The Apostle Sending Saviour in the Burning Bush.

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flame 2In Luke 11:49,  referring backwards to Israels history, Jesus says:

“And so the Wisdom of God says: ‘I will send them prophets and apostles…'”

It is interesting that we often think of Apostles as just belonging to the New Testament era… but here Jesus is clearly refering to the history recorded in the Old Testament, which can be thought of as “The Apostles and Prophets”. The first seventeen books of the Old Testament (as it has come to us) described the leaders who where “sent”(apostled) by YHWH, and the last seventeen books of the Old Testament are all written by Prophets, hence “The Apostles and Prophets”. These two arms of the Old Testament are held together by five books we call the Wisdom Books, (see “The Shape of the Old Testament“).

Now Jesus wasn’t refering to the Bible when he describes God’s Wisdom as commissioning the Prophets and Apostles of the Old Testament era, but is clearly drawing out a fact acknowledged by all the Rabbinic Scholars of Jesus’ day, that the Word/Wisdom of God was more than just a message or an idea, it was an active divine agent… in fact Philo a contemporary Jewish Philospher living in Alexandra at the time of Jesus actually referred to the “Wisdom of God” as “The first-born son of God” , but I’ve not had time to write about that yet and this post is actually about something different… But note that in Luke 11 Jesus presents that active agent, God’s Wisdom as the commissioner of those sent by God.

This post is about the burning-bush-as-christpassage that gives the Apostolic arm of the Old Testament its title by virtue of using the root word for “Send or in Greek “Apostle”. That is the commissioning/sending/apostling of Moses by the Burning Bush in Exodus 3-4.

Actually this passage is so rich with cryptic references to Jesus, His divinity and the Cross that it will make up a major section when I eventually get to write “Jesus in the Great Escape” the book planned to uncover Jesus in Exodus. But for here I want to stay focused on Jesus the Apostle Sender.

Now Exodus 3-4 this is the first multi-chapter Theophany/Christophany in the Bible, i.e it is a long passage where The Invisible God is visible, a phenomenon the New Testament indicates is a pre-incarnation manifestation of the eternal Christ. The Early Church writers all saw this passage this way (Athanaius, Justin Martyr, Tertllian, Hilary of Poitiers, and Ambrose to name a few).

So God appears in the Burning Bush and is acknowledged as both God and as God’s Walker/Messenger (the Hebrew roots of the word “Angel”). He then calls himself “I AM comedown to deliver”. So in short God’s messenger is also God and uses the same style of description that Jesus uses in the New Testament, (“I AM the bread come down” etc..) and Here He explicitly says that He is come down to save or rescue.

This visible manifestation of God then commissions/apostles Moses. The chief in the flow of sent leaders for God’s people that define Israel’s story.

In this passage in the LXX, (the Greek version of the Old Testament in use in Jesus day), YHWH uses the word “apostle”, “apostled” or “apostling” 7 times… giving it the import of God word(s) in Creation and in its 7-fold nature also promising an ultimate sending in the future, (again unpacking the implications of 7-ness iss another post, please check back).

Jesus of course explicitly becomes the fulfillment of that ultimate, promised apostle-sender, see Ephesians 4:11, in fact he sends/apostles all of us, Mark 16:15.

Now interestingly when Matthew records a version of Jesus teaching on those sent being persecuted, (as per Luke 11 above) he reports the it as a present/future event in the mouth of Jesus:

“So I send to you Apostles…..” – Matthew 23:34.

This isn’t a contradiction of Luke, it reflects the habit off all public speakers of preaching multiple variants of the same sermon with differing emphasis dependent on occasion and context….

But what it does all go to show is that whether it was under the Old or the New Covenant, it was always the Christ who commissioned/commissions and sent/sends. Jesus is the Great Commissioner!

Christen Forster

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2019 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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