He Who Had None, Had One
Tuesday of Epiphany 5
7 February 2017
The Old Testament is not a book entirely different from the New Testament. The same God reveals Himself in both testaments to sinners like us. However, some people would prefer to think that the content of the Old Testament is entirely alien to us and our experiences, as though the cultural divide between our time and the first testament is an unbridgeable gap. This occurs because we presume, wrongly, that Ezekiel's lack of an iPhone 7S made him radically different from us. Our technology does not make us in any way different from the humans of the Old Testament, who needed the divine revelation of God's grace as much as we do. The similarities among all humans is far greater than their differences. A sinner with an iPhone 7S is still a sinner.
God used gracious means to communicate His everlasting compassion for sinners in both testaments. Foreshadowing the high incarnation of the New Testament when the Christ was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit and made man, the Old Testament time after time portrays the divine visitations in physical and, yes, often human form. God appears as a man in the prior dispensation. And though these were impermanent manifestations, they remain acts that pointed forward to the fulfillment of the messianic promises spoken to the Old Testament believers from the time of our first parents in the then warped paradise of fallen Eden (Gn 3:16). Old Testament epiphanies point forward to the incarnation in the New Testament.
Thus the coming of the Son of God, who is begotten from eternity of the Father, in the permanent union of two natures was unique in its permanence only from the side of God, who had long hinted at this coming by act and promised it by word. From the human side the incarnation was the most shocking and sublime act; that God should become man by permanently bearing our flesh. At the incarnation there was a creation in the human nature of the God Man, when the one who was neither made, nor created, but begotten became man. And only then was there a birth that was truly a beginning. So that He who had none had one. Both Old and New Testaments testify that His divine nature had no beginning, but His human nature did.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"Let us see for what ways of God, and for what works of God, Wisdom was created from the commencement of the ages, though born of God before all ages. Adam heard the voice of one walking in paradise (Gn 3:8-10). Do you think that His approach could have been heard, had He not assumed the guise of a created being? Is not the fact, that He was heard as He walked, proof that He was present in a created form? I do not ask in what guise He spoke to Cain and Abel (Gn 4:6) and Noah (Gn 6:13-15), and in what guise He was near to Enoch also, blessing him (Heb 11:5). An Angel speaks to Hagar (Gn 21:17), and certainly He is also God. Has He the same form, when He appears like an Angel, as He has in that nature, by virtue of which He is God? Certainly the form of an Angel is revealed, where afterwards mention is made of the nature of God (Gn 21:19).
"But why should I speak of an Angel? He comes as a man to Abraham. Under the guise of a man, in the shape of that created being, is not Christ present in that nature, which He possesses as being also God? A man speaks, and is present in the body, and is nourished by food; and yet God is adored (Gn 18). Surely He who was an Angel is now also man, in order to save us from the assumption that any of these diverse aspects of one state, that of the creature, is His natural form as God. Again, He comes to Jacob in human shape, and even grasps him for wrestling; and He takes hold with His hands, and struggles with His limbs, and bends His flanks, and adopts every movement and gesture of ours. But again He is revealed, this time to Moses (Ex 3), and as a fire; in order that you might learn to believe that this created nature was to provide Him with an outward guise, not to embody the reality of His nature. He possessed, at that moment, the power of burning, but He did not assume the destructive property which is inherent in the nature of fire, for the fire evidently burned and yet the bush was not injured.
"Glance over the whole course of time, and realize in what guise He appeared to Joshua the son of Nun, a prophet bearing His name, or to Isaiah, who relates that he saw Him, as the Gospel also bears witness (Jn 12:41), or to Ezekiel, who was admitted even to knowledge of the resurrection, or to Daniel, who confesses the Son of Man in the eternal kingdom of the ages, or to all the rest to whom He presented Himself in the form of various created beings, for the ways of God and for the works of God, that is to say, to teach us to know God, and to benefit our eternal state. Why does this method, expressly designed for human salvation, bring about at the present time such an impious attack upon His eternal birth? The creation, of which you speak, dates from the commencement of the ages; but His birth is without end, and before the ages. Maintain by all means that we are doing violence to words, if a prophet, or the Lord, or an Apostle, or any oracle whatever has described by the name of creation the birth of His eternal divinity. In all these manifestations God, who is a consuming fire, is present, as created, in such a manner that He could lay aside the created form by the same power by which He assumed it, being able to destroy again that which had come into existence merely that it might be looked upon.
"But that blessed and true birth of the flesh conceived within the Virgin the Apostle was named both a creating and a making, for then there was born both the nature and form of our created being (Gal 4:4-5)."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 12.46-48
Genesis 18:1-14

And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, "O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on- since you have come to your servant." So they said, "Do as you have said."
And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, "Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes." And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate. They said to him, "Where is Sarah your wife?" And he said, "She is in the tent."
The LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?" The LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." (ESV)
Lord Christ, from the time of the creation You revealed Yourself in tangible human form that through this means You might convince the sinners who needed the comfort of Your presence that their sins had been covered by You. Help us to see our sin revealed in the pages of the Old Testament as well as Your grace lavished upon us in Your speaking. Amen.
For LCMS Council of Presidents and Praesidium, meeting this week, that the Lord of the Church would grant wisdom and discretion through the Spirit
For Kirstyn Harvey, that the Lord Jesus would give her strength and fortitude as she undergoes surgery today and that the Lord would grant her the healing she needs
For the family of Stacey Guske who was bereaved of her father, Robert, that they would mourn with hope and confidence in the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come and that they would have safe travels to the funeral
For all those who despair of finding a congregation both faithful to the divine word and vigorous in mission with which they may receive the gift of fellowship with God through the means of grace, that Christ would lead them to the green pastures and still waters of His word
Art: MANETTI, Rutilio  Wedding Feast at Cana  (c. 1620)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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