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