5. The Messenger of Yihvah

Can the Jewish people see Christ in the Old Testament?

the Angel of His presence (face) saved them
He put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them

Isaiah 63:9, 11

The Apostle’s message of Christ in the Old Testament may be appealing to Christians, but how about the Jewish people? Can they see Christ in the Old Testament, without referring to the New Testament?

Yes of course they can.

This was the effort of Justin Martyr’s famous book, written in 135, A Dialogue with Tryphos, a Jew.

Justin Martyr challenged the Jewish people of his day with the questions: Why did Jacob call an Angel, the “Messenger of Yihvah,” his God? How can one who is sent, really be God? For the One who sent Him must be greater than Him?

This was also Christ’s message to the Jewish people:

“No one is greater than the One who sent Him” ( John 13:16).

“The Father is greater than I” ( John 14:28 ).

The Hebrew expression “Malak” מַלְאַ֣ךְ, which we translate as “Angel,” simply means messenger in Hebrew. Except for its translation as “Angel” in the expression Angel of Yihvah, “Malak” only means messenger. As far as we know, “the Messenger of God” appeared as a human being, and not as an Angel “with wings.”

Justin asked: Can God be the “Messenger of God”? Who was this Messenger of God, which would be the Redeemer?

The Spirit of Christ was only “manifest” as the Angel of Yihvah

Before we explain the Spirit of Christ as the “Angel” or “Messenger” of God in the Old Testament, we need to clarify that the Spirit of Christ was only “manifest” in the form of a Messenger.

The Angel of Yihvah is only one of the manifestations of the Spirit of Christ.

There are five primary manifestations of the Spirit of Christ in the Bible:

  • as the Word;
  • as the Image of the Invisible God;
  • as the Angel of Yihvah, “WHO IS LIKE GOD,” to be the ruler of the Angels; 
  • as the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, to be the ruler of the Kings of the Earth; and
  • as the Body of Christ, the Rider on the White Horse.

In Chapter 31 (The LORD’s Day), we will study Revelation Chapter 1, and we will “see” the Spirit of Christ appearing in all five of these manifestations.

The Appearances of the Angel or “Messenger” of Yihvah

It is easy to find the appearances of the Angel of Yihvah. We only need to use a Hebrew lexicon and look at the references of the Hebrew word Malak”—מַלְאַ֣ךְ—meaning “Angel” or, more properly, “Messenger.”

The first 44 occurrences of the phrase “Malak” are all in the first seven Books of the Bible, and they all refer to the Spirit of Christ, as we will see. But after the first seven Books, the word “Malak” מַלְאַ֣ךְ is often used simply to mean “Messenger.” This is the original meaning of the word.

After the Book of Judges, the Angel of Yihvah speaks on two more occasions, to Elijah, telling him to “arise and eat” (1 Kings 19:7); and to “Go down and not be afraid” (2 Kings 1:15). The next time we hear the Angel speak is in Zechariah.

The Book of Zechariah is a good place to understand the Angel of Yihvah. In the first six Chapters of Zechariah, the Angel of Yihvah is called “the Angel who spoke with me.” This is similar to the Book of Revelation, where the Angel who guides John has different “appearances” but is always the Angel of Yihvah. The Hebrew expression “Haddober”הַדֹּבֵ֣ר, meaning “the Angel who spoke with me,” is used 12 times in the Old Testament, 11 times in Zechariah, and once in Genesis 16:13, where it identified the first appearance of “the Messenger.” In Zechariah 1:12, we see the Angel of Yihvah, the Yihvah of the Armies (Angels) praying to the invisible God, calling Him “Yihvah of the ARMIES (Angels)!” Zechariah 3:1–2 identifies the “Angel of Yihvah” as the Archangel, or ruler of the Angels, who appears in Revelation 1:10–16, and 12:7. Zechariah 4 identifies the Seven Spirits of God: the “seven eyes of Yihvah which range to and fro throughout the earth,” in Revelation 5:6. These are the seven stars that the Archangel holds in His hand in Revelation 1:16.

We summarize all the occurrences of the word “Malak” in the first seven Books and Zechariah below. We will discuss all of them. They are all instrumental to prove that the “Messenger of Yihvah,” was a Yihvah, but not the one true God, the Yihvah in the heavens.

