for help? The Syrians. And God said you don’t need outside help. You rely on Me. But now here God has the whole plan of the establishment of the Nation of Israel. While they were under slavery in Egypt is when they really became a Nation.
So, if it ever comes up in your Sunday school class or a discussion about where did the Nation of Israel really come together – it’s while they were in Egypt. And then when the Nation is now well on its way, all the tribes are established. Then God raises up Moses. He sends Moses in to bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt.
If you noticed in the programs lately, I made the point that when they came out of Egypt did they come out like a bunch of ragtag know-nothings? No. They were what. Organized. Every tribe had its own banner, its own standard. And when they encamped, it was always in the same order—Judah to the east, and then three tribes and three tribes and so forth. But just for the sake of comparison now, yes, God told Isaac go NOT down into Egypt. Then He turns around and He tells Jacob to fear not, because after all food was down there; Joseph was down there. And God knows that the Nation will begin to appear under slavery in Egypt.
All right, now then, if we can come back to chapter 26 for a little bit. Reading on in verse 3 the instructions to Isaac are:
“Sojourn (or remain) in this land, (That is the land of Canaan, up there between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.) and I will be with thee, and I will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swear unto Abraham thy father:”
Now to me, the very fact that He’s standing there before Isaac as one man to another, this makes it all the more believable than if it would have been a vision or if it would have been a prophet. This is from God Himself. He means what He says. It’s going to happen. And it did, see? Exactly as God has promised here to Isaac, the Nation of Israel received those covenant promises, and they began to grow in numbers and in occupying the land of promise.
All right, now you go on through these succeeding verses. We won’t take time to read all of them, but come all the way down to verse 23. Of course, in the meantime he’s had that run-in with Abimelech over his beautiful wife Rebecca. Much like Abraham and Sarah. And again God spared the King Abimelech for not having touched Rebecca. But then, of course, they more or less got booted out of the country. So verse 17, if you want to stop there a moment.
“And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.” He’s still in the border area. He’s not removing too far. But come down to verse 23.
“And he went up from thence (Gerar) to Beersheba. (Now like I said, Beersheba is further inland from the border of Egypt.) 24. And the Lord (What?) appeared (In a theophany, in human form once again) unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. 25 And he built an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well.”
So Isaac then becomes more obedient, and things begin to move on. They have Jacob and Esau, and then we have the account of Jacob’s getting the blessing some 37 years later. He gets the birthright first, and then 37 years later he gets the blessing. So 20 years have gone by. Now jump up to Genesis chapter 32. This will be the last real theophany of God the Son appearing in human form to one of the patriarchs. If we’ve got time yet this afternoon, we could go on into Ezekiel and Daniel where God appears to them in a theophany, but in a vision experience. Not literal man-to-man like we have here.
All right, in chapter 32, if you remember the story of Jacob and how his family is growing up there, working for his Uncle Laban up in Syria. Remember he’s up there in Syria because he had to flee for his life, because Esau is mad at him for having stolen the blessing. And at the same time it fulfilled a statement that Rebecca made when she told Jacob to flee. She didn’t want to have Esau kill him, and she loses both her boys at one time. So she made a vow and helped Jacob to escape. But one of the sad things of Scripture is Rebecca never again saw Jacob in this life. Those are what I call tragedies in Scripture. Jacob had more than one.
All right, as you come into chapter 32, Jacob is now coming back from his sojourn up with Laban. He’s established his flocks and herds, but he’s still scared to death, as I put it, of Esau. What is going to happen when he meets Esau? So he sets apart a great number of livestock to pacify him, bribe him, or whatever. He’s going to send that ahead. Then he’s going to put all of his family and his flocks and his herds across the River Jabbok. Now, we’ll pick it up in verse 19.
