Do the Five Books of Moses, the Torah/Pentateuch, mention Jesus? I’ve been asked this question on several occasions. Although the Torah doesn’t mention Jesus by name, there are an overflowing abundance of His portraits hanging in each of the Five Books.
Often, the Christophany (or Theophany), the manifestation of Christ, is named the “Angel of the Lord.” Interestingly, in each one of His appearances, there is evidence that this Angel is actually God the Son. Take this first occurrence of Hagar, Abraham’s concubine and mother of Ishmael:
· The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” (Genesis 16:7-13; ESV)
This narrative claims that “the LORD [“Yahweh”] spoke to her,” and Hagar claimed that she had seen God, in the Person of the Angel of the Lord. After this:
· The LORD [“Yahweh”] appeared to him [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)
Please note that Yahweh, the Father, appears to no one (Exodus 33:20). Therefore, this must be a Christophany, Yahweh, the Son. After “Yahweh’s” two accompanying angels went down to Sodom, Abraham petitioned Him. Afterwards:
· The LORD [“Yahweh”] went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place. (Genesis 18:33)
Jacob later wrestled with a Man, whom he later realized was God:
· So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Genesis 32:30)
Years later, Jacob identified God as the “Angel” with whom he had wrestled:
· And he [Jacob] blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (Genesis 48:15-16)
Jacob still regarded the Angel as God. Therefore, after invoking “God” twice and the Angel a third time, he implored them, in the singular, to bless his family. Therefore, Jacob understood the Angel to also be God.
Here is another observation identifying this Angel as God. Jacob claimed that it was this Angel who had “redeemed me from all evil.” However, it is God who is identified as the Redeemer (Isaiah 44:22-23; 49:7; 2 Samuel 4:9; Psalm 34:22; 121:7).
Much later, Isaiah wrote that the “Angel of His Presence” had “saved” and “redeemed” Israel:
· In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9)
Isaiah equated this Angel with God. Then the Angel appeared to Moses in the midst of the burning bush in the middle of the desert:
· And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:2-4)
Notice that this Angel is also called “LORD” [“Yahweh”] and “God.” All of these appearances provide us with evidence that God or “Yahweh” is not the single Person that the rabbis claim about the Godhead. All of these references should also put to rest the rabbinic claim that God does not take on human form. Instead, these appearances of a Messianic figure provide us with evidence for the Trinity.
The Angel continually appears throughout the Pentateuch. As strange as it may seem, He was the One who brought Israel out of Egypt:
· When we cried out to the Lord, He heard our voice and sent the Angel and brought us up out of Egypt. (Numbers 20:16)
However, other verses claim that it was God who brought Israel out of Egypt.
· And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. (Exodus 13:21)
· “The LORD has said to me [Moses], ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the LORD has spoken… (Deuteronomy 31:2-3)
Well, did God accompany Israel or didn’t He? How do we resolve this apparent contradiction? Again, it seems that the Angel Himself is God, but a distinct Person.
Elsewhere, God distinguishes Himself from His Angel:
· "Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him… For My Angel will go before you… and I will cut them off.” (Exodus 23:20-23)
If God’s “name” is in Him, this is the same as saying that “My essence or nature is in Him.” Elsewhere, God the Father again makes a sharp distinction between Himself and the Divine Angel (or “Messenger” – an alternate meaning of the same word, “malach”):
· “And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people." (Exodus 33:2-3)
God, the Father, could not be in the presence of Israel. Therefore, He sent His Angel, the second Person of the Trinity to accompany Israel out of Egypt.
Here is further evidence that the Father could not have appeared to Israel. He claimed that He could never be seen because He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16):
· But He said [to Moses], "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20)
Nevertheless, God was seen:
· So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. (Exodus 33:11)
How can we resolve this paradox that God is seen but cannot be seen? It must have been the the Son who was seen, not the Father.
Again, we see this paradox. God reprimanded Moses’ sister and brother who were attempting to usurp some of Moses’ authority:
· And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:6-8)
This again sounds like a contradiction. Either God cannot be seen or Moses had actually seen Him, unless Moses had seen God the Angel, the second Person of the Trinity. Without an understanding of multiple Persons in the Godhead, there doesn’t seem to be a way to resolve this paradox.
Elsewhere, the Angel is mentioned interchangeably with God, also suggesting that the Angel is God:
· And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. (Exodus 14:19)
· Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. (Exodus 14:24)
· And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. (Exodus 13:21)
Therefore, again, the Angel seems to be God Himself but also a distinct Person.
The rabbis and the various cults do not seem to want to engage this evidence. It simply does not accord with their worldview. However, these verses provide for us another glimpse of the Trinity in the Torah.
