Bible On God’s Special Presence Prior to the Incarnation

Bible On God’s Special Presence Prior to the Incarnation October 24, 2019

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Many Protestants (particularly Calvinists, following Calvin) make the argument that since Jesus bodily ascended to heaven, therefore He could not possibly be present bodily in the Holy Eucharist (since He is already located in heaven). One way to counter this false notion is to show that God being present in physical objects (i.e., in a special way, beyond omnipresence) is not some new, innovative thing.

It was a characteristic of God all along. The incarnation makes it even more plausible, since God took on human flesh. If God can do one thing, He can do the other. This shows that eucharistic presence, or the Real Presence, is not implausible or “unbiblical” at all, let alone forbidden by the Bible. Colossians 3:11 states that “Christ is all, and in all.” The Bible frequently refers to God being “in” physical things (including as a man, or “the angel of the Lord” in theophanies):

[all passages from RSV]

GOD SEEN (NON-SPECIFIC AND VARIOUS FORMS)

Genesis 16:13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “Thou art a God of seeing”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?”

Genesis 17:1, 22 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.” . . . [22] When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.

Genesis 18:1 And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.

Exodus 3:16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, “The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me . . .”

Exodus 24:9-11 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abi’hu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, [10] and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. [11] And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

Numbers 12:7-8 Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. [8] With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the LORD . . .

Deuteronomy 34:10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

1 Kings 22:19 And Micai’ah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; (cf. 2 Chron 18:18)

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzzi’ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. (cf. 6:5)

Ezekiel 1:25-28 And there came a voice from above the firmament over their heads; when they stood still, they let down their wings. [26] And above the firmament over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness as it were of a human form. [27] And upward from what had the appearance of his loins I saw as it were gleaming bronze, like the appearance of fire enclosed round about; and downward from what had the appearance of his loins I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him. [28] Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Ezekiel 3:22-23 And the hand of the LORD was there upon me; and he said to me, “Arise, go forth into the plain, and there I will speak with you.” [23] So I arose and went forth into the plain; and, lo, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face.

Daniel 7:9 As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. (cf. 3:25; Rev 1:13-16)

Amos 9:1 I saw the LORD standing beside the altar . . .

GOD AS “THE ANGEL OF THE LORD”

Judges 13:9, 20-22 And God listened to the voice of Mano’ah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field; but Mano’ah her husband was not with her. . . . [20] And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar while Mano’ah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. [21] The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Mano’ah and to his wife. Then Mano’ah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. [22] And Mano’ah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” (cf. Joshua 5:13-15)

GOD APPEARING AS A MAN BEFORE THE INCARNATION (THEOPHANY)

Genesis 32:24, 30 And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. . . . So Jacob called the name of the place Peni’el, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”

GOD IN FIRE 

Exodus 3:2-6 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. [3] And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” [4] When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am I.” [5] Then he said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” [6] And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (cf. Acts 7:30-33)

Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them . . . by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night;

Exodus 14:24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire . . . looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians,

Exodus 19:18 And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.

Exodus 24:17 Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

Exodus 40:38 For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.

Numbers 14:14 . . . O LORD, art seen face to face, and . . . thou goest before them, . . . . in a pillar of fire by night. (cf. Neh 9:12,19)

Deuteronomy 1:32-33 . . . the LORD your God, [33] who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night, to show you by what way you should go, . . .

Deuteronomy 4:12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. (cf. 4:15)

Deuteronomy 5:4-5 The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, [5] while I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said:

Deuteronomy 5:22 These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, . . .

Deuteronomy 9:10 the words which the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.

Deuteronomy 10:4 And he wrote on the tables, as at the first writing, the ten commandments which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me.

Deuteronomy 18:16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, `Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’

Deuteronomy 33:16 . . . him that dwelt in the bush. . . .

Judges 13:20 . . . the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar . . .

Mark 12:26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (cf. Lk 20:37)

GOD IN THE SHEKINAH CLOUD / “GLORY OF THE LORD”

Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, . . .

Exodus 14:24 . . . the LORD in the pillar . . . of cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, . . .

Exodus 16:10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

Exodus 24:15-16 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. [16] The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Exodus 33:9-11 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. [10] And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the door of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door. [11] Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent. . . . [14] And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 34:5 And the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

Exodus 40:34-38 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. [35] And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. [36] Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; [37] but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. [38] For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, . . .

Leviticus 9:4-6 “. . . for today the LORD will appear to you.” [5] And they brought what Moses commanded before the tent of meeting; and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. [6] And Moses said, “This is the thing which the LORD commanded you to do; and the glory of the LORD will appear to you.”

