In the Bible, in the first book called Genesis, YHWH creates and interacts with mankind. These 5' x10' banners depict two of the many Genesis stories.

In both stories, the human who sees YHWH is moved to give Him a new name which reflects the facet of His character that each has experienced.

These and three other banners reside in the sanctuary of Community of Believers Christian Church in Northeast Ohio.

   
 

Hagar is the first person in the history of mankind to actually see YHWH in a human form as "the Angel of the LORD." YHWH appears to this Egyptian woman, who has been banished to the wilderness to pay for another's mistake.

Orthodox Christian theology commonly interprets "the Angel of the LORD" as Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, who "became flesh and dwelt among us." I wantedto depict Him expressing His love and care. His greatest act of love was to hang from nails on a cross so every human could have a relationship with YHWH. This is why I have depicted "the Angel of the LORD" showing Hagar the nailprints in His hands. While this act is not recorded in the story, it symbolizes the kind of sacrificial love He was expressing.

Can YHWH do that? I think so. He is infinite and exists outside our time-space continuum and our three-dimensional cosmos.

I also took the liberty to give "the Angel of the LORD" wings. Western art routinely gives angels wings. But I discovered that, in the Bible, the only winged heavenly creatures are the cherubim, who had many wings and many eyes. No angels have wings in the Bible. They all look just like humans.

On the other hand, many Bible verses describe YHWH as having wings. With the exception of one passage describing the cherubim, the Bible supports wing-imagery for God only.

When I think of Hagar's plight in the wilderness, and YHWH's protective intervention, Psalm 91:4 comes to mind:

"He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you shall trust."

YHWH had given Abram a promise. "Now the LORD had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country... to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you... and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you, and in you all the peoples of the earth shall be blessed."

Abraham's faith in YHWH was tested when YHWH asks for Isaac, the child of His promise. How could Abraham's descendants grow into a nation through which "all peoples would be blessed" if the only son of Abraham and Sarah was sacrificed?

As Abraham and Isaac made their way to Mt. Moriah, Isaac observed "My father... behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham replied, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." Then Abraham proceeded to build the alter and place the wood in order. And when no lamb appeared, he bound Isaac and laid him on the alter and took the knife to slay his son at YHWH's bidding.

But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said "Here I am." Then YHWH said "Do not lay your hand on the lad... for now I know the your fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me." Then Abraham looked, and there behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. So Abrahan took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

And Abraham called the place "Jehovah Jireh: the LORD will provide."

In our depiction of this difficult story, David Bair and I agreed that YHWH's provision, the ram, needed to be in the foreground. David chose to depict the Angel of the LORD as a dove, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and a symbol for peace. In David's scene, the knife is on the ground already, as Abraham celebrates YHWH's provision with his son.