Jesus-Christ: The Angel of the Lord

“For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. And the angel of the LORD went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies” (Isaiah 37:32-36).

I would like to begin by addressing the importance of recognizing and believing that Emmanuel and the Ancient of Days as being One God. Without having first grasped and accepted this truth, I would exhort you to read “Jesus Christ: The Almighty God” as it will be the springboard that can propel you over the barrier which is preventing you from acknowledging the divinity of Christ. Remember that an open heart to Bible truths is the tunnel through which the Holy Spirit can channel what the Lord has promised to all His sheep before His ascension: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).

Many believers have been challenged to detect the works and the person of Christ Jesus within the chapters of the Old Testament. Some may have whipped out their magnifying glasses to seek for the foot prints of the Lord. If Jesus is the main figure of the Holy Scriptures can He be absent from the Old Testament? If He is in fact present can He be easily detected? To unmask the Saviour of the world in His pre-incarnate state we must zoom in with our Christ detecting lenses into the language, the response, the interaction, of the divine personalities as the inspired Word unfolds from Genesis to Malachi.

The difficulty of recognizing the person and works of Jesus before His birth lies in our pre-suppositions, particularly in the false teaching which says that the Disciples of Christ no longer need to adhere to the Old Testament, and in our lack of fervent prayer for the proper understanding of the Holy Word. One generally encounters the Bible after having received a short synopsis of it. Is that concept wrong? Absolutely not. Can it damage the individual’s scriptural understanding? Absolutely! The best practice for those who are willing to extract the most out of the inspired Word is to approach it with a non-bias mind while allowing the Holy Spirit to unpack what He inspired. Before we delve into the suggestive topic be sure to brace yourself for our journey may be turbulent at times. May each and every one digest, with an open heart, what follows as once unseen and undetected truths of Scripture. To recognize Jesus in the Bible only when He is referred to as: the Son of Man, the Son of God, Emmanuel, the Messiah, the Christ, the Worthy Lamb is to be unaware of another title by which He is called: ‘The Angel of the Lord’. Shall we explore the Bible in order to explicitly apply ‘The Angel of the Lord’ to Christ. To begin with, there needs to be an analysis of the title itself as to the definite article ‘The’, which differentiates the entity to whom it is attributed as opposed to ‘an angel of the Lord’; it is not only applied to most of the titles of Jesus but it also adds uniqueness and particularity to its attribution. That being said how do we rectify Jesus as an angel? We must first establish an angelic name associated with the person of Jesus (Michael).

“And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down” (Revelation 12:7-10).

The name Michael, in the Hebrew form (Mikael), is defined as: (1) “Who is like God?” (2) An angel. No one else but Jesus ”… is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him (Colossians 1:15-16). Notice that in the first verse the notion of ownership is given to that same Michael therefore yielding that the angels belong to Him (Christ) as a supreme being and as creator. This scene is thus presenting Jesus in an angelic state before He became a man on earth. How is this exposition tied to the Old Testament? Even though this is unfolding in the last book of the New Testament, nonetheless, chronologically it falls in a time period prior to the story of creation as found in the book of Genesis. This non-sequential time aspect shall be clarified in another article.

We must take into consideration that ‘Jesus’ was not the name by which the Savior of the world was called prior to fulfilling His earthly mission. We find confirmation of this fact in the meaning of ‘Jesus’. The Messiah had to inherit the name ‘Jesus’ at the beginning of His redemptive work based on its salvific meaning: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). We can then conclude that the name by which the Lord is referred to during a certain period of time or within a specific mandate synchronizes with the duties He had to complete according to that name or title. Furthermore, each title can be considered as overlapping the preceding or the following based on its functionality and according to the mission for which it is given Him: Michael as the head angel, Emmanuel as God with us, Christ as the anointed One, The Groom as the spouse of the Church, The Angel of the Lord as the protecting and guiding angel. The latter phrase finds its meaning throughout the history of Israel but more universally in the seventh verse of psalm 34: “The Angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them”.

Jesus, as an angelic entity, is widely spread within the pages of the Old Testament. One first encounters ‘the Angel of the Lord’ in the story of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael: “ 7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I'm running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 9 Then the angel of the LORD told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.” 11 The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery ” (Genesis 16:7-11).

Notice the attributes of God through the words of the angel:
1. In verse 8 the formulated question parallels the one with which the Lord interrogated the devil in the book of Job: “The LORD said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the LORD, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’ ” Certainly not a coincidence. Be mindful that the omniscient Lord knew where both Hagar and Satan came from.
2. The blessing pronounced in verse 10 can only be promised by God for only He possesses that ability.
3. The Angel of the Lord foretells the future of Ishmael in the eleventh verse: ‘I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count’.
4. Before parting her way, the author’s and Hagar's last words as inscribed in verse 13 amplifies the true identity of the angel she encountered: “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.” Hagar makes explicit reference to the Angel of the Lord as Lord and concludes by affirming that she saw God.

One of the famous stories of the Bible which concerns Abraham’s prompt response to the Lord’s demand to offer Isaac upon mount Moriah vividly reveals the identity of the Angel of the Lord as Christ Jesus the Everlasting God. “ 11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.” 15 Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 “And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:11-18).

When Abraham was commissioned to offer his unique son, the Bible explicitly presents God as the initiator of the request: “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him…take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:1-2); but in verse 12 of the same chapter it seems as if the request may have come from the Angel of the Lord. The unison of the Godhead comes into play in this passage in order to inform mankind that there is no disparity in the execution of the will of God as a triune family. It is the last prepositional phrase (‘from me’) of verse 12—“Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me ”— that dictates the equality of the God with the Angel of the Lord. Once again we can discover just as in the previous story of Hagar a blessing is promised and pronounced by the Angel of the Lord but this time with a peculiar swearing language which is unique to God (‘By Myself I have sworn’):
15Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies” (Genesis 22:15-17). This phrase, solely attributed to God, does not go unnoticed in Jeremiah 49:13 and Isaiah 45:23.

“And the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?’ Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground” (Numbers 22:28,31). We come across the works of the angel of the Lord in the story of Balaam where He is demonstrating His ability to give speech to an animal, to open the eyes of a sinner who is unable to see a sinless being, and to give His commands to Balaam. “… the angel of the LORD said to him, ‘Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was contrary to me. ‘But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live.’ And Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, ‘I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back.’ But the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, ‘Go with the men, but you shall speak only the word which I shall tell you.’ So Balaam went along with the leaders of Balak” (Numbers 22:32-35).

In the book of judges the Angel of the Lord credits Himself as the deliverer of Israel: “Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.' But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? ‘Therefore I also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you. ‘And it came about when the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept. So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the Lord” (Judges 2:1-5).

Would God share His glory with one of His creatures? Would the Great God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob allow a simple angel to claim divinity? “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another…” (Isaiah 42:8). “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last (Isaiah 48:11-12). “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17: 5).

A few chapters later the Angel of the Lord appears at two different instances to the parents of Samson who did not recognize that the man who visited them was in reality the God of heaven and earth until the end of the encounter: “ 2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. 3 Then the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman, and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. 4 “Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5 “For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 7 “But he said to me, 'Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'” 8 Then Manoah entreated the LORD and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom Thou hast sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.” 9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came the other day has appeared to me.” 11 Then Manoah arose and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 And Manoah said, “Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy's mode of life and his vocation?” 13 So the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Let the woman pay attention to all that I said. 14 “She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded.” 15 Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a kid for you.” 16 And the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, “Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD.” For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD. 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?” 18 But the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” 19 So Manoah took the kid with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD, and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 Now the angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah or his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. 22 So Manoah said to his wife, ‘We shall surely die, for we have seen God’ ” (Judges 13:2-22).

This passage presents many identities of the Lord. First of all, the narrator reveals Him as ‘the angel of the Lord’ (v.3). Secondly, Manoah’s wife presents Him as ‘a man of God’ (v.6). Thirdly, Manoah petitions the Lord for His name but only gets the following reply: ‘It is marvelous’ (v.18). Lastly, at His disappearance the couple knew it is God who was in their company (v.22).

“Jacob heard that Laban's sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2 And Jacob noticed that Laban's attitude toward him was not what it had been. 3 Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” 4 So Jacob sent word to Rachel and Leah to come out to the fields where his flocks were. 5 He said to them, “I see that your father's attitude toward me is not what it was before, but the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I've worked for your father with all my strength, 7 yet your father has cheated me by changing my wages ten times. However, God has not allowed him to harm me. 8 If he said, 'The speckled ones will be your wages,' then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, 'The streaked ones will be your wages,' then all the flocks bore streaked young. 9 So God has taken away your father's livestock and has given them to me. 10 “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted. 11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob.' I answered, 'Here I am.' 12 And he said, 'Look up and see that all the male goats mating with the flock are streaked, speckled or spotted, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now leave this land at once and go back to your native land'” (Genesis 31:1-13).

Jacob recognizes the messenger as ‘The Angel of God” meanwhile Christ identifies Himself to Jacob as the ‘God of Bethel’ and reminds him that He is the One with whom Jacob had the encounter in Genesis 35.

“Now Israel's eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. 11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.” 12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel's knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel's left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel's right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim's head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh's head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn. 15 Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, 16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm--may he bless these boys. May they be called by my name and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and may they increase greatly upon the earth” (Genesis 48:10-16).

Notice how Jacob, in the last verse, intentionally declares that ‘the Angel’ is God by identifying Him not only as the One who delivered him but also as the One who shall bless his sons. Just as the Holy Spirit were to come and testify of Christ after His ascension (John 15:26) Jacob, in a similar fashion, testified of the identity and works of Christ prior to His incarnation. May we hop over to another well known passage of Scripture which presents the encounter of Moses with the burning bush where the presence of the Angel of the Lord has barely been noticed. “Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” (Exodus 3:1-6).

The Bible is not presenting two entities from within the bush. The interchanging names of ‘God’ and ‘the Angel of the Lord’ is not done on the basis to cause confusion but rather to explicitly inform the reader that the divine being in question is Himself the self-attributor of these titles. Since the purpose of this exposition is to identify ‘the Angel of the Lord’ as Jesus we find a particular NAME given Moses by the burning bush that is repeated by Jesus during one of His confrontations with the Pharisees. In verse 14 of Exodus 3, God shares with the future leader of Israel a name by which to present Him: “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” In John 8:58, Christ reveals to the Pharisees His eternality by overcastting His existence against that of Abraham who had a beginning and an end even though His years in the flesh were not greater than that of Abraham: “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” When Christ identified Himself to the Pharisees as the ‘I AM’ who spoke to Moses He is also reassuring the doctors of the Law (then) and the readers of the Law (then and now) He is in fact ‘The Angel of the Lord’.

“The Angel of the Lord” also appeared in Judges 5:23; 6:11; 13:3, 13; 2 Samuel 24: 16; 1 Kings 19:7; 2 Kings 1:3; 2 Kings 19:35; 1 Chronicles 21:12; Zechariah 3:1;

“… the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish-- the very works that I do-- testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. “And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. ‘You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.’ You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:36-40).

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" Matthew 4:17