The Angel Of The LORD
We may ask ourselves since Jesus existed in eternity past, what was His role in the Old
Covenant (testament)? On numerous occasions a heavenly messenger is intervening in the affairs of certain individuals who is identified as the Angel of the LORD, or Angel of God. Who is this Angel of the LORD and was this angel, in fact, not just a messenger of God, but God Himself?
Our first scripture reference is found in Gen.16:7-13. " 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. 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?"
This is a fascinating verse of scripture. For in the Bible's introduction of this messenger called "The Angel of the LORD [YHWH]" it is quick to identify this person as actually being God Himself. And yet at the same time being one sent by God. This reminds one of Jn.1:1, " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ". Notice the text puts it together very plainly, " The angel of YHWH found her..." - vs.7. "The angel of YHWH said unto her, I will multiply thy seed..." - vs.10. In vs.11 the angel of YHWH says, " YHWH hath heard thy affliction." Notice He does not say, I have heard thy affliction, but rather that another, YHWH, had. But then vs.13 goes on to say that it was in fact YHWH that was speaking to her and she (Hagar) called Him God.
Let's look at another example. Gen.31:11-13. " 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." Here the Angel of God told Jacob, " I am the God of Bethel " and that Jacob had anointed the pillar and vowed a vow "unto me". When we look at that particular event in Gen.28 we discover that the God that the Angel of God claimed to be is none other than, " The LORD God of Abraham...and the God of Isaac " - Gen.28:13. Vs.18 is where Jacob anointed the pillar and vs. 20 is where he vowed a vow.
Moses also had encountered this same person called the Angel of the LORD or Angel of God. He also found that the Angel of the LORD was in fact that same LORD. For example, let's look at the third chapter of Exodus. Ex.3:2-6, " 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. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 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."
Now notice a couple of things about this passage of scripture. First, it is the angel of YHWH that appears to him in the bush. But throughout the passage the angel of YHWH is called YHWH, and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This same person goes on to say in vs.14, " I AM THAT I AM.
It is precisely at this point that the connection to the pre-incarnate Logos, the Word of God, is made. We recall again the passage in John 8:58 where Jesus made the statement, " Before Abraham was, I am." You will notice that this actually began back in vs.24 where Jesus said literally, " I said therefore to you that ye will die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am, ye will die in sins your ". This is a word for word translation from the greek sentence structure.
At this point they began to seek some clarification vs.25. They obviously believed He existed because they could see Him and talk to Him. What on earth, then, could He have meant by, If ye believe not that I am? This was a profound statement and proved to be most provocative. So they ask Jesus basically, who are you claiming to be. It finally gets too much for the religious leaders and in vs.53 they ask again, " whom makest thou thyself? Finally Jesus says plainly, " Before Abraham was, I am." That was, of course the last straw for they understood exactly what Jesus was saying. Their reaction was to reach for the rocks.
Since we see that Jesus claimed to be "I AM" and "I AM" is first identified as the Angel of YHWH in Ex.3:2 it is reasonable to conclude that the pre-incarnate Word of God was also the Angel of the LORD who is identified as being God Himself. There are other verses that identify the angel of the LORD, or angel of God as being God. I would encourage you to study this out further for yourself.
So now we see that Jesus was very active in the Old Covenant. Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. This is found in Heb.11:25. Vs.26 goes on to say that Moses esteemed " the reproach of Christ (the Messiah) greater riches than the treasures of Egypt..." We see plainly from this verse that Moses knew the Messiah though not by that title. But he knew the person. The apostle Peter also makes an interesting statement by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. 1 Pet.1:10-11 says, " Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ (Ruach HaMashiach) which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." What is so interesting about this verse to me is that Peter spoke of the prophets that prophesied of the grace to come. These were the old testament prophets. The book of Acts speaks of prophets, but they spoke of the grace that had come. The prophets who wrote of the coming salvation through the sufferings of Messiah had actually prophesied of these things by the Spirit of Christ which was in them. It is no wonder that the scriptures, referring to Jesus says, "... In the volume of the book it is written of me..." - Heb.10:7. Interestingly enough, this passage is first written in Ps.40:7.
Just one other example of the Messiah, in the Old Testament is found in 1 Co.10:1-4, " Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." Jesus was the one who provided for, and sustained Israel in the wilderness. You will notice that the word, "Spiritual" is used 3 times; spiritual meat, spiritual drink, and spiritual rock. Therefore the presence of Jesus among them was not physical but spiritual. It is also interesting that Paul spoke of the spiritual meat, drink, rock and says that this was Christ. Then in verse 5, still speaking about Christ, Paul writes, " But with many of them GOD was not well pleased..." Now if you think that's reaching a little bit, take vs.9 into consideration. " Neither let us tempt Christ as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents." This is a reference to Num.21:5-9. When you read that passage you will find that the one who was displeased with Israel was none other than YHWH.
