Misunderstandings: Alleged Manifestations of God or a Preexistent Christ
PLEASE NOTE: The following study, though not a direct quote, is adapted from a discussion authored years ago by a fellow Torah keeper, worshipper of the One True God, and follower of Messiah Yeshua. I prefer to not provide his name until I receive permission to do so.
This study is a companion study to a separate discussion in which we prove how God cannot be and never has been literally seen. Of course, that proves that since Yeshua (Jesus) was often literally seen then he cannot possibly be “God in the flesh”. The discussions were presented separately in order to reduce the length and complexity of each.
That study focuses upon the “seeing” issue. This study focuses, instead, upon alleged examples in Scripture that people say prove God was seen as well as what they wrongly interpret to be examples of the physical manifestation of a preexistent Messiah (Christ). There is some unavoidable overlap or repetition between the two studies. Nevertheless, the need to correct the common misconceptions within contemporary Christianity and counterfeit Messianism necessitates repetition in order for the truth to be rescued from the darkness of deceit and false teaching found within those two sister faiths.
Both studies prove basically the same thing, which is that since God has never been seen, Yeshua the Messiah cannot possibly be God. This study goes further in proving that the concept of Messiah appearing in a preexistent form is incorrect and based primarily in biased preconceptions that are forced into the passages used by such agents of deception.
Theophanies and Christophanies?
In the written Torah we find the following passage:
- Exodus 33:11 (KJV)
- 11 And YHVH (God) spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend….
Such a statement is explained in theological terms as a “theophany.”
Christophany is another theological term used to refer to either a visible or auditory manifestation of the preincarnate “Christ.” A christophany is one interpretation of a theophany. Neither word is found in Scripture. They are simply man’s attempt to define and explain something they don’t understand. The Scriptures, however, do not leave us in the dark concerning the alleged ‘appearances’ of The Almighty Creator God.
Let’s begin by trying to understand theophanies and whether or not they can be actual appearances of The Eternal One. The Bible makes it quite clear that no man has ever seen or heard The Most High Creator God. Consider the following verses;
- Exodus 33:20 (KJV)
- 20 And He said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
- John 1:18 (KJV)
- 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him.
Briefly, some Bible versions terribly misrepresent John 1:18. An example of this is what is shown in the New English Translation (NET). Please note what I show in bold italics in the verse from that Bible version. It should be noted that most Bible versions do not render the verse as it is shown from the NET Bible. Unfortunately, however, the few that do are what “God in the flesh” promoters utilize, usually without informing their audience of the questionable nature of the translation.
- John 1:18 (NET)
- 18 No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known.
The shameless bias of the specific scholar who was tasked with translating the verse is obvious. Though I will not quote it here, the translator note which accompanies the verse within the NET bible actually makes mention of the potential error and then attempts to dodge the issue.
I will not detail the error within this discussion since I will do so in the study which proves how God cannot be seen, never has been seen, and therefore how Yeshua (Jesus) is most definitely not God. I will presently only point out how the “himself God” phrase is an extremely biased and blatant attempt at deception. At best, the variation within the many translations seriously undermines the translators biased rendering of the verse and should cause any sincere reader to recognize its doubtful accuracy.
Continuing with the verses, we read:
- John 5:37 (KJV)
- 37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.
- John 6:46 (KJV)
- 46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of god, he hath seen the Father.
- 1 John 4:12 (KJV)
- 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.
- 1 Timothy 1:17 (KJV)
- 17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
- 1 Timothy 6:16 (KJV)
- 16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Returning to Exodus 33:11 we again read:
Exodus 33:11 (KJV)
11 And YHVH (God) spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. …
How can that be the case? If the other verses are correct, which they are, how can it be said that The Creator spoke to Moses “face to face”? Similar statements were made in Deut.34:10, and Num.12:6-8.
Deuteronomy 34:10 (KJV)
10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,
Numbers 12:6-8 (KJV)
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
Moses himself helps to explain this in Deuteronomy.5:4 when he said “The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire.“ He was referring to the giving of the Ten Commandments in Exodus.20. Upon completion of Israel hearing those words, God told Moses to say to the children of Israel, “You have seen that I have talked to you from heaven“ (Ex.20:22).
