As the glory of the LORD (Kabod YHWH) entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me OUT OF THE TEMPLE, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
In the previous installment, we examined the apparition of a figure identified as the Arm of the LORD as well as the Messenger of LORD’s Presence (Isaiah 63:9, 12) who eventually turns out to be the Malak YHWH (the Divine Messenger of the LORD in the Old Testament) and also the Messenger who presided over the Sinai Covenant and was prophesied to come to His Temple (Malachi 3:1). We have already amassed a lot of exegetical evidences to prove our contention that YHWH – the God of Israel – appeared to the Patriarchs and Prophets in the Old Testament in the form of an apparition identified as the Malak YHWH of whom we have established on strong exegetical grounds that He is the pre-incarnate Christ.
Now, we turn to a more terrifying apparition of this divine figure – an apparition identified as the Glory of the LORD (Kabod YHWH). From there, we prove that this figure is none other than the pre-incarnate Son of God.
The Hebrew word “Kabod” translated into English as “glory”, when used in association with YHWH can mean a lot of things ranging from the praises rendered to YHWH down to the apparitions of YHWH Himself – which indeed can be regarded as a hypostatic figure distinct from YHWH. It is these apparitions and references to a distinct hypostasis that will form a background relevant text to our discussions regarding the “Husband” who presided over the Sinaitic Wedding – a figure that will be proven to be none other than the pre-incarnate Son who went by a lot of appellations in the Old Testament.
In the Tanakh, there are passages where the “Glory of the LORD” is treated as an apparition – in fact, such apparitions are violent and terrifying such that we find this figure cloaked by different media so as to be veiled from the naked faces of men. Instances where the Glory of the LORD is treated as a conscious entity includes:
“So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.” Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.” [Exodus 16:6-10]
And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. [Leviticus 9:23-24]
Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”[Numbers 16:19-21]
And when the congregation had assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting. And behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. And Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces. [Numbers 16:42-45]
The few instances cited above reinforces our contention that the glory of the LORD in the Old Testament corpus is sometimes treated as a personal entity whom the sacred authors equate with YHWH. While the Old Testament corpus equated the glory of the LORD (as an hypostasis) with YHWH, it also maintained that the glory of the LORD (as a personal entity) is a distinct hypostasis from the YHWH-figure that sent Him – another way of saying that the glory of the LORD is with YHWH and is YHWH. This interpretation is strongly supported by the Old Testament data and confirmed by the New Testament authors.
The angel of the LORD vs. Glory of the LORD: Different entities OR one and the same entity?
In the previous article, it was proven that the “angel” who bore the Name of YHWH in Ex. 23:20 is no ordinary messenger but rather the divine angel of the LORD who speaks for YHWH and as YHWH – exactly the way Christ speaks for God (His Father) and as God. Isaiah described the “angel” who led the Israelites out of Egypt as the “angel of the LORD’s presence” (Isaiah 63:9). Now, if this divine angel bore the Name/Presence of YHWH, then EXACTLY what is the need for the glory of the LORD? Obviously, the glory of the LORD conveys the presence of YHWH. If the glory of the LORD already conveys the presence of the LORD to the people, then why the need for another entity, namely the Divine angel, to convey God’s presence? The answer to this lies in the fact both the Divine angel and the glory of the LORD are one and the same entity – they are merely different appellations for the same entity – a contention reinforced by other lines of evidences.
For one, while the angel of the LORD sometimes assumes a gentle appearance to people, there is an occasion where His appearance resembles the apparition of the glory of the LORD.
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. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” [Exodus 3:2-5]
Actually, when you pay a careful attention to this description, it becomes more apparent that the angel of the LORD is appearing to Moses in a luminous form similar to the apparitions of the “terrifying” apparitions of the glory of the LORD. However, similarity between appearances is not sufficient to establish the identity of the Divine angel as the glory of the LORD for even created angels do appear in luminous form. Nevertheless, this point demonstrates that the angel of the LORD can assume different apparitions thus the identity of the angel of the LORD as the glory of the LORD can’t be ruled out a priori based on difference in apparitions.
Now, many things that are peculiar to the angel of the LORD are associated with the glory of the LORD, and conversely, many things peculiar to the glory of the LORD are true of the angel of the LORD. What’s more? What the NT authors said about Christ in the NT is also what the OT authors said about both the glory of the LORD and the angel of the LORD. Now, it is high time we examined many of the lines of evidences that demonstrate that the glory of the LORD is a distinct hypostasis from YHWH and is also YHWH – before we show that this hypostasis is none other than the figure whom the sacred NT authors identified as the Son of God who was with God and was God.
