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The “Heavenly” and “Earthly” Yahweh:
A Trinitarian Interpretation of Genesis 19:24

Part IIIb

By Anthony Rogers

(Continued from Part IIIa)

SECOND – the New Testament not only teaches that Jesus was preexistent and, therefore, that He could have been active on earth in the Old Testament period; it teaches that He actually was active on earth in the past, as may be seen from the following examples:

In Matthew 2:6 the following prophecy from the book of Micah, which is also relevant to the previous point about the eternal pre-existence of the Son, is quoted and applied to Jesus:

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2)

Note here that the text says that the one who is to be ruler in Israel is going to come forth from Yahweh, and also that He came forth on numerous previous occasions, from times of old, even from everlasting. Professor Robert Reymond concludes his exegetical discussion of the passage this way:

… if we give the plural noun its full force, pointing as it does to prior repeated acts of going forth on the part of the Ruler who was to be born in Bethlehem, we have every reason to include within the time frame allowed by the phrases themselves the idea of even eternity past, and to affirm that the third line refers to the “goings forth” of the Messiah (in the person of the pre-existent Son or Logos) in eternity past to create the world (cf. John 1:1-3; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2), also to his numerous subsequent “goings forth” as the “Angel of the Lord” from Patriarchal to Davidic times, and to His constant “goings forth” providentially to sustain and to uphold all things by the word of His power (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3).1 (Emphasis original)


Many places in the Old Testament speak of God acting in creation, providence and redemption by His arm or right hand, a figure of speech that refers to God’s power.

By His arm/hand God created the heavens and the earth:

Surely My hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand together. (Isaiah 48:13)

I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm,…. (Jeremiah 27:5)

Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You, (Jeremiah 32:17)

By His outstretched arm and hand God delivered His people from Egypt:

Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.’ (Exodus 6:6)

Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Deuteronomy: 4:34

Yet they are Your people, even Your inheritance, whom You have brought out by Your great power and Your outstretched arm. (Deuteronomy 9:29)

By His arm and hand God smites the wicked:

You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain; You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm. (Psalm 89:10)

I Myself will war against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, even in anger and wrath and great indignation. (Jeremiah 21:5)

As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. (Ezekiel 20:33)

More interesting still are passages like the following where God’s arm or power is personified or spoken of as if it were an actual person.

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly, the right hand of the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!rd&quo; (Psalm 118:14-16)

And the LORD will cause His voice of authority to be heard, and the descending of His arm to be seen in fierce anger, And in the flame of a consuming fire In cloudburst, downpour and hailstones. (Isaiah 30:30)

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him. (Isaiah 40:10)

Most interesting of all, God’s Arm of power is, in fact, identified as a person, even the promised Servant or Messiah, in Isaiah 52-53. After saying that God will bare His Holy Arm and bring about a new Exodus for His people in 52:1-12, the passage goes on to say:

Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand. Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For HE grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (52:13-53:3)

Commenting on this passage, Alexander McLaren said the following about “the arm of the Lord:”

… It is a natural symbol of the active energy of Jehovah, and is analogous to the other symbol of 'the Face of Jehovah,' which is also found in this book, in so far as it emphasises the notion of power in manifestation, though 'the Face' has a wider range and may be explained as equivalent to that part of the divine Nature which is turned to men. The latter symbol will then be substantially parallel with 'the Name.' But there are traces of a tendency to conceive of 'the arm of the Lord' as personified, for instance, where we read (ch. lxiii.12) that Jehovah 'caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses.' Moses was not the true leader, but was himself led and sustained by the divine Power, dimly conceived as a person, ever by his side to sustain and direct. There seems to be a similar imperfect consciousness of personification in the words of the text, especially when taken in their close connection with the immediately following prophecy of the suffering servant. It would be doing violence to the gradual development of Revelation, like tearing asunder the just-opening petals of a rose, to read into this question of the sad prophet full-blown Christian truth, but it would be missing a clear anticipation of that truth to fail to recognise the forecasting of it that is here.

I. We have here a prophetic forecast that the arm of the Lord is a person.

The strict monotheism of the Old Testament does not preclude some very remarkable phenomena in its modes of conception and speech as to the divine Nature. We hear of the 'angel of His face,' and again of 'the angel in whom is His Name.' We hear of 'the angel' to whom divine worship is addressed and who speaks, as we may say, in a divine dialect and does divine acts. We meet, too, with the personification of Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs, to which are ascribed characteristics and are attributed acts scarcely distinguishable from divine, and eminently associated in the creative work. Our text points in the same direction as these representations. They all tend in the direction of preparing for the full Christian truth of the personal 'Power of God.' What was shown by glimpses 'at sundry times and in divers manners,' with many gaps in the showing and much left all unshown, is perfectly revealed in the Son. The New Testament, by its teaching as to 'the Eternal Word,' endorses, clears, and expands all these earlier dimmer adumbrations. That Word is the agent of the divine energy, and the conception of power as being exercised by the Word is even loftier than that of it as put forth by 'the arm,' by as much as intelligent and intelligible utterance is more spiritual and higher than force of muscle. The apostolic designation of Jesus as 'the power of God and the wisdom of God' blends the two ideas of these two symbols. The conception of Jesus Christ as the arm of the Lord, when united with that of the Eternal Word, points to a threefold sphere and manner of His operations, as the personal manifestation of the active power of God. In the beginning, the arm of the Lord stretched out the heavens as a tent to dwell in, and without Him 'was not anything made that was made.' In His Incarnation, He carried into execution all God's purposes and fulfilled His whole will. From His throne He wields divine power, and rules the universe. 'The help that is done on earth, He doeth it all Himself,' and He works in the midst of humanity that redeeming work which none but He can effect.2

