The Missouri Baptist Convention, through its High Street Press imprint, has just released a new resource for personal or group study titled Jesus Before Bethlehem: What Every Christian Should Know About the Angel of the LORD.
Written by the MBC’s Rob Phillips, the 338-page book explores dozens of Old Testament appearances by a figure often identified as “the angel of the LORD.” This figure not only speaks for God; he speaks as God. He appears as a man, a voice from heaven, a flame within a thorn bush, and a divine presence in a pillar of cloud and fire – all of which come to us as Christophanies, or appearances of Jesus before Bethlehem.
The book addresses the question: What was Jesus doing prior to his conception in Mary’s womb? While we see the Father and the Holy Spirit actively engaged in human affairs across the pages of the Old Testament, the other member of the Trinity (Jesus) is foreshadowed in messianic prophecies but otherwise absent from the earth. Or is he?
Jesus Before Bethlehem is designed to show how the eternal Son of God has always taken a personal interest in those he created to be his imagers on earth.
Dr. Rodney A. Harrison, former dean of academic strategy and institutional effectiveness at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and newly elected president of The Baptist Home, has written the book’s Foreword.
“Jesus Before Bethlehem is exceptional in that it is rightly written for every believer,” writes Harrison. “The newest disciple will immediately benefit from ‘A Brief Primer on Angels’ (chapter 1). The seasoned theologian will profit from the unparalleled clarity and comprehensive treatment Phillips provides to the often-overlooked doctrine of Christophany. All readers will glean theological nurture from each turn of the page. This is a book that should find a home among my scholarly colleagues in theological education and the homes of the members in my small group.”
Dr. John Yeats, MBC executive director, adds: “I highly recommend this book as a church-wide or small-group study. Christians often overlook the earthly ministry of Jesus prior to the Incarnation – or are completely surprised to learn of His many visitations to key Old Testament figures. Jesus Before Bethlehem encourages and inspires followers of Jesus as they explore his appearances to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and other Old Testament figures.”
The book features 12 lessons that conclude with probing questions, making this an ideal resource for personal or group study.
Jesus Before Bethlehem is available in print and e-book formats at Amazon.com and other booksellers. An audio version will be available through Audible after June 30.