#5 The "Change" in the "Person" of Jesus Before and After the Creation
Dr. Richard M. Davidson has written a compelling research paper on Proverbs 8 in which, I believe, he conclusively shows that the being spoken of in Proverbs 8 (that is, "Wisdom") pre-existed with God and was also, himself God (Richard M. Davidson, "Proverbs 8 and the Place of Christ in the Trinity," Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 17/1 (Spring 2006): 33-54. Dr. Davidson is J.N. Andrews Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Chair of the Old Testament Department at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary - Andrews University, and past-president of the Adventist Theological Society. Professor Davidson's paper deals, not with the Trinity but with the person of Christ, his pre-existence and his being brought forth. In quoting Dr. Davidson here, it should not be assumed that he endorses the position set forth here or that his views on the Trinity are the same as mine - they are not. I do believe, however, that Mr. Davidson's research does seem to lend credence to the plausibility of my position.). In his paper, I believe that Dr. Richardson not only establishes the pre-existence of "Wisdom" in the form of a distinct person with God the Father prior to the creation, he also provides compelling proof that "Wisdom" is the person of Jesus Christ and that it was indeed Christ that was "brought forth" (vss. 24,25) from the Father at, or more succinctly preceding, the creation. Some Bible Commentaries also confirm this position: Matthew Henry comments on Prov. 8:22-31 (and the relationship existing between "Wisdom" and Christ) in this way:
Many modern commentaries are totally silent regarding Proverbs 8. Those Scholars that do comment on it generally take the position that the language of Christ's being brought forth "is to be taken as technical terminology for the installment into office" - that is, that it is suggestive only of a change in the role (or office work) that Christ was to perform from that time forth and not indicative of a substantive change in His being" (Davidson, p. 50). However, and much to his credit, Dr. Davidson also muses:
I would take the language of Proverbs 8 a step further and suggest that Christ's being "brought forth" involved much more than a mere change in His office work. I do not debate that Christ's being "brought forth" did involve a change in His position and office work - but I believe that it involved a great deal more than that. I believe that His being "brought forth" involved a change in the very substance of Christ's being - as well as a change in His office work and/or role. I believe that this "change" is very much a part of the incarnation - the beginning of it -- and that one can only resolve the difficult and apparently contradictory statements in the Bible and the SOP regarding the Godhead and the nature of the Holy Spirit by accepting the position that Christ's being "brought forth" involved a substantive change in His being.
Later, when we examine this "change" in detail, we will see that the personification of "Wisdom" takes on particular significance when it is viewed as an existential component of Christ: "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7; KJV), or "The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding" (NASB). "Christ [is] the power of God, and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24; Young's Literal Translation, 1898). Righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are all intrinsically linked with Jesus Christ. But they are more that just linked to (or associated with) Him, they are actually embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. ".ye are in Christ Jesus, who became to us from God wisdom, righteousness also, and sanctification, and redemption," (1 Cor. 1:30; Young's). "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved" (Acts 4:12; Revised Version). For the moment, however, I hope that we have established (and agree on) the fact that Jesus was "brought forth" from the Father prior to creation and that a very important change took place in the nature of the Godhead at this time.
Jesus had existed as God and with God from the depths of eternity past. This is confirmed in Proverbs 8:22 above, and in John 1:1-2. When He existed as God and with God, before the Creation of intelligent life, He existed as/with God in "nature [form], character, and purpose" (PP p.34, par. 1). That "nature" (or form) was almost assuredly that of "Spirit" - for "God is Spirit" (Jn. 4:24). According to Proverbs 8:22-30, Christ was "Brought Forth" from the Father prior to the creation "when there were no depths I was brought forth . . . before the hills I was brought forth". Proverbs 8 describes Christ being brought forth as "a Master Workman" (vs. 30) and is in harmony with other Biblical texts that teach that all things were created through and by Christ (Jn. 1:3; Heb. 1:1,2; Col. 1:16). As outlined in study #3, this was necessary in order for God to commune with His intelligent (free-willed) created beings and to provide for the eventuality of Sin. But what exactly was this bringing forth? What did this involve? Was there a change in the nature of Christ at this time? And how does this change affect our understanding of the Scriptures, the Godhead, Christ's nature, and the plan of Salvation?
