CHRIST IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
THE history of the Jewish nation is peculiarly marked by its expectation of a Messiah. Christians believe that this was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, the son of Mary. The object of this chapter is to show what testimony the Old Testament gave of the coming of such a personage, and what were its predictions about the nature of his person and work. This is preliminary to the more full information to be gathered from the Christian Scriptures. It is well to see that the true doctrine as to the Saviour of man is not that of the New Testament only, but of the whole Bible. The unity of divine revelation will thus appear. The testimony of prophecy will be added to that of the miracles which attended the life of Jesus and the ministry of his followers. The authority of the later revelation will be seen to rest, not upon these miracles alone but also upon the concurrence of its teachings with the inspired truth already accepted by the Jews. Our Lord himself and his apostles were constantly accustomed to appeal to these then existent Scriptures as testifying of him: Matt. 1:22, 23; 2:23; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:70; 4:21; 24:27, 44; John 1:45; 5:39, 46; Acts 2:25-31; 3:13, 22, 24; 7:52; 8:30-35; 10:43; 13:32-37, 47, 15:15-17; 24:14; 26:6, 22, 23; Rom. 1:2; 2 Tim. 3:15, 16, 2 Pet. 1:19-21. We may therefore profitably consider some of the more important predictions of the Messiah which appear in the Old Testament.
I. THE PROMISED SEED.
The human character of the Messiah was foretold in the prediction that he should be of human seed. This was presented in three special forms: first, in the seed of the woman; second, in that of the patriarchs; and third, in that of the family of David.
1. The Seed of the Woman.
The earliest prediction of the coming Messiah took place in Eden. It is sometimes called the prot-evangelium or first gospel. Yet it should not be forgotten that, whatever of glad tidings it conveyed to man, it was uttered in the form of a curse upon the serpent. “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:14, 15. The whole tenor of subsequent Scripture, especially that of the New Testament, shows that this is not to be regarded as merely declarative of hostility between mankind and the serpent tribe, but more particularly of the future strife between Christ and Satan, and of the final triumph of the former over the latter. See especially John 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:3; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8; and Rev. 12:9. To what extent our first parents comprehended the full blessedness of this promise cannot be ascertained. Much of the knowledge of the antediluvians, especially as to the gracious purposes of God in redemption, has been left unrecorded. But we have glimpses of their faith and knowledge which furnish reasons for believing that they were not left by God without sufficient information to lead them to expect a deliverer from their sinful and spiritually lost condition. The faith of Abel, by which he “offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (Heb. 11:4) and the “coats of skins” which “the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife” (Gen. 3:21), are strongly suggestive of bloody sacrifices, typical of Christ, commanded by God in the very beginning. The prophecy of the second coming of Christ which Jude (vers. 14, 15) tells us was made by “Enoch, the seventh from Adam,” betokens a degree of knowledge to the very end of the world which, but for that record, would never have been imagined. We are therefore not to be hindered by any presumption that our first parents did not know what God was promising, from carefully scrutinizing the record left us, nor from giving to it all the fullness of meaning its literal interpretation may convey. Now that record taken in its strictest grammatical interpretation teaches not only that the promised seed had become a ground of hope to the woman, but that she had learned to associate with him who was to be the antagonist of the serpent the name of Jehovah himself.
The King James version of the Scriptures translates her language upon the birth of Cain (Gen. 4:1): “I have gotten a man from the LORD.” The Canterbury revision reads: “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” The literal rendering is: “I have gotten a man, the Jehovah himself.” The Hebrew particle translated in the former of these versions “from” and in the latter “with the help of” is equivalent to the Greek “autos” and the Latin “ipse.” Dr. J. Pye Smith says: “The primary, proper, and usual force of the particle “eth” (eth) placed here before Jehovah is to designate an object in the most demonstrative and emphatical manner. In this use it occurs immediately before and after this clause, and forty times in the first four chapters of these primeval records, not including the instance before us. It is also prefixed to every proper name in the governed ease throughout the fifth chapter. This prodigious number of instances, all occurring in the same connection, in the same strain of topic and discourse, in the same most venerable documents (supposing them to have been pre-existing fragments, before the age of Moses), is surely sufficient to determine a grammatical question. It is true that, in subsequent periods of the language, this particle came to be used as a preposition to denote with, or by the instrumentality of; but this was only a secondary idiom, and many of ifs supposed instances, on a close consideration, fall into the ordinary construction. There seems, therefore, no option to an interpreter who is resolved to follow faithfully the fair and strict grammatical signification of the words before him but to translate the passage as given above” (I have obtained a man Jehovah). [Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, Book II., Chap. IV., Sec. 1.]
