"The God Who is There" Series
How Does God Manifest Himself to Human Beings? Pt 1
A Survey of How Elohim Appeared
to the Ancients
By David M Rogers
Published Update: October 2014
Table of Contents
The Holy Spirit is bringing about the fulfillment of ancient prophecies in our days which is evidenced by a return to the ancient paths (see Jeremiah 6:16). People everywhere are finding the worship service of the Christian churches have spirit but are lacking truth (John 4:23). The ancient prophesies tell us that in the last days a remnant people will seek YHWH with all their heart, soul and strength, and will return to Yahuwah's ways and obedience to his Torah commandments (Deuteronomy 30:2-3; Jeremiah 24:7). And so, believers are leaving the denominational churches to find a more meaningful experience of relationship with the Living Elohim based upon obedience to all of his word.
These truth seekers are finding their answers in an understanding that Elohim has not changed his mind about obedience nor has he changed his mind about repentance and walking in all the ways revealed in the Torah and the Prophets. They are discovering that Jesus did not do away with even the least commandment of the Law. These people are re-examining all the teachings passed down to us from our forefathers in the church. For the most part this is a good thing and prepares us for the Messianic Age.
But along with the rediscoveries of truth in the Scriptures comes the wanderings which lead people to believe in what is false. One of those areas where people are searching the Scriptures is the issue of the nature of our Creator. How do we understand the revelation in nature and in Scripture that there is a Creator God. And just as important, who is Jesus? Is he God come in the flesh as Christians purport or is he merely a human man who did good? Many are the studies from the New Testament "proving" that Jesus (Hebrew Yahusha) is God in human flesh. But perhaps the more important question is: do the Torah, the Writings and the Prophets indicate that God would become a human being?
Those for whom Hebrew is their native tongue usually interpret the Scriptures as excluding the thought that God could or would become human flesh. As a result, they reject the notion from the Christian Scriptures that Jesus is God in the flesh. Christians, using the New Testament alone, generally conclude that Jesus is God manifest in human flesh. Thus, it is our purpose in this study to search the Tanach (the "Old Testament") to find out if the Scriptures really do teach that Elohim was to become human flesh. What does the Bible say about the manifestations of Elohim? Has he communicated with men in a human form before? Then, taking it a step further, what do the Scriptures have to say about how Elohim would manifest to his people going forward? Does he promise to dwell with men in a human body, or is he only revealing himself by his spirit and through human prophets?
Pouring over Scripture to ascertain the nature of God is no new thing. Probably every generation of people on earth have endeavored to better get to know the God Who is There. What is he like? Why did he create human beings? What does he require of us? What is our purpose in the creation? These are but a few of the questions people want answers to.
Yet, in our search for the Living Elohim and for knowledge of the Most High, we do not have to reinvent the wheel. Those who came before us have done a great service for us in laying the groundwork for such an investigation into the nature of Elohim. We can learn much from the studies done in the past. Though it is a temptation for those in a Torah positive mindset and a Hebrew roots understanding to erase everything we have been taught and to rediscover the Scriptures as for the first time, this is a mistake.
However, when we lean on the discoveries of the past, we must proceed with caution. For there are some significant dangers inherent in the theologies established from past studies. But not everything Christians have learned while in the Church is wrong, though Messianics sometimes think that way! Not everything the Rabbis teach is right nor is it all wrong! And not everything you hear in the Messianic world or Hebrew roots movement is truth! We must be discerning in our pursuit of truth. Don't believe everything you hear – even if it is an intellectual and fine sounding argument.
Our quest for the Living Elohim is fraught with dangers. So with must proceed with caution, with humility and with fear. Caution, because past preconceptions will lead many to misinterpret and misunderstand the revelation of Elohim. Humility, because God alone has full understanding. And fear, because it is only through the fear of Elohim that we can come to know who He really is. We can only stay on the right path by listening to the Spirit - not just any spirit who wants to communicate with us, but Elohim's Spirit.
Fully understanding the nature of Elohim is, first of all, beyond our ability. So we need help. The prophet Isaiah expresses the difficulty of knowing Yahuwah the Creator:
Who has understood the mind of Yehovah, or instructed him as his counselor? Whom did Yehovah consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. (Isaiah 40:13-15)
It would be foolish of us to think we could understand the mind of Elohim. He is far beyond our comprehension. Nor would we be realistic to think we could teach him anything. This awareness should cause us to approach this topic with profound humility.
To know Elohim requires one to diligently pursue Him:
My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of Yahuwah and find the knowledge of Elohim. For Yahuwah gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:1-6)
To know Elohim requires that we first receive his words and revelation and obey his commands. In addition, one must seek for this knowledge like searching for hidden treasure, like silver or gold. This pursuit requires putting our heart and soul into it. It is not for the timid and the lazy.