Let us study this further. Did God actually speak to Moses “face to face”? Was God literally “seen” talking from heaven? Are these actual theophanies or christophanies?
Face to face?
The Bible states that God at time spoke “face to face” with various Bible characters, and many Christians sincerely believe this to be so. Did he really?
Although the Scriptures do, indeed, say that The Creator God spoke “face to face” with the children of Israel, they did not actually see him as one sees with the eyes.
As I explain in the companion study in which I prove that God had actually never been literally seen, this form of “seeing” God is actually referring to “understanding” or “comprehending” God. It is actually a well known and often used definition of “seeing” something. We all at times, when trying to explain something to someone else, often ask, “Do you see now?”. In such concersations what we are actually wanting to know is if they understand or comprehend what we are telling them.
That is precisely what Scripture means when it talks of “seeing” God and what Yeshua (Jesus) meant when he said in the gospel of John:
John 14:9 (KJV)
9 Jesus saith unto him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”
Yeshua was not saying, effectively, “Hey guys! If you are looking at me then you are looking at God.” Instead, he was explaining that if they understood the teachings and faith example that he provided, then they likewise would understand what The Eternal God’s will is for all mankind. That was his basic intent within that entire chapter of John’s gospel.
One “face to face” meeting with God is shown in chapter four of Deuteronomy.
12And YHVH (God) spoke unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.…15Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that The Eternal God spoke unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: 16Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female.
The Eternal One would not allow the children of Israel to see any likeness of Himself because He knew they would then make an image of Him and worship it. We see that God’s command was well founded when we consider the far reaching images abomination within the Catholic church, which has ignored and discarded God’s direct commandments against images and idol worship.
Although the passage from Deuteronomy says that God “talked” to them, it was not God’s actual voice they were hearing. Not only is this confirmed by John.5:37, but also by Acts 7:38,53 as well.
John 5:37 (KJV)
37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.
Acts 7:38,53 (KJV)
12This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: …15Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
It was actually angels that spoke with Moses and the fathers of Israel. Therefore, Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians:
12Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; andit was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
“Ordained” is from the Greek diatasso meaning “to command”.
Again, we read in Hebrews.2:2:
Hebrews 2:2 (KJV)
2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
It is clear that The Eternal Creator spoke the law to Israel through angels. The Creator Himself was never heard nor seen.
Concerning Gen.32:24-30 where Jacob wrestled with a “man”, he said he saw “God face to face”.
Genesis 32:24-30 (KJV)
24So Jacob was left alone. Then a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he could not defeat Jacob, he struck the socket of his hip so the socket of Jacob’s hip was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 26Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” “I will not let you go,” Jacob replied, “unless you bless me.” 24The man asked him, “What is your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” 28″No longer will your name be Jacob,” the man told him, “but Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked, “Please tell me your name.” “Why do you ask my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there. 30So Jacob named the place Peniel, explaining, “Certainly I have seen God face to face and have survived.”
Yet, in Hos.12:3,4, we find out it wasn’t God, but an angel that he wrestled with.
Hosea 12:3,4 (KJV)
3He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: …4Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us.
Most people may think that the Bible must be untrue because it contradicts itself. How can it state that God spoke “face to face” or performed an action, yet in other places present the apparent contradiction that it was actually an angel who did the speaking or actions.
Most people fail to understand the truth regarding “seeing” and “hearing” God because they approach the issue from a mind set or worldview that is non-Hebraic and not based in Torah. In fact, what we have discussed is a well established and standard Hebraic concept. It is what is known as the Torah’s “law of agency”. “The main point of the law of agency is expressed in the dictum “A person’s agent is [regarded] as the person himself” (Talmud: Nedarun 72b; Kiddushin 41b).”
The law of agency, as well as the definition of the Hebrew term shaliach, which means “agent” is discussed in a separate study entitled, “Yeshua: God’s empowered AGENT, but he is not God” in which we prove how Yeshua, as the “agent” of God, cannot possibly be the God by whom he was commissioned as an agent. Please review that study for more information.
