The Lord Jesus Christ – The Glorious Messenger of God

How one Muslim Neophyte Fails to Disprove the Divinity of the Angel of the Lord

Sam Shamoun

Amateur Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari has produced a "reply" (*) to my articles concerning the Lord Jesus being the Divine Angel of Yahweh (1, 2; see also 3, 4, 5).

Here is a summary of Zaatari’s points:

Before proceeding to our rebuttal we want to draw the readers’ attention to the fact of how Zaatari contradicts himself. He first says that the Angel never calls himself God but then claims that whenever the Angel speaks of doing things which the Scriptures ascribe to God, such as saving the Israelites, then this is simply God speaking through the Angel. This statement implies that Zaatari is aware that the Angel does call himself God and claims to carry out the very functions which the Bible attributes to God, thereby refuting his assertion that he never did; and yet he tries to conveniently find a way around it!

Moreover, the Scriptures emphatically say that the Angel did save the people:

"but when we cried out to the LORD, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory." Numbers 20:16

"In all their distress he too was distressed, and the Angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old." Isaiah 63:9

Which refutes Zaatari’s assertion that the Angel was merely conveying the words of God since it was Yahweh, not his Divine Messenger, who did the actual saving.

With the foregoing in view we now proceed to our response.

The Angel of God in the NT

Zaatari appeals to Matthew 1:20-21 to show that the Angel of God is distinct from Jesus since the Angel comes to Joseph to announce the birth of Christ.

It is obvious that Zaatari is incapable of refuting our arguments and so has decided to attack a straw man at this point and distort our position. We did not argue that the Angel is God solely because he is called the Angel of God; nor have we claimed that every occurrence of the phrase "Angel of God/Lord" necessarily refers to one and the same entity, or specifically to this particular Angel who is identified as God Almighty all throughout the OT.

Trinitarians have always known that the title, "Angel of God/Lord," could refer to various spirit messengers sent by God and doesn’t always refer to the same entity. As Evangelical scholar Charles C. Ryrie stated in his book on systematic theology:

C. The Angel of Yahweh

Though THIS MAY REFER TO ANY OF GOD’S ANGELS (1 Kings 19:7; cf. v. 5), SOMETIMES that Angel is referred to as God, yet distinguished from Him (Gen. 16:7-13; 18:1-21; 19:1-28; Mal. 3:1). This points to personal distinctions within the Godhead. Since the Angel is called God, He could hardly be only a prophet, functioning in pre-prophetic times as the prophets did in later times (as Edmund Jacob suggests in Theology of the Old Testament, pp. 75-76). (Ryrie, Basic Theology – A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth [ChariotVictor Publishing, 1982], Chapter 8. The Triunity of God, pp. 51-52; bold and capital emphasis ours)

And even though he mentions that angels were active during the earthly life of Christ:

A. At His Birth

1. Prediction. Gabriel predicted His birth (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:26-28).

2. Announcement. An angel announced His birth to the shepherds and was then accompanied in praise by a multitude of angels (Luke 2:8-15).

B. During His Life

1. Warning. An angel warned Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath (Matt. 2:13-15).

2. Direction. An angel directed the family to return to Israel after Herod died (vv. 19-21). (Ibid., Chapter 21. The Ministry of Angels, III. In relation to the Ministry of Christ, pp. 131-132)

He is still, nonetheless, aware that there is one specific Angel who was more than a messenger, one whom he identifies as Christ:

B. His Activity as Angel

1. His identity as Angel of Yahweh. Clearly the Angel of Yahweh is a self-manifestation of Yahweh, for He speaks as God, identifies Himself with God, and claims to exercise the prerogatives of God (Gen. 16:7-12; 21:17-18; 22:11-18; Ex. 3:2; Jud. 2:1-4; 5:23; 6:11-24; 13:3-22; 2 Sam. 24:16; Zech. 1:12; 3:1; 12:8). Yet He is distinguished from Yahweh (Gen. 24:7; Zech. 1:12-13). That He is a member of the Trinity is indicated by the fact that the appearances of the Angel of Yahweh cease after the Incarnation. This is confirmed by the Old Testament statement that the Angel of God accompanied Israel when they left Egypt (Ex. 14:19; cf. 23:20) and the New Testament statement that the Rock who followed Israel was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). (Ibid., Chapter 40. The Preincarnate Christ, p. 239; bold emphasis ours)


