The Son of Man
Part 2 of 2

By Ernie and Mary Kroeger

Read the first part of this article.

In this study we want to see how the Old Testament laid the foundation for Christ's claim to be the Son of Man. In order to get a better understanding of this, we need to look at the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament, for there we see that the key to spiritual understanding is in the Holy Spirit. This is exemplified in many instances. For example, the natural mind perceives humanity as many individuals, but God sees humanity differently. He sees two men: Adam, the old humanity that is dead in its transgressions and sins, and Christ, the new humanity that has the life of Christ. (1 Cor. 15:22; Romans 5:12-19) These men are corporate men, for everyone who has ever lived and everyone who is presently living and will live in the future, is either in Christ or in Adam.

Confusion arises when we see ourselves partly in Adam and partly in Christ. If we cannot discern the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant, we will think we are still sinners even though we call ourselves God's children. We will think we have to earn our righteousness instead of having Christ as our righteousness. Instead of believing that we are already united with Christ, we will strive to become one with Him.

In order to understand who we are in Christ, we have to know the difference between the natural man and the spiritual man. Genesis chapters one and two help to clarify this for us. In Genesis 1:26-27, God said, "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

Our natural mind pictures this man as a physical man. Since God often speaks of Himself as having body parts like ours, we feel justified in believing this. However, we know that God is spirit, so a true representation and expression of God has to be a spiritual image. Therefore this man had to be a spiritual image of God. More questions come to our mind. What is a spiritual image of God like? We answer, "It must be like God in nature." Does it have form? Does God have form? How can He fill all things if He is limited to a form? We find our answer in the New Testament, for there we see the true representation of the invisible God in Christ Jesus!

Furthermore, we know that God is one, so His male and female characteristics are one in Him; they are not divided. So the image that God called "man" had to be both male and female - united and undivided. Notice that this image was created - it was not formed of dust. It was this man that was given dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing. No restriction was placed on him; he could eat whatever he liked, and God looked at His creation and said that it was very good! Can you see that this man pictures the corporate Christ in whom there is no male and female? He is the man who is given dominion over all things!

Now let's look at the man who came into existence in Genesis 2. Although God had created a man in chapter 1, we find that in chapter 2:5 it states, "there was no man to cultivate the ground". Why? It was because the man in chapter 1 was not made to cultivate the ground, for he is a spiritual man! Then God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground - notice that He did not create Adam. Then God blew His breath into Adam's nostrils, and he became a living soul. He was not a life-giving spirit like Christ is. Adam was only an earthy image of God, because he was a mixture of dust and the divine. Adam was an image of God in that he could think logically, be creative, and worship God. Animals can't do that.

A spiritual image of God differs from an earthy image, for it cannot be mixed with dust. Adam's failure to overcome the first temptation proved that he was not a spiritual image of God. However, Adam was the beginning of the process God used to bring forth a true spiritual image of God in man, namely Christ Jesus, the second man, the true spiritual image of God. Therefore, all ideas of God that do not agree with God's revelation of Himself in Christ, are false images. These false images come from the natural mind and from the imaginations that are against the true knowledge of God. Jesus Christ came to do away with all our distorted images of God, and to bring us a true image of God. Very few understand that Christ, the Son of Man, is a spiritual image of God, and that in Gen. 1:26 God called this image man.

In part 1 of this series, we have already seen that the expression, Son of Man, refers to the second man - not to the first man Adam. The designation, Son of Man, indicates Christ's identity with humanity. It does not refer to the physical body of Jesus, but to the spiritual body of Christ. Jesus Christ needed to be joined to the old humanity in order to take it with Him on the cross; there it was killed together with Him. He arose in newness of life so He could bring us into newness of life together with Him. This new spiritual humanity is called the Son of Man. In Him we see the perfect embodiment of everything that God is. He is the only begotten Son of God. Therefore, in order to be sons of God we have to be in Christ. This corporateness is shown and declared in the Son of Man.

Jesus wanted Israel to know that He was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. This was quite evident in many of His discourses. The title, Son of Man, was not foreign to Israel, for many Old Testament passages refer to the Son of Man. The priests, scribes and Pharisees must have been familiar with these passages. They must have known that Jesus was introducing Himself as the Son of Man who was spoken of in the Old Testament, and therefore the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy!

