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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!

Next post…

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!

Next post…

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!

Next post…

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!

Next post…

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!

Next post…

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!

Next post…

15

The Angel of the LORD continued...

Let's look at the Angel in action in Genesis and Exodus.

His first appearance is to the Egyptian, Hagar:

Then the Angel of the LORD told her, "Go back to your mistress and submit to her." The Angel added, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." The Angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery... She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." (Gen 16:9-14)

Here the Angel speaks of another Person called the LORD who has heard Hagar.  This is typical in the OT - God hears and sends His Angel to deliver.  See Gen 21:17; Ex 2:23ff; Num 20:16; Judges 13:9 - also similar is Dan 3:28; 6:22.

But even though the Angel is distinctly called of the LORD He can also own the name 'LORD' Himself.  In verse 13 even the narrator calls the Angel "LORD" and Hagar calls Him "the God who sees me."  He is from God but He also is God - in fact He is the visible God for Hagar is astonished that she has seen Him.

Read on to Genesis 22 and here we see that the Angel of the LORD is the One who intercepts the judgement of father Abraham on his son.

But the Angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham!" "Here I am," he replied. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." The Angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.

Difficult to read these verses if you're a unitarian!  'Now know that you fear God because you haven't witheld your son from Me.'  The Angel clearly thinks the offering is to Himself and later in v16 He clearly thinks that He is the LORD who will bless Abraham.  But He also clearly speaks of 'God' as another Person in the equation.  There's much more to be said about Genesis 22, but we must move on.

In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with a man ('ish) who is clearly a source of blessing (v26) and is in fact God (v28).  Jacob rightly identifies Him as 'God face to face' (perhaps best understood as a divine title?).  Why are we looking at this passage while considering the Angel?  Because of what Hosea 12:3-5 makes of this incident.

...[Jacob] struggled with God. He struggled with the Angel and overcame Him; he wept and begged for His favour. He found Him at Bethel and talked with Him there-- the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is His name of renown!

Hosea knows how it is that Jacob could actually wrestle with God and see Him face to face.  He knows that Jacob wrestled with the Angel.  But Hosea also knows that such a name is not a diminutive title for this figure. The Angel is Himself the LORD God Almighty (Yahweh the God of Hosts).  What's interesting is not only Hosea's high christology but also how OT saints thought through the issues of how God is mediated.  It was clear to Hosea, even though Genesis does not mention the name, that Jacob wrestled 'the Angel.'  OT saints are able to make such distinctions and properly interpreted their own Scriptures christologically centuries after the events and centuries before the incarnation.

Moving on in Genesis we come to Jacob's blessing of his grandsons.  Just as he sought the Angel's blessing for himself (Gen 32:26,29) so now he wants the Angel's blessing for Ephraim and Manasseh:

"May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my Shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from all harm--may He bless these boys.  (Gen 48:15-16)

Who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?  This is a massive question today.  Can we please have the courage to proclaim from Genesis that Christ is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He is the Deliverer God before Whom the patriarchs walked.  The Angel is God and Shepherd, Deliverer and the Source of all blessing.  The Angel is God from God and the One to Whom the patriarchs looked.

I can't see a) any way around this, b) any reason you'd want to get around this!

Let's move on briefly to Exodus.  And here again we see the pattern whereby people call out to God, God hears (Exod 2:23-24) and in response He sends His Deliverer.  And who is the Deliverer?

2 There the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight-- why the bush does not burn up." 4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." 5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then He said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (Ex 3:2-6)

The Angel is Him who dwelt in the burning bush (Deut 33:16).  He is, v4,  LORD and God and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Furthermore He is the great I AM (v14) who saves His people.  When Jesus claims to be I AM He isn't (as many seem to say) audaciously applying to Himself a title belonging to ""God"".  He's saying - I'm 'Him who dwelt in the burning bush.'  He's not just saying 'I have the same name as Israel's Redeemer, He's saying - You know the whole burning bush, plagues, Red Sea thing?  That was me!'

Notice how in Exodus 3:12 the Angel says:

"I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."

The Angel will save a people and bring them to God.  That is the story of salvation.  And does the Angel deliver on His promise?  Yes! He is the LORD who goes at their head:

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. (Ex 13:21)

How do we know that this is the Angel?

Then the Angel of God, who had been travelling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them (Ex 14:19)

So the Deliverer is the Angel who is of the LORD and who is the LORD.  Exodus 23:20-23 tells us how the Angel relates to the Most High God: 'My Name is in Him' says the LORD on top of the mountain.  The Angel is the One the people should follow knowing that He has been sent from the LORD on high with the very character of the unseen God.  To hear the Angel (v22) is to know the favour and salvation of God Most High.

