Apr 18, 2012

The Malak Yahweh

It is very clearly shown in the New Testament that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a person distinct from the person of the Father and Spirit, and who is himself God.  It has been shown how God is a united one, a composite unity, having one nature or divine essence or substance.  The three persons are "one" in every quality or attribute of divinity.  Though distinct persons, yet are they one in mind, heart, will, and understanding.  The kind of oneness that exists between the three persons of the Godhead is explained by Christ to be a composite oneness.

 Jesus prayed that believers all become "one," exactly as Jesus and his Father are "one."  (John 17)  Obviously being "one" does not mean being one person.  The oneness of believers, in their personal relations, reflects the oneness of the Trinity in their internal personal relations. 

Though more clearly seen in the New Testament, yet the distinct personhood of each member of "haElohim" is visible in the Old Testament.  In the Old Testament Christ was known as the Word and Wisdom of God.  He was also known as the "מַלְאָךְ יהוה" (mal'ak YHWH), "the messenger of Yahweh," or "the angel of the LORD", and he is mentioned 65 times and always in the singular number.

In studying the OT texts that reveal this sublime character it will be discovered how the Malak Yahweh is both seen as distinct from Yahweh and yet as Yahweh himself.  This was shown by the previous posting by Dr. Gill who proved such from Scripture.  These OT scriptures show that the Messiah would be the incarnation of the MalaK Yahweh, the "Angel of Yahweh's Presence," and the "Angel of the Covenant." 

The OT revelation about the Malak Yahweh is detrimental to the Modalist view that the Son of God is the same person as the Father.  The Malak Yahweh was God (Yahweh) but he was also a distinct person from Yahweh the Father.  Both Testaments show that the Father and Son are both God and yet distinct persons.  They are "one" but it is a united one.  The Hebrew word for "one" in the Shema ("hear O Israel, the LORD our God is one Lord") is "echad," not "yachid," and denotes a united one.  It is the same Hebrew word for "one" (echad) as used in the OT for two persons getting married and becoming "one."   

The OT Appearances of Malak Yahweh
The Angel of the Lord appears to Abraham
The Angel of the Lord appears to Jacob
The Angel of the Lord appears to Hagar
The Angel of the Lord appears to Moses
The Angel of the Lord appears to Israel
The Angel of the Lord appears to Baalim
The Angel of the Lord appears to Joshua
The Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon
The Angel of the Lord appears to Manoah and wife
The Angel of the Lord appears to Elijah
The Angel of the Lord appears to David
The Angel of the Lord appears to Zechariah

In an Internet treatise title "Jesus, the Divine Messenger of the Old Testament," by Anthony Rogers (see here), a five part series, Rogers shows clearly that the Malak Yahweh is the Logos, or Son of God, in his main pre-incarnate theophany or Christophany.  He clearly shows that the Malak Yahweh is distinct from Yahweh the Father and yet is himself Yahweh (the Son or Word).

Part One in the series concludes with these points, points which he fully proves.  I recommend all who are interested in this topic to read the entire work.

"Conclusion (Part I emphasis mine - SG)

At this point we can arrive at the following conclusions about the Angel of Yahweh:

1. The word Malak does not rule out His deity, for the word could just as well refer to a divine messenger as it can to one of the heavenly host (or even to a human messenger).

2. The phrase “the Angel of Yahweh” refers to a distinct and specific being and not to angels in general. The Angel of Yahweh exists in a class all of His own, i.e. He is unique.

3. The Angel of Yahweh spans the entire Old Testament period as seen in His appearances to Hagar, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Joshua, Gideon, Manoah, Elijah, David and Zechariah.

4. The Angel of Yahweh is the central figure of the Old Testament, not only because He is frequently mentioned, but because of the role He plays in the lives of the patriarchs and the nation of Israel.

5. The Angel of Yahweh has many exalted titles, such as “the Angel of His presence”, “the Angel of Great Counsel”, “the Angel of the Covenant”, and “Wonderful”.

6. The Angel of Yahweh on various occasions, only a modicum of which have been explicitly referred to up to this point, refers to Himself or is referred to by others as God.

7. The Angel is likely the one in view every time a theophany occurs."

"Conclusion (Part II)

The pointed testimony of Hagar, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon and other Biblical figures, along with the inspired say-so of the Biblical authors and the self-testimony of the Angel, are more than sufficient to prove that the Bible teaches the Angel’s divine identity in no uncertain terms. If they are not sufficient to this end, then one must wonder how it would be possible to communicate such an idea at all. Of course the very fact that everyone understands what the present thesis aims to prove, namely that the Angel of Yahweh is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is proof positive that people are engaging in cognitive dissonance if and when they refuse to acknowledge what the Biblical authors mean when they say the same thing."

