I just re-read your Basic lesson on Theology. I understand the Word says no one has ever seen the Father, yet we see Him in the face of His Son. What did Daniel see in that case? "Him before Him" kinda seems to be a Christophany AND a Theophany at once... Am I off base?
Any help in understanding is appreciated.
Daniel had a vision, so, yes, I think that there is no question of this being a vision of the Father and the son (as in Revelation chapters 5-6). It is true, however, that many seeming Theophanies were in fact Christ appearing as the Representative of the Father. Consider John's comment on the famous appearance of the Lord in the temple with cherubim shouting "holy, holy, holy!" in Isaiah chapter six:
(39) For this reason they were not able to believe, because [as] Isaiah also says, He has blinded their eyes and disabled their heart so that they might not see with their eyes and understand in their heart and turn and I would heal them. (41) These things Isaiah said because he saw [Jesus'] glory (i.e., holy, holy, holy in Isaiah 6:1-3) and spoke about Him (i.e., in Is.6:1-10 since this second quote is from Is.6:10).
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hello Dr Luginbill, I pray all is well.
I was wondering, how many times has God spoken in the Bible, and to whom?
Wow! You've stumped me on this one. I don't know that this question has a definitive answer. For one thing, the entire Bible is the Word of God, because "prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (1Pet.1:21 NIV). Secondly, we would have to consider if dreams count or not. Thirdly, what about angelic pronouncements especially considering that 1) angels are as their Greek and Hebrew names proclaim, "messengers" of God, that is, their words to human beings are His message, even if indirect, and 2) many of the apparent angelic apparitions in the Old Testament are really Christophanies (see the link), though not everyone agrees in terms of all the instances. Fourthly, what about the words of our Lord? I would certainly consider these "God speaking", but in many cases we would not be able to say with specificity who was in the audience when He spoke during the first advent. Fifthly, there are many places in the Old Testament and Psalms where God speaks, apparently to Israel in the main, but His words are also clearly meant for all His people (since the Bible is a gift to all believers). Sixthly, sometimes God's pronouncements in the prophets are punctuated by statements which seem to be by the prophet and then the Lord resumes speaking (so how should we count these as one or multiples times?). These are just some of the issues which occur to me off the top of my head in considering your question (and I am sure others would come up if a person set him/herself to this task). Taken together I think they virtually guarantee that a definite number could not be pinned down, and that even if a person did come up with an answer, it would be a debatable one.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thanks for the response. I was rereading part 1 of the coming Tribulation series, and on page 68 you mentioned that it was rare for God the Father to speak in his own voice. It got me thinking and I think a better question would be, how many times does God the Father speak in his own voice? Only a few times comes to mind off the top of my head: when THE LORD answered Job, Moses and the burning bush, baptism of Jesus, and in Revelation.
When the Bible states that "the word of THE LORD came to...ie Jonah", what means was the message delivered?
Who did Adam and Eve hear walking in the garden? Was this the Jesus or God the Father? I find it interesting they heard him walk, that makes it easy for me to imagine there was an actual physical body occupied by THE LORD in order to make a sound that would be described as walking. Genesis 3:8
You're very welcome. What I mean by this statement you refer to is that in most instances where the Lord speaks verbally we probably have instances of Christ representing the Father (Christophany), since Jesus is the revealed person of the Trinity. See for example what John says about Isaiah chapter six which we might otherwise believe to be an appearance of the Father:
(37) Even though He (i.e., Jesus) had performed so many [miraculous] signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him, (38) in order that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the Arm of the Lord been revealed?" (39) For this reason they were not able to believe, because [as] Isaiah also says, "He has blinded their eyes and disabled their heart so that they might not see with their eyes and understand in their heart and turn and I would heal them." (41) These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory (i.e., "holy, holy, holy" in Isaiah 6:1-3) and spoke about Him (i.e., Jesus, in Is.6:1-10, since this second quote is from Is.6:10).
After the incarnation, we have the Father's statements at Christ's baptism and on the Mount of Transfiguration, but these are also incredibly important key events. So the point made in CT 1 is about the significance such an occurrence represents. In my view, Eden, Job, the burning bush, are all examples of our Lord Jesus being the representative of the Trinity to mankind. For the details, see the prior link on Christophany and do feel free to write back.
In Jesus our dear Lord,
Judges 2:1-5 "Angel of the LORD" is this a Christophany in your view?
The angel is speaking in 1st person as God.
Good to make your acquaintance. Yes indeed, this is an appearance of our Lord Jesus before the incarnation, a "Christophany". I have this passage noted at the following link in BB 1: "Cases of Christophany in the Old Testament".
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,
Thanks for replying, however I don't think I made myself clear on the first question. In your commentary on The Holy character of God in your section on Hamartiology, you state that due to the original sin of Satan and his followers, God removed Himself to the third heaven, as opposed to earth because He cannot be in the presence of sin (I get that).
So my question is, did he "come back" to the earth at the time of Adam and Eve and then once again remove himself when the fall occurred? The reason I ask is because originally, our first parents were sinless and He walked in the garden with them, so had He returned to take up His dwelling on earth after destroying the first earth following the Satanic rebellion? At some stage I also want to ask you about "for whom did Christ die?" but I'll leave that for another time. How on earth do you find time to answer everybody's questions?
It's no problem. As I said, the Father departed and "changed headquarters", so to speak, at the time of the devil's revolt, and will not return until the universe is a place where only "righteousness dwells" (2Pet.3:13) at the conclusion of human history (see the link).
There are many times in scripture, the Lord walking in the garden with Adam and Eve being the first, where God does appear on earth to human beings. These, however, are almost all Christophanies, that is, pre-incarnate appearances of our dear Lord Jesus in His capacity as the revealed Person of the Trinity. There are certain times where it seems from the Old Testament account that the Father is in view; but when we are talking about human beings on earth viewing and appearance of God on earth, it is always the case that the Son is the One who appears, even though He may seem at first to be very similar to the Father (after all, as Jesus Himself says, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father"; Jn.14:9 NIV). He is the revealed "Arm of the Lord" as John's gospel makes clear:
This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: "Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
A famous case of this is Isaiah 6:1, where Isaiah says "I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne" (NIV). We can be forgiven for thinking this is the Father, but then we know from John's gospel that this was actually Jesus Christ:
For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turnand I would heal them." Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.
