Thursday, September 27, 2012

Join us this Sunday night at Christ Fellowship Bible Church as we study the biblical period of the Messianic Kingdom.

We will look at a number of elements that will characterize this important area of study.

This is a very neglected doctrine in theological studies and the future hope that we as believers have of "reigning with Christ" on earth during the Kingdom should encourage us and energize us with hope and expectation!

See you this Sunday at 4PM at CFBC!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Richard Baxter provides six helpful points on the husband and wife's roles to each other.

Duties of a husband & wife to each other:
1. Entirely to love each other … and avoid all things that tend to quench their love.

2. To dwell together, and enjoy each other, and faithfully join as helpers in the education of their children, the government of the family, and the management of their worldly business.

3. Especially to be helpers of each other’s salvation: to sir up each other to faith, love, and obedience, and good works: to warn and help each other against sin, and all temptations; to join in God’s worship in the family, and in private: to prepare each other for the approach of death, and comfort each other in the hopes of life eternal.

4. To avoid all dissensions, and to bear with those infirmities in each other which you cannot cure: to assuage, and not provoke, unruly passions; and, in lawful things, to please each other.

5. To keep conjugal chastity and fidelity, and to avoid all unseemly and immodest carriage (conduct) with another, which may stir up jealousy; and yet to avoid all jealousy which is unjust.

6. To help one another to bear their burdens (and not by impatience to make them greater). In poverty, crosses, sickness, dangers, to comfort and support each other. And to be delightful companions in holy love, and heavenly hopes and duties, when all other outward comforts fail.

SOURCE: JI Packer, A Grief Sanctified: Through Sorrow to Eternal Hope, p.24
The Use of the OT in the OT — “The LORD is my Strength & My Song”
By: Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Biblical Texts Themselves:
Exodus 15:2 (MT & Eng)
 עָזִּ֤י וְזִמְרָת֙ יָ֔הּ וַֽיְהִי־לִ֖י לִֽישׁוּעָ֑ה זֶ֤ה אֵלִי֙ וְאַנְוֵ֔הוּ אֱלֹהֵ֥י אָבִ֖י וַאֲרֹמְמֶֽנְהוּ׃
(“Yahweh is my strength & song. And he has become my salvation. He is my God and I will praise Him; the God of my Fathers & I will exalt Him.”)

Isaiah 12:2 (MT & Eng)
 הִנֵּ֙ה אֵ֧ל יְשׁוּעָתִ֛י אֶבְטַ֖ח וְלֹ֣א אֶפְחָ֑ד כִּֽי־עָזִּ֤י וְזִמְרָת֙ יָ֣הּ יְהוָ֔ה וַֽיְהִי־לִ֖י לִֽישׁוּעָֽה׃
(“Behold God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid for Yahweh, the LORD, is my strength and song. And he has become my salvation.”)

Psalm 118:14 (MT & Eng)
 עָזִּ֣י וְזִמְרָ֣ת יָ֑הּ וַֽיְהִי־לִ֗֜י לִֽישׁוּעָֽה׃
(“Yahweh is my strength and song. And He has become my salvation.”)

Examination of Specific Texts:
The earliest occurrence of the phrase “my strength and song and He has become my salvation” ( עָזִּ֣י וְזִמְרָ֣ת יָ֑הּ וַֽיְהִי־לִ֗֜י לִֽישׁוּעָֽה) occurs in Ex 15:2. It is interesting how the Old Testament (OT) uses the OT. The context of the first occurrence in Exodus 15 celebrates the victory that Yahweh accomplished for Israel in passing them through the midst of the sea & destroying Pharaoh and his entire army. God brought His people through the sea as they walked on dry land. Indeed, the people then chant that Yah (shortened form for Yahweh) is the strength and song. He is the one who has given the ability (=strength) and he is the one who is worthy of praise and worship (=song). It is only through God and through His mighty strength that Israel was spared from the Egyptians at the shore of the Red Sea.

