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PERSONAL APPEARANCE OF THE LOGOS.
JUDGES XIII. 22, 23.
MANOAH SAID UNTO HIS WIFE, WE SHALL SURELY DIE, BECAUSE WE HAVE SEEN GOD. BUT HIS WIFE SAID UNTO HIM, IF THE LORD WERE PLEASED TO KILL US, HE WOULD NOT HAVE RECEIVED A BURNT OFFERING, AND A MEAT OFFERING AT OUR HANDS; NEITHER WOULD HE HAVE SHOWED US ALL THESE THINGS: NOR WOULD HE, AS AT THIS TIME, HAVE TOLD US SUCH THINGS AS THESE.
THE most learned Divines of our own, and other, Churches have, with good reason, thought this one of the many appearances of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the old times of the Jews. And if, from the many particular occurrences, it were not clearly evident; his Name, as given by himself, would prove the correctness of their opinion.
It is well known that the translators of our Bible, oftentimes, put other words in the margin, more fully explanatory of the Text. In such cases, a reference to the original language best decides the sense, and this was made by the learned Bishop Patrick; who finds the same word translated "wonderful” in Isaiah, which here in the Text is "secret;" each are attributes of God's power. That such close researches are highly useful for the better understanding of Scripture cannot be denied; and in this case they are of peculiar importance.
For if the Son of man did, frequently, appear to his servants in older times of the Jews; before he became an inhabitant of Judea, born of the Virgin Mary; he must be more than man, and consequently God, and Lord, from the beginning.
Let us consider the sacrifice of Manoah, the future father of Samson, one of the Judges of Israel; and, not confining our proofs of our Saviour's Divinity to this one instance; corroborate our faith by other parts of the immortal book of the Truth of God.
A certain man, named Manoah, had a barren wife; and unto her the Angel of the
Lord appeared, promising a son, who should begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
"Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, a man of God came unto me; and his countenance was like the countenance of an Angel of God, very terrible; but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his Name."
Upon hearing the message brought by the Angel, or messenger of God: (for Angel is the Greek word signifying messenger :) Manoah intreated the Lord to send him once more. "And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah, and the Angel of God came again unto the woman, as she sat in the field."
Her husband coming at her call, Manoah came to the man, and said, "Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am."
The Angel, or messenger from Heaven, thus appearing in form of man, conversed with Manoah; who said, "I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we have made a kid ready for thee."
And the Angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, "Though thou detain me, I will
not eat of thy bread; and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord." For Manoah knew not that he was
an Angel of the Lord.
And Manoah said, "what is thy Name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour ?" And the Angel of the Lord said unto him, "Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret, or wonderful?"
Now here the Hebrew word occurs, which in Isaiah's prophecy of our Saviour is translated "wonderful ;" an appellation of the Messiah.
So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord, and the Angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the Altar, that the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the Altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. And Manoah said unto his wife, "We shall surely
die, because we have seen God."
Such was the opinion of the Jews in all ages; but Scripture evidently proves that the
appearance of God in all his Majesty, cannot be beheld, cannot be supported, by living men. While, on the other hand, Scripture frequently shews that God did appear to Moses, and to many others, who lived afterwards.
Now fire from heaven upon a sacrifice could only proceed from God; and was always a sign of his acceptance of the offering: as in the case of the pious Abel; of Gideon also; both being in earlier times than this of Manoah.
And in after times the celebrated instance, which proved Elijah's knowledge of the true God, after Baal's priests had called in vain. Fire from heaven consumed Elijah's offering, and even licked up the water in the trenches round the altar.
On which the Israelites cried out, "The Lord he is God, the Lord he is God."
God showed himself to Moses in fire, which consumed not the burning bush-fire from heaven destroyed men sent to take Elijah, at that Prophet's prayer-fiery tongues, with a mighty rushing wind from heaven, denoted the descent of the Third Person of the Godhead.