JESUS WHO IS, WAS, AND IS TO COME
A. Introduction: Before Jesus left this world He warned that one of the hallmarks of the years leading
up to His return will be false Christs who deceive many (Matt 24:4-5). We need to make sure that we
know who Jesus is according to the Bible, our only source of fully reliable information about Him.
1. The New Testament was written by eyewitnesses of Jesus (or close associates of eyewitnesses).
We are examining what they wrote about Jesus—who He is and why He came to earth.
a. The men who walked and talked with Jesus when He was here were convinced that He was
and is God become man without ceasing to be God. Jesus did not come into existence when
He was born into this world. He has always existed because He is God. John 1:1-3
b. The eyewitnesses tell us that about 4 BC the second Person of the Godhead (the Son)
incarnated or took on a full human nature in the womb of a virgin named Mary. John 1:14
1. Although Jesus did not cease to be God when He took on a human nature, He veiled His
deity and voluntarily limited Himself to all the limitations of being human. (It was a
voluntary non-use of some of His divine attributes). Phil 2:6-8
2. Jesus took on flesh so that He could die as a sacrifice for sin, and open the way for all who
believe on Him to be restored to relationship with God. Heb 2:14-15; I Pet 3:18
c. Through His death Jesus paid for our sin and made it possible for sinners to be transformed
into holy, righteous sons and daughters of God through faith in Him. John 1:12-13
2. It’s not unusual to hear people today say that Jesus was a good moral teacher, but that He never
claimed to be God. However, when we read the eyewitness testimony of those who spent years
interacting with Jesus, we find that He did make it clear that He was and is Almighty God.
a. Last week we looked at the fact that Jesus called Himself I Am that I Am—the name by which
Almighty God identified Himself to Israel’s great leader, Moses. John 8:58-59; Ex 3:14
1. When Jesus applied the name I Am to Himself, He enraged Israel’s religious leaders.
They realized that He was claiming to be God—and (if not true) that was blasphemy.
2. I Am that I Am, in the Hebrew language, means to exist or to be. The root idea is
underived existence. God is the Self-Existent One. He is because He is. The name
Jehovah (or Yahweh) comes from this Hebrew word.
b. We also pointed out that Jesus was not making an idle claim by calling Himself I Am. When
we examine the historical record of the Lord’s interaction with Moses, we find that it was
Jesus who appeared to Moses and gave His name as I Am.
1. Jesus was very interactive with His people in the Old Testament. In these appearances,
Jesus did not yet have a human nature, nor was He called Jesus. These appearances
were theophanies, not incarnations—God appeared or manifested, often in bodily form.
2. Jesus did not take the name Jesus (which means Savior) until He took on a human nature
and was born into this world (Luke 1:31). In these Old Testament appearances Jesus is
most often called the Angel of the Lord (Ex 3:1).
A. The Hebrew word translated Angel means messenger or one who is sent. The word
translated Lord is Jehovah (from the same root as I Am in Ex 3:14).
B. This Being (the Angel of the Lord) who spoke to Moses in a flame of fire from a bush
identified Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Ex 3:1-6
3. Jesus is the visible manifestation of the invisible God, who dwells in unapproachable
light, in both the Old and New Testaments. Col 1:15; John 1:18; John 14:9; Heb 1:3
3. When we read the entire account of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt under Moses’ leadership, we
find that the Angel of the Lord was visible to the Israelites throughout their journey back to
Canaan as a pillar (column) of cloud by day and fire by night. Ex 13:21-22; Ex 14:19-20
a. This cloud descended on Mt. Sinai, and Moses went up the mountain to receive God’s Law
and instructions for building a Tabernacle (or tent) where God could dwell with them. Ex 19
b. When Israel completed the Tabernacle, the cloud (the glory of God) filled it. When the cloud
lifted from the Tabernacle and moved, the people followed it. As they made their way to
Canaan, the cloud went with them. Ex 40:34-37
1. When Paul the apostle (an eyewitness) reminded his readers in a letter that the Lord
guided and provided for their ancestors on the journey from Egypt to Canaan, he also
told them that this Angel of the Lord (the cloud) was Jesus. I Cor 10:1-4
2. I Cor 10:3-4—And all of them ate the same miraculous food, and all of them drank the
same miraculous water. For they all drank from the same miraculous rook that
travelled with them, and the rock was Christ (NLT).