“And so commanded he the second, and the third, and all that followed the droves, (of animals) saying, On this manner shall ye speak unto Esau, when you find him. (Tell him that these are all his. They’re my present, if we can just have peace between each other.) 20. And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept me. 21. So went the present (Or the bribe, whatever you want to call it.) over before him: and he himself lodged that night in the company.” In other words, he’s going to be surrounded by all of his other wives and children and so forth.
“And he rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two women servants, and his eleven sons,…” Now remember, little Benjamin hasn’t been born yet. That’s going to be another several years later. So, he’s got eleven sons.
“…and he passed over the ford Jabbok. (or the little River Jabbok. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful, scenic area) 23. And he took them, and sent them over the brook, and sent over that he had. 24. And Jacob was left alone;…” Now, that’s the part you’ve got to get down first. He’s all by himself in the dead of night.
“…and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” Now some may try to water that down, that it was just an imagination or it was a dream. But I don’t buy that. I think it was a literal knockdown wrestling match. And these two men went at it for a good portion of the night.
“…until the breaking of the day.” And that’s what it says. “And there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25. And when he (Jacob) saw that he prevailed not against him, he (the stranger) touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as he wrestled with him.” In other words, he crippled him.
“And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he (Jacob) said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” What does that tell you? What does Jacob now know? That this is a theophany. He now knows that this is another appearance of God the Son. Now I’ll show you it from Scripture definitely, but nevertheless, we have to make the assumption that when Jacob demands to be blessed, he knows who he’s been wrestling with.
“And he (The LORD in this theophany, in this appearance in human form.) said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” Now, if you know anything about Scripture, what was the meaning of the word Jacob in the Hebrew language? The deceiver. The supplanter. And that’s what his life was comprised of all the way along. He was constantly taking advantage of one person or another, and that’s why Laban finally got after him.
But after this experience, Jacob was never like that again. Never. It’s a good example of a new birth when a person becomes a true believer, a child of God, and these people experienced that. Don’t think for a minute that they didn’t have an experience of a new lifestyle. They became men of faith. Oh, they still failed. But they were basically born from above believers. Jacob is the prime example of someone who has a complete change of lifestyle as a result of their faith. Verse 28 again.
“And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. 29. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.”
That’s always uppermost on the ancient’s thinking. And the reason was that every pagan society had gods and goddesses, and they were all named. My, if you want to get an interesting read, just read a little bit of mythology. It’s enough to turn your stomach, but on the other hand it gives you an idea of what these people were up against. I mean it’s just unbelievable what the multitude of people have been believing over the centuries. But it shows you over and over what the Lord meant when He said, “Broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many go in thereat. But narrow is the way and straight is the gate and (How many?) few there be that find it.” It’s always been that way, beloved, and it still is today.
All right, now moving on with Jacob, he asked for His name in verse 29. “…And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? (What’s that to you?) And he blessed him there.” That’s the thing that mattered. All right, Jacob understood the blessing. I don’t know what it was, but now verse 30.
“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God (How?) face to face, and my life is preserved.” Now, that’s just exactly what we’ve been seeing all afternoon. Adam and Eve did. Hagar did. Abraham did. Isaac did. And now Jacob, they see God face-to-face, but only in a temporary human form that goes back up to the invisible Godhead. Whereas when Christ becomes flesh in Bethlehem, we no longer need a theophany. We no longer need a temporary appearance, but rather we now believe in the One who is flesh and blood and bone, and once He resurrects from the dead, He is still flesh and bone. All right, so the part I want you to remember is verse 30.
“…I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. 31. And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted (or limped) upon his thigh.” He was a marked man, of course, until the day he died.
All right, now in the few minutes we have left, that’s the end of the literal Theophanies that I can find back here in the Old Testament account, we have to go all the way up to Ezekiel. Ezekiel and Daniel both see God but in a vision form of a human being. Ezekiel and I want chapter 40 verse 3. We won’t have time to cover all these verses, but you can read them in your spare time. But nevertheless, we know that here we have again the appearance of God the Son to the prophet Ezekiel while he’s out there during the Babylonian captivity, out there in the area of present day Persian Gulf. Let’s start at verse 1 so we get the full flow of it.
