The God we serve is very complex in his character and many times it is difficult to comprehend why or how he does what he does. This is one reason why critics of Christianity resist having the Lord as part of their lives. When they look at the Old Testament (OT) and compare it to the New Testament (NT), they fail to see how the two interconnect. They deny that all three persons of the godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) were active in the Old Testament and claim that the Trinity is nothing more than an idea conjured up in the New Testament.
Humans in their sinfulness are more comfortable serving gods who are created in their image, but the God of true Christianity expects us to be like him because everything he does is done in truth and righteousness. Critics of the true and living God fail to realize that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are his ways our ways because his thoughts and ways are much higher than our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8,9). Furthermore, the existence of the Trinity is expressed in the very first chapter of Genesis (Gen. 1:1,2,26) where God’s name is Elohim, which is plural (yet at the same time is singular), and where in v. 26 God refers to himself in the plural.
Careful study of the OT also reveals that Jesus Christ made several bodily appearances, or Christophanies, long before he entered Mary’s womb. One such appearance was in Gen. 18 when Jesus, along with two of his angels, visited Abraham. Starting in Gen. 18:13, this man is called “the LORD.” Whenever the word LORD appears in scripture with all caps, this identifies God’s name Jehovah or Yahweh. As this chapter ends, two of the men begin a journey to Sodom while Jesus remains behind to tell Abraham that Sodom will be destroyed. Upon learning of Sodom’s upcoming destruction, Abraham intercedes on their behalf to Jesus. In the next chapter the two angels who were with Jesus arrive at Sodom to rescue Lot and his family.
Jesus also made an appearance to Jacob in Gen. 32:24-30 where he wrestled with Jacob all night. Several theologians have said that Jacob was merely having a psychological battle, not a physical one, because of his feeling guilty for taking Esau’s birthright. However, I have never heard of someone having a psychological battle where their hip gets knocked out of joint as Jacob’s did–have you? Since Jacob held his own against Jesus in the wrestling match, he was granted a blessing. His name was changed to Israel, which is proof that this man had to be Jesus. Israel means “he who prevails with God” or “he will rule as God (rules).” Jacob had literally prevailed with God by wrestling with him in the person of Jesus. This was a reflection of Jacob’s spiritual growth in that he could persevere and overcome by faith without cheating as he had done in the past. Jacob realized who he wrestled with in Gen. 32:30 by naming the place Peniel, meaning “the face of God,” knowing he had seen him face to face and lived.
Jesus appeared to Joshua also in Josh. 5:13-15. Joshua was near Jericho when he saw a man with a sword drawn. Immediately Joshua wanted to know if he was friend or foe and he was told by the man that he was captain of the Lord’s host. Upon hearing this, Joshua fell on his face and worshipped him. This man did not stop Joshua from worshipping him as any other servant of the Lord would do (see Acts 10:26; 14:15; Rev. 19:10; 22:9 where servants of God stopped other men from worshipping them). Joshua asked Jesus what his message was and Jesus responded by telling Joshua to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground, which is the same thing he told Moses in Exodus when he appeared to him in a burning bush.