4. Back to John 8:56-58. Jesus said something else that we need to consider when called Himself I
Am. Jesus told the Pharisees that their ancestor Abraham saw Him. Jesus said: Abraham
rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad (John 8:56, NLT).
a. The Pharisees replied: That’s impossible. You’re not even fifty years old. How can you
say that? That’s when Jesus made the statement: Before Abraham existed, I Am.
b. Before He incarnated, Jesus not only interacted with Moses, He also appeared to Abraham a
number times. Let’s examine several of those interactions.
c. As we consider these encounters, notice that this Being (the Word, the Angel of the Lord) is
identified as God, yet Abraham can see him, and He says and does things only God can do.
B. About 1921 BC Almighty God called a man named Abram to leave his family and homeland (the city
of Ur, located in modern Iraq) and travel to the land of Canaan (modern Israel). Abram obeyed.
(The Lord later changed Abram’s name to Abraham.)
1. God promised Abraham that his descendents would grow into a great nation. The Lord also
promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants. Gen 12:1-7
a. Gen 15:1—Several years later, the Word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision. This is
the first time the word “word” appears in the Bible, and it is the first place where God is said
to reveal Himself by His Word.
1. The Eternal Word (Jesus) appeared to Abraham. How do we know? The wording in
the original language suggests a person rather than a spoken word (A. Clarke). Vision
implies seeing something and indicates that Abraham both heard and saw something.
2. Gen 15:2-7—Abraham’s response was: I don’t have a child yet. The Word of the Lord
came to him again and brought him out to look at the stars (as opposed to telling him to
go out and look). The Lord said: That’s how many descendants you’re going to have.
The Lord also said: I am the one who brought you out of Ur and promised you this land.
b. We aren’t told what Abraham saw, but note this point. The Lord (Jehovah) God (Adonay, a
name used only for God; literally means my Lord; often used with or in place of Jehovah)
made a covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:8-17, lesson for another day). Note one point.
1. In that culture when covenants were ratified, animals were sacrificed, cut in half, and
placed in two parallel lines. Those making the covenant passed between the carcasses.
2. Abraham saw a flaming torch (a visible manifestation of the Lord) pass through (v17) the
carcasses. (Remember, the Lord appeared to Moses and Israel as a flame of fire.)
2. Twenty-five years went by and no children were born to Abraham and his wife Sarah. But God
repeated His promise to Abraham several times in those years. Consider one instance.
a. Gen 18:1-2—When Abraham was camped in the plain of Mamre, near Hebron (a town in
southern Canaan or Israel), the Lord appeared to him as a man. The Hebrew word
translated Lord is Jehovah (Yahweh). The word is used twelve times in this chapter.
1. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent, when he suddenly noticed three men
nearby—the Lord and two angels. He greeted the men, invited them to rest, and then
fed them a meal, which they ate (v3-9).
2. Abraham addressed one of them as Adonay (v3; 27; 30-32). Note, that this Man is called
Jehovah, yet Abraham is able to look at Him and watch Him eat.
A. Gen 18:9-15—The Man said He would return the next year and that Sarah would
have a child. Sarah was listening in a nearby tent and laughed to herself when she
heard the Man’s words.
B. This Man (Being) knew that Sarah laughed and knew her thoughts (Omniscience).
He made it clear that keeping this promise was not too hard for Him (Omnipotence).
b. Gen 21:1-2—Time passed and “the Lord did exactly what He promised. Sarah became
pregnant, and gave a son (Isaac) to Abraham in his old age. It all happened at the time God
said it would” (NLT).
3. Gen 22—When Isaac was a young man (teens to mid twenties), this Being who had appeared to
Abraham reappeared. This time He is called the Angel of the Lord. The incident opens with the
statement that God tested Abraham, instructing him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Gen 22:1-2
a. Notice a few points. People ask why a good God would tell a man to kill his own son. God
never said kill Isaac—He said offer him up. God’s purposes are always redemptive.
1. The Lord knew that Abraham would benefit in some way from this. The greatest act of
worship anyone can make is full surrender to God’s will no matter the cost. Rom 12:1
2. The Hebrew word that is translated tempt (KJV) means test or prove. God does not test
us with circumstances. His test is always His Word—will you do what I tell you to do?
b. This is a real, but unique, event. Real people were involved, but it also foreshadows or
pictures a key element in God’s plan of redemption (salvation)—the sacrifice of Jesus.
