The Trinity in Isaiah

The Trinity in Isaiah

The Trinity in Isaiah.

“I will mention the lovingkindnesses of Yahweh, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, according to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses. For He said, ‘Surely they are my people, children who will not lie.’ So He became their Savior. In all their affliction He was afflicted. And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit.” (Isaiah 63:7-10).

In a not so subtle hint at the Three-Person Godhead, Isaiah saw fit to offer an inspired breakdown of all Three in Isaiah 63. In verses 7 and 8, Isaiah remembers the great blessings of Yahweh in the past, His lovingkindness, His mercies, His stature as the Savior of Israel. So there’s the Father being praised for His great goodness down through history. In verse 10, Isaiah mentions how, despite Yahweh’s tender mercies, the house of Israel nonetheless rebelled against Him and grieved His Holy Spirit.

The Angel of His Presence. Sandwiched between the Father and the Spirit is the Angel of His Presence. As suggested by the scholars behind the Believer’s Study Bible, “The Angel of His Presence occurs here in parallel to pronouns referring to God Himself. This is indeed the Angel of the LORD who acted on Israel’s behalf at the exodus and other times, and is considered to have been the preincarnate Christ.” Starting with the Early Church, many biblical theologians and scholars have agreed that the mysterious Angel of Yahweh, the heavenly Messenger of God, was an earthly appearance of God the Son before His incarnation. Any visible manifestation of this unique Angel in the Hebrew Bible has been taken to represent an encounter with Jesus Christ. This Angel of the LORD has been reported time and again in a large number of OT scenes, including each of the Patriarchs, Hagar, Gideon and Moses.  “Most scholars conclude that this phrase “Angel of His Presence” is not referring to one of the angelic hosts but to the Lord Himself.” (TPT notes).

In verse 8 we see Isaiah noting that this divine Angel saved the Israelites, redeemed them and “carried them all the days of old.” Isaiah is no doubt referring especially to the events surrounding the Angel of the LORD’s appearances around the exodus. Consider this special Angel of God at the Red Sea and at Mt. Sinai.

Jesus at the Red Sea. In Exodus 14, the Israelites were on the run in the wilderness on the outskirts of Egypt. The sophisticated war machine of Egypt, complete with horses and chariots, were in full pursuit. The Israelites were no match, for they had no weapons, were not soldiers, and were on foot. As the Israelites were leaving Egypt, the Angel of God was before them, showing the way and defending them from danger (Ex. 14:19). But now the Israelites are boxed in… the Red Sea on one side, and the powerful Egyptian army on the other side. There was much fearful complaining and grumbling from the Israelites, of course. Who wouldn’t be afraid at this point? But Moses came right back at them with this: Quit your crying out to God in complaint! Stand still and see Yahweh win the day for you! (Ex. 14:13-14). The Angel of Yahweh then shifted from the front line of the Israelites to the rear of them, standing between the escaping slaves and the fearsome army  (Ex. 14:19). The pillar of cloud also shifted with Him visibly to add to the protective barrier. The Angel remained at His post, holding off the army. And as the darkness fell, the pillar of cloud turned into a pillar of fire. Yahweh then instructed Moses to raise his hand over the Sea. Then the wind blew, and a pathway of escape was miraculously provided through the Red Sea. There was a way, when there was no way. Once the Israelites were across the Sea safely to the other side, Moses raised his hand with his staff once again. And the Egyptian army with all its chariots and horses were drowned as the sea returned to its normal height. The Angel, the incomparable divine Messenger of Yahweh, provided His presence to defend the Israelites. Jesus Himself stood between two opposing camps, and protected the Israelites from the Egyptians. The Messenger from heaven had a direct hand in the deliverance of God’s chosen people, just as Isaiah stated in Isaiah 63:9.

Jesus at Mt. Sinai. In Exodus 23, the Israelites have already been camped at Mt. Sinai, and Moses has received the words of instruction directly from Yahweh. The Ten Commandments have been declared, as well as much of the Law. The awesome majesty and power of the LORD has been on full display to the Israelites, complete with a fire on the mountaintop, a loud heavenly shofar blast, flashes of lightning, billowing smoke, claps of thunder, and the very earth shaking beneath them. The people have agreed to follow the LORD’s commands, but they don’t want to hear the petrifying voice of Yahweh. They are panicked with fear at what they have seen, they are terrified, and they want Moses to be the intermediary. Yahweh now makes an astounding promise to the Israelites. He is sending a special Messenger, the Angel of Yahweh, to walk before them on their journey, to bring them into the Promised Land. Yahweh referred to this Angel when He flatly stated, “My Name is in Him.” (Ex. 23:21). This Messenger is to be obeyed, they are to follow His guidelines and direction. They are not to provoke the Angel in any way. “So you  shall serve Yahweh your God, and He will bless your bread and your water.” (23:25). In other words, the Israelites will be serving Yahweh by obeying the Angel of Yahweh. This Angel is God’s representative throughout their wilderness journey. The Angel is acting on God’s authority. This Messenger is Jesus Christ, for He bears the Name of Yahweh, the Great I AM. His role with us remains the same as it did with the Israelites… If we want to safely reach the Promised Land, we must learn to follow Him on our journey.

So Isaiah is centering on the preincarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, that unique Angel of the LORD. The term “Angel of His Presence” literally means in Hebrew, “Angel of His Faces.” Could Isaiah be referring here to the three Faces of God?