The relevance of this to the present subject is that the Arm of the Lord in the immediately preceding chapter of Isaiah is said to have been the one who went forth in times of old and delivered Israel from Egypt:

Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over? (Isaiah 51:9-10; cf. Psalm 89:10)

And several chapters later the Arm of the LORD is identified as the person of the Godhead who regularly comes in a visible form, often designated the Mal’ak Yahweh or the Angel/Messenger of the LORD, as in the following passage where the redemption from Egypt is said to have been accomplished by God’s Arm – the very Angel of His presence who appeared to the patriarchs before Moses and to the prophets after Him:

Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press? “I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; so MY OWN ARM brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me. I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has granted them according to His compassion and according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses. For He said, “Surely, they are My people, sons who will not deal falsely.” So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them. Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them, Who caused HIS GLORIOUS ARM to go at the right hand of Moses, Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name, Who led them through the depths? Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble; As the cattle which go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So You led Your people, To make for Yourself a glorious name. (Isaiah 63:1-14)

And it is this very Arm of the Lord that God through the prophet declared would accomplish the true and perfect redemption of Yahweh’s people in the future:

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so HIS OWN arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due. From the west, people will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along.

The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD.

“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 59:1-21)

And just like Moses (and Miriam) sang a song in celebration of God’s deliverance from Egypt, which Yahweh accomplished by his glorious Arm,

Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said,

“I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him. The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; and the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deeps cover them; they went down into the depths like a stone. YOUR RIGHT HAND, O LORD, is majestic in power, YOUR RIGHT HAND, O LORD, shatters the enemy. And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff. At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up, the flowing waters stood up like a heap; the deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be gratified against them; I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them.’ You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders? You stretched out Your right hand, the earth swallowed them. In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; in Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation. The peoples have heard, they tremble; anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; the leaders of Moab, trembling grips them; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them; by the greatness of YOUR ARM they are motionless as stone; until Your people pass over, O LORD, until the people pass over whom You have purchased. You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. The LORD shall reign forever and ever. For the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea on them, but the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.”

Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. Miriam answered them,

“Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.” (Exodus 15:1-21)

so the greater salvation, the greater Exodus to be accomplished by the Arm of the Lord in the future, would put a new song in the mouths of God’s people, as the following prophecy foretells in proleptic fashion:

O sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. The LORD has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout joyfully before the King, the LORD. Let the sea roar and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity. (Psalm 98:1-9)

Just such a new song was sung at the redemption wrought by Christ, the Redeemer, God’s glorious Arm, as the apostle John described in the Apocalypse in words brimming with allusions to the aforementioned passages:

I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:1-14)

No one was found worthy to take the scroll in heaven or on earth. That is, no one but Jesus, who, having gone forth once again from His pavilion as in days of old, and like a champion rejoicing to run His course, as the arm of the Lord working salvation for Him, was found worthy to take the scroll and break it’s seals and unleash God’s judgments, and by His redemptive work He put a new song in the mouths of the redeemed.

Accordingly, later in the book of Revelation, Jesus is the one who treads the winepress of God’s wrath (Revelation 14:14-20) and whose garments are stained with blood (Revelation 19:11-20), just like it was said of the Arm of the Lord in Isaiah 63:1-14.

--Excursus Ended—

A number of Christ’s “goings forth” are explicitly mentioned in the New Testament. In fact, the two passages addressed immediately below are of particular relevance to the above excursus since they identify Jesus as the one who redeemed and delivered Israel from Egypt and who accompanied and sustained (and even judged) them in the wilderness, something carried out by the theophanic, Name-bearing Angel (q.v. Exodus 3:1-14; 23:20-22; and Judges 2:1) or the Arm of the Lord (Exodus 15:1-21; Isaiah 63:1-14):

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. (Hebrews 11:23-27)

On this passage, Arthur Pink was surely right when he said:

