Previously, we have seen that God has been manifest upon the earth in various strange forms such as the burning bush, or as the pillar of fire, etc. We have also seen that God, who is a spirit (John 4:24), has placed His Spirit upon various men as well.
But man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Would it not then make sense for God to become manifest unto man at some point—in the form of man?
God has done precisely this on at least five occasions in the Old Testament. What follows are examples of God manifest upon the earth in the form of man. In no case does this mean that God—as He truly is—is a man. Instead, at every occurrence, God has manifest Himself upon the earth in the form of a man.
GENESIS 14:17 ¶ And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.
GENESIS 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
GENESIS 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
GENESIS 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
This is man was called "Melchizedek" (verse 18). For the definition of the original Hebrew word for "Melchizedek," we shall refer to Strongs Exhaustive Concordance, Complete and Unabridged, Compact Edition, by James H. Strong, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, concordance pp. 669, 873, Hebrew lexicon pp. 67, 117. The word numbers used here are standard Strong's numbers:
4442 "Malkiy-Tsedeq" from 4428 and 6664; king of right; Malki-Tsedek, an early king in Palestine
This Melchizedek was the king of "Salem." As defined by the same concordance, the Hebrew word for "Salem" means:
8004 "Shalem" the same as 8003; peaceful; Shalem, an early name of Jerusalem.
Therefore, this "Melchizedek, king of Salem," could correctly be called Melchizedek, the "king of right" (or, the "king of righteousness"), the king of "peaceful" (or, the "king of peace"). Titles such as these can belong only to God. Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul also pointed this out:
HEBREWS 7:1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
HEBREWS 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
HEBREWS 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
Only God Himself can be called the "King of righteousness," or the "King of peace." Only God Himself can be described as being "without father, without mother," and "without descent." Only God Himself can be described as "having neither beginning of days, nor end of life," as Paul understood this man to be. Therefore, this Melchizedek is none other than God Himself, manifest here upon the earth in the form of a man. This is not God as he truly is, but He was a manifestation of God.
GENESIS 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
GENESIS 18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
GENESIS 18:3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
GENESIS 18:4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
GENESIS 18:5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
GENESIS 18:6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.
GENESIS 18:7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.
GENESIS 18:8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.
GENESIS 18:16 ¶ And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
GENESIS 18:22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
GENESIS 18:33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
GENESIS 19:1 And 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 19:13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.
Per Genesis 18:2, three men appeared to Abraham (one of them was God) and ate some food (verse 8). Starting at Genesis 18:16, these four men (God, Abraham, and two angels) began walking towards Sodom. After God told Abraham that He was going to destroy Sodom, the two angels began heading towards Sodom, leaving God and Abraham behind (Genesis 18:22). At Genesis 19:1, the two angels reached Sodom, and were met by Lot. These two men were not God in any sense of the word, but were only angels. These two angels however, being servants, were sent by God to destroy that city (Genesis 19:13).
One of the three men who visited Abraham in Genesis 18 was none less than the Almighty God—in the form of a man. This is not God as he truly is, but is a manifestation of God.
GENESIS 32:24 ¶ And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.
GENESIS 32:25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.
GENESIS 32:26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.
GENESIS 32:27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
GENESIS 32:28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.
GENESIS 32:29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
GENESIS 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
This Man wrestled with Jacob, and was unable to prevail over him (verse 25), so He shrank the hollow of Jacob's thigh. No ordinary man can do that. Jacob prevailed (in wrestling) over this Man, who then said that Jacob "[had] power with God...and [had] prevailed" (verse 28), indicating that this Man was the manifestation of God.
Furthermore, this man promoted Jacob's name to "Israel" (verse 28). Turning once again to Strongs Exhaustive Concordance, Complete and Unabridged, Compact Edition, concordance p. 526, Hebrew lexicon p. 53, we see that the name "Israel" means:
3478 "Yisrael" yis-raw-ale ; from 8280 and 410; he will rule as God; JisraŽl, a symbolical name of Jacob; also (typically) of his posterity.
If this Man had overstepped his authority in naming Jacob "Israel," then referring to the man Jacob as "Israel" would have fallen into disuse in the Bible. This is not, in fact, what has happened, for even God Himself would later refer to the descendants of Jacob as "the children of Israel."
Only God Himself has the authority to say of Jacob that "he will rule as God" by renaming him "Israel." Therefore, this man who wrestled with Jacob was God, manifest in the form of a man.
Jacob, who was actually there (unlike you or I), commemorated that place by saying "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Genesis 32:30). Jacob knew that that man was the manifestation of God in human form, for in the same verse he named that place "peniel," which means:
6439 "Penuwel" or (more prob.) "Peniyel" from 6437 and 410; face of God; PenuŽl, or PeniŽl, a place E. of Jordan; also (as Peneul) the name of two Isr.