E. Angel of Yahweh

As discussed in chapter 40, the Angel of Yahweh is a Christophany, a preincarnate appearance of Christ. The Angel speaks as God, identifies Himself with God, and exercises the prerogatives of God (Gen. 16:7-12; 21:17-18; 22:11-18; Ex. 3:2; Jud. 2:1-4; 5:23; 6:11-24; 13:3-22; 2 Sam. 24:16; Zech. 1:12; 3:1; 12:8). Appearances of the Angel cease after the incarnation of Christ which supports conclusions that He was the preincarnate Christ. (Chapter 20. The Organization of the Angels, IV. Particular Angels, p. 130; bold emphasis ours)

What this means is that it is the context which will determine whether the author is speaking of this specific Angel who happens to be God or to a spirit messenger sent by God. The context of Matthew 1 shows that the writer wasn’t referring to God’s Divine Angel but to one of the many angels whom God sends.

The Concept of Agency

Zaatariís appeal to agency may explain how the words of an agent can be attributed to the one whom he represents, nonetheless this Biblical concept cannot account for Godís Angel calling himself Yahweh God, receiving the worship of God, and doing the works that God alone can do, as we find in the following verses:

"In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob.’ I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said, ‘Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. I AM THE GOD OF BETHEL (HOUSE OF GOD), where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land.’" Genesis 31:10-13

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’ When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ Then he [the Angel who is the LORD God] said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.’" Exodus 3:1-6

Contrary to Zaatariís assertion, in both of these citations the Angel calls himself Yahweh God and claims to be the God of the very place where Jacob anointed a pillar that he had erected for Yahweh! (Cf. Genesis 28:10-22)

"Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. The angel of the LORD asked him, ‘Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.’" Numbers 22:31-32

Balaam bows down to worship the Angel without the latter objecting to it. And not only does the Angel receive worship he also accepts prayers:

"And he blessed Joseph and said, ‘The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, THE ANGEL who has redeemed me from all evil, BLESS the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.’" Genesis 48:15-16

Here, the verb for bless is singular even though Jacob was praying to two subjects, specifically God and the Angel!

In order to explain what we mean keep in mind the fact that the Lord Jesus sent out his Apostles as his very own agents:

"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me." Matthew 10:40

"He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." Luke 10:16

"I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me." John 13:20

"As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world." John 17:18

"Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’" John 20:21

And that Christ spoke through them:

"since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you… This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down." 2 Corinthians 13:3, 10

Yet just because the Apostles functioned as Christ’s agents, this didn’t give them the right to go around calling themselves Jesus Christ when speaking to others, claim to be the preexistent Logos, or receive the worship which Christ gladly accepted.

In fact, the Apostles such as Peter refused to accept such worship,

"As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. ‘Stand up,’ he said, ‘I am only a man myself.’" Acts 10:25-26

Even though Christ received and commanded it of himself:

"Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’" Matthew 14:33

"Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him." Matthew 28:9

"Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him." John 5:22-23

Why would Peter object if agency could account for his receiving worship that was truly directed to Christ and/or to God, and not to him? In other words, if Zaatari’s definition of agency was true then Peter was merely being worshiped as Christ’s representative and agent and should not have objected. The fact he refused such honor clearly shows that Zaatari’s understanding is simply incorrect.

To simplify this even further so that Zaatari gets it, Peter and the other Apostles couldn’t go around saying, "I am the Lord Jesus Christ," "I am the Son of God whom you crucified"; nor could people call any of them the Lord Jesus Christ or bow before their feet thanking them for dying for their sins even though they were Christ’s agents.

Moreover, if Zaatari’s claim were Biblically valid why did the angel whom the Lord Jesus sent to John object to the latter worshipping at his feet when he was God’s agent?