What is meant here by “the reproach of Christ”? The Savior was not born till many centuries later; true, but those whom the Father gave to Him before the foundation of the world, were, from Abel onwards, well acquainted with Him: see John 8:56. Christ had a being before He was born of the virgin: we read of Israel “tempting Christ” in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:9). From the beginning, Christ was Head of the Church, and in His own person led His own people, and was present in their midst, under the name of “the Angel of the Covenant.” Let the interested reader carefully ponder the terms of Ex. 23:20-22, and it should be plain that no created “angel” is there in view. Thus, whatever that people suffered, it was the reproach “of Christ,” who had taken them under His protection.3 (Emphasis original)

The other of the two passages has Paul addressing the Christians in Corinth thusly:

For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. (1 Corinthians 10:1-10, ESV)

The great nineteenth century commentator Frederic Louis Godet insightfully remarked:

… ver[se] 9 represents the Christ in the wilderness acting as the representative of Jehovah, from the midst of the cloud! Is it not perfectly simple to explain this figure of which Paul makes use, by the numerous sayings of Deuteronomy, in which the Lord is called the Rock of Israel: “The Rock, His work is perfect” (xxxii. 4); “Israel lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation” (ver. 15); “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful” (ver. 18), etc., and by all those similar ones of Isaiah: “Thou hast not been mindful of the Rock of thy strength” (xvii. 10); “in the Lord is the Rock of ages” (xxvi. 4)? Only, what is special in the passage of Paul is, that this title of Rock of Israel, during the wilderness history, is ascribed here, not to Jehovah, but to the Christ. The passage forms an analogy to the words of John xii. 41, where the apostle applies to Jesus the vision in which Isaiah beholds Adonai, the Lord, in the temple of His glory (ch. vi). Christ is represented in these passages, by Paul and John, as pre-existent before His coming to the earth, and presiding over the theocratic history. In ch. viii. ver. 6, Paul had designated Christ as the Being by whom God created all things. Here he represents Him as the Divine Being who accompanied God’s people in the cloud through the wilderness, and who gave them the deliverances which they needed. We have the same view here as appears in the angel of the Lord, so often identified in Genesis with the Lord Himself, and yet distinct from Him, in the Being who is called in Isaiah the angel of His presence (lxiii. 9), and in Malachi the angel of the covenant, Adonai (iii. 1), the Mediator between God and the world, specially with a view to the work of salvation. It is easy to understand the relation there is between the mention of this great theocratic fact and the idea which the apostle wishes to express in our passage. The spiritual homogeneity of the two covenants [i.e. the Old and the New – AR], and of the gifts accompanying them, rests on this identity of the Divine head of both.4

In addition to the above verses that speak of Jesus going forth at the time of the Exodus and accompanying Israel in the wilderness, there are other passages that speak of Jesus going forth in times of old. For example, in John 8:56-58, which we already saw taught the eternality of Christ, we also learn that Jesus went forth and was known to Abraham, the father of the faithful.

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:56-58)

Not only does the New Testament identify Jesus as someone known to Old Testament saints, even to the patriarch Abraham who saw the theophany of Yahweh in Genesis 18, a fact that we will return to as it is of special relevance, but also, as in the passage just quoted, it does so in the process of revealing Jesus’ identity as Yahweh, the great “I Am” who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. This consideration alone makes it possible that the two persons called Yahweh in Genesis 19 are the Father and the Son, for who could gainsay that the Father5 can also properly be called Yahweh as Jesus indicates concerning Himself in John 8?6

THIRD, no man has seen God (the Father) at any time, only the Lord Jesus Christ, the unique one, who is also God, has been seen, and He has revealed the Father (John 1:18, 14:1ff). Because Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature (Hebrews 1:3), He alone is capable of fully revealing the Father (Matthew 11:27; John 14:8-11). This means that when God appeared to people of old on earth, even though the Father was truly known in and through such events, it was not the Father but the Son who caused Himself to be seen and heard in a way suitable to finite creatures. Such temporary manifestations of God in the form of a man all prefigured the incarnation of the Son; they anticipated the fullness of the time when God the Word would take flesh and permanently dwell or tabernacle among men (John 1:1-14). This is why the New Testament identifies other theophanic appearances in the Old Testament as the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, when the Old Testament says that Isaiah saw the glory of Yahweh as it is manifested to the created angels and saints in heaven, the New Testament says that it was Jesus that Isaiah in fact saw. Here is the passage as it appears in the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah:

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out 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 trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” Then 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!” He said, “Go, and tell this people:

Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.’” (Isaiah 6:1-10)

And here is what the apostle John said about this vision in relation to Jesus:

So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”

These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?” [Isaiah 53:1] For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” [Isaiah 6:10] These things Isaiah said because he saw HIS GLORY, and he spoke OF HIM. Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. (John 12:35-43)

As the reader should notice, after explaining the unbelief of some of the Jews by quoting the words of Yahweh from Isaiah 6, an occasion on which Isaiah saw Yahweh’s glory, John, clearly equating Jesus with Yahweh, said that it was in fact Jesus’ glory that was seen by Isaiah. And even more amazingly, John also connects this with Isaiah 52-53, a passage that is about the suffering servant, the arm of the LORD who would redeem God’s people.

