Between the Trees By Pete Garcia and Randy Nettles "There’s a tree on the first…
The Angel of the Lord – Part 4
By Randy Nettles
Joseph died in the land of Goshen, Egypt, in approximately 1590 BC. Seventy-one years earlier (1661 BC), Jacob and his family had relocated from Canaan to Egypt. Jacob only lived in Egypt for 17 years before his death in 1644 BC. The sons of Jacob continued living in Goshen, as the land was very fertile for their livestock. They never left Egypt or returned to Canaan, the land promised to them and their descendants by God Himself.
“Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them. Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.”
“So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them” (Exodus 1:6-14).
Over time, the Egyptians made slaves of the children of Israel, but the people still multiplied rapidly and eventually became great in number. “So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son (of Israel) who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive” (Exodus 1:22). This is the precise point in time when Moses was born (1526 BC). He was a descendant of Jacob’s third son, Levi.
Moses was the great grandson of Levi and the great, great grandson of Jacob (Israel). Moses’ mother, Jochebed (another Levite), hid her newborn son from the Egyptians for three months. “But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank” (Exodus 2:3). It just so happened about this time Pharaoh’s daughter came to the river to bathe; and when she saw the ark, she sent her maid to retrieve it.
“And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children” (Exodus 2:6). Moses’ older sister, Miriam, asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she wanted her to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby. Pharaoh’s daughter said yes, so Miriam brought the maid to Moses’ mother who nursed him. “And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, Because I drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:10).
Of course, it didn’t just happen; for God intervened in the affairs of men and saved the baby Moses. God wanted Moses to be the voice that represented the word and will of Jehovah/Elohim. Through God’s great power and miracles, Moses helped save his people. This is a typology of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the ultimate Savior of mankind. Jesus came as a human baby; and later, as an adult, he would save humankind from everlasting death by his great sacrifice. Jesus is the word of God and speaks for God. In Old Testament terms, one might rephrase that last sentence as: Jehovah Himself, as the Angel of the Lord, is the messenger (angel) of Elohim who gives the message/word/gospel to God’s people. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Pharaoh (probably Amenhotep l) was an evil and corrupt ruler of Egypt during the time of Moses’ birth. Likewise, Herod the Great was an evil and cruel king during his rule over Israel in the time of Jesus’ birth. Neither of them was disturbed by the act of killing innocent Hebrew babies. The children of Israel, known as Hebrews (later known as Jews), were oppressed and subjugated under both rulers. Moses saved his people from a life of slavery, and Jesus saves his people from a life of slavery to sin. As babies, Moses and Jesus were both miraculously saved from certain death by the action of their parents under the guidance of God and/or the Holy Spirit.
Moses lived 40 years in the household of Pharaoh’s daughter. “Moses was trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22). When Moses was 40 years old, he witnessed an Egyptian hitting a Hebrew slave. He tried to help the man and wound up killing the Egyptian. When Moses realized that Pharaoh knew about the murder, he fled for his life. He settled down in the land of Midian. Moses married one of the seven daughters of the priest of Midian and became a shepherd. He lived in the land for 40 years (1486-1446 BC) and had two sons.
“And it came to pass in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them” (Exodus 3:2-6).
Moses kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. One day, he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, Mount Horeb. “The Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up. When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses! And he said, Here I am.”
“Then He said, Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. He said also, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” (Exodus 3:2-6).
Many scholars believe this was a theophany involving two of the three Persons of Elohim, the Holy Spirit and the Angel of the Lord. The Holy Spirit came in the form of a burning bush. The Angel of the Lord was surrounded by the fire of the Holy Spirit. He was in the midst of it. Jehovah, as the Angel of the Lord, told Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land” (Exodus 3:7-8).
God, as the Angel of the Lord, told Moses, “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). Moses pleaded with God to send someone else who had better oratory skills to speak to Pharaoh. God told Moses he could take Aaron, his brother, with him to help in this endeavor. Moses was 80 years old at this time, and Aaron was 83.
“Then Moses said to God, Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?’ And God said unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ And he said, ‘Then you shall say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me unto you.’ Moreover God said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’”
“Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, ‘I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey’” (Exodus 3:13-17).