"The angel said to me, These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent HIS ANGEL to show his servants the things that must soon take place. Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book. I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!’ … ‘I, Jesus, have sent MY ANGEL to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.’" Revelation 22:6-10, 16

"Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: "Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!"’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’ At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’" Revelation 19:9-10

The answer? Because agency does not allow for the agent to call himself God, to be called God, or to receive the worship due to God.

And yet the Angel of the Lord in the OT calls himself God, is called God by others and is even worshiped as God!

So much for Zaatari’s desperate appeal to the Jewish concept of agency.

The Angel’s Submission to the LORD

Zaatari assumes that since the LORD commands the Angel and sends him that this somehow implies that the Angel is not God. It is obvious that Zaatari is operating under the assumption of unitarianism, that God is only one Divine Person, which explains why he erroneously thinks that the Angel cannot be God if he is sent and commanded by God.

Yet if we allow all of the Holy Bible to inform our opinion then there is no problem with the Angel being God who, at the same time, is sent and commanded by another Person who also happens to be God.

After all, even the NT teaches that God the Father sends and commands both the Son and the Holy Spirit:

"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:38-40

"Jesus answered, ‘My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." John 7:16-18

"So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.’" John 8:28

"For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say." John 12:49-50

"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." John 15:26

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." John 16:12-13

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law… Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’" Galatians 4:4, 6

While also affirming that both the Son and the Holy Spirit are fully God in nature (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2-3; John 1:1-3, 10, 14; 5:16-29; 20:28-31; Romans 8:9-16; 9:5; 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Philippians 2:5-11; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1).

The OT itself speaks of Yahweh sending Yahweh to live in the midst of his people!

"Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!’ For this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye- I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty HAS SENT ME. Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. FOR I AM COMING, AND I WILL LIVE AMONG YOU,’ declares the LORD. ‘Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become MY people. I WILL LIVE AMONG YOU and you will know that the LORD Almighty HAS SENT ME to you. The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.’" Zechariah 2:7-13

Here is a clear, unambiguous reference to two distinct Persons as Yahweh God, one Yahweh who sends and the other Yahweh who is sent to live among the people!

Zechariah further sees Yahweh descending upon the Mount of Olives with his feet and splitting it in half:

"A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day HIS FEET will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him." Zechariah 14:1-5

And according to the NT Jesus is the One who will descend upon the Mount of Olives with all his saints or holy ones:

"After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’ Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city.’" Acts 1:9-12

The statements of the two men (who happen to be angels) suggest that Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives since this is the place from where he ascended! And:

"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 1 Thessalonians 3:13

The above passages indicate that when Zechariah spoke of Yahweh sending Yahweh to descend upon the Mount of Olives and dwell with the people he was actually speaking of the risen and immortal Lord Jesus Christ descending from heaven in his glorified physical body at his second coming! To put it rather plainly, Zechariah was referring to the glorified and resurrected Jesus returning to Jerusalem to rule as the one, universal King of the earth since Jesus is the Yahweh he had seen by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the OT prophets furnish evidence that a) Yahweh is multi-personal, and b) that one Yahweh can send and command another Yahweh without this implying that one is more Divine than the other or that there is more than one God:

"The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name." Zechariah 14:9

Zaatari further erroneously assumes that since the Angel in Zechariah 1:12 asks the LORD how long will he refrain from showing mercy to Jerusalem this again proves that he cannot be God. I assume that Zaatari mentions this text not just to show that the Angel is subservient to God but to demonstrate that the Angel doesn’t know everything and therefore cannot be God.

Yet if this logic were sound then this means that Yahweh cannot be God since he too asks questions:

"The LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?’ … The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: ‘How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.’" Numbers 14:11, 26-27

This also proves that Allah cannot be God since he also asks questions, obviously because he is ignorant.

