“On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them” (Zechariah 12:8).
What is surprising to some is that the Trinitarian view of the Lord is manifested throughout the Old Testament. While Jewish people acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (c.f., the Jewish Passover), Rabbinic Jews do not acknowledge the presence of Jesus Christ. Though they are familiar with passages that indicate that no one who has seen the Father can live (c.f., Exodus 33:20), they may not realize that many have witnessed the Son who is the Lord’s earthly manifestation.
The intention of this blog is to enlighten those unfamiliar with the passages concerning the angel of the LORD. Much of my work here is directly attributable to and in appreciation of the work of Pastor Mike Winger. See his video on this topic here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryCyQ4N08Q0
THE ANGEL OF THE LORD
Jesus Christ is the angel of the LORD, witnessed by Abraham, Hagar, Moses, Gideon, and others. The Hebrew word used for the word “angel,” mal’akh, translates to “messenger,” “representative” or one who is “sent.” The word mal’akh appears in the Hebrew Scriptures 214 times. In 33% of those instances, the word mal’akh best translates as “the angel of the LORD rather than an angel. According to the Jews for Jesus (https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v14-n06/who-is-the-messenger/) the angel of the LORD is given the name Metatron in the Talmud, which “indicates a special relationship with God.” The Jews for Jesus state: “One meaning of meta and thronos, two Greek words, gives the sense of “one who serves behind the throne” of God. So the angel of the Lord is the primary messenger of God, the one sent by God, the one who represents God.”
I have pasted passages from the Old Testament that indicate (1) the angel of the LORD appears visibly and audibly to people; (2) the angel of the LORD refers to Himself as both apart from God in the third person and as God in the first person; (3) the angel of the LORD provides and blesses, not as a representative of God but as God Himself; (4) the angel of the LORD is omniscient; (5) the angel of the LORD is omnipotent; (6) He accepts worship and sacrifice and (7) those to whom He appears recognize Him as God. In summary, the angel of the LORD who bears the qualities of the LORD is the LORD. He has defined Himself that way.
THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a 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.”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
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.
There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from 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.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.
“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.
Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”
So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
The above passages make it clear that the angel of the LORD is the LORD, yet some remain skeptical. Atheists such as Bart Ehrman point to Galatians 4:14 to claim that the Apostle Paul’s conception of Jesus was as “an angel of God.” Paul said “Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.” While Paul was offering a compliment to the Galatians for their warm welcome and appreciation, atheists claim he was reducing Jesus’ status to an angel.
Not only does this claim fail to take into account the context of the Galatians’ welcome for Paul, the claim fails to take into account the eighty-one times in the Gospels in which Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man. The words “Son of Man” were even more significant to Jews than “Son of God” would have been, since the former had divine implications in the Book of Daniel (c.f., Mark 14:62; Daniel 7:13). For this reason (as noted in Mark 14:62), the Pharisees declared Jesus to be blasphemous and called for His execution.
Jesus was well-aware of His position in the Trinity. John 1:18 indicates that “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” As the angel of the LORD, Jesus made Himself known in the Old Testament to Hagar, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, and others. As Christ incarnate, Jesus made Himself known to hundreds in the New Testament. He even referenced His earlier words as the great I AM in statements such as the following (John 8:58): “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
Today, Jesus still makes Himself known to any and all who call on Him. If you haven’t yet done so, consider calling on Jesus today. He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.
Thank you for your time.