More Biblical Evidence for the Deity of Gods unique Angel/Son
The Holy Scriptures have a lot to say concerning the importance and centrality of the Divine Name. For instance, the Hebrew Bible is filled with references praising and exalting Gods Name:
"Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the Name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created." Psalm 148:1-5
The inspired Scriptures speak of taking refuge in the Name, that the Name brings salvation and protection:
"May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the Name of the God of Jacob protect you! Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the LORD our God." Psalm 20:1, 7
In fact, it is through the Name that the faithful trample over their enemies:
"Through you we push down our foes; through your Name we tread down those who rise up against us. For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me." Psalm 44:5-6
God even sought a dwelling place for his Name among his people:
"These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possessas long as you live in the land. Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Namethere you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD." Deuteronomy 12:1-6, 11
The Ark of the Covenant, which symbolizes Gods presence among his people, is called by the Name:
"David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark." 2 Samuel 6:1-2
And whoever blasphemes the Name is to be put to death:
"Moreover, the one who blasphemes the Name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death." Leviticus 24:16
Moreover, all the nations will bring sacrifices to Gods Name in recognition of its greatness:
"‘My Name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my Name, because my Name will be great among the nations,’ says the LORD Almighty." Malachi 1:11
Interestingly, the inspired writers even speak of the Name as a person who comes in wrath and judgment:
"See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire." Isaiah 30:27
As if this weren't amazing enough, Yahweh's Name is said to be responsible for making creation!
"Our help is in the Name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 124:8
Contrast this with the following:
"My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:2
In fact, there are certain extra-Biblical sources which expressly assert that it was Yahweh's Name that created the cosmos:
"And now I shall make you swear a great oath -for there is no oath which is greater than it, by the Name glorious and honoured and great and splendid and wonderful and mighty, which created the heavens and the earth and all things together - that ye will fear Him and worship Him." The Book of Jubilees 36:7 (Source)
"[Grant unto us, Lord,] that we may set our hope on thy Name, which is the primal source (cause) of all creation." 1 Clement 59:3 (Source; see also 1; 2)
"Great is the Name through which heaven and earth have been created." Hekaloth Rabbati 9
To further see just how truly amazing and significant the Name is, notice what Yahweh told Moses when he said that he would show him his "back," i.e. allowing his blessed servant to behold a glimpse of Gods glory:
"Then Moses said, Now show me your glory. And the LORD said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But, he said, you cannot see my face/presence (panim), for no one may see me and live. Then the LORD said, There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face/presence (panim) must not be seen." Exodus 33:18-23
It is interesting that Moses asks God to show him his glory with Yahweh responding that he cannot see Gods face/presence since to see him is to die. Yahweh equates seeing his face/presence with seeing him, thereby implying that Yahwehs face/presence is synonymous with his Being and essence, i.e. seeing Gods face/presence is simply another way of asking to see God himself in all the fullness of his glory manifested visibly. We know that this is what it means since we are specifically told earlier in the text that Moses saw Gods glory:
"Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the tent of meeting. Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses. Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent." Exodus 33:7-11
In the following we see that the cloud is equated with the glory of the LORD:
"Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set outuntil the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels." Exodus 40:34-38
"When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple." 1 Kings 8:10-11
We will have more to say concerning the cloud in a later section.
Thus, Moses wasnt merely requesting to see God appear in a visible manner or in a form of some kind, since God had already shown him that when he descended in the cloud. Moses wanted to see Yahweh visibly manifest all the fullness of his glory, something which God says is not possible. This is why God says that Moses will only see Yahwehs "back", i.e. the prophet will get a glimpse of the Divine glory manifested in a more profound manner than simply seeing the cloud come down as a sign that Yahweh had drawn near.
Our exegesis is further substantiated by the following verses:
"Then he said to Moses, Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, but Moses ALONE is to approach the LORD; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him. Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank. The LORD said to Moses, Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction. Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them. When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses ENTERED the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights." Exodus 24:1-2, 9-18
"Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When both of them stepped forward, he said, Listen to my words: When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" Numbers 12:5-8
It is clear from the above references that the difference between what Moses saw and what the elders beheld is that the former was allowed to enter into the cloud in order to commune with Yahweh directly and see him more clearly whereas the rest were only allowed to view Yahwehs glory from afar. Moreover, whereas the Israelites saw Yahwehs glory appear as a consuming fire Moses, on the other hand, saw Yahwehs form, i.e. Yahweh had taken on a visible likeness of some kind when he spoke directly with his servant.
