In the following we will give a detailed response to the arguments presented in an article found at the Bismikaallahuma web site and titled 'I AM What I AM': A Bible Commentary.
We have already discussed the meaning of John 8:58 in the following articles: , .
We highly recommend that our readers read these articles in order to get a fuller picture.
The authors are said to be Tera Tak Adamar, Ahmad Siraj & Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (from now on abbreviated as TAM).
After a brief introduction, the authors make the following claim regarding the Septuagint:
A) First, we would like to introduce to the reader the Septuagint, which shall be the main reference in this discussion other than the Bible itself. Let us delve into the explanation about the Septuagint:. The word "Septuagint" is taken from the Latin word septuaginta which means "70". Therefore, this book is also known as "LXX", which simply means "70". We wish refer to The Hutchinson Educational Encyclopedia (HEE) about the Septuagint:
Septuagint n. a Greek version of the Old Testament including the Apocrypha (c.3rd cent. Before Christ), so called because, according to tradition, about 70 persons were employed on the translation. [Latin: septuaginta 70]
From the citation above, we can conclude that:
1) Septuagint is a Greek version of the Old Testament.
2) It (Septuagint) has already existed three centuries before Christ was born, and therefore it is authentic.
The question arises, why are we focusing our attention on the LXX in our discussion?
The answer is because it would make it easier for us to compare the original phrase of the relevant verses (like John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14) in Greek, since both the New Testamentand LXX (Septuagint) were written in Greek.
We are extremely grateful for the authors admission that the Septuagint is an authentic pre-Christian translation of the Hebrew OT. As we shall shortly demonstrate, this admission will actually help expose the authors shallow exegesis of the passages in question.
B) In this section, we will make a comparison between the Greek phrase which was used in John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14.
"Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."
Eipen autois Ieesous, ameen ameen legoo humin, prin Abraam genesthai egoo eimi.
Note 2 : In Figure 1 the original Greek word for "I AM" in John 8:58 is 'egoo eimi' or in Greek 'egw eimi'. You can refer this to any of the Greek NT suchas The New Testament in the Original Greek by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort (1881) or from any interlinear Greek/English translation.
And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
Kai eipen ho Theos pros Moouseen Egoo Eimi Ho Oon kai eipen outoos ereis tois uiois Israeel Ho Oon apestalken me pros umas
Note 3: Please refer to the highlighted words in the Figure 2 above, we have marked 'A' for 'egoo eimi ho oon' (egw eimi o wn), while 'B' is for 'ho oon' (o wn).
The main claim of the authors is, that since Exodus 3:14 refers to God and since the Greek translation there is Ho On, then John 8:58 doesn't prove that Jesus is Yahweh because of the slightly different wording in that verse. Before discussing the claims set forth by the authors, it will be helpful here to examine the context of Exodus 3:14:
"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There THE ANGEL OF THE LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, I will go over and see this strange sightwhy the bush does not burn up. When THE LORD saw that he had gone over to look, GOD CALLED TO HIM FROM WITHIN THE BUSH, Moses! Moses! And Moses said, Here I am. Do not come any closer, GOD SAID. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Then HE SAID, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid TO LOOK AT GOD. The LORD SAID, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honeythe home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. But Moses said TO GOD, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? And GOD SAID, I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain. Moses said TO GOD, Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they ask me, "What is his name?" Then what shall I tell them? GOD SAID to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: "I AM has sent me to you." GOD ALSO SAID to Moses, Say to the Israelites, "The Lord, the God of your fathersthe God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacobhas sent me to you." This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, "The Lord, the God of your fathersthe God of Abraham, Isaac and JacobAPPEARED TO ME and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites-a land flowing with milk and honey."" Exodus 3:1-17
Once the context is examined we discover that the speaker is not God the Father, but rather his Angel. It is true that the OT often employs the name Yahweh to the Father (cf. Isaiah 63:16, 64:8). Yet in Exodus it is the Angel who is identified as Yahweh, God Almighty, the God of the patriarchs, as well as the great "I AM".
