All Bible texts are from the King James Version
Before we get into this study let us first have a look at what the word angel means. In Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Hebrew Chaldee number 4397:-
"malak; from an unused root mean. to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; spec of God, i.e. and angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher):- ambassador, angel, king, messenger."
Although this meaning is quite different from today's meaning:- "angel - divine messenger; attendant spirit (Guardian ~)." The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary; it is what the Old Testament writers mean when they wrote this word.
The first passage we will look at is found in Genesis.
"And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth." Genesis 48:15,16.
Jacob blesses his son Joseph, and starts talking about God. Then he makes a rather unusual statement - "The Angel which redeemed me from all evil". If an angel could have redeemed mankind, than the Son of God would not have come down to this earth to live a life of poverty, and die on the cross to save us. No, the only one that can save us from all evil is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21). So here the word "Angel" actually refers Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ although He wasn't called this yet.
Let us now go through some of the Old Testament Scriptures which mention ‘the angel of the Lord’.
"And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.
And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren." Genesis 16:7-12.
Hagar is fleeing from Sarai when the angel of the Lord calls and talks with her. In the very next text Hagar herself tells us who this angel is.
"And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?" Genesis 16:13.
The "angel of the Lord" is none other than the Lord Himself. A little later on we find the angel of the God talking with Hagar.
"And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.
And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer." Genesis 21:17-20.
In verse 18 the angel says I will make him a great nation, yet in verse 20 it tells us that God was with the lad. In the book of Job chapter 12:23 where Job is talking about the Lord (see verse 9), we read, "He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again." So if it is the Lord who increases or destroys nations, and angel of the Lord said He would make Ishmael a great nation, then the angel of the Lord was actually the Lord.
"And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:" Genesis 22:11, 15-16.
Abraham is called by "the angel of the Lord" twice, then the second time telling Abraham that He is the Lord.
"And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. . .
I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred." Genesis 31:11, 13.
"The angel of the God" spoke to Jacob in a dream. This angel then goes on to say that he is the God that Jacob vowed to at Bethel. This vow can be read in Genesis 28:20-22, it was to the Lord God.
"And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I." Exodus 3:2-4.
Moses first sees "the angel of the Lord" in the flame, then God calls unto him from the midst of the bush. Now let us see who this angel says he is.
"Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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 upon God." Exodus 3:6.
The angel is none other than the Lord God. This is confirmed in the New Testament:-
"And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,
Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold." Acts 7:30-32.
In the story of Balaam and Balak found in Numbers 22 we find "the angel of the Lord" mentioned quite a few times. But we will take this story up near the end of this chapter.
"And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak. . .
And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak." Numbers 22:35, 38.
In verse 35 we are told that Balaam could only speak the words that "the angel of the Lord" spoke to him. Whereas we find that in verse 38 Balaam tells Balak that only the words that God gives him, he can speak. Again we can see that the Lord God is spoken of as an angel.
"And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you." Judges 2:1
Who made the Israelites leave Egypt, brought them into the land of promise and made a covenant with them? None other that the Lord God, later knows as Jesus Christ, the I AM, and the angel of the Lord, who are all one and the same person.
"And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.
And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?" Judges 6:11-14.
"The angel of the Lord" here appears to Gideon, yet he called him my Lord, then it says the Lord looked upon Gideon and spoke to him. To make this even clearer let us see what happens when the angel departs.
"And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.
And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die." Judges 6:22, 23.
Gideon thought he was going to die because he saw "the angel of the Lord", or God.
"But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these." Judges 13:21-23.
"The angel of the Lord" appears first to Manoah’s wife, then to both of them after which Manoah thinks they will die as they have seen who? That’s right God. The very next verse Manoah’s wife calls him the Lord. Again all one and the same person.
By finding out the original meaning of words and comparing Scripture with Scripture we can see that quite often in the Old Testament that "the angel of the Lord" or "the angel of God" is none other that the Lord God, who walked this earth as Jesus Christ.
© S. D. Goeldner
© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated July, 2020.
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