Garrett, seeing the remarkable peculiar similarities between the angel of the LORD and the glory of the LORD, went to say:
“In what sense did Ezekiel behold the Lord? And if indeed it was God, then why did the prophet choose his words so cautiously—claiming only that he saw the likeness of the glory of the Lord? The attention given in Chapter 1 to the figure of the angel of the Lord will help us with this question. In many biblical narratives the angel of the Lord is like an alter ego or a mask that God chooses to show to mortal beings. Moreover, biblical and later authors sometimes borrowed traditions about the angel of the Lord to describe certain attributes of God—writing as if those attributes were themselves distinct angelic beings separate from God. “Glory” (Heb. kabod or Gk. doxa) was one such attribute or hypostasis…
Ezekiel writes that the likeness of the glory “seemed like a human form.” There was biblical precedent for God’s glory appearing in human form. In Exodus, when Moses said to God, “Show me your glory, I pray,” the Lord covered Moses with a “hand”; Moses was allowed to see the Lord’s “back” as the Lord passed by (Exod 33:18–23). Already in this intriguing passage from Exodus we are seeing the influence of traditions about the angel of the Lord. “Yahweh himself, the angel of God, and his Glory are peculiarly melded together, suggesting a deep secret about the ways God manifested himself to humanity,” observes Alan Segal. Ezekiel seems likewise to have merged ideas about the Lord’s glory with ideas about the Lord’s angel. By blending traditions in this way, Ezekiel manages to show God’s transcendence balanced by God’s accessibility. Ezekiel does not look directly on God’s face, or even directly on the face of the glory—rather, he sees the “likeness of the glory.” Thus God’s transcendence is safeguarded. Yet the prophet knows himself to be in God’s very presence. That is why he falls on his face—because the presence overwhelms him.”
Presiding over the Sinaitic Wedding
In the first article in the series, it had been proven that sacred authors taught that the Sinaitic Covenant is a wedding between God and His Bride (Israel). Now, let’s pay a more careful attention to the events surrounding this mysterious wedding. A day before the wedding, it was written:
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. [Exodus 24:1]
Here, Moses was instructed by the LORD to come up to worship before the LORD from afar – this mode of speaking assumes that there are two distinct figures called YHWH where one is calling the people to come up before the other figure. While it is true that this could have been a form of illeism (where a speaker is referring to himself in the third person) – even though this possibility wasn’t obvious to the post-Christian Talmudic Jews who are already inclined to rule out any form of pluri-uni-tarianism in the Tanakh – the context surrounding this instruction forces the reader to reject this mode of speaking as a form of illeism.
In the preceding chapter, it was written:
“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.
Concerning this angel, the LORD explicitly told Moses that His Divine Name is in this figure. In other words, this angel can be referred to as YHWH. Thus, it is hardly surprising that YHWH will tell Moses to go up with others to worship another figure who is YHWH – an interpretation that even the post-Christian Talmudic Jews agreed with even though they decided to reject the logical conclusion (i.e. God is pluri-tarian) by shooting themselves in the foot when they contended that it was a created angel that was referred to as YHWH despite the fact that the Old Testament corpus made it clear that the Name “YHWH” is peculiar to the God of Israel alone (and was never used to refer to anyone other than the God of Israel) which even their own Talmudic sources indicated that the Name is Shem Hamephorash i.e. unique to the God of Israel alone!
“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank. The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.” Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights. [Exodus 24:9-18]
Here, we were told that the select Jews beheld the God of Israel and that the God of Israel did not lay hands upon them. This was probably due to the fact that the people were worshipping the LORD from afar. When Moses moved closer to the mountain, the cloud covered the mountain shielding the essence of God from the naked eyes of Moses. Interestingly, we were told that that the glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai and that the appearance the people were seeing was actually that of the glory of the LORD. This is telling us that the “angel” who bore the Name of YHWH (Ex. 23:20) and the very figure before whom Moses and others were instructed to present themselves is the glory of the LORD who appeared on Mount Sinai. More importantly, the glory of the LORD presided over the Sinaitic Wedding.
When the LORD instructed the Israelites to obey the “angel” because this angel has the prerogative to withhold forgiveness of sins – a prerogative that Joshua appropriated to the LORD because the LORD is a holy and jealous God [Joshua 24:19] – YHWH is simply telling the Jews not to provoke this “angel” because this messenger is jealous and won’t tolerate sharing Him with another deity. Unfortunately, few days after the Wedding Banquet, the Israelites dabbled in idolatry provoking the LORD to jealousy. Then the LORD promised to send an angel before the Israelites – an angel who turned out to be an ordinary created messenger given the people’s reaction. In fact, the Israelites considered it disastrous that this angel rather than YHWH will accompany them. This proves beyond doubt that the angel in Ex. 23:20 who bore the Name of YHWH is completely different from the angel in Ex. 33:2 – this suggests that the angel in Ex. 23:20 is the jealous husband who will consume the stiff-necked people on the way. Lest this happens, an ordinary angel should be sent instead. However, upon intercession by Moses, the LORD agreed to allow His presence to accompany the Israelites – of which Isaiah reinforces our interpretation by commenting that it was the angel of the LORD’s Presence who eventually led the Israelites.
