The Great "I AM"
Was that Jesus with Moses at the Burning Bush?
Who, or What, Is Incarnate In Jesus Christ?
By Ken Raggio
"I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins:
for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins."
Jesus claimed to be the ancient I AM.
When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He called Himself
I am NOT saying that Jesus is an eternal son. I am saying that Jesus is the physical, bodily incarnation of the lone invisible spirit that spoke to Moses.
Jesus is the PHYSICAL EMBODIMENT of that invisible voice in the burning bush.
If He is not, then He is the world's biggest liar, imposter and deceiver, because He claimed to be the ancient "I AM."
No condemnation of him could be strong enough if Jesus is not the great "I AM."
If Jesus is not "I AM", then the entire global "Christian" society should be obliterated and annihilated. (Of course, that IS the goal of many non-believers.)
However, if Jesus IS the voice from the burning bush, then He is the Almighty God and Creator of the universe.
Did Jesus adequately demonstrate, with irrefutable evidence, that He really is God? Here are the facts.
The theological jargon for this subject is "Incarnation."
Another similar term that expresses this concept is "enfleshment." Jesus is the enfleshment of God. Jesus is the physical manifestation of the eternal spirit Who never had a body.
Most importantly, from a doctrinal standpoint, is the fact that Jesus is NOT the enfleshment of an eternal son.
Jesus is the enfleshment of the Father God!
If Jesus is only the enfleshment of a second person of a trinity (and NOT the enfleshment of the so-called "first person of the trinity" or of the "third person of the trinity") then Jesus is NOT "the fullness of the Godhead bodily," as the scripture claims.
ALL of God is in Christ. Not merely one-third of God.
Some will argue that God had a body in the Old Testament. It is true that God visited men occasionally, either embodied as an angel or as a man. These manifestations were positively temporary, however, and theologically are referred to as "theophanies."
The quickest and simplest way I know to prove my point is to ask you to imagine erasing everything in the universe that God created.
Imagine eliminating EVERYTHING that God created. Then, you will then see exactly in what form God exists. Will you find three men walking through the blackness of eternal void? I think not!! You will find a single, solitary, invisible Spirit. That is God. There is no eternal trinity in eternity past. There is only a single Spirit that inhabits all in all.
THAT SPIRIT is who Jesus is.
Take away the sun, moon, stars, and all the earth and the firmaments. They were created.
Take away the angels. They were created.
Take away the four-square city of Heaven, including the streets of gold and the gates of pearl. That was created.
Take away the THRONE oF GOD! Yes! God created that, too!
What will you have after you erase everything God created?
A perfect void inhabited by nothing but a singular, infinite, invisible, indivisible Spirit! THAT is GOD!
If the known universe is 28 billion light-years wide (multiply that times 5.88 trillion miles), then God's infinite spirit is vastly, vastly far more expansive than the known universe - INFINITE, to be exact.
That is NOT a body. God is NOT a body. God is a Spirit. God is a HOLY Spirit.
God HAS a body, but He is NOT a body.
Jesus Christ is the body of that infinite God. He is the fullness of God bodily. How else, or how better might God have revealed Himself to us than to manifest Himself in a form just like us? (The fact is that He made us after His own design for Himself.)
Outside a biblical context, the word incarnation is rarely used. It is usually used allegorically, because we have no other examples of true incarnation.
We speak of incarnation when an ideology is embodied in a person.
A football cheerleader might be referred to as the incarnation of team spirit. A famous writer and lecturer might be called the incarnation of literary excellence. These are allegorical representations. A politician might be referred to as the incarnation of a particular political ideology or philosophy.
Among the world's religions, you may hear the term "re-incarnation" used to refer the belief that the spirit of one who has died can be re-embodied in another form.
The people of Tibet believe that their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is the fourteenth re-incarnation of the Buddha of Compassion. At this writing, the present Dalai Lama is said to have demonstrated at the age of two years old that he was the same person as the deceased former Dalai Lama.
However, our Christian beliefs, based on ancient Biblical teachings, are completely incompatible with that line of thought, and we cannot embrace that claim.
In clear contradiction to the claims of those who believe in reincarnation, God Almighty says, "Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die," Ezekiel 18:4 .
Upon the death of a human, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it," Ecclesiastes 12:7.
