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The Angel of the Lord

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 8, 2024 12:01 am

The Angel of the Lord

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 8, 2024 12:01 am

Jesus is the visible manifestation of the eternal glory of God. Today, R.C. Sproul shows how this truth is demonstrated in Scripture long before the incarnation of Christ.

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Christ is the visible manifestation of the eternal glory of God. Christ and His divine nature is the Shekinah.

He's the one who lights up the light, who gives the fire and the flame to the glory of God. What was taking place when Moses encountered the burning bush? As you think about that question and our minds wonder how that bush wasn't consumed, or what it was like for Moses to hear the voice of God, we may miss the important point that R.C. Sproul reminded us of yesterday.

It's not so much what was in that bush, it's who was in that bush. You're listening to the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind as we conclude a four-day study of Moses and the burning bush. If you'd like to go even deeper in your own study of this incredible watershed moment in the Old Testament, request the entire 10-message series and the companion book from Dr. Sproul when you give a gift of any amount at renewingyourmind.org.

Be quick as this offer ends at midnight. So who was in that bush, and do we see other appearances like it elsewhere in the Bible? Here's Dr. Sproul to close out this study of Moses and the burning bush.

We continue now with our study of Moses and the burning bush that we find in the third chapter of Exodus, and I'm going to continue in this session looking at the manifestation of the glory of God in the Shekinah that we looked at briefly in our last encounter. Before I do that, I'm going to relate a narrative of something that happened to me when I was a sophomore in college. I was a philosophy major, and my philosophy professor invited me to go to Philadelphia for a philosophical conference on a Dutch philosopher by the name of Hermann Deuiverd at Westminster Theological Seminary. And this was in the old days when the original faculty that had come out of Princeton to start that school were intact.

Dreshen Mason had already died, but Cornelius Van Til, John Murray, E.J. Young, Ned Stonehouse, and the other great stars of that faculty were there for that conference. And when I went there and listened to the first session in the morning, the whole thing was so far over my head, I had no idea what was going on. I felt very foolish, and I didn't want to open my mouth and reveal how foolish I actually was, so I kept my mouth shut. And then we had a lunch break, and I was sitting across from the professor of philosophy from the seminary, and I was eating the soup, and he said to me, young man, he said, do you believe God is transcendent or imminent? And I literally spit the soup out of my mouth, you know, because I didn't know what the word transcendent meant, and I didn't know what the word imminent meant with respect to the things of God.

And so here my ignorance was completely exposed to this learned professor, and he had mercy on me, and he began to answer the question for me, and he said, well, the answer to the question is yes. Did God transcendent or imminent? Yes, because He is both transcendent and imminent. His transcendence refers to that sense in which God is above and beyond the created order.

It refers to His exalted majesty, the way in which He is other or different from all the things that He creates. And yet at the same time, God is not just this remote deity who exists somewhere east of the sun and west of the moon, outside of our ken, but God also makes Himself present with us. He is also imminent. He is imminent in His creation by virtue of His omnipresence.

He's imminent historically through the person of Christ, and He's also imminent through His visitation to this planet in redemptive history. And we see this combination of transcendence and imminence in the burning bush, because the glory, the fire, was a manifestation of the transcendent God, of the Creator, which you don't normally find in bushes. But here He is making Himself known by manifesting His presence here in this world, by visiting Moses in this encounter in the desert. Now in our last session we talked about theophany, and I want to explore a little bit more of that going beyond the broad category of theophany to another term that we have called Christophany. Now Christophany refers to a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ. That is, it addresses the question, do we find Christ, or the second person of the Trinity, anywhere manifested in the Old Testament?

And there are several passages in the Old Testament that biblical scholars believe, and I certainly believe, indicate the presence of Christophany. Let me go back for a moment first to Genesis, this time to Genesis 14, where we read this brief encounter that Abraham had with this mysterious person whose name was Melchizedek. We read in verse 18 of chapter 14, Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine, for he was the priest of the God Most High. And he blessed Abraham and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hands. And Abraham gave him a tithe of all that he had. Now this mysterious figure is very important to the author of Hebrews in the New Testament.

