Christophany · God · Jesus Christ · Old Testament · Trinity

Jesus Christ’s appearances in the Old Testament–pt. 1

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.


51 thoughts on “Jesus Christ’s appearances in the Old Testament–pt. 1

  1. We are brainwashed in this world to look at everything but JESUS. Let our eyes stand fast upon the LORD and HIS prize. This takes me back to a short poem I recentlly wrote:


    Inside I feel shattered
    Like a million pieces
    My thoughts are scattered
    On everything but JESUS

    Let YOUR love make me whole
    Let YOUR will take control
    Cleanse me with YOUR SPIRIT
    Renew my heart and my soul

    Guide me on YOUR path
    To help others who are lost
    YOU bought me with YOUR blood
    That YOU poured upon the cross

    YOU lift me like kings
    YOU speak to me in dreams
    YOU give me hope in despair
    And forgive me for all things

    “Let Go and Let GOD”

    By: Kerry Dale Hancock Jr


  2. One of my favorite OT Christophanies is when he appeared in the blazing furnace to the three holy youths, in Daniel chapter 3.


  3. Actually the three persons who appeared to Abraham was the Trinity. Abraham haggled with God the Father. God the Son and God the Holy Spirit went to Sodom and you know the rest of the story.

    The old testament is replete with Trinitarian proofs. Atleast a guy by the name of Yoel Natan thinks so and he wrote a book called the Jewish Trinity.

    Just my 2 cents.


  4. Sorry, bible dude, you missed the mark here. If you read the scripture carefully, three men appeared to Abraham. After they finished eating, two of them headed toward Sodom and one stayed behind. Abraham called him “Adonai.” He’s the only one of the three who is the Lord.

    In the following chapter the two men arrive in Sodom and they are revealed as angels sent to rescue Lot and his family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OK. You are right in a sense that Christ did tell Abraham that he is going to destroy Sodom – But Abraham did not haggle with God the Son but God the Father. Lot also called the Maleks (Son and the Holy Spirit), Adonai in Gen 19:18. Read pages 81-82 in the Jewish Trinity source book. Let me know what you think. Its available for free on or (I think). It is not a ploy to make you read the book.

    “If one accepts the logical conclusion that there are at least two persons called Yahveh (by the narrator) in Gen 18—19, it is not difficult to accept that the three men who visited Abraham were The Trinity.” From TJT source book


  6. bible dude,

    You’ve raised a very interesting point. As you probably know, we are told in the scripture that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” in 2 Peter. Isaiah also informed us that “precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” when it comes to God’s word. So in addition to a word’s meaning in the scripture and the context in which it is used, we must also compare scripture with scripture.

    I took another look at Genesis 18 and 19 and discovered that the one man who stayed behind to talk to Abraham is called both Lord (Adonai) and LORD (Yahweh)(see Genesis 18:22-23 where Abraham stood before, and drew near to, the one man who stayed behind). So we have two witnesses that this is God in the flesh. Christ is the only person of the Godhead who ever appears in a human body. And whoever sees Christ in his bodily form has seen the Father. In Genesis 19, the context is different. Lot calls both angels “my lords” (adonai) in v. 2, but the context of the word refers to beings that are lower than God.

    There is a distinction made between the angels and God in v. 17–“And it came to pass, when they [the angels] had brought them forth abroad, that he [the Lord] said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.” After God spoke, v. 18 says “And Lot said unto them [the angels], Oh, not so, my Lord.” We have to ask ourselves why was he speaking to the angels like that? This is the point you’ve raised, and it’s a good point which I asked myself to try to find the answer. This led me to ask myself “Self, where was God’s voice coming from?” I also asked God to bring to my remembrance any scriptures that could address these questions.

    Then some scriptures came to my mind to answer the questions. Ezekiel had visions of cherubim in Ezekiel 1 and 10. In his visions of the angelic beings, Ezekiel “heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.” In chapter 10, he tells us “the sound of the cherubims’ wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh.”

