Question: The OT says God has appeared to man, and the NT says, no man has seen God. Which is true?
Greetings in the Name that is above every name that is, or that ever could be named among men, Jesus Christ the Righteous. I thank God that He, in exercising His prerogative, has in absolute sovereignty made known to His people that salvation is of the Lord.
I'm sorry that I did not get to your excellent questions sooner, but things sometimes hinder. In any event, I'm glad to be able to take this opportunity to respond, and ask you to share with all those who have an interest in these comments. I also pray that they will prove to be helpful to you, and to all with whom you may share them.
In the matter before us for consideration at this time, I submit these thoughts and biblical reality for your examination and contemplation. Please approach this study with much prayer for leadership of the sweet Holy Spirit so that the outcome of all our efforts will prove to be honoring to Him with Whom we have to do, and greatly edifying to all His people.
What we have before us at this time concerns the manner in which God has appeared to men, both in the Old as well as the New Testaments.
First of all, let me state that God has made Himself known, at any time, ONLY as He has been pleased to do so. And He has manifested Himself often to men, and He has done so in all ages.
What we have is known, theologically, as theophany, as the etymology of the word implies 'an appearance of God' to man. And this is recorded in numerous instances in both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, for God can only be known as He makes Himself known. Man cannot 'find out God', except as God manifests Himself.
The OT records many, many theophanies. In to book of Genesis we find that God talked TO Adam, and the He walked IN the garden. (Gen. 1:28-31; 2:8,15-17; and 3:8,21). Please read these passages.
God has manifested Himself to man in three forms: human, angelic, and non-human. The form of each theophany correlates to its function. His appearances are appropriate to the message that He deems proper to convey to His creatures.
When God comes in judgment, He appears in a threatening guise so as to convey His wrath against sin, which is, simply stated, His wrath kindled against any and all affronts to His absolute holiness. That is what sin is -- an attack upon His holy and righteous character.
For instance, God presented Himself as an irresistible warrior immediately preceding the conquest of Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). And, judgment theophany, though always threatening, brings both curse and fear to God's enemies, and blessing and comfort to His people. (See Nahum 1:1-9) Please read this.
The frequently encountered warrior theophany demonstrates that God often appeared in human-like form. Of course, God assumes various roles in the many OT theophanies. For example, in Genesis 18:1-15, a passage in which God confirmed His covenant promises to Abraham, He appeared as a messenger.
A second type of theophany occurred when God revealed Himself to people in the form of an angel. Manoah and his wife received news of the coming birth of Samson from an angelic figure whom they later recognized a God Himself. (Judges 13) READ ALL OF THIS CHAPTER ! !
Note the promises made that ONLY God could make. Note also verse 22. "And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have SEEN GOD. Note also verse 23. "But his wife said unto him, If the LORD (Jehovah WDT) were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time told us such things as these."
Please take careful note of the fact the He Who appeared to Manoah and his wife RECEIVED a burnt offering and a meat offering at "...our hands..." ONLY God is to be worshipped, and these were acts of worship that Manoah and his wife participated in -- and the Theophany (an appearance of God) RECEIVED these as authentic acts of worship. Remember, only God is to be worshipped -- at any time. And on this occasion, there was no rebuff of the acts of worship. Rather, they were sanctioned.
Many, many evangelical scholars believe that the angel of the Lord is a pre-incarnation appearance of the Second Person of the Trinity (regardless of what the non-Trinitarians claim, WDT) This is true as well of the theophanies in human form, and not those only as these angelic forms.
For instance, recorded for God's glory, and for our learning are these events of Genesis 32:24-32. Here, there is the appearance of God in human form, with Whom Jacob wrestled until the breaking of the day. (Verse 24) Now, read on and learn that Jacob was led to declare the he "...would not let thee go, except thou bless me." Jacob believed that he was indeed wrestling with God -- not to GAIN relationship TO God, but rather, to be blessed OF God.
Also note that the Theophany changed Jacob's name to Israel, and made promises to him that only God could make. i.e. "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thy power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (verse 28)
God did not concede defeat at the hand of Jacob. That is NOT what He meant when He said, "...and hast prevailed." He meant that He was pleased that Jacob contended, without let up, to seek the Lord's blessing. Not for life did Jacob contend, but for blessing in the life that he already possessed. He, Jacob was already, by grace, related by a new birth to God, and now sought God's blessing. Is this a lesson for every believer? It is. It is. It is.
