However, what about the 4000 years prior to His birth as Jesus? Was the Second Person of the Godhead inactive for those four millennia? The Scriptures declare that He was very active in the creation process - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:1-3). The context of that chapter clearly reveals that the Being we know today as Jesus was referred to as "the Word" by John.
This causes some to raise an interesting question. What, if anything, was "the Word" doing for those forty centuries between the creation and His incarnation as Jesus the Christ? This is a difficult inquiry, but I believe the Bible contains the answer. Over the next several lessons, I will endeavor to explain, with Scriptural proof, why I believe that the Being we know as "The Word" (whom we typically refer to today as Jesus Christ) was active throughout Old Testament history and often referred to as "the Angel of the LORD."
Due to its complexity, we will present this proof in stages. Let us begin by demonstrating that the Angel of the LORD, as He is called in the Old Testament, is Himself Jehovah (i.e., He is God).
There are a number of passages one could turn to for evidence pertaining to the divine nature of the Angel of the LORD. Let us begin with some Scriptures regarding Jacob. Moses declared in Genesis 35:7 that while Jacob was in Bethel, "God appeared to him" (cf. 28:12-16). However, elsewhere Moses recorded the words of Jacob toward his wives - "Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, 'Jacob.' And I said, 'Here I am.' And He said, 'Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.'" Jacob believed that the Being who declared Himself to be the God of Bethel was the Angel of God! In Genesis 48:3, while referring to the same event, Jacob affirms that it was "God Almighty" who appeared to Him. As far as Jacob understood, the Angel of God was God Himself. The prophet Hosea affirmed the same - "...[Jacob] took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed..." (Hos. 12:2-5; cf. Gen. 32:24-30).
Let us now shift our attention to Moses. Consider Exodus 3:2-6 - "And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.' So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am.' Then He said, 'Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.' Moreover He said, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God" (cf. Acts 7:30ff). It was the Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses, but throughout the passage He is repeatedly referred to as God Himself. Similarly, it is stated in Exodus 13:21 - "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." However, Exodus 14:19, while referring to the same event declared that it was "the Angel of God" who led them.
We will continue this study tomorrow.