John 12:39-41 NIV
Since the quote is from that same instance in Isaiah 6, and since John says here that it was Jesus' glory that Isaiah was given to see rather than the Father's, we conclude that this too was a Christophany.
I have a good deal more on this issue at the following links (please do feel free to write back about anything):
Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (Christophany: Genesis 3:8) (your passage)
Appearances of Christ in the Old Testament
Cases of Christophany in the Old Testament
Old Testament Appearances of Jesus Christ
Christophany in Exodus
The Angel of the Lord
More on the Angel of the Lord
No New Testament appearances of the Angel of the Lord
Jacob wrestling with the angel I
Jacob wrestling with the angel II
I'm always very happy to be of some service to my brothers and sisters in Christ in learning more about Him and His truth.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Found in Exodus 4: 24: "And it came to pass by the way in the Inn that The Lord met him and sought to kill him"
I assume Lord refers to God. Yet it appears strange God could not kill someone if he so chose. And who was met? I would appreciate your insight.
Yes, the Lord is God (a Christophany in this case; see the link); the "him" is Moses (see links below). The "seek to kill" means here, "absent appropriate response" which response was forthcoming in the circumcision of his sons. Of course the Lord did not want to kill Moses and of course He was certainly able to do so if He did. It was quite inappropriate for the man whom God had chosen to lead His people out of Egypt and through whom to given them the Law to show up in clear violation of the Abrahamic covenant. Here are a couple of links on this episode:
Moses and Zipporah
"Sought to kill"
Old Testament Interpretation: Moses and Zipporah (et al.)
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Once again I want to express my appreciation for your thorough explication and practical application of the scriptural approach to preparing for and triumphing through the Great Tribulation. It is my continued joy to be of some small help in your work in sending you this list of apparent typos et al.
This is a question that has arisen during my reading of this section. You have parenthetically interpreted Hebrews 11:27 as follows:
For he grew strong by seeing the One who cannot be seen (i.e., by keeping his mind's eye on the invisible Lord Jesus Christ).
By the parenthetical phrase you seem to identify the One who cannot be seen as "the invisible Lord Jesus Christ". I have been unable to find scriptural reference to our Lord as being invisible, if this is what you mean by the parenthetical phrase. Is it not rather the Father who is presently 'invisible' because He cannot be viewed directly by fallen, untransformed humans, but has manifested himself representatively in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ first prophetically then physically and historically to 'eyes of faith', and will eventually reveal himself directly to the eyes of transformed humans?
I anticipate your clarification and correction.
Blessings to you as you continue your work for Him,
You have been a big help!
As to your question, yes, I do take this as referring to Christ. One of the more notable aspects of the revelation of the Old Testament is that of prophetic foreshortening (see the link). Just as the distinctions between the first and second advents are largely obscured in the Old Testament (although easily enough seen after the fact with the benefit of the progressive revelation of the New), so it is with the Trinity: just as three mountains of equal height may look like a single massif when viewed from the perspective of being all in a row, but will clearly reveal their individual identity when viewed at a 90 degree angle, so it is with the Trinity in the Old Testament as opposed to the New and once you know that the three peaks are actually three separate mountains, you will view them that way even if you shift back to the original perspective.
Jesus Christ is the revealed Member of the Trinity, and represents the Father before mankind. Thus, nearly all of the representations of the LORD in the Old Testament are actually Christophanies (see the link). It is true that the Father is largely invisible, but there are instances in both Testaments where He is represented as visible (Dan.7:9-14; Rev.4:1 - 5:7). Note too that while there are cases where the Lord (a Christophany) appears in the Old Testament (see in BB 1: "Cases of Christophany in the Old Testament"), for the most part Jesus Christ was also not visible before the incarnation and indeed, He is not visible to us even now:
. . . Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love . . .
1st Peter 1:7b - 8a NKJV
Finally, the verse in question, Hebrews 11:27, actually says that Moses "kept seeing" Him. So He was visible to Moses (at least at times), even if largely invisible to the world. Now of course for the most part Moses saw our Savior "in his heart", and that is clearly the application we are to draw from this scripture (parallel to Peter's point quoted above). However, Moses was given to see the burning bush where the Lord is said to have "appeared to him" (Ex.3:3; n.b.: the "Angel" is said to be "the Lord" in v.4), and we are also told that "the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex.33:11 NKJV; cf. Ex.34:33-35). So in Moses' case, the memory of seeing the Lord as He chose to represent Himself is part of the picture, even though He was invisible to Moses most of the time. We don't have that memory as Moses did, but, blessedly, we have something which to the world may seem less but which we know is more: the truth of the entire Word of God which illuminates more to us about our dear Lord than even seeing Him face to face would do for He is the Word of God incarnate:
For I did not follow concocted tales in making known to you the power and the coming return of our Lord, Jesus Christ, but was an eyewitness to His majesty. For when He had received honor and glory from God the Father, these words sounded forth to Him from God's majestic glory: "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased." And these words I myself heard as they were delivered from heaven, for I was with Him on the holy mountain (cf. Matt.17:1-8). Yet I consider the prophetically inspired Word (i.e. the Bible) even more reliable (i.e. than what I saw with my own eyes). You too would do well to pay the closest attention to this [prophetically inspired Word], just as to a lamp shining in a dark place (cf. Ps.119:105), until the day dawns, and the Morning Star rises (i.e. the Living Word, Jesus Christ, returns), pondering in your hearts this principle of prime importance: no single verse of prophetically inspired scripture has ever come into being as a result of personal reflection. For true prophecy has never occurred by human will, but only when holy men of God have spoken under the direction and agency of the Holy Spirit.
2nd Peter 1:16-21
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Good afternoon. I hope this letter finds you well. I have a couple questions, I hope you can answer for me. These questions came about from my normal morning bible readings and not specifically related to your SR series which I am studying.
1. Can you expound on this verse: Jer 32:22 "How long will you waver, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing on the earth: a woman encircles a man."." This is English Standard Version
2. Can you expound on this verse: Gen 11:7 "Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one anothers speech." English Standard Version. The "Let Us" means all three parts of the God-head was involved in this action similar to the action of creating man. I understand that part but what i am confused about is the mechanics. Was this done as a theophany (a manifestation of God)?
