What does Theophany mean in the Bible?

Dictionary

Holman Bible Dictionary - Theophany
(thee ah' fuh nee) Physical appearance or personal manifestation of a god to a person.
Need for a theophany. The basic postulate here is that to see God could be fatal. “He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!'“ (Judges 6:22-235 NAS; compare Genesis 16:13 ; Exodus 3:2-6 ; Exodus 19:20-21 ; 1618388738_45 ; Judges 13:20-22 . Yet the record is unmistakable that people did see God, such as Moses and others at Sinai (Exodus 24:9-10 ); the Lord's rebuke of Aaron and Miriam (Numbers 12:4-8 ); and the majestic vision to Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1 ,Isaiah 6:1,6:5 ). Customarily, God is not revealed to ordinary sight, God at times chooses to reveal Himself in theophanies. Kinds of theophanies.
There are some five forms of theophanies.
1. In human form Without question the theophany in Exodus 24:10 involved the appearance of a human being, for the text clearly states that a pavement of sapphire appeared “under His feet.” At Peniel, Jacob testified that he had seen God face-to-face ( Numbers 24:3-462 ). On Mount Horeb it was the experience of Moses to speak to God “face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11 NAS). In the same passage when Moses begged God to show him His glory ( Exodus 33:18 ), the Lord graciously granted Moses a vision of Himself, saying, “I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:23 NAS). If it is protested that the subject is enveloped in mystery, it needs to be remembered that theology without mystery is sheer nonsense. God in His wisdom does not restrict Himself to one method of self-revelation. Notice God's pronouncement in Numbers 12:6-8 , which was quite unlike that of Deuteronomy 4:12-15 where only a voice was granted.
2. In vision Even self-seeking Balaam was allowed of God to see the Lord in vision (1618388738_3 ). Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, giants among the prophets, saw God in visions (Isaiah 6:1 ; Ezekiel 1:1 ; Daniel 7:9 ). Jacob, sent off by Isaac to Paddan-aram, was granted a dream in which he saw the Lord (Genesis 28:12-13 ).
3. By the “Angel of the Lord” This is the most usual form of theophany, called the “Angel of the Lord” or “Angel of God.” Observe it is not an “Angel of God,” which could include any of the angelic hosts created by God. The “Angel of the Lord” is identified in the accounts with Yahweh Himself. He appears only occasionally in human form. The encounter of the Angel of the Lord with Hagar is of significance in this connection (Genesis 16:7-13 ). See Angels.
4. Not in human form In some instances the theophany came as at the burning bush (Exodus 3:2-4:17 ) and in the guidance through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21 ; compare Acts 7:30 ). The glory of the Lord appears to people in numerous passages. See Exodus 16:10 ; Exodus 33:9-10 ; Ezekiel 10:4 ). God was also manifest in nature and history (Isaiah 6:3 ; Ezekiel 1:28 ; Ezekiel 43:2 ).
5. As the name of the Lord God's sacred name represented His presence (Deuteronomy 12:5 ; Deuteronomy 102:15 ; Genesis 32:30 ; Isaiah 59:19 ).
Contrast with the incarnation The incarnate Christ was not, and indeed is not, a theophany. The phenomena of theophanies were temporary, for the occasion that required them and then disappeared. On the other hand, in the incarnate Christ His deity and humanity were joined, not for time alone, but for eternity. See Incarnation ; Jesus Christ .
The time factor Only in the Old Testament economy did God's people need a theophany; since the incarnation, there is no such necessity. The New Testament doctrine of God is final and complete. God is always present in the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit. Still, at times, God's people are more aware of that Presence than at others.
Charles Lee Feinberg
CARM Theological Dictionary - Theophany
A theophany is a visible manifestation of God usually restricted to the Old Testament. God has appeared in dreams (Genesis 20:3-7; Genesis 28:12-17), visions (Genesis 15:1-21; Isaiah 6:1-13), as an angel (Genesis 16:7-13; Gen 18:1-33), etc.
There is a manifestation known as the Angel of the Lord (Judges 6:20f.) and seems to have characteristics of God Himself (Genesis 16:7-9; Gen 18:1-2; Exodus 3:2-6; Joshua 5:14; Judges 2:1-5; Jdg 6:11). Such characteristics as having the name of God, being worshiped, and recognized as God has led many scholars to conclude that the angel of the Lord is really Jesus manifested in the Old Testament. This does not mean that Jesus is an angel. The word "angel" means messenger.