The angels that spoke the law were The Creator’s agents or representatives. As such, they had full authority to not only speak in His name, but to seemingly appropriate His name as in Ex.20:2.
Exodus 20:2 (KJV)
2H am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
The angels, as God’s empowered agents, spoke and did exactly what The Eternal Creator God sent them to say and do.
Exodus 23:20-23 (KJV)
20Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. 23For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
The “angel” (Heb. malak – messenger) would actually speak to Israel, but The Creator God says, “all that I speak” even though He was not the one who literally spoke. The Creator God would command the angel what to say and he would say it.
The same is true of our Savior Yeshua. He said in the gospel of John:
John 12:49-50 (KJV)
3For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.4And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
So we see that Yeshua (Jesus) was simply obeying the commands given him by his God, the Only True God, which happens to be the God to whom he referred in John chapter 17.
John 17:3 (KJV)
3And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Ok, but what about the “angel of God” so often seen in the Scripture? What is this “angel of God”? Was it Yeshua Messiah (Christ) appearing in a preexistent form as most Christians assume? Or was it something entirely different? Please continue to part 3 to find the answer.
The “Angel of God”. A Preexistent Christ?
The “angel of The LORD” or “angel of God” is a very interesting figure in Scripture. Let’s look at a few passages that refer to him.
10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11And the angel of The LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
10And it came to pass at the time that the cattle conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold, the rams which leaped upon the cattle were ringstraked, speckled, and grisled. 11And the angel of God spoke unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. 12And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. 13I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.
Judges 2:1-4 (KJV)
1And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. 4And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept.
In each of these instances the angel of God spoke as though he were God. We know from several other Scriptures that the angel of God cannot be God Himself. Aside from these, as well as the Biblical passages shown earlier which directly state that no man has seen or heard God, we have two other examples proving this to be true.
In 2 Sam.24:16 we find God speaking to the angel of God:
2 Samuel 24:16 (KJV)
16And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
Then in Zechariah 1:12 we read of the angel of God speaking to The Eternal One.
Zechariah 1:12 (KJV)
12Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?
There are other such examples. Since The Creator God and the angel of God are speaking to one another, they obviously cannot be the same entity. The Creator God and the angel of God are definitely two separate and distinct entities.
We also have a reference which strongly suggests that Yeshua (Jesus) is not the angel of God. In the gospel of Matthew we read of the angel of God appearing and announcing the resurrection of Yeshua.
Matthew 28:2-8 (KJV)
2And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men 5His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 6And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 7He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 8And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
A brief note: Do not let yourselves be confused by the use of the word “Lord”. The Greek word rendered as “Lord” in most English New Testaments is kurios, Strong’s reference number 2962. A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible, shows this word to mean:
κύριος kuriŏs, koo´-ree-os; from κῦρος kurŏs (supremacy); supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by impl. Mr. (as a respectful title): – God, Lord, master, Sir. Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 1, p. 44). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
In other words, the word rendered often rendered as “Lord” in English versions of the Bible does NOT always refer to God. In fact, it often doesn’t.
The capitalization of the word as “Lord” and the overuse of the term instead of properly distinguishing between master, sir, God, etc. when the word is translated, is very often a cause of confusion and misinterpretation. People wrongly assume the word to be referring to God, which is often exactly what biased translators want people to assume.
By doing a simple word search for Strong’s #2962 using any Bible software, it can be quickly and easily shown that the Greek term kurios is simply referring to anyone of higher rank or is being used as a term of respect or politeness.
In these verses from Matthew’s gospel the “angel of the Lord” was the angel of God, but when that angel refers to Yeshua (Jesus) as “Lord” he does not mean to imply that Yeshua is “God”. In that case the term is simply being applied to Yeshua as being superior to himself and to those with whom he spoke (the women present). Indeed, since it was after his resurrection, Yeshua was at that point given all power and authority by God; therefore, Yeshua was and is superior to the “angel of the Lord”, us, and all things in creation other than The Eternal Creator from whom he was sent and by whom he was given such power.