    God can use angels like stereo speakers to project his voice from the midst of them. We also see him projecting his voice from other things in the scripture, like the burning bush and the ark of the covenant and the altar in heaven in Revelation. God projected his voice from the midst of the angels to speak to Lot, which is why he spoke to them to address the Lord. Jesus Christ can be called an angel in certain circumstances but only two of the three men were called angels to denote the heavenly beings. In Genesis 18 the man who stayed behind was never referred to as being an angel. In Genesis 19, the other two men are called angels. This was God’s way of showing us in the scriptures that the two men who actually went to Sodom to get Lot were different than the man who stayed behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One of the most common challenges to Christianity is the alleged disjunction between the God of the Old Testament and the Christ of the new.
    Unfortunately many Christians also have the (perhaps subconscious) perception that this is the case.
    Teaching of the perfect continuity of the OT into the NT via Christ is crucial to correct this misconception. Thanks for this piece.


  8. It is sad how few people realize that Jesus did appear in the old testament to the saints of old. It would be nice if everyone studied there bible and it became second knowledge to all mankind, but the truth is many people do not know the truth found in the word of God. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.


    1. It is sad. Unfortunately, most people who call themselves Christians are unwilling to expand their knowledge of the Bible by reading it for themselves and are content to rely on what their pastor, televangelist, or radio preacher tells them.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is the first time I have told this story in public and it really means something only to me, but if it blesses you so be it. Many years ago (1975) while attending Bible College I was being troubled by horrific dreams of an evil nature. So frightful and disturbing I awoke one night to call a 24 hour prayer line to ask God to remove the memory of the evil dream. One night, while in a dream of a peaceful nature there appeared a vision which interuppted this present dream. I was in a spirit world with people all around me. Joy was so profound, I still cannot find words to express it. Suddenly the came the “news” that Jesus was arriving. I moved by pure thought. As I turned to go up a stairway was a personage of such magnificant appearance and stature I stopped in awe. I could not see His face but His eyes radiated a”laser like” radiant bluish warmth that went through my spirit. He opened His arms and called me “Peter” but I thought Hmmm my name is Les. We walked together as friends with no judgement or condemnation. We moved to a large open tranluscent porch that led out to paradise. As I continued to move He remained at the top of the porch and I realized He was the Lord. I started to weep at His feet and felt my shame and shortcomings in life. He reached down and touched my forehead so gently and all my tears dissapeared. He said “Beware!, for thieves and murders will come and they will plunder and kill” then without and notice He was gone. I found a tree out in the paradise to sit under to ponder the words spoken to me when suddenly a horde of black figures on horses were ravaging in the distant horizon. One broke from the horde and came directly at me releasing a spear towards my chest. Just before the spear struck me I awoke with a blood curdling scream. My roomate asked me what was wrong and I said “Gary, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. Late in life I would come to understand what the words meant. We serve a powerful and awesome Lord and Savior. Les in San Diego


    1. Thanks for sharing your dream. The black figures on the distant horizon you saw are now not so distant. They’re right in our faces. I’m glad God has given us his armor to fend them off until we are called home.


    2. I’d like to hear more about the description of Jesus in your vision. If Jesus himself appeared to you with such a vision, that would be an Apostolic calling. Are you aware of the offices of the kingdom? Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, pastors, miracle workers? I’m not saying you are an apostle but that there may be more to the vision than you realise. Also, did you have to make a donation to the t.v company for the prayer you received? What stood out to me is that in your vision, the black horse rider that came at you was allowed to get as close as he did. Following such a peaceful moment with the Lord, you would think that this wouldn’t be allowed to happen. I’d like to put it to you that maybe it wasn’t Jesus at all but the enemy showing you that you have been tricked by him and that you were looking in the wrong place for answers. You let your guard down and the enemy close?!


  10. This post is really good and such a great joy to know that our Saviour came before HE was born in Mary’s womb. But if Jesus was present in bodily form in the OT times then how can He be born again in NT time as a new born baby to Mary??? and Why?? He could have continued the same bodily form and appear as a Saviour to the Jews/World. I am not fully sure whether it was the same bodily form that Jesus had in different ages of OT & NT times.


