I have always had an interest in angels, wondering if we see them or encounter them more than we realise. They are God’s agents, his heavenly ministers who are sent by God to help, protect and attend to us.
These would be introduced in the bible as an angel of the Lord. Today’s subject is not about an angel but the angel of the Lord.
I believe that the angel of the Lord is Jesus Christ himself, the second person of the trinity. He appears on a number of occasions in the Old Testament. His appearance is called a ‘Christophany’. As this series is about shadows of Jesus and not Him in person, perhaps it shouldn’t be included in this series, but it’s such an interesting subject, I couldn’t resist.
Let’s look at the evidence.
The first recorded appearance in the bible of the angel of the Lord is found in Genesis 16 where he appears to Hagar the servant of Abraham’s wife, Sarah.
Sarah had treated Hagar so badly after she had become pregnant with Abraham’s child that she ran away. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her to go back. With the command came a promise that only God can give as the giver of life;
The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” (Genesis 16:10)
After this Hagar said;
So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”(Genesis 16:13)
She attributes this appearance to God.
The next appearance was in Genesis 18 when 3 men appear to Abraham and Sarah to announce her pregnancy and the judgement against the city of Sodom where Lot is living.
And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)
It clearly states that one of these men is the Lord.
The angel of the Lord also appeared to Jacob and wrestled with him all night. (Genesis 32)
Jacob says an interesting thing after this encounter;
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Genesis 32:30)
I’m sure you remember the story of Moses and the burning bush.
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. (Exodus 3:2)
I must confess I had forgotten that it was the angel who spoke. In verse 6 the angel explains who he is;
And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:6)
Ok, I could go on, but I will do one more.
God promises to send an angel to guard the children of Israel
Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. (Exodus 23:20-22)
The people were told to obey this angel because “My name is in him.” This has to be Jesus because God does not share His name or His glory with anyone else. Consider what the prophet Isaiah says;
I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other (Isaiah 42:8)
So gathering all these (and many more) accounts of these appearances of the angel of the Lord, we can make a strong case for this angel being God himself in the form of Jesus Christ.
(1) He is identified as ‘The Lord’ or God.
(2) He had the power to give life (Genesis 16:10)
(3) He had the ability to know all things (Genesis 16:13, Exodus 3:7)
(4) He was called the judge of the whole earth, a title that belongs only to God (Genesis 18:25)
(5) He had authority to forgive or not forgive sins which only God can do (Exodus 23:21)
(6) The angel of the Lord accepted praise and worship on a number of occasions.
When Jesus appeared as himself, as a man who walked on this earth for about 33 years, no wonder people were amazed at His authority. I find it incredible to think that when He taught the people, He taught them the key moments of Israel’s history, as someone who was physically present at the time. A first hand witness!