O Adonai

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

Who is Adonai? Adonai is God; it's one of Hs names used throughout the Old Testament. Adonai is the Hebrew word which means Lord. So that means Adonai is indeed the leader of the House of Israel. He is the One who appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush. He is the One who gave the law to Israel at Sinai. Adonai is God — the only true and living God— the God who was at work all through the Old Testament.

But what do burning bushes and the Sinai covenant have to do with Advent and Christmas? How many Christmas carols do you know about Moses taking off his sandals or going up the mountain?

But, you see, even though we might not be thinking of Moses meeting with God at Christmas time, the point is that it was the very same God with whom Moses met who  became man and was born in the stable of Bethlehem. The God of Sinai is not a different God from Jesus. The God who set Hs people free and brought them safely through the waters of the Red Sea and Jordan is not a different God from Jesus. The God of the Old Testament is not a different God from Jesus.

You see, it's not just the Father who's around in Old Testament times and then suddenly the Son and the Spirit appear when we change to the New Testament. No! The God of the Old Testament is exactly the same God as the God of the New, namely the Triune God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit were active throughout the Old Testament, and explicitly so.

When Moses saw the burning bush it was "the angel of the LORD [who] appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush" (Exodus 3:2). Yet, "when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush" (Ex. 3:4). The Angel of the LORD is in the bush, yet the LORD speaks out of the bush.

When the children of Israel left Egypt, "And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire" (Exodus 13:21). Yet when Pharaoh's troops catch up with Israel at the Red Sea, "the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them" (Exodus 14:19).  The LORD was in the pillar of cloud, yet it was the angel of God who was in the pillar of cloud.

How can it be? How can an angel do something, and yet we're told the Lord did it? How can an angel be somewhere, and yet we're told the Lord is there? Who is this angel?

I suppose we tend to think of angels like Gabriel and the ones who appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem when we hear the word angel. Yet those angels aren't like this angel. Those angels came to say something about God and to bring a message from God. But this angel, the angel of the LORD, doesn't merely come with a message from God or about God. When He speaks, God speaks. When He acts, God acts.

You see, the Hebrew word angel simply means "sent one". And while it's true that angels like the Christmas angels are sent by God, this different angel is actually called "the Sent One of the LORD". He is God sent from God (for when He speaks, God speaks; when He acts, God acts). And who is God sent from God? Jesus!

God the Son wasn't hiding in the backround somewhere during the Old Testament. He was right at the forefront of the action. It was the Son who revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush. It was the Son who led Israel out of Egypt. God the Son was the great Redeemer of Israel. And the same One who was their Redeemer then, is our Redeemer today, for "in Him we have redemption through His blood" (Eph. 1:7)!

Our Jesus is the Angel of the LORD. Jesus is Adonai. Jesus is Yahweh who reveled Himself in the burning bush, delivered Israel from their bondage in Egypt, and led them to Sinai, and then beyond and into the Promised Land.

Our Jesus is the One who has shown Himself mighty to save. But He's brought us a redemption even greater than freedom from slavery in Egypt. He's delivered us from slavery to sin. The One who brought Israel deliverance through the judgement of the Passover, has brought us salvation through the judgement of the Cross, where the Just Judge bore the judgement to bring those who shelter in Him safely through judgement and out the other side into the promised land of our inheritance in Him.