“In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, (Which totals 70 remember? This is the 70-year captivity down in Babylon.) in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the LORD was upon me, and brought me thither. 2. In the visions…” Now we’ve got to realize we’re not confronting man-to-man like in the past, now we’re in a vision experience.
“In the visions of God he brought me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south. 3. And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a (What?) man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. 4. And the man said unto me,…” So, we know now that we have another appearance of God the Son, but it’s in a vision experience rather than a literal face-to-face.
“And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall show thee; for to the intent that I might show them unto thee art thou brought hither:…” In other words, God has a distinct purpose in bringing Ezekiel all the way up to this mountaintop. But only in a vision, his body is still back there in Babylon.
“…declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.” Now, beginning at verse 5 all the way to end of the Book of Ezekiel, God the Son, in this vision experience, is explaining to Ezekiel this glorious temple that’s going to come on the Nation of Israel there in Jerusalem during the thousand year reign. I can just hit bits and pieces of it. Come all the way up to chapter 44, if you will, verse 4. This gives us a little glimpse of the millennial temple that will be established on the planet while Christ is ruling and reigning those thousand years.
“Then he brought me the way of the north gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD: and I fell upon my face.” Can you imagine what’s that’s going to be like? When the glory of God will come in and just literally fill that millennial temple? The result of it was that Ezekiel, even in the vision, had to fall on his face. And, oh again, this is everything pertaining to the glory that’s awaiting us, and we can take heart that it is coming.
Well, let’s see. I just want to hit a few of these. Come to Chapter 47, this is all part of this same vision being described by God the Son in this vision experience with Ezekiel. You just follow the pronoun all the way through. This comes from the lips of this same person, the man who we know is God the Son.
“Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward:…” Now we’re talking about Jerusalem. And if you understand geography, Jerusalem sits up there on the hills and down 1100-1200 feet to the west is the Mediterranean and down 2500-2600 feet to the Dead Sea. All right, this river is going to flow both directions from underneath this glorious millennial temple in Jerusalem. If that can help you picture it in your mind, this glorious river of supernatural water is going to flow both directions.
“…and the waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar. 2. Then he brought me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; (toward the Dead Sea) and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.
“And when the man (Here it is again. This is God the Son.) that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. 4. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees.” That sounds like preachers about the flood, doesn’t it? But this isn’t. This is the flow of the water coming out of this temple complex.
“Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. 6. And he said, unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.”
“Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8. Then he said unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country,…” Now, that’s desert today. That’s down through the mountains leading down to Jericho and the Dead Sea.
“…and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: (into the Dead Sea) which being brought forth into the sea, (The Dead Sea, which today won’t even give life to a shelled-fish, to a mollusk or anything. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea.) the waters shall be healed. 9. And it shall come to pass, that everything that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the river shall come, shall live: (It’s going to be a literal river of life.) and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; (In other words, they’ll lose all their minerals and all their saltiness, and it’ll become a glorious fresh water sea.) and everything shall live wherever the river cometh.”
Now verse 10, for those of you who have been there, you’ll know exactly what this is talking about. There are a bunch of hotels and a park now in what is called here En-gedi.
“And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from En-gedi even unto En-eglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. 11. But the miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt. 12. And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and that side, shall grow all trees for food, (That’d be the dates and the figs and you name it.) whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.”
Here we have, from the Lord Himself, the description of this glorious Kingdom, whatever you want to call it. It starts with the sanctuary, the temple, but it will affect everything wherever the Lord will have His control. So it’s nothing to scoff at. It’s coming. It’s going to happen. And everything we see coming in the Middle East is going to bring it about.
In fact, I like to ask the doubters once in a while; do you ever stop to think why all the oil is in the Middle East? Was that an accident? Well, of course not. All of these things should prompt us to realize that everything is coming according to God’s plan.