Since Jesus is God and has always existed, was He around during the Old Testament? Was He the God of the Old Testament?
Before the Beginning
If you want to go back to the beginning, don’t start at Genesis 1:1 but start with the Apostle John’s account that begins before creation. He writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), and clearly, Jesus was the Word of God Who became flesh (John1:14), and was with God (the Father and the Holy Spirit) (John 1:1) in the beginning, therefore He existed before the creation. Jesus was God before the “beginning” and was with God and was God, so therefore we know that Jesus is not just the God-Man (which came later), He is God and has always been God (eternal). John adds that “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). John not only states that Jesus has been God from all time, but there is nothing that exists that He did not create. This destroys the fallacy that Jesus was created. Since He created all things, He could not possibly have created His own self since He would have had to exist prior to that. The belief that Jesus was created cannot be reconciled by Scripture. To be the “only begotten” or “first born among many brothers” (Rom 8:29) symbolizes having all the Old Testament privileges of being the first born son in a family. After his father’s death, the elder son would be the preeminent one in that family, so in this way, Jesus was the first born among those who would later be born again. He was certainly the trailblazer of the resurrection to life. He defeated death and conquered the grave, and even Thomas had to admit to Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)! Jesus did not become God as some cults believe, but “He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2), and “the Word was God” (John 1:1), indicating that He was God, not became God. Jesus did not come into existence through being born of Mary. He was born into the flesh to save those in the flesh (John 1:12-14); at least those who would repent and believe in Him.
The Great “I AM”
When God revealed Himself to Moses, He told him, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you’” (Ex 3:14). Part of the reason the Jews sought to kill Jesus was His use of “I am,” because to them, it was a name exclusively used for God. Jesus told the crowd, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). The Jews were angry, and realizing what Jesus was saying, so “the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:41). Imagine what they must have felt when “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). They knew the full implications of that statement, so “they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (John 8:59). They could not handle Jesus as God and as an eternal being. Today, many still cannot.
The Seven “I AM’s”
I am the bread of life is one of the seven “I am’s” in the Bible, and some of these point to the God of the Old Testament. Just as the bread from heaven gave Israel physical life, Jesus own body was given for our receiving eternal life. Jesus also says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Thankfully, the darkness cannot overcome the light, but the light always overcomes darkness (John 1:4). Then He says, “I am the door” (John 10:9), and “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:14). He also says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Since He is the resurrection or makes our resurrection to eternal life possible, there is no other way to be resurrected to eternal life. Jesus claims for Himself that He is the only way, in saying “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). He’s not one of many ways…He is the one and only way. Later in John, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). When they came to arrest Jesus, He asked them who they were looking for, and when they told Him it was Jesus, “Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6). That would seem to be a natural reaction for someone who thought they might be a man of God, or more, the God-Man. They knew what His saying “I am” meant, so there could have been no other reason they “drew back and fell to the ground” unless they understood what He claiming for Himself.
When the Apostle Paul was speaking about ancient Israel, he referred to the rock that brought forth water, and wrote that they “were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food (manna), and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1st Cor 10:2-4). Paul couldn’t have been more specific in these verses. He could have used the Father’s name but He specifically said that the “Rock was Christ,” even capitalizing the “Rock” because it another name for God. The psalms refers to God as a rock dozens of times, but here Paul refers to this Rock as the same Rock who brought the spiritual drink (water from the rock) and food (the manna), and that Rock was Christ! So was the God of the Old Testament Jesus Christ? We know He’s always existed, long before Abraham, so Jesus was the God of the Old Testament, however, because they are all God in three Persons, and they all agree with one another, whatever Jesus does is the will of the Father, whether that was in the Old Testament or the New Testament.
Whether you know much about the Old Testament or the New Testament, all you need to know is what Jesus tells us when He began His earthly ministry, where “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). To repent means to turn away from or forsake your sins, but this repentance is granted by God and He will give us the means to forsake them. It is a lot more than changing your mind about sin, it is having your mind changed by God and becoming a new creation in Christ (2nd Cor 5:17). The person that’s brought to repentance also puts their trust in Christ. Once they have been brought to repentance and faith, the wrath of God abides on them no longer, unlike those who refuse to believe (John 3:18, 36). My prayer is you would believe and be saved today, while it’s still called “today” (2nd Cor 6:2).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.