It is true that Eve was mistaken in supposing that the son thus born to her was the Messiah. The language of inspiration only asserts that she said this, without admitting that she was correct. Indeed, the record shows she was not. It is not here quoted, therefore, as proof of the divine character of the Redeemer, but only of the fact that she had believed the promise of God, was looking forward to its fulfilment, and had learned in some way to associate the name of Jehovah with the expected seed of the woman. It is also evident that not only did she believe that Jehovah was to be the Messiah, but that she expected his appearance in human form.
2. The Patriarchal Seed.
A more definite and undoubted promise of the Messiah as “a seed” was made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. The apostle to the Galatians distinctly declares that “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed.” Gal. 3:8. He also says emphatically (Gal. 3:16) that this seed “is Christ.” The predictions of this kind to Abraham are recorded in Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:17, 18. Each of these three passages refers in so many words to “the Seed,” in connection with the spiritual blessing of the nations. Others, as indeed do the first two of these, contain also promises of the bestowal of the land of Canaan upon the natural descendants of Abraham. See Gen. 12:7; 13:14-17; 15:5-18; 17:8; 24:7. By this promise as to the nations the prediction in Eden, which had heretofore been general of the race, confined the birth of the Messiah to a descendant of Abraham. Both promises, that of the earthly Canaan and that of the spiritual seed, were repeated to Isaac (Gen. 26:2-5), (see also ver. 24); while to Jacob was given that of the earthly Canaan in the blessing by Isaac (Gen. 28:3, 4), and by God (Gen. 35:10-12) at Bethel, where the promise of both blessings had been previously made to him also by God, as recorded in Gen. 28:14.
These predictions constitute properly the patriarchal promise of “the Seed,” which is more commonly spoken of as the promise to Abraham, because of his greater prominence, as well as because first announced to him. To what extent it was understood by them is also beyond our knowledge. But the language of Christ (John 8:56), “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad,” shows a more full comprehension of the blessings promised than the recorded statements in Genesis would suggest. Perhaps to Abraham, “the father of all them that believe,” was revealed somewhat clear ideas of the future person and work of his blessed Seed. It has been supposed, not without justification, that this occurred in connection with the commanded sacrifice of Isaac, related in the twenty-second chapter of Genesis. Certainly that occasion furnishes, if not a type, yet a very apt illustration of the offering up by the Divine Father of his only-begotten Son (Cf. Heb. 11:17), whom he did not withhold from “the father of us all” (Rom. 4:16), nor from them which, being “of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:7). It is not, indeed, improbable that Abraham had before this been taught, or was so on this occasion, that by the sacrifice of “the seed,” the blessing was to come which had been promised through him to mankind. Was not his reply to Isaac singularly prophetic when he said: “God will himself provide a lamb for die burnt-offering.” Gen. 22:8? Especially may this be imagined when we find him calling the place of sacrifice “Jehovah Jireh;” so that it became a saying at least to the days of the record: “In the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Gen. 22:14.
3. The Seed of the Family of David.
This title is used in full recognition of the truth that Christ is almost constantly called the Seed or Son of David. It is intended only to recall the fact that Christ was also foretold as “a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots” (Isa. 11:1), and that he is called “the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David” (Rev. 5:5). Indeed, the prophecy, “until Shiloh come” (Gen. 49:10), which was made of Judah in the blessing of his sons by Jacob, has been largely regarded by Jewish as well as by Christian writers as a prophecy of Christ. This opinion is strengthened by the declaration that “Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the prince.” 1 Chron. 5:2.
The promise of the Seed of David was, like that to the Patriarchs, of a two-fold nature: first, of the continuance of the kingly rule in Solomon, and, secondly, of the reign of Christ as the truly everlasting King.
