God Manifestation is the theme of the Bible. It is that all embracing doctrine that describes the eternal purpose God has with mankind upon the earth...
So what is God Manifestation? The word “manifestation” as such is only found in the New Testament where it is translated from the Greek word phanerosis . The basic meaning of this word is ‘to make something visible, or clear, to make something known, to reveal something’. The root word of phanerosis is phos , meaning ‘light’. For something to be revealed, or made visible, there must be light, the source of which must be God. Therefore God Manifestation can be briefly described as the enlightenment about God, making Him known or revealing Him in some form.
Before looking at specific examples of God Manifestation in the Old Testament it is first necessary to describe God Himself. A verse in one of Paul’s epistles will suffice, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him” ( 1 Corinthians 8:6 ). God is one, He is a Unity—that is one of the first principles of Truth. He is the One source of all power and creation in the universe and without Him there is no life.
Revelation through Angels
One of the various ways in which God has been manifested, or revealed, in the Old Testament is through His messengers, the angels. One such angel spoke to Hagar when she fled from the face of Sarah. At first sight the words of the angel are confusing, “And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude” ( Genesis 16:10 ). The angel spoke as if he were God Himself referring to a promise only God could perform. The words of Hagar are similarly confusing, “And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me” (verse 13 ). The angel is referred to in the text as “the Lord ” and by Hagar as “God”. How can we reconcile this in the light of there being only one God? The answer lies in the doctrine of God Manifestation.
Firstly note that the angel is referred to as “the angel of the Lord ”. He was of the Lord because he was representing God to Hagar. An every day example will help to explain the principle. Imagine there is a knock at your door and when you answer it, a man announces himself and says, “Smith and Co.” Obviously the man at the door isn’t literally the company “Smith and Co.” but a representative of it; he calls himself by the name of the company. As a representative of God, the angel was called by His name (“the Lord ” of verse 13 ) and spoke the words of God to Hagar, not his own words. This is a principle used throughout the whole of Scripture.
It would be wise to have a look at the actual word “God”, for that word in no way describes the real meaning. There are basically three words translated “God” in the Old Testament and they are all related. Firstly there is the word “El”. The idea behind this word is of power or might. It describes God in His very being. He is the only source of all power, the great omnipotent one. Therefore there is only one El. Another word used is “Eloah”, derived from El and meaning ‘Mighty One’. God is the supreme Eloah, but each of the angels is also an Eloah because they derive their power from God. Finally the word “Elohim” is the plural form of Eloah and means ‘Mighty Ones’. This describes God and the angels in collection.
Three Eloah, or a group of Elohim, were the angels who appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18 : “And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him” (verses 1 , 2 ). The principle is the same as before: the three angels are referred to as “the Lord ” because they represent God. However, here there are more than one and this presents us with an important principle that actually describes the very purpose of Almighty God: the One God is manifested in a multitude of Mighty Ones. As we hope to show, this is the purpose which God had right back in the beginning.
Before looking at this in detail we need to consider another reference dealing with an angel. In their wilderness wanderings the children of Israel had a powerful guide and protector: “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way ... Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him ... thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak” ( Exodus 23:20–22 ). There are two things to note about this angel: the children of Israel were not to provoke his voice, but this was also what God Himself spoke—“I speak”. In verse 21 we are told that the name of God was in the angel, again signifying that he represented the one God. God delegated power and authority to the angel to withhold the forgiveness of sins according to the righteousness of God. The significance of God’s name being in the angel will soon be made clear.
But how does all this relate to mankind and the purpose of God? A verse in Luke will show the connection, “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world ... are equal unto the angels” ( Luke 20:35 , 36 ). This is speaking of the saints in the Kingdom of God, and they are said to be equal unto the angels. We should therefore be able to take the principles of God Manifestation as seen in the angels and apply them to the children of God.
God’s Appointed Representatives
And so we can. The term “Elohim” is not only applied to God and the angels in the Scriptures, it is also applied to men. One such passage is found in a law to do with theft: “If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges ” ( Exodus 22:8 ). Obviously the “judges” in this verse were men, specially appointed to the task. However, the word translated “judges” is actually “Elohim”, Mighty Ones; the word can be applied to men as well as to angels. Psalm 82 is directed to the judges in Israel and shows how applicable to their rôle the term is. In verse 6 , God says, “I have said, Ye are gods (lit. Elohim)”. This is without doubt speaking of men, for the Lord Jesus quoted this verse and applied it to them “unto whom the word of God came” ( John 10:34 , 35 ).
The Psalm also tells us of the judgement they were to carry out, “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked” (verses 3 , 4 ). However, these judgements are the judgements of God; there are many passages in the Scriptures that speak of God acting in this way. The judges in Israel were therefore called Mighty Ones because they were carrying out the judgements of God Himself; like the angels they were God’s representatives and the One eternal God was manifest in them.