No wonder then that OT writers would take such a God-centered phrase and incorporate it elsewhere in their writings.

For instance, in the surrounding context of Isaiah 12, the prophet speaks of the coming deliverer. He speaks of a child who will be born, a son will be given, the government will rest on his shoulders. And his name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace (9:6). So amazing will this man be that there will be no end to the increase of his government or of peace. He will sit on the throne of David & establish and uphold justice and righteousness forever (9:7). But indeed, Assyria, the enemy of Israel’s and thus God’s enemy will be judged (ch. 10) and then there will arise a “shoot” from the stem of Jesse (11:1). The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him and he will delight in the fear of the Lord (11:2). He will judge the poor in righteousness (11:3) and the wolf will dwell with the lamb (11:6). At this time the entire earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord (11:9). Then on that day, the people of God will say “I will give thanks to You, O LORD, for although you were angry your anger has been turned away and you comfort me” (12:1). In this song of the redeemed, the worshippers of Yahweh will then sing: “Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation (12:2). The context of this will happen when the inhabitants of Zion dwell with God, the Holy One of Israel, in their midst (12:6). What a day of gladness, rejoicing, and deliverance that will be! One can see, then, how Isaiah could incorporate not only the language of Ex 15:2 but also the context of the larger discourse to enhance the meaning of the text in Isaiah 12:2.

The other occurrence of this language can be found in Psalm 118. As one of the “Egyptian Hallel Psalms” (Pss 113-118), this psalm acclaims the goodness of the Lord and the deliverance that the Lord provides for His people. Jewish tradition holds that Psalm 118 was sung during the Passover festivities. The psalm commands God’s people to “give thanks to the Lord for He is good” (118:1). All Israel is to say the covenant-keeping (steadfast) love of Yahweh is everlasting (118:2-4). It is the Lord who is for His people and so it is far better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man (118:7-9). Even if all the nations were to surround God’s people, in the name of the Lord, they will be defeated (118:10-12). The Lord is the help for His people (118:13). Because of this, the psalmist can shout: “the LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation” (118:14).

One cannot overlook the larger significance and context of Psalm 118. The Jews all understood Psalm 118 to be significantly Messianic. The Messiah is the One who will come in the name of the Lord (118:26). He is the “stone which the builders rejected and has become the chief cornerstone” (118:22). And in the day of the Lord’s saving, all can chant: “this is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (118:24). This is when the people of God can chant in Hebrew: “Hosannah!” (Do save, we beseech You; 118:25). What a great God who is worthy of blessing, exaltation and thanks (118:26-29). How appropriate for the psalmist to remember that it is the LORD who is the strength & song. Indeed, He — and he alone — has become salvation for His people (in the Messiah).

This phrase in Hebrew remembering the praise and worship due to Yahweh because of the salvation/deliverance that He has accomplished ( עָזִּ֤י וְזִמְרָת֙ יָ֔הּ וַֽיְהִי־לִ֖י לִֽישׁוּעָ֑ה) occurs first in Yahweh’s deliverance in the Exodus narrative. It then speaks of Messiah’s first coming in Psalm 118. It also occurs in Isaiah 12 speaking of Messiah’s kingdom on earth when His people will remember the deliverance God has provided them.

And finally, this phrase in this specific form occurs only three times in the Hebrew Bible (Ex 15:2; Isa 12:2; and Ps 118:14). One should not overlook that these three references encompass the three main divisions of the Hebrew Bible — the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. In the Torah, God delivers His people at the Red Sea from the Egyptians (Ex 15:2). In the Prophets, God is the strength and song of His people when he delivers them in the coming of the Messiah (Ps 118:14). And, lastly, in the Writings, Isaiah speaks of God as Israel’s strength and song when He has finally delivered them and ushered His people into the Messianic Kingdom (Isa 12:2).

