The Revelation of the Messenger of YHVH
The Messenger of YHVH aka The Messenger of His Face is a mystery that cannot be comprehend completely. Who is this Messenger and what is His identity? The answers are found in the trial against Apostle Stephanos (Acts 7) where we also find the inconvenient truth for many, then and now.
The exposure of this inconvenient truth in his fervent speech before the corrupted clique of Pharisees is the subject of this article.
Apostle Stephanos was falsely accused by the Pharisees of preaching against the Torah of YHVH (The Law) and he is still falsely accused even today by “the new Pharisees”.
As he falsely accused of teaching that the Messiah of Israel had come to abolished the Torah of His Father (read more), Stephanos was moved by the Spirit of YHVH and replied to the false accusations in a speech which the present author considers to be understated and even ignored in the Christendom, or at least the very important moment in it: the inconvenient truth in the revelation of the Messenger of YHVH.
In his speech before the religious council, Stephanos not only exposed the false accusations against him, that he was preaching against the Torah, but he also exposed the inconvenient truth the accusers could not bear.
As the Word of Elohim was spreading in Jerusalem and in the land, the number of the disciples of Yeshua the Messiah was increasing greatly and even a great number of the priests came to the faith that the Messiah had come.
Apostle Stephanos was a Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jew who along six others were appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to the poor members of the Messianic community.
Apostle Stephanos was doing great wonders and signs among the people. But some of those of the so-called Congregation of the Freedmen, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicia and of Asia, came to dispute with him, but they were unable because the wisdom and the Spirit were in him.
The false accusations
As they were unable to prevail, they instigated false witnesses to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Mosheh and Elohim”, thus having stirred up the people and the religious elite. Stephanos was seized and brought before the council. (Act 6:7-12)
And this what the false witnesses said before the council to accuse him in blasphemy,
And they set up false witnesses who said, This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this set-apart place and the Torah, for we have heard him saying that this Yeshua of Natsareth shall overthrow this place and change the rituals which Mosheh delivered to us. (Act 6:13-14)
In other words, what those “witnesses” said before the council was that Stephanos was stirring up the people against the Torah of YHVH (the Law) and more specifically against the sacrificial system in Temple, and against the Temple itself.
Note that Apostle Luke, the author of the Acts of the Disciples of Yeshua, called those “witnesses” false, i.e. Stephanos was falsely accused of teaching against the Torah and that Yeshua had annulled the sacrificial system in the Torah. That was the false accusation against Stephanos, as later in Act 21 Shaul (Paul) would be falsely accused of the same.
The fervent speech to defend the faith
The apostle began his speech by presenting the history of Israel, from the appearance of YHVH to Avraham in Mesopotamia, and the stories of the patriarchs, to Mosheh and the slavery of Israel in Egypt.
We should also note that Stephanos’ speech was not defensive despite the false accusation. On the contrary, with full knowledge and deliberation that his appearance before the religious court could bring only one outcome—his death—he did not consider defending himself but defending the faith for which he was about die.
Stephanos faced two false accusations: (1) that he had declared that Yeshua would destroy the Temple in Jerusalem and (2) that he had changed the customs of Moses.
In response to those false accusations, Stephanos appealed to the Tanak, the Hebrew Scripture.
And the entire council saw how Stephanos’ face was turning into what was looking like the face of a heavenly messenger (Act 6:15), i.e. radiating.
We should recall that when Mosheh returned from the mountain and brought the two tablets of the Covenant of YHVH (aka the Ten Commandments), the people saw his radiant face and were greatly afraid to come near him, so that he had to veil his face (Exo 34:30-35).
The apostle began his speech by bringing before the council the history of the nation of Israel. He began with the story in which YHVH appeared to our father Avraham in Mesopotamia and said to him, “Come out of your land and from your relatives, and come here, into a land that I shall show you” (Act 7:3).
Then Stephanos continued his narrative with the birth of the patriarchs Yitshak and Ya’akov, and the twelve ancestors (Act 7:4-8), the Yoseph story in Egypt, the slavery in Egypt, and the flee of Mosheh in the land of Midian after he killed the Egyptian (Act 7:9-29).
The Messenger of YHVH
At this point, Stephanos reaches the corner stone of his speech when Mosheh was shepherding the flock and came to the mountain of Elohim. And there the Messenger of YHVH appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush (Exo 3:1-2),
And after forty years were completed, a Messenger of YHVH appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. (Act 7:30)
We find reference to the same event in the account of the second book of Ezra in KJV (but the third book in the Eastern Orthodox Bible) with Apocrypha. In this account we find additional information as to what took place at the mountain of YHVH,
In the bush I did manifestly reveal myself unto Moses, and talked with him, when my people served in Egypt: And I sent him and led my people out of Egypt, and brought him up to the mount of where I held him by me a long season, And told him many wondrous things, and shewed him the secrets of the times, and the end; and commanded him, saying, These words shalt thou declare, and these shalt thou hide. (2Es 14:3-6 KJVA)
Which words Mosheh was told to declare and which to hide, concerning the secrets of the times and the end, most unfortunately, we are not given to know in the Torah, but in 2 Esdras. However, we should recall the prophetic blessings with which Mosheh blessed the twelve tribes in Deu 33.
Note: 2 Esdras is neither in Hebrew nor in Greek, but in Vulgate from the Slavonic translation is made. Chapters 1, 2 and 15,16 of 2 Esdras are additions in Vulgate made by Catholic monks and can be found neither in Aramaic, Coptic, Georgian, Arabic, Armenian nor in Ethiopian texts. In Vulgate 2 Esdras is divided into two books: the first consisted of Chapters 3 through 14 and the second: of Chapters 1, 2 and 15,16, but in the Slavonic text they are all one book, as in KJV with Apocrypha.
Then Stephanos continued his passionate speech before the Pharisaic Council, saying,
And Mosheh, seeing it, marveled at the sight, and coming near to look, the voice of YHVH came to him, saying, ‘I am the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Avraham and the Elohim of Yitschak and the Elohim of Ya’akov.’ And Mosheh trembled and did not have the courage to look. But YHVH said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is set-apart ground. I have certainly seen the evil treatment of my people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, let Me send you to Egypt”. This Mosheh whom they had rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ – this one Elohim sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Messenger who appeared to him in the bush. (Act 7:31-35)
Two important things should be noted here: (1) the apostle staying faithful to the text in the Torah is very clear that a Messenger of YHVH appeared to Mosheh in a flame of fire in the bush and that (2) the one who is speaking from the bush is YHVH Himself.
Then, Stephanos said that it was the Mosheh who said to Israel ‘YHVH your Elohim shall raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brothers. Him you shall hear’, quoting Deu 18:15, and
This is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the Messenger who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received the living Words to give to us, unto whom our fathers would not become obedient, but thrust away, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, (Act 7:37-39)
And the third thing we should note here is that Stephanos also made it very clear to the Pharisees that it was the Messenger of YHVH who spoke to Mosheh on Sinai and who gave the living Words (the Covenant and the Torah) to the fathers at the mountain.
Therefore, what the apostle proclaimed while his face was radiating before the Pharisees was that the one who spoke to Mosheh from the burning bush and the one who spoke in the thunders and lightnings and fire, and from the thick cloud of smoke of a furnace on the trembling mountain, with the strong voice of a shophar that made the people trembled (see Exo 19:16-19), was none other than the Messenger of YHVH.
Furthermore, we read from the Torah that YHVH Himself speaks of His Messenger.
That this Messenger is not one of the many messengers in the heavenly realm but a distinguished one to whom the exodus of the children of YHVH was assigned, is evident from the following accounts.
After the golden calf sin, YHVH spoke to Mosheh face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exo 33:11), saying, And now, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. See, My Messenger goes before you. (Exo 32:34), and “My Face does go, and I shall give you rest”. But Mosheh said to Him, “If Your Face is not going, do not lead us up from here”. (Exo 33:14-15)
But did YHVH not tell Mosheh that His Face (Presence) would indeed go before them? Why then was there the need for Mosheh to say, “If Your Presence is not going, do not lead us up from here”?
Mosheh said that, because he distinguished YHVH from the Messenger of Face,
For how then shall it be known that I have found favor in Your eyes, I and Your people, except You go with us? … (Exo 33:16)
Then Mosheh asked YHVH to show him His glory and what followed between the two friends is one of the most remarkable revelation in the Torah in which the Creator revealed the Messenger of His Face, the glory of YHVH. But for more insight on this revelation, the reader is encouraged to read the article “To Foresee Yeshua the Messiah“.
And to the new generation of Israel born in the desert, Mosheh said, “And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them, and brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His great power,” (Deu 4:37), as he referred to the Messenger of His Face.
Another direct reference to the Messenger of YHVH we find in Isaiah,
In all their distress He was distressed, and the Messenger of His Face saved them. In His love and in His compassion He redeemed them, and He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. (Isa 63:9)
The Face of YHVH is YHVH Himself, in His own personal presence, and the Messenger of His Face is His mediator between Him and His people. The Messenger of His Face is identical with the Messenger in whom the Name of YHVH was in Exo 23:20-21 and who is therefore called in Isa 63:9 the Messenger of His Face.
Behold, I am sending a Messenger before you to guard you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Be on guard before Him and obey His voice. Do not rebel against Him, for He is not going to pardon your transgression, for My Name is in Him. (Exo 23:20-21)
And indeed, YHVH did send His messenger before Israel, who guarded them on the way and brought them to the Land. The name of YHVH was in this Messenger, i.e., YHVH revealed Himself in him and through him; and hence he is called in Exo 33:15-16, the Face of YHVH, because the essential nature of YHVH was manifested in him.
Israel was forewarned that the Messenger would not forgive any transgression, as He did not. “Beware of him”, YHVH warned, “because My Name is associated with him. If you transgress against him, you have transgressed against Me”.
The Sages said in Sanhedrin 38b that the name of this Messenger is like the name of his Master, but for more insight into the name of the Messenger of YHVH, refer to the article “His Name is Yehoshua“.
This messenger was the manifestation of YHVH Himself, who went before them in the pillar of cloud and fire, to guide and to defend them (Exo 13:21). But, because it was YHVH who was guiding His people in the person of the Messenger, He demanded unconditional obedience (Exo 23:21): if they provoked Him by disobedience, the Messenger would not pardon their transgression as He would not pardon them either. But, if they followed Him and obey to His voice, He would be an enemy to their enemies, and an adversary to their adversaries (Exo 23:22).
That Messenger of the Face the apostle called “YHVH” and “Elohim” by having referred to the fearful appearance of YHVH on Sinai.
Is there any contradiction in Stephanos’ words and the Torah? Not at all!
In ancient world, an ambassador of a king would speak on behalf and in his behalf. The ambassador would say nothing of his own words, but whatever the king had given him to say.
Likewise, in the Tanak whenever the Messenger of YHVH or the Messenger of His Face is spoken of, it does not refer to any of the messengers, but to a distinguished one who is assigned to special missions, i.e. the Exodus of YHVH’s chosen people from Egypt.
The identity of the Messenger of YHVH
Very distinctly Stephanos will identify who that Messenger is, as we are reading thus,
Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who before announced the coming of the Righteous One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who received the Torah as it was ordained by messengers, but did not watch over it. (Act 7:52-53)
Before we hit the final tone in our study, we will look into another clue the apostle has given us regarding the identity of the Messenger of YHVH. The apostle says, … who received the Torah as it was ordained by messengers.
We already learned that the one who spoke from Mount Sinai to Israel was the Messenger of the Face, in the power and authority of the One who had sent Him.
But, the Tanak says nothing about how the Torah was given to Mosheh, especially the creation story and the genealogies from Adam to Avraham, of which Mosheh would not have had any knowledge. So, how could Stephanos have known (Act 7:53) that the Torah was ordained through messengers unless he had knowledge of an extra-Biblical book not included in what we call today “the Canon”?
In the Book of Jubilees 1:27-28, we read, “And He said to the angel of the presence: Write for Mosheh from the beginning of creation till my sanctuary has been built among them for all eternity. And the Lord will appear to the eyes of all, and all will know that I am the God of Israel and the Father of all the children of Jacob, and King on Mount Zion for all eternity.
And Jubilees 1:14: And they will forget all My law and all My commandments and all My judgments, and will go astray as to new moons, and sabbaths, and festivals, and jubilees, and ordinances.