Furthermore, "...it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment," Hebrews 9:27. God will dispose of each and every eternal soul according to His righteous judgment, either by eternal life in His presence, or eternal damnation in Hell. Here we find no latitude for a theory of reincarnation.
In its strictest theological context, however, incarnation refers to the embodiment of the eternal person of God within the human flesh of the man Jesus Christ.
In Jesus Christ, we find the only true example for all time of a genuine, permanent incarnation of God.
God is a Spirit and as such, has always been invisible. Despite many Old Testament theophanies, (manifestations or appearances - mostly temporary), God had never actually been seen. Jesus asserted that fact on more than one occasion. He told the Pharisees in John 5:37, “ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.”
Paul taught the Philippians that the invisible God
2. Was made in the likeness of men
3. Was found in fashion as a man. (See Philippians 2:7,8)
Isaiah prophesied it in ancient times, “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man." That man would be Jesus.
I published a book many years ago that was written by a missionary to Africa. He told of his experience with a primitive tribesman who heard the word “Jesus” for the first time in his life. Abruptly, the tribesman had queried the preacher, “WHO, or WHAT, is JESUS?”
The saddest plight for any man or woman is to live and die without knowing who Jesus is.
Do you really understand exactly who Jesus is?
He is more than just a man. It should have been obvious to everyone from the beginning, but it was not.
Both Joseph and Mary had a supernatural visitor announcing the impending birth of Jesus. An angel of God delivered the announcement with instructions to them both.
Mary took the news to her cousin, Elisabeth. Elisabeth was several months pregnant at the time. The baby in her womb leaped for joy at the announcement.
Many ancient prophecies were fulfilled at Jesus' birth. Prophecies pointed to Nazareth, to Bethlehem - where baby Jesus was born, even the flight to Egypt when Herod threatened the child.
The angelic host heralding His birth in the shepherds' fields should have been a testimony to everyone that this baby was not ordinary.
The magi from the East came hundreds of miles to visit the child Jesus because their own supernatural instincts led them to follow the star to the place where Jesus was.
Jesus was called the son of Joseph
Jesus declared to the Jews that He was God’s bread sent down from heaven. They recoiled at this bold assertion. They argued, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?” (John 6:42)
They wrongly assumed that it was Joseph’s seed that had conceived Jesus. This was not possible, however, because at the time of Jesus’ conception, Mary had never known a man. More specifically, the angel had explained to her that it was the Holy Ghost of God that overshadowed Mary.
God’s spirit had impregnated the blessed young virgin girl. Thus, Joseph was not truly His father. God was His father. Joseph was only his earthly guardian, or step-father. Jesus is the only human ever begotten of God in this fashion. (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; I John 4:9)
Jesus was said to be an Illegitimate Child
“Is not this the carpenter’s son?” they asked. “Is not his mother named Mary?” Matthew 13:55 reveals that these points offended them. They could not comprehend Jesus’ miraculous conception. Jesus was, in their eyes, a bastard and certainly not worthy of His claims to be the Son of God. Their unfortunate blindness prevented Jesus from doing mighty works in his hometown of Nazareth.
Some insisted that Jesus was just an ordinary man
The entire fact of Jesus’ virgin birth was incomprehensible to the general public. This caused Joseph, Mary and Jesus to become the object of much scorn and reproach from unbelieving people. While they had no personal doubts about His miraculous conception, the public crowds found it nearly impossible to come to terms with the truth. The end result was a public rejection of Jesus’ claims to divine origin. His many miracles and wonders were called the works of the devil. Jesus was said to be operating in the power of Beelzebub, prince of the devils.
His identity is a Divine Revelation
A sobering point of fact is that God never expected everyone to comprehend Jesus’ divinity. The knowledge of Jesus’ true identity was reserved for those who truly hungered and thirsted after righteousness.
In the first place, Jesus was sent exclusively to the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel. His presence on earth was redemptive. On a variety of occasions, Jesus would have completely ignored those who were not Israelites. Even among the Jews, Jesus would have remained anonymous, except the inquirer demonstrate a certain spiritual hunger or desire to know the truth of the matter.
