This is a research paper I did for my Biblical Literature class. I think it’s also a good teaching opportunity on a debated topic. I may use it in a sermon or to teach a Sunday School class as well. Enjoy!
Throughout the Old Testament, the Angel of the LORD appears in various places to various people. The appearance of the Angel almost always preceded a major turn of events in Old Testament stories. We see this “Angel” in the book of Judges frequently. The identity of the Angel has long been debated. Some say this is just simply a messenger sent from God, but others argue this is a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ. Both sides have presented suggested evidence to support their theories. Most of the claims are based on grammatical usage in the text. Does the Bible ever directly tell us who the Angel is? What does the Biblical evidence say about the Angel?
The word “angel” comes from the Greek word, άγγελος. This means “messenger” or “one who is sent” (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 299). We know that Jesus was sent directly by God as seen in John 8:29. It is important to note that the Angel of the LORD doesn’t speak in third person, as other messengers seem to do. The Angel speaks in first person as if he is God. Judges 2:1a is an example this: “The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers.” The Angel is talking as God and not just for God. This happens time and time again throughout the Old Testament. The Hebrew for angel and messenger is used 213 times in the Old Testament. The phrase for “Angel of the LORD” is used 48 times in 45 verses in the Bible. We also see people giving the Angel reverence that usually only God receives. For example, in Joshua 5:14-15 we find Joshua fall “facedown” and taking off his sandals before the Angel. (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 300-301). This would imply that the Angel is more than just a messenger if Joshua is responding in worship to him.
In Genesis 18, Abraham gets three visitors. The text describes one of the three as “the LORD.” The other two are believed to just be angels. However, the text indicates that one of the men is God himself, a theophany (Pak, “BIB 110 Lecture Notes”, 22). If these people saw God face-to-face, why did they not die like God suggested in Exodus 33:20? The answer is simple. Either the Angel is not God or God came in the form of the Son (pre-incarnate). That would make this a Christophany in the Old Testament.
Daniel 3:25 also seems to have an appearance of Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar sees a fourth man in the fiery furnace after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was thrown in for not worshipping the image of gold. When Nebuchadnezzar sees the fourth man he exclaims, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” It is after that the Nebuchadnezzar seems to recognize the God of Israel as at least legitimate because he addresses the three men as “servants of the Most High God.”
Finally, we go to Exodus to look at the Angel appearing to Moses. In Exodus 3, the Angel of the LORD appears to Moses in a burning bush. The Angel actually says this in verse 6 which seems to be a clear hint of the Angel’s identity: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (“Fire Bible”, 410).
The case against the Angel being Divinity doesn’t seem to be as strong. Again, the scholars that say the Angel was only a representative of God use grammar and other linguistic evidence, and custom in the text to support their theory. The main argument is that saying the Angel is deity creates a problem for monotheists, such as the Jewish audience of the Old Testament (López, “Identifying the Angel of the LORD in the Book of Judges…” 15). However, we see the Godhead at work from the beginning. The claim is that the text clearly distinguishes the Angel from Yahweh.
This research project has further confirmed what I already had a strong belief in. The appearances of the Angel of the LORD are indeed pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. The Biblical evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of this. I even believe that God told us exactly who the Angel is on more than one occasion. There are a few Christophanies in the New Testament, too. Even though none of them are described as “the Angel of the LORD,” Jesus is the one who appears. Take the example of Saul’s conversion to Christianity while on the road to Damascus. Jesus appears to Saul, later known as Paul, in the same dramatic way that the Angel of the LORD reveals himself in the Old Testament (Newman, “Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children…”, 155). Christ’s appearance to Saul also brings about a major turn of events just like the Angel of the LORD did in the Old Testament. The people the Angel appears to also fall in worship when they realize who he is as well. Other angels told the people to not worship them. Along with the textual evidence, the Angel’s claims and messages indicate that the Angel of the Lord is actually a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. God had a plan from the very beginning and he has always used the Son to fulfill the plan.
“I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit… (Isaiah 57:15, NAS).”
The last two posts discussed the topic of humility and forgiving self. That brings us to the subject of forgiving others, be it minor infractions or heinous crimes committed against us. It is completely astonishing how people can walk for many years claiming the grace of God, but never forgive that one person in their life they deem “unworthy” of forgiveness When you begin to see through new spiritual spectacles, your heart will begin to melt for the offender as God’s heart melted for His offenders – you and I. It does not mean a person (or group of people) was justified in their actions; it means that you are now able to extend mercy and grace as Christ extended it to you.
Mercy is not being given something you do deserve (punishment for a crime). Grace, on the other hand, is receiving something you don’t deserve (a pardon). Like the woman in Matthew, the more forgiveness (love) you begin to realize you have been extended from God that you do not deserve, the more forgiveness you will begin to pour out to those who equally do not deserve it.
Isaiah 57:15 listed above is clear. God abides in two places: I dwell on a high and holy place (heaven), and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit (the one humbled before God). When you lower yourself, you will then be lifted up where Christ resides in the heavenly realm. One cannot be lifted by God lest they first lower themselves. You must see yourself from God’s standpoint. When you see yourself as better than someone, you have lifted yourself and you will have to be lowered; either by your own hand or the hand of the Almighty. The choice is yours. It’s simple mathematics.
Let’s say though that no one offended or harmed you personally. Maybe they just have a different skin color, nationality, speech, style, amount of money (less or more), etc. All over the world there are nations against nations because they don’t believe the same way. Do you think yourself better than a Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, Indian, Catholic, Baptist, etc? My Hispanic friends tell me that there is rivalry between Latinos: Spaniards, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and others. What about African Americans where the lighter skinned people think themselves better than darker skinned or vice versa? I believe it’s called colorism. Of course there is the ever common white against black. The list of prejudices is a bottomless pit. If you think yourself better than anyone, it is pride and God cannot grant you grace.
