The Angel of The LORD

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The Angel of the LORD

The literal translation of both the Hebrew and Greek words rendered “angel” in the Scriptures is “messenger” and is almost always used in conjunction with the Sacred name hwhy. Thus the phrase “angel of the LORD” can also be rendered as “messenger of ADONAI” or “messenger of HaShem” or, as pointed out in Baker’s article below, when used with the definite article (“the”) the Angel of ADONAI is recognized as ADONAI by those to whom He speaks, and He accepts their worship. Created angels, on the other hand, correct those who offer them worship (Rev. 19:10, Rev. 22:8-9).

In Zechariah 3:1-10 (for example) Joshua the High Priest is standing before the Angel of ADONAI and HaSatan is accusing him. Certainly HaSatan would not be accusing HaShem’s High Priest to another created angel. When the Angel of ADONAI then speaks both to HaSatan and to Joshua, the Scripture says that it is HaShem Who is speaking.

When an angel of ADONAI (without the definite article) appears to men, there is no record of worship being offered by the person to whom God’s message is being delivered. While it is true that the rules of logic dictate that no conclusion should be drawn from the absence of evidence, I nevertheless conclude from the preponderance of scriptural evidence that when used with the definite article, the Angel of ADONAI is referring to the pre-incarnate Messiah, or God the Son.  

Angel of the Lord
from Smith's Bible Dictionary

The special form in which God manifested himself to man, and hence Christ’s visible form before the incarnation. (Genesis 16:7, et al)

Compare Acts 7:30-38 with the corresponding Old-Testament history; and ( Genesis 18:1 Genesis 18:13 Genesis 18:14 Genesis 18:33 ) and Genesis 19:1 )

Bibliography Information
   Smith,  Dr. William. “Angel of the Lord,” Smith's Bible Dictionary. 1901.

“Angel of the Lord”
from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

(Heb. mal'ak yehwah). Supernatural being who bears a message on behalf of God. In many passages in the Old Testament, the angel of the Lord is identified with God, while in other instances a distinction is made between the Lord and the angel. In general, however, the terms "the angel of the Lord, " "the Lord, " and "God" are interchangeable.

The angel of the Lord is the messenger of both good and evil. He comes to Hagar after she has fled from the abusive Sarai (Gen 16:7-14) to assure her that God has heard about her misery and that her descendants will be too numerous to count. She names him "You are the God who sees me" (v. 13). The angel of the Lord pronounces a curse on the people of Meroz, because they refused to come to the help of the Lord (Jud 5:23).

The angel of the Lord executes judgment on behalf of the Lord. He puts to death 185, 000 Assyrian soldiers in their camp, thereby saving Jerusalem from decimation (2 Ki 19:35).

The angel of the Lord both commissions and commends God's servants. The commander of the Lord's army commissions Joshua to undertake the Lord's battles for Canaan, just as Moses had been commissioned to confront Pharaoh (Joshua 5:13-15; cf. Exod 3:5). The angel of the Lord appears to Abraham. He stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and commends him because he has not withheld his only son from God (Gen 22:11-18). Abraham identifies the angel as God, calling the place "The Lord Will Provide."

The angel of the Lord carries out a ministry of reconciliation. He asks how long God will withhold mercy from Jerusalem and Judah (Zec 1:12).

The connection between the angel of the Lord and the preincarnate appearance of the Messiah cannot be denied. Manoah meets the angel of the Lord, and declares that he has seen God. The angel accepts worship from Manoah and his wife as no mere angel, and refers to himself as "Wonderful, " the same term applied to the coming deliverer in Isaiah 9:6 (Jud 13:9-22). The functions of the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament prefigure the reconciling ministry of Jesus. In the New Testament, there is no mention of the angel of the Lord; the Messiah himself is this person.

Louis Goldberg

See also Theophany

Bibliography.
   A. Bowling, TWOT, 1:464-65;
   G. B. Funderburk, ZPEB, 1:160-66;
   J. B. Payne, Theology of the Older Testament.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Walter A. Elwell
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan USA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

For usage information, please read the Baker Book House Copyright Statement.


Bibliography Information

Elwell, Walter A. “Angel of the Lord.” Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.

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