Jesus revealed the criteria, saying “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day,” (John 6:44). When Simon Peter demonstrated that he had received the revelation of Jesus’ true identity, saying, “Thou art the Christ,” Jesus responded by saying, “flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven,” (John 16:17).
Jesus is the Son of Man
Forty-three times Jesus was called the Son of Man. This refers to the fact that he was human, born of a human. The doctrinal significance of this is that although Jesus was divinely conceived, he lacked nothing of the human nature. Every thing that might be said of mankind in general could be said of Jesus within the context of his humanity.
The notion that Jesus was somehow "divine flesh," of a different nature than ordinary men, and incapable of sin, is patently absurd. His fleshly nature descending entirely from Abraham's descendants.
He exercised all the five senses of a human: touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. He survived on food and water just like any other human, with all the normal human appetites. He had every human tendency common to us all.
He was tempted in all points just like we are all tempted. This clearly refutes any notion that He was incapable of sin. He had to refuse to succumb to temptation just like we do. He might have yielded to temptation in the Garden of Gethsemane if he had not prayed so agonizingly “not my will”. Because He was the son of man, Jesus might have easily sinned if He had not been so consecrated to the will of the Father.
He suffered the agonies of temptation victoriously, and has become the captain of our salvation, demonstrating clearly how we may also overcome our temptations.
He was the Son of God
The Old Testament contains numerous references to both men and angels as “Sons of God,” however, there is no suggestion that He had a Divine Son. And there is a simple reason for that. God never literally conceived a child in the womb of a woman. There is no female counterpart to God, no female deity to bear Him a divine son.
The Only Begotten Son
Men and angels were called sons of God because they were CREATED by God, but Jesus is the "only BEGOTTEN Son of God." The only time God ever literally conceived a child was in the womb of the human virgin Mary. The child that was born of Mary
David prophesied of that day which would come.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon saw an angelic creature in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew children, and exclaimed that he looked like “the son of God.”
Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan, certainly had no biblical basis for that statement. The only sons of God mentioned in the Old Testament were ordinary men and angels. Nebuchadnezzar must have thought that he was seeing an angelic son of God.
Luke’s gospel tells us that Adam was the son of God. Adam was personally fathered by God when He formed him from the dust of the earth. God did not conceive Adam in a womb of a woman, therefore Adam was not begotten of God. All other men have been conceived by earthly men, and born of earthly women, so were not called sons of God except in the broadest general terms.
Ultimately, Jesus Christ is the only son of God who was begotten, sired, or fathered by God within the womb of a woman. Jesus is called the Son of Man because a human, Mary, carried Him to birth. Jesus is called the Son of God because God literally conceived Him. God was His actual Father.
It is extremely important to grasp the truth of Jesus' conception. Luke 1:35 tells us that it was the Holy Ghost who actually overshadowed Mary and performed the act of conception. That is a very critical detail about the nature of God. The Holy Ghost is the Father of Jesus Christ. The Holy Ghost and the Father is the very same identical Spirit. "The Lord our God is ONE Lord," Deuteronomy 6:4.
Otherwise, we have a major theological dilemma. If the Holy Ghost is a different person, then the Father God is not the father of Jesus Christ. If the Holy Ghost is the third person of a trinity, then the first person of that trinity cannot be the father of Jesus Christ. Here we frustrate the notion of God in three persons. Plainly, God is one Holy Spirit - our Father - and that Spirit is now incarnate in the person of the Son of God.
Jesus is the Son of Prophecy
Countless miracles attest to Jesus’ true identity, not the least of which are the many Old Testament prophecies foretelling His coming and identity. Time and space will not allow for a complete listing or treatment of those prophecies here. We may, however, address three especially significant prophecies that are also quite convincing.
He would be the Son of Adam and Eve
He would be the Son of God
God’s promised seed would be far greater than Abraham, Moses, David or any other Old Testament hero. He would surely be the Son of Adam and Eve in descent, but more importantly, He would be the tabernacle of God in flesh. Only by this would He overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. His deity would empower His humanity as a model of our own victory - God’s Spirit within us, giving us the victory in our own spiritual warfare.
He would be the Son of David
David played the lead role in establishing the Kingdom of Israel on the earth in his time. David conquered the land, drove out the enemies, established first the tabernacle, then provided for the first great temple to be built. David touched the heart of God with his fervent love and unabashed worship of the Lord.
