When we really start feeling that tug on our hearts to start following and submitting to YHWH most pastors will direct people to the book of John. This is a great starting place but can be hard to grasp fully if we don’t have the proper understanding of what it means to be a messenger from an Ancient Near Eastern perspective. Let’s start by looking at the Messenger, or as many translations say “Angel of YHWH,” in relation to all the times that YHWH appeared to man. There are many times that suggest YHWH spoke to man, but we’re going to focus on the times He actually made His presence known. It’s important to understand that a messenger sent by a king or any type of royalty sent someone they could trust. Often times a messenger was a relative of the person sending a message. The message was sealed until delivered to those it was written to and then opened and read by the messenger. A messenger was given all the authority of the king, and a messenger was not to be harmed in any way.
Let’s get started by looking at the first account we have of YHWH walking with man, in the Garden of Eden.
And they heard the sound of YHWH Elohim walking about in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of YHWH Elohim among the trees of the garden.
Next we have the account of the Tower of Babel, but this time, it shows plurality just as in creation (Genesis 1:26).
“Come, let Us go there and confuse their language, so that they do not understand one another’s speech.”
Next, we have a fascinating appearance in which a covenant begins.
And it came to be, when the sun went down and it was dark, that see, a smoking oven and a burning torch passing between those pieces.
This is an interesting occurrence due to the smoke and fire representation also used when YHWH lead His children out of Egypt. Let’s put them together before moving on.
And He said to Aḇram, “Know for certain that your seed are to be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them, and they shall afflict them four hundred years. “But the nation whom they serve I am going to judge, and afterward let them come out with great possessions. “Now as for you, you are to go to your fathers in peace, you are to be buried at a good old age. “Then, in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the crookedness of the Amorites is not yet complete.” And it came to be, when the sun went down and it was dark, that see, a smoking oven and a burning torch passing between those pieces. On the same day YHWH made a covenant with Aḇram, saying, “I have given this land to your seed…”
Now let’s look a little deeper at the promise mentioned in Genesis 15.
And the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to be at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, on that same day it came to be that all the divisions of YHWH went out from the land of Egypt.
And they departed from Sukkoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. And YHWH went before them by day in a column of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a column of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.
Just a few verses later we see YHWH referred to as the Messenger in the same manner.
And the Messenger of Elohim, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. And the column of cloud went from before them and stood behind them,
It’s interesting to see the similarity between the smoking oven and burning torch that passed through the pieces and a column of cloud by day and column of fire by night leading them What’s also interesting is that the name of YHWH is used interchangeably with Angel or Messenger.
In Genesis 16 we have the Angel/Messenger of YHWH appearing to Hagar after Abram’s wife Sarai, and she runs into the wilderness. These are the verses while she was in the wilderness.
And the Messenger of YHWH said to her, “Return to your mistress, and humble yourself under her hand.” And the Messenger of YHWH said to her, “I am going to increase your seed greatly, too numerous to be counted.” And the Messenger of YHWH said to her, “See, you are conceiving and bearing a son, and shall call his name Ishmael, because YHWH has heard your affliction. “And he is to be a wild man, his hand against every one and every one’s hand against him, and dwell over against all his brothers.”
We also have the account where Jacob wrestles with God Himself instead of a messenger and his name is declared Israel for the first time but look at what Jacob says.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peni’ĕl, “For I have seen Elohim face to face, and my life is preserved.”
We have a second occurrence of this as well.
And Elohim appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan Aram, and blessed him. And Elohim said to him, “Your name is Jacob, your name is no longer called Jacob, but Israel is your name.” So He called his name Israel. And Elohim said to him, “I am Ěl Shaddai. Bear fruit and increase, a nation and a company of nations shall be from you, and sovereigns come from your body. “And the land which I gave Aḇraham and Isaac I give to you. And to your seed after you I give this land.” And Elohim went up from him in the place where He had spoken with him.
Now let’s jump ahead to Moses and the burning bush and notice how the Angel/Messenger turns into YHWH speaking from the bush….
And the Messenger of YHWH appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. And he looked and saw the bush burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Mosheh said, “Let me turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” And YHWH saw that he turned aside to see, and Elohim called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Mosheh! Mosheh!” And he said, “Here I am.
Now we get to Mount Sinai and the account of YHWH giving His instructions.
And Mount Sinai was in smoke, all of it, because YHWH descended upon it in fire. And its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the mountain trembled exceedingly. And when the blast of the ram’s horn sounded long and became louder and louder, Mosheh spoke, and Elohim answered him by voice. And YHWH came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And YHWH called Mosheh to the top of the mountain, and Mosheh went up.
Now we have another account of the Messenger leading or going before them.
“See, I am sending a Messenger before you to guard you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. “Be on guard before Him and obey His voice. Do not rebel against Him, for He is not going to pardon your transgression, for My Name is in Him. “But if you diligently obey His voice and shall do all that I speak, then I shall be an enemy to your enemies and a distresser to those who distress you. “For My Messenger shall go before you and shall bring you in to the Amorites and the Ḥittites and the Perizzites and the Kena‛anites and the Ḥiwwites and the Yeḇusites, and I shall cut them off.