Brought Forth - How?
It is clear from Proverbs 8:22-30 that Jesus was "Brought Forth" prior to the creation - but in what sense was He "Brought Forth"? Was it just in terms of the role He would assume from then on (His "office work") or was it something more?
When we consider Christ's interactions with the Angelic host prior to the fall of man, it becomes clear that Jesus had indeed changed in form and that He appeared in a form that was very much like their own! Throughout the Bible we find references to "the Angel of the Lord" which undeniably refer to the person of Christ. Examples of these can be found in the accounts of Abraham and Sarah, Hagar, Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Gideon, Manoah, David, Joshua, and others (See: Gen. 16:7-9; 22:11,15; Ex. 3:2; Num. 22:32; Judges 6:12,21-22; 13:15-21; Zech. 3:1-7; etc.). The accounts of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua are worthy of particular notice.
Genesis 22:10-18 describes one encounter Abraham had with the "angel of the Lord" where it can be clearly demonstrated that the "Angel" was actually the LORD! These passages recount the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is just about to sacrifice his only son in obedience to the command of the LORD: "Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." . . . "Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."
When the Lord was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah He appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre in the heat of the day and Abraham "lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, 'My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by'" (Gen. 18:2-3). Then he prepared a feast of the best he had to offer them and they ate with him. One of these "men" was the LORD. It was here that the Lord promised: "I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son" (vs. 10). Sarah laughed at the thought but the LORD rebuked her and said: "Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son" (vs. 14). Then came the familiar conversation between Abraham and the LORD about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. There are a couple of things worthy of note in these passages. First, it is clear that Abraham was speaking with the LORD! Second, the LORD appeared as a man. Third, the other "men" were angels (Gen. 19:1). Fourth, the LORD ate with Abraham (he ingested food!) -- Does a "Spirit" ingest food?
When Moses was on the Mount, we are told: "The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush" (Ex. 3:2). And when Moses went closer to see why the bush was not consumed "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 come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.' He said also, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God." (vs. 3-6). It was here that God (the "Angel of the LORD" in verse 2) declared His name: "I AM, WHO I AM". In John 8:58 "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.'" So we are on very safe ground when we conclude that JESUS was the "Angel of the LORD."
In Exodus 24:9-10 we find Moses returning to the Mount: "Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself." In Exodus 33:22-23 we find the LORD telling Moses: "and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen." Exodus 31:18 reveals that the Ten Commandments were written by God's own Hand: "When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God." "Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. The tablets were God's work, and the writing was God's writing engraved on the tablets" (Ex. 32:15-16). In all these texts we find physical attributes attributed to God - feet, hand, finger, back - that were seen by Moses. If Jesus was the One who appeared to Moses declaring Himself to be the "I AM" -- then we can see that Jesus, as "the Angel of the LORD", had physical attributes just like other Angels spoken of in the Bible.
When Jacob wrestled with the Angel by the brook Jabbok, the being he wrestled with certainly had physical substance! Jacob physically wrestled all night with Him! And when the morning came and he realized who he had actually been wrestling with he declared: "I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved." (see Gen. 32:1-32). The Spirit of Prophecy confirms that the being spoken of in these passages as the "Angel of the LORD" was indeed Jesus:
"God graciously spoke his law and wrote it with his own finger on stone, making a solemn covenant with his people at Sinai" (RH May 6, 1875; par. 14).
"It was Christ who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, "I Am That I Am" (DA p. 24, par. 3).
"Moses saw a bush in flames, branches, foliage, and trunk, all burning, yet seeming not to be consumed. . . . He was warned not to approach irreverently: 'Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. . . . I am the God of they father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' It was He who, as the Angel of the covenant, had revealed Himself to the fathers in ages past. 'And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.'" (PP; p. 251.252).
"Moses was saved by the merits of Christ, who was the angel that led the armies of Israel in all their travels through the wilderness." (ST July 18, 1878; par. 11). ).