Although it is enough that John by inspiration brings these two passages together, showing that the God of glory in Isaiah’s vision and the Suffering Servant of later chapters is one and the same person, it is of some consequence to observe that the connection is already there in the book of Isaiah. The number of verbal parallels between the two passages is one of the many indications of this.

For example, speaking of His throne vision of Yahweh, Isaiah said:

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. (6:1)

And speaking of the suffering servant, the same Isaiah said:

Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. (52:13)

And Just as the glory of Yahweh is mentioned in Isaiah 6:

The whole earth is full of His glory. (v. 3)

So Isaiah 52, particularly in its Septuagintal form which John is quoting from, speaks of the glory of the Servant, though that glory would be hidden from men:

As many shall be amazed at thee, so shall thy face be without glory from men, and thy glory shall not be honored by the sons of men. (52:14, LXX)

And, as said before, just as Yahweh told Isaiah that men would not believe His message in Isaiah 6:9-10:

He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.”

So Isaiah said that the message about the Servant would be met with incredulity in chapter 53:

Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (vv. 1-3)

It is not surprising then that the Servant is also identified by Isaiah in chapter 52-53 as the Arm of the Lord, for the Arm of the Lord is both identified as Yahweh in His own right, and He is also distinguished from Yahweh, just as John says that Jesus is God in His own right, and also distinct from God. No wonder when the Lord speaks in Isaiah 6, he speaks in the plural:

“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” (v. 8)

There are many other parallels between these two passages. In any event, it is clear from John 12 that the apostle interpreted Isaiah’s vision in chapter 6 as a vision of Christ, and thus identified Jesus as Yahweh.

Of additional interest, even as the ancient Aramaic Targums identify the Divine Word as the agent of Sodom’s destruction, the very person called Yahweh who rained down the fire from Yahweh in heaven according to the Hebrew text of Genesis 18-19, so likewise the Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel to the Prophets identifies the subject of Isaiah’s vision as the Divine Word:

In the year in which King Uzziah was smitten with the leprosy the prophet said, I saw the glory of the Lord sitting upon His throne, high, and lifted up unto the highest heavens, and the temple was filled with the brightness of His glory.

Holy ministers on high stood before Him: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, that it should not see; and with twain he covered his body, that it should not be seen; and with twain he was ministering.

And one cried unto another, and they were saying, Holy in the highest and exalted heavens is the house of His Shekinah, holy upon the earth is His might, holy forever, world without end, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of the brightness of His glory.

And the posts of the threshold of the temple moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house of the sanctuary was filled with cloudy darkness.

Then said I, Woe is me, for I have sinned, for I am a guilty man to reprove, and I dwell in the midst of a people polluted with sin: for mine eyes have seen the glory of the Shekinah of the King of the worlds, the Lord of hosts.

Then flew one of the ministers unto me, and in his mouth was a word, which he received from the Shekinah of Him who sat upon the throne of glory in the highest heavens, above the altar.

And he placed it in my mouth, and said, Behold, I have put the words of my prophecies in thy mouth, and thy iniquities are put away, and thy sins are expiated.

And I heard the voice of the Word of the Lord, which said, Whom shall I send to prophecy? And who will go to teach? Then said I, here am I, send me.

And He said, Go, and tell this people, who are diligently hearing, but understand not, and see diligently, but know not.

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and darken their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and repent, and it shall be forgiven them.

In short, it was the Word of God whose glory was seen by Isaiah. This fits in perfectly with John’s prologue, where John says the Word became flesh and His glory was seen (to those who had eyes to see it, of course), and John 12 where John said Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and spoke of Him.

That Jesus was the subject of divine theopanies throughout the Old Testament accounts for the total absence of any theophanies in the Gospel histories, for at that time God the Word, the Lord Jesus, walked among men, even as He walked with Adam and Eve in paradise at the beginning (Genesis 3:8) and will do forever in the consummated New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21-22).

In words appropriate to the main point being made here, i.e. that Jesus is the subject of the Old Testament theophanies or “goings forth”, Edward Bickersteth said in his classic work on the Trinity:

(2) For the appearances of Jehovah to the Old Testament saints, taken in connection with the assertion to Moses, “Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live,” and with the parallel declaration of the New Testament, “No man (or no one, oudeis,) hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,” indicate that he, who thus manifested himself, was the Lord Jesus….

Now Jacob says, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved,” and this after wrestling all night long in tangible conflict with One now called a man, now the angel, now God, now the Lord God of hosts. The elders saw the God of Israel. Unto Moses, the Lord spake face to face, as a man speaketh with his friend. Joshua conversed with the adorable captain of Jehovah’s host. Manoah feared, saying, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” Isaiah cried, “Woe is me! For I am undone; ... for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Of the message then recorded, we are expressly told – “These things said Esaias, when he saw his (Christ’s) glory, and spake of him.”