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, "Every night when it is the last third of the night, our Lord, the Superior, the Blessed, descends to the nearest heaven and says: Is there anyone to invoke Me that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone asking My forgiveness so that I may forgive him? (See Hadith No. 246,Vol. 2). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93, Number 586)

Allah has to literally descend in order to find out whether there is anyone who is actually praying to him! Allah even had to ask Abraham if he truly believed in his ability to raise the dead:

And when Abraham said, 'My Lord, show me how Thou wilt give life to the dead,' He said, 'Why, dost thou not believe?' 'Yes,' he said, 'but that my heart may be at rest.' Said He, 'Take four birds, and twist them to thee, then set a part of them on every hill, then summon them, and they will come to thee running. And do thou know that God is All-mighty, All-wise. S. 2:260 Arberry

Allah is one ignorant deity for sure!

(We need to reiterate the point here that Muhammad’s Allah is a false god whom Muhammad tried to pass off as the God of Abraham.)

With that said, it must be stated that the Angel wasn’t asking a question because he was perplexed or ignorant of God’s purpose or plan. Rather, the Angel’s question was more of a request for God to show mercy to his covenant people. The Angel was functioning as Israel’s intercessor, beseeching God to show grace and kindness to Judah. This is why the text goes on to say that Yahweh encouraged the Angel with kind and comforting words,

"Then the angel of the LORD said, ‘LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?’ So the LORD spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. Then the angel who was speaking to me said, ‘Proclaim this word: This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, but I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they added to the calamity." Therefore, this is what the LORD says: "I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem," declares the LORD Almighty. Proclaim further: This is what the LORD Almighty says: "My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem."’" Zechariah 1:11-17

Notice that it is precisely because the Angel interceded with God that the LORD decided to turn towards his people in mercy and favor!

Furthermore, if we continue reading into Zechariah we find additional corroboration that the Angel is in fact Yahweh God who intercedes before God on behalf of the elect:

"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?’ Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes.’ Then he [the angel] said to Joshua, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’" Zechariah 3:1-4

Zechariah sees three distinct entities here, namely the Angel, Satan and Joshua the high priest, along with some other angelic beings. This implies that the Lord who rebuked Satan in the name of the Lord was the Angel.

In other words it is the Angel who is being identified as the Yahweh that rebuked Satan and forgave Joshua’s sins, an explicitly divine function:

"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:18-19

As the NET translators explain:

sn The juxtaposition of the messenger of the Lord in v. 1 and the Lord in v. 2 shows that here, at least, they are one and the same. See Zech 1:11, 12 where they are distinguished from each other. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

This is not the only place where the Angel is said to be able to forgive sins:

"I am going to send an angel before you, to protect you in the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Take heed because of him, and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for my name is in him. But if you diligently obey him, and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will be an adversary to your adversaries. For my angel will go before you, and bring you in to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will cut them off." Exodus 23:20-23 NET Bible

The reason God gives for this Angel being able to forgive sins is because he embodies the Divine name within his own person, which is simply another way of saying that this Angel is God in essence. The NET translators say in footnote 48 that:

… The word is … (mal'ak), "messenger, angel." This angel is to be treated with the same fear and respect as Yahweh, for Yahweh will be speaking in him. Cassuto says that the words of the first clause do not imply a being distinct from God, for in the ancient world the line of demarcation between the sender and the sent is liable easily to be blurred. Cassuto then shows how the "Angel of Yahweh" in Genesis is Yahweh. He concludes that the words here mean "I will guide you" (pp. 305-6). Christian commentators tend to identify the Angel of Yahweh as the second person of the Trinity (Kaiser, p. 446; and Kaiser, Old Testament Theology, p. 120). However, in addition to being a preincarnate appearance, the word could refer to Yahweh - some manifestation of Yahweh himself. (Source; bold emphasis ours)

And in regards to the Angel embodying God’s name they write:

… This means "the manifestation of my being" is in him (Driver, p. 247). Driver then quotes McNeile as saying, "The ‘angel’ is Jehovah Himself ‘in a temporary descent to visibility for a special purpose’." The Talmud identified the Angel as "Metatron," who stood nearest the throne of God. (Source; bold emphasis ours)

It is ironic that Zaatari tried to use this very text of Exodus 23 to DENY the Deity of the Angel!?