Leviticus 9:23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting; and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.

Leviticus 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses, . . . “I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.”

Numbers 11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him . . .

Numbers 14:10, 14 . . . Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. . . . [14] and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that thou, O LORD, art in the midst of this people; for thou, O LORD, art seen face to face, and thy cloud stands over them and thou goest before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.

Numbers 16:19 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.

Numbers 16:42 And when the congregation had assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting; and behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared.

Numbers 20:6-7 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, [7] and the LORD said to Moses,

Deuteronomy 1:32-33 Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, [33] who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, . . . to show you by what way you should go, and in the cloud by day.

Deuteronomy 5:22 These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of . . . the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice . . .

Deuteronomy 31:15 And the LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud; and the pillar of cloud stood by the door of the tent.

1 Kings 8:11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. (cf. 2 Chron 5:14)

2 Chronicles 7:1-3 When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. [2] And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. [3] When all the children of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the earth on the pavement, and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever.”

Psalm 99:7 He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud . . . (cf. Neh 9:12,19)

Isaiah 35:2 . . . They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. (cf. 40:5)

Ezekiel 10:4, 18 And the glory of the LORD went up from the cherubim to the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the glory of the LORD. . . . Then the glory of the LORD went forth from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.

Ezekiel 11:23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.

Ezekiel 43:2-6 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the east; and the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with his glory. [3] And the vision I saw was like the vision which I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and like the vision which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. [4] As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, [5] the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. [6] While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple; (cf. 44:4)

Luke 2:9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

GOD’S SPECIAL PRESENCE ABOVE THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

Exodus 25:22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

Exodus 30:6 And you shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you.

Leviticus 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

Numbers 7:89 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.

1 Samuel 4:4 So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phin’ehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

2 Samuel 6:2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Ba’ale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim.

2 Kings 19:15 And Hezeki’ah prayed before the LORD, and said: “O LORD the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

1 Chronicles 13:6 And David and all Israel went up to Ba’alah, that is, to Kir’iath-je’arim which belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD who sits enthroned above the cherubim. (cf. 28:2)

Psalm 80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

Psalm 99:1 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

Isaiah 37:16 O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

*****

Yet Calvin and those who follow his thought would have us believe that it is implausible or unbiblical or impossible that God (even after the incarnation) could choose to be physically present in the consecrated elements. It is a mere false tradition of men that would dogmatically assert such a thing without biblical justification. As I’ve just shown, the Bible has many indications of a local presence of God in physical things.

Now that God has taken on human flesh, it is not implausible that He can also choose to be present under the appearances of bread and wine, just as He did in pillars of cloud and fire and burning bushes. Why should one thing be actual and the other allegedly not even plausible or possible?

Jesus told us “this is My body.” He emphasizes this in very strong terms in the discourse of John 6. St. Paul reiterates it. Why is it doubted, then, and on the flimsy grounds that God “couldn’t, wouldn’t, or shouldn’t” do this?

God was so profoundly present in the ark of the covenant, that Uzzah was killed instantly simply because he innocently touched it, to keep it from falling over (2 Sam 6:3-7; 1 Chron 13:7-10). Seventy men of Bethshemesh were slain because they (also seemingly innocently) looked into it (1 Sam 6:19). God was present in the Holy of Holies (Ex 26:33; 1 Kings 6:19), that contained the ark of the covenant (Ex 26:34; 40:21; 1 Kings 8:6; 2 Chron 5:7), in such a way that the priests only went in there once a year, on the Day of Atonement, and anyone who entered on any other day, or not according to the proper ceremony, might be killed (Lev 16:2, 13). The River Jordan stopped flowing when the ark was carried through it (Josh 3:8-17; 4:1-18).

Joshua even bowed before the ark of the covenant on his face in a worshipful posture (Josh 7:6), and Levite priests thanked and praised God before it (1 Chron 16:4), just as Catholics genuflect and bow before the Holy Eucharist, and adore the Lord therein. King David “offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD” next to the ark (2 Sam 6:17), which is a precursor of the Sacrifice of the Mass. King Solomon did the same (1 Kings 3:15; 2 Chron 5:6), and so did the Levites (1 Chron 16:1).

Catholic practices offer little more than what had already been done nearly 3000 years ago. They become far more meaningful, however, after the incarnation and crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Catholic Mass is “soaked” in a thoroughly biblical worldview and conceptual background.

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(originally written in 2011)

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