"God is not a Man" part II: The Angel of YHWH
This is the 2nd portion of "The Messiah Complex" study series by Justin Best.
With the study of the previous passages that we’ve seen to this point (Intro & Part 1) which demonstrate Ya’akov (Jacob) wrestling with an angelic-man figure who he later calls Elohim (“God”), the pieces of the puzzle should be starting to neatly develop a picture in our heads of what is truly occurring here in our study. When Moses (Moshe) spoke to YHWH through the burning bush, we find that it was actually “the Angel of YHWH” that he was speaking with (Ex 3:2). Additionally, we see that once again, Moshe (Moses) addresses this “Angel” as if He (the Angel Himself) was YHWH - “for he was afraid to look at Elohim” (Ex. 3:6). Additionally, it cannot be missed that this is the only other example of someone being told to remove the shoes from their feet for the sake of standing on holy ground (outside of the Joshua occurrence), that alone is monumental. What does this realization tell us about Joshua’s (Yahusha) encounter with the "Captain of YHWH’s Army" in the previous section?
Is it ok to worship the commander of YHWH’s army? Is it considered idolatry? Who is this commander? Why does Joshua (Yahusha) fall down to worship him and get commanded to remove his sandals? The answer is quite simple once we take in the whole counsel of the Word. Joshua (Yahusha) was being approached by the Angel of YHWH just as Moshe (Moses) was at the scene of the burning bush. Joshua (Yahusha) was speaking to Yah in angelic-man form just as we see in the story of Jacob (Ya’akov). In fact, the Angel of YHWH is mentioned at least 62 times in the Tanakh alone, and in every case this Angel is speaking on behalf of YHWH, as if He is YHWH.
Here’s another example of how the Angel of YHWH spoke as if He is YHWH:
"And the angel of YHWH protested unto Joshua (Yahusha), saying,
Thus saith YHWH of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by." -(Zecharyahu) Zechariah 3:6-7
In fact, it’s a recurring theme. When the Angel of YHWH speaks to the children of Israel, the Angel speaks on behalf of YHWH, as if He Himself is YHWH, and in each case, the one being addressed believes that they have seen YHWH and spoke with YHWH personally. That is why they worship when they’re approached by the “Angel,” that is why they remove their sandals on holy ground and that is why after each encounter they believe they’ve seen YHWH.
But,” He said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live." -(Shemot) Exodus 33:20
This passage from Exodus is another important hint at the understanding needed to grasp this paradox. In the statement “for man shall not see me and live,” YHWH proves that Moshe must have been viewing a representative of YHWH, otherwise Moses, Joshua, and Jacob are all dead men standing. Although Moshe “beheld the form” of YHWH, he did not die. This can only be reconciled if the Elohim they saw was not the face of the one sitting on the throne in the highest heavens who cannot be contained in all the earth, but a form of YHWH as revealed through an emissary, was Yahusha (Messiah), the Angel of YHWH?
For more details concerning the parallels that exist between Joshua (Yahusha) and the Messiah (Yahusha), and how this story plays into the entire Biblical narrative, please watch our video, The Hidden Prophecy of Joshua Revealed. In this study, you’ll find even more reasons to believe that Joshua (Yahusha) was truly a foreshadowing of what would later come in the Messiah. Even without watching this study; however, one should be able to quickly see the unique parallels that exist, and how these great men of the Tanakh did truly interact with YHWH through a mysterious “man” or Angel of YHWH who spoke for YHWH Himself.
“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; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him.
“But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.” -(Shemot) Exodus 23:20-22
In the final example for this section, we can see that YHWH sends an “angel” before Joshua (Yahusha) to lead the Israelites into battle. More importantly, it is demonstrated in this scripture that they must obey this Angel and must not rebel against him. Additionally, YHWH states that He will pardon their transgressions “for my name is in Him.” *See footnote. This is true of Yahusha (Messiah) and Yahusha (Joshua) because their names literally mean “YHWH is salvation.” Last, YHWH again makes it clear that obeying this Angel is equivalent to obeying YHWH Himself when He says, “If you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say…” Simply, obeying the Angel of YHWH is the same as obeying YHWH Himself.
All this being stated, it should be sufficiently clear that the objection of “God is not a man” as an argument against the Messiah being YHWH’s Son is proven invalid since YHWH interacted with man in human-like form on multiple occasions in the Tanakh (Old Testament). Although YHWH cannot be contained within our physically limited space and mentally limited understanding, we are created in His image. It should be no surprise then that YHWH would appear as a man through His emissary. But our study of this section is not complete, because I believe that given this type of inquiry it is necessary to reemphasize the manner in which YHWH has spoken through human men throughout history. We must demonstrate how this pattern of interaction in the Tanakh is also brought forward in the interactions of the Messiah. More specifically, an examination of YHWH’s interactions through His human prophets.