The beginnings of both promises appear in the vision of Nathan, the prophet, which he made known to David when the latter was forbidden to build a house for God, and in the exultant and grateful prayer of David which followed (2 Sam. 7:4-29). David naturally regarded this as a promise of the continuance of his house “for a great while to come” (ver. 19). The words “for ever,” as applied to any earthly kingdom, could only be thus relative. But this double prophecy included, as subsequently developed, another of a King truly everlasting, of whose kingdom there shall be no end, and with whom is really associated the “sure mercies of David.”
This prophecy was uttered in the early part of the reign of David, and the understanding of it to which he attained may be traced through such of his Psalms as are of a Messianic nature. These, therefore, become exegetical of the original statements. The true key to the interpretation of these Psalms is to be found in David’s comprehension of the theocratic nature of the government of Israel. The earthly was known to he only the vicegerent of the heavenly King. The glory of the royal office was to be exercised perpetually and everlastingly by Jehovah himself; and only temporarily by the one who from time to time might sit in God’s place on the throne. Thus, in the conceptions and language of David, the two were mingled perpetually, and his thoughts and utterances passed instantaneously from the earthly monarch to the true King of kings. Hence much of his language became prophetic, and led Israel onward to the idea of the Messiah as King of Israel. The following may be taken as some of the proofs of these facts and of the consequent characteristics of Messiah pointed out by him:
1. That Jehovah was theocratic King is distinctly asserted, Ps. 22:28; 24:1-10; 93:1.
2. Yet the king of whom he writes is also human; for he is a sufferer for others, whose prayers for deliverance show the intensity of his agony and despair. Ps. 22:1-22. These sufferings are the essential means by which those who fear the Lord will be called on to praise and glorify and fear God, and by which the meek shall eat and be satisfied, and hearts shall live forever and all the nations shall remember and turn to God and worship Him.
3. This was to be an exalted king. Ps. 2:6; 110:2, 5, 6.
4. To be a universal monarch. Ps. 2:10-12; 22:27; 110:5, 6.
5. His kingdom was to be everlasting. Ps. 145:13.
6. The king himself was to be glorious, reigning in truth, meekness and righteousness, and the sceptre of equity would be the sceptre of his kingdom. Ps. 45:4, 6.
7. He was to escape the corruption of the grave. Speaking in the person of the king, David Said, “My flesh also shall dwell in safety, for thou wilt not leave my soul to sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption.” Ps. 16:9, 10. (Cf. Acts 2:25-27; 13:35, 36.)
8. He is the begotten Son of Jehovah. Ps. 2:7.
9. David calls him his Lord. Ps. 16:2; 110:1 (Cf. Matt. 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44; Acts 2:34-36).
10. He is also addressed as God. Ps. 45:6, 7.
11. He was to be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Ps. 110:4. (Cf. 1 Sam. 2:34, 35, as a possible germ prophecy of this priesthood; but especially Hebrews, chapters 4-10.)
These references will suffice to show that David expected not only the perpetuity of the merely earthly kingdom, with its succession of monarchs of his family, but that he also looked in the same line of descent for a true appearance of Jehovah, whose reign in this human person would thus be universal, whose flesh would never see corruption, of whose kingdom there would be no end, whose power would be terrible and his wisdom and righteousness superhuman, to whom as his Lord, David would himself be subservient, who is already the begotten Son of God and can justly be called God, whose government would be especially spiritual, who, with the kingly, would combine a priestly office of peculiar character and origin, and yet whose sufferings would be intense, and these sufferings the foundation of the blessings of his people and of their devotion to God. Are not these the characteristics of the Christian idea of the Messiah as set forth in the New Testament? In whom, except in Jesus Christ, have these expectations been fulfilled? In what respect has he not met them fully?
II. CHRIST IN THE PROPHETICAL BOOKS.
The Messiah, thus promised as the seed in the three forms we have considered, was the subject of frequent prophecy unto the days of Malachi. The predictions as to his birth became more distinct. The belief which separated him from all other kings of the nation and made him an especial object of hope and desire constantly increased. The association and identification of him with Jehovah appeared more clear. The application to him of the Divine names and attributes was made with less reserve. The nature and object of his sufferings and their saving efficacy were more plainly revealed, and the participation of the Gentiles in the blessings of his reign was more distinctly set forth.