In the New Testament, Paul describes this search for truth and how we may obtain this understanding of God:
However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what Elohim has prepared for those who love him"-- but Elohim has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of Elohim. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of Elohim except the Spirit of Elohim. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from Elohim, that we may understand what Elohim has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:9-12)
In Paul's estimation, only the Spirit of Elohim can reveal a true knowledge of Elohim. Many have attempted to portray the Creator, but without the leading of the Spirit, they always fall short and end up depicting him in some grotesque way. A mere look at the ancient and modern idols men have made depicting their gods will bear this out. So, we must have his Spirit to know the thoughts of Elohim.
Paul goes on to say that spiritual matters may be only understood on a spiritual level; that is, by His Spirit. Man's intellect all by itself is useless in this pursuit.
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of Elohim, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: "For who has known the mind of Yehovah that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Messiah. (1 Corinthians 2:13-16)
The one having the Spirit can discern the things of the Spirit. But many claim to have His Spirit and find themselves interpreting Scriptures in many different ways, resulting in thousands of denominations and sects in both Christianity and Judaism. Certainly this indicates that most have not been listening to His Spirit.
How can we tell if an insight, an interpretation or a belief is from the Holy Spirit. First, it must be in agreement with the Torah and the Prophets. Any doctrine or interpretation which doesn't come in agreement with the Torah - the very words spoken from the mouth of Elohim - is decidedly NOT from the Almighty. Second, all teaching must also be in agreement with the prophets that Elohim sent.
If we take this approach to an understanding of the nature of the Almighty, we may find the path of truth. So, let's do this. Let's undertake an approach to Scripture which listens to what the Spirit is saying through the words of the Bible and drawing our conclusions from what is written in the text of Scripture rather than from our old traditions and concepts passed down orally from generation to generation.
From the Rabbinic world comes the sarcastic criticism of Christianity due to the "ridiculous notion that God could become man." In their view, clearly Jesus is not God because God is God, man is man, and the two shall never meet. God is eternal while man is mortal, a mere creation of the eternal God. Thus, in their logic, God could not be a man.
Additionally, there are some Scriptures that seem to support this notion that God cannot become a man.
Elohim is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)
Here is the simple statement that Elohim is not a man. What could be clearer? So it seems to be saying that God is not nor could he become a man. Yet, that is not the meaning of this Scripture. The contrast being made is that Elohim does not change his mind like men do or go back on his word like men do. He cannot lie. Men lie and change their minds and go back on their word. Elohim does not do as men do because he is not a man.
And Job argued,
"He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. (Job 9:32)
Again, Job is comparing and contrasting Elohim with man. Job cannot argue or exchange ideas with Elohim as he would another man. Elohim is the incomparable superior to Job. But the fact that Elohim is Elohim and not man does not preclude the possibility that God can manifest himself to mankind as a man. We should not attempt to put the Almighty in a box and try to describe Him in terms that are convenient to our beliefs. Let's let the Scriptures also tell us how God manifests Himself without preconceptions and assumptions on our part.
To answer the arguments against the idea that Elohim could manifest in human flesh or even become human flesh, let us begin at the beginning. One of the first hints at the nature of Elohim and the way he manifests himself comes in the first chapter of Genesis in the creation account. We are told that on the sixth day, Elohim created man in his image:
Then Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So Elohim created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim he created him; male and female he created them. (Bereshith 1:26-27)
The word translated image comes from the Hebrew ~l,c, (tselem) which means image, statue, idol, effigy, replica, figurine, shape, likeness, representation. This word is used of idols, the representation of so-called gods. And the other word translated likeness is from the Hebrew tWmd> (demût) and basically means likeness, shape, outline of a figure or object.
Both of these words speak to what can be seen and touched. Both are describing a physical representation of something sometimes unseen. Idols, for example, are representations of so-called invisible gods (the fact that they don't really exist doesn't matter).
Elohim, the true living, really existing Elohim, also has his own image. His own image is the likeness with which he formed mankind. So, man was crafted in God's own, personal image, likeness and form. Man is the physical likeness of the living Elohim!
Given that the biblical record plainly tells us that mankind was made in God's own image, why should it surprise anyone or baffle anyone that if God were to communicate with mankind, that he would do so in a human voice, which is part of Elohim's own image? And why would it be difficult to comprehend that if the Living Elohim wanted to appear to mankind that he would do so by coming in His own image, which is also that of mankind. It makes perfect sense that Elohim would manifest Himself to mankind as a man. The next logical question is: Did Elohim in fact manifest Himself to mankind by appearing to him and talking with him?
According to the biblical record, who is Yahuwah Elohim and how did he reveal himself to men? The manner in which Elohim reveals himself and the names he uses of himself provide the needed information to ascertain how God manifests himself to the human race.