These are only selected passages. There are many others (compare Genesis xviii. 1, 2, with 17: Gen. xxxi. 11, with 13; Gen. xlviii. 15, with 16: Exod. iii. 2, with 4, 6: Exod. xiii. 21, with xiv. 19: Judges vi. 12, with 14, 22 with 23) in which the one who appears under the form of an angel or a man, is, in the immediate context, declared to be God, or Jehovah. Who, I ask, was this mysterious being? The Angel, or Sent One: he whom the Lord calls “my presence;” the visible similitude of Jehovah: an Angel of whom the Lord says, “Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him”? This one could not be distinctively the Father, for no man hath seen him at any time, or can see him and live. But he who appeared is declared to be Jehovah and God. Are we not compelled to acknowledge that he was the Divine Word, the Son, the brightness of his Father’s glory, the express image of his person? Therefore the Word is Jehovah God.7

And how marvelously all of this ties in with and helps to explain Genesis 18-19 where Yahweh on earth, the Word, the Angel of the Lord, appears to Abraham and brings down the fire from Yahweh in heaven.

FOURTH – although some of this has already been anticipated in the discussion of the immediately preceding point where the intention was to show that Jesus was active in the Old Testament period and the subject of divine theophanies, it is a point all its own, one that deserves therefore to be mentioned separately and further amplified, that the New Testament identifies Jesus by all of the names and titles associated with Yahweh in his appearance to Abraham and at the destruction of Sodom, titles that we have seen from the Old Testament, such as the Angel of the Lord, which I argued in Part I is the distinguishing title of the person called Yahweh on earth, and also from Intertestamental and ancient Jewish literature, such as the Word of God and the Wisdom of God, titles that these literatures use as circumlocutions for the second Yahweh or Angel of the Lord when relating the events of Genesis 18-19 (and other passages where God appears in human form), as I argued in Part II.

The Angel of the Lord

To begin with, the New Testament identifies Jesus as the Angel of the Lord. One of the ways this may be seen is by observing how the Gospel of Matthew takes a passage about the Angel, who is also called “the Lord” and the one to whom the temple belongs,

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before ME. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to HIS temple; and the messenger of the covenant [Lit: mal’ak habberith; the Angel of the Covenant], in whom you delight, behold, HE is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

and applies it to Jesus, for whom John the Baptist came as a forerunner:

As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,


Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:7-15)

The same thing can be seen in the Gospel of Mark, where the author combines Malachi 3:1 with Isaiah 40:3, since both relate to the Messenger of the Covenant and the one who would come before Him and prepare His way:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:


John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. (Mark 1:1-14)

Of further interest, in the Septuagint (LXX), a pre-Christian Jewish translation of the Old Testament, it substitutes the title “the Angel of the Covenant” found in Malachi 3:1 for the title “the Angel of the Lord” that appears in the Hebrew text of Genesis 16, showing a recognition on the part of pre-Christian Jews of the equivalence between the one who appeared to Hagar and the one who was going to suddenly come to His temple according to Malachi 3:1.

In all of this it must be remembered that the word angel does not mean a heavenly creature but someone who is sent or who brings a message, though it may of course be used for them even as it can be used for human messengers, as may most easily be seen from the above, where the forerunner of “the Angel of the Covenant” is also called an “angel” or messenger in both the original prophecy found in Malachi 3:1 and the New Testament passages that record its fulfillment. It is the context, then, that determines what kind of being has been sent and is functioning as a messenger. This may be further seen from the fact that the New Testament (just like the Older Testament) identifies the Angel of the Lord who appeared in flames of fire to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as we see in the words of Stephen, the first martyr of the Church:

And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And I trembled and dared not look. ‘Then the LORD said to him, ‘Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’ This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. (Acts 7:30-35)

F. F. Bruce comments on Acts 7:

Angelos] This is the angelos kuriou …, God’s special representative in his dealings with humanity, called in Heb. Mal’ak yhwh (or mal’ak panayw, “the angel of his face [presence],” e.g. Isa. 63:9); cf. vv. 35, 38, and 43 below. In Ex. 3 the one who speaks to Moses is variously called angelos kuriou, o kurios, and o theos. So here the angel speaks with the voice of the Lord (v. 31), claims to be God (v. 32), and is called kurios (v. 33).8

And that this is agreeable to the fact that Jesus is not an angel in the sense of a created being but in the sense of one sent by the Father as His messenger and to be the minister of our salvation, Calvin rightly said:

It is first demanded who this angel was? And, secondly, why he appeared in such a form? For after that Luke had called him an angel, he bringeth him in immediately speaking thus: I am the God of Abraham, etc. Some answer, As God doth sometimes attribute and impart unto his ministers those things which are most proper to himself, so it is no absurd or inconvenient thing, if they have his name given them; but seeing this angel affirmeth manifestly that he is the eternal God, who alone is, and in whom all things have their being, we must needs restrain this title unto the essence of God; for it can by no means agree to the angels. It might be said more fitly, that because the angel speaketh in the name of the Lord, he taketh upon him his person, as if he declared his commandments word for word, as out of the mouth of God, which manner of speaking is usual in the prophets; but when Luke shall say afterwards, that this was the same angel through whose assistance and guiding Moses delivered the people: and Paul, in the 10th chapter of the First to the Corinthians, (1Co 10:4) doth affirm that Christ was that guide, there is no cause why we should now wonder that the angel taketh to himself that which is proper to God alone.