The identity of the Angel in the bush as Yahweh God is made explicit elsewhere:
"About Joseph he said: May the LORD bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield; with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills; with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him WHO DWELT IN THE BURNING BUSH ..." Deuteronomy 33:13-16a
This leads us to the following questions:
Who exactly is this Angel and what significance does this have on NT Christology and biblical monotheism? It is to these questions that we proceed to answer.
WHO IS THIS ANGEL?
It should be first noted that both the Hebrew (malach) and Greek (angelos) words for angel simply means a messenger. It is the context that indicates what type of messenger is in view, i.e. a spirit entity, a human agent or God himself functioning in the role of a messenger.
The OT provides clear evidence that this particular Angel is not a creature. Rather, the data will show that this entity, while distinct from the God who sent him, is also fully God in nature. Unlike other angels this particular figure receives the worship belonging to God and identifies himself or is identified as Yahweh God. This implies that the Angel is God Almighty in visible form. The OT also indicates that this Angel is actually the Messiah that was predicted to come into the world.
"The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going? I'm running away from my mistress Sarai, she answered. Then the angel of the LORD told her, Go back to your mistress and submit to her. The angel added, I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count. The angel of the LORD also said to her: You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: You are the God who sees me, for she said, I have now seen the One who sees me. That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered." Genesis 16:7-14
The Angel of Yahweh claims to be able to personally bless Hagar by giving her descendants too numerous to count. This presumes that the Angel creates and that he is omnipotent since his granting Hagar and her son numerous offspring implies that the Angel has the power to insure that his word will come to pass and that no force will be able to thwart his purpose. Here is another passage which affirms this conclusion:
"This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." Psalm 34:6-7
For the Angel to encamp all believers and protect them implies that he is both omnipresent and omnipotent!
Note also that the author of Genesis (Moses) addresses the Angel as the LORD (i.e. Yahweh) with Hagar herself identifying the Angel as the God who sees her.
"Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: 'I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, 'Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.' He was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.' Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.'" Genesis 28:10-22
According to this passage Jacob saw Yahweh and anointed a pillar to him. Yet elsewhere the One who appeared to Jacob as Yahweh God is said to be the Angel of Yahweh:
"In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. The Angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob.' I answered, 'Here I am.' And he said, 'Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land." Genesis 31:10-13
Another time where the Angel appears is in Genesis 32:24-30
"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, saying, 'It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared."
Hosea states that the man with whom Jacob wrestled was the Angel of Yahweh:
"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 therethe LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name of renown!" Hosea 12:2-5
Hosea clearly identifies the Angel as Yahweh God Almighty.
Since we are on the subject of God appearing as a man in the Old Testament, here is another place where a prophet sees God revealing himself in the likeness or form of a man:
"And above the firmament 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 AS IT WERE OF A HUMAN FORM. And upward from what had the appearance OF HIS LOINS I saw as it were gleaming bronze, like the appearance of fire enclosed round about; and downward from what had the appearance OF HIS LOINS I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. AND HE SAID TO ME, ‘Son of man, stand upon your feet, and I will speak with you.’ And when he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me upon my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. AND HE SAID TO ME, ‘Son of man, I SEND YOU TO THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, to a nation of rebels, WHO HAVE REBELLED AGAINST ME; they and their fathers HAVE TRANSGRESSED AGAINST ME to this very day. The people also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them; and you shall say to them, "THUS SAYS THE LORD GOD." And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that there has been a prophet among them. And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit upon scorpions; be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. And you shall speak MY WORDS TO THEM, whether they hear or refuse to hear; for they are a rebellious house. 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, lo, a written scroll 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." Ezekiel 1:26-28, 2:1-10 RSV
Ezekiel clearly sees a human figure whom he identifies as the glory of the Lord coming to speak to him. The man proceeds to speak to Ezekiel and identifies himself as the sovereign Yahweh or Lord. Thus, we have another instance where an OT prophet sees God appearing as a man.
One thing we need to point out before moving on. In these appearances, God doesn't actually become a man, but only assumes the form of a man. It is only at the Incarnation that the eternal Word of God, who is fully God in essence, becomes a true human being, taking upon himself a real human nature.
We now resume our discussion on the Angel of God.