Elohim is introduced from page one of the Bible. We see him creating heaven and earth, forming man from the dirt of the earth, and establishing laws and rules for mankind's stay on earth (and in the garden). When mankind goes astray from Yahuwah's ways, we see Yahuwah bring a cataclysmic global flood upon the earth to destroy all mankind. Only eight people are saved from the flood. Next, we see a sequence of events that brings us into an introduction of a family tree from Noach to Abram.
In these early pages of Scripture, Yahuwah had revealed himself as Elohim, as Yahuwah and as Yahuwah Elohim. But, in the account of Abram, we are introduced to a new designation for Yahuwah - "the Word of the LORD," or "the Word of Yahuwah."
After these things, the word of Yahuwah came to Avram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Avram. I am your shield, your very great reward." (Bereshith 15:1)
In the Hebrew, the phrase is dabar Yahuwah (this phrase is pronounced d'var Yahuwah). This is a significant designation for the Creator, for there is much to learn about him through this name for him. Let's break down this name by first examining the meaning of the word dabar.
Dabar is a very common word in Hebrew, usually rendered word. The BDB Lexicon lists our word as rb'D': n.m. speech, word. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) gives us these renderings: word, speaking, speech, thing, etc. And the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) adds matter as another typical translation.
Dabar is most often translated word, words, thing or matter. What we in the English language refer to as the Ten Commandments in Hebrew is actually the ten devarim, or ten words, or ten matters. The book of Deuteronomy has a Hebrew name of Devarim, because it reads, "These are the words which Moses spoke to the sons of Israel...."
Additionally, the TWOT describes further the usage of this word:
In the KJV dābar (the verb) is translated by about thirty different words and dābār (the noun) by more than eighty. Some of these are synonyms but many are not. All, however, have some sense of thought processes, of communication, or of subjects or means of communication. The noun dābār stretches all the way from anything that can be covered by the word thing or matter to the most sublime and dynamic notion of the word of God.
As with the English language word word, the Hebrew dabar has a generous range of meanings and application
In Bereshith 15:1, we are introduced to the phrase d'var Yahuwah.
After these things, the word of Yahuwah came to Avram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Avram. I am your shield, your very great reward."
This designation is frequently used in the Torah and the Prophets. The TWOT has this to say about our phrase:
Gerleman notes that the singular construct chain dabar YHWH "the word of the LORD" occurs 242 times and almost always (225 times) the expression appears as a technical form for the prophetic revelation (THAT, I, p.439).
In other words, the word of Yahuwah is a direct communication from Elohim. Elohim is conferring a message to someone.
The record of Scripture indicates that at first, as recorded in Genesis 15, the Word of Yahuwah came to Abram in a dream. Yet, in Genesis 17, Elohim appears to Abram.
When Avram was ninety-nine years old, Yehovah appeared to him and said, "I am El Shaddai; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers." Avram fell facedown, and Elohim said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. (Genesis 17:1-4)
This appearance of Yehovah implies that Abram saw Him. He appeared to Abraham in human form. Abram saw him and talked with Him. This is confirmed in verse 22 where it says that
When he had finished speaking with Avraham, Elohim went up from him.
This "going up from him" also suggests that he came down to appear to him.
In Genesis 18, Yehovah again appears to Abraham:
Yehovah appeared to Avraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Avraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby (Bereshith 18:1-2).
Where in Genesis 17, the account implies that Yahuwah appeared as a man, here in Genesis 18, it is explicitly stated that Yahuwah appeared as a man. One of the three men who appeared to Abraham was Yahuwah Himself:
He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree. "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him. "There, in the tent," he said. Then Yehovah said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son." Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him (Bereshith 18:8-10).
Again, one of the three men visitors was identified as Yahuwah:
When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Avraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then Yehovah said, "Shall I hide from Avraham what I am about to do? (vss 16-17).
Clearly, the Bible indicates that Yahuwah was making these appearances to Abraham as a man. The Almighty chose to manifest Himself in human flesh, which is His own image.
Often, we see in the Tanach (Old Testament) the expression d'var Yahuwah followed by a directive consisting of a stream of words:
Then the word of Yahuwah came to him: "This man will not be your heir..." (Bereshith 15:4).
That night the word of Yahuwah came to Nathan, saying: "Go and tell my servant David, 'This is what Yahuwah says...' " (2 Samuel 7:4-5).
And the word of Yahuwah came to him: "What are you doing here, Eliyahu?" (1 Kings 19:9).
The word of Yahuwah came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Yirmeyahu 1:4-5).
Clearly, the d'var Yahuwah is the term which identifies when the Creator of the universe is meeting, speaking and interacting with mankind.
But a careful examination of the usage of this phrase will bear out that the phrase is more than merely a "technical form for the prophetic revelation." The d'var Yahuwah is personified in its usage and stands in the place of Yahuwah himself. The d'var Yahuwah, as a name or title of Yahuwah himself, both appears and speaks. The d'var Yahuwah is not merely a message from Yahuwah, it is Yahuwah himself appearing and speaking.