The very same merciful and gracious glory of the LORD who is forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin (Ex. 34:5-7) had decided to marry humanity once again but this time around, He spanned the eternal gulf, crossing over to our side and making the necessary sacrifices so that we may be worthy of being the Bride who will forever remain faithful to Her Groom.
The Deity who dwells in the Tabernacle and Temple
After the construction and dedication of the Tabernacle, we were told:
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys. [Exodus 40:34-38]
When the glory of the LORD filled the Tabernacle, not even Moses dare entered the Tent of Meeting. We were told that the glory of the LORD was with the Israelites throughout all their journeys and was the One who guided and led them into the Promised Land – this is a confirmation of God’s promise to Moses that His Presence (33:14) will accompany the Israelites on their journeys and lead them to the promised rest. The Tabernacle is a make-shift and temporary dwelling bearing a typological semblance to the temporary dwellings of the Israelites in the wilderness.
When the Israelites finally reached their destination in the Promised Land, the earthly dwelling of the LORD was still a make-shift dwelling until David was moved to build a permanent dwelling for the LORD.
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’ [2 Samuel 7:5-7]
Even though the LORD did not demand for a permanent dwelling from the Israelites, the LORD was pleased with David’s aspirations to build a house for Him because this probably shows that David was the one thoughtful enough to see it fit that the LORD should have a more permanent dwelling considering the fact that it was the LORD who brought the Israelites into their permanent dwelling. Even though David was barred from building the house (his son that was rather appointed to build the Temple), the LORD still blessed David, promising to establish his kingdom forever.
In accordance to the agreement between God and David, Solomon having inherited the construction materials from his father, constructed a grand temple for the God of Israel. After seven years of construction, the Temple was completed – arguably one of the seven wonders of the world during the time of Solomon. After the presentation of the sacrifices towards the LORD for dedication of the Temple, what happened during the time of Moses was duplicated:
“And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” [1 Kings 8:10-11]
Having seen that it was the glory of the LORD who came to dwell in the Temple, contained in Solomon’s prayer of dedication is another revelation confirming one of the over-arching theses of this post:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O LORD my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘MY NAME SHALL BE THERE,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. [1 Kings 8:27-29]
If the glory of the LORD dwelling in the Temple is tantamount to God’s Name dwelling in the Temple, then it follows that the angel in Ex. 23:20 who bore the Name of God is none other than the glory of the LORD who presided over the Sinaitic Covenant! In other words, both the angel of the LORD and glory of the LORD are uniquely associated with the Name of the LORD, thus the appellations “glory of the LORD” and “angel of the LORD” refers to the same entity. Furthermore, the reader ought to be reminded that Solomon was actually harking back to Moses’ farewell instructions to the future inhabitants of the Promised Land:
You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, but at the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. [Deuteronomy 16:5-6]
Moses was telling the people not to offer sacrifices in any place other than the place chosen by God for His Name to dwell – for God’s Name signifies God’s Presence. Thus, the angel in Ex. 23:20, in whom is the Name of the LORD is the one in whom the Presence of God dwells – hence Isaiah is justified in referring to this particular messenger as the angel of the LORD’s Presence. In as much as it is undisputed that the glory of the LORD conveys the presence of God, there is no valid reason to prevent us from ascertaining the fact that both the angel of the LORD’s Presence who had been proven in the previous article to be the angel of the LORD, is none other than the glory of the LORD.
This establishes the fact that it was actually the glory of the LORD, otherwise known as the angel of the LORD, who presided over the Sinaitic Covenant, dwelt in the Tabernacle, later in Shiloh and then in the Jewish Temple – it was to Him that all the sacrifices are rendered. The Book of Malachi makes the connection even more explicit:
“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.
In other words, the messenger of the covenant is actually the Lord who will suddenly come to His Temple. While this puts beyond all doubt that the Old Testament corpus teaches that the messenger of the covenant is the angel of the LORD (who established the covenant with Israel) and is also the glory of the LORD (the Lord who dwells in temple), the Old Testament also makes it clear that this figure is actually the promised Messiah – and when we turn to the New Testament, we see that what was actually said regarding Christ neatly fits with what was said about this mysterious entity in the OT – this leads to a sort of undesigned coincidence. While it is un-designed by the divergent human authors of the scriptures, that such diverse coincidences converge at a deeper level is an evidence for the divine inspiration of the scriptures and also points to the Holy Spirit as the primary author and fashioner of the scriptures – for He was the one who designed these coincidences.