Interestingly, the Holy Bible shows Jacob calling upon both God and his Angel to bless Josephs sons:
"May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, THE ANGEL WHO HAS DELIVERED ME FROM ALL HARMmay HE bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth." Genesis 48:15-16
The Angels Deity is also clearly seen in Exodus 23:
"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
Two things are said about the Angel in this passage. 1) The Angel contains the name/essence/nature/character of God within himself. 2) the Angel can choose to forgive or not to forgive sins, a point reiterated elsewhere:
"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
Forgiving sins is exclusively a divine prerogative and provides further evidence that the Angel is Yahweh God Almighty:
"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?" Mark 2:6-7
Hence, the Angel has the power to forgive sins, to destroy Israel's enemies, and also embodies within his very own being the Divine nature and character of Yahweh! Dr. Robert A. Morey comments on the significance of the Angel having the Divine Name within him:
"To the Jews at that time, the name of God was a revelation of His divine nature. As Ellicot correctly pointed out, God and His name are almost convertible terms. He is never said to set His Name in a man. Hengstenberg said, The name of God can dwell in him only, who is originally of the same nature with God. Dean Alford comments:
He is no created angel, but a form of the Divine Presence, bearing the name of Jehovah, a in ch. xiii. 21, and clothed with His attributes, and indeed identified in action (ver. 22) with Him; for it is not said he will be an enemy. &c., but I will be, as equivalent: and (23) the way in which this will be shewn is by his going before thee, and his cutting off the nations.
"The Divine Name... was in the Messenger in the sense that what God was the Messenger was. Keil explains:
Jehovah revealed Himself in him; and hence he is called in chap. xxxiii. 15,16, the face of Jehovah, because the essential nature of Jehovah was manifested in him.
"In the Old Testament, the name of someone revealed his character. For example, the name Jacob meant scoundrel and so he was. Thus, the statement that God's name is in the Messenger can only mean that this Messenger has the character of God ..." (Morey, TrinityEvidence and Issues [Word Publishing; Grand Rapids, MI 1996; ISBN: 0529106922], p. 152; bold emphasis ours)
Professor Elliot R. Wolfson comments on the significance of the angel bearing God's name within himself and its affect on Jewish understanding and exegesis:
"The textual proofs for the incarnation of the divine in the angelic figure are found in passages where there is a deliberate confusion between the angel of God and divinity itself (Gen. 16:9-13, 18:2, 21:7, 22:11, 31:11, 33:11-13; Ex. 3:2ff., 14:19, 23:21, 32:34; Jos. 5:13-15; Jud. 2:1, 4, 5:23, 6:11ff., 13:3ff.; Is. 63:9; Ps. 34:8). In such instances, the shift in the narrative from God to the angel points to the fact THAT GOD APPEARS IN THE GUISE OF AN ANGEL. One scriptural verse that is extremely significant for understanding this ancient Israelite conception is God's statement that the Israelite's should give heed to the angel whom he has sent before them and not rebel against him, for his name is in him (Ex. 23:21). The line separating the angel and God IS SUBSTANTIALLY BLURRED, for by bearing the name, WHICH SIGNIFIES THE POWER OF THE DIVINE NATURE, the angel IS THE EMBODIMENT OF GOD'S PERSONALITY. To possess the name is not merely to be invested with divine authority; it means that ONTOLOGICALLY the angel is the incarnational presence of the divine manifest in the providential care of Israel ... This notion, attested in older Jewish mystical texts as well, is consistent with what one finds in the biblical texts themselves; that is, the ancient Israelite belief was THAT GOD COULD APPEAR AS AN ANGELIC PRESENCE TO HUMAN BEINGS, and the shape this presence took WAS THAT OF AN ANTHROPOS. The angelic form, therefore, is the garment (as later kabbalists expressed the matter) in which the divine is clad when it is manifest in the world in the shape of an anthropos. Clearly, this phenomenon, which is notably similar to the Christological identification of Jesus as THE GLORIOUS ANGEL, should be classified as an example of incarnation as distinct from anthropomorphization.