Therefore, let us, first of all, set down this for a surety, that there was never since the beginning any communication between God and men, save only by Christ; for we have nothing to do with God, unless the Mediator be present to purchase his favor for us. Therefore, this place doth plentifully prove the divinity of Christ, and teacheth that he is of the same essence with the Father. Furthermore, he is called an angel, not only because he had the angels always to bear him company, and to be, as it were, his apparitors: but because that deliverance of the people did shadow the redemption of us all, for whose sake Christ was to be sent of his Father, that he might take upon him the shape of a servant together with our flesh. It is certain, indeed, that God did never appear unto men as he is, but under some shape agreeable to their capacity; notwithstanding, there is another reason why Christ is called by this name, because he being appointed by the eternal counsel of God to be unto men the minister of salvation, doth appear unto Moses to this end. Neither is that contrary to this doctrine, which is written in the 2nd chapter to the Hebrews, (Heb 2:16) that Christ never took the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham; for although he took upon him the shape of an angel for a time, yet did he never take the nature of angels, as we know that he was made very man.9 (Emphasis mine)

The Word of God

That Jesus is the Divine Word according to the New Testament is scarcely doubted or challenged by anyone, and for good reason: the following passages can hardly be clearer:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being…. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3, 14)

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3)

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

While John’s identification of Jesus as the Divine Word is virtually universally acknowledged, what isn’t well understood regarding this point is the relationship of the prologue to the main body or the narrative portion of John’s Gospel, for in the former John introduces this title and in the latter John never mentions it in reference to Jesus. When one understands the Targumic background to this phrase, such as we saw above in the discussion of Isaiah 6 when compared to passages like John 12, and there are many more instances besides, it is painfully obvious that John is identifying Jesus as the Divine Word even in the narrative though he does not employ that phraseology again. What Jesus says and does in the narrative is exactly what the Word says and does throughout the Aramaic Targums of the Old Testament. It should be remembered as well that the Targums are not creating this idea out of whole cloth, for it is anchored in Old Testament appearances of the fully Divine Message-Bearer, the Angel of Yahweh, and other passages that speak of God’s Word appearing to people or that personify God’s Word in special ways.

The Wisdom of God

Another title we saw was associated by ancient Jews with the second Yahweh in the Old Testament is that of Wisdom, a title picked up in the New Testament and associated with Jesus.

The apostle Paul refers to Jesus as “the Power of God and the Wisdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:24, and again in verse 30 he refers to Jesus as “Wisdom from God, and Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption.” Of further relevance, in Colossians 2:1-3 the same apostle said:

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The complementary way the following two passages relate what Jesus taught show Jesus equating Himself with the Wisdom of God:

Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (Matthew 23:34-36)

For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’ (Luke 11:49-51)

(See also Matthew 11:15.)

If the connections of these titles with Yahweh in the Old Testament and ancient Jewish literature are correct, as I have argued in parts I and II that they are, then all of these points show that it is not only possible or even just likely but altogether certain that Jesus, according to the New Testament, was the one who appeared to Abraham with His angels in Genesis 18 and went down to Sodom and destroyed it with fire in Genesis 19.

FIFTH – and finally, the NT identifies Jesus as Yahweh:

Again, this is something we have seen above in various ways, for in the nature of the case all of these things tie together, but it is important to bring out that the exalted title of Yahweh, the one explicitly mentioned in the Hebrew text of Genesis 18-19, is in fact used of Jesus.

The evidence that Jesus is called or identified as Yahweh is exceedingly vast, so the following will be confined to one rich line of evidence for this: Old Testament Yahweh passages applied to Jesus in the New Testament.

One Old Testament Yahweh passage applied to Jesus in the New Testament is found in John 1:

This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” He said,


Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:19-34)

In the above passage, John the Baptist, identifying Himself as the forerunner of the Messiah, does so in terms of a prophecy found in Isaiah 40, where the forerunner is said to prepare the way for the coming of “the Lord”, which is Yahweh in Hebrew.

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." (40:3-5)

In the book of Hebrews, a passage about Yahweh in its original setting is interpreted of the Son. In fact, according to the author of Hebrews, the following passage, which appears in a litany of Old Testament quotations that bespeak Christ’s deity, is said to have been spoken by the Father about/to the Son:

But of the Son He says, … “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle you will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not come to an end.” (Hebrews 1:8, 10)

This quotation comes from Psalm 102, and the word for “Lord” in the original Hebrew is Yahweh.