The other interesting point to note is that Yahweh tells Moses that not only will he cause his glory to pass by his servant but he will also proclaim his name to his prophet, which is precisely what he did:
"Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped." Exodus 34:5-8
When Yahweh proclaims his Name he does so by highlighting some of his many qualities, thereby equating the Name with Yahwehs nature and characteristics. In other words, to speak of the Name is to speak of Yahwehs essence, nature, attributes, power, authority etc. Thus, to have the Divine Name is to possess all the essential attributes of Deity, and whomever bears that Name must be God in nature.
We will see the relevance all of this has on the Person of the Lord Jesus when we discuss what the NT says concerning Christ bearing the Divine Name and being the Glory of the Father.
The Angel as the Bearer of the Divine Name
When Yahweh is about to bring Israel into the Promised Land he informs Moses that he would do so by sending a very special Angel ahead of them:
"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out." Exodus 23:20-23
What is truly remarkable about this particular Angel is that Yahweh warns the Israelites not to rebel against this Messenger because he will not forgive their rebellion since he embodies the Divine Name! In other words, the reason why the Angel is able to forgive sins is that he happens to bear the Divine Name. Yet, as we already saw, having the Divine Name is synonymous to possessing all of the essential attributes of Deity, which means that the Angel is both God and distinct from God at the same time.
Unfortunately for the Israelites they failed to heed Gods warning which resulted in the Angel not forgiving them:
"The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, "I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars." Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you. When the angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, and they called that place Bokim. There they offered sacrifices to the LORD." Judges 2:1-5
Astonishingly the Angel claims that he swore an oath to the patriarchs to give their descendants the land and that he is the One who brought Israel out of Egypt and made a covenant with them! Who does this Angel think he is, Yahweh?
Nor is this the only place where we discover that this particular Angel has the power to forgive sins:
"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire? Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, Take off his filthy clothes. Then he said to Joshua, See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." Zechariah 3:1-4
The Angel not only forgives sins, an exclusively Divine function and prerogative, he is also called Yahweh by the inspired author. We know that Zechariah was referring to the Angel as Yahweh since within the context the prophet has just mentioned the Angel, Satan, Joshua the high priest and certain angelic beings. Zechariah was obviously not calling Satan Yahweh (God forbid such blasphemy!), nor could he be speaking of Joshua as Yahweh, which therefore leaves us with the Angel.
Moreover, according to certain Bible expositors the following passage,
"She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen." Hosea 1:6-7
Refers to God delivering Judah from the hands of the Assyrian king Sennacherib when he had sent his army to attack Jerusalem. What makes this rather amazing is that Yahweh sent his Angel to deliver his people from the hands of the Assyrians:
"Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place." 2 Kings 19:32-37
Yet according to Hosea Yahweh would save his people by Yahweh their God. When we piece these texts together the conclusion is that the Angel is actually Yahweh their God whom Yahweh sent to deliver the nation. Nor is this the only time where the prophet identifies this Angel as Yahweh God:
"The LORD has a charge to bring against Judah; he will punish Jacob according to his ways and repay him according to his deeds. In the womb he grasped his brother's heel; as a man he struggled with God. He struggled with THE ANGEL and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there- the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name of renown!" Hosea 12:2-5
The prophet is reflecting on the experiences of the patriarch Jacob from the moment he came out of his mothers womb grasping his brothers heel,
"When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them." Genesis 25:24-26
To the time when he wrestled with God who had appeared to him as a man and where he begged for his favor:
"So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, Let me go, for it is daybreak. But Jacob replied, I will not let you go unless you bless me. The man asked him, What is your name? Jacob, he answered. Then the man said, Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome. Jacob said, Please tell me your name. But he replied, Why do you ask my name? Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel [face of God], saying, It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared." Genesis 32:24-30
Yet Hosea claims that the man who wrestled with Jacob, the One whom Jacob himself identified as God, was none other than the Angel of Yahweh!
It is therefore quite clear that the reason why the Angel bears the Divine Name is because he himself happens to be God in essence, even though he is also personally distinct from God.
We now move on to the NT teaching concerning the Lord Jesus.
Jesus as the Bearer of the Divine Name
The inspired Greek Scriptures testify that Christ, like the Angel of Yahweh, shares the Divine Name:
"I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him." John 5:43
"Jesus answered, I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep." John 10:25-26
Jesus doesnt merely act in his Fathers name which may simply mean that the Father has given the Son the authority to carry out specific functions on his behalf but personally bears the Name:
"I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name the name you gave me so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled." John 17:11-12
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:19
In this last passage the single Divine Name of God is shared by all three Persons of the Godhead, thereby affirming their essential coequality!
