No one comes to the Father except through me.
The Book of Exodus ends on the most depressing note: Moses tries to approach the Almighty in the Tabernacle but he cannot enter because of the presence of God. He had access to the throne room while on the mount, so what happened? We are faced here with the greatest paradox in the whole Bible. God is to live with us yet we cannot approach Him as long as we are in our human nature.
I sometimes use a trick question with new students. I ask them, “How do you approach God?” I usually get all kinds of answers covering the whole spectrum from the pragmatic to the esoteric. Then I usually shock them by saying, “We don’t, because we can’t”. Jewish sages have pondered on this paradox for centuries. The way our sages saw it is “Why does God desire that we ‘hold fast’ to him’, if He is a ‘consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:4, 24)?” After all, this is a fair question. They ultimately came up with an answer which John expresses in the Gospels.
What Jewish scholars came up with was the idea of the burning bush. The Torah tells us that ‘the angel of the LORD appeared to him (Moses) in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed (Exodus 3:2). Here we have the presence of God though His Angel which came in a fire, but a fire which did not consume. This represented God in form that was non-lethal to man. This idea is what gave birth to the Hebrew/Aramaic ‘Memrah’, later expressed by John as the ‘Logos’, and translated in most English translations as the ‘Word’ (John 1). Like The Word/Yeshua, the burning bush/ Angel of the Lord represented the power of God in a non-lethal form for human beings; Hashem coming to us ‘at our level’ so to speak. The story is not finished though. The Book of Leviticus will take us through the process and protocol through which we are to approach God, so stay tuned!
Come to speak of it, a study of all the instances where the Bible mentions ‘the Angel of the Lord’ seems to reveal important truths about the role of Yeshua in the Hebrew Scriptures. Some verses even call this ‘Angel’ by His Hebrew terminology ‘Malach HaPanim’, ‘The Angel of the Presence’ (Isaiah 63:9).
In the mean time we realize that from the time Adam and Eve lost their place in the presence of Adonai in the Garden of Eden until today, no sinful natural man approaches God directly; it is always done through some sort of agency. Even though He appeared and was represented through many different venues before His ultimate manifestation 2,000 years ago, Messiah was, is, and will always be the quintessential Agent through whom we approach the Father. His own words, ‘no man cometh unto the Father, but by me’ (John 14:6) represent a fundamental truth prepared at the foundation of the world for all humanity from the days of Adam and Eve until now. He was and is the ultimate burning bush, the Presence of God which does not consume; the Angel of the Lord who brings in the Presence of the Almighty.