  The First 44 Occurrences of the Hebrew Word “Malak” מַלְאַ֣ךְ—“the Angel”
Bible Verses  
Genesis 16:7, 9, 10, 11 (4)The Angel of Yihvah is called Yihvah, and Hagar calls the Angel, God.5.4.1
Genesis 21:17The Angel of God appears to Hagar and addresses God in the third person and then says He will make a great nation of Hagar’s child.5.4.2
Genesis 22:11, 15 (2)The Angel of Yihvah speaks as God to Abraham.5.4.3
Genesis 31:11The Angel of Yihvah identifies Himself as the God who appeared to Jacob at Bethel.5.4.4
Exodus 3:2The Angel of Yihvah appears to Moses as the ELOHIM of Jacob (Israel).7.2
Exodus 14:19The Angel of Yihvah in the fire and cloud equated to Yihvah.5.4.5
Exodus 33:2Compare with Exodus 23:20–23, “My name is in Him.”5.4.6
Numbers 20:16He sent the Angel and brought us out of Egypt.9
Numbers 22:22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 31; 32; 34; 35 (10)The Angel of Yihvah, becomes ELOHIM and then Yihvah.5.4.7
Judges 2:1–4 (2)The Angel of Yihvah says, “I brought you out of Egypt.”5.4.8
Judges 5:23Deborah, a prophetess (Judges 4:4), presumably speaks this message from the Angel (Spirit) of Yihvah.5.4.9
Judges 6:11–22 (6)Gideon realizes he has seen the Angel of Yihvah, and Yihvah says “do not worry you will not die.”5.4.10
Judges 13:3–21 (12)The Angel appears to Samson’s father, who says “we will die. or we have seen ELOHIM.”5.4.11
  The Hebrew Word “Malak” מַלְאַ֣ךְ—“the Angel” in Zechariah
Zechariah 1:12The Angel of Yihvah calls God the Yihvah of Hosts.5.4.13
Zechariah 3:1 and 6The Angel of Yihvah, as Yihvah, says, “Yihvah rebuke you” to Satan.5.4.14
  The Hebrew Word “Hammalak” הַמַּלְאָךְ֩—“the Angel” in Zechariah
Zechariah 1:13, 19; 2:3; 4:1; 4:3; 4:5; 5:5; 5:10; 6; 4The Angel who was speaking with me31.1
Zechariah 3:3Standing before the Angel 
Zechariah 6:5The Angel answered me 

The Appearances of the Messenger prove that ELOHIM was not the Invisible God

But so much is written for the sake of proving that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels; but now, by the will of God, having become man for the human race.           

Justin Martyr, A.D. 110–165

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Justin Martyr said that so much has been written in the scriptures to prove Jesus Christ as the Word of Old, the speaker, and “Messenger” for the one true God. But unfortunately, through the deception of Satan in the fourth century, this message was lost.

The manifestation of the Spirit of Christ, as the Angel of Yihvah, dispels any argument that the appearance of ELOHIM in the Old Testament was only a “theophany” or image. The Angel of Yihvah has a real identity of His own, which continues to the end of the Bible.

The Angel of Yihvah normally spoke the words of the invisible God, as “the Word,” but on some occasions, He spoke from His own identity. These are in Genesis 21:17; Exodus 6:3; Judges 13:16–19; Joshua 5:14; and Zechariah 1:11–12, and 3:1. These accounts prove that the Angel of Yihvah was not the one true God.

We look at some of these passages below, so that you will know that “the Messenger of Yihvah” was a Yihvah, the ELOHIM of Israel (Jacob) who appeared to Moses, and that He was not “the invisible God,” Yihvah who resides in the heavens.

Genesis 16:7 to 13, Hagar said, “I have seen Him (the ELOHIM) who sees me”

The first identified appearance of the Angel, or “Messenger of Yihvah,” is in Genesis 16.

This was the first time that He was identified as “the Messenger of Yihvah.” In Exodus 6:2–3, “the Messenger” told Moses that He had appeared to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob “as God Almighty.” In fact, He was the ELOHIM who had appeared to all.

He always appeared in human form.

In Genesis 16, Hagar saw the “Messenger of Yihvah.”

“Now the Angel of Yihvah found her (Hagar) by a spring of water in the wilderness . . . and He said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid . . . where are you going? . . . Behold you are with child, and you shall bear a Son . . . And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’”

Haggar identified the Messenger as “God” in the next verse: “Then she called the name of Yihvah who spoke to her, You-are-the-ELOHIM-who-Sees, for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?”

Hagar’s question is answered in Genesis 21, where she realized that she had only seen a Messenger of God. For the Messenger spoke “as Himself,” and “as God,” in Genesis 21. This is the first time that the Messenger spoke as “Himself,” which can explain why the Messenger was first called “the Messenger” in His appearance to Hagar.