Other scriptures that describe more vivid manifestations of God are Genesis 17:1; Gen 18:1; Exodus 6:2-3; Exo 24:9-11; Exo 33:20; Numbers 12:6-8; Acts 7:2. For further information on theophanies see the Plurality Study.
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Theophany
Manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period often, but not always, in human form. Some would also include in this term Christophanies (preincarnate appearances of Christ) and angelophanies (appearances of angels). In the latter category are found the appearances of the angel of the Lord, which some have taken to be Christophanies, reasoning that since the angel of the Lord speaks for God in the first person (Genesis 16:10 ) and the human addressed often attributes the experience to God directly (Genesis 16:13 ), the angel must therefore be the Lord or the preincarnate Christ. Yet, though the angel is clearly identified with the Lord, he is distinguished from him (he is called "angel, " meaning "messenger" similar patterns of identification and distinction can be seen in Genesis 19:1,21 ; 31:11,13 ; Exodus 3:2,4 ; Judges 2:1-5 ; 6:11-12,14 ; 13:3,6 , 8-11,13 , 15-17,20-23 ; Zechariah 3:1-6 ; 12:8 ). In the ancient oriental world, a king's messenger spoke in the name of the king. Any insult rendered him was interpreted as an insult to the king himself (cf. Hanun's treatment of David's embassy, 2 Samuel 10:1-4 ; 1 Chronicles 19:2-6 ). There seems, therefore, no necessity to posit a theophany for the angel of the Lord. In Joshua 5:13-6:5 , the conquest narrative is interrupted by the abrupt appearance of a being who calls himself the "commander of the army of the Lord" (5:14). To interpret this event as an encounter with God or with the preincarnate Christ forces the text. Angels were sent on missions of this kind (Judges 6:11 ; 13:3 ), and some were identified as captains over heavenly armies (Daniel 10:5,20 ; 12:1 ). While there are no indisputable Christophanies in the Old Testament, every theophany wherein God takes on human form foreshadows the incarnation, both in matters of grace and judgment.
Following are a number of what may be considered classic theophanies. The Lord appears to Abraham on his arrival in the land, wherein God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12:7-9 ); God reaffirmed his promises of land and progeny when Abraham was ninety-nine years old (Genesis 17:1 ), and on the Plains of Mamre on his way to destroy Sodom (Genesis 18:1 ).
God appeared to Jacob in his dream at Bethel (Genesis 28:11-19 ). It is also clear that in the events at the Jabbok ford, Jacob somehow received a revelation through an encounter with God, although neither a strict reading of the text (Genesis 32:22-32 ) nor its later interpretation by Hosea (12:3-4) demand a theophany.
God appeared to Moses alone on the mountain (Exodus 19:20 ; 33:18-34:8 ). God also appeared to Moses, with Aaron and his sons and the seventy elders (Exodus 24:9-11 ) and in the transfer of leadership to Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:15 ).
While he suffered, Job had complained that he sought an audience with God (31:35). At the conclusion of the book the Lord appears in a thunderstorm to deliver two discourses, designed to grant Job's request for a hearing and arguably to supply at least one of the meanings for Job's affliction: God is sovereign.
In a looser sense, God's promise of the land to Abraham (Genesis 15 ), as well as his commission that Abraham sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22 ), could be considered theophanies. Frequently the term, "glory of the Lord, " reflects a theophany, as in Exodus 24:16-18 ; the "pillar of cloud" has a similar function in Exodus 33:9 . The Spirit of God or the Spirit of the Lord must be considered theophanous, particularly when it comes upon men, transforming them (1 Samuel 10:6 ) and equipping them for divine service (1 Samuel 16:13 ). The Lord appears to people in visions (Genesis 15:1 ; 46:2 ; Job 33:15 ; Psalm 89:19 ; Daniel 2:19 ; Acts 9:10 ; 18:9 ) and in dreams (Genesis 20:3 ; 31:24 ; 1 Kings 3:5 ; Matthew 2:13 ) to reveal his plans for them or to unveil mysteries for the future.
The Lord appears in theophanies both to bless and to judge. A frequent introduction for theophanies may be seen in the words, "The Lord came down." Examples may be found in Genesis 11:5 , Exodus 34:5 , Number 11:25, and Numbers 12:5 . Although the most common verb for the manifestation of the glory of the Lord is "appeared" (Leviticus 9:23 ; Numbers 14:10 ; 16:19,42 ; 20:6 ), God's glory also "settled" on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:16 ).