In Paul’s epistle to the Philippians, we read:

so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10)

This is obviously an allusion to what Yahweh said about Himself in Isaiah 45:

Gather yourselves and come; draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; they have no knowledge, who carry about their wooden idol and pray to a god who cannot save. Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that TO ME EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, EVERY TONGUE WILL SWEAR ALLEGIANCE. They will say of Me, ‘Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.’ Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. In the LORD all the offspring of Israel will be justified and will glory.” (Isaiah 45:20-25)

In Romans 10 the apostle Paul wrote:

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (Romans 10:9-13)

In the context “the Lord” whose name is called upon for salvation is Jesus, and the word for “Lord” in the Old Testament quotation is Yahweh.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2:32)

With evidence as full and unimpeachable as everything that has gone before, and even this does not exhaust the evidence that could be given, it is surely not surprising that some scholars have been constrained to agree that the New Testament does in fact identify Jesus in terms of the second person called Yahweh in the Old Testament.

Although not without definite problems in her overall thesis (e.g. the bifurcation between Elyon and Yahweh), the assumptions that drive it (e.g. suppression of first temple beliefs by the “Deuteronomists”), or the modes of expression she employs to communicate it (e.g. “second God”), scholar Margaret Barker, a member and one time president of the Society for Old Testament Study, is but one of a number of representatives of the fact that ancient Jews recognized the existence of a second divine person, and that the New Testament clearly presents Jesus along these lines:

Paul, who had been most zealous for the traditions of his people, was able to quote Old Testament Yahweh texts to describe Jesus: ‘Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord’ (Rom. 10.13) was originally said of Yahweh (Joel 2.32). ‘Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin’ (Rom. 4.8) was originally said of Yahweh (Ps. 32.2). ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives’ (Eph. 4.8) was originally a description of Yahweh’s appearing in his holy place and then ‘returning to heaven’ (Ps. 68.18), and the allusion in Phil. 2.10, as we have seen, was originally to Yahweh. Equally unambiguous are the other titles and roles of Jesus in the epistles traditionally ascribed to Paul: he is the power and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1.24); he sits at the right hand (Eph. 1.21); he has a ‘Day’ (1 Cor. 1.8; 5.5; Phil. 1.6); he is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, he holds all things together and is the mystery now manifest (Col. 1.15-20); he is to be revealed from heaven with mighty angels to bring judgement (2 Thess. 1.7); he would kill the Lawless One with the breath of his mouth (2 Thess. 2.8; originally said of the Messiah, Isa. 11.4, but then of the Man from the sea, the son of Elyon, 2 Esd. 13.10 and 32); he is the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2.5); he is the bridegroom of the Church (Eph. 5.21-33; cf. John 3.29 and 2 Cor. 11.2), just as Yahweh had been the ‘husband’ of his people (Isa. 54.5; Hos. 2.20). All these were the roles and titles of the second God [in the Old Testament and pre-Christian Judaism]…

Paul also knew that Christ had been present in the events of the Old Testament. The clearest example of this is 1 Cor. 10.1-11, where he describes the desert wanderings of Israel and says that the rock was Christ. In the Song of Moses the Rock is one of the names of Yahweh (Deut. 32.4, 31). Similarly Moses had seen the glory of Yahweh and had himself been transformed by it such that he had to wear a veil; Christians had also seen the glory of the Lord which was transforming them into his likeness (2 Cor. 3.12-18). And then it was the Lord to whom Isaiah spoke: ‘Yahweh, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ (Isa. 53.1) and Yahweh who said: ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me’ (Isa. 65.1). Paul uses these and many other quotations in Rom. 10 to show how it was that Israel’s rejection of Yahweh in former times had been repeated in their rejection of Jesus.

The Epistle to the Hebrews gives another vivid picture of Jesus as the second God, and, although dwelling mainly on his role as the high priest, it reveals most of his other aspects too. He was the agent of creation (1.2, 1.10), the Son (1.2; 1.5) and the royal figure (1.5 quotes two royal texts, Ps. 2.7 and 2 Sam. 7.14). He was enthroned on high (1.3) and was greater than the angels. The writer demonstrates this in two ways; first, he receives the homage of the angels, and second, he commands the angels as his servants (1.6-7). The first text quoted is the Greek of Deut. 32.43, which, in its original context, described Yahweh the warrior priest coming to his people. The second is Ps. 104.4, which described the power of Yahweh the creator, riding on the chariot throne attended by the heavenly hosts. For the writer of this epistle these texts described Jesus, and no amount of ingenuity can avoid the conclusion that for him, Jesus was Yahweh…

Finally, there are passages in Hebrews where Christ is regarded as present in the Old Testament. Moses, we are told, ‘considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt’ (11.26)….