In the New Testament, the 4th Gospel makes the point that Elohim is never seen:
No one has ever seen Elohim, but Elohim the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known. (The 4th Gospel 1:18).
Elohim, natively, is not part of creation - he stands outside of the created world. Thus, Elohim in his native form, cannot be seen because he does not consist of created matter. But Elohim has made himself visible to human beings, a point which is virtually indisputable if the biblical record is considered. The Bible tells us many, many times that the d'var Yahuwah appeared to someone or spoke to someone. If it were merely a verbal communication from heaven, we would not be told that he appeared, or was seen.
It should not be thought a strange thing that Elohim would want to interact with human beings. After all, he created them in his own image. And if Elohim wanted to appear before human beings, he would likely appear in human form, because the human form is fashioned after Elohim's own form.
Then Elohim said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So Elohim created man in his own image, in the image of Elohim he created him; male and female he created them. (Bereshith 1:26-27).
And this is precisely what we find in the biblical record. Elohim appears in human form and walks and talks with people. One example of this is when Yahuwah appeared with two other messengers and walked and talked with Abraham. Yahuwah appeared to Avraham as a man, and Avraham recognized and knew that this was Yahuwah.
Another example of d'var Yahuwah appearing to a person is found in 1 Samuel:
Now Samuel did not yet know Yahuwah: The word of Yahuwah had not yet been revealed to him. Yahuwah called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that Yahuwah was calling the boy. (1 Samuel 3:7-8)
It says that the word of Yahuwah had not yet been revealed to him because Samuel had not yet seen Yahuwah revealing himself to him.
Other examples of the Word of Yahuwah appearing to people occur in 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and Jeremiah:
That night the word of Yehovah came to Nathan, saying: "Go and tell my servant David, 'This is what Yehovah says...' " (2 Samuel 7:4-5).
And the word of Yehovah came to him: "What are you doing here, Eliyahu?" (1 Kings 19:9).
The Word of Yehovah came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." (Yirmeyahu 1:4-5).
It's pretty obvious now that the d'var Yahuwah appeared unto many
individuals as a man.
The d'var Yahuwah is the physical manifestation of Yahuwah when
he appears and communicates with human beings.
The d'var Yahuwah is Yahuwah the Creator manifesting himself as a
human being and speaking to people with a human voice so as to interact
with humans in a manner which can be understood by humans.
Another phrase we find frequently in the Tanach when Elohim is communicating with humans is the malack Yahuwah (in the Hebrew Masoretic text, hA"ïhy> %a;’l.m;), usually translated angel of Yahuwah or messenger of Yahuwah. To identify who this malack Yahuwah is, we need only to peruse a few occurrences of this phrase.
The malack Yahuwah first appears to Hagar in the wilderness. After Sarah threw Hagar and her son out of the household, Hagar wandered in the desert seeking water:
"Your servant is in your hands," Avram said. "Do with her whatever you think best." Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. The angel of Yahuwah found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, "Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?" "I'm running away from my mistress Sarai," she answered. Then the angel of Yahuwah told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." The angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count."
The angel of Yahuwah also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for Yahuwah has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." She gave this name to Yahuwah who spoke to her: "You are the Elohim who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. (Genesis 16:6-14)
Hagar recognized that the angel of Yahuwah who appeared to her and talked with her was Yahuwah her Elohim. This Angel of Yahuwah is "the Elohim who sees me."
Next, the Messenger of Yahuwah appears to Ya’acov in a dream.
The angel of Elohim said to me in the dream, 'Ya'acov.' I answered, 'Here I am.' And he said, 'Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I am the Elohim of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.'" (Genesis 32:11-13)
Here, once again, the malack or messenger of Elohim is identified as Elohim himself.
Later on, Ya'acov, then called Israel, remembered that the messenger of Yahuwah appeared to him and watched over his life. And he identified him as Elohim Himself:
Then he blessed Yoseph and said, "May the Elohim before whom my fathers Avraham and Yitzchak walked-- the Elohim who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the Angel who has protected me from all harm-- bless these boys (Bereshith 48:15-16).
The messenger of Yahuwah was Elohim Himself.
In the account of Mosheh when he saw a bush burning in the wilderness, we are told:
There the angel of Yahuwah appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Mosheh saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. (Shemot 3:2).
Just like the d'var Yahuwah is the appearing of Yahuwah to humans, the malack Yahuwah also appears to people. The account of Mosheh and the flaming bush confirms that the malack Yahuwah is Yahuwah himself:
So Mosheh thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight-- why the bush does not burn up." When Yahuwah saw that he had gone over to look, Elohim called to him from within the bush, "Mosheh! Mosheh!" And Mosheh said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," Elohim said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the Elohim of your father, the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitzchak and the Elohim of Ya'acov." At this, Mosheh hid his face, because he was afraid to look at Elohim. (Shemot 3:3-6).