Why? Because the Bible teaches that Jesus is not only our King after the line of David, but He is now entered into the heavenly Holy of Holies as our great High Priest. And so people raise the question, how can He be a king and a priest? The Davidic king has to come from the tribe of Judah, and Jesus did come from the tribe of Judah. But the priests came through what tribe?

The tribe of Levi and Aaron. So we speak of the Levitical priesthood or the Aaronic priesthood. And since Jesus did not come from that line, questions were arising as to how He could legitimately be called the great High Priest of His people. Well, as you know, the author of Hebrews answers that question by showing that Jesus is a priest not of the Levitical order, not of the Aaronic priesthood, but a priest after the order of Melchizedek, referring back to the passage that I just read to you. Melchizedek, who has no parents, no genealogy, and that raises the question, is he a real historical character of flesh and blood?

There was something else going on here. His name, Melchizedek, means King Zedekah of Righteousness. And he is called the King of Salem, which means peace.

So this mysterious person is known in the Old Testament as the King of Righteousness and as the King of Peace, attributes that the New Testament, of course, apply to Jesus. And Abraham meets this mysterious priest of the Most High God, and he pays a tithe to Melchizedek and receives a blessing from Melchizedek. So the author of Hebrews makes a lot out of this.

He says, wait a minute. The greater blesses the lesser, and the lesser pays tithe to the greater. So in Hebrew categories, it's very plain here that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham.

And in Hebrew categories, the father is greater than the son, the son greater than the grandson, and so on down the line. And so the way the author of Hebrews reasons, he says, Levi is lesser than Abraham, lesser than Isaac, lesser than Jacob. Now if Levi is subordinate to Abraham and Abraham is subordinate to Melchizedek, what does that mean?

QED. Levi is subordinate to Melchizedek. So Melchizedek is the greater priesthood.

But again, there are those who think that what we have here in this strange appearance of Melchizedek in the Old Testament, that this is a pre-incarnation manifestation of Christ, of the second person, of the Trinity. Then you look in the book of Joshua, another strange encounter that takes place, where we read in Joshua 5, this passage, verse 13, It came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes, and he looked, and behold a man, and in my English translation they have man spelled with a capital M, behold a man stood opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand. And Joshua went and said to him, Are you for us or for our adversaries? I mean all of a sudden here's this apparently mighty warrior who shows up that Joshua doesn't know. He's never seen him before.

He had no military intelligence of a warrior like this that was going to be fighting for the opposing forces. And when he sees this warrior, he says, Who are you? Are you with us or our enemies?

And you notice how the answer comes. No. No. Now wait a minute. You've got to either be for us or for them. Who are you for?

No. I'm not for either one of you, but rather as commander of the army of the Lord, or captain of the Lord of hosts, I have now come. I'm from God, Joshua. And what did Joshua do? Joshua fell on his face on the earth and worshiped and said, What does my Lord say to his servant? And then the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.

The same instructions that had been given to Moses at the burning bush, take off your shoes or off your feet, for the ground where on your stand is holy ground. And this we see as a Christophany, the second person of the Trinity appearing in history before the conquest of the promised land. Or let's look further, if you will, in the book of Daniel chapter 3, verse 19. The Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury. The expression of his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated, and he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the burning, fiery furnace. So these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning, fiery furnace. Therefore, because the king's command was urgent and the furnace was exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the ones who threw them into the fire. But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound into the midst of the burning, fiery furnace. And then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished. And he rose in haste, and he spoke, saying to his counselor, Didn't we cast three men bound into the midst of this fire? And they answered and said to him, True, O king. And Nebuchadnezzar said, Look, I see four men loose in there, walking around in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt.

And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Christophany, I believe, second person of the Trinity, came into the fire for his servants Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and protected them from all harm. In the Old Testament, this kind of glory and the burning fire that manifested not only Christophany but back to Theophany occurs also in the episode of the translation of Elijah into heaven. You remember when his servant Elisha went with him begging for a double portion of the Spirit that had been upon him? And he said, Well, you come along with me.

