God - Seen and yet Unseen

"Hear Oh Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one!"

The unity of God is one of complexity. God is unseen and yet seen, omnipresent and yet localized. Not human and yet became human.

Exodus 33:20

וימר לא תוכל לראת את פני כי לא יראני האדם וחי

Exodus 33:11

ידבר יהוה אל משה פנים כאשר ידבר איש אל רעהו

Genesis 32:30

ויקרא יכקב שם המקום פנישל כי ראיתי אלהים פנים ותנצל נפשי

Exodus 3:6

ויאמר אנכי אלהי אביך אלהי אברהם אלהי יצחק ואלהי יעקב ויסתר משה פניו כי ירא מהביט אל האלהים

Judges 6:22

וירא גדעון כי מלאך יהוה הוא ויאמר גדעון אהה אדני יהוה כי על כן ראיתי מלאך יהוה פנים ויאמר לו יהוה שלום לך

Genesis 16:13

ותקרא שם יהוה הדבר אליה אתה אל ראי כי אמרה הגם הלם ראיתי אחרי ראי

Exodus 24:10f

ויראו את אלהי ישרשל ותחת רגליו כמעשה לבנת הספיר וכעצם השמים לטהר ואל אצילי בני ישראל לא שלח ידו ויחזו את האלהים ויאכלו וישתו

Judges 13:22

וַיֹּ֧אמֶר מָנ֛וֹחַ אֶל־אִשְׁתּ֖וֹ מ֣וֹת נָמ֑וּת כִּ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים רָאִֽינוּ׃

Isaiah 6:1,5

בשנת מות המלך עזיהו יאראה את אדני ישב על כסא רם ונשא ושוליו מלאים את ההיכל ואמר אוי לי כי נדמיתי כי איש טמא שפתים אנכי ובתוך עם טמא שפתים אנכי יושב כי את המלך יהוה צבאות ראו עיני

Notice what happens in...

Judges 13

The Divine Messenger  (מלך יהוה) appeared to the woman... (Judges 13:3). Then the woman came and told her husband that a 'man' had appeared to her (Judges 13:6). The Messenger appeared as a man but was more than a man. Then Manoah, her husband, prayed to God (Judges 13:8).

The Divine Messenger appeared again (Judges 13:9). Manoah wanted the Messenger to stay and eat with them (Judges 13:15) but he did not know who the Divine Messenger was. The Messenger instead asked that they make a sacrifice to God (Judges 13:16). Manoah wanted to know who he was (Judges 13:17) but the Messenger told him that his name was beyond understanding - [פלא] (Judges 13:18) [a hint here of his divine nature]. In the next verse the Messenger is called YHWH and accepts the sacrifice (Judges 13:19) and the next verse explains what was happening. The Divine Messenger who is called YHWH, ascended in the sacrifice and this caused the couple to prostrate themselves before him and worship (Judges 13:20). It was at this point that Manoah recognised the Divine Messenger (Judges 13:21) and understood that they had been in the presence of God and seen YHWH (Judges 13:22). This is made certain by his wife's response when she described the Messenger as YHWH (Judges 13:23).

Did Jesus and Paul cause Jews to 'go after other gods'?

It is claimed that Jesus caused Jews to follow other gods and that followers of Jesus are idolaters.

"It is clear in Deuteronomy  13 that you should not go after other gods that your ancestors did not know about, well my ancestors did not know about Jesus"

"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for YHWH your God is testing you to find out if you love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul."

For followers of Jesus the resurrection was what came true in terms of what he spoke and as the ultimate sign he gave. But the key issue is, did Jesus teach his followers to 'go after other gods... and serve them'?

  “שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה׀ אֶחָֽד׃ וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶֽךָ׃”

““Hear, O Israel! YHWH is our God, YHWH is one! “You shall love YHWH your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5)

Jesus:

 “One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! YHWH our God is one YHWH; and you shall love YHWH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’” (Mark 12:28–30)

Paul:

“...yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)

“one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6)

James:

James said that we do well if we believe God is one
(James 2:19)

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This is what Jesus said to his followers...

"Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it... if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you."

Jesus gives the reason why his followers can ask in his name...

"...Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me... I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known..."

The name YHWH (יהוה) is given to Jesus and this is not idolatry because we find it in the Tanakh.

"“Behold, I am going to send an Messenger (מלך) before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. “Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since MY NAME IS WITHIN HIM. “But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. “For My Messenger (מלך) will go before you and bring you in to the land..." (Exodus 23:20ff)

Now in view of what YHWH  says in Isaiah:

“I am YHWH, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another..."

We have a problem because another is sharing the name  YHWH. But if, as is shown throughout the Tanakh more than one is addressed as YHWH then the problem disappears and Yeshua is not an idol.

There is someone in the Tanakh who is other than YHWH and yet is one with YHWH. The Divine Messenger  (מלך יהוה) is described through the Scriptures as YHWH and God and yet is sent by YHWH (יהוה). In fact, his appearance is always described as an appearance of YHWH and YHWH is always in human form. When Jacob blessed his sons he said that YHWH was.

"...The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, The Messenger who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads..." (Gen.48)

There is a lot more that can and will be said about the Divine Messenger  (מלך יהוה) but this is enough to begin to show that the idea of YHWH (יהוה) taking on human form in the Messenger and sharing his name should make us think before dismissing Jesus' claims as novel and alien to the Tanakh.

The Divine Messenger  (מלך יהוה) appeared to Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush (Exodus 3:2). Moses turned to find out what was going on and the Messenger addressed him as YHWH (Exodus 3:4) and described himself as the God of Moses' ancestors. Moses realised that the Messenger was actually God and hid his face (Exodus 3:6). We know that the Messenger was in fact YHWH because we read about it in Deuteronomy 33:16. "... the favour of him who dwelt in the bush."

The Divine Messenger who is identified as YHWH explained to Moses that he had come down to bring deliverance to the people enslaved in Egypt (Exodus 3:8). Several times it was said of the Divine Messenger that he was the God of the ancestors of the Hebrews (Exodus 3:13, 15-16) and not only so but this Messenger who appeared as YHWH and God (Exodus 4:1; Exodus 5:3)

It is clear that the Divine Messenger  (מלך יהוה) is somehow one with YHWH. Here the Messenger is clearly the deliverer of Israel and he is addressed as YHWH and acts as YHWH. We read elsewhere in Exodus that the Divine Messenger not only acts for God but is YHWH. God promised to send a Messenger with the people (Exodus 23:20). This Messenger was to be obeyed and had the authority to forgive sins. The reason is clear - he possesses the name and nature of YHWH (Exodus 23:21). The people must obey him and he will lead them into the promised land (Exodus 23:22-23). God states in Exodus 20:2 that he brought the people out of Egypt. We also read that it was the Divine Messenger who brought the people out (Judges 2:1). There is a mysterious oneness between YHWH and the Messenger.

The Elders of Israel saw God

“Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
וַיַּ֥עַל מֹשֶׁ֖ה וְאַהֲרֹ֑ן נָדָב֙ וַאֲבִיה֔וּא וְשִׁבְעִ֖ים מִזִּקְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ וַיִּרְא֕וּ אֵ֖ת אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְתַ֣חַת רַגְלָ֗יו כְּמַעֲשֵׂה֙ לִבְנַ֣ת הַסַּפִּ֔יר וּכְעֶ֥צֶם הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם לָטֹֽהַר׃ וְאֶל־אֲצִילֵי֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל לֹ֥א שָׁלַ֖ח יָד֑וֹ וַֽיֶּחֱזוּ֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וַיֹּאכְל֖וּ וַיִּשְׁתּֽוּ׃
(Exodus 24:9–11)

John 1:18 tells us that visible appearances of God were appearances of Jesus, the Divine Messenger in Tanakh.