Rogers concludes Part IIIa with a citation.

"After citing the Talmud and numerous rabbinic authorities on the fact that Yahweh is the proper name of God, and that the name applies to Him alone, M’Caul concludes thusly:

…when we combine the admissions of opponents with the plain words of Scripture, there can be no doubt of these two things, first, that the name Jehovah is the peculiar name of God; and, secondly, that God has claimed it for himself, because it has reference to that substance and essence peculiar to himself. Why, then, is it communicated to the angel of the Lord? There can be but one answer: because He partakes of that substance and essence which makes the communication of the name suitable; or, in other words, because the Angel of the Lord is very God. And this conclusion is confirmed."

In Part IIIb Rogers records:

"Objections Considered"

"In response to the above, two main objections have often been put forward by an assortment of unitarians: 1) the Malak Yahweh sometimes speaks of God in the third person and therefore cannot be God; and 2) according to the “principle of agency”, in certain situations one person can speak in the name or authority of another, i.e. a person who is sent can speak as if he is the one who sent him."

"Second, even if a distinction is intended on such occasions, as it will be shown in some passages (especially later ones) that it certainly is, in light of the Angel calling Himself God as well as being called God by others (both those within the narrative and the prophetic authors of those narratives), and speaking in the first person as well as the third person, then what we have here is evidence both for identifying the Angel as God and distinguishing Him from God, which is just to say, evidence for personal distinction within the Godhead, the very thing some people assume in advance cannot be found in the Old Testament. From the Christian perspective, neither aspect of the way the Angel speaks presents any difficulty. No theological artifice, construct or string of conjectures is necessary to make it harmonize with what the rest of the Bible teaches or Christians believe."

"As for the second objection, i.e. representatives can also speak in the first person, it also fails to present any serious challenge to the true deity of the Angel. We have already seen many significant reasons why the Angel of Yahweh cannot be reduced to the status of a non-divine representative of God, such as the fact that no mere representative would call Himself Yahweh or be called such by others, a fact that is true of the Malak Yahweh who does not shrink from making such claims and never eschews such positive attributions of deity to Himself, and He never identifies Himself to anyone as a mere representative. Furthermore, the Angel who declares Himself to be God, even Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the nation of Israel, speaks in the first person with such regularity that it is difficult to conceive of this as a normal way for a mere creature or representative to speak."


"There are many more reasons why the Angel’s declared divinity and first person speech cannot be written off on the basis of a “principle of agency”, as some call it, including, as we will see in the next installment, the fact that He is ascribed divine attributes, performs divine works, exercises divine prerogatives, as well as commands, is given, and receives divine worship, none of which can be said of a mere representative."

Rogers then concludes Part IIIb with these words - "To be continued..."   We look forward to the future installments!


Jason Brown said...

Brother Garrett,

If the Word was clearly manifested as a human before he was the son of Mary, why insist that the Word did not have a human nature from eternity?

If he only had the appearance of a man you might be opening an epistemological Pandora's box we might not want to open.

Jason Brown said...

e.g. Gnostic explanations of the resurrection of Christ.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Jason:

Theophanies or Christophanies do not prove that Christ was a man from eternity. Christ did not become a man until he was born of the virgin. I don't have to get into explaining the metaphysics of the appearances of Christ prior to the incarnation before believing the divine record.



FolloweroftheLamb said...

Philippians 2:6-9 explains the forms of Christ Jesus. There is no contradiction. If Christ did not become a man until His incarnation, why is it that He stated that He came down out of heaven (John 6:38-58), Paul says the second man is the Lord out of heaven (1 Cor 15:47.) and the author of Hebrews states that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus?
Why fear what the scriptures plainly declare?

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Follower:

I don't agree. Jesus became a man. Paul said - "a body you have prepared me." (Heb. 10: 5)

Sometimes the bible writers say something about the divinity of Christ yet use human terms as in I Cor. 15: 47). Sometimes they do the opposite as when mention is made of the blood of God. (Acts 20: 28)

Are you advocating that the body and humanity of Christ are without beginning? If so, is that not kin to Mormonism? Also, does it not confuse his humanity with his divinity?



FolloweroftheLamb said...

Again, consider Phil 2. The forms of Jesus Christ are: 1. the form of God and 2. the form of a servant.

He appeared (Christophany) in the form of God in the Old Testament and in the form of a servant in the New until His resurrection when He entered back into the glory that He possessed with the Father before the world began (John 17.)

Jesus Christ is God-man, the Word that is God and is with (pros) God, the Creator, King of kings and Lord of lords. All things were created by Him and for Him and by Him all things consist.

Surely you do not hold to the Son as a begotten God, do you? I don't think you do.