Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Old Testament's Revelation of Christ [Pt.5]

by Rudolph P. Boshoff

[Continued from Pts. 1, 2, 3, & 4]

I. Introduction

In the previous section, we affirmed a definite presence of Jesus Christ as the expected Messiah who was clearly typified throughout the Old Testament and exemplified in theophanies by scholars. Now we will turn our focus to two passages of Scripture and see how they relate to Jesus as God.  

II. Exegesis of Daniel 7:13-14

I have selected the Daniel 7:13-14, since it is the climax of the book where we finally have an encounter with the Son of Man, which is clearly more than just an ordinary man. It is also one of the texts in the Old Testament scriptures that emphatically situates the person of Jesus Christ in a place of clear pre-eminence and Old Testament fulfillment. It reads as follows:
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.”
(a.)“There before me was one like a son of man.” 

The Son of Man title existed in pre-Christian Jewish thought and resembled a transcendent redeemed figure whose coming to earth would inaugurate the end of the age (Longenecker 1970:82). This portion relates also to ore-Christian source materials in the first book of Enoch (37-71) and the fourth book of Ezra (13) and affirms the pre-Christian Jewish expectations regarding the Son of Man as the eschatological agent of redemption (Longenecker 1970:83). Hammer (1976:78) holds that this is a man that approaches the Ancient of Days (God) and he is definitely the Messiah. Gowan (2011) notes that the use of fire in this context can signify the presence of a theophany and this can also be a Semitic idiom that means ‘like a human being’ or ‘someone’ but maintains that in light of the New Testament that this refers emphatically to Jesus Christ. This would mean that even from the Enochian Similitudes we see clearly that Daniel’s ‘Son of Man’ is a transcendent and glorified redeemed figure who is exalted above all sufferings (Longenecker 1970:87). Jesus fits perfectly into these categories and the earliest Christian communities affirm that this was in fact Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 14:16-62) and His subsequent crucifixion on the charge of blasphemy by the High Priest (Mark 14:64) affirms He was perceived, yet rejected, as the coming Messiah. 

Longenecker (1970:92) mentions that for the first Christian community the title ‘Son of Man’ resembled Jesus as the suffering man in line with Daniel’s representation that would be glorified and return to complete the full prophetic picture. Jesus also relates to the Son of Man as being and confirms that ‘No one has ever gone onto heaven except the One who came from heaven-the Son of Man [who is in heaven].’ (John 3:13). Jesus clearly relates that him being the Son of man pre-existed with the Father in heaven coming down to be the agent of redemption. He even prayed in John 17:5 that the Father restore Him to the place of glory He had ‘before the world began’ [with you – Greek: ‘papa soi’]. In his exaltation, we can clearly affirm that the Son of Man seated on the divine throne itself (Dan 7:14) receives obeisance and is recognized as the unique Divine Sovereign (Bauckham 2008:171). 

(b.) “Coming with the clouds of heaven.” 

In Matthews Gospel Jesus says:
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Matt 24:30) 
He also mentions that He will ‘come with the clouds of heaven’ (ἐρχόμενον μετὰ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ) in Mark’s Gospel (14:62). This passage draws from Daniel 7:13 that states: 
“And behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like the Son of Man.” 
Miller (1994:207) mentions that in the ancient world, clouds provided transportation only for deities and Jesus is clearly associating this metaphor with Himself (cf. Rev 14:14-15). Clouds are depicted in the Old Testament as being Yahweh’s chariots (Ps 104:3) and God even appears within a thunderstorm (Judges 5:4). David pleads Yahweh for help, and God arrives upon the cherubim from His heavenly temple (Ps 18:11) and Nahum (1:3) beholds clouds at the feet of Yahweh in his theophanic vision. Clouds were associated with Yahweh’s judgement (Isa. 19:1) and the prophet Ezekiel records Yahweh coming from a cloud (1:4, 28) where the temple was filled and judgement would be poured out later (10:3-4). What startled the High Priest was that Jesus dared to parallel Himself with Yahweh that would judge the nations. 