The man that Jacob wrestled was God Himself, manifest in the form of a man. No man may see God as he truly is (Exodus 33:20). Since Jacob saw the face of that man, and lived to tell about it, we know that that man was not God as he truly is, but was a manifestation of God.
At Numbers 27:15-23, God appointed Joshua (son of Nun) to be over all of the congregation of the Children of Israel after the death of Moses. When Moses did die, the people were obedient to Joshua:
DEUTERONOMY 34:8 ¶ And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
DEUTERONOMY 34:9 ¶ And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.
JOSHUA 1:1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,
JOSHUA 1:2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
Therefore, it was Joshua who succeeded Moses as the captain over the host of Israel. Shortly before the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-21), Joshua was confronted by "a man"...
JOSHUA 5:13 ¶ And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
JOSHUA 5:14 ¶ And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
JOSHUA 5:15 And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
It was God who appointed Joshua to be over all of the host of the LORD (i.e., of Israel). Yet when he came, this man—not Joshua—was the captain of the host. This man was greater than Joshua was, for Joshua did worship Him (Joshua 5:14).
Furthermore, this man instructed Joshua to remove his shoes (Joshua 5:15), "for the place whereon [Joshua stood] was holy." The only other time anyone was ever given instructions such as this was when Moses stood before God when He appeared as the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-5). Joshua removed his shoes, bearing witness for us as to who that Man was. That man was none other than God Himself, manifest in the form of a man. That man was not God in His true form (for no man shall see God and live, Exodus 33:20), but was a manifestation of God.
When we see the word "angel," we usually think of a being from heaven, who is a servant of God, and subordinate to God. The word "angel," however, has much broader applications in the scriptures than this, as we have shown in a different bible study (www.halfshekel.com/angel.html).
Among these applications, the word "angel" can be used to refer to visible manifestations of God. For example, let us revisit section 2.1, in which God appeared to Moses in the form of the burning bush:
EXODUS 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
EXODUS 3:2 And 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.
EXODUS 3:3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
EXODUS 3:4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
EXODUS 3:5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
EXODUS 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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 upon God.
The actual text of verse 2 says that "the angel of the LORD" appeared to Moses. This "angel of the LORD" identified Himself as "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" at verse 6. Moses hid his face, because "he was afraid to look upon God." Here, the word "angel" refers to a visible manifestation of God. This kind of usage of the word "angel" is, quite frankly, not uncommon throughout the earlier parts Old Testament (particularly the parts that take place somewhere on earth—and not in Heaven). What follows is another example of the word "angel" being used in this way. (See the bible study entitled The Word "Angel" (www.halfshekel.com/angel.html) for more information about the various ways in which the word "angel" has been used).
JUDGES 13:3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.
Manoah's wife was then told that this son of hers was to be a Nazarite, and she was given instructions for her maternity, and for the upbringing of the child.
JUDGES 13:6 ¶ Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:
Manoah's wife then told her husband everything that this "man of God" told her. Manoah then asked God to send that "man" back to them, so that they together could receive instructions for the upbringing of their son. God answered Manoah's prayers, and sent the "man of God" back to Manoah's wife, who then brought her husband to the "man."
JUDGES 13:11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.
Manoah and his wife together then received instructions concerning their future son.
JUDGES 13:15 ¶ And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.
JUDGES 13:16 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.
JUDGES 13:17 And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?
JUDGES 13:18 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?
JUDGES 13:19 So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.
JUDGES 13:20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
JUDGES 13:21 But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
JUDGES 13:22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
It was a man that appeared to Manoah and his wife (Judges 13:6,11). That is what Manoah and his wife actually saw. This man was the "angel of the LORD." We have just seen in the previous section that the word "angel" sometimes refers to visible manifestations of God. This incident involving Manoah and his wife is such a case.
At first, Manoah did not know that this man was an "angel of the LORD." That is to say that at first, Manoah did not know that this man was in fact the LORD Himself, manifest in the form of a man. Therefore, for this reason, when He was offered some food, the LORD said (i.e., this man said) that a burnt offering must be offered to the LORD (Judges 13:15-16), for Manoah did not know who he was speaking to.
Manoah asked Him His name, to which God answered "Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?" (Judges 13:17-18). This is essentially the same answer that He gave to Jacob centuries earlier, when Jacob asked the same question (Genesis 32:29, in section 4.3 above). Compare these two instances with Revelation 19:12,13,16.
Once this man did wonders, which only God can do (Judges 13:19-20), Manoah then knew that He was "an angel of the LORD" (verse 21). That is to say, Manoah then knew that that man was the LORD Himself! Manoah, aware of the fact that no man may see God and live (Exodus 33:20), feared for his life, and for the life of his wife. Manoah actually called that man God when he said:
JUDGES 13:22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
...to which his wife answered:
JUDGES 13:23 But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.
That man—the angel of the LORD—was not God as he truly is, for then Manoah and his wife would have died, per Exodus 33:20. Rather, "that angel of the LORD" was in fact God, manifest to Manoah and his wife in the form of a man.