Revelation 1:13--"And in the midst of the seven lampstands ONE like unto THE SON OF MAN..."
Why did Jesus NEED to become THE SON OF MAN? And WHEN did He AGREE to do it--in the heavenly councils of a TRIUNE GOD?
Speaking of the Trinity, I've had people ask me: "Where in the scripture do we see God as THREE PERSONS?"
I've also had people ask me: "When did Jesus, the SECOND person of the Trinity, BECOME the SON OF GOD and the SON OF MAN?" Was He ALWAYS this? Or was that DECISION made just PRIOR to Him being incarnated by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary?
These are DEEP questions, neither one of them answered with a quick and flip response. Instead, we need to dig into the WHOLE COUNSEL of God, as TOTALLY revealed in the entire Bible. This is NOT easy to summarize: but I WILL say this--it was FOREORDAINED from BEFORE the creation of the world. In order to understand, we must consider the WHOLE CHARACTER of God.
I feel when we venture into understanding the Trinity, we’re woefully inadequate to really get a PROPER grasp upon it. How can THREE persons of the Godhead be ONE? (The concept of the TRINITY is something we’ll come to KNOW FULLY when we actually meet God face to face.)
However, in THREE places of the New Testament, when we look at them side by side, we CLEARLY see THE TRINITY. I'll elaborate:
1 John 5:7--"For there are THREE that BEAR RECORD in heaven, the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY SPIRIT: and these THREE are ONE."
We might MISS the significance in that verse if we're not careful to DISCERN. WHO is called THE WORD in scripture? Well, it's JESUS, of course!
John 1:14--"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."
One of the TITLES of Jesus is "THE WORD OF GOD." We see that truth in Revelation 19:13. "And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His NAME is called THE WORD OF GOD."
So when we put these three scriptures together, we see this: THE WORD, Who is listed as ONE of the THREE in 1 John 5:7, is INDEED the second person of the Godhead, JESUS! This is how the TRINITY is PROVED by correctly discerning God's Word!
So, yes, God exists in THREE Persons--the Trinity--and this has been TRUE from ETERNITY PAST.
There's an indication in Genesis 1:26 of the THREE Persons of the Trinity conferring together as they created man. "Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness." That PROVES God always existed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that they talked and communed together. Also, the Genesis rendering of God is "ELOHIM," which is PLURAL--THE TRINITY.
We also see PRE-INCARNATION glimpses of Jesus in the Old Testament as "The Angel of the LORD," when He appeared to various people. The clue that "The Angel of the Lord" WAS INDEED JESUS appears in the account of Balaam (with his donkey) in Numbers 22:23. See also Numbers 22:31.
"The angel of the Lord" CARRIED A SWORD--Jesus is SHOWN with A SWORD in Revelation 1:16 and 19:15. Therefore, it's Jesus--with His SWORD--Who is INDEED the Old Testament "Angel of the Lord."
When Balaam saw "the Angel of the Lord" in Numbers 22:31, Balaam bowed his head and fell flat on his face (which is the posture of worship). "The Angel of the Lord" did NOT tell Balaam to STOP it. "The Angel of the Lord" did NOT say "I am a only messenger, worship God alone." Instead, "the Angel of the Lord" ACCEPTED Balaam's worship. This show how "the Angel of the Lord" is shown to INDEED be God, the Pre-Incarnate JESUS, the SECOND person of the Godhead, Who carries the same SWORD that we see Him possess in other Bible passages.
Jesus, in PRE-INCARNATION appearances, was able to materialize from the spiritual to the physical, like angels do.
Where do we see angels who look like men? Genesis 18:1-2. The Lord, and two angels approached Abraham in the plains of Mamre. They appeared as ordinary men. The fact that they are extraordinary and supernatural shows up later in the chapter. Two angels go forth to their appointment at Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord stays with Abraham and tells the Patriarch what's soon to befall the wicked cities. Abraham intercedes, asking the Lord, "Will You destroy the righteous WITH the wicked?" By the outcome of the story, we see how God will NOT do so! God WILL NOT destroy the righteous with the wicked!