What a glorious phrase with tremendous theological significance that occurs in the OT. And one should see how the OT writers used this phrase in different contexts while still respecting the primary OT context (Ex 15:2) that further enhances and substantiates the saving power of God in later OT contexts.

Download the PDF of this article here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Here is how John Piper connects the dots (in commenting on how Jonathan Edwards connected joy & suffering together):

Yes, becoming a Christian adds more trouble to life and brings persecutions, reproaches, suffering, and even death. Yes, there are overwhelming sorrows. But the pursuit of infinite pleasure in God, and the confidence that Christ has purchased it for us, does not contradict these sufferings, but carries them.

By this joy and this hope we are able to suffer on the Calvary road of ministry and missions and love. "For the joy that was set before him" Jesus endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). He fixed his gaze on the completion of his joy. That gaze sustained the greatest act of love that ever was.

The same gaze-the completion of our joy in God-will sustain us as well. The pursuit of that joy doesn't contradict suffering, it carries it. The completion of Christ's great, global mission will demand suffering. Therefore, if you love the nations, pursue this God-entranced vision of all things.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Drama in the Home

Everybody loves Bill. The consensus is that his perceived spiritual maturity and humble servant’s heart have been an encouragement to many. When he isn’t running his moderately successful engineering firm, he volunteers for his local church. The pastors love him and usually include him in their quarterly planning retreats.

There is one problem however. Bill’s wife, Mary, cannot stand him. No one knows this, but Bill. She has been living with a low-grade animosity toward him for nearly 20 years. The only reason she has not left is because of the stigma of divorce and what it would do to their kids.

Mary’s issue with Bill is that he is a hypocrite and her assessment is spot on. Bill is a self-absorbed religionist, who has learned how to manage the gap between who he really is and the person he presents himself to others. The problem for Bill is that he cannot maintain his hypocrisy in every context of his life. His home is the one place where he is known for the hypocrite he really is.

With no public chink in his spiritual armor, Mary silently suffers through it all. She knows something is wrong, but cannot put her finger on it. Coupled with this unmitigated anger toward Bill, is her fear that whatever he is into will devastate her should the truth come out.

The Nightmare is Revealed

Late one afternoon Mary was emptying the home office trashcan and noticed a receipt from a strip club. It was unmistakable. She confronted Bill and after a week of arguments, denials and threats, Bill finally came clean. He is a porn addict.

Mary was devastated.

Bill did repent of his sin and they sought counseling. One year later, Mary is still unwilling to forgive Bill. She is angry, critical, bitter, self-justifying and self-righteous.

The Weapon for the Wounded

Mary has been hurting for two decades. She also has been stewing in anger during this time. She knew she was right and everyone else was wrong. She saw Bill for what he was, a hypocritical fool. Additionally, Bill did not willingly confess his sin. He was caught. She believes that if she had not found the strip club receipt, he probably would never have confessed his sin.

Mary says she has forgiven him, but there is nothing in her attitude or actions that would support her claim. During counseling, Mary’s counselor confronted her for her unwillingness to forgive Bill. From Mary’s perspective she has been living alone her entire marriage and God never intervened. Mary believes if she forgives Bill of his sin, then it would be like he never sinned; he would get off free and clear and the door of her nightmare would be closed, as though it never happened as well. She is bitter and not ready to forget all her hurt.

The Power of UN-forgiveness

Bill has repented of his sin, though he did not initially confess it. He has admitted to everything. But Mary is not ready to let him off the hook by freely forgiving him.

To forgive someone of their sin is to say:

“I will be obedient to God and release you from your sin regardless of what you have done to me. What I have done to the Savior is far worse than what you have done to me. I will not hold this over your head anymore, but will make myself vulnerable to the possibility of you hurting me again. In essence, I trust God’s method in this matter. I forgive you.”