We are told that the malack Yahuwah appeared in flames of fire from within the bush, and then that Elohim called to Mosheh from within the bush. Evidently, the malack Yahuwah is Elohim himself. This is further demonstrated by Elohim speaking and identifying himself as the Elohim of Avraham, etc. And Mosheh was afraid to look at Elohim in the flame.
Later, of course, Yehovah came down Mt Sinai to speak to all the people. Yet, when Steven explained this event to those accusing him, he indicated that it was the Messenger of Yahuwah who appeared from Sinai:
"This is that Mosheh who told the sons of Yisrael, 'Elohim will send you a prophet like me from your own people.' He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us. (Acts 7:37-38)
Again, it's evident that the Messenger of Yahuwah was Elohim himself.
In another place, the malack Yahuwah appears to Gideon:
The angel of Yahuwah came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of Yahuwah appeared to Gideon, he said, "Yahuwah is with you, mighty warrior." "But sir," Gideon replied, "if Yahuwah is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not Yahuwah bring us up out of Mitzrayim?' But now Yahuwah has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." Yahuwah turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Yisrael out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" "But Yahuwah," Gideon asked, "how can I save Yisrael? (Shoftim [Judges] 6:11-15).
Here, the malack Yahuwah appeared as a man and sat down under the oak and spoke with Gideon. The text then indicates that after Gideon responded to the angel of Yahuwah, Yahuwah Himself turned to Gideon and spoke again. Then Gideon speaks to Yahuwah. The malack Yahuwah is clearly just another designation for Yahuwah himself.
These multiple examples of the messenger of Yahuwah appearing and speaking to men and then being identified as Yahuwah Himself compel us to conclude that the malack Yahuwah is Yahuwah himself as he appears to people. Like the phrase d'var Yahuwah, the malack Yahuwah is a way of indicating that Yahuwah himself, in the form like a man, appeared and spoke a message to a human being.
Now that we have established the pattern in Scripture of Yahuwah Elohim speaking and appeared to various human beings as a man, we move next into the prophecies of the Bible for insight on how the Almighty will speak to men going forward. The first major text explaining how Elohim would communicate with his people is found in the Torah, in Deuteronomy 18, where Moses speaks of the Prophet who would be sent to Israel:
Yahuwah your Elohim will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of Yahuwah your Elohim at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of Yahuwah our Elohim nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die." Yahuwah said to me: "What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.
But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death." You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by Yahuwah?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of Yahuwah does not take place or come true, that is a message Yahuwah has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 18:15-22)
After Yahuwah brought the nation of Israel out of Egypt, he led them through the desert, crossed the Yom Suph (or Red Sea), and brought them to the region of Sinai. There he instructed them to prepare themselves because He was going to speak to them from the mountain.
On the day designated (the appointment day, generally identified as Shavuot or Pentecost), Elohim spoke to the people from Mt. Sinai and communicated to them the Ten Words (Ten Commandments). The account tells us that the people were so frightened by the awesomeness of Yahuwah that they did not want to meet him anymore.
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Mosheh, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have Elohim speak to us or we will die." (Shemot [Exodus] 20:18-19)
This account is amplified in Deuteronomy 5 where Mosheh is retelling this event 38 years later.
These are the matters Yahuwah proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me. When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leading men of your tribes and your elders came to me. And you said, "Yahuwah our Elohim has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a man can live even if Elohim speaks with him.
But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of Yahuwah our Elohim any longer. For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living Elohim speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? Go near and listen to all that Yahuwah our Elohim says. Then tell us whatever Yahuwah our Elohim tells you. We will listen and obey." Yahuwah heard you when you spoke to me and Yahuwah said to me, "I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever! (Devarim 5:22-29)
The people declared that they didn't want any direct communications from Elohim anymore. They would be satisfied if God talked with Moses and Moses came and told them what he said.
Furthermore, Moses reveals in Deuteronomy 18 that at that time, Yahuwah told him that he would raise us a prophet like Moses who would command the people what to do. And that Prophet was to be respected and obeyed because it was Elohim's own words that this Prophet would be speaking.
Now, it is pretty clear that Elohim is revealing the manner in which he would normally communicate with his people. He would send a prophet and that prophet would speak to the people Yahuwah's words. This interpretation of the text is reasonable and valid. In fact, God did send prophets, many prophets, at different times and for different reasons. But they all essentially told the people to repent of their sin and return to keeping the commandments of the Almighty.
Another popular interpretation of this promise to send a "Prophet like Mosheh" is to understand that this indicates one specific person who would teach the people Yah's ways and hold them accountable. Since ancient times the leaders and elders of Israel have identified this "Prophet like Mosheh" as the Moshiach (Messiah). He was to be the unique one - the one and only - sent from Elohim to rule and reign over Israel. Many are the prophecies of a king from David's line who would reign in righteousness from Jerusalem. This Prophet was the one who pleases Elohim and does his will.