This was a prerogative that was clearly only central to Yahweh in the Jewish understanding. Yahweh would judge the nations several times in the Old Testament from a cloud-mass (Ezek 30:2, 34:12; Joel 2:2; Zeph 1:15) where His anger would become a dark smoke cloud (Isa 30:27). France (2002:612) holds that Jesus here declares that in the metaphors ‘sitting’ and ‘coming’ Jesus is referring to one initiative and that is ‘sovereign authority.’ The representation of clouds in the Old Testament was clearly connected with eschatological judgement and salvation (Isa 4:5; Nah 1:3). What Jesus is saying is in fact justifying the High Priest reply, because He identifies Himself with Yahweh that will stand in complete judgement of the High Priest Himself as well as the whole nation of Israel. Further, makes Himself the spiritual head of the nation of Israel because He was assuming a place of authority over the High Priest who was under the impression that He was judging Him.  Donald Macleod (1998:59) says the fact that Jesus calls for the return with the clouds of heaven is synonymous with his return to the glory of His Father and being the royal, superhuman, and divine, Son of Man clearly lends itself to the idea that He was preexistent and the divine Messiah.          
II.a Exegesis of Isaiah 7:14

I have selected Isaiah 7:14 to show that the intention of God in the incarnation of the Messiah was so that He would be a sign of God born of a Virgin being God with us. 
The passage reads:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.”
F. F. Bruce (2008:738) contends that the Prophet Isaiah was referring to a young woman (almâh) or virgin in the time of Ahaz born to his harem or even of Isaiah’s own son born to his wife (Isa 8:1-4). As for the immediate context, this Son would be a sign of God’s presence amongst the nation of Israel and there would be a future expected fulfillment in another Son (Isa 9:6). Matthew immediately mentions that Christ fulfilled this expectation and says that “the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” [Greek – ‘μεθ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός’] (Matt 1:23) coming directly from Isaiah’s prophecy. In this book there is clear evidence of double fulfillment’’ where specific texts would be applicable to the immediate context and to a future point of time. 

The Prophets Isaiah (9:6) states that ‘a Son will be given’ who will be ‘eternal father. Oswalt (1986:247) says this phrase must not be taken lightly as this person mentioned in an ancient Near Eastern context contains a clear divine element. Some scholars might think that only an immediate fulfillment would apply to this context, but what we recognize is that Ahaz’s good son Hezekiah was already born at the time of the prophecy and he had other children as well which means that his wife would not have been a ‘virgin’ anymore. The only reasonable explanation was then to understand that this Prophecy was given with an future prophetic intent as well and the context of Isaiah clearly speaks of the Messiah as being send and commissioned by God (Isa 9:6, 11:2). 

Carl Nägelsbach (1980:125) says that we should keep in mind that the title ‘Immanuel’ [אֵֽל] refers to the Son as a ‘type’ that points to the faithfulness of God and a pledge from God that in His Son’s visitation to His people in the person of the God-man, He would redeem His remnant. Wiersbe (2002:19) mentions that the ultimate fulfillment is of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is ‘’God with us’’ (Matt 1:18-25; Luke 1:31-35). The virgin birth is a key doctrine because Jesus is not born from sinful human flesh but He is born sinless and perfect to be the Savior of the entire world. Brevard Childs (2001:66) shows that this name does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament and closely only parallels a Psalm (46:8, 12) that is an expression of trust in the presence of god integral to Israel’s piety. There is a clear application evident within this given text and we can be assured that the New Testament believers had absolutely no reservations to apply this phrase to both the Old Testament context. Ahaz did not accept the sign of God’s presence amongst them and the Jews in the New Testament the sign of the Son in their presence as Immanuel God with us but Jesus bares a clear resemblance to the Messiah predicted in the book Of Prophet Isaiah and is ultimately deemed as the fulfilment of its context (Isa 40-55).  

II.b Summary

This section sets out to show that in the Old Testament there was definitely an expectation within the Hebrew text of one to come as the Savior of all humanity. In Daniel’s vision, he speaks of a figure that would transcend the bounds of just a normal Prophet or human being, approaching the Ancient of Days being accepted and commissioned by Him as the ruler of everything. In the New Testament, the favorite designation of Christ was to title Himself the ‘Son of Man.’ Similarly, in the book of Isaiah we find the prophet speaking of events that would inaugurate the favor and direct presence of God amongst Israel. The sign will be that this child will be born from a virgin as affirmed by the voice of the Gospels in latter times. There are numerous passages of Scripture that hints and confirm the expectation of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament and the fulfillment is applied in the new.

[Continued in Pt.6]