Was Jesus Christ the God of the Old Testament?
The Church of God has understood for many years that Jesus Christ was THE God of the Old Testament. In more recent times, some have lost this understanding and teach now that Jesus was “a” God, but not “the” God of the Old Testament, or that He did not exist prior to His human birth. Some even teach now that the Father was THE God of the Old Testament.
All these assumptions and concepts are wrong.
In our booklet, “Do You Know the Jesus of the Bible?”, we said the following in chapter 1:
“Colossians 1:16 states that ‘all things’—visible and invisible—were created ‘by’ and ‘through’ Jesus Christ. We see in John 1:1–3 that ‘all things’ were made through the Word—the Logos—Jesus Christ; and Hebrews 1:1–2; 2:10 tells us that God the Father made ‘the worlds’ or the entire universe and ‘all things’ ‘through’ Jesus Christ.”
This shows that it was Jesus Christ who created Adam and Eve. Continuing:
“Jesus Christ spoke of His own pre-existence over and over again. At one time, He stated boldly that He—AS God—had lived before Abraham. The Jews were so outraged that they were willing to stone Jesus. Notice the dialogue and the reaction of the Jews to Christ’s words in John 8:56–58: ‘[Jesus said,] “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”’
“When Jesus said, ‘I AM,’ rather than, ‘I WAS,’ the Jews understood that He identified Himself as God—as ‘Yahweh,’ the ‘I AM’ or Eternal of the Old Testament. That is why they ‘took up stones to throw at Him’ (verse 59).
“The Jews of Christ’s time rejected Him as fulfilling the office of Messiah and the King of Israel. However, prophecy in the books of the Old Testament pointed to the fact that it would be God who would come to deliver them (compare Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23). Jesus told the Jews, ‘You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me’ (John 5:39). In another instance, following His resurrection, Jesus showed some of His disciples these very proofs: ‘And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself’ (Luke 24:27).
“In addition, in Luke 10:18, Jesus said that He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven, claiming that He existed when Satan’s rebellion occurred, which happened long before the creation of man.”
The Bible shows that Jesus Christ existed, as a GOD Being, prior to His appearance as a Man over 2,000 years ago.
We also state this in our booklet, “God is a Family”:
“The Jews at the time of Christ did not know—and most still don’t know today—that God is a Family, presently consisting of two God beings. Christ came to REVEAL the Father to them (Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22). The Jews thought they knew the Father, not realizing that the God of the Old Testament, who directly worked with and dealt with Israel, was Jesus Christ—not God the Father.
“We… read in John 1:18 that ‘no one has seen God at any time.’ John 5:37 confirms that ‘you have neither heard His [the Father’s] voice at any time, nor seen His form.’ Again, we read in John 6:46: ‘Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God,’ that is, Jesus Christ. Finally, 1 John 4:12 repeats, ‘No one has seen God at any time.’
“Still, we… read that God did appear to the ancient Israelites. They did hear His voice many times. Some even saw the form of God, to an extent, in His glorified state (compare Genesis 32:30; Exodus 33:11, 17–23; 34:6–8; Numbers 12:8; Deuteronomy 34:10; Isaiah 6:1–10; Ezekiel 1:26–28; 3:23; 8:4).
“According to Biblical testimony, some did see ‘God’ in Old Testament times, and they did hear His voice. On the other hand, Christ and the apostles taught that no human has ever seen or heard the voice of ‘God.’ Since God does not contradict Himself in His Word, He is obviously talking about two different personages here. Indeed, the Bible clarifies that no one has ever seen God the Father (compare again John 5:37; 6:46). But some did see ‘God’—that is, the second being in the God Family—Jesus Christ, in His glorified state.
“The Bible confirms that it was Jesus Christ who appeared to people and spoke with them in Old Testament times (compare John 8:56–58; 1 Corinthians 10:4, 9). In doing so, the Bible emphasizes again that Jesus Christ was GOD before He became a man, and that God is a Family, consisting of God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ. It was, in fact, Christ who dealt directly with Israel.”
From this it follows that Jesus Christ was THE God of the Old Testament in that it was HE who dealt with the people and who was worshipped by the people who did not even KNOW of the existence of the Father. It is true, as we point out in our booklet, “God is a Family,” that those few who were called to salvation in Old Testament times did know about the Father, but this is not true for the overwhelming majority of mankind. God simply did not give them the understanding to know. Even those who studied the Old Testament Scriptures did not understand (Matthew 22:29; New Jerusalem Bible), and Christ had to open up the understanding of the Scriptures to His own disciples (Luke 24:45).
In addition, John 1:18 reads in the New Revised Standard Version: “No one has ever seen God [the Father]. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” Notice the rendering of this passage in the New American Bible: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” A similar rendering is also used in the Luther Bible: “No one has seen God at any time; the only Begotten, WHO IS GOD and who is in the Father’s bosom, has revealed Him to us.”
In last week’s Q&A, we discussed the fact that some people saw God the Father in visions, but they never saw Him face to face, in His glory.
There are reasons for that. When Adam and Eve sinned, God cut them off from access to the Tree of Life, which symbolized the Holy Spirit and with it, spiritual understanding. In addition, all mankind was cut off from such access except for those being specifically predestined to be called prior to Christ’s return.