If you see me depart, then you know that will come to pass. And at the end of their journey, behold, a chariot of fire appeared in the heavens. And Elisha looked at him, and he said to Elijah, My father, my father, the chariot of God. Again, that chariot of fire manifested the divine glory.

This was another manifestation of Shekinah that surrounded the presence of God. Again, the chariot of fire was God's mobile throne. His throne was not seen, inert, fixed, stationary at some corner in heaven. But his throne could go wherever he wanted it to go. And wherever his throne went, his glory went, and his glory burst out in this radiance of light and of fire.

One last one of those. The first chapter of Ezekiel, one of the most enigmatic chapters in all of the Bible, where Ezekiel speaks of his vision of God. It came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captains by the river Chibor, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. Verse 4, I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself, and brightness was all around it, and raging out of its midst like the color of amber out of the midst of the fire. The whirling Merkabah, the wheels within the wheels of Ezekiel, again, a vision of that throne chariot of God, surrounded with the splendor of his glory. The burning bush, where Moses first glimpses the Shekinah, is not the last episode. Throughout the book of Exodus, God appears again and again as he leads the people of Israel through the wilderness, through the pillar of clouds by day and the pillar of fire by night. The book of Exodus ends after the tabernacle has been built and established. Before it is beginning to be used for worship, first the glory of God comes and descends into the tabernacle. So when the Shekinah is there, Moses knows that God is there, and it is time for the people to consecrate themselves for worship.

But here's the question I want to ask you. We talk about this refulgence, this brilliant, radiant, blinding light that is so intense, the magnitude of the light so bright, it blinds people and causes fear and trembling to come on. Now my question for you is this, what causes this light? I said earlier that the glory of God comes from his inner being. The Shekinah is the outward manifestation of the inward majesty of God. But where does the light come from?

What gives it its hue, its transcendent, majestic refulgence, where does it come from? The author of Hebrews answers that question when it speaks of Christ, where he describes Christ as the brightness of his glory. Christ is the visible manifestation of the eternal glory of God. Christ in his divine nature is the Shekinah, he's the one who lights up the light, who gives the fire and the flame to the glory of God.

That's an incredible thing. You can think about that for the rest of your days and never begin to get to the bottom of the depths of that, that Christ is the brightness of his glory. The logical conclusion would be if there is no Christ, if there is no second person of the Trinity, then there's only darkness in God.

One last point quickly. The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria made a connection not from a Christian viewpoint, but from a philosophical viewpoint between the Greek concept of the idea of the logos. The logos was this transcendent principle that gave order and meaning and purpose to the universe in Greek philosophy.

And Philo tied the concept of the logos to the Shekinah. And then you come to the New Testament and the Gospel of John in the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God. That the logos is the Godness of God, the very brightness of his glory.

That was R.C. Sproul from his series Moses and the Burning Bush, and although we won't experience what Moses did in this life, for God's people there will come a glorious day when we see God face to face. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind, a listener-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. If you'd like to support this daily outreach with a donation, as our way of saying thank you, we'll send you the complete 10-message series, Moses and the Burning Bush, an R.C.

Sproul's companion book. In addition to the DVD and book, you'll also receive lifetime digital access to all 10 messages and the study guide. Today is the final day of this offer, so give your gift today at renewingyourmind.org or by calling us at 800 435 4343. Have you attended Ligonier's annual national conference before? If you're planning to attend in May and you haven't registered yet, the discounted rate ends on Saturday, so I encourage you to register today at ligonier.org slash 2024. I mentioned earlier that Renewing Your Mind is an outreach of Ligonier Ministries, but who is Ligonier Ministries? What's a Ligonier? Tomorrow we'll discuss that and more with a special guest here on Renewing Your Mind. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-08 02:35:09 / 2024-02-08 02:42:49 / 8

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