1. As to his birth. Isaiah foretold the coming forth of “a shoot from the stock of Jesse and a branch out of his roots” (11:1), and of the birth from a virgin of a child who should be called Immanuel (7:14); and Jeremiah, the raising up unto David of a righteous Branch in whose days “Judah shall be saved and Israel dwell in peace,” and whose name should he “THE LORD IS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jer. 23:6. Gabriel announced that the Messiah would come and be cut off within seventy weeks from the time of the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem. Dan. 9: 24-27. Micah predicted the coming forth from Bethlehem Ephratah of the ruler of Israel “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2. Haggai declared that “the desirable things of all nations shall come” and fill the house then building with greater glory than that of Solomon. The Revisers, while so translating the word which, in the King James’ version, is “desire,” state in the margin that the Hebrew is “desire,” which should suffice to retain the older translation regarded by many as a prophecy of Christ’s appearance in that temple, especially when the extraordinary manifestations are considered as accompanying, viz., the shaking of “the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.” Haggai 2:6, 7. Finally, Malachi tells of a messenger who shall go before and prepare the way for the Lord, the angel of the covenant who will suddenly come to his temple.
2. A special king. The following passages will fully set this forth. Isa. 32:1; 33:17; 57:19; Jer. 8:19; 23:5; Ezek. 37:2; Dan. 2:44; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:8, 9, and Zech. 9:9.
3. The hope of Israel and Judah were as associated with Jehovah as king. Isa. 6:5; 12:2, 6; 33:22; 43:3, 10, 11, 14, 15; 44:6, 23; 45:15, 21, 22, 25; 60:2, 9, 14, 16, 19, 20; Jer. 10:6-10; 23:5; 46:18; 48:15; 49:38; 51: 57; Zech. 14:9, 16.
4. The divine names and attributes are ascribed with less reserve to the predicted Messiah. He is called “Immanuel.” Isa. 7:14. His name was also to be “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isa. 9:6. Mention is made of one for whom the way in the wilderness should be prepared and a highway made straight after the manner of kings’ journeying in ancient days. This one is called Jehovah, God; in him shall the glory of Jehovah be revealed, and he that tells good tidings to Zion is directed “Lift up thy voice with strength, hit it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold, your God! Behold, the LORD God will come as a mighty one, and his arm shall rule for him.” Isa. 40:3, 5, 9, 10. The Branch of David foretold by Jeremiah was to be called “The LORD is our righteousness.” Jer. 23:6. The ruler of Israel to come forth from Bethlehem Ephratah was one “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2.
5. The nature and the object of his sufferings are more plainly revealed. These are set forth with such marked distinctness in the 53d chapter of Isaiah, that from it may be gathered all the main ideas which enter into the atoning work of Christ. We have there the substitution of a victim, himself innocent, in the place of the guilty; upon whom their sins are laid; who is wounded for their transgressions; with whose stripes they are healed; whose soul is made an offering for sin, and whose travail is rewarded with a satisfactory seed. The imputation of sin, and its punishment and the reward are all from God. The lamb-like patience of the sufferer is no less descriptive of Jesus than are the sinlessness of his character, and the two-fold aspect of God exercising avenging justice and unceasing love. He is still God’s righteous servant, whose work is worthy of great reward.
The angel Gabriel also said to Daniel: “After three-score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off; but not for himself.” Dan. 9:26. We have also that remarkable language of Zechariah applicable to Christ and to none other: “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts.” Zech. 13:7.
6. The participation of the Gentiles in the blessings was more distinctly enunciated. The earlier prophecies to David had been simply; of conquered foes. In like manner also some of the later days spoke of triumphing Israel, or merely indicated the increase of the government without reference to special blessings. But the following refer to the Gentiles as blessed with the Jews, and even sometimes without them: Isa. 11:10; 42:1-17; 49:6-13; 62:2; Jer. 16:19-21; Hosea 2:23; Mal. 1:11.
Thus does it appear that the prophecies give still more complete development of the promises made in the seed of the woman and of the patriarchs and of the family of David, by which he who was the hope of Israel is made known also as the Saviour of man-kind.