I like the KJV translation for verse 14 in Exodus 3, “I AM THAT I AM,” instead of other translations that substitute “that” with “who” or “whom.” Which I AM was He? He was that I AM; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He usually announced himself as God (and sometimes Lord) with these beginning words – “I am the GOD”…God told Moses his name (one of many) was “I AM” and that the elders of the children of Israel should recognize the name.
“And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought your life” (Exodus 4:19).
“And the Lord said unto Moses, When you go to return into Egypt, and stand before Pharaoh, tell him: Thus says the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto you, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, even your firstborn” (Exodus 4:22-23).
When Moses and Aaron returned to Egypt, the first thing they did was gather all the elders of the children of Israel together, as God had commanded them. “And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped” (Exodus 4:30-31).
Moses and Aaron then went to Pharaoh (probably Thutmose lll) and told him, “This is what the LORD God of Israel says, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.’ And Pharaoh replied, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go’” (Exodus 5:1-2). Later, Pharaoh would eventually get to know the God of the Hebrews in a most intimate way.
In response to Moses’ and Aaron’s request, Pharaoh commanded his taskmasters to make the Hebrew’s work harder and to oppress them more. “Moses returned unto the LORD and said, ‘LORD, why have you treated your people with such evil? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have you delivered your people at all’” (Exodus 5:22-23). This verse says that Moses returned unto the Lord, so the Lord must have been present in bodily form for Moses to have someone to return to. This is a strong case for another appearance (theophany/Christophany) of God. “Then the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Now shall you see, what I will do to Pharaoh: for by my strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land’” (Exodus 6:1).
God then spoke to Moses and told him exactly who He was and what He would accomplish: “I AM the LORD: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty (the mighty Elohim), but my name JEHOVAH (LORD) was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, where they were but strangers” (Exodus 6:2-4). God told Moses four times, “I AM the LORD” in eight verses (Genesis 6:2-9). This is the name that God is to be known by from this time forward by the children of Israel.
In God’s theophanies and dreams to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God usually told them He was GOD or ELOHIM, not the LORD or JEHOVAH. There are seven such incidents or appearances: two times unto Abraham, one unto Isaac, and four unto Jacob. In all of these appearances from God, He always uses the two words “I Am” followed by either “Lord” or “the God” to identify Himself. Let’s briefly examine them a little closer.
1) The first “appearance” was not a theophany, but occurred in a vision to Abraham. Genesis 15:1 and 4 describe how the “word” came unto Abram. God identifies Himself to Abraham by His first four words, “I am the LORD.” This is unusual because in most of his appearances He identifies with “I am the GOD…” (Genesis 15:7). He wanted Abraham, the father of the Hebrew people, to know that He was God and his name was Jehovah.
2) The next appearance is evidently a Christophany that comes to Abraham during the covenant confirmation. The Bible doesn’t say so, but the visitation was probably made by the Angel of the Lord (most likely in the form of a man). His first words spoken to Abraham were, “I am the Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1).
3) The Lord appeared unto Isaac at Beer-sheba. This was probably another Christophany, as nothing is said about a dream or vision. The first words God spoke unto Isaac were, “I am the God of Abraham” (Genesis 26:24).
4) Three of the four of God’s appearances unto Jacob were through dreams. The first dream occurred in Bethel, where God made himself known to Jacob as “I am the Lord God” (Genesis 28:13). Here God is telling Jacob He is both Jehovah and Elohim. The New Testament comparison would be Jesus telling the Jews that he is the Son of God, who does the will of the Father.
5) The next visitation of God to Jacob also occurred in a dream while he was in the land of Haran, Padan-aram. The Angel of God told Jacob, “I am the God of Bethel…” (Genesis 31:13).
6) Here is how the third appearance of God to Jacob is described: “And God appeared unto Jacob again (at Bethel), when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him” (Genesis 35:9). Also, God said unto him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come out of your loins; and the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to you I will give it and to your seed after you will I give the Land. And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him” (Genesis 35:11-13). This is definitely another Christophany by the Angel of the Lord, as the verse insinuates that He was visible; for “God went up from him.”
7) The last appearance of God to Israel occurred in the visions of the night (a dream). He told Israel, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will surely bring you up again, and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes” (Genesis 46:3-4).
These seven I AM’s mentioned by the Lord to the Hebrew patriarchs signify God’s spiritual perfection. As you may know, 7 is God’s number for spiritual completion and perfection.