We ALSO see THIS in scripture: "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2. This refers back to the story of Abraham in Genesis 18, for one reference. (I use these verses to show the truth that angels WILL appear before people--looking like men.)
Jesus, as the Pre-Incarnate "Angel of the Lord," also appeared to people in the form of a man. (This pre-figured the time when Jesus would indeed be born of the virgin, Mary, and take upon Himself the actual flesh of a man!)
In the New Testament, we discover that Jesus laid down HIS GODLY GLORY in order to take the FORM of a FLESHLY MAN. Philippians 2:5-11.
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the FORM of God, thought it NOT ROBBERY to be equal with God: but made Himself of NO REPUTATION, and TOOK upon HIMSELF the FORM of a SERVANT, and was MADE in the LIKENESS of men. And being found FASHIONED as a MAN, He HUMBLED Himself (lay down His GLORY), and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. WHEREFORE God hath HIGHLY EXALTED HIM, and GIVEN Him a NAME which is ABOVE EVERY NAME: that at the NAME of JESUS every knee shall bow, of things in HEAVEN, and things in EARTH, and things UNDER THE EARTH; and that EVERY TONGUE should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the GLORY of GOD the FATHER."
Jesus, and the TWO OTHER PERSONS of the TRIUNE God (the Father and the Holy Spirit)--KNEW what would happen to mankind, BEFORE the creation of the world.
1 Peter 1:19-20--"But with the PRECIOUS BLOOD of Christ, as of a LAMB without blemish and without spot: Who verily was FOREORDAINED BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD (before creation), but was MANIFEST (shown, appeared, revealed Himself in the flesh of a man) in these last times for you."
Revelation 13:8 says this (concerning the people who will worship the Antichrist): their names ARE NOT "written in the book of life of the Lamb SLAIN from the FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD." Again, a detail of that verse shows how the TRIUNE GOD KNEW (being omniscient--and knowing ALL things BEFORE they OCCURRED), that JESUS would ONE DAY be incarnated in the FLESH OF A MAN, and LIVE a life WITHOUT SIN--in order to die FOR MAN, taking God's punishment for sin UPON HIMSELF!
God--THE TRIUNE God--KNEW (from BEFORE the creation) WHAT Jesus would FREELY GIVE HIMSELF to do. God KNEW that Jesus would PUT ON the flesh body of a man, DIE for THE SINS of mankind, and then LIVE FOREVER AFTERWARD in the RESURRECTED and GLORIFIED body of A MAN. The GODLY TRIUNE agreement to the SACRIFICE of Jesus EXISTED BEFORE the creation (as clearly stated in 1 Peter 1:19-20 and Revelation 13:8).
Here's another question people ask me: "WHY did God CREATE man--SINCE He already KNEW what would happen?"
We'll need to look further into ETERNITY PAST! A mighty Cherub, named Lucifer, REBELLED against God in heaven. Isaiah 14:12-17. Ezekiel 28:13-19. The SIN of Lucifer (Satan, the devil) happened BEFORE the creation of the starry heavens and the earth! When Lucifer rebelled, sin and rebellion entered God's perfect heaven BEFORE the earth was ever formed. And God faced a dilemma--what was He going to do about it? Destroy Lucifer on the spot? God had the POWER (and the REASON to do so), but but IF He did, what would the OTHER angels see?
The heavenly angels would see a God Who SQUASHED any creature--if they DID NOT obey His ordinances. They would see a HARSH TASKMASTER--a God Who demanded obedience OR ELSE. There would be NO FAIRNESS, no LOVE, no GRACE in such an action. Furthermore, by immediately destroying Lucifer, God would act CONTRARY to His TRUE and FULL CHARACTER. You see, God does NOT operate exclusively in JUDGMENT, WRATH, JUSTICE and PUNISHMENT. God IS also LOVE, MERCY, GRACE and FAIRNESS. How could God PUNISH SIN--and yet remain a God of GRACE, MERCY, LOVE and FAIRNESS?