... I would argue that the possibility of God assuming the form of an angel is one of the ground myths that informs the liturgical imagination in rabbinic praxis. The implication of the biblical conception is made explicit in several midrashic sources. Thus, in one context, the matter is related exegetically to the expression captain of the Lord's host (Jos. 5:14): I am the captain from above, and in every place that I am seen the Holy One, blessed be he, is seen. The particular angelic being who serves as the chief of the celestial host is not identified in this text, but the implication of the passage is clear: from a theophanic perspective, the highest angel and God ARE PHENOMENALLY INTERCHANGEABLE, for in every place that the former appears THE LATTER APPEARS. It is not only that the two belong together, BUT THAT THEY RESEMBLE ONE ANOTHER TO THE POINT THAT THE ONTOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO IS OBSCURED ..." (Christianity in Jewish Terms, ed. Tikva Frymer-Kensky, David Novak, Peter Ochs, David Fox Sandmel, Michael A. Signer [Westview Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2000], pp. 244-245; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The interesting thing about this is that angels never allow anyone to worship them, nor are they ever addressed as Yahweh God. In fact, unlike the Angel of Yahweh angels will often give their names:
"While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there before me stood one who looked like a man. And I heard a man's voice from the Ulai calling, "Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.'" Daniel 8:15-16
"While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the LORD my God for his holy hill- while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice." Daniel 9:20-21
"A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, 'Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.' And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. Then he continued, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come' but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince." Daniel 10:10-14, 21
"The angel answered, 'I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." Luke 1:19
"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary." Luke 1:26-27
"Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions." Colossians 2:18
"Then the angel said to me, 'Write: "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!"' And he added, 'These are the true words of God.' At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'" Revelation 19:9-10
"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, 'Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!'" Revelation 22:8-9
The OT links the Angel with Gods very own personal presence:
"The Lord replied, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Then Moses said to him, If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" Exodus 33:14-15
Earlier in the chapter God told Moses that he would send the Angel before Israel:
"Then the Lord said to Moses, Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, "I will give it to your descendants." I will send AN ANGEL before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way." Exodus 33:1-3 cf. 23:20-23
Isaiah makes the connection explicit:
"I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for usyes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, AND THE ANGEL OF HIS PRESENCE SAVED THEM. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old." Isaiah 63:7-9
This passage identifies the Angel as Gods Presence/Face. Dr. Robert Morey comments on the Angel being Gods presence:
"In the Hebrew text of verse 9, the words the Messenger of His presence... literally translates as the Messenger of His face. It was an idiomatic expression which meant that the Messenger who is His face, i.e. who is the outward expression of His essence. The classic German commentator Carl Wilhelm Nagelsbach explains:
For by the angel of His face who saved them, the suppliant evidently intends... by whom the redemption of the people from Egyptian slavery was effected. The expression... refers immediately to Ex. xxxiii. 14,15, where to the request of Moses that the LORD would let him know whom He intends to send with them (vers. 12,13), the answer is given... Moses thereupon rejoins: If... (thy Face) go not, carry us not up hence.
"Because Moses wanted to know whether God Himself would be with them, he asks whether God's face would be with them. The divine Messenger who appeared to Moses and the Patriarchs was the face of God. As Delitzsch rightly points out:
the face of God is His self-revealing presence. The genitive..., therefore, is not to be taken objectively in the sense of the angel who sees His face but as explanatory, the angel who is His face, or in whom His face is manifested.
"This has been pointed out by modern commentators as well. E.J. Young comments:
This angel (the word means messenger) God had promised to send to His people (Ex. 23:20-23) and actually did send to them (Ex. 14:19; Num. 20:16). He is the Lord's angel (Ex. 33:14, 15) and is actually the Lord (Yahweh) Himself (Ex. 33:12).
"The Messenger of His face is clearly the Messenger of Yahweh who is Yahweh in human form. Who else could be described with such terminology? Even the pre-Christian Jews understood this quite clearly. Thus, the Septuagint renders Isaiah 63:9 as:
ek pases thlipseos ou presbus oude angelos all autos kurios esosen autous dia to agapan autous
... out of their affliction; not by an ambassador, or an angel but the Lord himself saved them through His love.