The discussions above will suffice to show how abundantly the Old Testament taught of the Messiah in the aspects referred to. But the doctrine of Christ in the Old Testament will not be completely shown without considering that manifestation in which he revealed himself as
III. THE ANGEL OF THE COVENANT.
There were other manifestations of God to the senses of man. Such was that of the voice heard in Eden (Gen. 3:8), and by Moses from the burning bush (Ex. 3:2-5), and by the children of Israel out of the fire in Hebron, when they heard the voice of words and saw no form (Deut. 4:12), and by Moses at Sinai (Ex. 19:19), and by Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1-14), and by Elijah (1 Kings 19:9-20). But we have no reason to confine such a manifestation to the Son of God, especially as a like voice from the Father is recorded in the New Testament at the Baptism of Christ (Matt. 3:17), at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:5), and in answer to the prayer of Christ (John 12:28). By such a voice, or by dreams, or by other sensible means, must God also have forbidden the eating of the tree of knowledge, and commanded Noah to build the Ark, and communicated with Balaam (Numbers, chaps. 22 and 23), and with many of his true prophets to whom the “word of the Lord” came. But except in the interview with Balaam, when “the angel of the LORD” met him (Numbers 22:22-35), no reason presents itself why these communications should be ascribed to the second person of the Trinity alone. Whatever opinion one may have upon this point cannot be supported by any direct or positive language of Scripture.
But this is not true of the appearances of the angel of the covenant. The prophecy of Malachi should leave this question without doubt. “Behold,” says Jehovah to Israel through that prophet, “I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger (angel) of the covenant, whom ye delight in, behold, he cometh, saith the LORD of hosts.” Mal. 3:1. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD shall come.” Mal. 4:5. We have here:
1. A distinct promise of the sending of the angel of the covenant, in whom Israel delights.
2. After the manner of Hebrew parallelisms he is identified with the Lord who shall come to his temple.
3. At first a mere messenger is announced as his forerunner, but afterwards it is declared that this shall be Elijah the prophet.
4. The office of the messenger or prophet is to prepare the way for the angel of the covenant.
Here is an undoubted reference to the coming Messiah. It could not otherwise be understood, even without the application made of it in the New Testament to Christ and his forerunner, John the Baptist. Matt. 11:10.
Having therefore identified the Messiah with the angel of the covenant, it only remains to show that this was a divine angel, having the names, attributes and authority of God, and receiving the worship peculiar to him alone.
1. Divine names are given to him and claimed by him.
(1) That of JEHOVAH. By the inspired writers: Gen. 16:13; 18:1, 17, 20, 26, 33; Ex. 3:4, 7 (cf. ver. 2); 13:21 (cf. with Ex. 14:19); Joshua 5:13 (cf. with 6:2).
(2) That of GOD. By Hagar, Gen. 16:13; by Jacob, Gen. 32:30; 48:15, 16; by the writer, Ex. 3:4, 6; by God himself, Gen. 31:13 (cf. ver. 11; also chap. 28:13-22 and 32:9); Ex. 3:6 (cf. ver. 2).
2. The angel of the Lord is also identified with Jehovah and with God.
(1) With Jehovah. A signal instance of this is to be found in the events recorded in the 33d to the 40th chapters of Exodus. Because of the great sin of Israel in making and worshipping the golden calf recorded in the 32d chapter, God was very angry with the people. He threatened them: “I will not go up in the midst of thee.” Ex. 33:3. This filled Moses and the people with alarm, although God had promised to send an angel before them. Moses therefore went to the tent of meeting, and the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tent, and “The Lord spake with Moses.” Ex. 33:8, 9. The reassuring promise was then given by Jehovah: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Ex. 33:10.
This was followed by the hewing of the “two tables of stone like unto the first” (Ex. 34:2), and by the making of the tabernacle (chapters 35 to 40), upon the finishing of which “the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward through all their journeys; but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and there was fire therein by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” Ex. 40:33-38.
A comparison of the threat of Ex. 33:3 and of this record with the language of Ps. 99:7: “He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar,” and Isaiah 63:9: “And the angel of his presence saved them,” shows that the cloud was the visible manifestation of Jehovah to Israel, and that the angel of his presence embodied the glory of Jehovah. Its presence with Israel was the presence of Jehovah himself.