William C. Williams
See also Angel of the Lord
Bibliography . Th. Booij, Biblia 65 (1984):1-26; J. Vander Kam, VT 23 (1973):129-50; M. G. Kline, WTJ 40 (1977):245-80; J. Lust, VT 25 (1975):110-15; E. W. Nicholson, VT 24 (1974):77-97; idem, VT 25 (1975):69-79; K. L. Schmitz, Faith and Philosophy 1 (1984):50-70.
Webster's Dictionary - Theophany
(n.) A manifestation of God to man by actual appearance, usually as an incarnation.

Sentence search

Christophany - See Angel of the Lord ; Theophany ...
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Theophany - ...
Need for a Theophany. In human form Without question the Theophany in Exodus 24:10 involved the appearance of a human being, for the text clearly states that a pavement of sapphire appeared “under His feet. By the “Angel of the Lord” This is the most usual form of Theophany, called the “Angel of the Lord” or “Angel of God. Not in human form In some instances the Theophany came as at the burning bush (Exodus 3:2-4:17 ) and in the guidance through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21 ; compare Acts 7:30 ). ...
Contrast with the incarnation The incarnate Christ was not, and indeed is not, a Theophany. ...
The time factor Only in the Old Testament economy did God's people need a Theophany; since the incarnation, there is no such necessity
Theophany - A Theophany is a visible manifestation of God usually restricted to the Old Testament
Theophany - There seems, therefore, no necessity to posit a Theophany for the angel of the Lord. While there are no indisputable Christophanies in the Old Testament, every Theophany wherein God takes on human form foreshadows the incarnation, both in matters of grace and judgment. It is also clear that in the events at the Jabbok ford, Jacob somehow received a revelation through an encounter with God, although neither a strict reading of the text (Genesis 32:22-32 ) nor its later interpretation by Hosea (12:3-4) demand a Theophany. Frequently the term, "glory of the Lord, " reflects a Theophany, as in Exodus 24:16-18 ; the "pillar of cloud" has a similar function in Exodus 33:9
Cloud, Cloud of the Lord - The most common usage of the Hebrew terms for cloud comes in the context of divine Theophany. ...
The pillar of cloud motif-set forth in the exodus account and expanded in the prophetic announcements of a new exodus after the Babylonian exile-encompasses a rich complex of theological meanings and functions: guidance/leading (of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness to Canaan, Exodus 13:21 ; Numbers 14:14 ; Nehemiah 9:12 ; Psalm 78:14 ); a signal for movement (breaking and setting up camp, Exodus 40:36-37 ; Numbers 9:17-23 ); protection from danger (as a barrier of darkness between Israel and the Egyptians, Exodus 14:19-20 ); the sustained, immediate, personal presence of Yahweh/the angel of the Lord (Exodus 13:22 ; 14:19,24 ; 40:38 ; Numbers 9:15-16 ); an agency of summons (to battle, Numbers 10:34-35 ; and to worship, Exodus 33:10 ); both a concealment and manifestation of divine glory (Exodus 16:10 ; 19:9,16 ; 20:21 ; 24:15-18 ; 34:5 ; Deuteronomy 4:11 ; 5:22 ); the place of propositional revelation (as an oracular cloud, Exodus 33:9 ; Psalm 99:7 ); the dwelling place/throne of divinity (over the tabernacle, Numbers 9:18,22 ; 10:11 ; and in particular, over the mercy seat, Leviticus 16:2 ); the locus of cultic Theophany (for the investiture of the seventy elders and Joshua, Numbers 11:25 ; Deuteronomy 31:15 ; for the inauguration of the tabernacle, Exodus 40:34-35 ); shade/protection from the sun or storm (Numbers 10:34 ; Psalm 105:39 ; Isaiah 4:5 ); illumination (as a pillar of fire by night, Exodus 14:20 ; Numbers 9:15 ); and an agency of legal investigation and/or executive judgment (against Israel's enemies, Exodus 14:24 ; and against rebels within Israel, Numbers 12:5,10 ; 16:42 ). Clouds of Theophany are also associated with eschatological judgment/salvation (Isaiah 4:5 ; Nahum 1:3 ). The remaining twenty-two New Testament occurrences of the word "cloud" appear in the context of Theophany, and encompass six theologically crucial, eschatologically related events or visionary scenes in salvation history: (1) the pillar of cloud at the exodus, viewed as a type of Christian baptism in the time of eschatological fulfillment (1 Corinthians 10:1-2 ); (2) Jesus' transfiguration, as a foretaste of the kingdom of God, during which the Father appears and speaks in a cloud (Matthew 17:5 ; Mark 9:7 ; Luke 9:34 ); (3) Jesus' ascension, explained by the angels as a paradigm for his return (Acts 1:9 ); (4) the "mighty angel" descending from heaven wrapped in a cloud, announcing (against the eschatological backdrop of Daniel 12:7 ) that time should be no longer (Revelation 10:1 ); (5) the two resurrected witnesses ascending to heaven in a cloud, described in the context of the eschatological measuring of the temple of God (Revelation 11:12 ); and (6) Jesus' parousia, against the backdrop of Daniel 7:13 , as the Son of Man coming with/on/in a cloud/the clouds/the clouds of heaven (Matthew 24:30 ; 26:64 ; Mark 13:26 ; 14:62 ; Luke 12:54 ; 21:27 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 ; Revelation 1:7 ; 14:14-16 )
Moreh, - ]'>[1] , wrongly, ‘plain’) of Moreh ( Genesis 12:6 ) may have been so named from the Theophany vouchsafed to Abraham there
Bush - ‘In or at the Bush’ (Authorized Version in Mark and Luke respectively) means not ‘beside that memorable bush,’ but ‘in the passage in Scripture describing the Theophany in the bush’ ( Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885, ‘in the place concerning the Bush’)
Fire - ...
