OceanSide church of Christ
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Angel of the Lord
by: Dalton Gilreath
Angelic beings have always been of great interest to me. While the Bible may not answer all of our questions about these creatures, we are certainly given ample insight into their unique characteristics. As you recall, the term angel simply means “a messenger”. Normally, we focus on the angels of God as that is what the term is referencing in scripture most commonly. Interestingly, there is one angel in particular that seems to stand out above others even though his identity is never revealed. This being is often referred to as “the angel of the Lord” (Gen 16:7 KJV). This angel is unlike any other based upon one primary characteristic.
Throughout the scriptures the angel of the Lord appears to be deity. For example, this same angel wrestled with Jacob and dislodged his thigh. After the match concludes Jacob claims to have “seen God face to face” (Genesis 32:30, cf. Hosea 12:3-5). This also appears to be the same angel who spoke with Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:2). Verse four tells us that “God called unto him out of the midst of the bush”. Furthermore, we remember that angels refuse worship (Revelation 22:8-9). Yet, this same angel accepted worship from Joshua and told him to remove his shoes just as He had previously told His servant Moses (Joshua 5:14-15).
We can conclude that the angel of the Lord is deity, yet also be certain He is not God the Father. In the book of Exodus, God tells the children of Israel that He will “send an angel” to watch over them as they traveled (23:20). However, in the next passage God tells them to obey this angel because His “name is in him”. Since God references the angel in the third person, we can be confident He is not God the Father.
We see the Holy Spirit and God the father often working in the lives of man throughout the Old Testament. However, where was Jesus during these many centuries? It seems logical to conclude He was there all along guiding their paths under the identity of the angel of the Lord. Of course, this same Christ lowered Himself even below angels in the first century as He became a man and gave His life for us (Hebrews 2:9). Today He sits at the right hand of God and guides us through His teachings just as He did the Israelites of old (Colossians 3:1). May God help each of us to “obey his voice” and “provoke him not” so our sins may be “pardoned” (Exodus 23:21).