"The Alexandrian Jews in their paraphrase of this verse pointed out that the messenger of His face was not a human ambassador (presbus) or a mere created angel (angelos) but Yahweh himself." (Morey, The Trinity, pp. 200-202; bold emphasis ours)
So close is the connection between Yahweh and His Angel that Moses could say that the entity leading Israel in the pillar of cloud was Yahweh in one place, while saying that it was the Angel in another:
"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
"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
"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. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, Let's get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt. Then the Lord said to Moses, Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen." Exodus 14:24-26
Finally, according to the OT the entity that came down in a cloud on the mountain to give Israel the commands was Yahweh God:
"The Lord said to Moses, I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you. Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said. ... On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the Lord said to him, Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them. Moses said to the Lord, The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, "Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy." The Lord replied, Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them. So Moses went down to the people and told them. And God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me." Exodus 19:9, 16-20:3
"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 then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words. 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. ... 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, 8-12, 15-18
"Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our fathers that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.) And he said: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me." Deuteronomy 5:1-7
"You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous. You saw the suffering of our forefathers in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea. You sent miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day. You divided the sea before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters. By day you led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take. You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good." Nehemiah 9:7-13
Yet according to the NT this entity was none other than the Angel himself, the very same One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush:
"After forty years had passed, AN ANGEL appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lords voice: I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look. Then the Lord said to him, Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt. This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, Who made you ruler and judge? He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through THE ANGEL who appeared to him in the bush. He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. This is that Moses who told the Israelites, God will send you a prophet like me from your own people. He was in the assembly in the desert, WITH THE ANGEL WHO SPOKE TO HIM ON MOUNT SINAI, AND WITH OUR FATHERS; and he received living words to pass on to us." Acts 7:30-38
This demonstrates the consistency between both the Old and New Testaments, since both books clearly portray the Angel as Yahweh God.
CHRIST AS THE ANGEL OF YAHWEH
The OT also indicates that this Angel is actually the Messiah that was predicted to come. In other words, the Angel of Yahweh is actually the Lord Jesus Christ prior to his becoming a man. The following OT passages help solidify this point:
"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord (Ha Adon) you are seeking will come TO HIS TEMPLE; the messenger (malach, angel) of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty." Malachi 3:1
Here is how the Septuagint renders this verse:
Please do note that the Greek word here is angelos.
Behold I send forth my angel (ton angelon mou) and he shall survey the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come into his temple, even THE ANGEL OF THE COVENANT (ho angelos tes diatheekes), whom you take pleasure in: behold he is coming saith the Lord Almighty.
According to this messianic passage the One who was to come to his temple is none other than the Angel of the Covenant, the very same Angel who is identified as Yahweh God throughout the OT:
"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
Interestingly, the OT emphatically states that the temple in Jerusalem was built for Yahweh:
Yet Malachi 3:1 states that the temple belongs to the Angel of the covenant, i.e. "the Lord who you are seeking will come to his temple." This again proves that the Angel is Yahweh God Almighty.
"The priests then brought the ark of the Lord s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. 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. Then Solomon said, The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple FOR YOU, a place FOR YOU to dwell forever. While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them. Then he said: Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said, "Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have A TEMPLE BUILT FOR MY NAME to be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel." My father David had it in his heart TO BUILD A TEMPLE FOR THE NAME OF THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL. But the Lord said to my father David, "Because it was in your heart to build a temple for my Name, you did well to have this in your heart. Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, who is your own flesh and blood-he is the one who will build the temple FOR MY NAME." The Lord has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised, and I have built the temple FOR THE NAME OF THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL. I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our fathers when he brought them out of Egypt." 1 Kings 8:6-21
Malachi also calls this Angel "the Lord" which in Hebrew is Ha Adon. This title is never used for anyone other than Yahweh God. The fact that Malachi had no problem applying this title to the Angel demonstrates that Malachi clearly believed that this Angel was no mere creature.