Moses, Abraham, Amos, Daniel, Elijah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and more, this is just a very short list of some of the most renowned prophets of the Tanakh. Regardless of the unique qualities of each of the prophets and the purpose of their messages to Israel, we can see that these men of YHWH had many similarities. These similarities are what I believe must be studied as we attempt to see whether Messiah's accomplishments were truly foreign to the pattern of YHWH’s interaction with man in the past. In keeping with this idea, I’m simply going to ask a few questions and allow you to respond with the most common sense answer if you know it.
Did the prophets speak on behalf of YHWH?
When the prophets spoke, who was really speaking?
Were the prophets willing to sacrifice themselves for YHWH and Israel?
Did the prophets practice and preach Torah?
What happened to those who disobeyed or ignored the prophets?
What was the prophets’ general purpose?
What was their timing? Was there always a prophet to warn Israel before destruction came?
Now that we’ve asked the questions that I believe help us digest the nature of YHWH’s interaction with mankind through the prophets, let’s answer these questions as simply as we can using only our knowledge of the Word and simple reasoning.
Did the prophets speak for YHWH? Of course they did, that was their sole purpose! Who was really speaking? YHWH of course, which is why many statements begin with “Thus saith YHWH.” Did the prophets sacrifice themselves, or were they willing to for Israel? Yes! Did the prophets uphold Torah? Of course! What happened to those who disobeyed the prophets? They were killed, enslaved, scattered, led off in chains and separated from YHWH for a time (depending on the scenario). What was the prophets’ general purpose? To restore Israel to YHWH by convincing them to keep the commandments and disregard their evil ways. Was there always a prophet to warn Israel before destruction came? Yes! In every case.
Clearly, not everyone conducting this study has trust for the accounts of Messiah in the four primary Gospels (besorah); however, knowing what we just read, it should come as no surprise that Yahusha (Messiah) told us the Parable of the Wicked Tenants in which He shows us something very important:
33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”
42 Yahusha (Messiah) said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was YHWH’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’? (Psalm 118:19-27)
43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of Elohim will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”
45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet. -(Mattiyahu) Matthew 21:33-46
Many from the “Christian” background and even those scholars who have studied the words of the Messiah Himself should be familiar with this passage from the Gospel of Matthew (Mattiyahu). The meaning of this parable is clear to those who understand the plain context of what is happening in that time. Simply, Messiah is stating that YHWH has sent many prophets in the past to warn Israel and try to turn them back to Him, that they would bring in the harvest (or the people) that belong to YHWH. The “Master” of the field is clearly the Most High YHWH and the servants sent to retrieve what was due are the prophets. The Son; however, is the last servant that the “Master” of the vineyard sends to try and get the fruit which belongs to the Father, or the last prophet. After the wicked tenants of the vineyard kill the Son, the Messiah tells us plainly that His Father (YHWH) will take the vineyard away from the wicked tenants and give it to loyal servants. Simply, this means that YHWH would no longer allow the spiritual leadership of Israel to have dominion over His people due to their corruption. Additionally, we read that the Master of the field (YHWH) is going to bring judgement for what these wicked tenants have done.
Again, for many this understanding of the text may seem obvious; however, what may have not been obvious to many over the last several centuries is the point that the Messiah, in this case, is not distinguishing His role from the role of the prophets before Him. In this parable, Messiah puts Himself in the position of being one of the servants of YHWH as well, bringing the same warning and request of the prophets before Him. He’s come to gather YHWH’s people. YHWH’s message is clear in the Tanakh and it is equally clear in the words of the Messiah... repent with all your heart, soul, mind and strength! Keep the commandments!
If the former people of Israel were not in a position of needing to repent when the Messiah arrived, why was the Temple of Jerusalem destroyed within 40 years of His departure (70 CE)? Indeed, if the Messiah was not the last (most recent) prophet we encounter for the children of Israel, it would mean that Jerusalem received no warning from YHWH just prior to its fall, something unprecedented in the history of Israel and contrary to the testimony of the Tanakh which says:
“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and YHWH hath not done it?
Surely YHWH ELOHIM will do nothing, without revealing His secret unto his servants the prophets.” -(Amots) Amos 3:6-7
Who was the prophet that stood in Jerusalem warning of its impending disaster if it wasn't Yahusha Messiah?
After all that has been stated, it should be clear now that the Messiah performed the same function as many of the prophets before Him, causing the purpose and timing of His ministry to be in sync with the patterns of the Tanakh. There is one major distinction; however, in that the Messiah was destined for a role of even greater importance than most prophets before. This time, His life and message would be a fulfillment of something even greater which YHWH foretold through Moshe (Moses) long before. To better understand this massive proof, review the third section in this series "God is not a Man" pt. III: A prophet like Moshe.”
*Editor's footnote - Some have written to me to inform me that I miswrote "He will pardon their transgressions" above since the verse in Exodus 23 says, "He will not pardon your transgressions"; However, the context outlines that "If you rebel against Him, He will not pardon your transgressions." Simply, if you do not rebel against Him, it is implied that He will forgive your transgressions, but if you do rebel, He will not.