As if this wasn't amazing enough the name of Jesus in the NT becomes synonymous with THE Name!
"The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other Name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’ When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.’ Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’" Acts 4:5-18
"Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 'We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,' he said. 'Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood.' Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men!' ... His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. " Acts 5:27-29, 40-41
"In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered. The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’ ‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.’ But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’ Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ ... Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’" Acts 9:10-17, 19b-21
And as the bearer of the Divine Name Christ, much like the Angel, is able to forgive sins:
"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven. Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone? Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins ..." Mark 2:5-10
"Then Jesus said to her, Your sins are forgiven. The other guests began to say among themselves, Who is this who even forgives sins?" Luke 7:48-49
The reason why we find such similarities between the two is because the Biblical data strongly supports the position that the Angel is actually the prehuman Christ who was appearing throughout the OT.
In fact, according to an ancient Aramaic paraphrase of Hosea 1:7 known as the Targum God was going to save his people from the Assyrians by the Word of the Lord.
Earlier in our discussion we saw how that, according to 2 Kings 19:32-37, Yahweh sent his Angel to deliver his people. The Targum seems to therefore be linking the Word with the Angel. And according to the NT, this Word of God became flesh as the man Christ Jesus (cf. John 1:1-3, 10, 14; 1 John 1:1; Revelation 19:13).
Thus, by piecing this together we get the following: Angel = the Word = Jesus Christ!
The late noted Bible expositor John Gill states it best:
But I will have mercy on the house of Judah
The two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which retained the true worship of God among them; see (Hosea 11:12) and though they often sinned against the Lord, he showed them mercy, and spared them longer than the ten tribes; and though he suffered them to be carried captive into Babylon, he returned them again after seventy years: this is mentioned as an aggravation of the punishment of Israel, that Judah was spared, when they were not; and to show that God will have a people to seek and serve him, and, when he rejects some, he will make a reserve of others: and will save them by the Lord their God;
by his own arm and power, and not theirs, or any creature's; nor by any warlike means or instruments whatever, as follows: and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen:
which may respect either the deliverance of the Jews from the invasion and siege of Sennacherib's army; which was done without shooting an arrow, or drawing the sword, or engaging in a pitched battle, or by a cavalry rushing into his camp, discomfiting his army, and pursuing them; but by an angel sent from heaven, which in one night destroyed a hundred and fourscore and five thousand, (2 Kings 19:35) or else refers to Cyrus being stirred up by the Lord to issue forth a proclamation, giving liberty to the Jewish captives to go free, without price or reward; and so was brought about, not by the might and power of man, but by the Spirit of the Lord; see (Ezra 1:1) (Isaiah 45:13) (Zechariah 4:6) though a greater salvation is pointed at, or at least shadowed forth, by this, even the spiritual and eternal salvation of God's elect by Christ; which is the fruit of mercy, and not the effect of the merits of men; is obtained not by human power, or by man's righteousness; but by the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Jehovah our righteousness, the Lord God of his people; who stands in a relation to them prior to his being the Saviour of them; to which work and office he is equal, being the eternal Jehovah, and the true and living God. So the Targum,
"and I will save them by the Word of the Lord their God;"
the eternal Word, that was with God, is God, and became incarnate, God in our nature. (The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible; source; underline emphasis ours)
For more on the topic of the Angel being OT appearances of the preincarnate Christ we recommend the following articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Jesus as the Glory and Tabernacle of God the Father
The NT writings further identify Jesus as the Glory of God, the One who is the visible manifestation of Yahweh. For instance, the fourth Gospel claims that the prophet Isaiah saw and spoke of the glory of Jesus:
"So the crowd answered him, We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man? So Jesus said to them, The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 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 [Jesus] glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. Jesus cried out and said, Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." John 12:34-46
One of the texts that John cites, namely Isaiah 6:10, is part of a passage where Isaiah has a vision in which he sees Yahweh in his glory:
"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. I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I! 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." Isaiah 6:1-10
According to John this is one of the places where Isaiah saw Jesus, establishing the fact that the Evangelist believed that the God whom the inspired prophet saw in his vision was actually the prehuman Christ!