God is INDEED love, but He is also totally HOLY and JUST. If GOD so LOVED those who rebel, and ACCEPTED them IN SPITE of their sin, He'd VIOLATE His own HOLINESS and JUSTICE. BUT, if God destroyed those who rebelled, just because He has the POWER and the RIGHT to destroy them, He would VIOLATE His own LOVE and MERCY. God ALWAYS remains TRUE to His character. He does NOT lie, and He's forever THE SAME. "For I am the Lord, I change NOT..." Malachi 3:6. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8.
God DESIRES a CREATION who (of their OWN FREE WILL) chooses to LOVE Him, to follow HIS PRECEPTS, to become a part of HIS GOVERNMENT--a creation who WILLINGLY CHOOSES to FELLOWSHIP with the Lord.
Lucifer had already brought sin and rebellion into God's heaven, so WHY did God create mankind, knowing all that?
(1.) God FOREKNEW (because He KNOWS ALL THINGS) what would happen BEFORE He created the starry heavens and THE EARTH (which would be a home for His newly created man). (2.) God planned to DEMONSTRATE, in front of all the heavenly host, that a created being, man, would CHOOSE God's WILL, WAY and FELLOWSHIP, even by overcoming a dreadful sin-nature to do so. (And of course, the ONLY WAY to overcome sin IS IN JESUS, Who had already planned to lay down His life for mankind!)
What do the angels have to do with all of this?
There's an INDICATION in the scripture of how GOD'S ANGELS WATCH--as God DEMONSTRATES His LOVE and perfect JUSTICE (through the UNFOLDING His centuries' old plan). 1 Peter 1:10-12--especially these words: "things THE ANGELS desire to look into."
In this, we see that the angels WITNESSED how God created Adam and Eve in innocence and gave them a most perfect and wonderful home in the Garden of Eden. But Adam, of HIS OWN FREE WILL decided to DISOBEY when Satan TEMPTED EVE (and she ate the forbidden fruit). Adam, who was WITH Eve (Genesis 3:6), took a bite, too, and BOTH man and woman fell into sin.
Now what was God going to do? Of course, He IMMEDIATELY promised the fallen couple that He'd provide a SAVIOR. Genesis 3:15.
But the promise was NOT fulfilled overnight. Centuries needed to pass as sin worked its destructive force upon the earth, energized by Satan and the rebellious angels. God needed to allow SIN and DEPRAVITY to FULLY MANIFEST itself--unfettered and unrestrained--upon the world BEFORE the Flood. The heavenly angels saw the FULL RESULT of unchecked rebellion, and when God JUDGED, His action was RIGHT.
(There's so many pictures of God working in LOVE and GRACE--even as the PRE-FLOOD WORLD waxed exceedingly wicked: The sacrifice given by Abel--which God accepted. Enoch. Methuselah. Noah and the TYPE which is given in THE ARK. There's not enough space to cover all those rich spiritual pictures today. The study of Genesis, like that of Revelation, is rich in prophetic detail!)
AFTER the Flood, God worked at FIRST, in establishing a form of EARTHLY government--which eventually ended in rebellion (at the TOWER OF BABEL). THEN God worked with a specific family, Abraham and his descendants through Isaac, to establish an EVERLASTING COVENANT with that bloodline (who would eventually bring Jesus into the earth--born in THE FLESH). God's emphasis EXPANDED to an ENTIRE NATION, born of the TWELVE sons of Jacob (which became Israel), and God gave His LAW to them through Moses. The WATCHING angels saw how sinful man COULD NEVER OBEY the LAW--man was PRISONER to His own sin, and even IF man tried, he constantly fell short of God's glory.
The WHOLE PROCESS of what God DID--from creation, through the fall, through God's promise of a Savior, through the EVERLASTING COVENANTS, through the working of the LAW, to the words of the Prophets, to the coming of Jesus--was to PROVIDE a DEMONSTRATION in FRONT of the WATCHING angels, which PROVED how God was MORE than FAIR as He dealt with the SIN problem.