This identification of Jehovah with the angel is also exhibited with equal clearness by a comparison of Ex. 13:21 and 14:19. In the former it is said that “The LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them the way;” in the latter we read of “the angel of God which went before the camp of Israel.”
(2) With God. This identification of himself with God is made by the angel which appeared to Abraham, by saying: “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” Gen. 22:12. (See also verses 15, 16.)
3. Divine attributes and authority are ascribed to the angel.
(1) Creative power. He promised Hagar: “I will greatly multiply thy seed, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” Gen. 16:10. And in like manner said to Abraham: “I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.” Gen. 18:10.
(2) Sovereignty The power of absolute right over the cities of the plains is asserted in the foretold destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and his answers to the successive prayers of Abraham that upon certain conditions he would spare those cities. Gen. 18:18-33.
(3) The Judge of all the earth is the efficacious title given by Abraham as he pleads with the Man before him, whom he recognizes as Jehovah, not “to slay the righteous with the wicked.” Gen. 18: 25. Two of the three men who appeared to Abraham are called angels (Gen. 19:1), and this third is manifestly “the angel of the Lord.”
4. Divine worship is paid to and received by him. This worship was demanded of Moses at the Bush in which the angel of the Lord appeared (Ex. 3:2) when “God,” by which name as well as that of Jehovah the angel is called, commanded him: “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Ex. 3:5. A like command was given to Joshua (Joshua 5:15) by the man that appeared to him and claimed to be “the captain of the LORD’S host,” before whom “Joshua fell on his face to the earth and did worship.” Ver. 14.
Thus does it appear that we have in the record abundant testimony to the identity with the Jehovah God of this angel of the covenant whom Malachi predicted as the coming hope of Israel. His appearance was not delayed until the time of his permanent incarnation. The seed of the woman appeared in human form and as angelic messenger and as glowing fire and cloud long before that “fulness of the time came” in which “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:45), when the Word, which “was with God,” “and was God” “in the beginning,” “became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:1, 2, 14. What relation these earlier manifestations had to the subsequent birth in the flesh or to the human nature then assumed is beyond our knowledge. Nor is it wise by conjectures induced by curiosity to prosecute inquiries which can accomplish no good and may be fraught only with evil. Speculation about the unknowable too often results in skepticism as to what is actually known, especially when such knowledge has come through revelation from God. It is sufficient to know that God added this outward “sign” to confirm faith in the promises he had given, and by it taught the future interposition of his own Son in human flesh for the deliverance of his true people, the spiritual Israel, from a severer bondage than that of Egypt, and the guidance of them by the Covenant Redeemer into the unspeakable blessings and glory of the Heavenly Canaan.
Thus did the Old Testament testify of Jesus the Christ, the Saviour of men. As the seed of the woman, he has utterly destroyed the power of the serpent, the great enemy of man. In him the day has come which Abraham foresaw and was glad. In him the Lion of Judah, the seed of David, appears as the King of kings, the Lord of lords, whose reign is universal, not over those living on earth only at any one time, but over all the living and the dead of this world, and indeed of the whole universe. His untold sufferings have secured the happiness of his people and their devotion to God. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. His priesthood has neither beginning nor end. He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. He hath made us kings and priests unto God. At his name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. His flesh is indeed the tabernacle which is filled with the glory of Jehovah, in whom the ancient prophecy to Israel is fulfilled: “Behold your God!”
In the testimony thus given in the Old Testament as to Christ we perceive a portion of the evidence it also affords to that doctrine of the Trinity which was developed more clearly in the New Testament. Here is seen one not only identified with God and Jehovah, but also distinguished from him. Here also are other glimmerings of a tri-personality in God presented to a people unto whom God was especially revealed in his unity, and which had almost unconquerable tendencies to polytheism. What was thus revealed was understood very obscurely, if at all, in Old Testament days. For what purpose was it given except that in the later time might be apparent the unity of the doctrines of both Testaments, and the evidence of the inspiration of each in their testimony in common to this and to other doctrines which were divinely foreshadowed in the former, but have been distinctly declared in the latter revelation?