It’s time to understand the without forgiving others, you cannot be forgiven and without humility, we cannot forgive. They are inseparable. Then with this understanding, we need to learn how to forgive as Christ forgave wicked mankind. Then the next step is to purpose to apply it to everyone in your life. These aren’t my rules, but those of your Creator and the One who loves you beyond measure. There is nothing He commands from us that isn’t first for us.
“YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE, YOU who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, YOU ARE CONDEMNING YOURSELF, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1, NAS).
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE OTHERS, THEN YOUR FATHER WILL NOT FORGIVE YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS” (Matthew 6:14-15, NAS).
I hope you’ll come back next week for part IV as we continue to explore the subject of forgiveness that can only come from humility.
Peace and blessings,
Alexys V. Wolf
By Neil Anderson
By Neil Anderson
I’m currently writing a paper for a Biblical Literature class I’m taking. The topic is Christophany (the appearance of pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament). This is a very interesting topic. I should have it done and posted on here within a couple of weeks. Hang tight!
I was reading through Numbers the other day and came upon these verses:
“If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. (Numbers 14:8-10 ESV)
The Lord only asked of two things from the Israelites. He asked,
- 1. Do not rebel
- 2. Do not fear
Why was it so hard for them? I think it was because they were tired. They were tired slaves begging for relief. It took forever for Pharaoh to finally let them go. Then he chased them. Then they crossed over into a new land. They had no food. They had no water. They were exposed to the elements. And they were tired so they complained.
It didn’t stop there. If they wanted the land God had promised, they had to fight. One battle after another they entered against some pretty fierce competition. Can you hear the groans? They were tired. They were sick of fighting for what was promised to them. Their reaction was one of grumbling and complaining.
Life can be tiring. Every day we wake up and essentially fight the same battles. We fight our way through traffic to get to work. Then there is a situation or a person who grates on us all day long. We come home only to be hurried out the door to this or that activity with the kids. It’s endless and we get tired.
If we are born again, we have heaven to look forward to. One day, we will meet our Savior face to face. We will live in glory praising our Savior. But until then, we are on this journey called life. It can be overwhelming at times. It can be frustrating. And it can be scary. But we are never alone. We have the Lord who goes with us. He rides along in the traffic. Talk to Him. He knows our frustrations at work. Ask for guidance. He knows how busy the kids are. Use those opportunities to share Christ with other parents.
This life can be more pleasant if we simply focus on God rather than the negative. He walks with us through thick and thin. We can be filled with joy even during the mundane events of our day. Ask God to give you opportunities to serve someone else or share His love. There won’t be any more room for complaining; only praising.
By Neil Anderson
John 8;31, 32
If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free
We are more vulnerable to Satan’s deception than to any of his other schemes. Why? Because when he tempts you or accuses you, you know it, but when he deceives you, you don’t know it. If he can enter your church, your home, or your mind undetected and get you to believe a lie, he can control your life, home and ministry. Sad to say, he is doing just that across our land by deceiving many people.
You cannot overcome Satan’s deception by human reasoning; you can only do it by God’s revelation. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word s truth” (John 17:17). It is critical that when you put on the armor of God, you start with the belt of truth (Ephesians 6:14). The light of truth is the only valid weapon against the darkness of deception.
Here’s an encouraging letter from a young woman who was trapped in deception until Jesus Christ set her free as we walked through the steps to freedom:
Dear Dr. Anderson: I will always remember the day I came to you for counsel and prayer. Ever since that day I have felt such freedom. There are no more voices or feelings of heaviness in my brain. I’m even enjoying a physical sense of release. Satan has returned many times trying to clobber me with those old thoughts, but his hold on me has been broken.
I’ll never forget what you told me. You said that those negative thoughts about God and myself were lies from Satan. You said I have the power through Jesus Christ to rebuke Satan and get rid of the evil thoughts. It has taken me awhile to really believe that with all my heart, but lately I’ve decided to fight back–and it works!
Prayer: Today, Lord, I purpose not to lean on my own understanding or put more confidence in my reasoning than in Your revelation.
By Neil Anderson
Yesterday, I was watching the Today show. They were interviewing Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son. He was actually there because Billy, who will be 95 on his birthday in November, is releasing a new book. It’s filled with new thoughts from this great evangelist. Unable to do interviews himself, Franklin went in his father’s place.
As I listened to Franklin and his two minute interview, I thought about what it must be like for him living in his father’s shadow. There were questions asked about Billy’s health. There were inquiries into his quality of life and mental state. The interviewer, when the opportunity arose, always asked about Franklin’s father. Franklin graciously answered his questions but always returned to the gospel. He must have explained God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice three or four times in that short two minutes. It was amazing.
Franklin never once during this interview spoke of himself or his ministry. Each and every word spoken was about his earthly father and his heavenly Father. He used ever opportunity presented to speak of the gospel. I don’t know how many millions of people were watching, but I know they heard about Jesus’ love for them. They learned that God would stop at nothing to have a relationship with them. They were told the reason they were here on this earth.
The bible says, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Tim. 4:2 NASB) That is exactly what Franklin was doing. I imagine he prayed about this interview. And I imagine asked for the right words. God answered that prayer.
I guess I admire men like Billy and Franklin Graham. They have spent their lives sharing the gospel. They have come under scrutiny on many occasions. People have tried to trap them and present them with opportunities to sin and they have resisted. Their mission is clear. Share Jesus. And they do just that.
I don’t know if Franklin has lived in his father’s shadow but I do know that both he and Billy have lived in the Shadow of their Father in heaven. I would say that’s a perfect place to live.