Jacob wrestled with a man

Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak (Genesis 32:24). Jacob realised that the man he wrestled with was God (Genesis 32:30). This is explained in Hosea. The man is described as God (Hosea 12:3). In fact it was the Divine Messenger (Hosea 12:4) and this Messenger is revealed as YHWH (Hosea 12:5). At the end of Jacob's life he reflected when he blessed Joseph and equated the Divine Messenger with God (Gen. 49:15-16)

John 8:58

εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ἰησοῦς· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι ἐγὼ εἰμί.” (John 8:58)
הֵשִׁיב לָהֶם יֵשׁוּעַ׃ ״אָמֵן אָמֵן אֲנִי אוֹמֵר לָכֶם, בְּטֶרֶם הֱיוֹת אַבְרָהָם, אֲנִי הוּא.״

The Jewish authorities were questioning Jesus about God the Father and he replied (John 8:19)
He had already told them about his divine origin 
(John 8:23, 38)
Jesus took their statement to another level (John 8:57, 58). Not only had he seen Abraham but he was in existence not just before Abraham (which would read ἤμην - ‘I was’) but eternally ‘ἐγὼ εἰμί’. Note that their response was to pick up stones to throw at him just as in John 10:31 where we are explicitly told their response was to his perceived blasphemy.
What does Torah say about blasphemy? “‘Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him...” (Leviticus 24:16).
So in John 8:59 their response to his claim was to try and stone him.
John 8:58 reads '...πρὶν (before) Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι (was/existed) ἐγὼ εἰμί (I myself am/exist).'
The Greek version (LXX) of the Torah (circa 250 BC) translates "אני הוא" in Deuteronomy 32:39 as "‘See now that I am (ἐγώ εἰμι), And there is no god besides Me..."
Isaiah 41:4 "‘I, יהוה , am the first, and with the last. I am he (ἐγώ εἰμι)’ "
And Isaiah 43:10 reads ““You are My witnesses,” declares YHWH (יהוה) , “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He (ἐγώ εἰμι)...
Compare this with the words of Jesus to John in Revelation 1:7 “Do not be afraid; I AM (ἐγώ εἰμι) the first and the last..."
Revelation 22:13, 16 "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end... I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."
Also Isaiah 43:13; 46:4; 48:12 and... 52:6 is interesting because there YHWH says: "Therefore my people will know my name in that day. For I am (ἐγώ εἰμι/אני הוא), behold I, the one speaking."
There appears to be a subtle pointer here to Exodus 3:14.
In John 10:28-30 we read:
“...I give eternal life to them... and no one will snatch them out of My hand... and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. “I and the Father are one.”
Jesus claims to give eternal life and then puts himself on a par with the Father.
“The Jewish authorities picked up stones again to stone Him... “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”
Notice it says they picked up stones again. John is referring back to 8:59 and so tying the charge for both occasions. What did they see as the blasphemy then as well as on this occasion? Claiming to be divine.
"Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?" (John 10:34)
Many interpret Jesus’ words as directed towards human rulers but a reading of the source, Psalm 82 shows that he is referring to the divine council in heaven who were judged for injustice (to whom the word of God came). If that is the case then what Jesus is asserting is that Tanakh describes the divine council as ‘gods’ and so he too is God but not merely of the created heavenly class but as ontologically one with the uncreated, all powerful Most High Father.
“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
He is not just God but, as stated in John 5, the unique Son of God.
“Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp.” (John 10:28–39)
They knew what he was claiming and that’s why they continued to try and take him.
Here is Psalm 82:1
“God takes His stand in the divine assembly (עדת-אל); He judges in the midst of the gods (אלהים). How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? ...I said, “You are gods (אלהים אתם), And all of you are sons of the Most High. “Nevertheless you will die like men (כאדם תמותון) And fall like any one of the princes.”
Key points:
Not a hint of the Law of Moses, of Sinai, the nation or Torah, in the Psalm. Jesus points to the Tanakh’s acknowledgement of the existence of other elohim (also called malakhim and ‘sons of elohim’) in the heavenly court. There are divine beings in the Tanakh but only one eternal Elohim who is YHWH and Jesus is one with this God who is both YHWH and Father. The other implication is that he is Lord of this heavenly council. The Tanakh points to one who is Messenger and yet God.
Some interpret certain uses of God (אלהים)  as meaning human judges but Heisler asserts, "However, neither judges nor elders are found in Exod 21, and the Old Testament never uses the term elohim for human leaders anywhere else. Many presume that Exodus 18 refers to the elders as elohim, but the text never makes that equation. Elohim there refers, as usual, to God. A comparison of Exod 21:1–6 (אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים) with its parallel in Deut 15:12–18 further weakens this argument."
(Michael S. Heiser, The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017), 63.)
“The Jewish authorities got the message, too—they charged him with blasphemy. Now ask yourself, why would they do that if all Jesus was saying was “you mortal Jews get to call yourselves sons of God, and אלהים, so I can, too.” That makes no sense at all.”
Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, First Edition. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015)