There are even some Jewish sources that linked Malachi 3:1 to Exodus 23:20-23, as well as to a host of other texts:
"BEHOLD, I SEND AN ANGEL. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: 'He who guarded the patriarchs will also guard the children'; for so you find in the case of Abraham that when he blessed his son Isaac, he said: The L-rd, the G-d of heaven ... He will send His angel before thee (Gen. xxiv, 7). And what did Jacob say to his children? 'The angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, etc. (ibid. xlviii, 16). He hath redeemed me from the hand of Esau, from Laban, and he it was who fed and sustained me during the years of famine' (referring all this to an angel - one sent by G-d for that particular purpose). G-d said to Moses: 'Now also, He who guarded the fathers will protect the children,' as it says, BEHOLD, I SEND AN ANGEL. Wherever the angel appeared, the Shechinah appeared, as it says, And the angel of the L-rd appeared unto him in a flame of fire. (Ex. iii, 2), and immediately after, it says, G-d called unto him (ibid., 4). Moreover, salvation cometh to Israel wherever they cry unto Him (whenever Israel cries unto G-d and the angel appears, he is a herald of salvation); at the thorn-bush - Behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto Me (ibid. 9); in the case of Gideon - And the angel of the L-rd came ... and the angel of the L-rd appeared ... and the L-rd ... said: Go in this thy might, and save Israel (Judg. vi, 11-14). In the millennium, likewise, when he (the angel; he will be the herald announcing the coming of the L-rd and of true salvation) will reveal himself, salvation will come to Israel, as it says,Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall clear the way before Me (Mal. iii, i)." (Rabbi Dr. S.M. Lehrman, Midrash Rabbah: Volume III: Exodus [London: The Soncino Press, 1983], pp. 412-13; underline emphasis ours)
Both Jewish Tradition and the Lord Jesus viewed Malachi 3:1 as a prophecy of the Messiah:
The Lord is the King Messiah; He is also the Angel of the Covenant. Rabbi David Kimchi
The Lord is both the Divine Majesty, and the Angel of the Covenant, for the sentence is doubled. Aben Ezra
The Lord may be explained of the King Messiah. Mashmiah Jeshua, fol.76
For those who cannot look upon the Son Himself, behold Him in His reflected light, even thus do they regard THE IMAGE OF GOD, WHO IS HIS ANGEL, THE WORD [Logos], as God Himself. (De Plant Noe) Philo Judaeus (adapted from this Source.)
"As Johns disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: "I will send my messenger ahead of you,who will prepare your way before you."" Matthew 11:7-10
The Lord Jesus claims that John is the messenger that would be sent by God to prepare the way for the Angel of the covenant. Seeing that John was sent to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus means that Jesus is the Angel of Yahweh. This would also mean that Jesus is the very Lord that was to come into his temple. This proves that Christ is Yahweh God Almighty.
[NOTE- Interestingly Jesus says that John is more than a prophet, and yet John was not as great as Jesus. If Jesus is greater than John, and yet John is more than a prophet this means that Jesus is much greater than a prophet also. In light of Malachi 3:1, we see how great Jesus really is since he is clearly said to be Yahweh God Almighty]
The other proof that the Angel is actually Christ comes from Judges 13:3-23:
"And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Behold, you are barren and have no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore beware, and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for lo, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.' Then the woman came and told her husband, 'A man of God came to me, and his countenance was like the countenance of the angel of God, very terrible; I did not ask him whence he was, and he did not tell me his name; but he said to me, "Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son; so then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth to the day of his death."' Then Mano'ah entreated the LORD, and said, 'O, LORD, I pray thee, let the man of God whom thou didst send come again to us, and teach us what we are to do with the boy that will be born.' And God listened to the voice of Mano'ah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field; but Mano'ah her husband was not with her. And the woman ran in haste and told her husband, 'Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.' And Mano'ah arose and went after his wife, and came to the man and said to him, 'Are you the man who spoke to this woman?' And he said, 'I am.' And Mano'ah said, 'Now when your words come true, what is to be the boy's manner of life, and what is he to do?' And the angel of the LORD said to Mano'ah, 'Of all that I said to the woman let her beware. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing; all that I commanded her let her observe.' Mano'ah said to the angel of the LORD, 'Pray, let us detain you, and prepare a kid for you.' And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, If you detain me, I will not eat of your food; but if you make ready a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD. (For Mano'ah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD.) And Mano'ah said to the angel of the LORD, What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?' And the angel of the LORD said to him, 'Why do you ask my name, seeing it is WONDERFUL? So Manoah took the kid with the cereal offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD, to him who works wonders. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar while Mano'ah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Mano'ah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. And Mano'ah said to his wife, We shall surely die, for we have seen God.' But his wife said to him, 'If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a cereal offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these." RSV
The Angel once again appears as a man and is identified as God. According to the Angel his name is Wonderful, which is one of the names given to the Messiah in prophecy!:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called WONDERFUL Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
Again, note the way the Septuagint translates this specific verse:
For a child is born to us and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Angel of the great counsel (Megales Boules angelos): for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him.
