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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
“ 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, 66 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
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,
66 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.
From whence, and from the cloud and pillar of fire which led Israel in the Wilderness; from fire destroying Sodom and Gomorrah ; at another time consuming Korah's usurping priests; and from the constant belief of the Jews; it appears that supernatural fire, with such as the Angel did wonderously, and consumed Manoah's sacrifice, with it; such fire was a proof of the immediate presence of God.
When God passed by in glorious majesty before Moses, hid in a cleft of the rock ; his hand, that is, a cloud going between them, hid the eternal brightness of his presence ; and Moses was graciously permitted to see the back part; that is, the last clouds concealing Him, who shroudeth himself in darkness.
When the terrible convulsions of Nature showed God's presence to Elijah, on a similar occasion of condescending goodness; after the whirlwind and storm, God showed himself by a still, small voice.
When Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel went up into Mount Sinai, at God's command; "they saw the God of Israel.”
They saw, as Moses afterwards reminded
them, no similitude; but God's throne, like a paved work of a sapphire stone, and the clearness of heaven. “ And upon the nobles of the children of Israel," writes Moses in the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus; “ he laid not his hand, also they saw God, and did eat and drink."
Now when the same Angel, or messenger from heaven, came to Gideon, he accepted his offering by causing fire to consume it. And moreover he accepted to himself the incommunicable Name of Jehovah, or God; frequently, and constantly, during Gideon's conversation with him; he therefore was the Messiah Son of God.
The Jews, in their Targum, or Chaldee paraphrase and commentary on the Old Testament, which calls Gideon's Angel, Word of the Lord;" look upon this Angel not merely as a heavenly messenger sent from God, but as the Son of God himself, appearing in the form of an Angel; as both Bishop Patrick, and the learned commentator Stackhouse certify.
Now mark the 22d and 23d verses of the sixth chapter of the Book of Judges-you will find that they justify our opinion.