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Answering The Atheist
December 2, 2007 / Volume 7, Issue 48

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, God (Exodus 3:4) or an angel (Exodus 3:2; Acts 7:35)? Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Was it God, or an angel? It was God. Let me draw your attention to Exodus 3:2, for the questioner misrepresents what the text says. It does not read "an angel", it reads, "the Angel of the LORD". This is a key, recurring phrase in the Scriptures. From a look at the texts where the phrase appears, it appears that this was a phrase commonly used to describe the pre-incarnate Christ as He appeared through the Old Testament. The phrase is used synonymously with the LORD or God.

The One who appeared to Moses in the burning bush is identified in Exodus 3 as: the Angel of the LORD (v 2), the LORD (v 4, 7), and God (v 4, 6). Moses did not contradict himself, all three descriptions are valid. There are other such examples where the LORD and the Angel of the LORD are used as descriptions of the same person. Consider who:

  • led Israel from Egypt (Exodus 13:21; 14:19)

  • spoke to Moses from Sinai (Exodus 19:20, 21; 20:1-2; 23:20-23)

  • appeared to Samson's parents (Judges 13;18, 20-22)

In next week's main bulletin article, we'll consider in more detail the Angel of the LORD. But for the present, as we consider Moses' use of the Angel of the LORD, and God in the text, it can be understood that these are used to refer to same person the pre-incarnate Christ.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible