But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come out to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings out are from of old, from ancient times.
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and THE MESSENGER OF THE COVENANT in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
Having discussed the use of the appellation “Arm of the LORD” for the figure who intervened on behalf of humanity when there was no one else to do so – the figure, based on scriptural exegesis, could be identified as the figure who will later become the Messiah. As it had been proven in the previous article, the Arm of the LORD is the figure that all nations wait for, the One who was identified as the Suffering Servant, the very One who will rule for YHWH and judge all people from all nations. Most important to this discussion is the fact that Isaiah identified the Glorious Arm of the LORD with the Angel of the LORD’s presence (Isaiah 63:9-12) – a particular point buttressed by the fact that YHWH on numerous occasions claimed that He brought Israel of out Egypt by His outstretched Arm – the very Arm through whom He used to create the world.
Now, to strengthen our case, namely that the phrase “Arm of the LORD” is not always used in a more pedestrian sense but also used for a personified figure, we move on to the apparitions of this particular figure whom Isaiah said accompanied Moses as the Angel of the LORD’s presence and also identified by Isaiah as the Suffering Servant.
By now, the readers must have been familiar with the contention that the figure known as the Angel of YHWH (Malak YHWH) is a divine figure who at a later point in time incarnated as our Lord Jesus Christ. For the sake of those who aren’t very familiar with this argument, it ought to be re-iterated that the identification of the pre-incarnate Christ with this mysterious figure in the OT, does not in any way mean that Jesus is a created spirit – which is outright Arianism. This is because the majority of the occurrences Hebrew word “malak” refers to figures (humans as well as God) other than created spirits.
Let’s start by considering this passage:
“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, FOR MY NAME IS IN HIM. “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. “When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.
From a first glance, this is not an ordinary angel/messenger. This messenger has the authority to withhold forgiveness of sin because, according to YHWH, has the Name of YHWH in Him. Could this really mean that this angel can be referred to as YHWH because He is uniquely associated with YHWH? Or is it that messengers/angels can be referred to as YHWH merely because they were messengers bearing YHWH’s authority – as die-hard believers in the “Law of agency” contend?
Concerning the authority to forgive sins, the passage below should come to mind:
But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.
The similarity between the prerogative of YHWH here and that of the angel who bore YHWH’s Name is striking. To see another evidence that strengthens the hypothesis that this special angel is uniquely associated with YHWH, let’s consider the passage below:
Then he [the LORD] said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the LORD, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
Here we have the Divine Speaker telling Moses to come up to meet a figure – whom the Divine Speaker referred to as YHWH in the third figure as both the Divine Speaker and YHWH are distinct. Though there is a possibility that this is a form of illeism (where a speaker refers to him/herself in third person) – a possibility that wasn’t so obvious to the post-Christian Talmudic Jews – a particular passage in the preceding chapter is pointing us in another direction i.e. there are two distinct figures referred to as YHWH. Is it really possible that the special angel in Ex. 23:20 who had the prerogative to withhold forgiveness of sins was the figure before whom Moses and others are to go up to worship? Of course, this is hardly surprising when we consider the fact that the Name of YHWH is in this messenger.
Furthermore, to demonstrate that the messenger/angel in Ex. 23:20 is not an ordinary messenger, there exists a foil by which to contrast and compare and see whether the messenger in question is unique. Few moments after Moses and the Israelite representatives celebrated the Sinai Covenant, the Israelite dabbled in spiritual adultery by worship of the Golden Calf (Ex. 32) hence arousing the jealousy of the “Divine Husband”. YHWH initially said that He will not accompany the Israelite but will rather send “an angel” instead:
But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book. But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”
I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” When the people heard this disastrous word, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments.
This angel cannot be the angel in Ex. 23:20, for the angel in Ex. 23:20 can withhold the forgiveness of sins and punish the Israelite for their transgressions – hereby consuming them on the way. This points to the possibility that the angel in Ex. 23:20 is the “Divine Husband” who will punish the Israelite if they aroused His jealousy by transgressing His commands.
Upon pleas and intercession from Moses, YHWH promised:
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
To strengthen our case that the angel in Ex. 23:20 is the conveyor of God’s presence, Isaiah came centuries later saying:
In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name.
IOW, this particular angel of God’s presence in whom there is the Name of YHWH, along with the Holy Spirit accompanied Moses and his people through the wilderness – a triune activity in the establishment of the Old Covenant – which foreshadows the triune activity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the New Covenant.
Furthermore, the angel of YHWH’s presence who along with the Holy Spirit accompanied Moses and the Israelite and led them in the wilderness is none other than the Malak YHWH – the Divine Angel of the LORD – as the passage below tells us:
Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”
This passage is very interesting for the reasons outlined below:
- The readers should consider the part which says, “I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’. This messenger was quoting an earlier promise concerning His faithfulness to the covenant – a statement He attributed to Himself rather than to the YHWH who sent Him! In other words, it is the Malak YHWH who entered into a covenant with the Israelite. This angel, no doubt, is the messenger of the covenant.
- Again, the readers should consider another part saying, “But you have not obeyed my voice.” This should remind us of YHWH’s injunction to the Israelite regarding the angel who bore His Name when He said, “Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice”. This strengthens our view that the Malak YHWH who appeared at Bokim is none other than the Divine messenger in Ex. 23:20.
- When YHWH pardoned the Israelites for their spiritual adultery (when they worshiped the Golden Calf), upon the intercession of Moses, YHWH promised that His Presence will go with the Israelite and give them rest (Ex. 33:14). Not only did this angel of YHWH’s presence gave the Israelite, the Holy Spirit also gave them rest (Isa. 63:14).
Their Dying Wish
A while back, I presented an interesting case from Brant Pitre for the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ regarding His Transfiguration on the Mountain where Moses and Elijah stood before Him – the two prophets who longed to see YHWH on Mount Sinai. While Moses saw the veiled glory/essence of YHWH, Elijah received a whisper. However, both got their dying wish when they appeared to Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. In fact, the readers ought to be reminded that both Moses and Elijah encountered the Malak YHWH in the vicinity of Mount Horeb. The Divine Angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in the burning bush on Mount Horeb (Ex. 3:1ff) while Elijah encountered the Divine Messenger who strengthened him on the way to Mount Horeb.
Now, the readers should consider the passage below:
Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the LORD, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”… Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, [Exodus 24:1-2,9]
While Moses went up with many people, the readers should observe that three people were singled out – Aaron, Nadab and Abihu – who represent the priestly office. They went up with Moses to encounter the angel of YHWH’s presence (who is also identified as YHWH) on the Mountain – an event that prefigures the event of Jesus’ Transfiguration on the Mountain in the NT:
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” [Matthew 17:1-9]
The event described in the passage above is a preliminary view to the fulfillment of Christ’s earlier prediction that some of His audience will not taste death until they see Him coming in his kingdom (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27) – contention not only supported by 2 Peter 1:16-18 but also argued for by NT scholars.
As Robert Stein puts it:
“Because of their presence at the transfiguration, some of the disciples (Peter, James, and John [9:2]) experienced “already now” a foretaste of the “not yet” of the kingdom’s future consummation at the parousia of the Son of Man…”
“Probably the transfiguration proleptically introduces the whole eschatological sphere” (Keener 1999: 436). The transfiguration will be a glorious experience (17:2, 5), but it will be only a temporary preview of what will come with permanence when Jesus returns to the earth. Some of those who hear Jesus make the prediction in 16:28 (i.e., Peter and James and John) will witness the transfiguration (17:1–2). In 2 Pet. 1:16–18, Peter seems to reflect on his participation in the temporary glory of the transfiguration as a confirming anticipation of Christ’s powerful return.”