Jesus also said:
“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works..."
Throughout John's Gospel works (ἔργα) refer to Jesus' powerful miracles in terms of God's salvation. They testify to his authenticity: ““...for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.” (John 5:36). Jesus works are the works of God (John 9:3). He was to accomplish God's work (John 4:34) and did complete the task (John 17:4) of bringing God's salvation (John 6:29). God's work is Jesus work and this claim resulted in another attempt to kill him:
“But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Judeans were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5:17–18).
It was the works which showed he was the divine Messiah (John 10:24-25). He is the source of eternal life and holds believers in the safety of his hand/power. In fact, to be in his hand is to be in the Father's hand. They are one. The context is clear John (10:24-30). Again, the Judeans knew what he was claiming (John 10:31, 33). The works legitimize his claim (John 10:32):
““If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”” (John 10:37–38). Again, they knew what he was claiming and tried to seize him (John 10:39). The works are proof of the unity of the Father and Son: ““Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.” (John 14:11). In fact to reject the works of Jesus is to hate both the Father and Son (John 15:24).

Conclusion

The one who became a man is self-existing. The language John uses in chapter 1 makes a distinction between the one eternally existing as the Word and his becoming at a point in time, a man. The Word already existed '...in the beginning', reflecting the words of Genesis 1:1 but the Word became human and lived a human life. Yet he claimed something which the religious leaders saw as blasphemy. In John 8:58 he used a phrase which is applied to God in Isaiah (אני הוא - Isaiah 43:13 et al) and is related to Exodus 3:14. 'I am' in this context was a claim to being eternal and only God is eternal. They certainly got his gist.
John 1:2 says that οὗτος (he) was in the beginning with God. Throughout John οὗτος is both personal and refers to a person. All things were created 'through him'. John states that he 'beheld' the glory of the λόγος in the person of Jesus. John's testimony of Jesus was that he existed before him, as the unique God who manifests the Father to the world.
The paradox is mind blowing. The eternal becomes temporal. The divine becomes a man - completely... but without ceasing to be self-existent. The immortal becomes mortal. The omniscient becomes limited. The omnipresent becomes focused in time and place. Yet God remains God. We see this throughout Tanakh. The one who fills all things and is present in all time is manifest in one place and time. The God who is one is sender and yet sent.
““This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
“οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἥκει καὶ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν διάνοιαν ἵνα γινώσκωμεν τὸν ἀληθινόν, καὶ ἐσμὲν ἐν τῷ ἀληθινῷ, ἐν τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ. οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθινὸς θεὸς καὶ ζωὴ αἰώνιος.” (1 John 5:20)
To be in the Son is to be in God. In fact he is the true God.
Why is Jesus called the Word?
Michael S. Heiser


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 is, by far, one of the most familiar verses in the Bible. We know “the Word” speaks of Jesus (John 1:14), but where did John get the idea that “the Word” could refer to God as a person?

Part of the answer concerns the translation John used. While John used the Greek word logos (λόγος) when referring to “the Word,” he himself was drawing on Aramaic translations of the Old Testament. In Jesus’ day, Aramaic was the native language of the Jewish people.