I really appreciate it Dr. Luginbill.
God bless you.
Good to hear from you as always. As to your questions:
1) This one requires some detail and is already written up, so please see the links:
A Woman Shall Compass a Man
A New Thing
More on Jeremiah 31:22
2) I'm not sure I'd characterize this as a theophany. We aren't told where God is when He says this; we find something similar in Genesis chapter 3:
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
Genesis 3:22 NIV
Then angels see the glory of God at all times in the third heaven (compare Revelation chapters 4-5). When the Father sitting in state makes such proclamations, I suppose we could call it a theophany He is God (theos) and He is visible, but of course the Father does not have a physical body; rather this (e.g., 1Ki.22:19; Dan.7; Rev.4-5) is how He represents Himself to the angels (and to departed believers since the ascension who are also in His presence). Technically speaking, the word theophany is usually concerned with appearances of God (Christ) to human beings in this world or at least still physically alive, even though seeing Him in via revelation (as with Daniel and John in Revelation).
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hello Dr. Luginbill,
I am thankful to God for having you, a workman approved by God, to be the one to answer the bible questions that I can't seem to get answers to. I have a question in regards to God's Omnipresence. I heard a bible teacher say that God literally exists everywhere in the Universe and thought that this sounds similar to Pantheism? Is God literally everywhere at the same time? Why does the bible say that the 3rd Heaven is His abode if He exists everywhere at the same time? Or is the 3rd Heaven where God's fullest manifestation is at? And what does it mean when the bible says the "eyes" of the Lord are on the righteous? Could God dwell in Heaven and see everything without literally having to be everywhere?
My other question is about the tree of life.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
Why do the nations need to be "healed" in the eternal state if we are glorified and immortal?
God Bless you and your ministry,
Always good to hear from you my friend. Thanks also for your words of encouragement.
As to your first question, it is definitely true and biblical that God is omnipresent (Ps.139:7-10). This is one of the seven aspects of His perfect and infinite nature. Here is how I describe it in BB 1 Theology:
God is ever-present, irrespective of space. He can effect anything He desires in the spatial realm (Job 26:7). Therefore God has the ability, has always had and always will have, to be anywhere and everywhere, local and universal. As the Ever-Present One (Acts 17:27-28), His ability to be present at any or every point within His creation whenever He desires is comprehensive and absolute (Job 22:12; Is.66:1-2; Jer.23:23-24; Prov.15:3).
The concept is admittedly difficult for human beings to grasp because we cannot really imagine anything outside of time and space but of course God exists outside of time and space: He created the temporal/spatial universe, and it could not exist without His sustenance of it (cf. Col.1:16-17). This is not "pantheism" it is a common rhetorical trick to identify some characteristic in some teaching a person does not like or agree with, then associate it with something that may be viewed in some way as similar in a heresy or other unpopular or pernicious belief so as to "damn it by [false] association" (i.e., attributing "guilt by association" when the association is only in the mind or rhetoric of the one doing the attributing).
So you are also correct about His manifestation of Himself in particular places and in particular ways. Clearly, a God whom the heavens cannot contain cannot be relegated or restricted to one particular place, but also just as clearly the Father and the Spirit are represented, in the book of Revelation for example, as being present in the third heaven. Our Lord Jesus is an exception since the incarnation in that while in His deity He is omnipresent, His resurrected human body is in one place at a time (sharing the throne with the Father at present, waiting the time when "His enemies will be made His footstool": Ps.110:1). These representations are clearly for our benefit and for the benefit of the angels in order to clarify and further God's relationship with us, finite creatures that we are. God not only can "see everything", but He knew everything before He even created the universe and not just what has/is/will happen but also all the "what ifs". In terms of His spiritual nature, He does not have "eyes"; this is an anthropopathism (or, more technically correct, anthropomorphism; see the link), that is, a representation of God who is spirit in human terms to communicate something about His ineffable nature and character to we mere mortals.
On the second question, the tree of life in New Jerusalem produces fruit and has leaves with other beneficial properties for the blessing and enjoyment of the resurrected elect. You are absolutely correct that there will be no need of "healing" in eternity (cf. Lk.26:36 where our Lord assures us that those resurrected "cannot die" anymore). Here is what I have written about the passage elsewhere (CT 6):
We are also told that the foliage of the trees will likewise produce great benefits, though here again the English versions can be misleading. The Greek word therapeia (θεραπεία), the source of our "therapy", may indeed have a medicinal meaning, but not necessarily so. Its primary application has to do with care and oversight, a function which does not require some prior problem as in the case of illness (cf. Lk.12:42). Therefore "positive use" or "enjoyment" is a far preferable translation in this context where all tears have now been wiped away forever. This benefit of the tree of life will then be some sort of pleasurable activity apart from eating, and one of its prime applications will be the production of unity among all believers. For the occurrence of the word "curse" found in most of the versions in verse three of chapter twenty-two is based upon a misreading of the text (as we have seen, the "curse" of Genesis chapter three had already been removed at Christ's return: Rom.8:21; cf. Zech.14:11 NASB only). As Sinaiticus makes clear, the correct Greek text reads katagma (κατάγμα) "division", not katathema (κατάθεμα) "curse". In New Jerusalem there will be no further divisiveness between the tribes, now composed of Jews and gentiles both, nor between the Bride and the Friends of the Bride. The therapeutic foliage of the tree of life will provide a pleasurable means of fellowship and harmony between all believers forevermore (Ps.47:9; Zech.2:11; Jn.10:16; 11:52).
Please feel free to write back about any of the above.
Your friend in Jesus Christ,
Before I do a search, I thought I would run by you because I am confident you can lead me to the appropriate resources.
Do you have any resources that can give me biblical prophecies already fulfilled from inception of Adam to present times? I want to use that to further study biblical prophecy and the infallibility of God's word. I also want it as a reference source.
I appreciate and may God continue to bless by the riches of Christ.