Lest the authors claim that this is not a messianic prophecy notice what the rabbis had to say:
And there was called His name from of old, Wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, He who lives for ever, the Messiah in whose days peace shall increase. Targum of Isaiah
There are some interpreters who say that Wonderful, Everlasting Father are Names of God and only Prince of Peace is the Name of the Child. But according to my view the interpretation is right (which says): all are the Names of the Child. Aben Ezra
For to us a Son is born, to us a Son is given:andHeshall receive the Law upon Him to keep it; and His Name is called from of old, Wonderful, Counselor, ELOHA, The Mighty, Abiding to Eternity, The Messiah, because peace shall be multiplied on us in His days. Targum Jonathan
Amazingly, the Angel is called the Son of God, just like Christ, which further links the two!
"He answered and said, ‘But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.’ ... Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent HIS ANGEL and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king's command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.’" Daniel 3:25, 28
The king identifies the Angel whom God sent to deliver his righteous slaves as God's Son. Now, the king's reference to the Angel as a (the) son of the gods doesn't negate the fact that the king rightly understood that this Messenger was God's Son. His error was to assume that there was more than one god, and that the Angel was their Son. He was the Son of the one and only God. This is similar to the following statements:
"At last Daniel came in before me--he who was named Belteshazzar after the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods--and I told him the dream, saying, ‘O Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no mystery is too difficult for you, tell me the visions of my dream that I saw and their interpretation... his dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, saw. And you, O Belteshazzar, tell me the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation, but you are able, for the spirit of the holy gods is in you.’" Daniel 4:8-9, 18
"‘There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father--your father the king--made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers,...’ ‘I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you.’" Daniel 5:11, 14
These persons were obviously correct that Daniel was inspired by God's Spirit, but were wrong to assume that the Spirit belonged to more than one God. Hence, Daniel furnishes additional evidence for the Angel being Deity, being God's very own divine Son, and also for God being Triune in nature, i.e. God, His Son, and His Spirit!
Finally, many of the early Church fathers clearly taught that Jesus was the Angel of Yahweh. Second century Christian apologist Justin Martyr clearly taught this truth throughout his writings, some of which include:
THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN
CHAPTER LXII - Its Imitation By Demons
And the devils, indeed, having heard this washing published by the prophet, instigated those who enter their temples, and are about to approach them with libations and burnt-offerings, also to sprinkle themselves; and they cause them also to wash themselves entirely, as they depart [from the sacrifice], before they enter into the shrines in which their images are set. And the command, too, given by the priests to those who enter and worship in the temples, that they take off their shoes, the devils, learning what happened to the above-mentioned prophet Moses, have given in imitation of these things. For at that juncture, when Moses was ordered to go down into Egypt and lead out the people of the Israelites who were there, and while he was tending the flocks of his maternal uncle(1) in the land of Arabia, our Christ conversed with him under the appearance of fire from a bush, and said, "Put off thy shoes, and draw near and hear." And he, when he had put off his shoes and drawn near, heard that he was to go down into Egypt and lead out the people of the Israelites there; and he received mighty power from Christ, who spoke to him in the appearance of fire, and went down and led out the people, having done great and marvelous things; which, if you desire to know, you will learn them accurately from his writings.