    1. You raise some good questions. Jesus only made quick appearances in the Old Testament and was not born of a woman at those times. He had to come in a totally different way in the New Testament because he had to be born of a woman to be human so he could be the perfect sacrifice for all humanity. When he made appearances in the Old Testament, he just had his divine nature. In the New Testament he had both his 100% divinity alongside his 100% humanity without sin.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s the same reason that we have baptism. We are baptised by water (complete submersion) because that’s how we were born by our mothers, through water. To be saved, redeemed, set free we have to be baptised. By doing this we (our old selves) are dying with Christ (crucifixion) and being re born (resurrected) with Christ into a new life with him. He had to come as a baby through Mary because he wanted to show us that his love for us means so much that he was prepared to make that perfect sacrifice by living and dying as one of us (fully). His form in the old testament is how he appeared to people before he needed to take his place on the cross.


  11. I must comment on this excerpt of the explanation of Jesus’s appearances since it is evident that your were divinely enlightened by God to write such truths of the word of God. Critics seek to find truth in biblical passages and most of the time seek a scientific explanation to those miraculous wonders he does on a daily basis. Miracles cannot be proven because they don’t have a logical explanation of how and why. It is what critics fail to understand that God is miraculous. There critical mind will never see beyond this…smile.

    Now, as for appearances of Jesus, there is a topic of interest. It was made known to me by my husband a few months ago about a dream that stirred his soul. He is a new convert found in a remote situation (please help me pray). In this dream he saw an old man who was dressed in all white and every hair was pure white then he saw a woman who was in all red. He said that he felt sure was filed with lust and every evil desire. He knew what kingdom she represented, but his eyes were fixed on the old man who did not appear old. He said he felt a peace emanate from him. I immediately thought it was the Ancient of Old.

    Your explanation has affirmed my thoughts on this dream and I know now that my husband’s dream is a message for him from heaven above. Some Christians are consumed with proving right or wrong and are failing to extract the important truths of the word of God that can help us mature and grow in the faith. Thank you and God continue to bless you with wisdom.


  12. I think that everything published made a ton of sense. However,
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    You could look at Yahoo’s front page and see how they create article headlines to get viewers to open the links. You might try adding a video or a related pic or two to grab people excited about what you’ve got to say.
    Just my opinion, it might bring your posts a little
    bit more interesting.


  13. In v. 3 of that chapter Abraham greets one of the men as “My Lord” (“Adonai” in Hebrew) which is a phrase in scripture used only to refer to God (see Ps. 110:1). Starting in Gen. 18:13, this man is called “the LORD.”

    This isn’t true. Genesis 18:12. Sarah referred to Abraham as “my lord” using the same HEbrew phrase. “Adonai” isn’t a divine title but an authoritative one.


  14. Question for anyone who can give me a simple yet detailed answer: how do you prove using biblical evidence that the God-man figure and “The Angel of the LORD” found in the OT is in fact the Son of God? It can’t be the Jesus we consider the Messiah because the human Jesus wasn’t born from the womb yet and therefore the name “yeshua” didn’t even exist (Lk 1:31) (I believe that Jesus Christ in the 1st century was the Son of God incarnate). I know that “angel” in Hebrew is interchangeable with “messenger” and whether it is “an/the angel of the LORD”, “an/the angel of The Lord”, or “angel of God” in the OT, the narrative immediately shows the messenger speaking as if the being was God himself, a theophany (Gen 16, 22, Ex 3:2, Judg 6, 13). Although at the same time, “the angel of the LORD” in Zec 1:12 asks the LORD a question while in Zec 3:6-7, it says he is speaking on the LORD’s behalf as his representative.


    1. John,

      [It can’t be the Jesus we consider the Messiah because the human Jesus wasn’t born from the womb yet and therefore the name “yeshua” didn’t even exist]

      You’ve made some assumptions here that aren’t in line with scripture. Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. He is God the Son, meaning he has always existed. Isaiah 9 calls him the everlasting Father. Jesus said in John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” Since Jesus is God, he has always existed. Just because he didn’t use the name Jesus until he was born of a virgin doesn’t mean he wasn’t the same person. The name “Yeshua” did, in fact, exist in the Old Testament. Joshua is the name the English Bibles use for the name “Yeshua” in the Old Testament to distinguish him from “Jesus” which is the English form of the Greek version of the same name. “Yeshua” was a popular Hebrew name in ancient Israel.

