Monday, July 10, 2006

God's Strange Angel: Looking in the Tanakh for Evidence of the Trinity

Believers in Jesus hold to the view that there is one God, while also maintaining that God is a Trinity. Dr. James White defines the Trinity as follows:
Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Is this some crazy doctrine that pagan Christians thought up? Or are there hints of this teaching in the Tanakh, the Jewish Scriptures, which predate any 1st century follower of Jesus.

In one of the most famous passages in the Bible, when God calls Moses, we find the angel of the LORD.
Exodus 3:1-6

1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, "I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." 4When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." 5Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." 6And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

We see that the angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in the Bush. Later in verse 4, the text reads that God calls to Moses out of the Bush. Now, one might say that although the angel appeared to Moses the voice coming from the bush is not the angel's.

But let's keep reading...

Exodus 4:1-5

1Then Moses answered, "But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, 'The LORD did not appear to you.'" 2The LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A staff." 3And he said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4But the LORD said to Moses, "Put out your hand and catch it by the tail"--so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand-- 5"that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."

In Exodus 3:2, it was the angel of the LORD that appeared to Moses. In this section, the text reads that the LORD Himself appeared to Moses.

Compare this episode with the visitation of the commander of the LORD's army to Joshua.
Joshua 5:13-15

13When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us, or for our adversaries?" 14And he said, "No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, "What does my lord say to his servant?" 15And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.

In the presence of the burning bush and the angel of the LORD, the LORD commanded Moses to take off his sandals. In the presence of the commander of the LORD's army, Joshua receives the same command.

For more examples of this strange angel, go here.


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