While the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek, the language of the wider Gentile world, it was also translated into Aramaic. These Aramaic translations are called Targums. One specific Targum of the Torah, Targum Onkelos, was sanctioned by Jewish religious authorities for use in the synagogue.

The Targums telegraph the idea of God as “Word” in many places—in vivid, sometimes startling ways. Many Jews of John’s day would have been familiar with the idea. The Aramaic term for “word,” memra, was often used as another way to refer to God. Consider Numbers 14:11, noting the underlined and bold portions:

And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?”

The Targum (Neofiti) renders part of this Old Testament verse as follows:

“How long will they not believe in the name of my Word in spite of all the signs of my miracles which I have performed?”

In the Targum rendering, the Lord refers to Himself as “my Word,” using the Aramaic term memra.

John calls Jesus “the Word made flesh” in John 1:14, referring to Numbers 14:11. He does this because the translations he had heard so many times in the synagogue had taught him that God was the Word—the memra—and he believed Jesus was God. John even echoes the Targum rendering of Numbers 1:14 later on:

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him (John 12:36–37).

Memra is used more than 600 times in the Aramaic Targums to describe God, often in passages where the language presumes God is present in physical, human form:

And they heard the sound of the memra of the Lord God walking in the garden … (Gen 3:8).

Because of the Targums, Jews in the days of Jesus and John would have understood the notion that God could come to them in human form. John believed that was exactly what he and the disciples had witnessed in Jesus, so it was natural for him to refer to Jesus as the Word. John wrote his Gospel in Greek, but his theology was Jewish, conveyed to him through Aramaic. Therefore, both Jews and non-Jewish people got the point in unmistakable terms: The Word of the Old Testament had been made flesh (John 1:14) and walked among us.

Idols and prohibitions

The context of Deuteronomy 4:12 shows Moses reminding the people about the incident at Horeb. They heard the voice of YHWH but did not see a form (תְּמוּנָה). This seems to have the idea of a pattern or type as in the 'kinds' of Genesis 1 (מִין) and so would point to the mode of appearance. Moses saw what YHWH appeared as in Numbers 12:8 but elsewhere we read that Moses did not see the face/glory of YHWH (Exodus 33:18-23) and this is reiterated by Paul in the New Testament "I charge you in the presence of God... who is the blessed and only Sovereign... whom no one has ever seen or can see. " (1 Timothy 6). And yet... YHWH is seen: Genesis 32:30 "So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”" (כִּֽי־רָאִ֤יתִי אֱלֹהִים֙ פָּנִ֣ים אֶל־פָּנִ֔ים). See also a small sample: Genesis 16:13; Isaiah 6:1, 5 and of course, Exodus 24:10-11.
So if YHWH is seen in so many places in Tanakh (and especially Torah), and appears as a man, what do we make of the passages stating that God cannot be seen and has not been seen. The clue for interpreting Deuteronomy 4 is the word for image (פֶּ֫סֶל) which refers to something carved or cut. The command is not to turn YHWH into a carved image. In other words, you didn't see what I look like, so don't try to represent me with some stone or wooden effigy. Again, Paul repeated this in Romans 1:23  "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God... and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures."

So how did many in the Tanakh saw the unseeable?

Zechariah gives us a clue. YHWH speaks and says:

“For this is what YHWH of armies says (YHWH is speaking),
after his glory sent ME (YHWH) to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of HIS eye: “Behold, I (YHWH) will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that YHWH of hosts has sent me (YHWH). Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I (YHWH) come and I (YHWH) will dwell in your midst, declares YHWH. And many nations shall join themselves to YHWH in that day, and shall be MY people. And I (YHWH) will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that YHWH of hosts has sent ME (YHWH) to you.” (Zechariah 2:8–11)

Notice that YHWH speaks and states that YHWH sent him. YHWH will come to Jerusalem. YHWH will take a people from the Gentiles. This will cause the Jews to know that YHWH sent YHWH to them (Cf. Zechariah 12:10ff). And from this we get an explanation from John 1:18: "No one has seen God at any time; the unique God who is closest to the Father, He has made him known ("Jesus said... He who has seen me has seen the Father..." John 14:9)).

