Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

THE Angel of the Lord = Who?

Twenty centuries ago God walked the land in the divine person of Jesus Christ teaching, preaching and healing. As he walked through the holy land the blind saw, the lame leaped, the deaf heard, the dead rose, the lepers were cleansed and the good news was preached to the poor (Matt 11:5). Yet this wasn't Jesus' first visit to Judea. As I mentioned yesterday, He created everything, He was there at the beginning. He did not come into existence in that manger in Bethlehem, that was His incarnation (coming in flesh), He was around for a loooooong time before that. And it's not like after He was done creating everything He turned to the Father and said "I'm a bit tired from all this creating, wake me when it's time to be born." then took a nap. He had things to do.

Remember: we cannot see God's face and tell people about it, there's this whole dying thing involved. In Exodus 33:20 God the Father plainly told Moses  "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" That's where Jesus comes in. One of Jesus' duties is to be God's physical presence here on earth enabling Him to speak to us face to face without a prophet or angel as an intermediary. 

The Apostle John is quite insistent when he says that no one has ever seen God. In John 1:18John 6:46, and  1 John 4:12 John clearly states that no one has ever seen God the Father, so in all face to face interactions between human being and God related in the Old Testament, it can only be God the Son who is speaking to us.

So how does God speak to us in personal situations in scripture? One way was through the Holy Spirit, and the Bible is very good at letting us know it was the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God who is speaking. Another way was through prophets. Scripture tells us that God used many prophets, unfortunately scripture also tells us that many of those prophets God sent were not well received and were killed by the people that God wanted to save. God speaks to his prophets in visions and dreams to reveal his plans for them or to unveil the mysteries of the future. 

Many times God sends an angel to people to carry a message. I'm pretty sure he didn't send Cherubim as their appearance would kind of over shadow the message:
5 Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form. 6 Each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, 9 their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. 10 As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. (Ezekiel 1:6-10)
That would freak out most people, but he did send angels who took human form. And on some occasions he sends one angel known simply as the Angel of the Lord. We first meet the Angel of the Lord in Genesis 22. Here Abraham was told to sacrifice his son to show his faith in and his commitment to God. Abraham built the altar and was getting ready to kill the Isaac when:
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.” (Genesis 22:11-12)
This passage has so much to think about: first of all it was God Himself that gave Abraham his orders to sacrifice Isaac, who was this mere angel to tell Abraham to ignore God's orders? (mere meaning a created being and not a holy being like God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) Then the angel said  "I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." that's such an odd thing for a mere angel to say because Abraham was not sacrificing his son to an angel, he was sacrificing his son to God. So this was not merely a mere angel. Also notice that when the angel refers to himself the 'me' is capitalized. Mere angels do not rate a capital M when they refer to themselves as 'me', only God gets a capital M in the NASB bible. It's quite obvious that the angel of the Lord is the personification of the Lord, and the personification of the Lord is Jesus.

Now fast forward to Exodus 3:2 when Moses first meets an angel:
2 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. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 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.” (Exodus 3:2-4)
This passage explains it even better; the angel of the Lord (not an angel of the Lord, but the angel of the Lord) appears to Moses. Moses freaks a bit and looks aside convincing himself that if he looks around like he's trying to find out why the bush isn't burning up (because in a dry desert that flaming bush should have lasted only about 5 minutes before completely becoming ash) maybe the angel of the Lord won't notice him. But sure enough the angel of the Lord, now referred to as God in scripture pretty much says "Moses! Over here! I'm talking to you."
Want more? Look at Judges:
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,  (Judges 2:1)
The angel of the Lord goes on to rebuke Israel for their short comings, but again wasn't it God that brought Israel out of Egypt and lead them to the holy land? Wasn't it God that made a covenant with Israel? Yes it was, not just an angel, but the Lord.

Not all appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament did he have the title the angel of the Lord. Many believe that here Jesus doesn't even get a title:
13 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14 He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15 The captain of the Lord’s host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13-15)
How do I know that this wasn't just some guy with an awesome sword and a story to tell that Joshua was speaking to? Because Joshua knew. After spending all that time with Moses who spoke with God more than most family members speak to each other, who on earth would know better what was holy and what was not than Joshua? When this man said "The place where you are standing is holy" Joshua nearly pulled a muscle trying to pull off his sandals quickly. He wasn't an angel because the Scriptures usually introduce angels and angels, and angels tend to introduce themselves with the words "Fear not!" and "Get up, don't worship me!" This clearly was Jesus here on earth, conducting the Fathers business. 

So there you go - rule of thumb, when reading the Old Testament if you find a passage where God is talking face to face with someone, it's Jesus. If you see the angel of the Lord, it's Jesus. If someone is assuming the privileges associated with being God, it's Jesus. Christophany - it's awesome!

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