Many preachers on OT passages seem to have an arbitrary ranking system when it comes to theophanies (appearances of God). Sometimes they are clear that the appearing LORD is Christ, sometimes they tentatively suggest it, sometimes they claim that all is shrouded in darkness and who can know and sometimes they ignore the issue altogether.
I’m never sure what might be the rationale behind such decisions. But there seems to be a ranking at play. So I’ve decided to reconstruct what I think the ranking might be. Here is just a top ten (with the number one being the most likely to be desginated a Christophany). There are, obviously, many more appearances than these. But I’m not sure you’ll find many today who will acknowledge more than these ten.
10. The LORD who eats with Abraham (Genesis 18)
9. The Glorious Apparition of Daniel 10
8. The Voice of the LORD walking in the garden (Genesis 3)
7. The God who eats with the 70 elders of Israel (Exodus 24)
6. The fourth figure in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3)
5. The I AM of the burning bush (Exodus 3)
4. The Man who wrestled Jacob (Genesis 32)
3. The LORD who rebukes Satan (Zechariah 3)
2. Isaiah’s Temple vision (Isaiah 6)
1. Commander of the LORD’s host (Joshua 5)
Have I got the ranking about right? Are there other more worthy candidates for the top ten?
Against this arbitrary system, Jonathan Edwards’ advice will be a much safer and saner approach:
When we read in sacred history what God did, from time to time, towards His Church and people, and how He revealed Himself to them, we are to understand it especially of the Second Person of the Trinity. When we read of God appearing after the fall, in some visible form, we are ordinarily, if not universally, to understand it of the Second Person of the Trinity. (A History of the Work of Redemption)
See more from Owen and Edwards here.