“…THE LORD APPEARED TO ABRAM…”
At the beginning of Genesis 12, God calls Abram to depart from his father’s house
and to go to a land which God would show to him. In verse 1, it simply says, “…the LORD had said…” However, when we get to verse 7, it is no longer just a matter of hearing a voice from heaven, but “…the LORD appeared to Abram…”
Since “…no one has seen God (the Father) at any time…” (John 1:18; 6:46; 1 John 4:12), we must conclude that this was not the Father who spoke with and appeared to Abram, but someone else. This is not merely an angel appearing to the patriarch, for the text identifies the one who appears as the LORD (Jehovah). Who can be called Jehovah, aside from the Father? Jesus is identified as God throughout the New Testament (John 1:1; 5:30; 20:20; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; etc.). He is Jehovah God.
This was the first of several appearances to Abraham in the Scriptures.
“…MELCHIZEDEK, KING OF SALEM…”
The identity of Melchizedek, a priest and king before God, is an intriguing consideration. He appears in Genesis 14:18, and just as quickly as he appeared, he is gone. Then, with the exception of a single mention in the Psalms, he is not mentioned again until the book of Hebrews.
In the absence of an absolute statement, it would be unwise to be dogmatic about his identity, but the description of Melchizedek in Hebrews 7 certainly presenting an interesting possibility. It may be, as some have assumed, that the writer is saying his genealogy is of no consequence. Or, it is possible that the writer is inferring much more. Consider:
“…this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met
Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom
also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated ‘king of righteous-
ness,’ and then also king of Salem, meaning ‘king of peace,’ without father,
without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end
of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. (Heb 7:1-3)
“…THE ANGEL OF THE LORD…”
When Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar, she ran away into the wilderness. Moses tells us that “…the angel of the LORD found her…” and spoke with her (Genesis 16:7-10). If we are not careful, we will miss exactly Who this is that found and spoke with her. This is not an angel such as Gabriel or Michael, come as a messenger of God. This is the Angel of the LORD!
Hagar perceived Who this was that spoke to her—Who had appeared to her; and Moses confirmed it for us in the Genesis record. We read:
Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-
Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’ (Gen 16:13)
You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees! Hagar was seen by and had seen God! But, not the Father, for no one has seen the Father. This was the pre-incarnate Christ. She did not just see an angel, for the text refers to the One whom she saw as the LORD (ie. Jehovah). One of the ways the Christ appeared to people through the Old Testament was as the Angel of the LORD.
Years later, after Isaac was born, Hagar and Ishmael were sent away by Abraham. Their water supply used up, and unsure what to do, Hagar gave up. At this point, it was “the Angel of God” who assured her that all would be fine with her son (Genesis 21:16-20). This was likely the same God-Who-Sees that comforted her the last time she had departed Abraham’s house.
“…I AM ALMIGHTY GOD…”
In Genesis 17, “…the LORD appeared to Abram…” again. He immediately identifies Himself as “Almighty God” (17:1). Abraham conversed with God throughout the chapter: the Lord reaffirmed His promises to Abram, established the covenant of circumcision, and foretold Isaac’s birth. Having “finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham” (17:22). God appeared and spoke with the patriarch in person, but it was not the Father (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12); it was the pre-incarnate Christ.
In the next chapter, again “the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees” (Genesis 18:1). Abraham saw three men on this occasion—two of them were angels who went down to Sodom to warn Lot and his family. The third person whom he saw was the LORD (see 18:13-14). The LORD (the Christ) would continue to talk with Abraham, and reveal to him the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:17ff). Once more, when the LORD was done speaking with Abraham, he went His way (18:33).
Abraham was commanded by God to take Isaac, the son of promise, and to offer him as a burnt offering. With no argument, Abraham left the next morning to do as God said. As he took the knife to slay Isaac, the Angel of the LORD called to him, saying,
Do not lay your hand on the lad, nor do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since
you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me. (Genesis 22:12)
A ram was caught in the thickets nearby. Abraham offered it as a sacrifice instead of Isaac, and called the place “The-LORD-Will-Provide” (Gen 22:14).
TAKE AWAY POINTS
If we read that God “appeared” to someone, we must conclude it was not the Father, as no man has seen the Father, it is the Christ.
“The Angel of the LORD” is not simply “an angel.” This is a description of the pre-incarnate Christ as God’s messenger throughout the Old Testament.
The Old Testament establishes that Jesus is indeed Almighty God.
Melchizedek is a foreshadow of Christ, but might he also have been the Christ?