The Jewish people still
hold out hope that their Messiah will come. Most of them do not
believe that the Messiah has come yet, but they are in great
anticipation of his arrival some day. So this indication from
Elohim that he would send Israel a "Prophet like Mosheh" is the
introduction to the promise of that one man who would come and settle
scores and set up a reign of righteousness based on Yahuwah's government.
In a very significant development of the plan of Elohim to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs, Yahuwah made an everlasting promise to David. This promise establishes the human line through which the Prophet and the Messiah would be born.
After David had it in his heart and made a promise to build a permanent house for Elohim's presence to dwell in the midst of his people, Yahuwah responded to David with a promise of his own:
Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne
will be established forever.'"
This promise has enormous implications for how Yahuwah would fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs. And the prophetic utterances made afterwards were much involved with the fulfillment of this promise Elohim made to David.
Psalm 132 develops this promise. It explains the conditions placed upon David's descendants for this blessing to fall upon them.
Yahuwah swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke: "One of your own descendants I will place on your throne. If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever." For Yahuwah has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling: "This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it-- I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food. I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy. "Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one. I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown on his head will be resplendent."
This Psalm presents a provocative juxtaposition between the promise of a descendant of David to sit on the throne and Yahuwah's desire that He Himself would sit on this throne in Zion. Then again he speaks of David's descendant as the "anointed one" whose crown will be resplendent.
It would be easy to interpret these statements as indicating that the offspring of David, who is Elohim's anointed, and who will sit on David's throne is Yahuwah himself! This is not stretching the text or taking it out of context. The statements taken in order clearly imply that Yahuwah is that descendant of David who will rule and reign from David's throne.
Next, the prophet Isaiah describes this man from the house of David who will sit upon David's throne.
In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it-- one from the house of David-- one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness. (Yeshayahu 16:5)
This one can be none other than the Messiah, the Anointed One, who judges with justice and brings to the fore the cause of righteousness.
Furthermore, Jeremiah the Prophet reveals the guarantee of David's offspring ruling over Israel in terms that speak of the absolute certainty of this coming to be.
For this is what Yahuwah says: 'David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Yisrael, nor will the priests, who are Levites, ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.'"
The word of Yahuwah came to Yeremiah: "This is what Yahuwah says: 'If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, then my covenant with David my servant-- and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me-- can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. (Yirmeyahu 33:17-21)
The promise is made certain by Yahuwah who said that David would NEVER fail to have an offspring to sit upon the throne. Then Elohim further guarantees this by insisting that only if day and night would come at a different time would David fail to have a descendant to reign upon his throne. This pretty much cinches it.
As David reflected on the everlasting covenant which Nathan previously announced to him, he asks rhetorically;
"Will not God cause all my salvation and all my desire to sprout?" (2 Sam 23:5)
This theme of sprouting is taken up in later prophecies which speak of David's descendant (one particular descendant) sprouting up. We already ran across this idea of a sprouting back in Psalm 132 where the Hebrew literally should be translate:
There I will cause a horn to sprout for David, I will set in order a lamp for my Messiah (my anointed).
This sprouting for David is identified in the parallel statement as the Messiah of Yahuwah.
In Isaiah 4:2, the sprouting of an offspring from David is discussed.
In that day the Branch of Yahuwah will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Yisrael.
From the Hebrew root tsamach (to sprout, spring up), and here translated the Branch, the Hebrew noun xm;c, (tsemach) refers to a sprouting, a growth. The Hebrew Scriptures utilize this verb and noun to convey information about the offspring of David as promised by Yahuwah.
In Isaiah 4, the Branch is on display "in that day," a reference to the Messianic or Kingdom Age. And "that day" is further revealed as a time of Yahuwah's Presence in Zion:
Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Yerushalayim, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Yerushalayim. Yahuwah will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Yerushalayim by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then Yahuwah will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain. (Isaiah 4:3-6)
Clearly this prophetic vision is of a future day when the Branch will be reigning and judging in Jerusalem. This offspring of David will wash away the sins of the people and cleanse all Yisrael in his judgment.
Later in the visions of Isaiah, the prophet details more on the nature of this Offspring of David:
A shoot will come up from the stump of Yishai; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of Yahuwah will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahuwah-- and he will delight in the fear of Yahuwah. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. (Isaiah 11:1-5)
Here the word translated Branch is from the Hebrew netzer. Sometimes called a runner, the netzer refers to a root that grows horizontally underground and pops up some distance away from the original plant. As such, it is an extension of the plant, much like a branch. This offspring would be from David's line of descent (the stump of Yishai), though not necessarily in an obvious fashion. Growing "underground" as it were, the Messiah was to be truly David's offspring, but not noticeably so.