Many other theophanies, in human form have appeared, and on some of these occasions, as is true in the above instance, the theophany is more specifically referred to as 'christophanies'. Neither the OT nor the NT directly identifies Jesus Christ with the 'angel of the Lord.' Most scholars, though, believe this is the case. In John 1:18, Jesus declares that no man has seen the Father. But, He also said that he that hath seen the Son hath also seen the Father. For, said He, "I and my Father are one."
Let me now share some passages of Scripture that relate to the Angel of Jehovah. Note:
(a) The Angel of Jehovah identifies himself WITH Jehovah;
(b) He is identified WITH Jehovah by others;
(c) He accepts worship due ONLY to God.
Though the phrase, 'angel of Jehovah' is sometimes used in the NT Scriptures to denote a merely human messenger or created angel, it seems in the OT almost without exception to designate the pre-incarnate LOGOS, whose manifestation in angelic or human form foreshadowed His final coming in the flesh, as demonstrated at His first advent.
Read: Gen.22:11 and 16; Gen. 16:9 and 13; Gen. 48:15 and 16; Ex. 3:2,4, and 5; Haggai 1:1-13.
There are others, of course. But these should teach us that God has appeared to men, and has manifested His Eternal Godhead in doing so.
Finally, a third form of theophany occurs on those occasions when God appeared among men and women in non-human form. At the critical juncture of the establishment of the Abrahamic covenant, God passed between divided animal carcasses in the form of a 'smoking fire pot with a blazing torch.' (Gen. 15:17)
But the theophany without parallel, is the advent of Jesus Christ. (John 1:1-17; Col 1:15) In the NT, Theophany becomes Christophany, and is superseded by actual incarnation. Jesus Christ DID COME as God manifested in human flesh. He is Very God of Very God AND Very Man of Very Man.
Believers today look forward to the last days when, "....the Lord Himself will come down from heaven." (I Thes. 5:16)
In the meantime remember: "God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;...." (Heb. 1:1-3 and on)
I pray that this is helpful, and I give much credit to those who have written on this matter before me in textbooks, dictionaries and Bible study materials. But, ultimately all praise, honor, credit, and glory belongs to God ALONE.
Good bye for this time, and may God bless you in your studies. May He lead you to Himself in EVERY good and perfect work that He has for His people.
In His Eternal GRIP and Service,
Wm. Doyal Thomas
Good Morning Georgia,
Greetings this great and glorious morning that the LORD has made, and has permitted us to enjoy.
It is always good to hear from those who have a genuine desire to know truth! Which thing, none of have to the fullest degree. It does seem that there is a dirth in the land....but some still have an ambition to be free of error and the numerous lies of Satan. Thank God for all who want to honor Him. And, He is honored, worshipped, and praise ONLY in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
Thank you for your inquiry. I will, the Lord willing, share a few thoughts this morning and pray that these efforts will be blessed so that His Name is magnified and His precious saints are edified.
First, let me say that I am persuaded that "hell", when translated from the Greek word GEENA, also represented by the Hebrew word Ge-Hinnon (the valley of Trophet) is speaking of a real place, and not merely an abstraction, such as would be the case if the meaning were simply a state of separation, or a condition.
Note that in Luke 16:19-31, with particular emphasis on verse 23, "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torment..."
Note that this man is said to be in hell. As we follow to the verses of this passage to verse 28, we read, "....For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come to this place of torment." NOTICE: "...to this PLACE...."
The lake of fire is also said to be a place, and it is the final "place", such as was the Gehenna fire that perpetually burned outside the city, where garbage, including the bodies of executed criminals were thrown as their final "place" for such refuse.
Further, note this: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:12-15)
This lake of fire (literal place; literal fire) is the place where eternal punishment will be administered to all those whose sins were not atoned at Calvary, where the Lamb of God met God's judgment against all the sins of all of God's elect.
In this lake of fire, where "....their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched..." (Mark 9:43-48 and Matt. 18:7-9) the place of torments will be, and is, eternal (without duration) because those whose names were not written in the book of life had no Substitute. Therefore, their sins were never covered -- never forgiven, and they stand judged, guilty, and eternal sentence is being executed upon them, because they are, and will eternally remain, guilty sinners.
I pray that these thoughts will prove to be beneficial to you in your search for truth.
Again, thank you for your query, and thanks for you devotion to the Cause of God and Truth,
Wm. Doyal Thomas, Pastor
Corene and I send greetings in the Name that is above every name that is, or that ever could be named among men, Jesus Christ the Righteous. We pray that you are well, and that the blessings of the Lord are your daily and constant portion as we await His soon coming to gather unto Himself His precious saints.
Again, we thank you for your interest in the things of our dear Lord and Only Sovereign, Jesus Christ.
