After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision…Genesis 15:1
Let’s stop right there for a minute.
What came to Abram? What was it that appeared to him? He obviously SAW something. What did Abram see? The verse says, “The word of the Lord came…” What came? Words?
Did he see words all around him? Did he see Hebrew alphabets and text floating in the air before his eyes? Or was it a book? Did a scroll suddenly appear to him from heaven? Could it be the Torah? No, Moses was still hundreds of years from being be born.
If we read on, we see that Abram began to have a conversation with this “word of the Lord.” He was obviously not talking to some inanimate floating text or lifeless impersonal book.
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” But Abram said, “Lord God,…”
The question is not WHAT appeared to Abram. The question is WHO appeared to Abram? The “word of the Lord is a person!” Abram addressed him as “Lord God…”
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
The Apostle John reveals for us the identity of the Word.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
It was Jesus.
It was Jesus who appeared to Abram and spoke to him back in Genesis 15. Of course, at that time, the name Jesus had not yet been revealed. It was revealed only at His incarnation thousands of years later. Abram didn’t know Him as Jesus; he only knew Him as “word of the Lord” and addressed him as Lord God.
“….this was God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, appearing to Abraham before His incarnation and birth at Bethlehem. We assume this because, of God the Father, it says, No one has seen God at any time. The only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18), and no man has ever seen God in the Person of the Father (1 Timothy 6:16). Therefore, if God appeared to someone in human appearance in the Old Testament (and no one has seen God the Father) it makes sense the appearance is of the eternal Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, before His incarnation in Bethlehem.David Guzik
In fact, there were other occasions of the pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus thousands of years before His incarnation. The theological term for this is Theophany.
In Genesis 17:1, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty…”
In Genesis 18:1, “Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.” Here again, the LORD came to Abraham in human appearance. This is another presentation of Jesus in human form before His incarnation.
Is this why, when Jesus did come to the earth in His incarnation, He said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” (John 8:56)
The Jews were understandably puzzled and mocked Jesus for saying this.
The Jews, therefore, said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” (John 8:57)
How did Jesus respond?
“No, guys. You misunderstood. Of course, I didn’t mean that Abraham saw me.”
Here’s what He did say:
“Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58)
Not only was Jesus affirming that Abraham saw Him, but He even had the audacity to declare that He is ever-existing, even before Abraham!
The Jews understood exactly what He was implying. He was claiming to be the ever-existent One! Thus, they picked up stones to throw at Him for such blatant blasphemy!
In Revelation 1:8, Jesus identifies Himself as the Lord God, the Almighty.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men….John 1:1-4, 10, 14
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him….
And the Word became 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.
i. “The most general expression of the great truth He became man. He became that, of which man is in the body compounded…The simplicity of this expression is no doubt directed against the Docetae of the Apostle’s time, who maintained that the Word only apparently took human nature.” (Alford)
ii. The Greeks generally thought of God too low. To them John wrote: the Word became flesh. To ancient people, gods such as Zeus and Hermes were simply super-men; they were not equal to the order and reason of the Logos. John told the Greek thinkers, “The Logos you know made and ordered the universe actually became flesh.”
iii. The Jews generally thought of God too high. To them John wrote: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Ancient Jews had a hard time accepting that the great God revealed in the Old Testament could take on human form. John told the Jewish thinkers, “The Word of God became flesh.”
iv. God has come close to you in Jesus Christ. You don’t have to struggle to find Him; He came to you. Some think they go from place to place to try and find God, and continue their search. More commonly they stay at a place until God draws close to them – then they quickly move on.
v. “Christ entered into a new dimension of existence through the gateway of human birth and took up his residence among men.” (Tenney)
vi. “Augustine afterwards said that in his pre-Christian days he had read and studied the great pagan philosophers and had read many things, but he had never read that the word became flesh.” (Barclay)