Good to hear from you. This is a difficult question. There are plenty of books out there on "biblical prophecy", but none I could recommend. Also, even if I were to set to this task myself (so that at least I would agree with the way I was doing it), I'm not sure I could complete it in a decade fully devoted to the project (which explains why there is not a good resource such as you ask for). There are multiple problems with undertaking such a task. I remember a while back you asked me about a passage in Isaiah, I believe it was, and we had some discussion about its actual prophetic application. Given that nearly the entire book of Isaiah is prophetic, for example, I'm not sure it would be possible to find two people who have exactly the same understanding about every single passage. Part of the problem stems from double or even triple fulfillment. When I was in seminary, my professors universally objected to this "idea" of multiple application of prophecies. At the time, it seemed that perhaps they were being "literal"; now it seems they were being lazy (or at least wrong by any interpretation of their motives: e.g., how else can Joel 2:29 and Acts 2:18 be explained?). The Bible says what it says and means what it means. We do not get to dictate to it according to our personal standards about how we feel things should be, and even approaching it with that point of view is, spiritually, very dangerous. If a passage is not prophetic, it is not prophetic (and attempting to make it so is wrong); if a passage is a prophecy, then interpreting the prophecy may require knowledge about and faith in all manner of other biblical principles; and if a prophetic passage has more than one direct application, then it has more than one, however many it has. So it is wrong to say that a passage which applies both to a near term event (say, the coming Assyrian invasion), cannot apply both to that passage and also to the Second Advent (e.g., "the Day of the Lord paradigm"; and there may be a first advent application as well). Whatever it means, it means.
The first part of the Coming Tribulation series is much taken up with the question of the correct way to interpret prophecy, and there is much there you will not find anywhere else (at least not in this form). So one of the reasons why it is not possible to find a resource that gathers all these things together (or many of them, at any rate), is because few in the past have understood some of the key hermeneutic issues involved. After all, it has really only been since the mid to late 19th century that anyone in the Church was even interested in such issues. Eschatology was corrupted by the R.C. church (along with all other teachings), and was not a subject in which the Reformers were at all interested. Further, much of the later Protestant interest in all things eschatological has been perversely focused on the false teaching of the pre-Tribulation "rapture" (false doctrines always assume a magnetism which is outsized for their putative importance). Add to that, confusion about dispensations (see the link), a penchant for over-emphasizing the differences between Israel and the Church (really parts of the same whole), and a general preoccupation with "excitement" in place of the hard (though rewarding) grind of study-teach-learn-believe, and you have a recipe for stagnation in the local church. One would think that seminary or other institutions of "higher learning" would produce such materials. However, colleges breed atheism, and seminaries breed hyper-theory (which immediately divorces itself from scripture to a great degree) and/or controversy over tradition (arguing for or against previous interpretations rather than making progress in the truth).
After being somewhat negative, I will leave you with some positive ideas. First, again, I highly recommend reading and re-reading the first part of the Coming Tribulation series. Second, since much fulfillment of prophecy is OT to NT, getting a list of OT quotations and also allusions (i.e., not verbally quoting but definitely referring to a prior passage) in the NT would be a great place to start, since in many cases fulfillment of a prophecy is a main reason for such quotations/allusions. There is a great list of these sorts of passages in the back of one of my Greek New Testament's (ed. Aland, Black et al.); I have the third edition the later editions probably have this list too, but I can't say for sure. Also, Gleason L. Archer and G.C. Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament: A Complete Survey (Chicago 1983), does, at it says, list most of the OT quotes (but because there is a fine line between allusion and quotation in the Greek, not everything is there, despite the title word "complete"); also, while they make a good start, a person would wish to know much more about most of the passages they treat (and there are plenty of mistakes and things just missed).
It is amazing that there is so little out there along the lines of what you ask for, but in defense of scholarship I think you will see when you start to dig into the subject that it would be a massive undertaking that could not really hope to be 100% accurate or complete (and many would disagree even with the most basic conclusions; re: my seminary experience with "no double-fulfillment" nay-sayers). Another thing you could do is to get a good Bible concordance (Strong's for KJV, e.g.) and look up every variation of the word for fulfill/fulfillment and related words/ideas). Ultimately, a person would have to go through the Bible verse by verse with this question in mind; commentaries (good ones and those are hard to find) would be helpful here; also, cross-references in study Bibles would be of use in this task if an OT passage is referencing (in the notes) an NT passage, maybe this is an example of the prophecy being fulfilled.
Finally, a good deal of biblical prophecy concerns the restoration of Israel and the millennial blessings to her provided by the Messiah. So there is much that is not yet fulfilled at least not in its ultimate and complete fulfillment. For that, while the entire Coming Tribulation series is filled with references, I can direct you in particular to this section of part 6: "III. The Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ: Revelation 20:4-6".
I hope this is of some help to you and that it will at least give you some general guidance on a very involved subject.
Yours in Jesus Christ the One who is soon to return.
Thank you for the lucid and fast response. I have a couple of follow-up questions maybe you can help address as it relates to the question.
If the bible is 1/4 or 1/3 prophetic, to me, that means prophecy is extremely important in God's ultimate redemptive plan and therefore are there for us, with the Holy Spirit help, decipher. That being the case, double or triple or multiple fullfilment of a particular prophecy shouldn't make the undertaking difficult. In my opinion, and I defer to your vast knowledge, most of unfilled and some fulfilled prophecy interpretations are based on personal assumptions or feelings and not lead by the Spirit.
A great example is all the prophetic verses about Christ advent as being in dual but the Pharisees and Sadducees and other learned Jews only looked at the Conquering Savior and not the Suffering Savior. I believe we take this approach also in deciphering prophetic passages.
Another example is the rapture. Because of personal biases, we take certain passages and relate that to a biblical event that will not occur and like our Jewish brethren during Christ were not prepared for His arrival so will majority of Christians because they are understanding prophecy incorrectly.
I don't believe God put together his infallible, indestructible, perfect plan via His Word and make 1/4 to 1/3 prophetic without allowing us to know precisely what He means and how to interpret.
In my humble opinion Robert, and what I am trying to opine is there should not be multiple interpretations of a prophetic verse, no matter if they have multiple fullfilments. God doesn't need multiple ways to describe His plan.
Where am I going wrong and please enlighten me. This might be a course of study I want to personally undertake not because I want to be a prophecy "harlot" like so many are today but to understand personally why in God's perfect plan, 1/4 to 1/3 of His Word is prophetic and its meaning to our everyday Christ like walk.
Thanks for your help like always. I will be leaning on you a lot when prayerfully, if the Spirit leads, I tackle this subject. Not only that, I believe this is the perfect way, studying prophetic verses fulfilled will help me to really get to know our Lord and Savior more intimately because I will be delving into both OT and NT.