Mary’s unwillingness to forgive Bill is her man-centered way of protecting herself from ever being hurt again. She believes as long as she can hold Bill’s sin over his head she will not be vulnerable. Since God did not come through for 20 years, she is more comfortable maintaining control of the situation. To forgive Bill is to say, “It’s over; let’s move on.” Her sinful method accomplishes three goals:
1. She is punishing Bill for all the years he punished her.
2. She is protecting herself from ever being hurt again.
3. She is perverting the Gospel.

The Power of the Gospel

Mary is playing god. She is holding Bill’s sin over him while making a mockery of the Cross. The Father’s punishment of the Son on the Cross is not enough for Mary. She is a legalist who believes in the Cross, but also believes that Bill needs to be punished as well. Grace seems too easy.

What Mary does not understand is that grace was not easy. It cost the Son of God his life. The infinite Father PUNISHED the infinite Son for the infinite crime. The infinite Savior PAID the infinite price for the infinite crime.

For Mary, the death of Christ is not enough for what Bill did. Because of Mary’s high view of herself, she will not accept the death of Christ as payment to cover what has been done to her. In her world, this sin against her is greater than her sin against the Savior. She is treating her husband in a way that God did not treat her. The Father forgave Mary of her sin against his Son, but Mary will not forgive Bill of his sin against her.

Mary needs to repent of her self-righteousness by humbling herself at the foot of the Cross and accept the death of the Son of God as payment in full for what Bill did. The Father put the Son on the Cross. Mary needs to take her husband off the Cross. His sin has already been paid on the Cross.

HT: Rick Thomas

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Here are some very helpful resources to inform your thinking on biblical ("nouthetic") counseling.

Is There Any Difference Between Biblical Counseling & Christian Psychology? by John MacArthur and Wayne Mack.
This is a very helpful, brief, and compelling overview showing the vast differences between biblical/nouthetic counseling and the so-called Christian psychology methods.

What Distinguishes Biblical Counseling from Other Methods? by David Powlison
In this blog entry, Powlison shows how biblical counseling is fundamentally different than other methods because the view of God, man, sin, hope, and change are all vastly different.

The Mandate for Biblical Counseling by Paul Tautges
There are helpful resources here, quotes, definitions, and he draws the link (rightly so!) between discipleship and biblical counseling.

We Are All Called to Counsel
In this blog, Jeremy Lelak argues that every Christian is called to counsel one another.

What are Some Affirmations & Denials of Biblical Counseling by David Powlison

Critiquing Modern "Integrationists" by David Powlison (Journal of Biblical Counseling)

Idols of the Heart and Vanity Fair by David Powlison

The Sufficiency of Scripture to Diagnose and Cure Souls by David Powlison

What Is Biblical Counseling Anyway? by Ed Welch

How Does Scripture Change You? by David Powlison

Counseling the Depressed Person: The Puritan Alternative to Secular Psychology by David Herding (MA thesis) - excellent!

A Christian Directory - A Body of Practical Divinity and Cases of Conscience (Christian Ethics) by Richard Baxter
This is a very lengthy Puritan treatment of the sufficiency of Scripture and of Christ to cure the souls of any malady. This is biblical counseling at its finest & Baxter addresses many issues & directly applies Scripture to each. The entire book is FREE on google books.

Puritan Resources for Biblical Counseling by Tim Keller
This is a very lengthy article where Keller shows how biblical counseling — that is, addressing any and every issue with the sufficient and comprehensive Word of God — is nothing new but the Puritans practiced this type of "healing of the soul." Very helpful resource here!