And finally, Bock:
“However, one should not entirely exclude the function of the transfiguration as a “preview” experience of where the kingdom program is headed, that is, as the picture of a figure who will fully manifest his authority on the earth in the future, as Luke 21:27 suggests (see also Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 4:20; Col. 1:12–14). Luke works in patterns and, for him, the transfiguration is a preview of where the kingdom program ultimately leads. When Jesus refers to seeing the kingdom, he is referring to entering the kingdom and emphasizing the front end of the entry point, a package whose character will conclude with the revelation of a fully glorified Jesus like the one seen in the transfiguration.”
The glory associated with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration is probably the glory He had with His Father before the world began (John 17:5) – which obviously differs from the glory given to Him by His Father on earth regarding His human roles on earth and beyond – a glory He had given to His disciples. In fact, it is noteworthy to point out that this is the only period on earth that Jesus looked other than a human. Apart from this moment, Jesus looked like any other man during His years on earth. He had none of the brilliant glory associated with God in the Old Testament.
Just as Moses went up with three people (Aaron, Nadab and Abihu) and others to the mountain, so also did Jesus took three people (Peter, James and John) to the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus met with the two lone OT prophets who encountered Malak YHWH within the vicinity of Mount Horeb/Sinai – these prophets are again seeing the Malak YHWH who now has a human face – their dying wish is granted indeed!
Again, the readers ought to be reminded that Moses’ face shined brilliantly as the passage below indicates:
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.
A question comes to mind: while it is understandable that the face of Moses shone because He stood before YHWH on the mountain (and whenever he enters into the Tabernacle to encounter the Glory of YHWH that dwelled there), but what is responsible for the shining face of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration when He is standing before the prophets rather than YHWH? We should also note the reference to Jesus’ clothes becoming as white as light as no one on earth could bleach them (Mk. 9:3) – which Peter recounted when he said “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty”. This reminds us of a similar passage in the OT saying:
Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.
Could it be that the shining face and dazzling clothes of Christ here, though a preview of His future glory, is a hint to the pre-existent glory He had with His Father before the world began – the glory/appearance that Moses and Elijah encountered as Malak YHWH on Mount Horeb? There is another line of textual evidence that makes us answer in the affirmative that the pre-incarnate Christ the One who in the past appeared to Moses and Elijah – so let’s examine it.
Silence! Behold!! YHWH is passing by!!!
Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I (eigo eimi). Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,
This passage, no doubt, will continue to raise the ire of Unitarians and their bedfellows in the unbelieving camp who contends that Markan Christology is low i.e. not divine. While the latter parades the “Markan Christology is low/adoptionistic” argument to further their agenda that there is an evolution of Christology in the NT (i.e. from Mark to John), the former who loves to refer to themselves as “Biblical Unitarian” (reminds me of ice cubes that are too hot to hold) sneaks into the camp of the latter and lap their arguments uncritically without even bothering to check how “Biblical” they will be at the end of the exercise – they hardly care as long as their guns are being loaded with “scholarly” bullets.
Back to the passage at hand, the series of events captured in this passage is a reminisce of these passages in the OT:
who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea;
The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!
Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,
As Turner rightly notes, “Thus, in walking on the water and delivering the disciples from the storm, Jesus exercises divine attributes and accomplishes feats that are the prerogative of God alone.” Even more astonishing is that the parallel passage in Matthew records Jesus granting Peter the ability to walk on water. It is one thing to walk on water and another thing entire to even grant another person that ability – which reminds us of how Jesus sends and commission apostles and prophets the way YHWH did in the NT – even by granting them the Holy Spirit to perform wonders in His Name.
To get to the crux of this passage which strongly points us in the direction of contention of scholars and commentators that this episode is kind of theophany. The readers should take note of the part which reads, “He meant to pass by them” – a part which made a scholar to remark: “Where was Jesus going?” This enigmatic construction fails to elude the notice of scholars like the one who says,
“The statement that Jesus “wanted to pass by them” (ἤθελεν παρελθεῖν αὐτούς, ēthelen parelthein autous) has no parallel in the other two Gospel accounts and is confusing. If Jesus came to the disciples because he saw their distress, why does he now want to “pass by them” (6:48d)?”
However, Brant Pitre rightly notes that the key to unlocking this otherwise baffling detail lies in Jewish Scripture. In the Old Testament, the expression “passing by” is repeatedly used to describe what God does when he appears to human beings This “passing by” of YHWH when He appears to prophets occurred twice in the Old Testament and two prophets experienced this. The readers, by now, should be able to guess who the two prophets are. Yes, Moses and Elijah!
“And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by… The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
[Exodus 33:19-22; Exodus 34:6]
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
[1 Kings 19:11]
The readers should also pay a careful attention that while YHWH passed before Moses, He proclaimed His Divine identity in His Name before His Servant. In the same wise, while our Lord Jesus was walking on the water, passing before them, He proclaimed His divine identity when He said, “Take heart; it is I (eigo eimi). Do not be afraid.” (Mark 6:50). Apart from the fact that theophanies are often accompanied by an encouragement not to fear, due to the overwhelming presence of God or his angels, the circumstances surrounding this momentous event point us in the direction of accepting the contention of many scholars and commentators that the Greek phrase “eigo eimi” not only functions as a mere means of identification to the disciples, but that Jesus (at least as Mark puts it) intended the readers to realize that the Greek phrase “eigo eimi” (I AM) used by Jesus here is identical to the self-disclosure of YHWH in the Old Testament – the first instance which occurred at Mount Sinai when Malak YHWH revealed Himself to Moses.
Stein (along with many other commentators and scholars) realized this and offered:
In numerous places in the OT, God identifies himself with the words “I am” (Exod. 3:14; Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; 51:12; cf. 47:8, 10; 48:12; also John 8:58; 18:5–6). As a result this expression has a “solemn and sacral use in the OT, as well as the NT, Gnosticism, and pagan Greek religious writings”… This, along with the fact that in the OT, God is portrayed as walking on the waters (Job 9:8; 38:16; Ps. 77:19; Isa. 43:16; Hab. 3:15; cf. also Sir. 24:5–6), would further give to “It is I” (lit. “I am”) a theophanic sense … The Christology of Mark’s readers was far more developed than that of the disciples during Jesus’s ministry. As a result, it is quite possible that Mark expected them to see in the “I am” of this verse a reference to Jesus’s divine nature. Whether they knew all the OT background for this title is unclear, but they had already read in the Gospel about Jesus’s divine sonship; his lordship over disease, demons, and nature; his divine prerogative to forgive sins; and so on. Mark’s Christian readers would also have brought to the reading/hearing of the Gospel other Christological teachings. Thus it is not at all impossible that they would have understood the “I am” as a reference to Jesus’s divine nature. As a result of who Jesus is, the command, “Have courage,” is reassuring.”
Now, that we’ve established, based on exegetical grounds that the angel of YHWH’s Presence is none other than the Divine Malak YHWH, and that we’ve highlighted some connections between this OT Divine Messenger and His counterpart in the NT – that is, our Lord Jesus Christ – then we have to strengthen our case further that this Malak YHWH (also referred to as YHWH in the OT) is none other than the Word who went forth from His Father, became flesh, acquired the name Jesus at His birth, began the human role of the Messiah He came to earth to play, died for our sins, rose up again, exalted back to His previous throne of endless glory – hereby redeeming the elected people of God – the real deal which had been foreshadowed by His previous redemption of Israelites out of Egypt.
- Conveyor of God’s Presence
The Messenger of YHWH (i.e. Malak YHWH) is also known as the Angel/Messenger of YHWH’s presence i.e. He does convey the presence of YHWH’s presence to the people. This strongly suggests that the YHWH who sent Him did not come down personally into the midst of His people. Otherwise, why does YHWH (the One who sends) need a Messenger to convey His Divine Presence if He is personally amidst His people? It is rather weird for the sending YHWH to be personally present among the Israelites while His Presence, being conveyed by His Messenger, is also lying elsewhere among the Israelites? It follows that if the sending YHWH was amidst the Israelites, He does not need a messenger (another person) to convey His Presence.
It is also unlikely that a mere creature can convey God’s Divine Presence unless the Creature possess the necessary qualifications to do so. The fact that the messenger who has the Name of YHWH in Him (YHWH is the Name reserved alone for the God of Israel) which is responsible for His Divine prerogatives to forgive sins strongly that this messenger in particular, is nothing less than divine – no wonder He is able to convey God’s Presence. In fact, the Malak YHWH is the only messenger in the Old Testament who identified Himself as YHWH, was identified as YHWH by the individuals who encountered Him – an identification persistently testified to by the sacred authors of the scriptures! We have tons of God’s messengers/angels in the scriptures yet none of them was uniquely associated with YHWH or His Name.
Now, in the NT, Matthew introduced the virgin birth of Christ miraculously enhanced by the Holy Spirit and contended that child born is Immanuel (which means God with us) – using Isaiah 7:14 as a proof. It is evident that this name is not meant to be used in a mere theophoric sense but that Matthew intended the Name to be used as divine appellative for Christ i.e. the child being born is indeed the God with us – a view strengthened not only by the rest of the NT but also by Matthew’s bookend where we have Jesus declaring to His disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Furthermore, the inclusio which recalls Matthew 1:23 and anticipates Matthew 28:20 is given here:
“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered IN MY NAME, there am I among them.”
This passage strongly suggests that The Son is indeed omnipresent for this is a claim that is entitled to YHWH alone. Given that Jesus’ audience and the first readers of the Gospel of Matthew are Jews (considering the historical records insisting that Matthew wrote his Gospel to the Hebrews), the divine connotation lying behind this declaration won’t be lost on both the Jewish hearers and readers.
“The idea of Jesus’s presence during the discipline process is similar to the rabbinic teaching that God’s presence (the Shechinah) is with a group as small as two people who are studying the Torah (m. ʾAbot 3.2, 3, 6; Mekilta on Exod. 20:24; Sievers in Finkel and Frizzell 1981: 171–82). Jesus’s promise that he is with his church speaks of activity that is divine (Ezek. 43:7; Joel 2:27; Zech. 2:10–11; cf. 11QT 46.12).”
Bowman argued that:
“His promise to be present in their midst implies his omnipresence, since only an omnipresent spirit could be in the midst of every gathering of believers. “The tiniest possible assembly, united in prayer, gains divine ratification of their decisions because they gather in the divine presence of the Son.” That Jesus is claiming divine omnipresence is clear when we consider a rabbinical saying preserved in the Mishnah (a collection of rabbinical material that later formed the nucleus of the Talmud)… The Shekinah is the manifest presence of God—his special, glorious presence to guide, bless, and (if necessary) judge. The rabbi’s point was that God would be especially, graciously present wherever even two persons sat together to study the Torah, God’s Law. In his similar saying, Jesus was claiming that he would be especially present whenever two or more gather in his name. “Here Jesus himself fills the role of the Shekinah, God’s presence, in the traditional Jewish saying.” Such a claim implies that Jesus is omnipresent and amounts to a strong claim to deity.”
Apostle John, after recalling the beginning when The Word was with God (indicating that the existence of the Word extends earlier than the beginning) and that the Word was God (i.e. divine) through everything that exists was created, went on to declare that:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt (skēnoō) among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Greek verb σκηνόω (skēnoō), commonly translated “dwelt,” more literally means “to pitch one’s tent.” So strong was this term that it had led many scholars and commentators to see the strong connection between the dwelling of God’s presence/glory in the OT and the dwelling of the Word among the His people, what with the fact that a very strong and powerful case can and had been made to prove that John’s prologue on the Logos asarkos (i.e. the un-incarnate Word) draws on His adaptation of the Targumic Memra which is a first century Aramaic paraphrase of the Old Testament. This verb is peculiar to the books of this author for its other 4 occurrences are located in the Book of Revelations, all of which except one refers to the dwelling of God among people – Revelation 21 is a very important example that will be discussed in one of the next installments, Lord willing.
There are numerous prophecies in the Old Testament which speaks of YHWH coming back to His Temple to dwell among His people – prophecies that the authors of the New Testament saw fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, there is not a single textual evidence that leaves the readers with the impression that the Father is the One who will personally dwell among His people on earth for eternity. Add to that the fact that our Lord made it clear that no one except Him can see the Father (John 6:46) and reveal Him perfectly (Matthew 11:27) to men – a declaration re-iterated in the prologue of the Gospel of John (John 1:18). The Father dwells among us through His Son because The Son is the conveyor of The Father’s presence just as the Malak YHWH (the sent YHWH) is the conveyor of the presence of the sending YHWH. Zechariah is indeed spot on when he wrote:
“For YHWH of Armies says: ‘For honor he has sent me to the nations which plundered you; for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye. For, behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they will be a plunder to those who served them; and you will know that YHWH of Armies has sent me. Sing and rejoice, daughter of Zion; for, behold, I come, and I will dwell within you,’ says YHWH. Many nations shall join themselves to YHWH in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell among you, and you shall know that YHWH of Armies has sent me to you. YHWH will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before YHWH; for he has roused himself from his holy habitation!”
Here we have YHWH (the Divine Speaker) claiming that He will shake His hand (cf. Isaiah 11:15; 19:16) over Israel’s enemies and will come to dwell among the people of Israel and that it shall be known that he had been sent by YHWH. In other words, YHWH is sending YHWH. For those who went into the Old Testament through the front door, they shouldn’t be shocked or surprised, for there are numerous earlier scenarios where a particular figure sent by YHWH (i.e. the Malak YHWH) is referred to as YHWH/God/God of Israel.
Of course, I am aware of what Unitarians tried to make of this passage i.e. it was the prophet speaking here and that such phenomenon is common in the Hebrew scriptures. Apart from the brute fact that till date I am yet to see someone bring a passage parallel to the one discussed here such that it will force us to entertain the notion of a human speaker, the option of a human speaker here is completely ruled out because of the promise of the speaker to:
(a). wave/shake his hands over the enemies of Israel
In that day the Egyptians will be like women. They will tremble and fear because of the shaking of YHWH of Armies’s hand, which he shakes over them.
In other words, just as the LORD of hosts (i.e. YHWH of Armies) shakes His hands over the enemies of Israel (in this case Egypt) and defeat them, so also will the speaker in Zechariah 2:8-13 shake His hands over the enemies of Israel who plunder her and will defeat them as well.
(b) dwell among the Israelites
The speaker promised to come and dwell among the Israelites – which is rather an absurd promise if the speaker here is the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah was a Jew already living among his fellow people. Not only that, the YHWH that is coming to dwell among the Israelites cannot be the person of The Father. Even the appeal to law of agency falls flat because of the fact that YHWH promised to rouse Himself from His holy habitation/dwelling. Why would YHWH rouse Himself from His holy dwelling when it is one of His created messengers (and not Him) coming to dwell among the Israelites?
When we turn to the New Testament, we don’t even need a genius to make it obvious to us that it was The Son who is coming to dwell among us not The Father. The Son is the sent YHWH coming to dwell among us – God with us (Immanuel) indeed!
- The Commander of The LORD’s Armies
Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you,
Now, that’s odd. Why will the angel went up from Gilgal to Bochim rather than appearing directly in Bochim? So disturbed by this passage were the Jewish commentators that they have to re-interpret it to mean that it was referring to a human prophet. Apart from the brute fact that no human prophet can speak with such divine authority (compare with the human prophet in Judges 6:8), the key to unlocking this passage lies in an earlier appearance of this Divine Messenger to Joshua at (or near) Gilgal as the Commander of the LORD’s Armies:
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander(Or Prince) of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander (or Prince) of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so… And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor.
[Joshua 5:13-15; 6:2]
Three points are glaring from this passage:
1. The other appearances of a heavenly messenger appearing to people with a drawn sword – which is rather unique (for it occurs thrice including the above passage) – has to do with the appearance of the Malak YHWH! This passage where the commander of the LORD’s army appeared with a drawn sword recalls an earlier scene:
But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, WITH A DRAWN SWORD IN HIS HAND. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road.
And anticipates a later scene:
And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, and IN HIS HAND A DRAWN SWORD stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
[1 Chronicles 21:16]
So when Joshua asked the figure who appeared to him whether He was for them or against them, the figure’s reply indicated that He is neutral – which is true indeed! This figure went for them when He opposed Balaam from cursing the Israelites and centuries later we find that He went against the Israelites when David their leader sinned. Could it have been that Judges 5:13-15 is an inclusio recalling Numbers 22:22-23 and anticipating 1 Chronicles 21:16?
2. The command by this Commander for Joshua to take off his sandals on the holy ground he treads is striking indeed. This reminds us of an earlier command by the angel of the LORD (Malak YHWH) to Moses:
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed… Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
3. Now, I can feel someone arguing that this title “Commander/Prince of the LORD’s Armies” is unfitting in any sense for YHWH. Well, the objector should hold his breath while he/she considers the passage below:
“It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down.”
The fact that sacrifices are regularly presented to the Commander/Prince of host in his sanctuary, as the passage above says, puts beyond doubt that the Commander/Prince of host here is none other than YHWH – which is confirmed later in Daniel 11:36 where He is identified as the God of gods.
Now that we have established that the Commander/Prince of YHWH’s armies/host that appeared to Joshua at (or near) Gilgal is the Malak YHWH, then the seemingly odd passage in Judges 2:1 becomes clearer. It is at Gilgal where the Malak YHWH commissioned Joshua and promised to fight on behalf of the Israelites as long as the Israelites kept to the terms of the covenant. The Malak YHWH did as He promised by bringing the Israelites into the promised land only for Israel to violate the covenant, hence the Malak YHWH is no longer bound by His promise to continue to driving the pagan survivors of Joshua’s conquests who later became a snare for the Israelites. Therefore, we must agree with the contention of scholars and commentators regarding the journey of the Malak YHWH from Gilgal to Bokim that:
“his coming up from Gilgal is closely connected with the appearance of the angel-prince, as described in Jos_5:13, to announce to Joshua the fall of Jericho after the circumcision of the people at Gilgal. Just as on that occasion, when Israel had just entered into the true covenant relation to the Lord by circumcision, and was preparing for the conquest of Canaan, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joshua as the prince of the army of Jehovah, to ensure him of the taking of Jericho; so here after the entrance of the tribes of Israel into their inheritances, when they were beginning to make peace with the remaining Canaanites, and instead of rooting them out were content to make them tributary, the angel of the Lord appeared to the people, to make known to all the children of Israel that by such intercourse with the Canaanites they had broken the covenant of the Lord, and to foretell the punishment which would follow this transgression of the covenant. By the fact, therefore, that he came up from Gilgal, it is distinctly shown that the same angel who gave the whole of Canaan into the hands of the Israelites when Jericho fell, had appeared to them again at Bochim, to make known to them the purposes of God in consequence of their disobedience to the commands of the Lord. How very far it was from being the author’s intention to give simply a geographical notice, is also evident from the fact that he merely describes the place where this appearance occurred by the name which was given to it in consequence of the event, viz., Bochim, i.e., weepers. The situation of this place is altogether unknown.”
Given the multiple lines of evidences, now that we can be certain that the Malak YHWH is the Commander/Prince of YHWH’s armies/host in the Old Testament, the readers should be hardly surprised that His counterpart in the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Commander/Prince of YHWH’s host – you don’t even need a genius to help you figure it out. For if as the author of Colossians contend that Jesus is the one through whom all things were created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and for him (Colossians 1:16), then it follows that Jesus has absolute power over His creatures and they are all under His command – which is why creatures from every angle/location worshipped Him alongside His Father.
The New Testament made it clear to us that it is The Son who will come with the host of His angels to destroy the ungodly and lead His people to the new dwelling He had created for them JUST AS the Malak YHWH went forth in the past, with the armies/host of heaven trailing His blaze, to destroy the enemies of Israel and lead them to the promised land He had prepared for them. The blessed apostle of Christ said:
I saw the heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it is called Faithful and True. In righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has names written and a name written which no one knows but he himself. He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood. His name is called “The Word of God.” The armies which are in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in white, pure, fine linen.
Zechariah, speaking by the Holy Spirit, foretold the Parousia of Christ:
“A day of YHWH is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. THEN YHWH WILL GO OUT AND FIGHT AGAINST THOSE NATIONS, AS HE FIGHTS IN THE DAY OF BATTLE. ON THAT DAY HIS FEET WILL STAND ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES, EAST OF JERUSALEM, and THE MOUNT OF OLIVES will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then YHWH my God will come, and all the holy ones with Him. On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. YHWH WILL BE KING OVER THE WHOLE EARTH. ON THAT DAY THERE WILL BE ONE LORD, AND HIS NAME THE ONLY NAME”. [Zechariah 14:1-9]
According to Zechariah, YHWH whom He fondly referred to as His God, will come along with his holy ones (i.e. the hosts of heaven). Apart from the fact that the YHWH coming to place His feet on Mount Olives possibly suggests that He will be en-fleshed, a possibility strengthened by the fact that Jesus ascended to heaven on Mount Olives and will descend back on it according to the testimony of the angels to the disciples (Acts 1:9-12), we are also blessed with another line of evidence when Apostle Paul appropriated Zechariah 14:5 (one of the “YHWH texts”) to Jesus:
“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.” 1 Thessalonians 3:13
“The christological import of this sentence lies with the fact that the καρδιας of the Septuagint is “Yahweh my God,” who will himself come to the Mount of Olives and carry out his eschatological victory over the nations. In Paul’s theology, the future coming of the Lord is always seen as the return of the present reigning Lord, Jesus Christ. What Paul has done seems clear enough: the future coming of Yahweh is now to be understood as the future coming of “our Lord Jesus,” who alone is καρδιας, in Paul’s new understanding, resulting from his own encounter with the risen Lord (see 1 Cor 9:1). One can scarcely miss the ease with which Paul now reads the Kupioq (= YHWH) of Zechariah as referring to Christ, the Lord. So much is this so that in 2 Thess 1:7-10, the coming Lord Jesus Christ has altogether assumed the role of judging God’s enemies as well”
“Zech 14:5b [1 Thes 3:13; cf. 2 Thes 1:7]: The coming of YHWH of which this verse speaks leads to the following result: ‘And the Lord (YHWH) will become king over all the earth; and in that day the Lord (YHWH) will be one, and his name one’ (14:9). This puts the Shema‘ into eschatological form: YHWH will be one – the only God in the eyes not just of Israel, but of all – when his rule is acknowledged by all… This means that it is very often in scriptural texts that refer to the final and universal manifestation of the unique identity of the one God that Paul understands Jesus to be YHWH. Jesus himself is the eschatological manifestation of YHWH’s unique identity to the whole world, so that those who call on Jesus’ name and confess Jesus as Lord are acknowledging YHWH the God of Israel to be the one and only true God. It becomes clear that Paul’s purpose is to include Jesus in the unique identity of the one God, not to add Jesus to the one God as a non-divine agent of God, for Jesus can manifest the unique identity of the one God and receive the universal acknowledgement of that God’s sole lordship only if he himself belongs to the unique identity of God.”
Wright, while commenting on 1 Thessalonians 3:13 said:
“Paul’s vision of Jesus as ‘the human face of God’, as the instantiation of YHWH himself, related to ‘God the father’ as the unique son (see below), is the ground of his vision of the single community, the one people of God who must be guarded as such and defended against all divisions of whatever sort, and must be taught to worship the one God, the father of the lord Jesus the Messiah, ‘with one heart and voice’. That which Zechariah envisaged as the final reality, and that to which Paul himself still looked forward in 1 Thessalonians 3.13 and in great passages such as 1 Corinthians 15.20–8, had already been inaugurated through the Messiah’s death and resurrection. As in Romans 10.12–13, the fact that there is now ‘no distinction’ between Jew and gentile who confess Jesus as kyrios and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead is grounded foursquare on this vision: ho gar autos kyrios pantōn, ‘the same “lord” is lord of all’.”
- The Visible Manifestation of YHWH
Any avid reader of the Old Testament should be aware of the insistence on part of the sacred authors that no one can see God and live (e.g. 33:20) yet we are given examples of human beings who saw God and lived to recant the tale. While there are Biblical skeptics who will shriek at this apparent contradiction and drum it into our ears that the present day Torah is just a mere collection of redacted revisions of an earlier source, we on the other hand should be on our guard against pulling off contradictions based on unarticulated premises – a serious mistake anti-Trinitarians persistently commit when they keep screaming into our years that our Trinitarian formulation is contradictory.
While there are some who contend that the contrast between seeing God and not seeing God in the Old Testament lies in the contradistinction between The unseen Father and The seen Son, I disagree that such was the main motif in the Old Testament. I strongly believe that the contrast lies in the question as to whether humans can see the unveiled essence of God or not. In fact, I don’t even entertain for a moment the idea that we can see the unveiled essence of The Son. However, this does not throw out our contention that it was The pre-incarnate Son rather than The Father who appeared to people in the Old Testament – it rather strengthen our case.
Have you ever wondered why the OT described YHWH (when He is on earth) dwelling in thick cloud, thick darkness or pillar of cloud/fire? I believe it is for the same reason He appears as a man, that is, to veil His essence from human sight – the flesh is performing the function of the thick cloud/darkness. Thus, it is hardly surprising for us to realize that the sent YHWH (i.e. the Malak YHWH) appears to people either in form of a human being (a gentler manifestation) or in a more terrifying way as the Glory of the LORD (Kabod YHWH). While the latter will be discussed at greater length and in more detail in the following installment, the former (i.e. the human manifestation) is more relevant to the purpose of our examination as far as this article is concerned.
While it is true that the contrast between seeing God and not seeing God has to do with the issue of whether we can see the unveiled essence of God or not, there is also another contrast in the Old Testament, namely that, it is the sent YHWH that appears to people NOT the sending YHWH. So it is the sent YHWH who appears to people in a veiled form to people while the sending YHWH does not even appear at all people – a contention strengthened by the New Testament – a contention which led the earliest prominent church fathers, theologians and apologists interpret theophanies in the OT as appearances of the pre-incarnate Son. There are several instances where the Malak YHWH appears to people, which prompts the realizations of these people – alongside with the testimony of the sacred authors – that they have seen YHWH or the God of Israel. For the sake of brevity, few theophanies of the Malak YHWH will be highlighted:
I. To Hagar the Malak YHWH appeared – an encounter which prompted Hagar to realization that she had seen the seeing God who had looks over her (Genesis 16:7-13);
II. To Abraham He appeared during the binding of Isaac. After preventing Abraham from sacrificing his son, the scriptures records that the Malak YHWH swore by Himself an oath saying, “I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:17-18). This oath was later confirmed with Isaac when YHWH appeared to him, saying, “… I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Genesis 26:3-5)
III. To Jacob He appeared identifying Himself as the God of Bethel (Genesis 31:11-13), harking back to an earlier revelation at Bethel where Jacob saw the ascent and the descent of angels while seeing YHWH in above them in Heaven (Genesis 28:12-19) [compare with what our Lord said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)].
IV. The Malak YHWH appeared to Moses in the burning bush and proclaimed His identity before Moses, saying, “I AM WHO I AM… ‘I AM… ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob… This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. [Exodus 3:14-15]
There is an important passage to consider regarding the appearance of a figure to Jacob:
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
Obviously, the God Jacob had seen face to face was the man who wrestled him. The reason why Jacob was able to see God face to face is because the God appeared to him in form of a man (foreshadowing the incarnation) i.e. the essence of God is veiled by flesh from Jacob’s eyes. Furthermore, the reader should also pay attention to the figure’s reply to Jacob’s inquiry as to His Name which is indeed striking with the Malak YHWH’s reply to Manoah’s inquiry regarding His Name to which He also said, “Why do you ask my name?” (Judges 13:18). Our suspicion that the figure who was God appearing as man to Jacob is none other than the Malak is confirmed when Hosea came centuries later and said:
“He strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought his favor. He met God at Bethel, and there God spoke with us— the LORD, the God of hosts, the LORD is his memorial name” [Hosea 12:4-5]
Apart from the fact that the scriptures told us about the angel of God who appeared to Jacob and declared Himself as the God of Bethel, we’re also given another instance where God appeared to Jacob:
God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.
Now, when we move on to the New Testament, our contention that it is the sent YHWH (or Malak YHWH) and NOT the sending YHWH, who appeared to people in the times past was strengthened when our Lord Jesus said:
not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.
In other words, no one except The Son had seen The Father. If regarding “seeing” the Father, Jesus meant that no one had seen the essence of the God (Father), but how come Jesus (if He is only a man) managed to see the essence of God (Father) and live to recant the experience? So when Jesus says things like, “no one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” (John 3:13) and “… you are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23), then it naturally follows that Jesus is far more than a mere human. However, if by seeing God (The Father), Jesus is talking about theophanies where God’s essence is veiled in appearance to man, then it follows that the OT theophanies cannot be that of The Father – a contention attested to by MULTIPLE lines of evidences. For instance, consider this passage:
No one has ever seen God; the only God (or the Son), who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Even more disturbing is the claim made by Jesus when He said:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Just as seeing the sending YHWH through a mediated vision in the sent YHWH (Malak YHWH), so also is seeing the Father through a mediated vision in The Son. In fact, law of agency devised by those with an agenda to explain away the force of this passage completely falters at this junction for the law of agency doesn’t apply to apparitions – which is why no one till date has ever brought a suitable parallel (to establish this law i.e. the version they need to explain away these evidences) from the scriptures to back up their contentions.
Jesus’ distinctive and immediate knowledge of God – his face to face vision of God – is explained by his origins: only the one who is from God (John 1:1; 1:18; 8:58), who has been in the bosom of the Father (1:18), in the presence of God, has seen God (6:46), can in turn make known the incomprehensible Father:
All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
[Matthew 11:27; cf. Luke 10:22]
Apart from the fact that The Son is incomprehensible (revealed by the Son’s message from The Father), it is not surprising to find that no one knows The Father except the Son and to anyone The Son chooses to reveal Him to! If the Father alone is YHWH, and the Jesus is a mere human, then what should we do regarding the OT passages where YHWH revealed Himself to people? Perhaps, Marcion is right that the Father Jesus is talking about is not the YHWH in the OT but a different deity entirely – a contention that will never last for a minute just under the fierce testimony of the NT which is why Marcion redacted the NT documents to his taste.
The passage in Matthew 11:27, famously dubbed by the liberal scholars as a Johannine thunderbolt, makes perfect sense if The pre-incarnate Son is the Malak YHWH who had been going forth to reveal YHWH to men. The Son, being the radiance of His Father’s glory and the express/perfect image/imprint of His person/nature (Heb. 1:3) and also the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), is indeed qualified to reveal God perfectly in a way no other created messenger can. I cannot improve upon what this scholar had said:
“Jesus’ unique vision of God distinguishes him not only from his contemporaries, who are said never to have seen God (1:18; 5:37-38; 6:45-46), but also from his disciples, who see the Father in the Son, rather than seeing him directly as the Son does (12:45; 14:8-9). And inasmuch as “like is known by like,” the implication is that Jesus apprehends God because he himself partakes in God’s divine identity…
Similarly, Jesus’ knowledge of God is guaranteed by the fact that he has been with the Father. When the gospel speaks of Jesus as having been with the Father, it has in mind the Son’s preexistence with the Father. Jesus is, therefore, authorized to speak and testify to what he has seen, and his testimony is trustworthy since, as we noted, seeing is a way of knowing superior to that of hearing. John reflects, albeit not directly, the dictum of Heraclitus followed by ancient historians, that “eyes are surer witnesses than ears.” Not surprisingly, in the Gospel of John, seeing, understood as both “sight” and “insight,” has primacy as a way of knowing God. The one who sees God has a distinct or unique status.
Indeed, in biblical tradition there is something of a tension in the accounts of the possibility of human beings’ seeing God: while sometimes people are said to see God face to face, more consistently the OT affirms the possibility of seeing only the glory of God, or of seeing God in an indirect manner. The Targums underscore the indirect character of seeing God…
Many of the qualifications found in both the OT and later Jewish traditions apply to the Johannine understanding of seeing God. In the Gospel of John, one sees the glory of God manifested in the person of Jesus; but no human being directly sees God. In fact, the gospel makes it clear that “no one has ever seen God” (1:18; 5:37; 6:46). Even the vision of the Father in the Son remains a mediated vision. But the Son has seen the Father. These Johannine assertions single Jesus out as the one who knows God uniquely, because he has been with God and seen God and, indeed, because he himself is the incarnate Word of God. To be sure, he also hears the Father, but he has not only heard; he has seen. Jesus is the unique eyewitness to God, whose testimony is, therefore, trustworthy.”
- Invocation in prayer/blessing
And he blessed Joseph and said, “THE GOD before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, THE GOD who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
THE ANGEL who has redeemed me from all evil, [may He] bless (y’varech) the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” [Genesis 48:15-16]
The readers should note that singular verb “y’varech” (may HE bless) rather than “yiv’r’chu” (may THEY bless) is used! There are two possible ways to handle or make sense of this passage. One is that the angel who redeemed Jacob from all evil is the same person as the God before whom Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who had been the shepherd of his life – this interpretation strongly attests to the deity of the Malak YHWH (for He is the angel that Jacob is talking about). The other interpretation is that Jacob is conjoining both God (before whom Abraham and Isaac walked; One who had shepherded the life of Jacob) and the angel are invoked in prayer. Regardless of what you make of this passage, one thing is clear: this angel is invoked in prayer. Now, why invoke an ordinary messenger in a prayer addressed to God?
Keil and Delitzsch remarked:
“By the imposition of hands, Jacob transferred to Joseph in his sons the blessing which he implored for them from his own and his father’s God: “The God (Ha-Elohim) before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God (Ha-Elohim) who hath fed me (led and provided for me with a shepherd’s faithfulness, Psa_23:1; Psa_28:9) from my existence up to this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.” This triple reference to God, in which the Angel who is placed on an equality with Ha-Elohim CANNOT POSSIBLY BE A CREATED ANGEL, but must be the “Angel of God,” i.e., God manifested in the form of the Angel of Jehovah, or the “Angel of His face” (Isa_43:9), contains a foreshadowing of the Trinity, though only God and the Angel are distinguished, not three persons of the divine nature. The God before whom Abraham and Isaac walked, had proved Himself to Jacob to be “the God which fed” and “the Angel which redeemed,” i.e., according to the more fully developed revelation of the New Testament, ὁ Θεός and ὁ λόγος, Shepherd and Redeemer. By the singular יְבָרֵךְ (bless, benedicat) the triple mention of God is resolved into the unity of the divine nature.”
The inclusion of messengers in prayers/invocations to God such as in the case of the Malak YHWH lacks parallel in the Old Testament – the Malak YHWH alone is the one invoked alongside YHWH in prayers and invocations. Now, come to the New Testament, there is only one Messenger figure invoked in prayers and invocations alongside the One who sent Him, which is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. For instance:
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus CLEAR (kateuthunai) the way for us to come to you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:11
The verb “kateuthunai” is in singular form – which is odd considering the fact that two persons are in view here.
Jeffrey A.D. Weima notes:
“The second part of the prayer, the divine source, is striking not only because of the addition of the intensive pronoun “himself” but even more for the use of two subjects (“our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus”) with a singular verb… Indeed, the repetition of the definite article for both nouns suggests that Paul views God the Father and Jesus our Lord as two individual entities and so avoids the danger of a complete merging of the two figures to whom he prays. On the other hand, that these two individual figures are closely linked by a singular verb—a grammatical construction that Paul repeats (though in reverse order) in another prayer for the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:16–17)—suggests that Paul views Jesus as sharing the deity of God and so avoids the danger of a complete separation of these two figures to whom he prays”
Below is also another passage to consider:
“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage (parakalesai) your hearts and strengthen (sterixai) you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
The verbs “encourage” (parakalesai) and “strengthen” (stērixai) are also in singular form.
Regarding this passage, this scholar noted that:
“First, there is the use of two subjects (“our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father”) with a singular verb (“may he comfort,” parakalesai; note also the singular verb used in the second prayer, “may he strengthen,” stērixai). This grammatical oddity cannot be accounted for by claiming that Paul “forgot” he had used a plural subject (so Wanamaker 1990: 271) since the apostle did exactly the same thing in the body prayer of the earlier Thessalonian Letter (1 Thess. 3:11). Also unconvincing is the claim that with two subjects the verb often agrees with the nearer of the two (Bruce 1982: 71), since the examples cited in support involve conventional word pairs (1 Cor. 15:50, “flesh and blood”; Matt. 5:18, “heaven and earth”; Mark 4:41, “wind and sea”; James 5:3, “gold and silver”) so that the parallel with the two persons mentioned here is not exact. Instead, this grammatical construction does, in fact, have implications for the deity of Jesus, even though one must not overstate these implications. On the one hand, the repetition of the definite article for both persons suggests that Paul views “our Lord Jesus Christ himself” and “God our Father” as two individual entities and so avoids the danger of a complete merging of the two figures to whom he prays. On the other hand, that these two individual figures are closely linked together with a singular verb suggests that Paul views Jesus as sharing the deity of God and so avoids the danger of a complete separation of these two figures to whom he prays (Hewett 1975–76: 54). As Milligan (1908: 108) observes: “We have another striking example of the equal honour ascribed to the Son with the Father throughout these epistles.”
The avid reader, by now, should be aware of the striking similarity between Jacob’s invocation/prayer to God and that of Paul.
Furthermore, the passages in 1 Thess. 3:11 and 2 Thess. 2:16-17 are PRAYERS (in fact, there are numerous passages in the NT where Jesus is addressed in prayers – for our Lord Himself said that He grant us anything asked in His Name (John 14:14)). Prayer is one of the unique features of cultic devotion and worship that is exclusive to God alone. Prayer is essentially an appeal to one’s deity for rescue, deliverance, or salvation in some situation of need or danger. ONLY the TRANSCENDENT, OMNISCIENT, OMNIPOTENT God can hear the prayers of all people and respond to them as he chooses. God may choose to answer prayers through creatures acting as his agents, but that is for him to decide. God is the Savior; God is the one who answers prayer. He is therefore the only one to whom we should turn in prayer.
- Receiver of cultic/religious worship
Now, the scriptures made it clear that God alone is worthy of worship in the religious or cultic sense. While the word “worship” in the scriptures can range from homage/respect rendered to others to civil honor/obeisance rendered to kings and leaders, there is a kind of worship reserved for the God of Israel alone – worship that manifests in various ways. For instance, features of worship like prayer, benediction, sacrifices etc. are reserved for YHWH alone. Two prominent instances where the Malak YHWH received worship in the cultic sense will be discussed here.
“Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.” So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” But the LORD said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.”
Gideon, not knowing the real identity of the man he met sitting under tree, assumed that the man speaking to him was just an ordinary messenger of God – which is why he initially addressed the messenger by the title “my Lord (Heb. adon)” (v. 13) which is just a form of respect. Though Gideon had his suspicion at first when he observed the way this messenger was speaking with divine authority (he gradually addressed him by the divine title “the Lord” (Heb. Adonai) v. 15), he decided to request for a sign by presenting a minchah, i.e. a sacrificial gift (though not in the strict sense of a sacrifice for it can also be given to an honoured guest). If He accepted it and ate of it as a common meal, then it would prove He was a man and therefore just a prophet; but if He received it as a sacrifice, then it would prove He was a divine person.
The reaction of the man or messenger to the sacrificial gift presented was astonishing for He turned it into a sacrifice (in the strictest sense), prompting Gideon to come to the realization that He had seen the Malak YHWH! His demeanor changed and he referred to the figure as the Lord God.
The readers should note that nowhere did the figure who appeared to Gideon identify Himself as the Malak YHWH to Gideon. It was Gideon himself who came to the conclusion that the figure that appeared to him, who also happened to be God is none other than the Malak YHWH. This strongly suggests that the belief that the Malak YHWH is deity is common in those days – a belief strongly influenced by the scriptures available then. While Gideon believe that seeing the messengers of God, though coming in the Name and authority of God, does not paramount to seeing the God of Israel (not even to talk of being captivated with fear) – which is responsible for his initial mere deference to the figure whom he assumed he was just one of those messengers – Gideon was obviously aware that there is a particular messenger of YHWH, that if seen, paramount to seeing the God of Israel – the reason why Gideon later panicked when he discovered the true identity of the figure appearing to him – a realization he came to when he observed that the figure appearing to him received a sacrifice in the cultic sense, the kind reserved alone for the God of Israel.
The second example has to with the appearance of the Malak YHWH to Manoah and his wife:
There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’” Then Manoah prayed to the LORD and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. But Manoah her husband was not with her. So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” And he said, “I am.” And Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the child’s manner of life, and what is his mission?” And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.” Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the LORD, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground. The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” But his wife said to him, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”
The readers should note that the couple initially thought that the figure who appeared to them was a man of God (though the sacred author had tipped us to the fact that it was the Malak YHWH speaking to the couple), which is why they wanted to presented a meal to him – the meal which was rejected by the man of God. The figure who appeared to them asked them to offer a burnt offering to YHWH (i.e. sacrifice in the strictest sense reserved alone for the God of Israel). To the utter dismay of the bystanders, the Malak YHWH ascended towards Heaven in the flame of the altar. In other words, the rejection of a meal in preference to burnt offering strongly suggests that the Malak YHWH is deity – a conclusion that the couples came to – a conclusion that the sacred authors made no move to correct but rather weaved the story to strengthen the conclusion. Manoah was gripped with fear and panicked that he will die for He had seen God. Of course, Manoah was right to be afraid though for a wrong reason due to the fact that he had seen a more gentler manifestation of God (i.e. the human flesh had veiled God’s essence from his eyes).
The readers should not miss the reply of the figure to Manoah’s inquiry regarding His Name, which according to the figure is “Wonderful” – which is one of the appellation given to the child-Messiah (who also happened to be the Mighty God) promised to be given to us (Isaiah 9:6).
Now, just as the Malak YHWH received cultic sacrifice in the Old Testament, so also did Christ in the NT received cultic sacrifice from men. A famous example is the Lord’s supper. Consider the passage below:
What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
[1 Corinthians 10:19-22]
Here, we have Paul contrasting the sacrifice offered to demons (in the guise of idols) with the sacrifice offered to our Lord Jesus Christ in form of the Lord supper. Paul had been tracing this line of argument right from chapter 8, where he re-interpreted the Shema to include both The Father (as God) and Son (as Lord) as the true Lord God against the pagan lords and gods. Discussion of this line of argument (which is beyond the scope of this article) will be examined in greater detail in one of the next installments – Lord willing.
- Our Advocate and Judge
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.
Here we have the Satan at the right hand of Joshua to accuse him before the Malak YHWH – which leaves the reader with the impression that the Malak YHWH here is a very important personality such that Satan has to stand and accuse someone before Him. This reminds us of the scene where Satan stood before YHWH and accused Job (Job 1:6-12). Here, the Malak YHWH is performing the role of a judge.
What is even more astonishing regarding the scene is the fact that the Malak YHWH here had the authority to remove sins (a prerogative reserved for YHWH alone) – He is the only messenger in the Old Testament who exercised such prerogative. The Malak YHWH here defanged Satan by removing the iniquities of Joshua from him – hence the accuser lost the accusing power of the Law which in turns remove the accused from the wrath of God. Here, we have the Malak YHWH performing the role of a defender. In fact, earlier in the book of Zechariah, we have the Malak YHWH performing the role of an intercessor:
And they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’ Then the angel of the LORD said, ‘O LORD of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’ And the LORD answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.
Here, we have the Malak YHWH interceding on behalf of Israel despite the fact that He is the Judge. Our Judge and Defender/Intercessor indeed – what a paradox!
In the same wise, our Lord Jesus Christ whose role as our great Judge and Defender/Intercessor bears out the paradoxical functions of the OT Malak YHWH, removed our iniquities from us and clothe us with fine linen, bright and pure (Rev. 19:8) hence making Satan lose power over us – the power given to him by the accusing power of the Law. The redeemed shall again stand before Him, blameless and pure (through the amazing works of the Holy Spirit in our lives) for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb – Satan (our accuser) will be put to shame concerning us.
There are other similarities between the OT Malak YHWH and the NT Christ that could be discussed (but time and space won’t allow us) but the ones discussed in this article is more than sufficient to prove our case that the pre-incarnate Son of God is the OT Malak YHWH given the multiple lines of evidence we have at our disposal to dispatch the unfounded presumption that the Father alone was the deity discussed in the Old Testament.