Genesis 21:17, The Angel of Yihvah spoke as God, and spoke of God

In Genesis 16, Hagar confessed that she had seen God as the Angel or “Messenger.” But in Genesis 21, the Angel spoke of God in the third person, and then He spoke “as God.”

The Angel of God called out to her and said,

“What is the matter with you Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.”

Is the Angel going to make a great nation of Hagar’s son? Of course not; the Spirit of Christ, as “the Word,” is speaking the words of the invisible God.

Genesis 22:11 and 12, The Angel spoke to Abraham as God

In this famous story, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only begotten son.

We read:

But the Angel of Yihvah called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”

So he said, “Here I am.”

And He (the Messenger) said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Here we can see that the Messenger speaks as God again.

Genesis 31:10–13, The Angel of God spoke as God

In Genesis 31: 10–13, Jacob had a dream, and saw “the Angel of God” who said to him, “I am the ELOHIM of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar . . . return to the land of your birth.”

Exodus 13:21, and 14:19, The Angel of Yihvah was called Yihvah

Yihvah, and the Angel of Yihvah, are equated as the one in the pillar of fire and cloud, as we read in Exodus 13:21 and 14:19:

Yihvah was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night . . .

The Angel of Yihvah, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.

Exodus 23:21 and 33:2, The name of God is in the Angel

In Chapter 12, we will discuss God’s message of Exodus 23:21, which compared the Angel of Yihvah to Joshua (Jesus):

Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him.

The promise of sending an Angel is repeated in Exodus 33:2, also using the phrase “Malak” for Angel.

In Zechariah 1:12, which we discuss below, we will see that the Angel of Yihvah, the Yihvah of the Armies, prays to the invisible God, calling Him “Yihvah of the ARMIES (Angels)!” The message of the Old and New Testament is that the invisible God bears the name of His image.

Numbers 22:35; 23:4 and 16, The Angel of Yihvah was called ELOHIM and Yihvah

In these three verses, the One who meets with Balaam is alternatively described as the Angel of Yihvah, ELOHIM, and Yihvah:

“But the Angel of Yihvah said to Balaam, “Go with the men . . . .”

“Now ELOHIM met Balaam.”

“Then Yihvah met Balaam and put a word in his mouth . . .”

Judges 2:1–4, The Angel of Yihvah said, “I brought you out of Egypt”

In this passage, the Angel of Yihvah told them that He was the “God” who led them out of Egypt:

Now the Angel of Yihvah came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And He said: ‘I brought you up out Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers, and I said ’I will never break My covenant with you’ . . .”

Here, the Angel is referring to the covenant He mentioned in Exodus 6:4. In the passage of Exodus 6:4, the Angel of Yihvah clearly spoke from the perspective of the Angel. This began in verse 3: “I appeared to Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name, Yihvah, I was not known to them.”

The Angel of Yihvah established Himself as the “God of Israel.” We will look at this again in Chapter 6.

Judges 5:23, The Angel of Yihvah became as the Spirit of Yihvah

In the final appearances of the Angel of Yihvah as the speaker for God, we see a transition from the identity of the Angel of Yihvah as the speaker, to the Spirit of Yihvah as the speaker.

As time went on, “the Messenger” ceased to appear and speak and prophecies were made by His Invisible Spirit. The prophetess Deborah (see Judges 4:4) seems to speak prophetically in her song, singing:

“Curse Menoz,” said the Angel of Yihvah.

There is no reason to believe the Angel of Yihvah appeared to say this. Rather this seems to be the prophetic speaking of Deborah.

Judges 6:11–24, The Angel of Yihvah was called Yihvah

In this meeting of the Angel of Yihvah with Gideon, the Angel was called “Yihvah” several times.

In verse 12, we read that the Angel of Yihvah appeared to Gideon and said, “Yihvah is with you.” But Gideon did not recognize Him as “the Angel of Yihvah” until the “Messenger of Yihvah” “vanished” in verse 21. Gideon did not see “an Angel” but “a person” who he cooked for.

After Gideon replied to “the Messenger” in verse 14, “Yihvah looked at him” and said, “Go in all your strength.” The proof that the Yihvah mentioned was the Messenger, comes next.

In verse 16, Yihvah said to Gideon, “Certainly I WILL BE with you.” These are the exact same Hebrew words the Angel spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:12 at the burning bush.