The Gospels also depicted Jesus as the second God…

Clearest of all are the Son of man sayings [in the Synoptic Gospels - AR]… Son of Man meant the manifested second God, the Man, as well as being simply a way of referring to oneself. Doubtless the Son of Man traditions grew and became more refined as the Christian community developed, but the nuances of this process need not concern us. What is important is that the development was in a particular way, not limited simply to an expansion of the vision of Dan. 7, but all within what was known to be the roles and functions of the second God.

… the coming of the Son of Man with his angels resembles closely the coming of Yahweh for the judgement as described in Deut. 33.2, Zech. 14.5, and Hab. 3. It occurs also in 1 Enoch 1.9 where the Great Holy One, i.e. the Great Angel, comes forth for the judgment….

The Fourth Gospel does not use the same Son of Man sayings as the synoptics, but the Son of Man is recognizably the same figure, suggesting that there was a great deal more to this Son of Man tradition than a simple growth on the vision of Dan. 7. John’s Son of Man comes from heaven (John 3.13) and will return there (John 6.62). He is the vicegerent (John 5:25-7) and the angels of God will descend on him as they did on Yahweh when he appeared to Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 28.12-13…). The total picture of Jesus in this Gospel is consistent with his being presented as the second God. He was the Word who became flesh and tabernacled on earth such that people could see the Glory. Thus his body was the Temple (2.21) and he was the visible God, the revealer of the Father…. The second God had come from heaven (3.13; 6:38; 8.23) where he had been in the Father’s bosom (1.18). He alone had seen the Father (6.46); the Jews had never heard his voice nor seen his orm (5.37; cf. 1.18). The one manifested in their Scriptures had been the second God: ‘They bear witness to me’ (5.39); ‘If you believed Moses you would believe me, for he wrote of me’ (5.46). He it was whom Abraham had known (8.56-58), perhaps when he saw Yahweh at Mamre (Gen. 18), and whom Isaiah had seen enthroned in the temple (12.41).10

Concluding Summary

To summarize what we have seen from these five points, and also from the remarks that preceded them, whereas the OT says that Yahweh appeared to Abraham, Jesus is identified in the New Testament as Yahweh. While various lines of evidence from the OT text further indicate that the particular person who characteristically appeared on earth and who was identified as Yahweh is the theophanic Angel of the Lord, a title by which He is distinguished from the person who regularly remained in heaven and who is also identified as Yahweh, the NT identifies Jesus as the Angel of the Lord. When the Targums use the circumlocution “the Word of the Lord” to refer to the second Yahweh who appeared to Abraham and who is distinguished from another person called Yahweh in heaven, the NT identifies Jesus as the Divine Word who is distinct from God the Father. When the Intertestamental Jewish literature identifies the agent of Sodom’s destruction as God’s Divine Wisdom, the New Testament identifies Jesus as God’s very Wisdom. Furthermore, when it is observed that Jesus, insofar as He is Yahweh, the theophanic Angel, the Divine Word and God’s Wisdom, eternally preexisted His conception and birth, that He was active in the Old Testament period, that He was known to the likes of the patriarch Abraham, to the prophet Moses, to the people of Israel whom He rescued from Egypt, and to the prophet Isaiah, and that in a myriad of ways the New Testament casts Jesus in the same role and shows Him exercising the same divine functions and wielding the same prerogatives as the “earthly” Yahweh in the Old Testament, it may confidently be said that when it comes to identifying the person called Yahweh who appeared in Genesis 18-19 from a New Testament vantage point, all signs point to Jesus.

And for all of that there are more signs besides.

Continue to Part IV.



1 Robert Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The Old Testament Witness (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 1990), p. 61.

2 Alexander McLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, Isaiah 53:1

3 Arthur Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, [1954], 1989), p. 801

4 Frederic Louis Godet, Commentary on First Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1977), p. 485-486

5 New Age feminists and Muslims are among the exceptions to this rule: feminists for obvious reasons; and Muslims because their Qur’an knows nothing of the Father of God, their “god” being different than “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

6 The irony here should be underscored: whereas many people debate the propriety of identifying Jesus as Yahweh or the Great “I Am” who spoke to Moses, no one debates the legitimacy of calling the Father Yahweh or the Great “I Am”. However, and here is the irony, Jesus explicitly invokes the words spoken by Yahweh to Moses in application to Himself, but nowhere does the text of Scripture explicitly say that the Father speaks this way, even though His identity as Yahweh is a truth that is easily and soundly inferred from overwhelming Biblical data. In other words: it is an inference that the Father is the “I Am”, but it is explicit that Jesus is the “I Am”. Whence, then, the debate about Jesus?

7 Edward Bickersteth, The Trinity (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1994), first published as The Rock of Ages, or Three Persons But One God, p. 53-54.

8 F. F. Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, [1951], 1990), p. 200

9 Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. By John King, [1847-50], online source)

10 Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel’s Second God (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992), p. 222-223, 225, 226, 227-228.

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