Worthy of note is how the angel could not say, “He is not here, for he is risen” if that angel was, in fact, Yeshua. So there we see clear distinction between the “angel of God (the Lord in this case)” and Yeshua the Messiah whose resurrection he was declaring to the women.
Actually, Heb.1:1,2 and 2:2 suggests Yeshua was not an “angel” of any sort – at least not as the term “angel” is commonly understood.
Heb.2:2 tells us the word was “spoken by angels”. This is referring to the giving of the law at Mt.Sinai as we have already seen. But Heb.1:1,2 tell us God spoke through prophets (and angels, Heb.2:2) in the era preceding Messiah. Yeshua was not the spokesman throughout the Tanakh (Old Testament) as many like to teach. He is, instead, the New Testament and “last days” spokesman.
Yeshua is superior to “angels”, and it is therefore incorrect to ever refer to him as an “angel” of God. (Again, as the term “angel” is commonly understood.)
Let’s look at Ex.13:21;
Exodus 13:21 (KJV)
21And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:
This verse seems to imply The Eternal God led Israel out of Egypt via a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. However, Ex.14:19 and Num.20:16 inform us that, in reality, it was an angel that led Israel;
Exodus 14:19 (KJV)
19And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
Numbers 20:16 (KJV)
16And when we cried unto the Lord, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt: and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border:
There are those who teach it was the preincarnate Messiah who led and followed Israel based on 1 Cor.10:4. We have already seen, however, that Yeshua was not an angel, nor a spokesman during the exodus. It can be proven that 1 Corinthians 10:4 is misunderstood by most Christians and misrepresented by most contemporary Christian and counterfeit Messianic leaders; however, to limit the length of this particular study I will reserve that for a separate discussion. God willing, a detailed study of 1 Corinthians 10:4 will be available soon.
First Corinthians 10:9 is also often misinterpreted and misunderstood. I direct you to my study of the Temptation of Messiah and how it proves he is not God. Within part 2 of that study I mention 1 Cor. 10:9 and begin to explain it. The upcoming study of 1 Cor. 10:4 will likely elaborate upon 1 Cor. 10:9.
Regardless and as just stated, we have already seen that Yeshua was not an angel of spokesman during the times of the exodus nor during any other time recorded in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
Another “theophany” is found in Ex.3. From Ex.3:4 – 4:17 The Creator is having a conversation with Moses. He even reveals to Moses the phrase “I AM” or “I will be” (Ex.3:14) and His memorial name, “YHVH” (Ex.3:15). Yet, in verse 2 of chapter 3, we see it is actually “the angel of YHVH” that appears in the burning bush and talks to Moses. This is confirmed again in Acts 7:35; “This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.”
Exodus 3:2 (KJV)
2And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Acts 7:35 (KJV)
35This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
As The Living God’s empowered agent or chosen representative, the angel had full authority to command Moses and to even use YHVH’s ineffable and awesome name (which is not the simple term many within the “sacred name” community think it to be).
Ok. now we will discuss in part 4 what may be the favorite “theophany” many people point to for their alleged proofs of a preexistent Messiah (Christ). At the very least it is among the favorites.
The favorite “theophany” used by the idolaters
This brings us to perhaps the favorite “theophany/christophany” of all, Gen.18:1;
Genesis 18:1 (KJV)
1And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
A footnote in the “Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible ” concerning Gen.18:1-33 reads,
“Did Abraham actually see and talk with God? Does this contradict John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time”? This theophany (appearance of God to man) in the OT is believed to have been Christ.” Is this possible? Could this have been the pre-incarnate Messiah?
The answer is a resounding no, unless you read Messiah into the text and assume it was him in order to support a biased, preconceived idea or doctrine. There is absolutely nothing in the verses to lead one to that conclusion.
Three “men” confront Abraham. Two of them are later seen to be angels (Gen.18:22;19:1) while one remained who Abraham addressed as “YHVH” (Gen.18:22,26,33).