This Netzer will be filled with the Spirit of Elohim to execute righteousness and justice on behalf of the nation Yisrael. He is given the task of rooting out evil from the Land, and of giving decisions in the disputes among the people. His word will go forth and be accomplished throughout the earth. Clearly this Branch from David describes the Moshiach (Anointed One) which the prophets speak of in other places.
Jeremiah supports and affirms this Branch from David's line as the King who is to come.
"The days are coming," declares Yahuwah, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch (Tsemach), a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Yehudah will be saved and Yisrael will live in safety. This is his name by which he will be called: Yahuwah Our Righteousness."
The Branch is a son of David and is a righteous king. This King is identified over and over again by the prophets. He is the one to usher in the Messianic Age and rule from Jerusalem.
But Jeremiah also reveals a very important detail concerning this righteous King. Jeremiah is told that his name - the name by which he will be called at the time of his reign - is Yahuwah our Righteousness. This revelation has been ignored or downplayed by those who refuse to believe the Scriptures. Yet here it is plain to read. The righteous King who was promised long ago by Yahuwah to David is the one whose name is Yahuwah Our Righteousness.
It should not be a great surprise after we noted that Yahuwah manifested himself many times in human form to the Patriarchs and Prophets that Yahuwah would again manifest himself in human form during the Messianic Age. In fact, the Messiah himself is the manifestation of Yahuwah in human form. His name is Yahuwah and he fulfills the promises made to many in years past.
Jeremiah goes on to speak about the city of the King at that time.
'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Yehudah will be saved and Yerushalayim will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: Yahuwah Our Righteousness.' For this is what Yahuwah says: 'David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Yisrael, (Jeremiah 33:15-17)
Not only is the King named Yahuwah Our Righteousness, but the city of the King is also referred to as Yahuwah Our Righteousness. The emphasis in each of these mentions of the Branch is one particular descendant of David. While it is clear that David was always to have one of his descendants sitting upon the throne over the house of Israel, there is one specific offspring who is to pre-eminent over all others and this one is to bring the long awaited peace to Israel.
The prophet Zechariah reveals even more information about this Branch from David's line:
Tell him this is what Yahuwah Almighty says: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch (Tsemach), and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of Yahuwah. It is he who will build the temple of Yahuwah, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.' (Zechariah 6:12-13)
The Branch is the King who will rebuild the temple of Yahuwah.
In association with the rebuilding of the temple, the Branch will be the Priest sitting upon the throne. There will be harmony between his reigning as King and his ministry as Priest over the House of Elohim. This Branch will be both King and Priest.
But this presents a dilemma. How can a King in the line of David, who was from the tribe of Yehudah also be a Priest, given that only men from the tribe of Lewi and from the family of Aharon were qualified to be priests in the temple of Yahuwah? The order of Lewi is well established in Scripture. The answer is given by David in Psalm 110.
This Psalm written by David presents a prophetic picture of David's offspring who is to be The king of Israel, according to the promise of the Almighty.
Of David. A psalm. Yehovah says to my master: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." Yehovah will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies. Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy majesty, from the womb of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth.
Yehovah has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." Yehovah is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. He will drink from a brook beside the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
So in this Psalm, David is describing his own offspring. We know this because David had already been promised that he would never fail to have an offspring who would reign over Israel. But, normally, the elder is greater than his son.
In other words, David is expected to be greater than any of his descendants. David is, after all, considered to be the greatest of all the kings in Israel's history. Yet, Yehovah is speaking in this Psalm to David's master - "Yehovah says to my master...." David is describing his own offspring as his master. How can this be? How does David, by the Holy Spirit, attribute his own son as one greater than himself? David is himself the appointed and anointed King of Yisrael.
Clearly he is speaking of the Messiah, who is David's offspring. David's descendant is Yehovah's future appointed King over Yisrael. He is the one who will rule and reign over all Yisrael's enemies. No king of Yisrael had ever ruled over all their enemies, nor conquered and reigned in all the land promised to Abraham, although David came close, as did Solomon. But this future king will fulfill all the promises made to the patriarchs, rule over all his enemies, and reign in all the land promised to Abraham.
Next, note that David's Master is told by Yahuwah to sit at Yahuwah's right hand, which is a position of great authority and favor. But in another great irony of this Psalm, this Master of David, as priest is identified as Yahuwah sitting at the right hand of Yahuwah!! How can Yahuwah be sitting at Yahuwah's right hand? David's offspring who is here named Yahuwah is identified as sitting at Yahuwah's right hand.
Many English Bible translations read something like: "The Lord is at your right hand," translating the Masoretic Hebrew text, "Adonai at your right hand." Yet, the Rabbis throughout the centuries have identified the Hebrew here, "Adonai" as a textual miscopy. In other words, they recognize that the Hebrew should read, "YHWH" or "Yahuwah." Someone centuries ago substituted "Adonai" for "YHWH."
