Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who is “The Angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament?

For many generations people have pondered the identity of “The Angel of the Lord (sometimes referred to as “The Angel of God”). We are first introduced to this person in Genesis 16:7-14.
“Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.” Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. “He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.” Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered”.
Immediately after being introduced to “The Angel of the Lord” one finds that he is strikingly different from most angels. He tells Hagar “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count”. Angels do not usually have the ability to multiply one’s descendants. It is possible that he is just bringing a message from God, but he presents the message as if it is his own. 

If he is the Lord, he may be speaking of himself in third person, but it would seem odd if he was. Hagar calls him “Lord” and “God”, and believes that she should be dead for seeing Him. She then said to the One who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”.

This writer is of the conclusion that “The Angel of the Lord” is Deity and possibly the pre-incarnate Jesus.

The Angel of the Lord possesses the characteristics of Deity. “The Angel of the Lord” spoke as God.
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:15-18).
“Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ “He said, ‘Lift up now your eyes and see that all the male goats which are mating are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. ‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’” (Genesis 31:11-13).

The Angel of the Lord accepted Worship

Throughout Scripture, one is taught that they should not worship men or angels, but only God. In fact, angels usually refuse worship as in (Revelation 22:8-9).
 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” 
The command is always to only “worship God”. Even Jesus said “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve”. It is very clear from Scripture that only God is deserving of worship.

Although the “Angel of the Lord” is called an “angel”, he accepted and received worship. The Angel of the Lord is worshiped in (Joshua 5:13-6:2), and in (Judges 6:19-27).

The Angel of the Lord addressed the entire nation

Usually in the Bible, angels will speak to groups or individuals, but it is God who speaks to nations. There are a few occasions where “The Angel of the Lord” addressed the entire nation.
“Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? “Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’” When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD”. (Judges 2:1-5).
In this passage “The Angel of the Lord” rebukes the ENTIRE Nation of Israel. Angels often bring messages, but never one’s of this magnitude to all of Israel. What is also striking about this passage is the fact that he claims to be the creator of the covenant and the one who brought them out of Egypt. If that is not “God”, who is?

The overwhelming evidence is that “The Angel of the Lord” is Deity. What part of the Godhead is up for debate, but there seems to be evidence to the idea that “The Angel of the Lord” is actually the pre-incarnate, pre-existing Christ. Especially when one considers that all the appearances of The Angel of the Lord cease after the incarnation.

1Corinthians 10:4 states “and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ”. If the spiritual rock in the wilderness was Christ prior to when He came in the flesh, there is a good possibility that “The Angel of the Lord” is Christ too.

Ultimately, the word “angel” simply means “messenger”. A messenger that brings a message from God, speaks as God, and is worshipped like God, must be God.

By Cliff Sabroe

Who was Mary Magdalene? Was she the Woman Caught in Adultery in (John 8)? Was she the sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet in (Luke 7)?

Throughout history there has been speculation about the woman called “Mary Magdalene”. Sadly, because of the different theories, many have formed false ideas about this Biblical character. Here is what the Bible teaches us about Mary Magdalene.

She is from Magdala (Luke 8:2)
The term Magdalene means “one from Magdala”. Magdala was a fishing village on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. 

Jesus cured her of evil spirits 
“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out” (Luke 8:1-2). 
“Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons” (Mark 16:9)
She witnessed the crucifixion 
“Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Matthew 27:55-56)
She stayed by the tomb after the crucifixion
“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb” (Matthew 27:61).
An Angel appeared to her after the resurrection
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen...” (Matthew 28:1-6)
She was one of the first to see the risen Jesus
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,b “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)
Besides a few other parallel passages, this is all the Bible reveals about Mary. She should not be supposed to be the Woman caught in adultery in John 8, nor the sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet in John 7. She was one of the earliest followers of Jesus, her dedication is admirable and legacy lives on through Scripture. 

Quotes from NASB and ESV Bibles
By Cliff Sabroe

Who is Lucifer?

“Lucifier” is a term that is often applied to the Devil. Is “Lucifer” Satan? Why doesn’t my Bible use the term “Lucifer”?

“Lucifer” in our English Bibles
The word “Lucifer” is found only in the King James Version of the Bible in (Isaiah 14:12). The passage reads,
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12 KJV).
As mentioned, the King James Version is the only English translation that uses this term, in other translations it is rendered “morning star, son of the dawn!” (NIV), “O Day Star, son of Dawn!” (ESV), “O star of the morning, son of the dawn!” (NASB) and “O day-star, son of the morning!” (ASV).

Background and Definition
The word used in this passage is the Hebrew term “helel”, which literally means “star of the morning” as translated by the NASB. When the King James Bible was formed in the 1600’s, the translators employed the Latin term “Lucifer”  which also means “light bearer” or “morning star” which is most likely in reference to the planet Venus.

The word “Lucifer” is not a good translation, nor even a transliteration of the Hebrew term. All of the more accurate versions of the Bible since the KJV have corrected this error.

Who is “Lucifer” or “The Morning Star”?
The idea that “Lucifer” is the name of the Devil in (Isaiah 14:12), comes from a misunderstanding of what the prophet Isaiah is discussing. In (14:4) the reader will note that the audience of this declaration is “the King of Babylon” (possibly Nebuchadnezzar). The Babylonian Kings thought very highly of themselves. They would have thought they were great like the “star of the morning”, but they were no match for the power of God. God who is above all the stars and the heavens has the power to destroy even the most powerful kings. For Isaiah writes in verses 22-23 of the same chapter,
“I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors, offspring and posterity,” declares the LORD. I will also make it a possession for the hedgehog and swamps of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts:” 
Lucifer is the Latin word for “morning star” which in the context of Isaiah 14 is in reference to the King of Babylon and not the Devil.

By Cliff Sabroe