  • Introduction to Biblical Counseling, by John MacArthur, Wayne Mack, The Master’s Seminary Faculty.  
  • Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, By Paul Tripp 
  • Competent to Counsel, by Jay Adams   
  • The Christian Counselor’s Manual, by Jay Adams  
  • A Theology of Christian Counseling, by Jay Adams  
  • The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams, by Heath Lambert
  • Scripture and Counseling, by Bob Kelleman & Jeff Forrey, eds.
  • Christ Centered Biblical Counseling, by James MacDonald, Bob Kelleman & Steve Viars, eds.
  • The Biblical Counseling Movement, by David Powlison
  • Gospel-Centered Counseling, by Bob Kelleman
  • How to Counsel from Scripture, Martin & Deidre Bobgan  
  • The Christian Counselor’s Medical Desk Reference, By Robert Smith, M.D.
  • Equipping Counselors for your Church, by Robert Kelleman
  • Power Encounters, David Powlison  
  • Seeing With New Eyes, by David Powlison
  • Christian Psychology's War on God's Word, By Jim Owen 
  • Counseling the Hard Cases, by Stuart Scott, ed. 
  • Biblical Counseling and the Church, by Bob Kelleman & Kevin Carson, eds. 
  • Counseling and the Church, by Deepak Reju
  • Why Christians Can’t Trust Psychology, by Ed Bulkley   
  • How People Change, by Paul Tripp and Tim Lane
  • Anger and Stress Management God's Way, by Wayne Mack
  • Anger, Anxiety and Fear, by Stuart Scott
  • The Heart of Anger, by Lou Priolo
  • Living with an Angry Spouse, by Ed Welch 
  • Uprooting Anger, by Robert Jones
  • The Exemplary Husband, by Stuart Scott
  • The Complete Husband, by Lou Priolo
  • Solving Marriage Problems God's Way, by Jay Adams
  • Strengthening Your Marriage, by Wayne Mack
  • Preparing for Marriage God's Way, by Wayne Mack
  • Feminine Appeal, by Caroline Mahaney
  • The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace
  • The Case of the Hopeless Marriage, by Jay Adams
  • Mortification of Sin, by John Owen
  • How to Overcome Evil, by Jay Adams
  • The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande
  • Sin and Temptation, by John Owen
  • Bitterness: The Root that Pollutes, by Lou Priolo
  • The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness, by John MacArthur
  • God's Healing for Life's Lessons by Bob Kelleman
  • A Shelter in the Time of Storm by Paul Tripp
  • When God's Children Suffer, by Horatius Bonar
  • Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
  • God and the Gay-Christian? by Albert Mohler
  • Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield
  • Homosexuality, by Ed Welch
  • Resisting Gossip, by Paul Mitchell
  • Practicing Affirmation, by Sam Crabtree
  • If You Bite and Devour One Another, by Alexander Strauch
  • Sexual Abuse, by Bob Kelleman 
  • Is It My Fault? by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb
  • Finally Free, by Heath Lambert
  • Sex is not the Problem, Lust Is, by Joshua Harris
  • Sexual Detox, by Tim Challies
  • If I'm a Christian, Why am I Depressed? by Bob Sommerville
  • The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams, By Heath Lambert  
  • Men Counseling Men, by John Street, ed.
  • Women Counseling Women, by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Carol Cornish, Eds.  
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, by Jeremy Lelak

ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) - 
Institute for Nouthetic Studies -
Biblical Counseling Coalition -
Monergism (Biblical Counseling) - 
Lou Priolo - free mp3 Audio/messages -
Institute for Biblical Counseling & Discipleship (IBCD) -
Biblical Counseling & Discipleship Association of Southern California (videos) -
 Association of Biblical Counselors - 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Excellent reminder from H. A. Ironside:

"If you are afraid that perhaps the love of money is getting a hold on your soul, start giving some of it away and see how you feel! If you feel really glad then you are still safe, but if it almost breaks your heart then it is time to get down on your knees and pray to be freed from this sin of covetousness! It is going to ruin you unless you are delivered from it."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Biblical Counseling is a theological and ministerial task. The mission is to make counseling an enterprise that is centered on Christ, based on His Word, and located in the local church.

In other words: counseling cannot be neglected by pastors nor by local churches. It is centered on Christ, based on His Word, and located within the context of the local Church. So then, every Christian who is theologically informed and biblically saturated, while devoted to prayer and trusting in the Spirit, is competent and able to biblically counsel others.

