God has slowly revealed Himself to His people, He chose the nation of Israel for His inheritance. When we look at the patriarchs concerning Israel we know that in the seed of Abraham shall all the nations of the world be blessed (Genesis 22:18). Abraham’s seed was blessed by God Himself for the scriptures say.
The angel of the LORD
Genesis 22:15-17 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
If you read the above verses in Genesis carefully you’ll notice something quite remarkable, Abraham was not blessed by a mere angel, this angel was unique. First, this angel is called “the angel of the LORD” whenever “the angel of the LORD” mentioned this angel does things no mere angel can, for instance, this angel swore by Himself saying “By myself have I sworn”.
We see this occur in other scriptures where it specifically says the LORD sworn by Himself. This is God speaking not some random angel for only God can make such proclamations of promise (Genesis 22:16, Isaiah 45:23). This particular angel blesses has changed the name of Abraham from Abram and Jacob to Israel etc.
Jeremiah 49:13 For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.
I AM THAT I AM
We established that “the angel of the LORD” is more than an “angel”, to understand more deeply what the term angel means we need to look at the Hebrew. The word for “angel” in the Hebrew is mal’ak it’s a masculine noun. In our English language, we tend to think of an angel as an angelic being with wings and at times the word does mean that but the term is also used to indicate.
I. messenger, representative
C. the theophanic angel
מֲלְאָךְ mălʼâk, mal-awk’; from an unused root meaning to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically, of God, i.e. an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher):—ambassador, angel, king, messenger.
In the book of Exodus chapter 3 Moses after fleeing Egypt to escape persecution after slewing/killing the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12) he finds himself in Midian at Mt Horeb and the angel of the LORD appears to Moses. We all know that God appeared to Moses in the burning bush but let’s look at that closely.
Exodus 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
The scripture says “the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush”. Again this angel is more than a created angelic being I present to you that this is God Himself who made Himself known to Moses. Just two verses after it says that “God called” out to Moses.
Exodus 3:4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
He (God) then tells Moses to take off his shoes from his feet and goes on to proclaim “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). There’s no mistake that God appeared to Moses but it also says that the angel of the LORD appeared to Moses, there’s only one conclusion that when the scriptures speak of the “the angel of the LORD” this is God Himself. But if we jump into the New Testament we are told that no one has seen God (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12) therefore we still need more clarification.
Moses asked God to see His glory and God told Moses that if He saw Him he would die.
Exodus 33:18-20 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.
And in the book of 1 Timothy 6, it says that King of kings, and Lord of lords “dwells in the light which no man can approach unto”
1 Timothy 6:15-16 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
But we clearly see that the LORD did, in fact, appear unto Abraham, Hagar, Jacob, Moses and others. The angel of the LORD is God because He has the same attributes of God.
The context of John chapter 8, Jesus Christ arrives at the Mount of Olives and in the temple begins to teach the people, the scribes and Pharisees are looking for ways to trap the Lord Jesus by bringing a woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-3) the crowd of people while holding stones are ready to kill the woman. The Pharisees start asking Him questions in hope that He would slip with His words and contradict the Law of Moses (John 8:4-6). The Lord Jesus then tells them (knowing they all in the crowd are sinners) “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7) showing them their hypocrisy.
Afterwards, all the people knowing that each of them has sinned dropped the stones and departed. The Lord Jesus Christ then shows grace to this woman and forgives her of her sins “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11).
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
The Lord Jesus makes tells them He’s God by making this statement “I am the light of the world”, the reaction of the Pharisees is very telling as they get angry and say “Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.” (John 8:13) they knew exactly what was being claimed that Jesus Christ is God. The scriptures say that God shows us light (Psalm 118:27) that God is light (1 John 1:5). Jesus Christ then tells them His testimony is true and that the Father bears witness of Him, that even in the Old Testament the testimony of 2 witnesses is true (John 8:14-19).
The Pharisees were confused at this as they still in unbelief ask the Lord “Where is thy Father?”. He then goes into the temple treasury to teach, He goes onto tell them they will die in their sins and He will return to Heaven and they cannot follow Him even telling them “I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:20-23).
The Lord gives them a message of urgency that if they don’t believe who He says He is then they will die in their sins.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
The Lord Jesus continued to teach in the temple as there were believing Jews there and was encouraging them to continue in His word.
John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
The unbelieving Jews hearing this began to go back and forth with Him saying “We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?” (John 8:33). Those unbelieving Jews didn’t understand that they were indeed in bondage to their sin as they and still to this day believe that following the Law of Moses will make them right with God, but it won’t for only the Lord Jessus was able to keep the Law perfectly. Jesus then tells them:
John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
The Lord Jesus starts to draw distinctions between those who are children of Abraham and those looking to kill Him, also between the “Father” (God) and “their father” (devil) (John 8:34-36). This angered the unbelieving Jews as they responded saying “Abraham is our father” the Lord’s reply was “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39) meaning they would be doing the same things as Abraham.
Then the Lord Jesus says they seek to kill Him that Abraham would have never looked to do such things. That these unbelieving Jews are doing the works of their father (devil). The Jews appeal to not having been born in fornication stating that God is their Father.
John 8:40-41 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
The Lord Jesus tells them if God was their Father, if they truly were children of God then they would love Christ because He came from the Father, but they cannot understand the truthful words our Lord is telling them (John 8:42-43) and here’s why.
John 8:44-46 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
The unbelieving Jews are told by the Lord Jesus that they are children of the devil and previous to that statement He tells them they aren’t children of Abraham because if they were they wouldn’t be trying to kill Him. Not to be confused these unbelieving Jews were Jewish according to the flesh they had a fleshly connection but spiritually they weren’t Jews which matters most, and last but not least because of all of this they weren’t able to hear or understand the Lord’s words.
John 8:45, 47 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. … He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
At this point, the Jews are really riled up and blaspheme twice making a false claim about the Lord Jesus saying: “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” (John 8:48) and “Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.” (John 8:52). They then ask if He was greater than Abraham (John 8:53). The pressure is building and at some point, something is going to give.
The Lord answers their question regarding who’s greater Abraham or the Lord of Glory Himself.
John 8:54-56 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
The Lord Jesus Christ tells them plainly that Abraham rejoiced to see Him “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” The unbelieving Jews then make this statement and question, “Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (John 8:57) And here comes the climax of the chapter the Lord Jesus responds saying:
John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
The crowd flies into a frenzy grabbing stones to kill Jesus because they knew exactly what He claimed. He was claiming to be God Himself, the same God which spoke to Moses out of the burning bush back in Exodus 3:14
In the Greek the word for “I am” is egō eimi (I exist)
ἐγώ egṓ, eg-o’; a primary pronoun of the first person I (only expressed when emphatic):—I, me.
εἰμί eimí, i-mee’; the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist (used only when emphatic):—am, have been, it is I, was.
Just as He said back at the burning bush I AM THAT I AM, the Lord Jesus is saying that He is the I am. The original Hebrew equivalent from Exodus is: hayah.
הָיָה hâyâh, haw-yaw; a primitive root; to exist, i.e. be or become, come to pass (always emphatic, and not a mere copula or auxiliary):—beacon, altogether, be(-come), accomplished, committed, like), break, cause, come (to pass), do, faint, fall, follow, happen, have, last, pertain, quit (one-) self, require, use.
God Himself stepped into His own creation to save sinners.