THE PRE-INCARNATE EXISTENCE OF THE SON
The scripture says that, “No man has seen God, at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared Him” (John 1:18) If no man has seen God at any time, then who appeared in various manifestations as YHWH to men of old?
Who did Adam walk with in the garden?
Who led the children of Israel through the wilderness?
Who was it that was known as YHWH and appeared and spoke with men before Yeshua’s incarnation?
All creation was brought into being by the Son, the Word (Col.1:15-16), and it was the Son who was in the Garden with Adam (Gen.2:8) John the apostle identifies Yeshua the Messiah as the Word of Yahweh who took on flesh as a human tabernacle "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through it, and separately from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1-3; 14)
This was not a new concept. He was known as the “Word” prior to His incarnation because He expressed the mind and will of the Father. It was something that was already understood - that YHWH God had a representation of Himself in the form of His Son who was manifested on His behalf and was called “the Word”, or as it is called in Aramaic, “the Memra”; and later known as the “Holy One of Israel”.
In the Aramaic Targums (from the second Temple period) where Yahweh is manifested in human-like appearance, the texts have replaced Yahweh with: "Yahweh's Word". - i.e. Yahweh’s "Memra".
In his pre-carnate existence He was also known as His Son (Hebrews 1:8-9): “Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? ...
“What is His Name and what is His Son’s Name, if you know?” (Prov.30:4). See also Proverbs 8 - & verses 30-31
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
Yeshua Himself said, “Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am" (John 8: 58); and that Abraham rejoiced to see His day (John 8:56)
Many of the early Church fathers wrote concerning Yeshua's deity on the understanding that He was the Son who had manifested to the children of Israel before His incarnation. Gregory of Nyssa (240 AD) says it very explicitly, identifying Yehsua the Messiah as the One whom Moses encountered on the mount. “Christ Jesus was so bright that Moses could not look upon Him. He was an object of dread to the cherubim, also to the seraphim and His throne blazed in splendour"
The Israelites beheld the Angel of Yahweh (the Son) who led them, as well as His Presence (holy Spirit) in the pillar of cloud that rested upon them. We see the two mentioned in Exodus 14:19 - note verse 24. Note also where He says that He will not go up with them but will only send His Angel (the Angel of Yahweh - i.e. the Son - Exodus 33:1-3)
Although he was sometimes called the “Angel of Yahweh”, he was not of an angelic order (Hebrews 1:5-6) The Father can’t be seen by man and so He sent His Son who was begotten of Him.
Paul identified this One as “Christ”, their Messiah (1 Cor.10:4). So, if it was the Son of God who led them and manifested himself to them then, and at other times, that Being could not be termed “God” because they saw him and no man has seen God at any time, nor can man see God and live. (Ex. 33:20; Judges 13:22) Take note: that in these manifestations he was not limited to the state of humanity as he was in his incarnation and yet he is still not referred to as “God”. He was representing the Father and speaking on behalf of Him.
HIS REPRESENTATION OF THE FATHER
In His incarnation Yeshua came in His Father’s Name (John 5:43). In His manifestations prior to that there is an even stronger representation of the Father with little or no attention at all on His own identity.
There are many occasions where He speaks for the Father, on His behalf as a complete stand-in for the Father. Then there are the appearances to men like Gideon (Judges 6:11-12) where he addressed the Angel of Yahweh as if it were YHWH Himself (6:22-24). As also to Samson’s parents (Judges 13:3,6, 9,13, 16-22).
In both cases they recognised that they had “seen God" and lived. They had seen His manifestation in the Son.
On other occasions we see two persons identified as“Yahweh.
In Genesis 19:1, it says: "The two angels came to Sodom in the evening." The word ‘angels' (malachim), means "messengers" or "ambassadors". Therefore we do not know from the word itself if it is speaking of people from the earth or angels from heaven. The context determines the meaning. After the two angelic messengers went on to Sodom, Yahweh returned to Abraham and revealed to him His purposes regarding Sodom.
"And the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham stood yet before Yahweh. And Abraham drew near, and said: 'Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" (Genesis 18:22-23) Abraham addressed the physical manifestation of God who stood before him as "Yahweh" - the Word. Then, "When He had finished talking to Abraham Yahweh went away, and Abraham returned home."(18:33)
Yahweh said to Abraham that he would go down to Sodom to see if it was really according to the outcry that had come before Him (18:21). The two angels then went down to Sodom with the authority of Yahweh to save Lot and carry out the heavenly judgement. (19:12-13)
Yahweh goes from speaking with Abraham to speak with Lot whom we may assume is the one who had been raising an outcry against the city (18:20-21; 2 Peter 2:7, 8) When Lot petitions Him to only go as far as Zoar before the judgement, Yahweh answers him, "Hurry, escape there,, because I cannot do anything until you reach it."(19:22)
"Then the LORD (YHWH) rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD (YHWH) out of the heavens." (19:24) Note the two YHWH’s referenced in the verse.
The Targum of Johnathan reads "Then Yahweh's Word rained down burning sulphur on Sodom and Amorah - from Yahweh out of the heavens." Both Abraham and Lot had a face to face encounter with a manifestation of Yahweh in fleshly form.
According to Yerushalayim's Targum it was to the Memra (the Word) that Abraham prayed "And Avraham worshipped and prayed in Yahweh's Word's name, and said: 'You are Yahweh, who sees me, but You cannot be seen'" Note that Avraham prays prays in Yahweh's Word's name, but he prays to the Yahweh who cannot be seen. Here there are two 'Yahwehs' that he is identifying - the One in whose Name he prays to the One to Whom he is praying This whole account in scripture reveals that there are two Yahweh's, one who called down fire and brimstone while on the earth, from the other who was in heaven sending it. Note that Abraham was able to look upon the face of God and not die. The Yahweh which Abraham saw was the pre incarnate Son of God.
In Isaiah 43:10-12 we have YHWH speaking of Israel as His chosen people and of His promised salvation. In verse 1 & 3, the Son is speaking. He is the “holy One of Israel”. In verse 11, it is both the Father.and the Son speaking - the Son is speaking on behalf of the Father in the Father’s name, “Yahweh”, which is done as part of their operation in unity. The phrase “I, even I" would be better translated from the Hebrew as “I and I". If it were just the Father or the Son speaking, then the correct Hebrew grammar would be just one “I" (ani in Hebrew) But in using “I and I", it is indicating that it is both the Father and the Son that are saying this in unison.
Other bible texts which show similar revelations of a Yahweh who is in heaven, and of a Yahweh who reveals himself on earth are Zechariah 2:11; 12:8; Isaiah 48:15-16.
David knew and had a relationship with both the Father, YHWH God, and the Lord, His Son. - see Psalm 110:1 In the Hebrew, it is .... “YHWH said to My Adon (Lord), sit at My right hand” (two different personalities). This “Lord” of Psalm 110 is the Son, who “has gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God” (Peter 3:22)
“And we believe and are sure that you are that Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:69)