God bless you for your ministry and may our Savior continue to increase your wisdom, perservance and fortitude in spreading His Word to His flock.
Another email waiting for you to return: I was reading the CT Part 4a in reference to the war in heaven and how the angels including fallen and elect assemble before God and you mentioned Zech 3:1 as a reference where Satan is assembled before God.
The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"
Can you enlighten my knowledge on this verse? Why did our Lord address himself in this verse? It doesn't make sense to me and I never recalled any verses similar to this in other passages in the bible.
Thank you for the clarification and God bless
And another: I was reading CT 4A War in Heaven and it mention in Rev 12.9 where satan was thrown to earth after defeat by Michael. I have a question, I heard other commentaries where at this juncture Satan indwells the Beast (Anti-Christ). Is this correct? Does Satan actually become the Anti-Christ or will he still be in Spirit form directing things.
This comes from the standpoint that the attempted assassination of Anti-Christ and his presumed death actually coincides with the war in heaven and therefore once Satan was defeated, he inhabited the body of Anti-christ.
Can you explain this and if this is covered more in-detail in CT, please refer me to the appropriate part. I am only on Part 4A War in Heaven. I have not seen this discuss in the earlier parts, particularly the part about Anti-Christ PArt 3B.
God Bless again
I'm back in town now.
As to your questions:
1) On multiple fulfillment. The Bible means what it means. It doesn't mean what it doesn't mean, and it also doesn't not mean what it actually does mean. It doesn't matter how we feel about it; what matters is how God has constructed it. As with many things in life, we are tempted to ask "why?" when things don't appear to us to be "as they should" in our eyes; but as with our own lives, so with the scriptures, if we are patient we will eventually see God's solution. One of the reason our Lord spoke in parables, after all, was to test the willingness of those to whom the Word of God came did they really want the truth? We all want God's deliverance in the face of our troubles are we really willing to wait for it? Do we trust Him enough? Here is one example of what I mean (cited in the previous email):
"But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.
'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.' "
With this quotation from Joel, Peter explains the pouring out of the Spirit at the first Pentecost of the Church. But the second half of the passage is clearly a reference to the second advent. Another passage, one of many, is the prophecy at Zechariah 9:9 of the Messiah's coming on a colt and a donkey. We know that Christ rode one then the other (from Matthew), but He will also return on a white horse (Rev.19:11).
Perhaps my terminology is not the best (i.e., perhaps "partial" would be a better word). Any prophecy has a fulfillment, and it may take, in the two examples above, two advents to be completely fulfilled in every respect. If our Lord promises to save us, and He does, that is also a staged process. We are saved when we believe; we are brought safely through this life and all its troubles by the Lord's deliverances; we are ultimately saved at His return when we are resurrected. Every part is important. All prophecy is essentially a promise from the Lord, and His promises are always fulfilled in each and every part, even it if it sometimes takes longer and comes in more installments than we in our human impatience would prefer but He is always faithful to His promises, and salvation is the ultimate promise for all who believe, being founded on the bedrock of the Person and the Work of our Savior Jesus Christ. He is One who is promised and prophesied, and the fulfillment of Him was / will be accomplished in two advents, after all.
2) On Zechariah 3:2. Our Lord Jesus Christ has always appeared before the Father, having been "face to face with Him" since before the creation. After creation and before the first advent, our Lord's appearance is referred to as "the Angel of the Lord" (not an actual "angel" but our Lord appearing in this fashion so as to be visible, along the lines of the Father in Revelation chapter four). As such, our Lord Jesus anticipates His role in the plan of God as the Servant through whom salvation comes. Therefore He is "the Lord", but He also speaks of the Father as Lord.
Then Jesus said to them, "Why is it said that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: " The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." David calls him Lord. How then can he be his son?"
Luke 20:41-44 NIV
Here are some links for this question:
Christophany in the OT
Old Testament Appearances of Jesus Christ
The Angel of God
Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (Christophany: Genesis 3:8)
Christology Questions III
3) On the beast being possessed by the devil. This is covered (briefly) in CT 4; here is a link to an email response with copies the passage and comments: Antichrist and Babylon (see Q/A #2). The bottom line is that while I understand it as possible, I don't see any need or rationale for it (nor indication of it from scripture). Antichrist carries out his father's will without any difficulties inasmuch as it lines up with his own selfish and evil desires. Also, I don't believe that the beast actually dies; in my opinion it will instead seem to all the world that he did die and come back to life (see in CT 3B: The Assassination and Apparent Resuscitation of the Beast).
Thanks for your patience!
In our dear Lord Jesus,
I intend to read Pneumatology soon, but I have looked at parts of it as I'm putting together a comprehensive explanation for someone. I wanted to ask about the last two verses you quote in the following section where you write:
All who accept the essential truth of the doctrine of the Trinity accept the truth that the Spirit is God, and scripture confirms this truth throughout (Gen.1:2; Ps.139:7; Acts 5:3-4; 1Cor.12:11; and compare Heb.3:7-11 with Ps.95:7-11 where the Lord is speaking):
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2nd Corinthians 3:17 NIV
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2nd Corinthians 3:18 NIV
I thought that 2 Corinthians 3:17 meant that God the Father is Spirit, meaning that He doesn't exist in space and time, but you support Spirit's divinity with this verse. I have been reading it as "God is Spirit" rather than "Spirit is God". Could you explain why these verses can be taken as proof of Spirit's divinity rather than as a proof of God the Father's spiritual nature of existence?
In our Lord,
Hello my friend,
In 2nd Corinthians 3:17, we have the definite article with the word "Spirit"; in that context, then, it seems it has to refer to "the" Holy Spirit as opposed to being an attribute of God. If that is the case in verse seventeen (as I believe it is), the same would have to be true of verse eighteen. For verse seventeen to mean "the Lord is spirit", the definite article would have to be absent. Finally, I think the "Lord" here is the Lord Jesus Christ, since the Spirit is described as belonging to (or issuing from) Him.
Hope this helps.
Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ,
I'm still not there with these verses. The "Trinity triangle" depicts that Father is God, Son is God and Holy Spirit is God, but that Father is not Son, Son is not Holy Spirit and Holy Spirit is not Father. So to take the Lord of 2 Corinthians as Jesus Christ, which also seems to be implied in verse 16, would equate the Son with the Spirit - wouldn't this contradict the above Trinity premise?