Let’s look at a couple of things that the IVP Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament has to say. Concerning “angel preparing way” The promise of an angel preparing the way for the people follows the narrative pattern of divine presence and guidance that is first set by the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire in the exodus event. Concerning “my Name is in him” The “messenger” or angel sent by God is an extension of God himself, representing a continuous presence with the people of Israel. Since names and naming (see Gen 2:19; 17:5) were considered powerful in the ancient world (see 9:16; Lev 19:12), to say that Yahweh has invested his Name in this angel is to say that it is to be obeyed just as God is to be obeyed. All of God’s presence and power is to be found in this messenger. He is to be trusted to do what God has promised.
Now let’s look at the account of Sampson’s parents being visited by a Messenger of YHWH. This Messenger visits Manowah’s wife first and tells of Sampson’s birth and also instructed her in the manner of a Nazirite vow. After He visited Manowah as well but let’s look at the wording of a few verses.
And the woman came and spoke to her husband, saying, “A Man of Elohim came to me, and His appearance was like the appearance of a Messenger of Elohim, very awesome. But I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not declare to me His name.
And the Messenger of YHWH said to Manowaḥ, “Though you detain Me, I do not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, offer it to YHWH.” For Manowaḥ did not know He was a Messenger of YHWH. Then Manowaḥ said to the Messenger of YHWH, “What is Your name? When Your words come true, then we shall esteem You.” And the Messenger of YHWH said to him, “Why do you ask My name, since it is wondrous?” And Manowaḥ took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to YHWH. And He did wondrously while Manowaḥ and his wife looked on. And it came to be, as the flame went up toward the heavens from the altar, that the Messenger of YHWH went up in the flame of the altar. And Manowaḥ and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground. And the Messenger of YHWH did not appear any more to Manowaḥ and his wife. Then Manowaḥ knew that He was a Messenger of YHWH. And Manowaḥ said to his wife, “We shall certainly die, because we have seen Elohim!” But his wife said to him, “If YHWH had been pleased to put us to death, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all this, nor would He have let us hear the like of this!”
We encourage everyone to continue looking into the use of Angel and Messenger in reference to these topics. There are many more references throughout scripture but for the purpose of this resource we are going to look at few other things that may make this clearer before looking at the book of John.
Elohim said, “Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the livestock, and over all the earth and over all the creeping creatures that creep on the earth.”
According to this verse, there was more than one at creation, but it doesn’t specifically say that “US” and “OUR” are in reference to Y’shua. Let’s keep looking and see if He has been present since creation.
And He said to them, “I saw Satan falling out of the heaven as lightning.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, We speak what We know and witness what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. “If you do not believe when I spoke to you about earthly matters, how are you going to believe when I speak to you about the heavenly matters? “And no one has gone up into the heaven except He who came down from the heaven – the Son of Man.
Yeshua said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Aḇraham came to be, I am.”
“I have esteemed You on the earth, having accomplished the work You have given Me that I should do. “And now, esteem Me with Yourself, Father, with the esteem which I had with You BEFORE the world was.
He is the likeness of the invisible Elohim, the first-born of all creation. Because in Him were created all that are in the heavens and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or rulerships or principalities or authorities – all have been created through Him and for Him. And He is BEFORE all, and in Him all hold together.
With these verses in mind, let’s look at “US” and “OUR” again since it stated that He was in the beginning with YHWH
And Elohim said, “Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the livestock, and over all the earth and over all the creeping creatures that creep on the earth.”
Now let’s look at the book of John again.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. He was in the beginning with Elohim. All came to be through Him, and without Him not even one came to be that came to be. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from Elohim, whose name was John. This one came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all might believe through him. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of that Light. He was the true Light, which enlightens every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim. And the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us, and we saw His esteem, esteem as of an only brought-forth of a father, complete in favour and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has become before me, because He was before me.’ ” And out of His completeness we all did receive, and favour upon favour, for the Torah was given through Mosheh – the favour and the truth came through Y’shua Messiah. No one has ever seen Elohim. The only brought-forth Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He did declare.
Understanding that Y’shua has always been there from the beginning, interacting with mankind on Earth is truly amazing. Seeing these accounts truly makes John’s words more understandable and meaningful. He has always been YHWH’s Messenger, and as stated, no one has ever seen YHWH except for Y’shua (Exodus 33:20; John 1:18; 1 John 4:12). He is the right arm of YHWH who came in the flesh. He was there at creation, watched Satan fall, walked with Adam in the garden, scattered mankind at the tower of Babel, walked through the pieces in Abram’s place, wrestled with Jacob and changed His name to Israel, appeared to Moses in the burning bush, lead and protected Israel coming out of Egypt, gave the Torah to Moses, lead Israel through the wilderness as a pillar of cloud and fire, visited Sampson’s parents to inform them of his birth and life, along with so many others. Y’shua became flesh just as promised to fulfill the covenant of Genesis 15. By coming in flesh and as the lamb He brought a message to the house of Israel, “Repent and return to the Father.” His death paved the way for Israel to be reunited to YHWH after being divorced for whoring after pagan gods (Jeremiah 3:8). He is coming again to claim His kingdom and throne, but this time, He is returning with judgment and wrath.
For more information about why Y’shua came, check out our resource titled, WHY?
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