God was moved by David’s devotion, and entered into everlasting covenant with him, saying, “David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel,” (Jeremiah 33:17).
God’s covenant with David was an eternal one. “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. (2 Samuel 7:12,13).
Many of the promises David received appeared to be fulfilled in his son Solomon, but a closer look will show that Jesus Christ is the only one who can completely fulfill the Davidic Covenant in God’s behalf. “I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore,” (I Chronicles 17:14).
“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,” (Jeremiah 23:5,6).
The angel Gabriel carefully identified Mary’s child, Jesus, as the heir to the Davidic Covenant and to David’s throne. “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David,” (Luke 1:31,32)
Ezekiel prophesies in the fortieth to the forty-eighth chapters of Ezekiel of the restoration of Israel in Jerusalem during a one-thousand-year reign of Messiah. Other prophets, including Daniel and John, reveal the Messiah returning to earth with the saints of all the ages, defeating Satan and his earthly warriors, and conquering the earth in the end of time. The scenario portrayed by Ezekiel is of a glorious earthly kingdom in the fully inherited land of Israel. Jerusalem will be larger and more magnificent than at any other time in history, with a newly constructed Temple, ruled by none other than Jesus Christ as King and High Priest sitting on the throne of David.
Jesus is the Eternal Deity
What fact do we have in all the world that is more exciting than the fact that the eternal and invisible Spirit who created the universe has actually appeared on this earth in the body of a man?
Jesus was not merely one-third of an alleged triune being. Jesus is the fullness of God bodily.
John made a crystal-clear observation in I John 3:16: “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.” Take note of the real truth here: God laid down His life. The eternal God did not die because as spirit, He cannot die. Rather, he took upon Himself the shell of a man, and suffered the agonies of death Himself in that body. He experienced the pain of death in a human carcass - for us.
The reality is that the man on the cross was not the second person of a triune entity, suffering while the first and third persons stood watching from a grandstand in heaven.
All of God emptied the majesty of deity and stepped down from heaven, robed Himself in flesh, and as the Father within the Son, died for us.
The Word was God (Hebrews 1:1; Genesis 1:1; John 1:1)
We are accustomed to the creation story: “In the beginning God…,” (Genesis 1:1). God spoke His Word and created the universe as we know it, complete with sun, moon, stars, land, oceans, and all the living creatures. His word is the creative force.
Then John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Then the Word was made flesh. Not a fragment of the Word - a paragraph or a chapter, but the Word. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth,” (John 1:14). Jesus was the earthly manifestation of the eternal word.
He is the Creator robed in Flesh
The same word that said, “Let there be…” in Genesis, is now embodied in Jesus Christ. That is why Paul taught the Colossians, “by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him,” (Colossians 1:16).
This fact does not teach us that the Son of man was present at creation. It tells us that the WORD of God was present in creation, and THAT WORD was made flesh - incarnate. Now we know that the same Word that created all things resides in the body of Jesus Christ. That is how we understand that Jesus is the creator. God in Him is the Creator. The Son of man did not exist in creation. “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,” (Galatians 4:4). The invisible Creator could now be seen in the body of Jesus Christ.
He is our Savior
God’s people never worshipped but one Spirit: God, their Father. Moses stressed to them that “the Lord our God is one Lord,” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The one Lord they worshipped declared to them, “I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour,” (Isaiah 43:3). Their Father and Lord instructed them to hold only to one savior - Himself. “There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me,” (Isaiah 45:21).
Therefore, when Jesus Christ came, the angel’s declaration was astonishing: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” (Luke 2:11). Jesus was the Savior. And the Father had always jealously guarded that title. He boldly declared in Isaiah 42:8, “My glory will I not give to another.”
Therefore, the only way to call Jesus the Savior is to recognize that He is the Father-Savior come in flesh. Jehovah-Savior - that is the meaning of the name Jesus.
He is the Mighty God
Omni means “all”. Potency is power. As God, Jesus is all-powerful. “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” (Matthew 28:18).
Jesus is all-present. Even though Jesus has ascended into heaven bodily, He has returned to us in the form of His Holy Spirit. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” (John 14:18). “And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen,” (Matthew 28:20). In the form of the Spirit, Jesus now inhabits all of eternity. (Isaiah 57:15).