1. This is the first time in Scripture where the word love appears. It’s used in connection
with a father’s love for his only son, that father’s willingness to sacrifice his son, and the
son’s willingness to go where his father directed him. I John 4:9-10; I John 3:16
A. Abraham and Isaac traveled to the land of Moriah, a trip took three days. Moriah
was located about thirty miles away, at the place where Solomon’s Temple would one
day be built (II Chron 3:1), and animals sacrificed for sin. Gen 22:3-4
B. Jesus would ultimately be sacrificed at this spot. Just as Jesus carried His Cross on
His back, Isaac carried the wood to be used to sacrifice him on his back. Gen 22:6
2. Two men traveled with Abraham and Isaac. When the group reached Moriah, the
father and son went on alone. Abraham assured the others—we will return. Gen 22:5
A. Abraham that knew God would keep His promise that his descendents would come
through Isaac, even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead. Heb 11:17-19
B. When Isaac asked his father where they would find an animal to sacrifice, Abraham
replied, the Lord will provide. The original language reads: The Lord will provide
himself a sacrifice. Gen 22:7-8
1. Gen 22:9-14—The Angel of the Lord (Jehovah) called to Abraham and told him
not to slay his son. The Angel identified Himself as the one who asked Abraham
to offer his son (v1, Elohiym, the Supreme God, often paired with Jehovah).
2. Abraham spotted a ram caught in a bush and sacrificed it instead. He named
the place Jehovah-Jireh (literally, the Lord will see). It’s often translated the
Lord will provide. When He sees our need He provides for those who trust Him.
3. Gen 22:15-19—The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time. The Lord had
already made a covenant with Abraham, but this time the Lord swore with an oath that
all the world will be blessed through Abraham’s seed.
A. Note that Seed is mentioned three times, and it’s singular. The Seed is Jesus (Gal
3:16), the Seed of the woman, promised by God after Adam sinned (Gen 3:15).
B. Preincarnate Jesus swore to Abraham that through his natural descendents, the
promised Seed would come into this world. Abraham saw Christ’s day when he and
Preincarnate Jesus talked about it—and Abraham rejoiced.
4. Through the years God built Abraham’s confidence in Him with repeated restatements of His
promise. Abraham’s trust (faith) grew as he became convinced that God keeps His Word.
a. Trust (faith) comes from the Word of God because it tells us what God is like and what He
does. The more clearly we see God through His Word, the more our trust grows. Ps 9:10
1. As Abraham was exposed to the Word of God over the years, his trust in God increased to
the point that where he was willing to offer his only son to God.
2. The Bible tells us that Abraham’s wife Sarah received strength to bear a child when she
was too old because she judged Him who promised to be faithful (trustworthy). Heb 11:11
b. Almighty God reveals Himself to us today through His written Word (the Bible) which reveals
the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. As we see Jesus in His Word, not only are we
protected from religious deception, our trust in Him grows.
C. Conclusion: How can knowing about these preincarnate appearances of Jesus help us live our lives?
1. It helps us realize that Jesus is the Eternal God, the Pre-existent One—the great I Am. John the
apostle quoted Jesus referring to Himself as I Am twenty-three times (John 4:26; 6:20, 35, 41, 48,
51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 6, 8; 18:5-8).
a. In the Book of Revelation, written by John sixty years after Jesus’ resurrection, John referred
to Jesus as the One who is, who was, and who is to come. Rev 1:4
b. Jesus has always been, because He is God (John 1:1; Ex 3:14). Jesus is with us now by His
Spirit (Matt 28:20). And Jesus will return to complete God’s plan of redemption and take
His rightful place in His kingdom on earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 11:15).
2. We are part of something bigger than this life and will outlast this life. Almighty God is working
out His plan to restore the earth to a fit forever home for Himself and His family of redeemed sons
and daughters. We’re only passing through this world in its present, sin damaged condition.
a. Countless people who responded to the revelation of Jesus given to their generation are in
Heaven right now waiting to return to this earth when Jesus comes again.
b. They will be reunited with their bodies raised from the grave to live on earth again—this time
forever—when God’s plan of redemption is completed.
1. Note this statement about Abraham and others who interacted with Preincarnate Jesus:
All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw
it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God. They agreed that they were no
more than foreigners and nomads here on earth (Heb 11:13, NLT).
2. Abraham left this world centuries before the Word (the Angel of the Lord) took on flesh,
came into this world, and died as a sacrifice for his sins. But he knew what was ahead,
and now waits with others in Heaven, to return to this world with Jesus. Rev 5:10
c. This information encourages us as we deal with this very difficult life. Jesus is the same
yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). He gets His people through until He gets them out.
3. The more you know about Almighty God through His Word, the greater your trust in Him will be.
The more you trust Him, the greater your peace of mind and joy of heart will be as you journey
through this life. Get to know the Lord Jesus through His written Word. More next week!