Fire, as Theophany of existence, communicates, first of all, the very presence of God. ...
Fire as Theophany of action reveals God at work in a number of ways. Merrill...
See also Hell ; Judgment ; Judgment, Day of ; Lake of Fire ; Theophany ...
Bibliography
Gibeon - Here Solomon was vouchsafed a Theophany at the beginning of his reign
Mount, Mountain - Sinai, Horeb, Carmel occur to the memory at once as mountains consecrated by a Theophany
Angel of the Lord - ...
Louis Goldberg...
See also Theophany ...
Bibliography
Job, Book of - The Theophany --God speaking out of the storm. But the mystery is not us yet really cleared up; hence the necessity for the Theophany
Fear - ...
Fear of God or of his manifestations appears in the Bible either in the abstract, in which just the idea of God alone generates this response, or in particular situations such as Theophany or miracle, the occurrence or performance of which produces fear
Sinai - ’ Here Moses was granted the vision of the burning bush ( Exodus 3:1 ), whereby he first received a call to lead the Israelites to adopt Jahweh as their covenanted God; and here took place the tremendous Theophany which is the central event of the Pentateuch, wherein the covenant was ratified
Cherubim - The poet, in describing a Theophany of Jehovah, represents the God of Israel as descending to earth on the black thunder-cloud: ‘He rode upon a cheruh and did fly, yea, he soared on the wings of the wind
Elijah - The Theophany in 1 Kings 19 is similar to Exodus 33:19 , and like the story of the widow, may show that God is to be found in the daily affairs of humans, rather than in supernatural phenomena. The whirlwind and sudden disappearance of Elijah, with the addition of a Theophany, emphasize God's presence in the incident
Glory - Thus, God's glory is seen in the plagues and other miracles (Numbers 14:22 ), in the cloudy pillar (Exodus 16:10 ), in the Theophany at Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:17 ; Deuteronomy 5:24 ), in the tabernacle (Exodus 29:43 ; 40:34-35 ; Numbers 14:10 ; 16:19,42 ; 20:6 ), in the fire initiating the sacrificial system (Leviticus 9:23 ), and in the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 4:21-22 ) and the temple of Solomon (1 Kings 8:11 ; 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 )
Glory - A passage combining these two conceptions is the story of the Theophany to Moses ( Exodus 33:17-23 ; Exodus 34:6-7 )
Ancestor-Worship - A Theophany was now declared to be the fact underlying the sacredness; and the connexion with the famous dead was thus broken
Purity-Purification - This is probably the background for the preparation made for the Theophany, a manifestation of God's presence, in Exodus 19:1 and for the death of Uzzah when he was unprepared (not purified) to touch the ark of the covenant, a most holy object ( 2 Samuel 6:1-11 )
Sea of Glass - ...