It appears that, initially, God wanted to be known as Elohim to the Hebrew patriarchs. He wanted them to know that He, as Elohim (plural for God or Gods), was one God, yet three distinct Persons. The 1st Person of the Trinity is known as the Heavenly Father. He is also one with the 2nd Person of the Trinity, Jehovah; as well as with the 3rd Person, the Holy Spirit.
Now, with Moses and the children of Israel, God wanted to be known as Jehovah. Lord, Jehovah, Christ, Son of God, Word, and the Angel of the Lord are all names used by the 2nd person of the Trinity. He is the God of the Hebrew people and Christian believers as well. Jehovah is the one who spoke to the Hebrew patriarchs and the children of Israel and directed their paths, as Jesus does today with His bride to be, the Church. It’s faith in Jesus Christ (and His word) by conviction of the Holy Spirit that saves people. This is the Father’s plan of salvation for all people.
After Exodus 3:6, the exact words of “I AM the God” (KJV), is never used again in the Old Testament. It is used three times in the New Testament, but only in referring back to the events of that verse. “I Am God” is used nine times in the Old Testament only. The term “I AM the Lord” (KJV) is used 162 times, and only in the Old Testament. This term could also include the words: “God,” or “your God.” For example, “I AM the Lord your God.” The King James translation would be: “I Am Jehovah Elohim.”
The name “Holy Spirit” is used seven times in the Old Testament and 93 times in the New Testament. The Old Testament mostly uses the word “Spirit” (capitalized) when referring to the 3rd Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Other names used are: “Spirit of God” and “Spirit of the Lord.” The New Testament mostly calls him the “Holy Spirit,” but also: “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of the Lord,” “Spirit,” “My Spirit,” “Spirit of your Father,” “Holy Ghost,” “Spirit of Truth,” “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” “Holy Spirit of promise,” “Spirit of Jesus Christ,” “Spirit of grace,” “Spirit of glory and of God,” and “Seven Spirits.”
Exodus 7-12 describes Moses’ and Aaron’s encounters and negotiations with Pharaoh in regard to allowing the Hebrews to leave Egypt. These verses also describe the ten plagues God sent upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh finally released the children of Israel. The tenth plague was the one that finally convinced Pharaoh to let Moses’ people go.
“Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the LORD, as you have said. Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go” (Exodus 12:29-32). This was a theophany where the Lord must have taken the form of an angel. He became the angel of death.
Before the ten plagues were sent upon the Egyptians, Pharaoh told Moses he didn’t know who their Lord was. He also told him he would not let Moses’ people go (Exodus 5:2). After the tenth and last plague, Pharaoh knew exactly who the Lord was, and he did let the Hebrews go. Pharaoh, like his fathers before him, was an evil ruler and idol worshiper who oppressed the Hebrews. An earlier Pharaoh of Egypt (Amenhotep 1) had murdered Hebrew babies and nearly killed Moses himself. Pharaoh and all the households of Egypt now understood the anguish of a firstborn son being killed. The Egyptians were faced with the fact that the gods they worshiped were no match for the Lord God of the Hebrews, Jehovah Elohim.
The last plague would forever be remembered as Passover The Passover was aptly named for when the Lord passed over the houses of the Hebrews. He knew which ones to pass over because of the blood (from the sacrifice of a male lamb without blemish) that was sprinkled on the door posts of the Hebrew houses. The Lord, as the destroyer (Exodus 12:23), killed all the firstborn sons (and the firstborn of the livestock) of the Egyptians, for they did not have the blood applied to their door posts. The prophecy of Exodus 4:22-23 was completely fulfilled by the Lord Himself.
The original Passover event is a typology of Jesus Christ in relation to his crucifixion. Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice (lamb without blemish) to save his people. In both cases, the blood of a lamb without blemish is what saves the believer. The Hebrew slaves had faith enough to do what the Lord required to be saved, while the Egyptians did not. It is the same these days, for if you believe that the blood of Jesus will save you, then the Lord will not condemn you for your sins. He will save you from a horrible and eternal existence in a place called the Lake of Fire. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
“And the Egyptians urged the people, so they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, We shall all be dead. So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians” (Exodus 12:33-36).
The children of Israel did as Moses and Aaron told them according to the word of the Lord. “And it came to pass, on that very same day (Nisan 14 – Passover), that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies” (Exodus 12:51). He brought them out with a strong arm indeed.