The Lord God who commissions and sends the prophets
In the scriptures, while created messengers can pass on messages to other created messengers – of which we have created heavenly angel-human prophet communication and human prophet-human prophet communication – it is worthy to point out that all the authentic human prophets in the scriptures were commissioned by God Himself and not by any of the other ordinary angels regardless of their ranks. There is no single instance where an ordinary angel or messenger sends prophets on an errand on his/her own authority. While there are many instances where the appellation the angel of the LORD is used for the figure who commissions and sends prophets, the appellation the glory of the LORD is never used for this figure while commissioning a prophet – except in the case of Ezekiel. This exception can probably be accounted for the fact that Ezekiel’s scope of commission is more focused on the Temple – which is the dwelling place of the glory of the LORD. Famously dubbed as the prophet of God’s glory, Ezekiel’s visions revolve round the relationship between the glory of the LORD and the Temple – a relationship that depends on how Israel relates with her Divine Husband.
The similarity between the events surrounding the commissioning of Ezekiel and the first chapter of John’s Apocalypse is very striking such that a scholar, as well as many others, remarked:
“Although most early Christian prophecy was oral, not written, John had plenty of models for a written prophecy, both in the prophetic books of the Hebrew scriptures and in the later Jewish apocalypses. In its literary forms what he writes is indebted to both kinds of model. It is clear that John saw himself, not only as one of the Christian prophets, but also as standing in the tradition of Old Testament prophecy. For example, in 10:7 he hears that ‘the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets’. The reference (with allusion to Amos 3:7) is almost certainly to the Old Testament prophets. But then John goes on to record his own prophetic commissioning (10:8-11) in a form which is modelled on that of Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:9-3:3).”
After describing the four living creatures in vivid details, Ezekiel went on to describe the figure who sat on the throne hidden behind the cloud of fire:
“And when they went, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters, like the sound of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army. When they stood still, they let down their wings. And there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads. When they stood still, they let down their wings.
And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
Here, Ezekiel claimed to saw the likeness of a man who sat upon throne with brightness all around him and referred to such figure as the glory of the LORD – a description that matches what John saw about his Risen Lord:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, [Revelation 1:12-17]
Apart from the fact that the humanly figure in both Ezekiel’s and John’s Apocalypse had the voice of the Almighty (i.e. the sound of many waters) and that both are clothed in fire, the reaction of Ezekiel to this figure parallels the reaction of John to the figure he saw – they both fell on their face at the feet of this figure. In fact, the four living creatures surrounding the glory of the LORD in Ezekiel’s vision were the ones surrounding the throne of God in John’s vision and we should be reminded of the fact that the Lamb was actually in the midst of the throne thus was surrounded by these four mysterious creatures and the 24 elders (Rev. 5:6).
Furthermore, Ezekiel was given a scroll by the figure he identified as the glory of the LORD:
“But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe. And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them.
While the opener of the scroll in Ezekiel’s apocalypse was the glory of the LORD, the opener in John’s visions was the Lamb in the midst of the throne – the very Lamb who alone was worthy to open the scroll when no other was found worthy enough to do so.
Turning to another instance where another of God’s authentic prophets was commissioned, we read:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump. [Isaiah 6:1-13]
In the passage above, we were told that Isaiah saw the Lord in the Temple – a figure he later identified as the King, YHWH of hosts! It was this figure dwelling the Temple that commissioned Isaiah and sent him to the people. Amazingly, John came centuries later, commenting on this passage, saying:
Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. [John 12:37-41]
Here, John quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 and claimed that Isaiah actually saw the glory of Jesus and spoke of him. Interestingly, the Targum on Isaiah said:
“In the year in which King Uzziah was smitten with the leprosy the prophet said, I saw the glory of the Lord sitting upon His throne, high, and lifted up unto the highest heavens, and the temple was filled with the brightness of His glory… And I heard the voice of the Word of the Lord, which said, Whom shall I send to prophesy? And who will go to teach? Then said I, here am I, send me.”
The Targumic writer identified the glory of the LORD as the Word of the LORD. In fact, it had been proven that there is a strong connection between the Johannine Logos and the Targumic Memra – which is why there are tons of similarities between the Targumic Memra and Johannine Logos with respect to the divine features and functions they share.