(b) In the Theophany in Exodus 24:10 a pavement of sapphire is described as being under the feet of God
Habakkuk - These considerations are of great weight, though it may be recalled that the poetical part of the Book of Job ends somewhat similarly, with a Theophany little related to the bulk of the book
Mount Mountain - The Apostle paints the Theophany of Sinai (Exodus 19) vividly, in order to appeal his readers with the awful sanctity of the mountain where God proclaimed His Law
Mount Mountain - The Apostle paints the Theophany of Sinai (Exodus 19) vividly, in order to appeal his readers with the awful sanctity of the mountain where God proclaimed His Law
Philip - ’ He could not believe that any real knowledge of the Father was possible except such as resulted from an actual Theophany; and so proved how blinded he had been to that higher manifestation of which he had for so long been witness in the words and the acts of the Son
Moses - The Theophany occurred ( Exodus 19:18 ), and Moses was bidden to ascend the mountain, where J″ Number - " The threefold Theophany (Genesis 18:2; 1 Samuel 3:4; 1 Samuel 3:6; 1 Samuel 3:8; Acts 10:16)
Abraham - 18 we find Abraham at Hebron, where in a Theophany he receives the promise of a son to be born to Sarah, and also an intimation of the doom impending over the guilty cities of the Plain
Pillar - , Joshua 24:27 ) in particular the appearance or manifestation of a Divine being (a Theophany) at a given spot
Deuteronomy, Theology of - ...
In Deuteronomy (and, indeed, in Scripture generally) God reveals himself in Acts, Theophany, and word. ...
As the God who transcends history, Yahweh also reveals himself in the awe-inspiring splendor of Theophany
God, Name of - The pillar of fire and cloud—the Theophany of the divine presence, the Shekinah gloryappears physically and materially with Israel in the wilderness and at her sanctuaries
Altar - The patriarchal narratives regularly record the building of an altar at the site of a Theophany, a place where God had appeared to an individual (Genesis 12:7 ; Genesis 26:24-25 )
Gideon - "Angel of Jehovah," but manifested as JEHOVAH) replied, "Go in this thy might (the might now given thee by ME, Isaiah 40:29), and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites; have not I sent thee?" Then followed the requested "sign," the Angel of the Lord with the end of the staff in His hand consuming with fire Gideon's "offering" (minchah ), not a strict sacrifice but a sacrificial gift), the kid and unleavened cakes (compare Genesis 18, the Theophany to Abraham very similar)
Glory - In the OT, when Jahweh lifts the veil that hides Him from mortal eyes, the medium of Theophany is always Light, a supra-mundane but actually visible radiance (which is localized and assumes a definite uniformity in the Shekinah-glory)
High Place, Sanctuary - In the wider sense of ‘sanctuary,’ as above defined, any arbitrarily chosen spot may become a holy place, if tradition associates it with a Theophany, or visible manifestation of a Divine being
Joel, Theology of - ...
It is true that Joel does not dwell on specific great Acts of God in the past associated with the patriarchs, the bondage in Egypt, the exodus, the Theophany at Mount Sinai, and the conquest of Canaan
Christ in the Middle Ages - ...
The Incarnation can hardly be said to have been regarded by Maximus as more than a Theophany, and it was by no means limited to Jesus. By his seeming recognition of the historical life of Christ he can have meant only to set forth belief in a Theophany which had the effect of furthering and facilitating the rise of men above theophanies to the archetypal (cf
Sacrifice And Offering - Not that sacrifice could be offered at any spot the worshipper might choose; it must be one hallowed by the tradition of a Theophany: ‘in every place where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee’ ( Exodus 20:24 RV Solomon - 1 Kings 3:4 ) makes the sacrifice at Gibeon more orthodox; the dream becomes a Theophany; in 2 Chronicles 7:1 ; 2 Chronicles 7:3 fire comes down from heaven
Exodus, Theology of - At last, they arrive at Mount Sinai and experience the presence of the Lord in a Theophany of lightning and storm (chap
Jacob - Arrived at Bethel, he added an altar ( Genesis 35:7 ) to the monolith he had erected on his previous visit, and received in a Theophany, for which in mood he was well prepared, a renewal of the promise of regal prosperity
Miracle - Walking on the water is a Theophany; Jesus' words of self-revelation echo Exodus 3:14 literally, "I am" (Mark 6:50 )
Ezekiel, Theology of - The chariot comes in a storm, the sign of a Theophany
Assumption of Moses - 449) that ‘the Theophany in 10 comes in well after the story of the ideal saint Taxo in 9, but very badly after the description of the wicked priests and infers in vii
Fire - Cheyne), ‘Theophany’ (G
Fire - Cheyne), ‘Theophany’ (G
Virgin Birth - In fact, as Professor Briggs has pointed out, ‘the Annunciation represents the conception of Jesus as due to a Theophany
Feasts And Festivals of Israel - Trumpets are associated with the Theophany on Sinai (Exodus 19:16,19 )
Prophet, Prophetess, Prophecy - Isaiah's call in chapter 6 involved the four significant elements: a Theophany, the purification of the prophet's lips and heart, the commission to "Go!" and the content of the message he was to proclaim