      The context of the scripture helps the reader distinguish between “the angel of the LORD” who is really a heavenly angel and “the angel of the LORD” who is really the preincarnate Messiah, who was the Messiah before the world began. When “the angel of the LORD” is worshipped, it’s undoubtedly the preincarnate Jesus. Wherever he appears but isn’t worshipped or refuses to be worshiped, then that isn’t Jesus.


      1. Harry,

        The human Jesus did not exist before he was born. This is not an assumption but a fact since no human in history existed before birth. I agree that the Son of God has always existed but the Son of God did not become flesh until the incarnation at the virgin birth. Also, the Son of God was not called Jesus before Mary named her human baby Jesus as commanded by an angel of The Lord. Again, Jesus is the name of a human being, not a spirit. YHWH can be recognized as a name for a spirit but not Jesus since Jesus is God as a breathing man. I think we both agree with this part but I wanted u to know where I’m coming from.

        However, u didn’t explain how the context could explicitly or directly show “the angel of the LORD” as pre incarnate Messiah. Do u admit this is based on faith? Or can u textually prove how the context shows that some of these angelic appearances are in fact the Son of God as a human being? I am eager for u (or anyone) to use scripture to show “the angel of the LORD” in certain passages as Jesus Christ instead of an angel representing God on His behalf as was common in many OT passages.


      2. John,

        [Again, Jesus is the name of a human being, not a spirit.]

        We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Throughout the New Testament he is referred to as the LORD Jesus, i.e. Jehovah Jesus. That’s who he’s always been, but his name was not revealed until he was born of Mary. Just like God did not reveal his name “Jehovah” until Moses– “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” [Exodus 6:3]. But he was always Jehovah, he just didn’t reveal that until hundreds of years later.


      3. John,

        You said I didn’t explain how the context shows the preincarnate Messiah, but if you read both part 1 & 2, I give details of how the people who encountered him recognized him.


  15. Oh also, “the angel of the LORD” appears again and kills 185,000 Assyrians in 2 Kgs 19. Did the Son of God kill these men or a messenger from God?


  16. Harry,

    I’ve read both parts and u just state that the personified LORD is Jesus without any external evidence until u talk about Judges 13. In the Samson story, u gave three clues but I didn’t find the first two clues compelling as the same adjectives can be (and have been in the Hebrew texts) used on numerous things without an interconnection between the two things described. Also, God did accept the offering and doesn’t say the angel of the “adonai” accepted it in any way. In fact, the angel told the couple to “offer to the Lord (adonai, not YHWH)”, not “offer to me”. The third clue is interesting since the speaker is Manoah: “We shall surely die for we have seen the face of God.” They didn’t die and they didn’t see the face of God, especially since they thought they were talking to a man (v. 6) and didn’t even know they were talking to an angelic being until verse 21.

    I’m not trying to say Jesus isn’t in the OT or that u are wrong to believe these appearances are in fact Jesus. I want to kno if there is explicit evidence for Jesus with Abraham, Hagar, Jacob, and Manoah since the passages themselves don’t mention Jesus or a pre incarnate Messiah. Is there anything in the later OT books or NT that refers back to these events stating they saw the Son of God? Thanks!


    1. John,

      I gave concrete examples from the scriptures with the context. I believe the problem is simply that you’re not willing to accept what I’ve proven. One of the basic teachings that Hebrews knew even before Moses was that no man could see God and live (Exodus 33:20). However when they encountered the preincarnate Lord in a human body, they figured out who he was, but were amazed they didn’t die.

      Jacob would not have been named Israel if he had not wrestled Jesus. He would not have named the spot where he wrestled “Peniel” if he had not seen the Lord in physical form.