The Exodus was wrought at the initiative of God the Father hearing His people’s cries for mercy.  Out of His compassion He sent His Angel to deliver His people and bring them back to the Mountain to worship Him.

And just to drive home the point even further, let's look at one last reference.  When all is done and dusted and Scripture looks back on the redemption out of Egypt, who is it who takes the credit?

The Angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said,`I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you."  When the Angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud. (Judges 2:1-4)

At this point I feel like pulling a CS Lewis - when the Angel makes such incredible claims, He's either mad, bad or the LORD.  So who is He??

I hope it's obvious.  But I hope we also see that these things are plain on their own terms and in their own context.  I haven't needed to do any NT 're-reading'.  I hope you see this isn't a conjuring act it's simply taking these verses seriously. And allowing them to say what they say without forcing them into a pre-fab unitarian mould.

I think it's clear (don't you?) the Angel is clearly divine, clearly Israel's Deliverer, clearly trusted in.  But also note - He is also clearly distinct from another called LORD or God (we'll see this more and more as we go on).  And He has His identity as the Sent One (malak - Messenger). To see Him is to be immediately drawn into knowledge of the Sender whose Name He bears.  His very being is defined by relationship to Another.  He is a divine Person who belongs to another divine Person.  Israel's LORD is God from God.

And if this is true then the OT doctrine of God is nothing like the modern Jew's god, nothing like the philosopher's god, nothing like allah.  The God of the OT is inescapably and irreducibly trinitarian in nature and christocentric in focus.

One more post on the Angel to come and then we'll look at some other fun stuff.

Next post...

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When we confess that Jesus is our Substitute most people mean this:

Jesus stands in our place - living the life we should have lived, dying the death we should have died

I wonder though how many also have this understanding of Jesus' substitution:

He sits on the bench for the first half before the Coach brings Him on as match-winner in the closing stages.

I find that many Christians, though believing in the pre-existence of Christ, function with an understanding akin to this latter belief.

Though we shout from the roof-tops the centrality of Christ, we affirm His exclusivity, His supremacy, His full deity, in practice our gospel has Jesus coming late to the game to solve a problem He's had nothing to do with.  We insist that He is the crux, the ultimate, the final, the greatest, the fulfilment but somehow lose that He is the Beginning, the Author, the Logos, the Creator, the Head etc.

In such theology Jesus becomes the Kappa and the Omega, the Middle and the End.  The foundations are laid.  God is defined (monadically).  Humanity is defined (apart from the true Man).  The God-man relation is taken for granted (according to these Christ-less definitions).  Sin, law, wrath, sacrifice, blessings, hope etc are slotted into place.  And then Jesus comes to find His place within this pre-fab mould.

But we know this can't be right.  Jesus is not merely the cherry on the cake.  He is the flour, eggs, sugar, butter and everything else besides.  We know this because we have come to experience life in Christ.  And it is not the experience of Jesus-the-bridge-to-something-else.  He has not taken us by the hand to another reality (heaven, glory, forgiveness, God), He Himself is our all in all.  All those other things find their meaning in Him and only in Him.

Now it seems to me there are three ways that this christocentricity can be argued:

  1. Systematically
  2. From the New Testament back
  3. From the Old Testament forwards

Systematically we point to verses like Matthew 11:25-30 or John 1:18 or Colossians 1:15 and say Christ is, was and ever shall be the one and only Mediator of the Father in revelation and salvation.  This, when grasped, opens our eyes to see that all of history, all of theology and all of God to His very depths is truly trinitarian and christocentric.  Glory!

But of course, people will soon ask you to show it from the bible.  So often people appeal to the New Testament.  Jesus was constantly saying things like He was the One who spoke with Abraham (John 8:56), He was the One the prophets persecuted (Matt 5:11-12), He was David's Lord (Matt 22:42-45), He was the One who kept pursuing Jerusalem (Matt 23:37).  Or Paul would say Christ accompanied Israel in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4,9), Hebrews insists Moses trusted Christ (Hebrews 11:26), Jude asserts that Jesus saved Israel out of Egypt (Jude 5).  And this gets people excited.  For a while.

And then someone says: "Ahhh, with what freedom the Apostles imposed christocentricity on the Hebrew Scriptures."  And all of a sudden you get odd things asserted like: "It's ok for Apostles to retrospectively award a Christ-focus to the OT even though the Jewish authors intended nothing of the sort."  And thus a rarely substantiated but practically unimpeachable maxim is born: "They spoke better than they knew."