John was not the only NT writer to model his commissioning after the fashion of the Old Testament prophets, all the apostles (all of ‘em) who made mention of their apostolic commission declared that it was the Son who commissioned them. The attempt to explain away the full implication of executing God’s unique role in light of the Son’s pre-existence and deity, by saying that the Son can do all these things merely because He was exalted, is hampered and lampooned by the fact that long before The Son’s exaltation to His Father’s side, it was said of Him:
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves… He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.’ The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us IN YOUR NAME!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I HAVE GIVEN YOU AUTHORITY to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’” [Luke 10:1-3; 16-20]
Here, long before The Son’s exaltation, The Son had been sending out and commissioning people in HIS OWN NAME and by His own authority – a prerpgative that belongs to the God of Israel alone. Paul’s commissioning as an apostle was also similar to the way Old Testament prophets were commissioned by the God of Israel:
“Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I AM JESUS, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ … Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized,”
[Acts 9:3-6; 10-18]
Years later, we find Paul reminiscing and boasting in the Lord regarding his commission:
Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead [Galatians 1:1]
The reader should pay a careful attention to what Paul said here. Was he commissioned by a man? No, Paul believe that his commission as an apostle wasn’t from men. Was his commission actually from God but rather passed through human agency? No, Paul believed that his commission as an apostle wasn’t through man – in other words, no human agency was involved! Paul didn’t just stop there, he later went on to say:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. [Galatians 1:8]
In other words, not even the heavenly angels have the authority to overturn the commission he received from The Father and Son. If at all there is a change of commission or of the gospel, none apart from the Father and Son (or the Holy Spirit) may indicate so. In fact, there was an instance in the scriptures where a prophet was severely punished for violating this rule:
“And he went after the man of God and found him sitting under an oak. And he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” And he said, “I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the LORD, ‘You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.’” And he said to him, “I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.’” But he lied to him. So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water. And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’”
[1 Kings 13:14-22]
What is actually the moral of this story? That God can’t send prophets to prophets? Of course not – there has always been several instances where prophets were sent by God to their fellow prophets. In that case, the LORD Himself should have tipped the young prophet to the fact that the old prophet was deceiving him. However, the LORD did not do so because He expected the young prophet to ignore the old prophet’s countermand that was allegedly based on an angelic authority! In other words, does this young prophet really believe that an angelic directive is sufficient to overturn or countermand the directive made by God Himself? Of course not! The reader can understand the reason why Paul will say that any angel that preaches something contrary to what he received from the Father and Son, shall be accursed! However, there is an instance where “an angel” countermanded God’s directives and this angel was… you guess it… the angel of the LORD – that divine angel. It was the angel of the LORD who stopped Abraham from killing Isaac (Gen. 22:11) thereby countermanding God’s earlier directive to Abraham – another testimonial evidence to the fact that the angel of the LORD is a divine entity.
The undying love of the Divine Bridegroom
Given the fact that Ezekiel was the only prophet whose oracle majorly revolves around the Temple and its relationship with the glory of the LORD, it is fitting that to him we turn regarding the glory of the LORD as the jealous deity to whom the people’s utmost and undivided devotion belong. Seeing that it was the glory of the LORD who presided over the Sinaitic Wedding – the very One whom the Israelites provoked by lusting after other deities, the very Bridegroom against whom the Israelites grumbled incessantly out of disdain, the Consuming Fire who had to wipe out a generation so that the following generation may learn a lesson hence be preserved to dwell in the Promised Land, it is hardly surprising to find Ezekiel casting the relationship between the glory of the LORD and His people in a rather strong graphic allegory (Ezekiel 23). Brushing aside the attempts of men to whom all things pure are already impure (Titus 1:15) to find X-rated contents in this allegory, and probing deeper to apprehend the message behind the allegory, we find that God really felt like a jilted lover – His beloved refused to reciprocate the love He had shown to her. Hosea lived out this painful story when he married an unfaithful woman while Ezekiel had to lose his beloved wife – all in all to communicate Israel’s lust for the other lovers (who really does not love her but rather wants her destroyed) provokes Her faithful Husband to jealousy. Right from the instance when the glory of the LORD had been dwelling with humans, we have seen story of God’s role as the Divine Bridegroom began to unfold in series of events that will be discussed in stages below:
- The Tabernacle
It was the glory of the LORD that dwelt on Mount Sinai (Ex. 24:16-17) and presided over the first covenant – a scene later inspired authors interpreted to be a wedding ceremony between YHWH and the Israelites. However, long before the Sinai Covenant, and right from the beginning of the Exodus of the Israelites, the LORD had actually been moving in a cloud of fire, leading the Israelites as well as being their rear guard – in this pillar of cloud and fire is the one identified by Moses as “the angel of God”, then “the LORD” and “the glory of the LORD”:
Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them,
And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, [Exodus 14:24]
And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
The figure that dwelt in the pillar of cloud of fire is consistently appropriated with the title “glory of the LORD” right from Exodus 16 – as the angel of covenant cum the angel of the LORD’s Presence/Face assumes the role of the Suitor who having redeemed Israel from the land of Egypt where she practiced prostitution (Ezekiel 23:19-21), decided to wed her to Himself (Exodus 24). At the LORD’s prompting, the Israelites built a Tabernacle and at its dedication, we were told that the glory of the LORD filled and dwelt in the Tabernacle (Exodus. 40:34 – 38).