Let me begin by calling attention again to the teaching that "…precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept…" (Isa 28:10). Also, in this specific passage, please carefully note the preposition, "upon", used twice. Clearly, "upon" here implies that succeeding "precepts" MUST be in full accord with the beginning "precept" relative to the subject matter under consideration.
Therefore, we may correctly conclude that once God has declared a "precept" (any precept) He does not waver or digress from that declared precept. God does not change course or direction, but goes ever forward, never altering His will or purpose.
Now, in the specific matter or Rapture (outgathering), or literally "snatching away" of His dear saints, we know that He does not contradict Himself, His Word, or His actions. They are all commensurate with His singular will and decree. He is immutable and changes not.
In Hebrews 9:27, 28, the Scriptures read: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many: (not ALL WDT) and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Now, when we read this passage, if we read it as if that which is mentioned here is mentioned nowhere else in the Scriptures, we could conclude that all men (without exception) must die and then be judged, thus eliminating, or at least contradicting the many, many passages that would teach a rapture (which includes the resurrection of "sleeping" saints, and the change or translation of living saints when that great event occurs.)
Can we take this position? Emphatically, we cannot. To do so would challenge God's word and impugn His Holy character. In fact, it would be calling Him a liar.
Well, what about this seeming contradiction – this dilemma?
Let's seek to study carefully, remembering that it is imperative that we seek the Holy Spirit to illuminate our minds and cause our hearts to correctly perceive the truth. It is demanded that we "Study to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Tim. 2:15)
First, let's review some basic truth relative to the matter of God's judgment of His Son Who stood as Surety for His people (the elect of God), and bore THEIR sins in His own body upon the tree. (The "tree" is the altar upon which God sacrificed His Lamb in the stead of His chosen ones.) See also Gen 22:13 where it is recorded that Abraham took the ram (that God provided) and sacrificed the ram as a "…burnt-offering IN THE STEAD of His son. Isn't that a marvelous truth? One being offered in the stead of another. And that is precisely what God did in the behalf of His elect when He offered His Son upon the tree (altar, place of sacrifice) in their stead. He (Jesus Christ) WAS the Just, dying for the unjust…..that He might bring us to God.
Now, let's also remember this. When Jesus Christ (Saviour, God's Anointed One) "…laid down His life for the sheep, (John 10:11-18) He did so both mandatorily AND voluntarily!!! Mandatorily, because God, in His holiness had said, "…for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Gen.2:17) AND, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die…" (Ezek 18:20) AND "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Rom. 3:23) AND, "For the wages of sin is death…"(Rom. 6:23).
Therefore, we see that all (without exception) of Adam's race, being sinners, being fallen, are justly condemned to an eternal death (separation from God). And, THAT judgment of eternal separation will take place after mortal life has ended in death of the body for sinners.
Then, resurrection (bodily) of those who live and die, never knowing Jesus Christ as Saviour will occur AFTER the Rapture of the saints of God, and AFTER the Great tribulation (the time of Jacob'' trouble or the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy) and AFTER the 1,000 year millennial reign of Christ on this earth.
Spiritually dead sinners will be bodily resurrected to stand before God at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). After THEIR death and resurrection to stand here, before God, the judgment of THEIR sins follows, and they will be cast ALIVE into the lake that burns with fire forever, and THEIR worm shall never die, nor will the flames be quenched. This does NOT produce cessation of being, but THEY will be preserved to be FOREVER punished for THEIR SINS. Here, there is no hope for THEIR situation or state. THEIR state will NEVER be improved. AWESOME!!!
Had THESE a Surety? It is clear they did not have One Who stood in their place and died in THEIR stead.
But, in contrast, what about the saints? Surely they had a Surety…One Who stood in their place and laid down His life, VOLUNTARILY, in their stead.
All those who are, or will be saved when this present age is consummated, having a Surety Who was judged in their stead, even though mortality may have claimed them, will be resurrected and caught up. Those who have not been claimed by mortality when this present age ends will be changed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (See I Thes. 4:13-18)
It was mandatory that the Surety die, for He represented sinners who should have died, and that because of their sins. They were guilty! Remember, "…and without shedding of blood is no remission." (Heb. 9:22) AND, "…but now once in the end of the world (literally, the consummation of the age WDT) hath he appeared top put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Heb 9:26)
And then, the passage of your question cites, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment;"
All men are sinners. Those for whom Christ did NOT stand for as Surety, must die – and THEN, at a later time (the Great White Throne judgment) be judged for their OWN sins, for whom no Surety had stood and had been judged "in their stead."