This isnt the only time where the Evangelist connects Jesus with the book of Isaiah. In another passage the prophet refers to a time when a herald, a voice, would proclaim to the people that they would see the glory of Yahweh as he comes to deliver his people:
"A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall SEE it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Get you 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! Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11
John believed that this voice that would cry out in the wilderness was the Baptist and that Jesus is the Glory of God that appeared to the people:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him And the Word became flesh and tabernacled/pitched his tent (eskenosen) among us, and we have SEEN his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and CRIED OUT, This was he of whom I said, "He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.") He [the Baptist] said, I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord," as the prophet Isaiah said." John 1:1-3, 10, 14-15, 23
Besides identifying Christ as the Glory of God, the Evangelist also connects Jesus physical body with the OT tabernacle/temple, the place where Yahwehs glory dwelt. The verb that John uses in verse 14, eskenosen, literally means to set up or pitch a tent, and the noun form of the word, skene, is used in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible in reference to the Tent of Meeting, the place where the cloud which symbolized Gods glory settled (cf. Exodus 40:34-38).
Jesus himself spoke of his body as being the temple of God:
"Jesus answered them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews then said, It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days? But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken." John 2:19-22
The Apostle is therefore picturing Jesus physical body as the living and abiding Temple of God, the One in whom all the fulness of the Divine Glory and essence dwells:
"For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell," Colossians 1:19
"For in Christ all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form," Colossians 2:9
Christ even claimed to do what Isaiah 40:10-11 says Yahweh would do, namely, gather his flock together, which further identifies him with Yahweh:
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. Jesus answered them, I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Fathers name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." John 10:11, 14-16, 25-28
Thus, not only does Jesus embody the Divine name he is also the Glory of God, the visible manifestation and appearance of Yahweh to his people!
Yahweh He who rides the clouds
In some of the references we looked at Yahweh is portrayed as descending in a cloud, just as we find in the following examples:
"By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people." Exodus 13:21-22
"During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion." Exodus 14:24
"Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam " Numbers 12:5a
The appearance of the cloud during the Exodus indicated to the people that Yahweh had come to deliver and guide them, that the cloud signified that Yahweh was present with his people. This explains why the cloud was called the cloud of Yahweh:
"The cloud of the LORD was over them by day when they set out from the camp." Numbers 10:34
Even the NT writers speak of Yahweh appearing in a cloud:
"Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" Mark 9:7; cf. Matthew 17:5; Luke 9:35
Other OT passages also refer to Yahweh as riding in/on the clouds or the heavens:
"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty." Deuteronomy 33:26
"Then Solomon said, The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud;" 1 Kings 8:12
"O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord, Selah to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies." Psalm 68:32-34
"Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind." Psalm 104:1-3
"An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them." Isaiah 19:1
These references indicate that anyone who rides the clouds must be fully Divine since this is Gods mode, his vehicle so to speak, of revealing himself to the people.
The Angel who rides the clouds
Yahweh isnt the only One who rides and controls the cloud; the Angel does as well:
"Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long." Exodus 14:19-20
"Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down. Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, There will be no more delay!" Revelation 10:1-6
Jesus The Divine Son of Man who rides the clouds
The Son of Man is another One who rides the clouds of heaven:
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14
Earlier we stated that riding the cloud is a Divine function, which means that the Son of Man must therefore be Divine. There is further substantiation that this entity is a Divine Being since the prophet Daniel says that the Son of Man rules forever and that all men will worship him.
According to the NT Jesus is that Son of Man whom Daniel saw:
" Again the high priest asked him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One? I am, said Jesus. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven. The high priest tore his clothes. Why do we need any more witnesses? he asked. You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" Mark 14:61-64
"While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’" Luke 22:47-48
"After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee, they said, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11
"Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." Revelation 1:7, 12-18
Hence, Jesus is the Divine Son of Man of Daniel who is worshiped by every creature as he rules forever over all creation. Moreover, since Jesus is also the Divine Angel of God this means that the Angel and the Son of Man are one and the same Person: the Angel = Jesus = the Son of Man.
For more on the issue of Jesus being Daniels Son of Man we recommend the following articles (1, 2).
In conclusion, it is apparent that the Hebrew Bible teaches that there is more than one Divine Person even though it also emphatically emphasizes the point that there is only one God. The prophets knew that there was one specific Angel who does what only Yahweh can do, specifically forgive sins and ride the clouds, and who even embodies the very nature of God himself. And one prophet in particular knew of another figure that also rides the clouds of heaven, namely, the Son of Man who reigns over all creation forever and who is worshiped by all the nations.
Moreover, the NT depiction of Jesus Christ as bearing the Divine name, as being the Glory of God, and as riding the clouds all conclusively point to his Divinity as well. These factors establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the inspired authors of the NT believed that Jesus is fully God in nature, even though he is personally distinct from both the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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