Gideon recognized this and said, “show me a sign that it is You who speak to me. Please do not depart from here, until I come back . . .” And He (Yihvah) said, ‘I will remain until you return.’” Of course, these words prove that Messenger of Yihvah is the one who spoke as Yihvah, because in verse 19, Gideon returned and gave food to the Messenger, who touched it with His staff and it burst into flame.

Verse 23 appears to be an answer to Gideon’s prayer to God, after he realized that he really saw the Angel of Yihvah. “Yihvah said to him (presumably in the Spirit), “Peace . . . you shall not die.”

Judges 13:21–22, The Angel of Yihvah was ELOHIM to Manoah

Judges 13:21–22 is very similar to Judges 6:22–23. Manoah, the father of Samson, called the Angel, ELOHIM: “Then Manoah knew that he was the Angel of Yihvah. So Manoah said to his wife, ‘We shall surely die, for we have seen ELOHIM.’”

In verse 16, the Angel spoke from His own identity, saying, “Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to Yihvah.”

This is quite funny. The Angel warned Manoah after Gideon’s experience of making food. The Messenger of God had appeared in human form again, and was “very awesome” (v. 6).

And again, He burnt up the food.

Then, Manoah realized that it was truly “the Angel of Yihvah” and asked, “What is Your name?” Of course, from the naming of the Angel at the burning bush, the Israelites knew the name of the Angel as “HE WILL BE.” But Manaoh’s statement showed that Manoah believed Yihvah, “HE WILL BE,” was not a real name. For even in Jesus’ Day, the Israelites believed their God was nameless; as related to us by Justin Martyr.

Manoah called the Angel of Yihvah, “ELOHIM” and he was also very aware that there was another Yihvah, who was the one true God. The unseen Yihvah was the one whom the Messenger asked Manoah to make an offering to.

2 Chronicles 3:1, The Angel of Yihvah is called Yihvah

The Angel of Yihvah, who appeared at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite in 2 Samuel 24:16, and 1 Chronicles 21:15, was called “Yihvah” in 2 Chronicles 3:1.

Zechariah 1:11–12, The Angel addressed God as “Yihvah of Armies”

“Then the Angel of Yihvah answered and said, ‘O Yihvah of Armies, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?’”

One might think, from Isaiah 6, and Joshua 5, that the “Yihvah of Hosts” is only the name of the Spirit of Christ. But, Zechariah 1:11–12 shows us that “Yihvah of the Armies” is another shared name of the invisible God and His image. We can also see this in Isaiah 51:15 and Jeremiah 31:35 and 32:18. The Armies of heaven, as we discussed in Chapter 1, are the Armies of the Angels, but here the Angel of Yihvah, who is the Yihvah of the Armies, addressed the invisible God as the Yihvah of the Armies!

Zechariah 3:1-2, Yihvah said to Satan, “Yihvah rebuke you, Satan”

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Yihvah, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And Yihvah said to Satan, ‘Yihvah rebuke you, Satan!’”

There are only three present in this scene: Joshua, the Angel of Yihvah, and Satan, and so it is obvious that the Angel of Yihvah was speaking as Yihvah to Satan, saying, “Yihvah rebuke you.”

The Angel of Yihvah, here, was not speaking the words of the invisible God. He was a real Spirit, who spoke from His position as the Angel of Yihvah to Satan. The Angel of Yihvah was not a “theophany.”

Here again, the Angel of Yihvah is clearly identified as another Yihvah.


To summarize what we have learned about the “the Messenger,” or “Angel of Yihvah”:

  • He was called ELOHIM,
  • He was called Yihvah, and
  • He was not God, but
  • He spoke as God.

We will especially want to take notice of the occasions where the Messenger speaks as “Himself” in one sentence and then as “God” in the next.

When God sends His Angel, His Messenger, to John in the Book of Revelation, the Messenger, the Spirit of Christ, does this again. But in Revelation, the Spirit of Christ will speak as “the Son Man” as “the Angel,” and as “God.” This becomes very interesting, especially in the last Chapter, where the Messenger, speaking as “God,” says: “I, Jesus, sent My Angel.”

In the next two Chapters, we will see how God made the Messenger, “the God of Jacob,” and then named Him “Yihvah ELOHIM” when He appeared to Moses at the burning bush. And we will learn that “the Messenger” also appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as “God Almighty.” He appeared to men and Angels, as the “image of the invisible God” and as “the Word.” Then in Chapter 15, we will find out that the “Angel of Yihvah” was called “WHO IS LIKE GOD” by another Angel.