From of Old and Days Everlasting: A Brief Study of Christ from the Old Testament

How do we know Jesus is God?  We know this, not only because the Bible calls him God (Is 9:6; Jer 23:6; John 1:1; 8:58; 20:28; Tit 2:13; 2 Pet 1:1).  We also know this because the Bible describes Jesus in a way that can only describe God.  I would like to focus specifically on Micah 5:2.

Moses describes God’s origin as from everlasting to everlasting in Psalm 90:2. He is eternal, with no beginning and no end. The Hebrew he uses for “from everlasting to everlasting” is me owlam ad owlam. Micah 5:2 says that the coming ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem, and his going forth is from of old, from the days of everlasting, using the same word mi-ymey (from days) owlam (everlasting), the exact way Moses describes God’s origin.

But why does he say “days” in Micah?  This is a common way of speaking of eternity.  David describes this eternal day in Psalm 2:7 when he speaks of God’s decree to the Son: “You are my Son. Today (ha-yom) I have begotten you.” This is why Micah says that his going forth (mo-tsa-ow) is from the days of everlasting. Micah also says that he is from of old, using the Hebrew word qedem. This word is often translated as “eastward” or “from the east”(Gen 2:8; 3:24; 10:30; 11:2; 12:8; 13:14; 25:6; Exod 27:13; 38:13; Lev 1:16). Or it can describe a general direction (Job 23:8). Isaiah uses the term when rebuking false faith in Pharaoh, “How can you say to Pharaoh, ‘I am a son of the wise, a son of ancient (qedem) kings’?” He likewise uses it to rebuke other false trusts in supposed eternal kingdoms (Is 23:7).

But again, this term, while used in various ways, is used to describe God, and specifically his kingly rule (Ps 74:12). After describing how God rescues him from those who attack him, David continues in Psalm 55:19: “God shall afflict them, he who dwells from of old (qedem).” Qedem also describes God’s eternal act of redemption (Ps 74:2), and both owlam and qedem describe God’s relation to Wisdom (Prov 8:22-23), a passage which St. John seems to echo when he says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)”  How can he conclude that the Word (or Wisdom; cf. 1 Cor 1:30) is God?  Because he is described with the same attributes as God in the Old Testament.

God himself is described in the Psalms as being from everlasting and dwelling as well as ruling from of old. This precisely describes the coming ruler of Bethlehem in Micah 5:2.

The Jews stumble over this because they know the shama from Deuteronomy 6:4: “Shama Israel! YHWH Elohenu, YHWH ehad,” that is, “Hear Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” They stumble over these distinct divine figures since God is one. And yet, this is how the Scriptures speak.  He is king from of old. He is God from everlasting to everlasting. And yet, from Bethlehem there comes one who fits this exact description.  And, in fact, we cannot know God apart from this Wisdom God, which goes forth from of old.  We cannot know the Lord apart from the Son. So as the Psalmist says (Ps 2:12), “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, for his wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed is everyone who trusts in him.”

About Pastor Andrew Preus

Pastor Andrew Preus is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran/St. Paul Lutheran, Guttenberg/McGregor, IA. He is the eighth of eleven sons, with one sister. He received his seminary training at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, ON (MDiv) from 2009 to 2013, and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN (STM) from 2013 to 2014. His main theological interests include Justification and Church and Ministry. He is married to Leah Preus (nee Fehr), and they have four children: Jacob, Solveig, Kristiana, and Robert.

Comments

From of Old and Days Everlasting: A Brief Study of Christ from the Old Testament — 3 Comments

  1. Dear Pastor Preus: I found your “Brief Study” fascinating. My sincere thanks. I realize that Christ in the Old Testament tends not to be as important to Lutherans as HE is to those Jews who believe in Christ. They are the ones who have not stumbled over the “Shema” from Deuteronomy. At the same time, they are most concerned about that “echad”, because they constantly come up against that problem when confronting their fellow Jews, who are not of the Christian persuasion.
    I have had the good fortune to take several Old Testament and New Testament courses taught by Rabbi Barney Kasdan of San Diego, California. From this, I came to understand that Messianic Jews are convinced that “echad” means “one”, but it can also be made up of parts, such as in Genesis 1:5, where the “echad iom” is made up of “morning” and “evening.” In this way, “echad” does not deny the Trinity.
    Obviously, the appearance of Christ, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament are of great importance to Messianic Jews. They harvest the Old Testament for hints of the Persons of the Trinity. Their studies make fascinating reading, and renew the respect, which we owe our Jewish brothers and sister. Romans 9:4-5, “… and to them belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  2. Thank you, George. I have not met many Jews who have become Christians. I would love to sit down and pick the brain of one. You are right. There is much wealth in the Old Testament, and I pray that those who have been first given the oracles of God would be led to see their fulfillment.

  3. What about the Christians who believe that they are saved by God’s grace through faith (or so they say), yet they believe that in order to please God they must obey the Torah and observe the Jewish feasts. They believe that we must live like Jesus lived and strive for living a perfectly Good pleasing life. (Hebrew Roots Movement?) Are they taking sanctification and turning it into their work?

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