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The Divinity of Christ, part 20

Theophanies and Back to the Algebraic Axiom

In a theologically related topic to the deity of Christ are the many theophanies found in the Old Testament.

Let us now look at two examples of what theologians call a theophany. It is from two Greek words which mean God manifest.”

Although the word could apply to false pagan gods, for Christians a theophany is a manifestation of God that is perceivable to our senses. It is often, but not exclusively, a visible presence of God in human form in the Old Testament period.

Some Bible scholars contend that whenever someone received a visit from the angel of the Lord,” that this is a theophany; and that it sometimes was in fact the pre-incarnate Christ! And most scholars also admit that theophanies are a debatable question.

In my Bible reading a few days ago, Exodus 23:20, 21 jumped out at me. We are not being dogmatic that it is the pre-incarnate Christ, but be open to consider it as a theophany as we all grow in our biblical understanding.

Exodus 23:20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.

21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.

This is God instructing Moses as the children of Israel have recently left Egypt in the exodus and are receiving the ten commandments (and other details of divine law) at Mt. Sinai.

Obviously, we immediately think of how the pillar of a cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night led the multitude of Israelites for all the years of their wilderness wanderings.

But was this Angel” more than the pillars?” Notice in verse 21, that God refers to the Angel” as him.” If the Angel” were merely the manifestation as a pillar,” would not God have referred to those pillars as it?”

But five times in verse 21, the Angel” is referred to as a person: he, him, his. Was this the pre-incarnate Christ? To add further substance, consider that the Israelites were admonished to obey his, the Angel’s, voice. (If you love me, keep/obey my commandments—Yahweh and Jesus both said it—remember that from a previous lesson in this series?)

…for he will not pardon your transgressions:…” Who has the power to forgive us our sins/transgressions? Remember how Jesus angered the hateful Jews when He claimed the power to forgive sins? Because those Jews said, only God as the power to forgive sins.

Finally, there is that last peculiar phrase: …for my name is in him.” God’s name is in the Angel? Oh, indeed it is! We will get to that in a moment, but first one more example of a theophany.

Joshua 5:13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?

14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD [Yahweh] am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?

15 And the captain of the LORD’S [Yahweh’s] host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

In this event, Joshua prostrated himself on the ground and worshiped this being. Was it a theophany? A manifestation of God?

We think so, because again, we have shown this type of event previously in these studies, where someone worshiped Jesus and Jesus did not rebuke them. In contrast, there is this scene at the end of the Bible where an angel rebuked John for misplaced worship.

Revelation 22:8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

Now, returning to that peculiar phrase spoken concerning the Angel of the LORD [Yahweh], …for my name is in him,” here are four additional powerful—and dare we say—incontrovertible witnesses to the same truth that Jesus IS God.

This first passage is another one of those proofs that, just by itself, should be a clincher for anyone, unless they are intellectually dishonest and deny the plain meanings of the words.

Exodus 15:2 The LORD [Yahweh] is my strength and song, and he [Yahweh] is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

We will parse this verse, and then as we examine the other three witnesses, the parsing will not be necessary. So, in this verse, we notice first that LORD is in all caps; therefore, it should read:

Yahweh is my strength and song, …” And let’s put the noun back in place of the pronoun in the next phrase, so instead of saying, …and he,” we will say:

Yahweh is my strength and song, and Yahweh is become/has become my salvation: he is my God,” etc.

Alright, the average Bible reader at this point will notice nothing unusual. No great revelation there. All it says is that Yahweh is my God. We know that! Ah, but do you know what the Hebrew word is which is translated salvation?”

It is the word Yahshua (variant spelling: Yeshua)! It is the Savior’s name! In the Hebrew, it is a play-on-words in which the word, Yahshua, means both salvation” and it is the name of the Messiah. So what it is really saying is …

Yahweh is my strength and song, and Yahweh has become Yahshua: he is my God,” etc. Isn’t that what happened when Mary gave birth in Bethlehem? God became Jesus!! Jesus is God manifested in the flesh!

Look now to Psalm 118. The Bible says that at the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every matter be established. It would be significant, and give us some idea of the importance of the doctrine of the deity of Christ, if we have four witnesses to this fact.

Psalm 118:14 The LORD [Yahweh] is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

We don’t need to parse these words because they say the same thing: God has become Jesus. In this same psalm, we find it repeated in verse 21.

Psalm 118:21 I will praise thee [Yahweh]: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation [Yahshua/Jesus].

When we turn to Isaiah 12, we find it one more time. Moreover, in this verse we will find it twice, a double witness within this one verse alone.

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation [Yahshua]; [or we could say God is Jesus,” or Jesus is God.”] I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH…

We will pause here to note that the LORD JEHOVAH is a peculiar construction which is not found very often in the Scriptures. Notice that it has lord” in all caps, and then the word Jehovah” following that, also in all capital letters.

Jehovah” is a corruption of the name Yahweh” combined with Adonai,” which means lord.” We won’t get into that any deeper, but what it is actually giving in this verse is a repetition of the holy name; first the shortened form, Yah, followed by the full name, Yahweh. So it reads (picking it up at the beginning):

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation [Yahshua]; [or we could say God is Jesus,” or Jesus is God.”] I will trust, and not be afraid:

for the LORD JEHOVAH… [That is to say:] For Yah-Yahweh is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation [Yahshua].

Or to put it very clearly: Yah, even Yahweh,…has become Jesus.” This is not difficult to understand. Once we learn that the Hebrew word for salvation” is yahshua,” then the double meaning of the verse is crystal clear, isn’t it?

Yahweh has become Jesus; God has become Jesus; the Father has become the Son; Yahweh has manifested as Jesus; or, if A = B, the B = A. Jesus…IS…God!

In the next and grand finale to this series, we will conclude with an astounding proof of why Jesus has to be God, or our faith is in vain, meaningless, and therefore powerless to save us into eternal life.

(To be continued.)

-END-

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