"The angel who went before Israel was the Lord Jesus Christ" (SR p. 143).
"As Joshua withdrew from the armies of Israel, to meditate and pray for God's special presence to attend him, he saw a man of lofty stature, clad in warlike garments, with his sword drawn in his hand. . . . In his zeal he [Joshua] accosted him, and said, 'Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And He said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship. . . . And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. . . . This was no common angel. It was the Lord Jesus Christ, He who had conducted the Hebrews through the wilderness, enshrouded in the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day. The place was made sacred by His presence. . ." (SR p. 178).
"It was Christ that was with Jacob through that night, with whom he wrestled, and whom he perseveringly held until He Blessed him" (SR p. 95).
"The patriarch [Jacob] now discerned the character of his antagonist. He knew that he had been in conflict with a heavenly messenger. . . . It was Christ, 'the Angel of the covenant,' who had revealed Himself to Jacob" (PP, p. 197).
These are not mystical descriptions of encounters with mystical spiritual beings. These are descriptions of real encounters with real beings! These encounters with angels and with the "Angel of the Lord" describe interactions between real men and real physical (albeit "supernatural") beings. Angels are real not mystical! They are created beings having both form and substance (PLEASE NOTE: I am not suggesting that Christ is a created being in making this statement. I am merely stating the fact that angels are created beings having form and substance. Christ also appeared as one of these beings. In so doing, He exhibited both form and substance. Christ was not created, nor was He an angel - but He appeared to be one to those human beings with whom He interacted. He is also described as appearing to be a man (Gen. 18:2). Men and Angels are apparently remarkably similar in their appearance (an important fact that will become evident later). When Christ was "Brought Forth" from the Father He was brought forth in (and took on) a form that resembled both Men and Angels - but He was not truly either of these. Christ was of "DIVINE" origin. He was not created! Yet Christ was the leader of the Angelic Host. As such He is referred to as the "Archangel." This does not make Him an created angel. However, His appearance did resemble that of the angels - so much so that it caused Lucifer to mistakenly equate himself with Christ and dare to claim supremacy over Him. We will get into this in a moment). Daniel describes an encounter with an angel (not the Lord Jesus) like this: "And behold, one who resembled a human being was touching my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke and said to him who was standing before me, 'O my lord, as a result of the vision anguish has come upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord? As for me, there remains just now no strength in me, nor has any breath been left in me.' Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. He said, "O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!" Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, "May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me." Then he said, "Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. "However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince." (Dan. 10:16-21).
In the New Testament we find statements referring to "Michael" the "Archangel". We find one describing a dispute that "Michael" was having with Satan regarding the body of Moses. "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" (Jude 1:9). These are the exact same words that the "Angel of the LORD" (Jesus) said when Satan was accusing Joshua before Him: "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. "The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" (Zech. 3:1-2). "Michael" the Archangel is also described as the leader of the angelic host in the "war in heaven" when He battled against Lucifer after his fall from grace: "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven" (Rev. 12:7-8). That "Michael the Archangel" is, in fact, the Lord Jesus Christ can be shown by comparing Scripture with Scripture. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 we see that the "Lord Himself will descend from heaven with . . . the voice of the archangel. . . and the dead in Christ shall rise first." Jesus said that it would be His voice which raises the dead: "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and those who hear shall live" (Jn. 5:25). The voice of the Archangel and the voice of the Son of God are one in the same because Jesus is Michael! (see Jesus is Michael by clicking here).
We have seen that Jesus had physical attributes (He had hands, feet, back, face, mouth and stomach), a body if you will, when He interacted with Abraham, Moses, Jacob, and Joshua. In the reference to "Michael the Archangel" and the "war in heaven" we are brought back to a time before the fall of man and placed squarely at the time of Lucifer's Rebellion. Michael (Christ) is described as angelic in nature and He is depicted as waging war with the Devil. We know that this was not a physical war (Satan would certainly be no match for Christ in a physical battle!) but a war of ideas, principles, and authority - a war of good verses evil. Is there any proof that Jesus actually existed at this time in a form resembling angels? I believe that there is.
