Theophany. RCCG Sunday School Student Manual.

Theophany

TOPIC: Theophany 

MEMORY VERSE: “And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.” – Exodus 34:5 (KJV)

BIBLE PASSAGE: Genesis 18:1-3, 16-22 (KJV) 

Genesis 18:1-3
18 And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

Genesis 18:16-22
16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

17 And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very grievous;

21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

 

LESSON INTRODUCTION: The term “Theophany” comes from the Ancient Greek theophaneia, meaning “appearance of a deity.” Specifically, a “theophany” is a visible or tangible manifestation of God. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form. The use of the term “theophany” is restricted here to manifestations of God in temporary forms visible to the eyes (not in dreams). A frequent introduction for theophanies may be seen in the phrase “the Lord came down” (Genesis 11:5; Exodus 34:5).

LESSON OUTLINES:

  1. CATEGORIES AND BIBLICAL INSTANCES
  2. THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST

1. CATEGORIES AND BIBLICAL INSTANCES

Some of the tangible or visible manifestations of God are found in three categories: appearance as a man, non-human form, and appearance as an angel.

A. Appearance As A Man: Biblical instances include:
Genesis 18:1-3, 13, 17 – Abraham had some visitors: two angels and God Himself. He invited them to come to his home, and he and Sarah entertained them.
Genesis 32:22-30 – Jacob wrestled with what appeared to be a man, but was God (vs.28-30).
Daniel 3:23-25 – The fourth man in the fire is none other than God.

B. Non-Human Form:
Exodus 24: 16-18 – Frequently, the term “glory of the Lord” reflects a theophany.
Deuteronomy 31:14-15 – God appeared to Moses and Joshua in the transfer of leadership to Joshua “…in a pillar of cloud….”

C. Appearance As “The Angel of the LORD”: This is also called “Angelophany.” There is a difference between “an angel” and “the Angel of the Lord.” The Angel of the Lord usually refers to himself as the Lord or God in the Old Testament. It is not every appearance of angels that is a theophany. Biblical instances include:
Genesis 16:7-14 – The angel of the Lord appears to Hagar. The angel speaks as God himself in the first person, and in verse 13 Hagar identifies “the LORD that spoke to her” as “The God” Who sees.”
Genesis 22:11-12 – The angel of the Lord appears to Abraham and refers to himself as God in the first person.
Genesis 31:11-13 – “The angel of God” says, “…I am the God of Beth-el”.

2. THE INCARNATION OF CHRIST

The pre-incarnate appearance of Christ (in the Old Testament) is called “Christophany.” Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s presence. He is the one to which every theophany – in the Old Testament – was pointing (Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:1, 14).

However, the incarnation of Christ is different from the Old Testament instances of theophany. The Old Testament theophanies are preliminary – they foreshadow and prefigure the coming of Christ in the flesh. The coming of Christ is their fulfillment – their climax (Matthew 5:17). In addition, Christ’s incarnation is permanent, while the theophanies in the Old Testament were temporary. It is through Jesus that we will finally and fully experience the presence of God with us (Revelation 21:1-4).

The class should discuss why they believe Christ is the fullness of God’s presence any man could wish for.

CONCLUSION: The main point of a theophany is to know that God is present with humanity. That is ultimately expressed through Christ.

QUESTIONS

  1. Mention the three categories of the visible manifestations of God.
  2. Explain the incarnation of Christ.

ASSIGNMENT: Write five reasons people still doubt God’s existence despite the pieces of evidence in the Scriptures and around us. (2×5=10 marks).

RCCG Sunday School HYMN

  1. O Sunday School, on the Lord’s day,
    O how I love Thee well,
    I am happy, it makes me glad
    To rejoice at Thy birth.
  2. O Sunday School, on the Lord’s day,
    Thy friendship suits me well,
    Both young and old will sing Thy song,
    We long for Sunday School.
  3. O Sunday School, on the Lord’s day,
    Christ was Thy first teacher,
    The Holy Spirit, great teacher,
    Does manifest in thee.
  4. O Sunday School, on the Lord’s day,
    This testimony is sure,
    That God, the Father Almighty,
    Poured His blessing on Thee.
  5. O Sunday School, on the Lord’s day,
    Though the sun be so bright,
    Or if the clouds black with rain,
    I’ll be in Sunday School.
  6. O Sunday School, on the Lord’s day,
    I rejoice to see Thee,
    Will thou pass over me today?
    Without my being blest?

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