And I don’t mean metaphorically.
Okay, I know what you are thinking. “Godawa, you have gone too far. You are now officially a Nephilim Nut who has hallucinations of giants where there are none. There are no giants in the Gospels. And besides, Jesus was peaceful. He told his disciples to put away their swords. Heresy, I say! Burn!”
Well, fear not. Even though I have in fact discovered an historically documented giant over ten and a half feet tall in the approximate same time and location as Jesus (details to come in future posts of my novel Jesus Triumphant), I am not talking about the New Testament. I’m talking about the Old Testament. And that’s a different story—kind of, but not totally.
The Angel of Yahweh
A visible tangible Angel of the Lord, or more accurately, “Angel of Yahweh,” appears throughout the Old Testament in many times and places.
He met with Abraham several times (Genesis 16:7-11; 21:17; 22:1-9).
He met with Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5; 23-25).
He met with Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22).
He met with Moses (Exodus 3).
He met with Joshua (Joshua 5:13-15).
And many other prophets and people of God (1Kings 19:7; Zech 3:1).
So, who is he?
Some readers may assume “Angel of Yahweh” means an Angel from Yahweh. But it doesn’t usually. It often means “Angel, the being of Yahweh” or “Yahweh as an Angel” because it is used interchangeably with Yahweh himself (Gen 31:11-13; Exodus 3:2-6).
And actually, “Angel” means “messenger,” so, technically, the Angel of Yahweh is “Yahweh as messenger.”
The Angel of Yahweh is Yahweh
When God was explaining that he would lead Joshua in conquest of Canaan, here is what he said:
“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice…for my name is in him.”
In his new book, The Unseen Realm, scholar Michael Heiser explains that the ancient Jewish word for “The Name” of God, (ha-shem), was the equivalent of God’s own presence. The name carried the very essence of a being, much like Abraham meant “father of a multitude.” So when God says his name was “in an angel,” he was saying that that angel was his very presence.
Notice how in these passages, Yahweh and Angel of Yahweh are used interchangeably:
“For I am Yahweh who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
Now the angel of Yahweh went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers.”
There are a lot of other examples, but you get the point. The Angel of Yahweh is Yahweh’s presence amidst his people in the humanoid form of an angel.
Jesus is the Angel of Yahweh
There are plenty of theologically refined ways in which Jesus is implied as being Yahweh through the name of Yahweh being in him (John 17:6; 8:58) and the deity of the Son of Man (Dan 7:13; Matt 26:64), among others.
The most blatant example of Jesus being explicitly described as the Old Testament Angel of Yahweh is in the New Testament book of Jude.
Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
“Behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”
Now the angel of Yahweh…said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers.”
So, the Angel of Yahweh in the Old Testament is a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus as Yahweh. The texts in Exodus and Judges then show the equivalence of Jesus “saving his people out of Egypt” with the Angel of Yahweh going before Israel and bringing them up out of Egypt. But you might also notice that the Jude passage adds that Jesus “destroyed those who did not believe.” See? I didn’t make it up. Let’s take a closer look at these actions of destructive judgment taken by Jesus in the Old Testament. Continue reading