But, Praise the Lord! Those for whom Christ stood as Surety were counted as having been judged "in Him", and when He laid down His life, (died in their stead) they were counted as having been judged in Him and THEN to have died "in Him."
Note, He (and His own) was judged BEFORE He dismissed His spirit and died. He was "judged", and THEN He died. Death was the final act of obedience that He performed during His first advent, relative to sin, leaving NOTHING (not even judgment) to be accomplished at a later time.
Therefore, ALL His own have already been "judged" in Him so far as the guilt and penalty of their sins is concerned. And so, future judgment for sin is not the portion of any who have standing "in Him." Only those who do NOT have standing "in Him" must die…..and afterward face the judgment of their sins.
And so, all men (unsaved men) are those who are referred to in the passage in question. Not included in this "men" are the saved who have already been judged "in Christ", and no future condemnation of judgment awaits them so far as sins guilt and penalty are concerned.
Remember also, "For God has not appointed US to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Thes. 5:9)
I pray this is helpful, and that your concerns have been properly addressed, and that the answers to your question proves to be helpful and comforting to you.
God bless you and if we may be helpful, please feel free to communicate your concerns and we will, the Lord will, address them.
In His Eternal GRIP….and Service,
Greetings to you in the Name that is above every name that is, or that ever could be named among men, Jesus Christ the Righteous.
I appreciate you for your expressed desire to know Truth, and I thank God for having instilled that desire. I am persuaded that neither you, nor I, nor anyone would have an inclination toward God, His Word, and His Way except He place that inclination, desire, or ambition in us. Depravity is real, as sin's consequence, and depravity insists that God's ways are antiquated and that the enlightened do not actually need, or benefit by involving themselves in any consideration of Him. Oh, the exceeding sinfulness of sin!!!
Let me begin with the FIRST and INITIAL postulate. GOD IS!!! God is, and all else falls subsequent and subordinate to Him. Upon this postulate, all that follows must be, and ever shall remain.
"In the beginning, God...." (Genesis 1:1)
Look now to Isa. 28:9,10 --- and in context, we read: "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little..."
Once God has declared a precept (God does not "formulate" a precept, as if He must reason through possibility, or possibilities), and He never alters that precept. And every additional precept relative to the matter must be in perfect accord with that initially declared precept. God's Infallibility demands it!!! Remember, He has said, "For I am the LORD, I change not,...." (Mal. 3:6a) and, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)
Now, with this in mind, we lood to some of the many particular instances of how this applies, as recorded for us in Holy Writ. And may we always keep in mind, precept follows precept.
In Genesis, we learn that God had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect..." (Gen. 4:4,5). It is obvious that Adam and Eve, having themselves been made to know their need to be put in right relationship with their Creator, after their sin, were made the receipients of the "covering" that God provided, declaring the absolute necessity of a blood sacrifice that produced the "coats of skin" (Gen. 3:21) THEN, they, in time, taught their TWO sons, Cain and Abel, the "precept" of an "offering". BOTH sons were equally in need of an "offering", and both were instructed in that "precept", and BOTH were depraved and unable to rationalize a solution to their problem.
However, God granted unto Abel faith to obey God as to the acceptable sacrifice, and Abel obeyed. On the other hand, after having been told, Cain proceeded "on his own" and devised in his depraved mind the scheme that his "produce" sacrifice would serve his need nicely, thus disregarding the "blood offering." Cain was never saved, having rejected God's way.
Later, in the days of Noah, the entire population, being without exception, sinful, and therefore under the just condemnation due their sin, stood in abject need of a place of safety, a covert from the tempest, and ark to carry them over the wrath of God.s judgment.
In grace, God granted faith that enabled Noah to believe God, and to obey Him. He built an ark in full accord with God's declared "precept", and the result is, he and his family were delivered, while ALL THE REST were destroyed by the judgment flood that God brought down upon them.
And, in the days of Lot we find that God, having delivered from the cities of the plain, Lot and his family, destroyed ALL THE REST of the wicked inhabitants of those cities. Their sins being the cause of their destruction, they utterly perished 'in their sins.: That is, with their sins still charged to their account, with no Substitute suggested nor provided for them. Without exception, they all died under the judgment of God.
In all this, where was "purgatory" for Cain? for the perishing population in the days of Noah? of Lot? There was no "purgatory", nor was there any opportunity once grace was not provided. "If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.: (Eccel. 11:3)
Still later, at God's appointed time, He provided the deliverer (Moses as a type of Christ) to lead the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from Egypt ( a type of the unbelieving world) where they had been captive for 400 years and had served the gods and rulers of unbelieving and rebellious Egypt.