- Solomon’s Temple
After Moses, there is no reference to the glory of the LORD until Solomon’s dedication of the Grand Temple he had built. We were told that in response to Solomon’s remembrance of God’s promise to allow His Name dwell in the Temple, the glory of the LORD filled the Temple and dwelt there. Ezekiel, the prophet whose oracle revolves round the Temple, revealed to us in vivid details as to how the relationship between God and His people affects the relationship between the glory of the LORD and the Temple – even to the point of using strong graphic allegory to emphasize how the dwelling of the glory of the LORD among men punctuates the role of God as the Divine Bridegroom.
Ezekiel was one of the first groups carried into exile before the Fall of Jerusalem. Even in Babylon, Ezekiel can’t escape his call to prophethood by the glory of the God of Israel who appeared to him. After the glory of the LORD commissioned him, he was shown visions regarding the abuses going on in the Temple (Ezekiel 8). Ezekiel was shown the painful details of the abominations that defiles the Temple – irritating the glory of the God as to drive Him away from His sanctuary (Eze. 8:6). As if these abominations are not enough, the Israelites even practiced idolatry in the Temple – analogous to a woman engaging in adultery on her matrimonial bed.
Despite Ezekiel’s repeated warnings, the Israelites never changed their promiscuous ways. It eventually got to a point that the glory of the LORD left the Temple for good – God, goodbye!
Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them. And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to the exiles. Then the vision that I had seen went up from me. [Ezekiel 11:22-24]
Of course, this spells disaster. This proves that the Sinai Covenant had been broken due to the fact that the Israelites had violated her “marital vows”. The “Suzerainty treaty” is off – God is no longer bound by His Word to protect Israel from her enemies. While the Israelites were still complacent, thinking that YHWH will never allow His Temple to be destroyed (what with the fact that the false prophets in Jerusalem were prophesying peace), Ezekiel’s vision of the glory of the LORD leaving the Temple sealed the doom of the Israelites. Later, Israel was besieged by Babylon and eventually fell after two years. All the great houses in Israel were burned down – the inspired author of Israel’s monarchial history lamented that even the house of the LORD was burned down. This reinforces the fact that the deserted Temple is just as vulnerable as every other houses of men – it is the dwelling of the LORD in the Temple that made the Temple hallowed.
Apart from the fact that the marriage that started with Sinai was eventually dissolved, the Israelites (as well as the rest of humanity) now stand under the curse of the Old Covenant. Israel had failed in her task to bring the rest of humanity to the salvation of God. Nevertheless, YHWH is never known for failure – the redemption plan He initiated as the Alpha, He will surely see its execution to the end as the Omega.
- The Second Temple: The glory of the latter shall exceed the former
As the glory of the LORD was leaving the Temple, YHWH assured Ezekiel and the exiles, saying:
Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD.” [Ezekiel 11:17-21]
When the year of captivity of the Israelites in Babylon was ended, the exiles returned to rebuild the Temple. They found a disheartening scene. Their once-beautiful city was a ghost town. Everything of value had been destroyed. Fertile fields were overgrown. The region was almost empty of people.
The band of returned exiles built an altar on the grounds of the ruined temple and laid the foundation for the new temple. But soon they grew discouraged about the actual rebuilding. They had enough trouble finding shelter and scratching out a living from the land. When their non-Jewish neighbours fought against their rebuilding of the temple, the former exiles gave up. Their hopes of a glorious new beginning began to fade.
Haggai’s words rang clear in a time of confusion. The Jews had come back from their exile in Babylon nearly 20 years earlier. But they seemed to have forgotten the point of returning. After one false start on the temple, the returned exiles had devoted their energy to building their own houses. The ruins of Solomon’s temple stood as a nagging reminder that they had neglected God. People responded to Haggai immediately. Prophets before him, such as Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah, had spoken for decades without seeing such a heartfelt reaction. Haggai’s messages span a mere four months, but he accomplished everything he set out to do. In four years the temple was complete.
However, when the Temple was completed, the dramatic scene of the glory of the LORD coming down (as in the days of Moses and those of Solomon) was never duplicated despite the fact that YHWH promised that the glory of the latter Temple shall exceed that of the former. Now, here is the puzzling aspect: comparing Solomon’s Temple with the Second Temple, it is really incredulous to accept the fact that the glory of the Second Temple exceeds that of the former. However, the difficulty vanishes once we accept the fact that the glory of the LORD had spanned the eternal gulf in an act of condescension. He really did came to the Temple but not in the dramatic manner like the past.