Genesis 18:22, 19:1 (KJV)
18:22And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. (an angel of God as previously discussed) … 19:1And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
Genesis 18:22, 26, 33(KJV)
18:22And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. (an angel of God as previously discussed) … 26And the Lord said, (an angel of God speaking on behalf of God) If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. … 33And the Lord went his way (an angel of God as previously discussed), as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
If one was going to assume anything, there would be more grounds to assume the third man was an angel as well rather than a pre-incarnate Messiah.
We cannot build doctrines such as “christophanies” based on assumptions and wishful thinking. Unfortunately, that is exactly what contemporary Christian and counterfeit Messianics often do.
It is clear that Abraham was not seeing The Eternal Creator, nor was he actually hearing His voice. Therefore, it could not have been a “theophany,” an appearance of the one true God, because no such possibility exists while we are yet flesh and blood. YHVH Himself says inEx.33:20, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”
In Gen.18:1, The Living God had to be speaking through one of His agents. The question would then be, was that agent an angel or the pre-incarnate Messiah?
In all other supposed theophanies, Scriptures revealed it was an angel speaking or being seen. To suggest this instance is any different is grasping at air and deviates from virtually all similar occurrences found within Scripture.
The thought that Yeshua pre-existed his earthly birth is a fable of men based on misunderstood and/or poorly translated verses.
The fact of the matter is the Bible does not identify the figure in Gen.18:1. It only tells us it could not be The Creator. To suggest it is the pre-incarnate Messiah is just that, a suggestion or a guess, and nothing more.
Finally, let’s conclude with Num.12:6-8:
Numbers 12:6-8 (KJV)
6And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 7My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
Verse 6 tells us the normal way a person would see God is via a vision or dream.
We see this also in Ex.24:10,11 by the Hebrew words used:
Exodus 24:10,11 (KJV)
10And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. 11And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.
In what way did they see the God of Israel who is The Eternal Creator?
The words translated “saw” in both verses can have several meanings. “Roa” (Strong’s #7200) is used far more than any other word for the act of a prophet when receiving God’s word. (See Isaiah 6:1; Jeremiah 1:11; Ezekiel 1:1). A derivative of “roa”, “roeh” (seer) is used as a term for a prophet. It clearly suggests the act of receiving God’s messages via visions and dreams. (See 1 Samuel 9:9,11,18,19).
“Chazah” (#2372) is used of the revelatory visions granted by The Eternal One to His chosen messengers. (See Numbers 24:4,16; Isaiah 1:1; Daniel 2:26; Amos 1:1; Zech.10:2). A derivation of “chazah,” “chozeh,” was also used of prophets and translated “seer” as was “roeh” (#7200). (See 2 Sam.24:11; 2 Chr.35:15).
The Scriptures do declare that people have “seen” God or have “seen” YHVH. If it was not, in fact, an angel of God they were seeing, then they were seeing God in a vision or dream as Solomon did in 1 Kgs.11:9; 3:5; 9:2.
They were certainly not seeing Him in all His glory with their naked eye (their normal vision).
Moses, however, was different. He was permitted to “see” a “similitude” of God. A similitude is not the real thing. It is an image or likeness of the true. The golden calf was an image or likeness of a real calf. A reflection in a mirror is an image or similitude of the true. Moses could not and did not see the full glory or essence of God. He was permitted to see only His “back parts” (Ex.33:23).
In other words, Moses saw a small trace of God’s glory as it was leaving the scene. That tiny trace of fleeting glory was enough to cause his face to shine. A good analogy of this is seeing the wake of a passing ship, but not the ship itself. You can be splashed and tossed around quite easily by that wake even though it was only a small trace of the power of the ship itself.
Basically, Moses was able to “see” a tiny fraction of God’s Glory, but no man can or ever will be able to “see” all the Glory of the Infinite Creator for the simple reason that man is not infinite.
In summation, YHVH (The Living God), the God of Israel and Heavenly Father of our Savior Yeshua, was never seen or heard by man. He used angels and prophets to speak to man prior to Yeshua and He has spoken through His Son ever since. Therefore, there are no theophanies in Scripture. He never used His Son to speak in Old Testament times because His Son did not come into existence until his earthly birth. Therefore, there are no christophanies in Scripture.
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