What was Jesus doing before the incarnation? I confess I am a professional wrestling fan. Before I became a Christian before the Lord called me to ministry it was my life’s ambition to become a professional wrestler. There’s a type of match called an Elimination Chamber match – like a steel cage match on steroids. At each corner of the wrestling ring there’s a plexiglass pod and every five minutes a new entrant to the match is released from their chamber. It’s rather comedic to watch the wrestlers stuck in the pods – they’ll pace back and forth, they may flex, they may banter with the crowd but for the most part, they do nothing – they are present but waiting. I suspect this is not far from how many of us envision Jesus’ activity during the Old Testament before the incarnation. Because Jesus is God surely he was present, surely he was around, certainly, he was there but it doesn’t seem like he was doing much of anything except pacing around waiting for the buzzer to go off when the calendar would shift from BC to AD.
In the Old Testament, we frequently encounter a striking figure – the Angel of the LORD, the malak YHWH. At times he appears as a man and yet as often as he appears those who see him cower in terror in recognition that they have seen God face to face and somehow survived. Is this the pre-incarnate Christ? If so, then Jesus is all over the Old Testament. Not all Christians agree on this point, but there’s a case to be made that the Angel of the LORD is Jesus himself, the Son, the second person of the trinity, laying a foundation that he would later fulfill. We shall scour the Scriptures this Sunday in an effort to identify this perplexing participant power in spiritual warfare – bring your Bibles, we’ve got a lot to look into!