In any standard reading of the Bible there are quite a few curious narrative depictions of supernatural events, unusual circumstances, or heroic individuals but one of the two great mysteries, starting way back in the Old Testament book of Genesis is the identity of the Angel of the LORD [Elohim/Yahveh]. This being has the authority of God and even God warns Moses that this one has the divine Name in Him and to obey His voice because He would not pardon their rebellions. There are times when God will say something and the next time it will be the Angel of the LORD speaking with the same authority, and not as the familiar angelic messengers from heaven that we are most familiar with, like Michael or Gabriel.
Besides a few unnamed ones here and there, such as the one who lost the wrestling match to Jacob in his dream or the Celestial Watchers who pronounced Heaven’s judgment against King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, whereby he would take on the nature of a beast of the field for a time because of his pride, until he humbled himself before God and recognized that He alone is sovereign and ruled in the kingdom of men (Cp. Daniel 4: 13-17). Among the scholarly circles and fundamental theological teaching in the Christian Church the Angel of the LORD is believed to be one of the pre-incarnate appearances (“theophany’s”) of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament period. That sounds quite plausible and there are certainly a few textual passages that seem to suggest just the very point, except the first chapter of Hebrews, which is included at the end of this study. Be that as it may, it is still a fascinating and at a the same time baffling point to fully understand.
Genesis 16: 7a, 9-10
The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert. The angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants that they be too numerous to count.”
Genesis 22: 2, 9-12
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” He said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.”
Exodus 3: 1-6
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight-why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am!” “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”
Exodus 23: 20-22a
“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to Him and listen to what He says. Do not rebel against Him; He will not forgive your rebellion, since My name is in Him. If you listen carefully to what He says and do all that I say. . .”
NOTE: The name of God revealed to Moses was ‘Ehyeh’ (Exodus 3: 14) or the derivative, “Yah” (Psalms 68: 4; 83: 18).
Numbers 22: 20, 31, 34-35
That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.” Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned; I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.” The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
Deuteronomy 23: 5
Nevertheless, the LORD your God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing unto you because the LORD your God loved you.
Joshua 5: 13-15
Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or our enemies?” “Neither,” He replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my LORD have for His servant?” The commander of the LORD’S army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
Revelations 22: 8, 9a, 9b
And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship [do reverence] before the feet of the Angel, which showed me these things. Then He said to me, “See that you do it not; worship God (Revelations 19: 10; Colossians 2: 18).”
Judges 2: 1, 2b
The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to your forefathers. I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. Yet you have disobeyed Me. Why have you done this?’ ”
Judges 6: 19-23
Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them to him under the oak. The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock consuming the meat and bread. The angel of the LORD disappeared. When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!” But the LORD said to him, “”Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
Judges 13: 15-20, 21b-23
Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.” The angel of the LORD replied, “Even though you detain Me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the LORD.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the LORD). Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that we may honor You when Your word comes true?” He replied, “Why do you ask My name? It is beyond understanding [ineffable].” Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the LORD. And the LORD did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven (the sky), the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. Manoah realized it was the angel of the LORD. “We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God.”
Exodus 33: 20
But God said, “You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live!”
Hebrews 1: 2-5
In these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. Who being the brightness of His glory and the very image of His substance, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Being made so much better than the angels, He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, You are My Son, today I have begotten You? And again, I shall be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me? And when He again brings the Firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God [Elohim] worship Him.”
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