The relationship between the unseen YHWH and the visible Divine Messenger in the Tanakh is revealed in the New Testament in Jesus the Messiah. The Divine Messenger possessed the name and nature of YHWH and yet was sent from YHWH. And in the New Testament Yeshua was sent from the Father. As Paul put it, "God was in Messiah".

1st comment

There is no command in Deuteronomy 4 concerning God's form/appearance. Deuteronomy 4:8 states: "Then יהוה spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice." Here we have a statement not a command. The people heard but didn't see. The teaching is not that God does not have a form which cannot be seen but that the people should not make a visible representation of God (פֶּ֖סֶל) in the appearance of a creature or created object. The commandment is a prohibition of making idols "“When you become the father of children and children’s children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger."

Numbers 12:8 is clear that God does have a form/appearance and Exodus 24:10 (Also, Isaiah 6:1,5) explicitly states that God can be seen.

God says in Exodus 33:20 “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me AND LIVE!” And that's the key here. It's not that God cannot be seen (He clearly can be as shown in other texts) but that in this context Moses is prohibited from seeing God (sing. לֹ֥א תוּכַ֖ל). We know from Numbers 12:6ff that Moses had seen God's form but in this context he was prevented and we can see why from his request: "Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory! - כָּבוֹד ”". It would seem that Moses wanted to see the unveiled appearance of God and that would have killed him.

2nd Comment

Deuteronomy 4:12, 15.
And YHWH spoke to you (וַיְדַבֵּ֧ר יְהוָ֛ה אֲלֵיכֶ֖ם) from within the fire (מִתּ֣וֹךְ הָאֵ֑שׁ). You heard [the] sound of words (ק֤וֹל דְּבָרִים֙ אַתֶּ֣ם שֹׁמְעִ֔ים) but you did not see a form (וּתְמוּנָ֛ה אֵינְכֶ֥ם רֹאִ֖ים), only a sound (זוּלָתִ֥י קֽוֹל)... Watch yourselves very much (וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּ֥ם מְאֹ֖ד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם) because (כִּ֣י) you did not see any form (לֹ֤א רְאִיתֶם֙ כָּל־תְּמוּנָ֔ה)... Lest you corrupt (פֶּ֨ן־תַּשְׁחִת֔וּן) [yourselves] and make for yourselves (וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֥ם לָכֶ֛ם ) an idol (פֶּ֖סֶל), a form of any shape (תְּמוּנַ֣ת כָּל־סָ֑מֶל) ...
Nothing here to suggest that the divine does not have a visible form or that YHWH has not appeared in visible form, only a warning that the people, being prone to making images (Golden Calf), should not try to represent YHWH with an image/statue. Unfortunately the nation never did listen as verse 25 foretells. Verse 28 clarifies the meaning of the text. YHWH is not to be treated like the gods of the nations and turned into a carved image or statue. It is not that YHWH does not have a visible form. He clearly does according to the witness of many Tanakh texts. Rather, if the people saw his form they would be tempted to turn it into a physical idol.
Deuteronomy 5:8‘You shall not MAKE for yourself an פֶּ֫סֶל (carved image), or any תְּמוּנָה (physical appearance) of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
Exodus 20:23 ‘You shall not MAKE other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not MAKE for yourselves.
Leviticus 26:1 ‘You shall not MAKE for yourselves idols, nor shall you SET UP for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you PLACE a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am יהוה your God.
2 Kings 17:16 They forsook all the commandments of יהוה their God and MADE for themselves molten images, even two calves, and MADE an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.

There are two injunctions flowing from Deut 4:15:

1) Lest you (פֶּן) act corruptly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure...


2) “... lest (פֶּן) you lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them...

The first, relates to man made images and the second which was not discussed relates to treating the heavenly bodies as deities, as the surrounding nations also did.

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