However, these Christophanies do not exhaust the Pentateuchal evidence. In a mysterious encounter with Melchizedek (“Righteous King”), the King of “Salem” (“peace” in Hebrew), the priest of the “Most High God,” Abraham recognizes His authority and gives tithes to Him (Genesis 14:20; also see Psalm 110).
Melchizedek seems to be more than human. We are told that He had no parents:
Melchizedek seems to be more than human. We are told that He had no parents:
· He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. (Hebrews 7:3)
Only God had no beginning or end. Therefore, Melchizedek must have been a Christophany.
Judging from Abraham’s subsequent words with the King of Sodom, this encounter seems to have been transformative.
In the following chapter (Genesis 15), Abraham seems to have had another Divine encounter, a Christophany. Abraham had asked God to confirm His promises to him. God complied through a covenant-making promise. In the forms of a torch and a smoking lamp, symbols of wrath and judgment, He passed between parts of animals, pledging to keep His Word through the wrath He would unleash upon Himself.
God the Son painted a portrait of His future suffering in other ways. As the Son of a woman, He would reverse the Fall by crushing Satan, the malevolent force behind the serpent. However, in the process, the “serpent” would bite His heal (Genesis 3:15).
Elsewhere, as a prefiguration of His future suffering, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his “only son” Isaac on Mt. Moriah. However, the Angel of the Lord intervened and provided a ram for an offering instead of Isaac:
· And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son… (Genesis 22:15-16)
Interestingly, Abraham understood far more about this encounter than seems apparent. Instead of naming the mountain, “God has provided,” Abraham named it “God will provide,” suggesting that God would provide His own Son in the future:
· So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” (Genesis 22:14)
What would be provided? An offering similar to the one Abraham had been asked to provide. Perhaps Jesus had been thinking of this account when He said:
· Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
What did Abraham see? Well, what was Jesus’ “day?” It was the day of His Glory:
· And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23-24)
What did Abraham understand? He understood that God would offer His only-begotten Son, not only in place of Abraham’s son but in place of the sins of the entire world.
God had given Israel many snapshots of the Cross. He was always preaching the Gospel. ShortIy after celebrating God’s goodness in bringing them to safety through the sea, Israel rebelled against the Lord. Thirsty, they wanted to stone Moses. He cried out to the Lord.
· The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by [“upon”; KJV] the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 17:5-6)
Israel wanted to indict God, and He was ready to comply. Moses was instructed to take his staff of judgment and, followed by the elders, he was to walk through the people, signaling that there would be a trial and an execution. God would stand as a defendant before them, and Moses would symbolically strike Him down with his staff. However, instead of Israel being punished, they would be blessed exceedingly from the most unlikely place. From a rock, waters would flow.
From the most unlikely place, this world would later be blessed. In the midst of the worst rebellion imaginable, Israel and the Gentiles would strike down the Savior of the world. Instead of the punishment falling upon them, it would fall upon the innocent One, but they would be blessed.
Again, after the Israelites had rebelled against the Lord and were dying from poisonous serpent bites:
· The LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live. (Numbers 21:8-9)
Fifteen hundred years later, Jesus explained the symbolism:
· And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)
While Israel would receive physical healing by looking to an evil serpent, we would experience spiritual healing by looking to our Lord, who had taken evil upon Himself. Jesus would become sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.
God had even revealed King Jesus in the midst of Israel to the false prophet Balaam. God had given him a series of astounding prophecies. Balaam was shown an Israel without any iniquity (Numbers 23:21). How could this be? Because the King was in their midst! Balaam even saw the loveliness of Israel’s worn tents (Numbers 24:5). After this, God again revealed to Balaam this mysterious King in the midst of Israel. Paradoxically, Balaam prophesied:
· I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel. (Numbers 24:17; Genesis 49:10)
Their King was there, but He wasn’t. He was present, but not in His fullness. Unwittingly, the Roman magistrate:
· Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” (John 19:19)
However, this troubled the chief priests:
· So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” (John 19:21-22)
Interestingly, Jesus never called Himself “King of the Jews.” Instead, Pilate had been divinely led to write this. One evil man had prophesied the coming King. Another evil man acknowledged the fulfillment of this prophecy, and the rabbis could do little to change what had been destined.
Usually, when we think of Christ in the Pentateuch, we think of this prophecy:
· “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen… ‘I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.’” (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Exodus 23:20-23)
However, we must not overlook one last portrait of our Savior. God gave Moses a song to teach the Israelites about their future. It concludes:
· Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make ATONEMENT for his land and people. (Deuteronomy 32:43; NIV)
How strange – God would make atonement! Why not the Levites, who He had appointed to make atonement through the sacrificial system? Only God could provide an adequate atonement, a payment for the sins of the world, a payment that the blood of animals could not provide.
Jesus reveals Himself throughout these Five Books, preaching His Good News to all who had eyes to see and ears to hear.