Who or what is the “Angel of the Lord”?

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Q. What is the significance of the Angel of the Lord mentioned in so many passages in the Old Testament?

Genesis 16:7-13
7* Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. 8* He said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." 9 Then the angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority." 10* Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count." 11* The angel of the LORD said to her further, "Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. 12* "He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone's hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers." 13* Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God who sees"; for she said, "Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?"

Gen. 22:11-18
11* But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." 12* 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* 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* "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham lived at Beersheba.

3) Gen. 31:11-13

4) Gen. 32:24-30

5) Gen. 48:15-16

6) Ex. 3:2-7

7) Ex. 13:21; 14:19; Num. 20:16

8) Ex. 23:20-21 (cf. Mk. 2:7)

9) Josh. 5:13-6:2

10) Jud. 2:1-5

11) Jud. 6:11-16

Note the following observations:

1) The angel of the Lord and the Lord are at times distinguished from each other, yet at other times are presented as one and the same.

2) A difficulty arises since no man has seen or can see the Almighty Himself (Ex. 33:20; Jn. 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:16).

3) While the Lord seems to send angels with a special task, He seems to be fully present in the angel of the Lord (note Ex. 32:34-33:17)

Who is the Angel of the Lord? Theories:

1) Simply an angel with a special commission

2) He is God, who momentarily descends into visibility

3) He is the Logos, who would eventually be fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ

a) Jn. 1:18 – God reveals Himself through Christ

b) Jn. 12:37-41 indicates that the God Isaiah saw in Is. 6:1ff was Jesus – thus showing that Jesus was active in Old Testament history (cf. 1 Cor.10:4).

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