And also, Jubilee 2:1, And the angel of the presence spake to Moses according to the word of the Lord, saying: Write the complete history of the creation, how in six days the Lord God finished all His works and all that He created, and kept Sabbath on the seventh day and hallowed it for all ages, and appointed it as a sign for all His works.
And this is exactly what Stephanos says in verse 53: who received the Torah as it was ordained by messengers, but did not watch over it.
The inconvenient truth
With that being said, we are coming to the culmination in Stephanos’ speech when he said: Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who before announced the coming of the Righteous One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers …
Stephanos denounced the council as “stiff-necked” people (Act 7:51) who, just as their ancestors had done, persecuted and killed the prophets of YHVH, who predicted the coming of the Righteous Prophet Mosheh told Israel to await. And when that Prophet indeed came, they the Pharisees betrayed and murdered him, as they murdered the prophets who prophesied His coming.
That inconvenient truth the Pharisees could not bear, and they killed the apostle, as they killed the Prophet of YHVH.
And when his accusers heard that, they were cut to the hearts and gnashed the teeth at him.
But he, being filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, looked steadily into the heaven and saw the glory of Elohim, and Yeshua standing at the right hand of Elohim, and he said, “Behold! I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of Elohim!“ (Act 7:54-56)
And when his time came to die, he cried out with a loud voice, but they rushed upon him to stone him to death. And the chief accuser among them was one with the name Shaul (Act 7:57-58). And before his last breath Stephanos cried out, “Master Yeshua, receive my spirit. Master, do not hold this sin against them” (Act 7:59-60).
The false accusations today
In conclusion, Apostle Stephanos, filled with Ruach HaKodesh and a radiating face of a messenger, exposed the inconvenient truth that the corrupted elite of religious leaders killed the Righteous One, of whom Mosheh said,
And Yehovah said to me, ‘What they have spoken is good. I shall raise up for them a Prophet like you out of the midst of their brothers. And I shall put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be, the man who does not listen to My Words which He speaks in My Name, I require it of him‘. (Deu 18:17-19)
And that was the revelation of the Messenger of His Face, which the apostle delivered to the corrupted religious elite before his death: “You killed the Righteous One, of whom Mosheh said, ‘The man who does not listen to My Words which He speaks in My Name, I require it of him'”.
In response to the false accusations, Stephanos appealed to the Tanak, the Hebrew Scripture, to prove how the Torah was not abolished by Yeshua but, instead, was fulfilled and upheld by the Messiah.
The false accusations that Stephanos was teaching against the Torah of YHVH were not against him only, but were directed towards Yeshua Himself. Stephanos was not aimed at with those false accusations, Yeshua the Messiah was.
That is why, when they were exposed to the truth that the Messenger of the Face, who lead the people out of Egypt, and who gave the Torah at Mount Sinai, was none other than the one they got murdered, they were cut to the hearts and gnashed the teeth at Him.
And as Stephanos was falsely accused of having spoken blasphemous words against the Temple and the Torah, and that Yeshua had changed the laws which Mosheh delivered to Israel, so was his murderer Shaul later would be falsely accused of the same blasphemy when he would become the apostle of Yeshua and would be murdered as he murdered Stephanos (see Act 21:21-24).
Most regrettably, those false accusations against Apostle Shaul have not ceased since then. Other religious leaders, the new Pharisees, have been falsely accusing Apostle Shaul of what the Pharisees had accused him: of teaching against the Torah of YHVH.
They have stirred up the people and come upon and seized all who have been obedient to the heavenly ordained Torah and brought them to their councils, as the ancient Pharisees did in Act 6:12. And like the Apostle Stephanos, they have killed all who dared not to obey their new religion.
Today, “the new Pharisees” do not stone but they are cut to the hearts and gnashed the teeth at everyone who dares to say that the Torah has not been done away with.
This article is a continuation of the articles devoted to the Messiah Yeshua. In the articles “The Human Messiah” Part 1 and Part 2, the present author teaches about the human Messiah, the son of man, was born with all human traits. In the article “The Transcendent Son Who has been Hidden in Elohim“, he teaches of the transcendent Messiah who exists beyond and outside the ordinary range of human experience or understanding. Neither of these articles is meant to be, nor it could be exhaustive, if at all this subject can be exhaustive.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.