CHAPTER LXIII - How God Appeared To Moses
And all the Jews even now teach that the nameless God spake to Moses; whence the Spirit of prophecy, accusing them by Isaiah the prophet mentioned above, said 'The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but israel doth not know Me, and My people do not understand.'(2) And Jesus the Christ, because the Jews knew not what the Father was, and what the Son, in like manner accused them; and Himself said, 'No one knoweth the Father, but the Son; nor the Son, but the Father, and they to whom the Son revealeth Him.'(3) Now the Word of God is His Son, as we have before said. And He is called Angel and Apostle; for He declares whatever we ought to know, and is sent forth to declare whatever is revealed; as our Lord Himself says, 'He that heareth Me, heareth Him that sent Me.'(4) From the writings of Moses also this will be manifest; for thus it is written in them, And the Angel of God spake to Moses, in a flame of fire out of the bush, and said, I am that I am, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of thy fathers; go down into Egypt, and bring forth My people.'(5) And if you wish to learn what follows, you can do so from the same writings; for it is impossible to relate the whole here. But so much is written for the sake of proving that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels; but now, by the will of God, having become man for the human race, He endured all the sufferings which the devils instigated the senseless Jews to inflict upon Him; who, though they have it expressly affirmed in the writings of Moses, 'And the angel of God spake to Moses in a flame of fire in a bush, and said, I am that I am, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,' yet maintain that He who said this was the Father and Creator of the universe. Whence also the Spirit of prophecy rebukes them, and says, 'Israel doth not know Me, my people have not understood Me.'(6) And again, Jesus, as we have already shown, while He was with them, said, 'No one knoweth the Father, but the Son; nor the Son but the Father, and those to whom the Son will reveal Him.'(7) The Jews, accordingly, being throughout of opinion that it was the Father of the universe who spake to Moses, though He who spake to him was indeed the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, are justly charged, both by the Spirit of prophecy and by Christ Himself, with knowing neither the Father nor the Son. For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets; but now in the times of your reign,(8) having, as we before said, become Man by a virgin, according to the counsel of the Father, for the salvation of those who believe on Him, He endured both to be set at nought and to suffer, that by dying and rising again He might conquer death. And that which was said out of the bush to Moses, 'I am that I am, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and the God of your fathers,'(9) this signified that they, even though dead, are let in existence, and are men belonging to Christ Himself. For they were the first of all men to busy themselves in the search after God; Abraham being the father of Isaac, and Isaac of Jacob, as Moses wrote.
DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO
CHAPTER XXXIV - Nor Does Psalm LXXII Apply to Solomon, Whose Faults Christians Shudder at.
Further, to persuade you that you have not understood anything of the Scriptures, I will remind you of another psalm, dictated to David by the Holy Spirit, which you say refers to Solomon, who was also your king. But it refers also to our Christ. But you deceive yourselves by the ambiguous forms of speech. For where it is said, `The law of the Lord is perfect, 'you do not understand it of the law which was to be after Moses, but of the law which was given by Moses, although God declared that He would establish a new law and a new covenant. And where it has been said, `O God, give Thy judgment to the king, 'since Solomon was king, you say that the Psalm refers to him, although the words of the Psalm expressly proclaim that reference is made to the everlasting King, i.e., to Christ. For Christ is King, and Priest, AND GOD, AND LORD, AND ANGEL, and man, and captain, and stone, and a Son born, and first made subject to suffering, then returning to heaven, and again coming with glory, and He is preached as having the everlasting kingdom: so I prove from all the Scriptures. (Source; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Let us summarize the preceding evidence:
It is the Angel of Yahweh who is said to be the I AM of Exodus 3:14.
The Angel is seen as an entity that is distinct from Yahweh who sent him.
At the same time the Angel is said to be the true God Yahweh appearing in visible form.
The Angel has Gods very own name within him, and is identified as the very Presence of God.
OT prophecies explicitly identify this Angel with the Messiah.
The early Church fathers clearly believed that Jesus was the Angel of Yahweh
The OT agrees with the NT teaching that God is multi-personal, can appear as a man and that the Messiah is God Almighty.
This in itself sufficiently refutes the arguments made by the authors. Seeing that it is the Angel that claims to be the I AM of Exodus 3:14 and seeing that the Lord Jesus is this very Angel, this means that Jesus is in fact the I AM of the OT!
For more info regarding the Angel being both God and the preincarnate Christ we recommended the following articles:
This concludes this section. In the following sections we will proceed to a complete refutation of the authors erroneous claims, Lord Jesus willing.
Continue with Part Two.
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