God provided instruction that a lamb, a male of the first year, without spot or blemish be separated from the flock ( a type of human kind) and be examined from the 10th day of the Hebrew month, Nissan until the evening of the 14th day of that same month (Read Exodus 11 and 12 for a full picture of the Paschal Lamb) at which time the head of each household (the family priest) was responsible to offer the lamb, draw it's blood, and then apply that blood upon the door posts (upper and side) of the houses wherein Israel dwelt.
The results of their obedience (having been given faith to believe God) they were blessed in that when God passed through the land at midnight, to accomplish His stated purpose to slay all the firstborn of all who dwelt in Egypt, including the great and small and of all animal kind, He, in grace, passed over the houses where blood had been applied. Where blood had been applied, judgment had already fallen, not on the guilty sinner, but on the substitue lamb instead.
Note these key points: 1) The necessity of blood. 2) The condemnation of ALL the firstborn of all who dwelt IN Egypt. (Ex. 11:5), and at that time, the Hebrews still dwelt IN Egypt, along with the Egyptians. 3) The blood distinguished where Hebrews dwelt, and where blood had been applied. 4) No Egyptian was instructed to put blood upon THEIR dwellings --- only Hebrews. 5) The substitutionary sacrifice of a Lamb for the need of those Hebrews.
Now, just to make sure that we have not taken "precept upon precept" to a position not warranted by the whole Bible, let's for a moment, look to the New Testament to confirm this Old Testament teaching that God directs saving grace to whom He will, and leaves all others "in their sins," just as they are.
In Acts 16:6-8 God declares, through His chosen human writer, Luke (whom God, by Divine Inspiration used) to demonstrate that same "precept upon precept." In other words, God still sends the Word to whom He will, and withholds it from whom He will, both for a season and forever, as He will.
The Holy Spirit forbade the gospel to be preached in Asia, and in Bithynia, but directed that it be reached in Troas, having also bypassed Mysia. The Holy Spirit acts sovereignly, and the reason or reasons that He bypassed some and visited others (none of whom were worthy) are His alone. He has not told us why He did this ---- just that He did. And because He did so, it is right! Praise God, He did this.
To the specific point now.
You will recall that when Jesus presented Himself to His chosen nation of people, as recorded in Matthew 23, they, as a nation rejected Him. Some did believe, as He granted repentance and gave them faith (John 1:11-13), but as a nation they would not accept His Messiahship, nor would they "have this man to rule over them".
Then, in verses 37, 38, Jesus lamented over this people who rejected Him --- and He said, "Behold, your house (the house of Israel) is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye will not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Note: "...till ye shall say...."
In keepng with Daniel's prophecy of the 70th week, the time of Jacob's trouble (Israel's trouble), Jesus told rejecting Israel that a time would come when they (rejecting Israel) would say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."
This 70th week, and the Great Tribulation that it encompasses, is designed by God to bring Israel to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is indeed the Messiah, and when they do so, a nation shall be born in a day. The 144,000 sealed Hebrew preachers will proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in that day, and the Holy Spirit will use the preached gospel to "prick the hearts" of the elect of Israel and convict them of their sins and present Jesus Christ as their Saviour and they WILL receive Him and will be saved.
This tribulation will follow the Rapture (catching away) of the saints who lived before that time, both Old Testament saints and New Testament saints. Some by resurrection, and the rest by translation. And the gospel will be used to save those chosen to receive it during the time of Great Tribulation.
Will those who rejected God be given a "second chance?" Not in the sense that some (most arminian proclaimers say). But, in the sense that Israel has for 2,000 years rejected Jesus Christ, and at that time they are enabled to receive Him, YES.
Israel will be the people who benefit during this time, and I am persuaded that others whom the gospel has apparently bypassed will also receive Him ... but not all. Those whom God has foreknown (foreloved in covenant promise), but not those to whom He will say, "...depart from me, I never knew you..." (Matt. 7:21-23)
We will discuss any matter that troubles you, or anyone, so long as it can be done in such manner as will bring honor and praise to our Great and Wonderful Saviour.
You are most welcomed and encouraged to print out any of the material that appears on the church website that you care to.
I don't know everything, but, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also....and to anyone who will hear.
Have a great day, and God bless you,
Wm. Doyal Thomas, Pastor
Philadelphia Baptist Church
NOTE: Pastor Thomas, et al, has a GREAT website with LOTS of GREAT articles, free tapes and hymnal downloads, and much more. You MUST visit this God-blessed website!
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