Science is the knowledge of a particular field of study. To have omniscience is to have all knowledge of all things. Jesus demonstrated abilities far beyond human abilities. He knew how to heal blind eyes, open deaf ears, repair crippled limbs, raise the dead, even calm storms. He knew men’s names without meeting them, and knew the thoughts of their hearts. His knowledge is not only superior to ours; it is divine and limitless.
He is from Everlasting to Everlasting
God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting. Although the son was created in the fullness of time, His kingdom and power are now eternal. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7).
One of the reasons many people assume that God exists as more than one person is that He took on several forms throughout the Old Testament. These forms, however, were essentially temporary. None but the final form or image of God in Christ was an eternal, permanent image of God.
Every example of God working in the Old Testament was done with the doing. None of those forms and methods are used in the New Testament.
a) Burning Bush
God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. The ground was deemed holy. Moses received his calling and mission at the burning bush. No one else ever received their commission in that way.
b) Pillar of Fire
The children of Israel were led by day by a pillar of a cloud, and at night, the pillar of fire. Once Moses died, and Joshua took the people over Jordan into the promised land, the pillar of fire is never mentioned again.
c) Moses’ Vision
Even though God was "face to face" with Moses, Moses did not actually see a face. The only physical manifestation was a cloud, for in verse 20, God said, "thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live".
The cloud obviously did not satisfy Moses, so he said, "Shew me thy glory", (Exodus 33:8) to which God replied, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee" (verse 19). Was His glory or goodness a body? God agreed to put Moses in a "clift of the rock" and "cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen" (verse19).
Moses did not actually see God. God's "hand" would "cover" Moses. Was God's hand six feet tall? And how could an invisible Spirit extend a "hand"?
Exodus 34:5 describes exactly what happened: "And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him".
The hand of the Lord must have been the cloud, because in fact, that is all Moses saw. Again, there was no actual view of God. We look painstakingly for a description of what Moses "saw", but we find no evidence of any literal physical body of God at all. Only a cloud. But God had not promised to show him a body; only the "back parts" (verse 23) of "my goodness" (verse 19) and "my glory" (verse 22).
Fifteen hundred years later, on the mount of transfiguration, God resurrected Moses from the dead to show him the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only permanent image of God.
d) Angel of the Lord
The angel of the Lord appeared numerous times throughout the scriptures. An angel is often defined as a messenger of God. In some cases, the messenger is perceived as God Himself. However, God is no mere angel. An angel is a creature of God, and God is not a creature. The angel is at best an emissary or ambassador for God.
He is the Last Theophany
When we see Jesus, we are seeing the Father-Savior incarnate. “I and my Father are one,” (John 10:30). “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?” (John 14:9).
The one Lord of the Old Testament was the Father. The one Lord of the New Testament is Jesus Christ. There are not three Lords. Jesus is called both Prince and King. As man, He is prince, but as God He is the King.
b) The Tabernacle of God
“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God,” (Revelation 21:3).
James compared the New Testament body of Christ to the Tabernacle of David. In the eternal heaven, John revealed the fact that there will be no temple, and apparently, no tabernacle: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Revelation 21:22,23)
Jesus was not merely the incarnation of the so-called “second person of the trinity”. Jesus was the incarnation of the entire substance, nature and revelation of God, as a father, as a son, and as spirit. Every nature and attribute of God is embodied in Jesus. He is the human visage of the Creator-Spirit-Father.
That is why Jesus said, “I AM HE.”
Paul called Jesus Christ “the image of the invisible God,” in Colossians 1:15. He also described the concept concisely in 2 Corinthians 5:19, “…God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” God was in Christ. Here is a profound declaration that is seldom understood in its fullest sense.
In Jesus Christ dwelled all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, according to Colossians 2:9. Jesus was not the embodiment of the second person of a trinity, but was the embodiment of everything we know about God: His Fatherhood, His Spirit nature, and His humanity - all wrapped up in one - His only permanent body ever.
The God who had been invisible forever, and had never been seen except for numerous temporary manifestations, or “theophanies” (such as fire, wind, smoke, thunders, lightning, angelic forms, human forms) was finally made forever and permanently visible when God took on the form of man.
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