We say this in our free booklet, “Human Suffering—Why…and How Much Longer?”:
“The fact that mankind was cut off from God was God’s punishment for Adam and Eve’s disobedience–a direct consequence of Adam and Eve’s conduct. After they sinned, the tree of life was no longer accessible to them and in general, to mankind as a whole, and mankind was allowed, under the sway and deception of Satan, to create his own societies, which are ALL in opposition to God’s Way of Life.
“Today, the entire world is under Satan’s rule. This includes ALL countries, including the United States of America, South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, continental Europe, the Middle East and the Far East, including India, Russia, China, Japan and Korea. This means, no human government today is righteous in God’s eyes. This is one reason WHY true Christians are to come out of the ‘Babylon’ of this world and its politics; to be separate; and not to touch or associate with or embrace or adopt or feed on the uncleanness of this world’s economic, military, educational or religious systems.”
We also stated this in our Q&A on the false concept of “original sin”:
“Adam and Eve’s sin DID do something to this world. The concept of ‘inherited’ original sin is clearly wrong–but notice what DID happen when they sinned. In a brief article in the Plain Truth magazine of September 1963, the following is accurately explained: ‘… Adam and Eve… sinned. They were driven from the Garden of Eden. By sinning, they cut themselves off from the guidance, authority and knowledge of God (Gen. 3:24). Adam not only cut himself off–he was responsible for cutting his children off–from the help and instruction of God. Even his own son became a murderer (Gen. 4:8)… So Adam’s sin was unique in that it was the first human sin–it was he who cut man off from God… We have not been forced to sin because Adam sinned!’
“But the sad fact is that we all followed Adam’s wrong example: We all sinned and brought upon us the penalty of ETERNAL death, and so we read that ‘by the one man’s offense many died’ (Romans 5:15), and ‘by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners’ (Romans 5:19).”
So it is true that due to Adam and Eve’s conduct, humanity was cut off “from God” in the sense that they would not have access to the Holy Spirit and with it, godly understanding, unless specifically drawn and chosen by God the Father to be brought to Christ (John 6:44, 65).
We also said this in our Q&A about Romans 13:3:
“Today, the world as a whole is cut off from God and is subject to the rule of Satan. God placed Lucifer on the throne of this earth, with responsibility for properly governing it, but he rebelled and became known as Satan. When Satan inspired Adam and Eve to turn against God – to sin by going against what God instructed them – God gave mankind 6,000 years to find out for themselves that they cannot live without God… And for that same 6,000-year duration, God has decreed that Satan would remain on his throne. That 6,000-year period will end at the return of Jesus Christ, who will come to replace Satan – a failed ruler – and restore the government of God on this earth…”
But with Adam and Eve’s decision to eat from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, another important and often overlooked consequence needs to be addressed as well. Because, even though we saw that mankind was cut off from God in respect to the Holy Spirit and access to God, we also saw that Jesus Christ DID deal and work with humans, including the nations of Israel and Judah. Christ did not deal with them by offering them access to the Holy Spirit and an opportunity for salvation (this will occur later, in the Great White Throne judgment period), but He DID speak to them and showed Himself to them. It was Christ who spoke the Ten Commandments to the ancient Israelites—not the Father. And even though Christ—as the Spokesman—acted on behalf of the Father, most did not even understand that the Father existed. That is why Christ, when He came as a Man, had to reveal the Father to the average Jews.
And that is why it is correct to say that Jesus Christ was THE God of the Old Testament, as it was HE who was worshipped. To say that the Father was the God of the Old Testament is misleading, as it wrongly conveys that the Father dealt with the people and was worshipped by them. This was not the case, as Adam and Eve’s sin cut them and mankind [in general] off from access to God the Father.
In Herbert W. Armstrong’s book, “Mystery of the Ages,” we read the following on pages 128-129, under “Humans, Cut Off from God?”:
“The Person in the God family who spoke with Adam was the Logos or ‘Word’ who was later born as Jesus Christ. Adam had no contact with God the Father. When the WORD closed the tree of life, all mankind was cut off from God the Father until Christ would come to earth in supreme power and glory to take from Satan the throne of the earth and to restore the government of God over the entire earth. Meanwhile Christ, the second Adam, came at his first appearing to reveal the existence of God the Father (Luke 10:22). Until that time, the world had no knowledge of the existence of God the Father. That is one reason the religion of Judaism had believed that God consists of ONE PERSON only. That is the reason theologians have lost, or rather never possessed, knowledge of the fact that GOD is a FAMILY into which we may be born as part of that very God family. That, also, explains why, on reading the New Testament of God the Father, and also of Jesus being God, they came up with the false theory of the Holy Spirit being a ‘Ghost’, or third Person of a Trinity…”
Also, the following is stated on pages 144-145:
“At this point, remember, the world had never known of the existence of God the Father until Jesus came and revealed the Father (Matt. 11:27). The world, from its foundation, was cut off from God the Father. Jesus came to reconcile repentant believers to the Father (Rom. 5:10).”
In conclusion, the world has been cut off from God the Father, the HIGHEST of the Godhead, as well as the knowledge as to who God the Father and Jesus Christ are. The Father did not deal directly with mankind, and He was not generally worshipped by the overwhelming majority, including those who read but did not understand the Scriptures. No one has ever seen the Father or heard His voice. It was Christ who showed Himself to and dealt with the people. It was He who was THE God of the Old Testament.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link