God Manifested: In the Flame and in the Flesh
by David A. Huston
This article is presented to show that the biblical God is the One who has
manifested Himself in the flesh.
AS MOSES WAS LEADING HIS FLOCK through the desert, he came to Horeb, the
mountain of God. The Bible tells us that the Angel of the LORD appeared to him
“in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush” (Exodus 3:2). Having noticed that
the bush was not being consumed by the fire, Moses turned to investigate. When
the Angel saw that he had turned aside to look, He called to Moses from the
midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” Then, after beckoning to Moses to
draw near, the One in the flame identified Himself saying, “I am the God of your
father” the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. “The Bible
says, “And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus
We see in this passage a burning bush, a man named Moses, and God Himself,
speaking to Moses out of a flame in the midst of the bush. What exactly was this
flame of fire? It was certainly a supernatural phenomenon, since the bush burned
without being consumed. But it was more than a phenomenon. The flame was a
manifestation of God. How do we know this? Because the Bible says that Moses was
afraid to look, not upon the flame, but upon God; yet the flame was the only
thing visible in the bush.
There are many passages in the Bible that teach that God is invisible. John
1:17, 1 Timothy 1:17, and Hebrews 11:27 are a few. Yet, this passage says that
Moses, having realized who this was speaking to him, was afraid to look upon
God. This is because God has the ability to manifest Himself. In the Old
Testament, a manifestation of God was any kind of visible appearance of God,
often called by scholars a theophany. In this case, God appeared as a flame of
fire in the midst of a burning bush to speak to Moses. Jesus confirmed this when
He said, “Have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage,
how God spoke to him” (Mark 12:26). He did not say the flame spoke; He said God
did. What Moses saw was the flame; yet seeing the flame was considered to be
equal to looking upon God Himself.
This means that we could say that God was manifested in the flame. We could also
say that the flame was an image, a visible representation, of the invisible God.
Clearly, God was in the flame; therefore, to see the flame was to see God.
Since no one struck a match to ignite this fire, it is clear that the flame came
from God in the sense that God originated it. As the originator, God was the
father of the flame” He brought it forth. Yet, God and the flame were one. We can
make a distinction between them, but we cannot separate them into two. The flame
was the manifestation of the One who originated it.
The God who was in the flame was the same God Jesus referred to as His Father.
In John 17:3, Jesus identified His Father as “the only true God.” In 1
Corinthians 8:6, Paul affirmed that “for us there is one God, the Father.” And
in Jeremiah 10:10, the prophet declared, “The LORD is the true God.” The One in
the burning bush called Himself “The LORD God of your fathers”(Exodus 3:15). He
is therefore the true God, the only true God.
In the burning bush account, we see that there was but one mediator between God
and Moses: the flame. This means that to come to God, Moses had to come through
the flame. In this sense, to receive the flame was to receive the God who was in
the flame. Conversely, to deny (or reject) the flame was to not have the God who
was in the flame. In other words, to reject the manifestation of God was to
reject the God who was being manifested. Yet, when Moses believed in the flame,
he was in fact believing in the God who was in the flame.
When we discuss this story, we can speak of the flame, we can speak of God in
the flame, or we can speak of God apart from the flame. While at times it may be
important to make distinctions between God and His manifestation in the flame,
we should never think of the flame as an entity that is separate from God.
Neither should we think of it as a separate divine being from the God who
originated it. The fire was God, manifested in the flame.
From Flame to Flesh
In 1 Timothy 3:16, Paul wrote, “And without controversy great is the mystery of
godliness: God was manifested in the flesh….” The word “flesh” means humanity,
or specifically a human being. In the encounter with Moses, God was manifested
in the flame, but when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, God was manifested in
a human being. The same God, only a different manifestation.
When the Spirit gave Peter the revelation, He confessed this Man as “the Christ,
the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Paul described Him as “the image of
the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Just as the flame was a visible image of
the invisible Deity in the Old Testament, in the New Testament the only-begotten
Son was the image. In 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Paul wrote, “All things are of God,
who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ [just as God brought Moses
to Himself through the flame], and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
that is, that God was in Christ [just as God was in the flame] reconciling the
world to Himself….”
Moses beheld a fiery image in a bush; the apostles beheld a human image on a
cross. This is why Jesus said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the
Father…” (John 14:9). The flame could have said the same thing to Moses, since
he who was seeing the flame was seeing the Father.
In John 8:42 Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I
proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.”
The Man, Jesus, had His origin God. It was God who conceived the idea of
manifesting Himself in the flesh and then brought forth the conception in the
womb of Mary (1 Peter 1:19-20; Luke 1:35). Yet in John 10:30 Jesus stated, “I
and My Father are one,” just as the flame and the God in the flame were one.
The Bible goes on to say, “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him.
Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which
of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work
we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make
Yourself God” (John 10:31-33). Of course, the flame had not made itself God;
God had made Himself a flame. Likewise with Jesus, God had made Himself a Man.
In 1 Timothy 2:5 Paul wrote, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God
and men, the Man Christ Jesus….” Moses came to God through the flame; in the
same way Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is the Man, Christ Jesus, who is the
Mediator between God and man. As Peter wrote, “For Christ also suffered once for
sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Yet, the Man is God Himself manifested in flesh, which means that God is His own
Mediator. He did not assign this role to another, but took it upon Himself. For
God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself “not to another but to
In John 13:20 Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives
whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”