Before going on to the next chapter I think it appropriate at this time to bring up Melchizedek as an Old Covenant appearance of the Word of God. This has been a very contested position and there are good scholars on both sides of the debate. I take the position that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnation appearance of Jesus as was the Angel of the LORD for the following reasons.
First, His name is specifically translated to mean something other than what would normally appear. In other words, He was not just a king in a place called Salem, He is called the King of Righteousness and the King of peace - Heb.7:2. Would the scriptures exalt a mere Canaanite king as the King of Righteousness and the King of Peace? I don't think so. Furthermore He is called, not only a King, but a Priest as well. A King-Priest. King Uzziah intruded into the priest's office in 2 Chron.26:16-23. He also paid a heavy price for doing so. Neither did any priest of Israel reign as king. Melchizedek was,
" the Priest of the most high God." Who ordained Him as such and upon whom was this priesthood conferred when He died? The priesthood of Melchizedek is plainly called an "order" as was the Aaronic priesthood - Heb.7:11. The only ones who qualified to be in the "order of Melchizedek" were those who would never die - Heb.7:16,23-24. Furthermore, to be a member of the "order of Melchizedek" one must be sinless - Heb.7:21-28. What mortal man would qualify?
In Hebrews chapter 5 Melchizedek and the Son of God are blended into a single narrative. To highlight some of the things said about Jesus in Heb.5: (vs.4 Thou art my Son, Today have I begotten thee...(vs.5 Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek...(vs.7 Who in the days of his flesh...(vs.8 Though he were a Son...(vs.9 He became the author of eternal salvation...(vs.10 Called of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." The verse, " Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" is found in Ps.110 which is a Messianic psalm. " The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." Notice also the connection made here. "The LORD said unto my Lord..." This is an obvious reference to Jesus - Mt.22:42-46. But continues on to say "Thou art a priest after the order of Melchizedek. In Hebrews 5 it is hard to determine who is being referred to especially in the moving from verse 6 to verse 7.
But what has thrown off some are the words, " Made like unto the Son of God " - Heb.7:3. Some observations about this verse lead me to believe even more that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate appearance of Messiah in the Tenach ( Old Testament ). It seems that He was manifesting His priesthood which would parallel the Aaronic priest hood for the course of Israel's history until finally revealed and totally replacing the Aaronic priesthood. This was demonstrated by the tearing of the veil at Jesus' death. The Aaronic priesthood would have condemned David in his affair with Uriah and Bathsheba. But the Melchizedek priesthood in heaven would have made grace and forgiveness possible. Whereas the priests in the Aaronic priesthood were continuously replaced because they died, Jesus continues in His priesthood forever by virtue of an endless life. Might it not have been that the Aaronic priesthood was only a figure of the true priesthood in heaven, which priesthood would have been the priesthood of Melchizedek, the King of righteousness? Consider Heb.9:24 which says, "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:" "Which are the figures of the true" seems to indicate that what Israel had on earth concerning the tabernacle, the priesthood etc were only figures of a greater and higher truth in Heaven.
Melchizedek was, " Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life..." " Nor end of life" had to be true of Him in order to qualify for the Melchizedek priesthood, why should we assume the rest is not true of Him as well? Furthermore, are we to assume that the scriptures are wrong and the commentators right? That Melchizedek did have a father, and mother, a genealogy, beginning of days as well as an end to his life? If God had intended to say that it had simply not been recorded He would have said it. But the commentators are the only ones who say this. The scriptures themselves do not.
Well what about the words, "made like unto the Son of God"? First let me remind the reader that Son of God is an incarnation title (Lk.1:35). The appearance of Melchizedek preceded the birth of Jesus therefore could not be the same as the Son of God but rather "made like unto". We also see those same words in the book of Daniel 7:13-14, " I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. " Is this speaking about the Son of man or just someone like Him? Jesus Himself claimed that it spoke of Him. Mt.26:64, " Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."
Also in Rev.1:13 we find similar words, " And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle". Verse 17-18 of the same chapter tells us beyond doubt that the one "like unto the Son of man" was none other than the "Son of man". So I don't believe that the words "like unto" disqualify Melchizedek from being a pre-incarnate, Old Covenant appearance of the Word of God. What mere Canaanite king is like the Son of God? The testimony regarding Melchizedek, at least in my mind, does not refer to a mortal gentile king but rather the immortal King of Israel. Furthermore, the author of Hebrews writes that there is much more to say regarding Melchizedek but it would be hard to communicate these things to a people who are "dull of hearing" - Heb.5:11.
Some Arguments Answered
All Rights Reserved 2000
Permission to put in print will be given only upon written request by Pastor Alan (Alon) Ronk.