From: Heath Lambert, The Biblical Counseling Movement after Adams, 23.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why is integrating Scriptural truth with discovered, scientific (psychological) truth is misleading; The Misnomer So-called "Christian Psychology"

Integration is virtually impossible. Christian psychology sets aside the historical-grammatical method of interpreting Scripture and replaces it with a hermeneutic centered on pathology.

Such a hermeneutic views man not as a sinner but rather as a victim whose victimization has left him with deeply buried feelings of anger and inferiority, which in turn cripple his life through “dysfunctional” behavior. This approach sees man’s fundamental problem as ignorance of himself and his psychic injuries, rather than deliberate disobedience to and ignorance of the living and true God. Man’s primary need becomes esteeming himself more highly, rather than dying to self and living for God through faith in Christ (Romans 6:8-14).

It is upon these two premises, adopted from humanistic psychology, that “Christian” psychology has built its counseling methodology. It emphasizes man-as-victim rather than man-as-sinner. Such a view radically challenges the biblical doctrines of man’s absolute culpability before the cross, the supremacy of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s sanctification, and most importantly the sufficiency and authority of Scripture for the believer. By advocating a pathological interpretatino of man, “Christian” psychology profoundly reinterprets the Gospel—with staggering implications for Christianity.

What is just as astounding, however, is that the evangelical church has so readily and uncritically accepted “Christian” psychology with scarcely a murmur of protest. Adding my wonder is that “Christian” psychology does not hesitate, both directly and indirectly, to charge the church with massive insensitivity and failure in truly meeting the “real needs” of its people. Nor has it been any less critical in its attacks against those who would use Scripture alone to counsel someone enslaved to sin

FROM: Jim Owen, Christian Psychology’s War on God’s Word: The Victimization of the Believer, pp.18-19.

More this Sunday at Christ Fellowship Bible Church at 5:00pm.
Many folks who read this blog may find themselves actively involved in churches all around America — and perhaps the world.

A text that so helpfully clarifies the role that Christians should have in the lives of others is 1 Thessalonians 5:14: "And we encourage you, brothers, to admonish the unruly, encourage the faint-hearted, bear with the weak; be patient with everyone."

Here is a very fitting reminder of some specific ways that YOU can encourage a particular group that is often prone to being "faint-hearted" — pained, distressed, crushed of spirit:

Here's another person or set of people that we need to be encouraging, and those are our pastors and our spiritual leaders--the elders, the deacons, the church staff members, and their wives. We have come into an era today where it is so hard to be in a position of spiritual leadership because the "in vogue" thing is to criticize. And all around us we're seeing the wreckage of churches and lives because, among other reasons, we're not encouraging one another. Your pastor needs for you to be an encourager--not his critic.

But when you see a need in their lives that should become an opportunity for intercession. Not to talk to others. I'm just astounded at the things that bring pressure to bear on pastors and churches today that you say, "You're tearing up the church for that?"

I've loved over the years being an encourager to the pastors and the church staff members that God has put into my life who have spiritual authority over my life, and I work hard at writing notes, at sending anniversary checks for "date nights" for those husbands and wives to get out together and have an evening, especially if they have children and maybe don't get out a lot. Look for ways to verbally speak to your pastor, to his wife, to them as a couple, to others in positions of spiritual leadership to honor them, to encourage them.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I received this question from some ladies in church last night: Why is it that Exodus 3.2 says that "The angel of the LORD" appeared in the burning bush & then later in the account it equates the angel with God? The same thing also is recorded by Stephen in his sermon in Acts 7. Can you help clarify this?

I responded in an email & thought it may be helpful to post it here as well.

Who is the Angel of the Lord in Exodus 3.2 in the Burning Bush Narrative?