Our Lord Jesus Christ made several brief appearances at the Temple – He never made the Second Temple His abode of dwelling because The Son qua the glory of the LORD now lives in a new Temple which is the body He assumed. The glory of the Second Temple exceeds the former in the sense that it was the Second Temple that witnessed and typified the long-sought reconciliation between God and humanity. The Second Temple, with its curtain torn at the death of Christ, bears witness to the fact that the gulf between God and humanity had been spanned. In other words, the over-all purpose for the existence of the Second Temple is the proclamation of a new and better covenant between God and humanity. In fact, John the Baptist’s mission resembles that of the Second Temple. Unlike the first Elijah whose prophetic ministry was filled with miracles, the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (who is the second Elijah) was never marked by miracles. Nevertheless, our Lord Jesus declared the pre-eminence of John the Baptist among those born of women.
Unlike the previous prophets were looking forward to the coming of the Divine Bridegroom (Matthew 11:13), John the Baptist, in other words, was proclaiming, “Behold the Bridegroom!” (John 3:29) – this is in accordance to his prophetic voice being prophesied by Isaiah:
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” [Isaiah 40:5-9]
Of course, John the Baptist is the prophet who heralded the coming of the glory of the LORD – he is the one telling Israel to behold her God who is also her Bridegroom. We should also call to mind that Malachi also prophesied the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist who is the messenger sent to prepare the way and herald the coming of the Angel of the covenant cum the Lord who is coming to HIS Temple.
In the same wise, the Second Temple heralded the coming of another greater Temple by bearing witness to the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the ushering in of the New Covenant under which God is eventually reconciled to humanity once and for all. After John’s declaration of the Divine Bridegroom, he told his audience that he must decrease while the Bridegroom must increase. Shortly after this, John the Baptist was executed by Herod (who is likely to be of a mixture of Jewish and Gentile blood). In the same wise, the Second Temple, after fulfilling its mission, was destroyed by the Gentiles resulting from the consequences of the actions of the Jews. In other words, both the Jews and the gentiles are complicit in the Fall of the Second Temple.
- The New Temple
Decades after the Fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel carries a message of hope for the future where the glory of the LORD will indeed come back to dwell among humanity. Right from Ezekiel 40, the prophet described the New Temple in vivid details – details that are similar to John’s description of the City of God (Rev. 21).
“Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places, by setting their threshold by my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them. They have defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed, so I have consumed them in my anger. Now let them put away their whoring and the dead bodies of their kings far from me, and I will dwell in their midst forever. [Ezekiel 43:1-9]
Whereas Ezekiel described a New Temple, John the Apostle described a city:
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” [Revelation 21:2-4]
The author of the Apocalypse went on to say,
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” [Revelation 21:22-23]
Now, at first glance, there is an apparent discrepancy between Ezekiel’s vision and that of John. The discrepancy disappears when we acknowledge the fact that the New City is actually the New Temple. The purpose of the Temple building is to separate the sacred from the secular. However, in the book of Ezekiel, we were told:
“This is the law of the temple: the whole territory on the top of the mountain all around shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple.” [Ezekiel 43:12]
On this mountain (which John places the New City), there will be no demarcation between the secular from the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place because God’s glory permeates throughout the City (Rev. 21:23). This motif was picked up by the prophet Zechariah:
“And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the LORD.” And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar.” [Zechariah 14:20]
The priests and the temple had always been separate and more holy than the rest of Israel. “Holy to the LORD” had been inscribed on the priests’ turban (Ex. 28:36) as a symbol of this. But, Zechariah predicted, in the future such words would even decorate horses. Ordinary kitchen pots would become as sacred as the holy sacramental vessels. There would no longer be a distinction between the sacred and secular, for everything would be sacred.
The description of the New City by John matches the visions of the OT prophets regarding the New Temple because the City of God described by John is permeated all through by the glory of God – unlike in ancient Israel where the glory of the LORD permeates through a separate building dedicated as “Temple”.
Osborne pointed this out, saying:
“Once again, there is no temple in the eternal city partly because it is the Holy of Holies itself. The other reason there is no temple is that “The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb [last for emphasis] are its temple.” Throughout the OT, the glory of God filled the temple… as Ezekiel was brought to the final eschatological temple, the glory of the LORD came from the east, entered the temple through the east gate, and “filled the temple” (Ezek. 43:1–5). Now in the final temple city of the New Jerusalem, that glory so permeates the city that Yahweh becomes the temple. With God and the Lamb physically present, there is no need for a temple.”