The first reference to the son of man is found in Numbers 23:19 where it states, "God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" It's important for us to note that God is not a man. He is God! He always is and He never changes! He is always truth and life. He is absolutely trustworthy! Whatever He promises will surely come to pass! We may doubt it, ridicule it and rebuke it, but it will happen! He never lies and He never needs to repent. Natural man cannot lay hold of this claim. Have you ever met someone who has never lied? All who are in Adam, the old humanity, tell lies. God is different - He never lies!

This verse also tells us that there is a difference between God and a son of man. It says that God is not "a son of man that He should repent." God does not need to repent, but a son of man does. We know that Jesus never sinned, so why should He be baptized with the baptism of repentance? Was there something that needed to change in His life? Jesus was under the government of the law for the first 30 years of His life, and He fulfilled the law perfectly. However, before He could begin His ministry in the Spirit, a change had to take place; He had to receive a new government. At His baptism He repented of having been under the government of the Law. The Holy Spirit came down on Him, an exchange of governments occurred, and He received the higher government of the Holy Spirit! After His baptism He only did what the Spirit told Him to do.

We too need to repent of the government of the LAW in our lives, and receive the higher government of the Spirit. The Law keeps us in legalism and death for it does not know the meaning of grace, mercy and forgiveness; it can only function in condemnation. We praise God that in Christ there is no condemnation!

Jesus began to speak of Himself as the Son of Mankind after He repented of having been under the government of the Law. Christ's declaration that He was a man from heaven, and the fact that He never sinned, show us that His sense of being was not that of an earthy man, for it came from above. Have you ever pondered how impossible it is for the one who has been born of the Spirit to have an earthy nature? If we have God as as our Father, can we still have the devil's nature? God only has a sinless divine nature, and this is the nature that He passes on to His children. The earthy and the divine cannot be mixed to form a spiritual image of God. "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; he cannot sin because he is born of God." (1 John 3:9) We have been born of an incorruptible (imperishable) seed, so everything that develops or grows out of this seed cannot be corrupted.

Yet most Christians believe that they still have the same nature they had before they were born of the Spirit. Why? It's because they focus on what they feel and see in the natural instead of believing what God says. Our natural mind is always condemning us for our failures, for it is under the government of the law. We need to realize that God can even use our failures as stepping stones in our spiritual growth.

We cannot be in the old humanity and in the new humanity at the same time, but our old mentality tries to convince us that we can. It tells us that only through crucifying our self-life can we receive the new humanity. It also tells us that we are participating in the new humanity (Christ) when we read the Bible, pray, go to church, etc. It is good to do these things, but we cannot earn our salvation. Our failure to keep all the commandments convinces us that we are still in our old humanity (Adam). This makes us think our transformation into our new humanity will only take place after we die and go to heaven - in spite of the fact that it says that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. (Rom. 12:2) It is very difficult for us to believe that we truly are new creations in Christ, because we continually identify with the old humanity instead of believing who God says we are now. Our old mentality continually deceives us, and makes us think that we are still in the old humanity, and that our transformation is for the future. No wonder Paul wrote that a renewing of the mind has to take place! The realization that we have the mind of Christ comes through faith. Our thinking has to ascend into the spiritual man before we can understand who we truly are in Christ.

Yet the sin question often haunts us. We see our need; we see our failures! How does this fit in with the statement that he who is born of God cannot sin? Paul made a very clear distinction between the natural, man and the spiritual man. Although the Adam man was crucified with Christ, and we have been made new creations in Christ, the natural mind, the mind of death, is still resident within us. The spiritual man who we are in Christ does not sin. However our carnal mind still needs to be made subject to our spiritual mind. In whatever area of our lives the self (the carnal, fleshly, natural mind) still rules, sin will rear its ugly head. In Romans 7 Paul teaches us that the mind of the flesh no longer belongs to the new creation man. He said, "So now, no longer am I (the new creation man) the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me (in my natural or carnal mind)." (v. 17) We are overcomers when we do not yield to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life!

Let's look at some more references to the son of man in the Old Testament. In Ps. 8:4-6 we read, "What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You came to him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crowned him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands. You have put all things under his feet." Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David saw two men - man and the son of man. Notice that it is the son of man, the new humanity in Christ, that is made a little lower than God, and is crowned with glory and majesty. It is the son of man who is made to rule over the works of His hands; everything is put under his feet!