I've been trying to get underneath this passage and according to some in verse 17 Paul refers to the spirit mentioned in verse 6, which is not to be taken as a person, but rather as a spirit of the gospel, the character of the new covenant. Our Lord often exposed that pharisaical interpretation of the word of God was legalistic and did not bring out the true spirit of it and I thought that maybe such a take on "spirit" could apply here also - Jesus Christ is the true, spiritual meaning of the letter. This interpretation is presented quite clearly here:
Not sure what you think of it.
In our Lord,
I take the Spirit in verse six as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit: He is the One who "gives life". So also verses eight, seventeen and eighteen. The fact that the Spirit has been in view all along in this context of Paul's discourse as the One who illuminates the truth makes His appearance at the end of the chapter not only not surprising in my opinion but even perhaps obligatory. I find the discussion in the link provided lacking in many respects (and dangerously incorrect in others); fyi it comes from a 7th Day Adventist ministry and they have plenty of dangerous doctrinal quirks.
The Trinity triangle expression is correct in terms of the Persons of the Godhead: each is distinct from the other two, however, they are each God, and therefore can and are described as "Lord" (YHVH) as in our passage.
Scripture (Paul in particular) frequently moves back and forth between the Persons of the Trinity for just these reasons, namely, their common divine essence and common description with the words "God" and "Lord" and their absolutely common and indistinguishable purpose in carrying out the Plan of God (that is at the heart of the "oneness" for which we human beings have no frame of reference, even considering the closest human friendships, alliances and relationships). As even our Lord Jesus told the disciples:
"He who has seen Me has seen the Father;"
John 14:9b NKJV
. . . which does not mean that Jesus is the Father or that the Father is Jesus but that there is not a sliver of daylight between His love and the Father's love, between the Father's plan and His carrying out of that plan and the Spirit is the One who empowers it all. Jesus has always been the visible Person of the Trinity, representing the Father even before the incarnation (i.e., Christophany).
That brings us to "now the Lord is the Spirit". It seems to me prima facie that the phrase to pneuma here has to be the Holy Spirit, both because of the definite article and also because it describes "the Lord". N.b., it cannot mean "a spirit", both because of the article and also because we know that the Lord is not just "a" spirit but is "Spirit" (Jn.4:24) quite a difference. This being the case, it seems to me that this clause can only mean one of three things: 1) that Jesus is the Holy Spirit (not only does that contradict everything scripture has to say on the subject but it is also not born out at all by the context); 2) that the Holy Spirit is the Lord (not Jesus but Lord/YHVH in His own right this is my view; cf. Jn.14:9); 3) that what we have here is an equivalence of purpose rather than of person (cf. Jn.10:30: "I and the Father are one"). I would not rule out #3 as impossible (it is certainly part of the overall thought that should be in our hearts as we view this passage), but as I say I prefer #2. The Spirit is "the Lord" who gives the gospel, and that is what Paul has gotten to now in his discourse.
"Now the Lord [in this case of evangelizing] is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord (i.e., sent by Jesus Christ) is [giving the gospel], there is freedom [ salvation for all who accept it]."
2nd Corinthians 3:17
"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,
All this is still unclear to me, let me ask you about a few particulars.
1. You wrote: Finally, I think the "Lord" here is the Lord Jesus Christ, since the Spirit is described as belonging to (or issuing from) Him.
But in the last reply: This being the case, it seems to me that this clause can only mean one of three things: 1) that Jesus is the Holy Spirit (not only does that contradict everything scripture has to say on the subject but it is also not born out at all by the context);
At the end you provide your translation with explanations in parentheses:
"Now the Lord [in this case of evangelizing] is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord (i.e., sent by Jesus Christ) is [giving the gospel], there is freedom [salvation for all who accept it]."
2nd Corinthians 3:17
I must be misunderstanding you here, because it seems the first two statements are contradictory as to whether "the Lord" in this verse is or is not Jesus Christ.
2. I thought that "the Lord" here refers to Jesus Christ, which is how I understood your previous explanation of this passage:
The main point of comparison is the veil, something which obscures sight both actively and passively, and the reluctance of the Jewish people to accept the truth, something that both Moses and Paul had big problems with. In Moses' case, the veil was used as a means of not allowing the people to see the glory fading from Moses' face. In Paul's case, the glory had now faded, or better had replaced by the brilliance of the reality of Jesus Christ. Rather than accepting this new, brighter glory, however, most Jews in Paul's day retained the veil of Moses (i.e., the Law), preferring its faded glory whose fading was/is obscured because only "in Christ" (i.e., by believing in Him) is that veil of preference for the imperfectly understood shadow replaced by the brilliant light of the reality of Jesus Christ.
So if the veil is removed only "in Christ", doesn't it mean that "the Lord" in verse 16 refers to Jesus Christ:
15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16(NASB)
Again, I'm not sure what is the meaning of "the Lord" here. In your last email you said it is not to be taken as a reference to Jesus Christ, but rather to YHWH:
This being the case, it seems to me that this clause can only mean one of three things: 1) that Jesus is the Holy Spirit (not only does that contradict everything scripture has to say on the subject but it is also not born out at all by the context); 2) that the Holy Spirit is the Lord (not Jesus but Lord/YHVH in His own right this is my view; cf. Jn.14:9);
3. You wrote that the statement "the Lord is the Spirit" may refer to equivalence of purpose rather than person:
. . .that what we have here is an equivalence of purpose rather than of person (cf. Jn.10:30: "I and the Father are one"). I would not rule out #3 as impossible (it is certainly part of the overall thought that should be in our hearts as we view this passage), but as I say I prefer #2.
I wanted to ask what allows such interpretation if we have the verb "is" here? I'm not sure on what basis "the Lord is the Spirit" could refer to equivalence of purpose, but not person, since it's the latter which seems to be implied when the verse is read.
4. Finally, you wrote:
It seems to me prima facie that the phrase to pneuma here has to be the Holy Spirit, both because of the definite article and also because it describes "the Lord". N.b., it cannot mean "a spirit", both because of the article and also because we know that the Lord is not "a" spirit but Spirit (Jn.4:24).