The Malak YHWH who alongside His Father and the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 63:9-14) brought Israel out of Egypt and led them into the rest He had prepared for them, at a point in time incarnated as our Lord Jesus Christ who alongside His Father and the Holy Spirit brought us out of captivity and sin and will eventually lead us the to the rest He had gone prepare for us. Yes, we’re indeed taking the Promised Land because the Lamb will go out before us and fight for us. Unlike the rest given to the Israelites which does not last due to the unfaithfulness on part of humanity, the rest the Lamb will give to us will be enduring for we shall be forever secure as the passage below promised:
On that day the LORD will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD (MALAK YHWH), going before them.
How assuring is the prophecy given to us through Micah:
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity. [Micah 5:2]
So when Jesus says:
Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
Regarding the declaration above, our Lord is asking us: “Do you take offense at this?” (John 6:61b).
Now that we have established based on exegetical grounds along multiple lines of evidence, that the Messenger of the covenant is none other than the Messenger of YHWH’s Presence as well as the Malak YHWH (who presided over the “Sinai Wedding”), and that it was this divine figure who incarnated as our Lord Jesus, it is beholden upon us, after seeing the gentler manifestation of YHWH in the OT as the Malak YHWH, that we should now examine the more terrifying manifestation of YHWH as the Glory of the LORD (Kabod YHWH who dwelt in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple) who is none other than the pre-incarnate Son of God – a contention that will be proven at great length in the next installment by the grace of God.
Once again, the reader should be reminded of the prophecy given through prophet Malachi:
“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
Till then, the reader should blessedly stay tuned…
Christ is the Risen Lord.
- In the Hebrew scriptures, the word “malak” translated as “angel” or “messenger” in English is not exclusively used to refer to created spirits (in fact, the usage for created spirits in the OT had few occurrences). During the period the Old Testament was being written, the word “malak” is purely used in a functional sense i.e. being called “malak” in the Old Testament has nothing to do with nature. It simple means that the person so designated was a messenger sent by someone. In fact, nearly 50% of the occurrences of the Heb. word “malak” (English – angel) is used in reference to humans while two-third of the remaining is used in reference to Malak YHWH. It is during the intertestamental period that word “angel” (Grk. Angelos) acquired a new definition and be used to refer to a created spirit – footprints of this dramatic change can be found in the LXX.
- Ray Nahman said: A person who knows how to answer the minim as Ray Idit, let him answer, and if not, let him not answer. A certain min said to Ray Idit: “It is written, ‘And to Moses he said, come up unto the H’ [Exod. 24:1].’ It should have said, ‘Come up to me’!”
He [Rav Idit] said to him: “This was Metatron, whose name is like the name of his master, as it is written, ‘for My name is in him’ [Exod. 23:21]:’
“But if so, we should worship him!”
“It is written, ‘Do not rebel against him’ [Exod. 23:21] – Do not confuse him with me.
“If so, then why does it say ‘He will not forgive your sins’?”
“We have sworn that we would not even receive him as a guide, for it is written ‘If
Your face goes not [do not bring us up from here]’ [Exod. 33:15]” (BT Sanhedrin 38b)
[Daniel Boyarin (2004), Border Lines: The Partition of Judeo-Christianity, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, USA. pg. 120-121]
To the above excerpt, Boyarin rightly observes,
“In order to discredit the min’s quite straightforward interpretation of the verses in question – “Behold I send before you an angel, to watch over you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Be careful before him and obedient to him. Do not disobey him, for he will not forgive your sins, for My name is in him” – Rev Idit needs pyrotechnics.”
[ibid. pg. 122]
- Robert H. Stein (2008), Mark: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. pg. 411
- David L. Turner (2008), Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. pg. 413
- Darrel L. Bock (1994), Luke Volume 1:1 – 9:50: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. [Electronic Book]
- David L. Turner (2008), Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. pg. 373
- Brant Pitre (2016), The Case For Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ, Crown Publishing Group, New York, USA. [Electronic Book]
- Robert H. Stein (2008), Mark: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. pg. 324
- Brant Pitre (2016), The Case For Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ, Crown Publishing Group, New York, USA. [Electronic Book]
- Mary Healy (2008), The Gospel of Mark, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. pp. 131
- Robert H. Stein (2008), Mark: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. pg. 326
- There is a healthy debate among scholars and commentators as to how to make sense of Isaiah 7:14. Regardless of what you make of this passage, we’re actually more interested in Matthew’s interpretation of the passage. In other words, Matthew believes that the theophoric name of the child in Isaiah 7:14 is rather an appellation fitting for Christ in the fullest sense.
- It should be pointed out that Jesus wasn’t given the name “Immanuel” at his birth as some people tend to presume. The name “Immanuel” from the Isaianic prophecy is meant to be used as an appellation for the nature and function of the child.
- David L. Turner (2008), Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. pg. 446
- Robert M. Bowman Jr., J. Ed Komoszewski (2007), Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for The Deity of Christ, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, USA. pg. 117-118
- Andreas J. Köstenberger (2004), John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. [Electronic Book]
- Keil & Delitzsch (1886-1891), Biblical Commentary on The Old Testament Judges 2:1
- Gordon D. Fee (2007), Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study, Hendrickson Publishers Incorporation, Massachusetts. pg. 43-44
- Richard Bauckham (2008), Jesus and The God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, USA [Electronic Book]
- Nicholas Thomas Wright (2013), Paul and The Faithfulness of God, Fortress Press, Minneapolis [Electronic Book]
- When we realize that it is only the OT Malak YHWH and His counterpart in the NT are the only messengers who obey this bizzare law of agency while the other tons of messengers managed to flout it, aren’t we right in our contention this particular version of the law of agency was magically conjured up in the head of some people – which bearing no relevance to the scenarios in the scriptures – to explain away texts testifying to the deity of the Malak hence The Son? What is completely laughable about all of this exegetical sleight of hand is that the so-called law (some people even have the temerity to call it principle!!!) has only two messengers (if we for a moment deny that the Malak YHWH is the pre-incarnate Christ) out of hosts of messengers obeying it – tantamount to the imagination that Archimedes alone obeys the Archimedes’ principle, which is just absurd and weird.
It starts getting interesting when the die-hard believers in this so-called law of agency cite passages like the one below to buttress their claims:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
[John 13:20; cf. Mathew 10:40]
If this passage is talking about the Law of agency, then we can agree that it is true for there are many messengers who obeyed the law of agency this passage is talking about. Tellingly, none of the sacred authors stretch this law in such a way that you can see the disciples of Christ and claimed that you’ve seen Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that the apostles of Christ bore His authority as His representatives, none of them (I repeat: none!) attributed the appellations of Christ, honor due Christ, attributes, deeds and seat of Christ to themselves!!! For that matter, none of God’s messengers (apart from the OT Malak YHWH and NT Christ) ever come close in trying to communicate the incommunicable features that sets YHWH apart from His creatures, and appropriate these features to themselves under the banner of the law of agency. As the Unitarian (alongside his bedfellows) are stretching the scriptural law of agency to accommodate the special treatment of the OT Malak YHWH and the NT Christ, we should remind them of where the scriptures is placing the breaking point on their so-called elastic rubber – yeah, messengers like Moses, Elijah, Michael, Gabriel, apostles of Christ etc. constitute the breaking point where the scriptural law of agency could not be stretched further.
- Marianne Meye Thompson (2007), Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children: Christology and Community in Early Judaism and Christianity, Baylor University Press, Waco, Texas, USA. pg. 225-226
- Keil & Delitzsch (1886-1891), Biblical Commentary on The Old Testament Genesis 48:14-16
- Jeffrey A.D. Weima (2014), 1-2 Thessalonians: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. [Electronic Book]
- Robert M. Bowman Jr., J. Ed Komoszewski (2007), Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for The Deity of Christ, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, USA. pg. 47