The Biblical Texts:
Exodus 3:2-4   2 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.  3 So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."  4 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."

Cf. Acts 7:30-34 where the interchange of the Angel of the Lord and God appears.

The context of Exodus 3 is Moses who was pasturing the flock in Egypt near the Mt. Sinai area (Ex 3:1). He came to Horeb — the mountain of God (Mt Sinai) (3:1b). When he came to this area, “the angel of the LORD” appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush (3:2).

Intrigued by this, Moses wanted to see this “marvelous sight” (3:3). The text then says that when the LORD (Yahweh) saw that Moses turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush (3:4). In fact, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the bush and then just a few verses later the voice says “do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (3:5). And even more explicitly, the voice comes from the bush and says: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (3:6). Humbled and in awe, Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God (3:6).

Because of the interchange of terms for the One who spoke with Moses from the midst of the bush, it seems abundantly clear that Moses (the author of this text) believed that “The Angel of the LORD” was none other than God Himself (esp. Compare Ex 3:2 and Ex 3:4, 6).

As one writer summarized it: “likewise in Exodus 3:2-6 the phrase ‘the angel of the LORD’ is used interchangeably with ‘the LORD.’ In fact the angel claims, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’ (Ex 3:6)” (Walt Kaiser, Hard Sayings of the Bible).

Even Acts 7:30-34 uses the same language as the Exodus account as Luke (the author of Acts) says that “An Angel appeared to Moses in the wilderness” (7:30) and then when Moses saw it he marveled and heard from the midst of the bush: “I am the God of your Fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (7:32). Note this important and very clear parallel. In Acts 7:30 “an angel” appeared to Moses. In Acts 7:33 it was “the LORD” talking with him. The text seems to equate the angel of the Lord with the LORD here (just as it occurs in the Exodus 3 text).

An interesting cross reference also found in this same book is Exodus 23:20-23. Here, God reveals that he sends “My angel” ahead of the people of Israel as they travel through the wilderness. But amazingly, God says concerning “the angel” that “My Name is in him” (23:21). When God speaks of His Name it refers to His character, His essence, His attributes, His being. Thus, all that God is is found in this angel. Israel must obey this angel and not rebel against him. Again, Walt Kaiser writes: “God would never share his memorial name with anyone else, for Isaiah 42:8 advised that he would never share his glory with another. Thus the name of God stands for himself. And when a person is said to have the name of God in him, that person is God!”

This “Angel of the LORD” in the Old Testament amazingly reveals qualities that only God possesses. He has amazing authority and capabilities.

For instance, He has the power to give life (Gen 16:10) and to see and know all (Gen 16:13; Ex 3:7). Only God can forgive sin, yet this angel did the same in Exodus 23:21. The angel performed miracles such as keeping a burning bush from being consumed (Ex 3:2), smiting Egypt with plagues (Ex 3:20), calling forth fire on the rock to consume the meal set for him (Judg 6:21) and ascending the flame of the altar (Judg 13:20).

Finally, this angel commanded and received worship from Moses (Ex 3:5) and Joshua (Josh 5:14). Angels were not to receive worship. When John attempted to worship an angel in Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9, he was corrected quickly and told not to do it.

We thus can conclude that the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament was a preincarnate form of our Lord Jesus Christ, who would later permanently take on flesh when he came as a babe in Bethlehem. But mark it well: the one who came after John had already been before--he was that angel of the Lord. His full deity was always observed and yet he presented the same mystery of the Trinity that would later be observed in "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30) and "my other witness is the Father, who sent me" (Jn 8:18). It is that word sent that ties together the angel, messenger or sent one into an Old Testament theology of Christophanies, appearances of God in human form.

Other texts that relate The Angel of the LORD with God (thus speaking of a “Christophany”) include Genesis 16:7; Judges 6:22-23; and Judges 13:15-22.

Walter Kaiser, Hard Sayings of the Bible  (more details & Scriptures here that may be of help!)

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