I understand that the interpretation which doesn't take "the Spirit" here as a person, but rather as "the spirit of the gospel" in the sense of the true meaning of the scripture is not correct, even if it did seem to me as a possibility here. I am not clear, however, about your explanation in the second sentence. You wrote that "the Spirit" here cannot be taken as "a spirit" because of the article and because the Lord is not "a spirit", but in John 4:24 the definite article isn't used, so I'm not sure what you meant with regard to the article here.
I will appreciate your explanations, as always.
In our Lord,
To get right to your questions:
1) The word "Lord" occurs twice in 2nd Corinthians 3:17: the first time it refers to the Spirit; the second time it refers to Jesus Christ.
2) As mentioned before, scripture (in both testaments) moves easily between all three members of the Trinity because they have exactly the same purpose and are "one" to a degree we cannot really appreciate (that is, one in essence and therefore in purpose, even though of course they are also "three" in Person and absolutely distinct as to their persons). So it should not be surprising that all three are present in the context of this chapter. The word "Lord" (kyrios in Greek) is the equivalent of the Hebrew YHVH; any of the members of the Trinity can be and are referred to by this title in the New and Old Testament respectively. This chapter is mostly about Jesus Christ and the veiling of the detailed truth about Him until He came in the flesh; but it is of course the Holy Spirit who reveals Him (e.g., v.8) and makes clear the distinction between Him and the Father which was a mystery before the first advent. Much of Paul's purpose in this section is to explain the Spirit's role in revealing Jesus Christ, and that is certainly understandable because it is the Holy Spirit who is responsible in such great measure for the power of the current dispensation, indwelling all who belong to Christ. So, yes, Christ is "the Lord" in verse sixteen who is revealed by "the Lord" who is "the Spirit" in verse seventeen all according to the Plan of "the Lord" who is the Father. In the previous email I was referring to verse seventeen with the three possibilities (again, sorry for any confusion on this point).
3) As I say, that is not my preference. But it is true that "God is one" (Deut.6:4), and that this means not that there is "only one God" (which is true of course), but that "God" (the three Persons) uniquely share a common purpose/unity in all things beyond human experience or understanding.
4) It is true that in John 4:24 there is no definite article. Indeed, in Greek there really is no perfect way to distinguish between "Spirit" and "a spirit" or for that matter between "God" and "a god" (although one could use the pronoun tis/ti to make it clear that what we have is indefinite, and that pronoun is not of course employed here). However, just as in John 1:1 "God" and not "a god" is meant, so in John 4:24 "Spirit" and not "a spirit" is meant. In John's usage, the indefinite is not to be preferred; rather the opposite is true. Also, in the context of both passages as well as in the theology of the Bible generally, it is the unusual "a ___" which would require additional explanation, whereas "God" and "Spirit" are quite clear as to their meanings in their respective contexts and much to be preferred in the absence of any such explanation. In the first case, the equating of "the Word" with God is natural and consistent with the argument, whereas "a god" would introduce an entirely new idea which is not in fact pursued (pace the JW's); in the second case, "Spirit" explains God consistently with the argument, whereas "a spirit" would not only limit God but introduces an idea foreign to the argument which is not then pursued.
By all means, these are very important matters and very necessary to understand too.
Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
John 4:24 remains unclear to me. I'm still unsure how your explanation allows to draw the conclusion that what our Lord means here is that the Holy Spirit is God rather than God's nature is spiritual. I might be wrong here of course, but the latter seems a plausible to me, since from eternity past God has existed outside of time and space and without a body.
If I read your take on this correctly, you take pneuma as the subject and ho theos as the complement, but isn't it the subject in Greek which is normally marked with the definite article? If we take ho theos as the subject here, the sentence seems to mean that "God (with definite article) is Spirit/spiritual/exists as a spirit" rather than "Holy Spirit is God".
Since the definite article here stands before theos, I am also not clear about the parallel to John 1:1, since there we have theos een ho logos - so the exact opposite to John 4:24 - definite article before logos, and no article before theos. I know why John 1:1 means "the Word was God", but based on my limited understanding of Greek in John 4:24 we cannot say that it means "Holy Spirit is God".
As always, your input will be much appreciated.
In our Lord,
Hello my friend!
Always good to hear from you. I hope all is well.
As to your question, here is how I read the critical parts of the two verses:
Jn.1:1: "the Word was God"
Jn.4:24: "[the] God is Spirit"
In both instances, the predicate nominative explains the subject, telling us what "the Word" and "God" respectively "are". In such situations in Greek, this predicate is descriptive rather than analytical. That is to say, unless otherwise made clear by the context or the text itself, the predicate gives us a characteristic of the subject, rather than defining the subject by placing it into a subcategory of some sort. The latter (which as I say is an incorrect approach) would be the true effect of translating "a god" instead of "God", or "a spirit" instead of "Spirit", yielding a misleading result.
Besides the facts that 1) there is nothing in the context to suggest that we are categorizing (i.e., both "a god" and "a spirit" would be off the track of what is being discussed and so would only be introduced if there was going to be some further discussion explaining what is meant by these newly introduced subcategories of "a god" or "a spirit" and there is no such discussion) and that 2) there is nothing in the text to suggest we are categorizing (i.e., in addition to no markers or signs to that effect, we do not even have the indefinite pronoun tis/ti which would make that clear, if such were the meaning), this is doubly true in the New Testament where 1) we don't find this sort of categorizing with the verb to be anywhere that I am aware; and 2) in this environment we would be very surprised to learn that the Word is "only a god" or that God is "only a spirit"; these two sentiments are not only not found anywhere else in the Bible but are also in my opinion at any rate completely contradictory to everything else the Bible has to say about the divinity and infinity of God. For this reason, as far as I am aware, you won't be able to find any translation of scripture which has translated differently from what I have given you above (except in the case of cult-inspired versions like the JW's NWT where they are trying to prove just such an erroneous idea and even they are inconsistent in how they render this construction: see the link: Bible Versions: Q/A #16).
Hope this helps!
Do feel free to write back.
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I'm still mulling over John 4:24. I understand your point that the verse cannot mean that God is "a spirit" and that this would be a foreign idea, but at the same time it is hard for me to see how our Lord by saying pneuma ho theos could be here referring to the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Trinity. This is also due to the subject-complement relationship in this verse being the opposite to John 1:1, as I mentioned in the last email. Of course I might be wrong here and my level of Greek doesn't allow me to draw conclusions.