There IS INDEED a creation who WILLINGLY chooses to FOLLOW and OBEY the Lord, and IN THIS AGE OF THE CHURCH, people are ABLE to OBEY, because Jesus has conquered SIN for us--He TOOK God's punishment for ALL SIN at the cross (and He also conquered DEATH by his RESURRECTION). Then Jesus SENT the Holy Spirit--Who dwells inside each believer's heart and GIVES we TRUE CHRISTIANS the ABILITY to walk in God's HOLINESS and RIGHTEOUSNESS. ALL of these blessings are THE ACTION of God's GRACE, which is UNTIED with the FAITH of believers IN JESUS--through which FLOWS the POWER--made AVAILABLE in His shed blood! What VICTORY! This is WHY Jesus, the SECOND person of the TRIUNE God, became the SON OF MAN!
When the angels EVENTUALLY WITNESS God THROWING Satan and the fallen angels (and ALL people who REJECT God and Jesus) INTO HELL, they will know that God's action is TRUE and RIGHT. And WHEN the angels SEE HOW God separates EVIL from His Kingdom FOREVER, they’ll KNOW and UNDERSTAND all of God's LOVE, GRACE, GOODNESS, MERCY, FAIRNESS, HOLINESS, RIGHTNESS, and JUSTICE. FOREVER, in ETERNITY, God will have a creation who CHOOSES of their OWN FREE WILL to follow and worship Him--the SUPREME POTENTATE Who is ETERNALLY RIGHT, and Who desires to FELLOWSHIP with His creation for ETERNITIES to come. All darkness will be swallowed up in LIGHT!
Jesus is the Son of Man, having taken upon Himself a body of flesh. Jesus is also the Son of God, ONE with Father and Holy Spirit, forever--from ETERNITIES PAST. In the scripture, these TRUTHS are evident:
(1.) Elohim (a plural God--the Trinity) was active in the creation, where God says, "Let US make man in OUR image"--which shows a TRINITY at work. In Ephesians 3:9, we see that God created all things BY JESUS CHRIST. In Genesis 1:2, we see the SPIRIT OF GOD (the Holy Spirit) moving upon the face of the waters. TRINITY was DEFINITELY active in the creation!
(2.) Hebrews 13: 8 says, "Jesus Christ is THE SAME yesterday, today and forever." That TELLS us that Jesus has ALWAYS been the SON OF GOD--the second Person of the Trinity.
(3.) Jesus took upon Himself THE FORM of a man--in a flesh body--when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and she conceived. From that point forward, Jesus, as THE SON OF MAN, grew IN FLESH inside the womb, was born, and grew from a boy to adulthood. The GOD-LIKE miracles that Jesus performed, plus the Transfiguration, happened through THE HOLY SPIRIT--Who operated INSIDE Jesus while Jesus lived in the flesh of an ordinary man. Again, the FULL TRINITY was in action!
(4.) In every way, Jesus IDENTIFIED Himself with man. Jesus understands man's frailties--our weaknesses, our temptations--what we face in living within a flesh body (YET JESUS, BEING PERFECT, NEVER SUCCUMBED TO SIN). Jesus SHOWS HOW man may live a VICTORIOUS life by the POWER of the Holy Spirit, and by that SAME Holy Spirit POWER, miracles CAN HAPPEN within the Church! John 14:12.
I hope ALL these explanations helps us TO UNDERSTAND a FEW of God's deepest mysteries. But always remember, that on THIS SIDE of heaven, we look through a glass, darkly. Now, we know, IN PART. When we meet Jesus face to face, we'll KNOW IN FULL. We're all learning together as we look upon the very deep and mysterious precepts of God.
I hope this essay, based upon years of studying scripture, edifies you. WHAT AN AWESOME GOD WE SERVE! To our Lord be the glory, forevermore!