When Muslims argue against the New Testament witness to the deity of Christ, they often point out that Jesus nowhwere claimed to be God. Although this claim is false and flawed for many reasons, the fact is it is easily demonstrated to be false when it comes to the Angel of the LORD in the Old Testament. In fact, it is largely because Muslims like Yahya are ignorant of what the Old Testament says that they can say with a straight face that Jesus never claimed to be God.
More than once in his post Yahya registers this objection along the following lines, "If God were the Angel, God would be guilty of secretly showing up, for he never claimed to be the Angel" (my paraphrase). Now it is far from clear, to grossly understate the matter, why God is not aloud to stop by without giving advanced notice, as if he is some kind of uninvited house guest or felonious intruder; or why, once He does draw near, He needs to make sure He first checks in with the local authorities so they know He is in town. But as I said, it really isn't necessary to explain to Yahya why that is - though one would have assumed that Yahya knew that God can appear when, where, and how He pleases, and that He doesn't even need to leave His calling card - for there are occasions when the Angel openly and directly identifies Himself as the LORD.
For example, in Genesis 28 it is written:
Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying...I am with you and will watch over you whereever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his had and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel [House of God], though the city used to be called Luz. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, the LORD will be my God and this stone I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth." (Genesis 28)Clearly in the passage above the person speaking declares Himself to be LORD and God. The significance of this appears by comparing it to Genesis 31, verses 10-13, where Jacob recounts a dream he later had in Paddan Aram:
"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, 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.'"No doubt it is because the Angel of the LORD declared Himself to be a divine theophany, that Jacob blessed Joseph in the name of the Angel:
Another passage from the Old Testament of which Yahya is apparently ignorant, is the account of God's appearance to Moses in the burning bush - Exodus 3. Most people who read the account quickly grasp that it is God who is talking to Moses and never even notice that there is more to the story than that.
"Then he blessed Joseph and said,
'May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day,
the Angel who has delivered me from all harm — may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth.'" (Genesis 48:15-16)
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 said, "I am the God of your fathers, 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. The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' " God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation."As much as Yahya may not like it, the Angel, without beating around the bush, declares Himself to be Yahweh and not an ordinary angel.
Another closely related claim made by Yahya is that no prophet ever declared the Angel of the LORD to be God. All of the instances we've already seen prove the opposite, since they are recorded in the prophetic writings. So far we have seen in the writings of Moses that the Angel was recognized as God by Hagar, a testimony of such a nature as would not likely be included if Moses did not agree and was not seeking to convey that very point, and we've also seen it in the cases just mentioned, where the Angel is recorded as identifying Himself as such to both Jacob and later to Moses. These testimonies ought to be sufficient to disabuse Yahya of yet another false assumption, but occasion will arise to point out other examples in future posts, Lord willing.