      Manoah knew he had seen the Lord. I made it clear that angels do not accept sacrifice as the “angel” that they saw accepted the sacrifice. The sacrifice Manoah offered was a form of worship to Jehovah and only God can accept or reject a sacrifice such as this. We know this from Genesis when he accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected Cain’s. People who were intimate with God as Manoah and his wife were could easily recognize what was of God. Manoah’s wife even acknowledged in Judges 13:23 that it was the LORD (Jehovah) who had just received their burnt offering.

      I give scriptural references in my posts to prove my points. Just because you refuse to accept this truth doesn’t mean I’m off-base. It just means that you reject what I have to say and/or may lack understanding of the word on this issue. I stand by what I’ve said.


  17. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been
    conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I
    found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!

    ! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this topic here on
    your website.


  18. So when G-D says he is not a man, it was a lie? Jesus does not appear in the OT because he was not born. “Hear OH ISRAEL, the LORD is our G-D, the LORD is one” Remember Jesus said whoever changes one iota of the law would be the lowest in heaven


    1. Brian,

      You’re approaching the Bible with pre-conceived ideas, then attempting to make it fit your private interpretation. You failed to compare scripture with scripture accurately. First, which scripture are you talking about when God said he was not a man? The context renders the meaning. If you are referring to Numbers 23:19–“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”– then God is saying he is not like humans who lie and are unreliable. He never said that he would never appear in human form.

      That scripture also says God is “neither the son of man.” But Daniel calls him (i.e. God the Son) the Son of man in Daniel 7:13. So the scripture in Numbers is also pointing out that God in the essence of his nature and being is not man. God predicted several times directly or through prophets that he would eventually come as a human (Genesis 3:15; 49:10; Proverbs 30:4) and really stressed this point in Isaiah 9:6 when he said a child would be born and a son given who would be called mighty God and everlasting Father. God would have to be speaking of himself since he told this to one of his prophets because this is blasphemy for any regular human to be called the names listed in Isaiah 9:6.

      And as far as your argument about Jesus not being born yet, are you denying the Trinity? The fact that Jesus wasn’t born yet doesn’t negate the fact he is eternal. He wasn’t born of a virgin yet but he has always existed. That’s why he told the Jews in John 8 “Before Abraham was, I am.” He was not known as “Jesus” until he was born of Mary, but he was still Lord and one part of the triune Godhead. This is why David prophesied in Psalm 110:1, “The LORD [Jehovah, the Father] said unto my Lord [Adonai, the Son], Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”

      God chooses different time periods to reveal his different names, but he is eternally God. For example, Jesus said in Revelation 3:12 that he will write his new name on his saints at the time he establishes the new heaven and new earth. His new name hasn’t appeared yet, but he is still God. That’s how it is with his name Jesus. He appeared in the Old Testament, but his earthly name hadn’t appeared yet. But he was still God the Son. And he made bodily appearances in human form before he was born of a virgin.


  19. Harry,
    You are simply in a higher class. Lol. I had this discussion with a friend today and couldn’t seem to impart it clearly like you did here. Jesus showed up in the OT several times. John 1:18 was clear nobody has seen God @ any time and lived. Even though abraham, jacob and Moses assumed they saw God. But it was all the while d “unrevealed” Jesusu. He was even the Rock that Moses struck to give water. This Rock was mobile. He followed them(1cor 10:4). But I am still trying to figure out the body Jesus appeared in. “Physical”, “celestial”?????

    Thank you!


    1. Kingsley, thanks for the comment. When the scriptures say no man has seen God at any time it means no one has seen him in his full glory. They only saw him in a ‘veiled’ form where he didn’t show himself without a ‘filter.’


  20. Where does it explicitly say in the bible that it was Jesus who appeared to Abraham in gen 18 and Joshua in josh 5? In the actual passages, they don’t mention God the Son or Jesus.


    1. @JohnCalvin,

      His name isn’t explicit but implicit just like in a large number of Messianic prophecies. Just as one can tell a Messianic prophecy by the description of the Messiah, one can tell when Jesus appeared by his characteristics and how the people he appeared to responded to him. His name was not to be revealed until the time of his 1st coming.


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