It has always intrigued and amazed me that Lucifer could ever think that he was equal with Jesus - the "Son of God". How is it that Lucifer could have had the audacity to presume such a thing?! How could he believe that he had the right to be included in the councils of the "MOST HIGH"? What brought him to that conclusion? Lucifer was no dummy. We are told that Lucifer was "a being logical and philosophical, possessing a powerful intellect" (RH July 16, 1901; par. 1). We also know that Lucifer was "the sharer of God's glory in heaven, and second to Jesus in power and majesty. In the words of inspiration he is described as the one who "sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty." (Bible Echo; November 1, 1892; par. 3). How then, could he make such a gross error - UNLESS, of course, Jesus form was very much like his own? This is the only way (as I see it) that Lucifer could have presumed to be Christ's equal.
As the leader of the Heavenly host, Jesus form must NOT have been much different from that of the angels else Lucifer would not have made such a presumptuous error in thinking that He was entitled to be equal with Christ. The Bible describes Lucifer as a being of incredible beauty and intellect: "Thus says the Lord GOD, 'You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. . . . You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire'" (Eze. 28:12,14-16). So what reason does the Bible give for his corruption? "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. . ." (vs. 17).
Commenting on Lucifer's assertion that he was being treated unfairly in being considered "second" to Christ and by not being included in the councils of God, Ellen White writes: "Had not the Lord made the covering cherub so beautiful, so closely resembling his own image; had not God awarded him special honor; had anything been left undone in the gift of beauty and power and honor, then Satan might have had some excuse." (General Conference Daily Bulletins; March 2, 1897; par.34). This statement is very revealing! Christ had apparently created Lucifer so nearly resembling Himself (in beauty, power, majesty and honor) that Lucifer felt justified to rebel against God for placing Christ above him. Lucifer corrupted his intellect (twisted his thinking into believing that he was equal with Christ, and that God was being "unfair" to exclude him from His most intimate Counsels) primarily because of his physical beauty, which so closely resembled Christ's that he apparently did not understand that he and Christ were two very different kinds of beings! In short, Lucifer did not understand the Nature of Christ. As the rebellion grew it became apparent that many of the other angels did not completely understand this either.
"Satan in Heaven, before his rebellion, was a high and exalted angel, next in honor to God's dear Son. His countenance, like those of the other angels, was mild and expressive of happiness. His forehead was high and broad, showing a powerful intellect. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. A special light beamed in his countenance, and shone around him brighter and more beautiful than around the other angels; yet Jesus, God's dear Son, had the pre-eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created. Satan was envious of Christ, and gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone.
The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon his Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son, should be equal with himselff; so that wherever was the presence of his Son, it was as his own presence. The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father. His Son he had invested with authority to command the heavenly host. Especially was his Son to work in union with himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. His Son would carry out his will and his purposes, but would do nothing of himself alone. The Father's will would be fulfilled in him." (SOP vol. 1, p. 17, par. 1-2; Emphasis mine).
In "Patriarchs and Prophets" (1890) -- we find further clarification of the account:
Many things may be gleaned by a careful examination of these two statements!
We will see in a moment how all of this shows that God had already made provision for the entrance of Sin, before the creation of intelligent life, and that this was all part of His plan in dealing with the Sin problem - that it is all part of the plan of Redemption which the Father developed before the creation ("The glorious plan of man's salvation was brought about through the infinite love of God the Father." [2T p. 200]) and which Christ, as a willing and voluntary participant ("No obligation was laid upon Him to undertake the work of atonement. It was a voluntary sacrifice that He made" [Lift Him Up p. 24]), was now fulfilling as the One "sent" by Father to fulfill His will!
So let's consider this "incarnation" of Christ from One who existed as fully God into One who would now exist in the form of one of His own creations. As One who would partake of the nature of His created beings and communicate with them in a form like their own. As One who would communicate the will, the purposes, and the Love of the Father to them - and as the One who would be capable of returning their Love and Worship to the Father through the medium of Himself.