Let's compare this with Eph. 1:19-23, and see how beautifully this compares with Christ and His body - the church! "…These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." Here we see that all things are subject to the rule of Christ together with His body.

In Ps. 80:17 we find another reference to the son of man. "Let Your name be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself." Again we see that the son of man is identified with the man of God's right hand. It was Christ Jesus who sat down on the right hand of the Father, and therefore Christ is identified as the son of man.

Now we come to the book of Ezekiel - a book that can be very puzzling if we don't understand it spiritually. Why did God repeatedly address Ezekiel as the son of man? Let's look at some of these quotations and see the picture that emerges.

We'll begin with Ezekiel 3: 10 and 17. "Moreover, He said to me, `Son of man, take into your heart all My words which I will speak to you and listen closely…Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me."

Although Ezekiel was an Israelite, he was not like the nation of Israel because he had ears to hear what the Spirit was saying while the rest of Israel didn't. Did Israel have ears to hear the Spirit when Jesus lived on earth? Their rejection of Jesus Christ proved that they did not. Did Jesus warn Israel? In Matthew we see Him crying over Israel! How He longed to have them come to Him! He had tried to gather them, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but they wouldn't come! As we read on, the realization that Ezekiel foreshadowed the coming of Jesus Christ will grow on us.

In Ezekiel 8:6 it says, "And He said to me, `Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, so that I would be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations.'" Ezekiel saw all the abominations the priests were carrying out. He saw the evil in their hearts. The things we do are an outflow of what is in our hearts. Jesus recognized that the abominations the moneychangers, priests, scribes and Pharisees were committing came out of their evil hearts. God gave Jesus insights that others did not have. The Jewish nation remained in its laws and traditions because it remained in the deception and control of their teachers.

By showing Ezekiel things that the rest of Israel could not see or understand, God was picturing the coming of the Son of Man, the new humanity - the humanity that is able to see spiritually. He was portraying the coming of Christ and His body in the earth today.

Since the people in Ezekiel's time had the same mindset that people have today, they said the same things as are being said today. In Ezekiel 12:27 God said, "Son of man, behold, the house of Israel is saying, `The vision that he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies of times far off.'" Have you noticed that so many of the things God wants us to have now, are being relegated to a future time by those who only have natural understanding?

Let's look at some of things that are being said. They say that the resurrection is a future event; they disregard Christ's teaching that He is the resurrection. They overlook the fact that in Christ we are resurrected out of our death in Adam into the life of Christ. They say that the place Christ went to prepare is a mansion in a far-away heaven that can only be enjoyed after we die or are raptured (whichever comes first), instead of an abiding place in Christ that we can enjoy right now. Because they have not received the revelation of who they are in Christ, they claim that they remain sinners as long as they are in their fleshly bodies. They do not understand that being born of the Spirit takes us out of the "in Adam" classification and places us into the "in Christ" classification. Jesus made a distinction between those who have the devil as their father and those who have God as their Father. Our new birth makes us spiritual beings, for we have been born of an incorruptible seed - and that seed is Christ! They say heaven is a place we go to after we die, instead of it being the throne of God that symbolizes God's government - as recorded in the scriptures (Matt. 5:34; Is. 66:1). Because the scriptures say that God is in heaven, they think heaven is a place far above the clouds. They do not understand that God is where He rules. Christ rules us from within, so obedience to His rule places heaven in our hearts now. It is so sad that the things that are already ours in Christ are so often only relegated to the future.

God told Ezekiel to prophesy against the prophets of Israel because they were "prophesying from their own inspiration." (13:2) He was also to prophesy against Jerusalem, the sanctuary, the land of Israel, Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, Pharaoh, etc. He was to do this because they were speaking from a wrong spirit that resided within them. Similarly, when Jesus Christ, the Son of Man spoke, He prophesied against the wrong spirits that resided in the religious hierarchy and the people. He spoke anointed words of life and truth - and truth is always against the lies and deception of natural understanding. He did not prophesy by saying, "Thus says the Lord," nor by using King James English. He simply brought a revelation of truth, life and resurrection. His spiritual understanding was rejected at that time even as it was rejected in Ezekiel's time, and as it is being rejected by the majority today.