So David is indicating this his own offspring who is to become King of Yisrael is Yahuwah himself. Yeshua (Jesus) confounded the religious leaders of his day by pointing this out. They had no answer for Yeshua when he pointed this out and the obvious ramifications of this Psalm on the true identity of Yeshua himself.
Now we come to the part where David's offspring is called a Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Here is how David's offspring can become a priest, as Zechariah pointed out. Though not a Levitical priest, the offspring is nevertheless a priest, but in the order of Melchizedek. The order of Melchizedek was a priesthood in operation before the Levitical priesthood. Abraham and Yitzchak both paid a tithe to the priest of the order of Melchizedek.
So, David's son was to be the king after David's lineage, and the high priest in the order of Melchizedek, which was an order of priesthood which preceded Levi and which also succeeds Levi's priesthood. The Messiah is that King and Priest who is David's offspring, and who is the son of Yahuwah, sitting at Yahuwah's right hand!
Now the prophets reveal even more about the manifestations of Elohim to man. The prophet Micah discloses that one who existed in the ancient past was to be a son born in Bethlehem:
But you (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel whose origins go back to the distant past, to the days of old. (Micah 5:1, New Jerusalem Bible)
The future ruler of Israel was of course to be born in Bethlehem Ephrathath. This is David's city. Naturally, David's offspring would be born in David's city. But this future ruler of Israel is more than just another son of David. This one will have unique origins. His origins are from the ancient past.
Now the skeptics will point out that David and all his future offspring can trace back their lineage to the ancient past. Yet, everyone ever born can trace back to Noah, and even to Adam, the first of mankind. But to insist that this is what Micah is indicating would make his statement about David's offspring meaningless and empty. Surely, Micah meant more in the prophesy than that the Messiah would be able to trace his lineage to many generations past.
Clearly, the prophesy is revealing more than the obvious. The suggestion of the prophet is that this King who is David's son is connected to the Ancient of Days (to put it one way). The son of David is more than just another man born in the family of man. His origins are from the distant past, from before mankind was created on the earth. Thus, Micah is inferring that David's son has his origins in the Almighty. He is uniquely connected to the Creator of heaven and earth. He is from the beginning and lasts until the end (the future).
For all that the prophets have said about this coming King, Yeshayahu most explicitly reveals the identity of the son of David.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty Elohim, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of Yehovah of armies will accomplish this (Yeshayahu 9:6-7).
This son of David who will rule on David's throne forever is none other than the Mighty Elohim come in a human body. The Names given prophetically to this man tell the whole story.
He is called Wonderful, Counselor. The Hebrew for Wonderful is fele. This term is used of the magnificent miracles performed by Yahuwah when he rescued the sons of Israel out of Egypt and then brought them to the wilderness, feeding them manna and bringing water out of the rock to provide for the whole nation. He brought them through the Sea of Reeds on dry land and then drowned the entire Egyptian army in that same sea. Messiah is that same kind of wonderful.
The son of David is also called the Mighty Elohim. Now there is only one true Mighty Elohim. This is a clear indication that the invisible Spirit of God had decided to manifest himself as a man, to be born as a man in accordance with the prophesies and promises made to the patriarchs.
The offspring of David is also called the Everlasting Father. Again, there is only One that is Everlasting and only One who is the Father of all. And that is Yahuwah, the Mighty Elohim of Israel. He was to be born in Israel and reign on his Father's throne. He is at the same time the offspring of David and the son of Elohim.
And as Prince of Peace, the Messiah brings a righteous judgment on all mankind so that a true peace on earth can ensue. What a Wonderful Mighty Elohim and Father we serve who reigns an eternal reign and brings peace for his people.
The Tanach (Old Testament) reveals that Yehovah often appeared as a man to communicate with mankind. The revelation of Yahuwah was always in a way that could be seen and understood by human beings. Thus, Yahuwah often appeared as a man, taking his own form to reveal himself to man. Many of the ancients saw him as a man and heard him as a man.
This self revelation of the Almighty is the pattern for the present and for the future. Elohim always intended to fellowship with man in the very image he gave to man - his very own image. Thus, the Messiah, who was to become the king of the world forever was to be born as a man and take the image of Elohim. He is the offspring of Elohim being formed in flesh with the very seed of Elohim.
In Part II of this study, we will see Yeshua becoming the fulfillment of all these prophesies when he becomes a man and does the works of his Father Yahuwah. He walks the sinless blameless walk, he models true righteousness in his life by walking in obedience to all his Father's commandments. And he exhibits the power and authority of Elohim over all sickness, disease and even over the evil forces in wicked places. Don't miss the next study of How Does God Manifest Himself to Human Beings, Part II.