Bauckham puts it brilliantly by saying:
“Its most novel feature is the absence of a temple: ‘I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb’ (21:22). Ezekiel had called the New Jerusalem ‘The Lord is There’ (Ezek. 48:35), Zechariah had declared the whole city to be as holy as the temple (Zech.14:20-1), and Isaiah, followed by John (Rev. 21:27), had excluded the ritually unclean from the New Jerusalem, as they were excluded from the temple (Isa. 52:1; Ps. 24:3-4). These prophets had gone far towards envisaging the whole city as the place of God’s holy presence, as his truly ‘holy mountain’. But John seems to have been the first to eliminate the temple altogether. The city needs no temple, a special place of God’s presence, because the whole city is filled with God’s immediate presence. As a result, the city itself becomes a temple. As well as features already mentioned, the most striking sign of this is its perfectly cubic shape (21:16). In this it is like no city ever imagined, but it is like the holy of holies in the temple (1 Kings 6:20). The radical assimilation of the city to a temple, taken further in Revelation than in its prophetic sources, shows how central to the whole concept of the New Jerusalem in Revelation is the theme of God’s immediate presence.”
Another important similarity is reflected in name of the city described by Ezekiel: “The LORD is there” (48:35) – this is what John expresses as “Now the dwelling of God is with mean, and he will live with them” (Rev. 21:3).
From the start where Matthew introduced the blessed son of the Virgin Mary as Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23), it is in this spirit of revelation that John went on to declare the final consummation of God’s dwelling with man in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Divine Bridegroom will dwell with His Bride for ever and ever. Amen.
- As this article had proven, it is the glory of the LORD who led the Israelites out of Egypt in the pillar of cloud, the very figure who also functions as the bearer of God’s Divine Name, it is this figure who as the angel of the LORD’s presence accomplished the first exodus alongside His Father and Holy Spirit. It is this glory of the LORD who became flesh at the fullness of time and also initiated the second exodus alongside His Father and Holy Spirit.
- It is the glory of the LORD who sits enthroned over the Cherubim and commissions prophets. It was this Person who incarnated to become our Lord Jesus Christ who commissioned prophets and apostles on His authority and sent them out the way He had been doing with the OT prophets. It is for this reason that Paul while reminiscing his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, will boast that his commission is neither from man nor through man and that any angel that contradicts the commission given to him by Jesus may be accursed. For this reason, Paul had no qualms appropriating passages talking about YHWH in the Old Testament to Christ in his writings. For Paul, Jesus is YHWH (the LORD) of whom he had accepted as his Lord/Master over his life. It is to this author of life that Stephen committed his spirit to.
- The glory of the LORD is the Divine Bridegroom who dwelt in the Tabernacle and later dwelt in the Temple built by Solomon. He was the jilted Husband whom His bride had abandoned for other lovers. He was the one who promised to redeem His Bride from the world and become betrothed to her forever in faithfulness. He was the one of whom Malachi prophesied that He (who is the Angel of the Covenant) is coming back to His Temple to redeem His people. He was the One whom the prophets are looking forward to as the One who bring God’s dwelling to humanity. Behold, at the fullness of time, the One ruler who had been going forth from ancient days, went forth again and became flesh. He was born of a woman, lived under the law and fulfilled God’s righteousness, died as an everlasting atonement to our sins, rose again and being exalted back to His previous station beside His Father as the WORD who was with God in the beginning. The second Exodus He initiated alongside His Father and Holy Spirit is still on-going as He assumes the role of the Heavenly High Priest who ALONE dares enter the heavenly dwelling of His Father and behold the unapproachable God. Behold, He is coming back again as the Divine Warrior and Commander of the hosts of heaven (who in the time past slew Israel’s enemies) to vanquish the enemies of His Father. According to His earlier promise, He will marry His beloved Bride and dwell with humanity forever and ever. In that day, every man will come to know Jesus Christ as the Immanuel:
GOD WITH US
All praise and thanks to The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity whom the Church will continually adore and worship as she awaits the glorious return of her Husband. Even so come, Lord Jesus come. Amen.
- Susan R. Garrett (2008), No Ordinary Angel: Celestial Spirits and Christian Claims About Jesus, Yale University Press, USA. Pg. 53-54. (Bold and italic emphasis mine)
- Just as the angel of the LORD/the glory of the LORD in the Old Testament is uniquely associated with the Name of YHWH, so also is Jesus in the New Testament uniquely associated with God’s Name. This constitutes another evidence for our position that this Old Testament mysterious figure is the one who was revealed in the New Testament to be our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Just as the angel of the LORD/the glory of the LORD conveys God’s presence, so also did Jesus convey God’s presence. The presence of this Old Testament figure among is people is tantamount to God’s dwelling among His people. In the same wise, the presence of Christ among His people tells us that God is dwelling among His people.
- Richard Bauckham (2003), New Testament Theology: The Theology of the Book of Revelation, 10th Edition, Cambridge University Press, UK. pg. 4. (Bold, Italic and Underline emphasis is mine)
- Grant R. Osborne (2002), Revelation: Baker Exegetical Commentary on The New Testament, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, USA. [Electronic Book]
- Richard Bauckham (2003), New Testament Theology: The Theology of the Book of Revelation, 10th Edition, Cambridge University Press, UK. pg. 136 (Bold, Italic and Underline emphasis is mine)