Perhaps the clearest way for me to express my current take on it is to provide what I see as parallels (again, please correct if I'm wrong on this) - 1 John 1:5 and 1 John 4:8.
1 John 1:5 states that ho theos phoos estin and 1 John 4:8 that ho theos agapee estin. Maybe the language I'm using here is not precise in technical terms, but both verses describe God's nature. Neither Light nor Love are a person, but they are terms that describe God. And this is how I take John 4:24 also.
Let me know your thoughts.
In our Lord,
Did I say anywhere that "Spirit" in John 4:24 was the Holy Spirit? If I did, I mis-spoke. Your parallels, "God is Light" and "God is Love, are precise ones. My point in bringing up John 4:24 was to show that "A spirit" is wrong just as "A god" is wrong or in your examples "A light" would also be wrong and "A love" would be wrong.
Sorry for any confusion my friend!
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
Exodus 32:11-14 (NASB):
11 Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever." 14 So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.
I wanted to ask you about two points made in commentaries on Exodus 32:14.
I) Gill's Exposition:
He did not do what he threatened to do, and seemed to have in his thoughts and designs, but did what Moses desired he would, Exodus 32:12 not that any of God's thoughts or the determinations of his mind are alterable; for the thoughts of his heart are to all generations; but he changes the outward dispensations of his providence, or his methods of acting with men, which he has been taking or threatened to take; and this being similar to what they do when they repent of anything, who alter their course, hence repentance is ascribed to God, though, properly speaking, it does not belong to him, see Jeremiah 18:8.
What is your take on the point about God changing "the outward dispensations of his providence"?
II) Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:
God expresses the greatness of his just displeasure, after the manner of men who would have prayer of Moses could save them from ruin; thus he was a type of Christ, by whose mediation alone, God would reconcile the world to himself.
Would you agree that we can see Moses here as a type of Christ? The same could refer to Exodus 32:32, where Moses is willing to lay down His life for the life of people to be preserved:
Exodus 32:32 (NASB)
32 But now, if You will, forgive their sinand if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!"
I would agree that we can see the parallels here with Moses as a noted "type of Christ". As to "the outward dispensations of his providence", well, this is a good example of how language and modes of expression change over time. As a native English speaker, though not British, this paragraph you post, though seemingly theologically correct, is linguistically very difficult to penetrate in any sort of helpful way. The operative phrase seems to mean, "this is the way God represents Himself [for our benefit] but not the way He really is"; it is true that the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, is replete with anthropomorphisms of this sort, and also true that this is for our benefit. Gill is trying to make sure we don't get the wrong impression of God, His character, or the divine decrees, but I don't get anything out of his comments except a headache in trying to apologize for his 18th century ways of expressing and explaining things.
9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel,10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.
Could you explain these verses? How was it possible for these four to see God? Was this a Christophany, as in the case of other Old Testament appearances?
Were this a vision, as in Daniel's vision of the Father or John's vision of the Father in Revelation, we might naturally take this as being the Father. However, since "no man has [actually in his physical body] seen God [the Father in His divinity] at any time" (Jn.1:18; 1Jn.4:12), it seems better to take this as a Christophany with our Lord representing the Father in the same way that He did in Isaiah chapter six (compare Jn.12:41). Here is a link to where this is discussed: "Christophany in Exodus".
I'm not clear about Exodus 33:2-3 (NASB):
2 I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. 3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way."
God says that He will send an angel before the Israelites, but He will not go up in their midst. Doesn't this mean that we should draw the distinction between God and the Angel of the Lord? If so, then I don't know how to reconcile this with the beginning of Exodus 3 (verses 2-6), where the Angel of the Lord speaks as God in the first person.
He did go up! Moses can't even imagine "going up" without the Lord, and after appealing on this point the Lord says:
So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name."
Exodus 33:17 NKJV
The Angel of the Lord is the manifestation of Him, namely, a Christophany (not an angelic creature):
[Jesus] is the shining forth of [the Father's] glory, the precise image of His essence, the One who sustains the universe by His mighty Word. When He had accomplished the cleansing of [our] sins, He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
On God's going up with Moses - I'm still not sure how to interpret God's words from Exodus 33:3: "I will not go up in your midst". Should we take them as:
1. An anthropopathism - God expresses His displeasure with the people and "changes" His mind as a result of Moses' entreaty, as expressed in verses 14 and 17.
2. Relating to the change of place of the tabernacle, as some commentators propose. Verse 7 says that Moses would pitch the tent of meeting outside the camp, but previously it would stand in the midst of it.
I'm not yet clear why God should say that He will send an angel in verse 2 and then immediately after in verse 3 say that He would not go up with Israel.
I think the first alternative is closest to the answer. The whole episode leads us to understand how unworthy the Israelites were (and us too by application), and how blessed they were to have that presence (it's no small thing and should not be underestimated any more than the indwelling presence of the Spirit should be taken for granted).
Yes, I think it is an important message to consider here - Israel's unworthiness, and our by application. Although I still find it hard to explain the sudden change from verse 2 to 3 with an anthropopathism - God says He will send an angel and immediately after that He will not go up.
There is another interpretation I wanted to ask you about here - some commentators emphasise that verse 2 says "an angel", which they take to mean that it is no longer going to be our Lord, but rather a created angel. So the conversation between God and Moses in chapter 34 would go:
"Because of this horrible act of idolatry I will only send a created angel before you, but I myself, my presence in the person of the Angel will no longer go with you."
After this Moses intercedes and God "changes His mind" - this is where the anthropopathism would apply (verse 14).
This would perhaps help to make the whole passage understandable, although the difficulty would still remain that the expression "an angel" rather than "the angel" is used not just in Exodus 33:2, but also in Exodus 23:20, and the second verse definitely refers to our Lord, as I understand it. Your help on this would be much appreciated.
Everything you say here is correct as well. The one thing I would point out in regard to the "angel" in Exodus 33:2 is that this is hypothetical it did not happen. Now we can posit that if the Plan of God had been different and Moses did not intercede or God did not hearken to the intercession, that provision in this intermediate manner would have been made according to this verse. But in the event, the children of Israel were accompanied by the Lord of Hosts, Jesus Christ in Christophany carrying out the Father's plan.