Moreover, the OT also implicitly testifies that the Angel knows all things that occur in the earth:

"In order to change the course of things your servant Joab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God to know all things that are on the earth." 2 Samuel 14:20 ESV

To be wise like the Angel is to know everything that is happening on the earth, a rather explicit testimony to the Angel’s omniscience! This provides further attestation that the Angel wasn’t asking God because he was ignorant, but was actually interceding before the LORD to show mercy upon the people.

Interestingly, the Angel carries out the same functions of interceding and forgiving sins that the NT ascribes to the Lord Jesus:

"When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Get up, take your mat and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . .’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!’" Mark 2:5-12

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-32

"What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." Romans 8:31-34

"but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever." Hebrews 7:24-28

"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2

"We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one." 1 John 5:18-19

This shouldn’t surprise us when we realize that the Angel is actually the Lord Jesus Christ in his prehuman existence.

The Use of Third Person Speech

Zaatari mentions that the Angel refers to the LORD in the third person, i.e. "the Angel answered, ‘Here is what the LORD says,’" "the Angel spoke thus, ‘The LORD will come down’" etc. He then erroneously assumes that this further proves that the Angel is not God but merely God’s spokesperson.

If this logic were sound then this means that even the LORD himself isn’t God since he often refers to himself in the third person:

"Then the LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, "Will I really have a child, now that I am old?" Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.’" Genesis 18:13-14

"The LORD said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.’ Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.’ … The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the LORD said to him, ‘Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach the LORD, must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them.’ Moses said to the LORD, ‘The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, "Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy."’ The LORD replied, ‘Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD, or HE will break out against them.’" Exodus 19:9-11, 20-24

"‘Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’ The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. And you shall go out through the breaches, each one straight ahead; and you shall be cast out into Harmon,’ declares the LORD … ‘I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,’ declares the LORD. ‘I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither; so two or three cities would wander to another city to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to me,’ declares the LORD. ‘I struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to me,’ declares the LORD. ‘I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt; I killed your young men with the sword, and carried away your horses, and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils; yet you did not return to me,’ declares the LORD. ‘I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning; yet you did not return to me,’ declares the LORD." Amos 4:1-3, 6-11 ESV

This further means that Jesus can’t be Jesus since he speaks of Jesus in the third person!

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3

In fact, this also proves that Allah cannot be God since he too speaks in the third person!

(And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ. S. 3:55

When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity; and how I taught thee the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and how thou didst shape of clay as it were the likeness of a bird by My permission, and didst blow upon it and it was a bird by My permission, and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead by My permission; and how I restrained the Children of Israel from (harming) thee when thou camest unto them with clear proofs, and those of them who disbelieved exclaimed: This is naught else than mere magic; S. 5:110; cf. 5:116

(Now we obviously do not believe that Allah is God or that the Quran is God’s word. We only mention this to show what happens if we apply Zaatari’s irrational argumentation to his own false book.)

Hence, the Angel speaking of Yahweh in the third person no more disproves that he was identifying himself as Yahweh than Yahweh speaking in the third person disproves that he is Yahweh as well.

Besides, even if the Angel were speaking on behalf of the LORD, and not himself, this poses no problem for our position since we affirm that the Angel is God and distinct from Yahweh God at the same time. The Angel can therefore speak on behalf of Yahweh who sent him without this refuting the fact that he is also Yahweh God Almighty. Perhaps if Zaatari stopped assuming unitarianism he would be able to see this point more clearly.

So in conclusion we must say that a careful and accurate examination of the data leads to the inevitable conclusion that this Angel is Yahweh God Almighty, specifically the Lord Jesus in his prehuman existence. Zaatari has failed to refute the fact that the Angel of the Lord is the preincarnate Christ, and wasn’t capable of adequately addressing the point that the Angel CALLS HIMSELF God and is identified and worshiped as God by others. Thus, Trinitarians have a very persuasive case whereas Unitarians are desperately picking at straws to deny the explicit Biblical witness to the Trinity.

Unless noted otherwise all scriptural quotations taken from the New International Version (NIV) of the Holy Bible.

Further Reading

Articles by Sam Shamoun
Rebuttals to Sami Zaatari
Answering Islam Home Page