The Angel of the LORD continued…
One more post on the Angel, then we’ll look at some other multiple-LORD passages.
Check out Judges 6:11-24:
11 The Angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the Angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” 13 “But sir (Lord, Adonai),” Gideon replied, “if the LORD (Yahweh) is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all His wonders that our fathers told us about when they said,`Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.” 14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 15 “But Lord (Adonai),” Gideon asked, “how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” 16 The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together.” 17 Gideon replied, “If now I have found favour in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.” 19 Gideon went in, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to Him under the oak. 20 The Angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 With the tip of the staff that was in his hand, the Angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the Angel of the LORD disappeared. 22 When Gideon realised that it was the Angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Ah, Sovereign LORD (Adonai Yahweh)! I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face!” 23 But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
As we saw in our last post, the Angel proclaimed Himself to be the LORD who saved Israel out of Egypt in Judges 2:1-5. Here the Angel is called ‘Angel’, ‘Lord (Adonai)’ and ‘LORD (Yahweh)’ interchangeably. Verse 14 is clearly the same Character now ‘facing’ Gideon. His re-assurance to Gideon concerns Himself: “Am I not sending you?…I will be with you”. Gideon’s hope rests in this Person: “If now I have found favour in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me.” (v17)
Here the Angel comes in a particularly priestly way. He pronounces to Gideon the blessing of Another called LORD (v12) and mediates Gideon’s sacrifice to this LORD, v21. Not only is He priest – mediating the Father’s peace to Gideon and Gideon’s sacrifice to the LORD – He also ascends in the sacrifice. He is Lord and Priest and in a funny sort of way, sacrifice. When Gideon sees this he really gets the identity of the Angel (which was the point of this sign, v17).
When Gideon realised that it was the Angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, “Ah, Sovereign LORD (Adonai Yahweh)! I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face!” (v22) It is his expectation that seeing such a Figure should result in death. This face to face encounter is clearly not something mortals expect to endure when it comes to the Sovereign LORD (Adonai Yahweh). God Most High on the mountaintop had told Moses:
“you cannot see my face, for no-one may see me and live… my face must not be seen.” (Exod 33:20-23)
Yet in the same chapter Moses and Joshua are described as having regular face to face encounters with the LORD in the tent of meeting (Ex 33:7-11). Within the OT there is a visible LORD who mediates the business of the unseen LORD. On this occasion Gideon calls out in alarm to the unseen LORD that He had seen the glory of the Angel. I think it’s most straightforward to see the LORD of v23 to be the Angel Himself, Christ. I won’t be very disappointed if proved wrong but my reasoning is:
1) In this incident it is the Angel who calls the unseen God, ‘LORD’ while it is the narrator who calls the Angel ‘LORD’ or ‘Lord’. When the narrator wants to tell us he’s referring to the unseen God he calls Him ‘Sovereign Lord.’
2) The whole incident is modeling how it is the Angel who provides peace for Gideon.
So, for me, v23 is Christ interposing on the basis of the sacrifice (in which He ascended) and proclaiming Himself to be peace. You can chew on that and let me know what you think.
Moving on to Judges 13 we see an extended passage about the Angel. In v3 He appears to Mrs Manoah who consistently describes Him as a man (v6, 10) as does the narrator (v11). He comes again when God hears the cry of His people and sends Him in response (v9). Just like with Jacob, He is coy about His name (v18, cf Gen 32:29). But just as in Judges 6, He ascends in the sacrifice to the LORD. At this Mr Manoah exclaims:
“We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!” (Judges 13:22)
His wife has more sense:
But his wife answered, “If the LORD had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.” (Judges 13:23)
The Angel is described as God. And the expectation is that to see God is to die. And yet they do see God the Angel and Mrs Manoah identifies the basis on which they can still be accepted: sacrifice.
I could go on about the Angel but perhaps you can follow up the other references that I’ve listed yourself. Let me just draw your attention to one more passage. Because here we see that the Angel was set forth not simply as the Mediator for Israel there and then, He was also trusted in as the One who was to come – the Messiah.
“See, I will send my messenger (malak), who will prepare the way before Me. Then suddenly the Lord (Adonai) you are seeking will come to His temple; the Messenger (malak, Angel) of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty (Yahweh of hosts). (Malachi 3:1)
The messenger (Elijah/John the Baptist, cf 4:5) will precede the coming of the Lord who is the Angel. Here we see that the Lord who the people are seeking is the Angel of the covenant. He is their desire according to Malachi 3.
Enough on the Angel. Next post will be a re-working of a previous post on the trinitarian OT. And for those who are wondering, I’ll also soon do a ‘so what’ piece listing reasons this stuff matters!