"MINISTERING SPIRITS" The Angel Of The Lord INTRODUCTION 1. We have seen that there are many references to angels in the Old Testament... a. The Hebrew word malak (found 103 times in the OT) simply means "messenger" b. It can refer to a human messenger - e.g., 1Ki 19:2 c. It can refer to a divine messenger - Gen 28:12 1) Supernatural or heavenly beings sent as messengers to men 2) Agents who carry out the will of God - ISBE 2. In our previous survey of angels in the Old Testament... a. We noted many references to "the Angel of the Lord"
- e.g., Gen 16:10 b. Who speaks in the first person, as though it was the Lord Himself c. You will note that some translations capitalize "Angel" (e.g., NKJV) 3. Who is "the Angel of the Lord"...? a. "This phrase is especially employed to denote the Lord himself in that form in which he condescends to make himself manifest to man" - Barnes (commentary on Gen 16:10) b. "It seems to denote some person of the Godhead in angelic form." - ibid. -- Indeed, many believe that it was Jesus Christ, the Son of God in pre-incarnate form, sometimes called "the Angel of the Theophany" [Could this be? What other explanations might there be? In answer to such questions, let's take a closer look at some of the...] I. APPEARANCES OF THE ANGEL OF THE LORD A. TO HAGAR... 1. When she was in the wilderness - Gen 16:7-14 2. The Angel speaks as though he was the LORD - Gen 16:10-12 3. Note carefully Gen 16:13 a. It was "...the LORD who spoke to her" b. She called His name "You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees" c. She said "Have I also here seen Him who sees me?" B. TO ABRAHAM... 1. When he was about to sacrifice Isaac - Gen 22:9-19 2. The Angel speaks in the first person as though he were God a. "you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." - Gen 22:12b b. "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD...blessing I will bless you..." - Gen 22:15-18 C. TO MOSES... 1. At Mount Sinai, in the burning bush - Exo 3:1-6 2. The Angel identifies himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - Exo 3:6 D. TO ISRAEL... 1. The Angel of God led the Israelites out of Egypt - Exo 14:19; cf. Num 20:16 2. God's angel led Israel through the wilderness - Exo 23:20-23; cf. 32:34; 33:2 a. Note that God says "My Name is in Him" b. This angel was called "the angel of His presence"
- Isa 63:9; cf. Exo 33:14-15 [There are other examples where "the Angel of the Lord" speaks as the LORD in the first person (e.g., Num 22:32) or where the Angel and the LORD are described interchangeably (e.g., Judg 6:11-14). So, just who was "the Angel of the Lord"? Here are two...] II. EXPLANATIONS FOR THE ANGEL OF THE LORD A. AN ANGEL WITH A SPECIAL COMMISSION... 1. Acting as God's representative or ambassador 2. One problem some pose with this explanation: implied is the ability of the Angel of the Lord to forgive sin, something only God can do - cf. Exo 23:20-23 B. JESUS CHRIST, THE PRE-INCARNATE SON OF GOD... 1. A kind of temporary pre-incarnation of the second person of the Godhead 2. If the Angel of the Lord were the pre-Incarnate God the Son a. Then the term 'Angel' would be taken in its root sense of 'Messenger' b. Making the pre-incarnate Word of God 'the Messenger of God' 3. Evidence offered for this explanation a. The Messiah to come is described as "the Messenger of the covenant" - Mal 3:1 1) So Jesus would be a "messenger" of the New Covenant 2) Could He then have been a "messenger" (angel) during the Old Covenant? b. Paul reveals that Israel in the wilderness: 1) Was nourished by "that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ" - 1Co 10:1-4 2) Tempted Christ - 1Co 10:9 3) Which some take to be a reference to the Angel of the Lord, the Angel of His Presence - cf. Isa 63:9; Exo 33: 14-15 4. But if Jesus was "the Angel of the Lord" where so mentioned in the Old Testament... a. He was the One sent to destroy Jerusalem after David's census - 2Sa 24:15-17; 1Ch 21:14-18,26-30 b. He was the One who slew 185,000 men of the army of Assyria - 2Ki 19:35; 2Ch 32:20-22; Isa 37:36; cf. Isa 63:9 c. Then again, Jesus is the One who will exercise judgment on those who know not God nor obey His gospel - cf. 2Th 1:7-9 CONCLUSION 1. Who was "the Angel Of The Lord"? I like what one wrote about the different explanations... a. "Each has its difficulties, but the last (Jesus in pre-incarnate form) is certainly the most tempting to the mind. Yet it must be remembered that at best these are only conjectures that touch on a great mystery." - J. M. Wilson, ISBE b. "It is certain that from the beginning God used angels in human form, with human voices, in order to communicate with man; and the appearances of the angel of the Lord, with his special redemptive relation to God's people, show the working of that Divine mode of self-revelation which culminated in the coming of the Savior, and are thus a foreshadowing of, and a preparation for, the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ." - ibid. c. "Further than this, it is not safe to go." - ibid. 2. We can be thankful that whoever was "the Angel of the Lord"... a. We have the fullness of God revealed in Jesus today - Col 2:9; cf. Jn 14:6-9 b. Jesus is indeed the "brightness of His glory and the express image of His person" - He 1:1-3 Unlike those in Old Testament times who may have wondered whether they had seen an angel or even God Himself, today we can know that in Jesus we see Deity as completely as humanly possible for us to comprehend! Have we obeyed Him who "by Himself purged our sins"...? - cf. He 1:3