Another interesting parallel is found in Eze. 24:25,27. "As for you son of man, will it not be on the day when I take from them their srtonghold, the joy of their pride, the desire of their eyes and their heart's delight, their sons and their daughters…on that day your mouth will be opened to him who escaped, and you will speak and be mute no longer…and they will know that I am the LORD." What does God have to take away from us before we can see the Lord? Doesn't He have to take away our natural understanding of spiritual realities? Doesn't He have to take away the strength we think we have in forms and rituals, the pride and glory we have in our organization and its spin-offs (sons and daughters)? Those who escape the tenacious hold that religious legalistic thinking has on them, will listen to the witness of the son of man, the true church.

The scribes and Pharisees recognized that many of Christ's parables were directed against them. However, instead of repenting from their wrong desires, they plotted to kill Him who is the truth! Their tenacious hold to traditions and rituals, and their strong opposition to their demise, brought about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. We are faced with the same question. Are we willing to relinquish our time-honored traditions of our natural understanding of spiritual realities, and embrace the rejection that comes with our acceptance of Christ as our all in all? Or will we cling to our traditions and sandwich Christ in among them? Once we get a revelation of Christ and see that we have everything in Him, our ears are opened to hear the Spirit's teaching.

Ezekiel 37 is a well-known chapter because of its prophecy about the dry bones. These bones are identified as being the whole house of Israel, and they came together when the son of man prophesied to them. Then Ezekiel was told to prophesy to the breath, and the breath came into them and they received life. Notice that the son of man, in obedience to the word of God, brought life to the dry bones. As we speak the anointed words Christ gives us, we too will bring life to dry bones!

It's exciting to see that Christ's identification as the Son of Man, has its roots in the Old Testament. In Christ's many teachings He brought greater light and clarity on this subject, and showed us that we are included in His death and resurrection, and are partakers of His life! It is the Christ in each of us that unites us and makes us one! This is the Son of Man!

Now the question is, do we believe that the Son of Man is limited to the physical Jesus, or do we realize that He is one with His corporate body of believers? If you are a Christian, do you think of yourself as being a separate entity, having Christ in a far-away sky, or do you understand your union with Him? Do you realize that you are a member of His body? The body and head are joined; where the head goes, the body goes. Since we have been put into Christ, the new man, we are members of His body! So who brings life to the dry bones? It is Christ, the Son of Man in union with His body - the church, the called-out ones! In obedience to our Head, we speak words of life to the dry bones and they are resurrected into life!

Let's receive the prophecy of who Christ is, and with it the revelation of who the Son of Man is. We become part of His body of truth and righteousness when we are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Just as Christ only spoke and did what the Father showed Him, so we only say and do what Christ tells us! Just as the Son of Man had to die to sin and be resurrected to the glory of God, so we have to die to sin and be resurrected into a life of power to the glory of God! This is the coming again of the Son of Man!

Since the natural mind is unable to comprehend spiritual realities, truth has to be revealed to us. We cannot see the new creation that we are in Christ because this is a spiritual creation. However we can see our natural being. Therefore we tend to believe that we are what we see. It takes faith to believe that we are who God says we are. On the one hand we say we have received eternal life and on the other hand we say that we are still sinners; we think that the sins we commit put us back in the sinner category. Do we disown our children when they don't live up to our standards? Of course not! Neither does God cast us out when we fail to live by faith. When we recognize that Christ truly is our righteousness, we are freed from our own efforts to obtain righteousness by our works. We need to get rid of the mindset that does not recognize the exceeding greatness of the power of the Holy Spirit that works within us to do the will of God. It is unbelief that says we should not be expected to live out of God's life. Unbelief kept the Israelites from entering the promised land even though they were at its very border. It kept them in the desert where they died. It is also unbelief that keeps us in the desert. It keeps us from entering God's life and enjoying the fullness of the life that He provides for us at this very time! His life is not limited to a life without end; His life is a life of righteousness and love; it does not have any corruption in it, for corruption brings decay and death.

Eternal life has God's nature and quality of life! It consists of His nature of love, mercy, grace and forgiveness. It is this life that unites us with Christ! His life brings us His sense of being. It causes the body to function in union with Him. Christ is the Son of Humanity, the second man, the new humanity. The life we have in the Spirit has united us with Him; it has made us one! Let's receive His understanding and walk in newness of life!

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