Rather than rant polemically about the laughible paucity of Scriptural warrant for this view, or the ethical conundrum of Apostles modelling such dodgy hermeneutics or the logical absurdity of retrospectively awarding Abraham or Isaiah or Israel an encounter with Christ I will side-step a stomach ulcer and move to the third argument.  Because if I can show that the OT by itself proclaims Christ then all such nonsense will be shown to be completely unnecessary.

So here's my assertion that I will seek to unpack over a long series of posts: The OT on its own grounds, in its own context, according to its own intention is a plain and understood revelation of Christ.  I will seek to argue that,

  • Christ is active pre-incarnation
  • He is the Mediator in Old Testament times as well as New
  • He Mediates as a distinct Person, divine and yet differentiated from God Most High
  • He was trusted by (the faithful) OT saints as their LORD and as the One who was to come to save
  • In this way the object of saving faith has always been Christ
  • And in this way the experience of true faith has always been irreducibly trinitarian and christological.

If Jesus tarries I will, in my next few posts, have a look at the Angel of the LORD passages before moving onto some other key multiple-Person OT verses.  I'll look at the very natural way in which the NT picks up on this.  I'll give quotes from church history and I'll draw out some implications.

And having made such a commitment, I immediately wish I hadn't.  Ah well, it'll do me good to get it all off my chest!

NEXT POST

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It's been very sobering to study the wrath of the Lamb this week (Rev 6:16).  Here are seven thoughts (of course seven!) that occurred to me this week while preparing to preach Revelation 6:

  1. This is not so much the anger of the great king against rebels. This is much much worse. This is the anger of the Lamb who was slain to save rebels. This is the anger of the meek and humble Saviour who stretched out His arms to a disobedient and obstinate people. This is the anger of the One who longed to gather His children under His wings but they were not willing. This is the anger of the bloody sacrifice who poured out His life just to redeem and forgive such people. Those who will be sent to hell have not only rebelled against a mighty King, they have trodden on the slain Lamb. They have spurned their only Saviour, who wept and sweated and bled for them. They have hated and trampled on Christ crucified.   And they will not stand on the great day of His wrath.
  2. The great day of His wrath comes after a long wait (Rev 6:17).  He is indeed 'slow to anger'. (Ex 34:6; Num 14:18; Neh 9:17; Ps 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3; cf Rom 3:25; 2 Pet 3:9)  And both the anger and the slowness are good things. It would be terrible if the Father or the Son flew off into a rage without warning. But it would also be terrible if they never got angry - the evil of this world, and particularly the evil of rejecting Christ is damnable. So His wrath is a very good thing.
  3. We are meant to draw nearer to the wrathful Lamb, not flee further from Him.  It is the unbelievers who run from the Lamb in His anger (v15-17), it's the believers who run to Him.  (Cf Psalm 2:12).  As we read of His wrath we are tempted to draw back, but instead we should press closer, ask, seek and knock even more.  His anger should in fact make us draw nearer - if we do, we will find Him to be our Refuge.
  4. Anger is not the last word.  Revelation 6 clears the way for Revelation 7.  "Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.  After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence."  (Hosea 6:1-2)
  5. It's vital to see that the Father is not the only One angry at sin!  Sometimes we can imagine that the cross is an angry Father being placated by His Son who really isn't that bothered about sin.   "Jesus loves you, don't mind the Father, He's cranky!"  It's at this point that people suppose that true trinitarian theology is opposed to penal substitutionary atonement.  But no the Father and Son are not divided in their attitudes to sin.  The Son is Christ precisely because He loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Ps 45:7).  Rev 6:17 speaks of ‘their' wrath - Jesus is just as angry at sin as the Father. And He suffers in Himself the fullness of His own divine anger at sin.
  6. Chapters like Revelation 6 show us just how intense Christ's sufferings were. Here is the magnitude of the wrath which Jesus faced on the cross. The Lamb faced His own divine anger at sin - an anger that shakes the creation to its very foundations. When we read of Jesus sweating blood in the garden of Gethsemane and overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, He is feeling in Himself the dread of all those who say to the mountains ‘Fall on us and hide us.' After studying Revelation 6 we should have a bigger picture not only of judgement day but also the cross.
  7. We are tempted to measure hell by our sins. Passages like this tell us to measure our sins by hell.  (Spurgeon used to say this often).  What do I mean? We tend to think of our sins as trifling matters and then we read about the terrible judgement of God and think it's over the top. That's backwards. We should read about the terrible judgement of God and then think - that's what my sin deserves. Don't measure hell by your sins, measure your sins by hell. And then rejoice that the Lamb intercepted His own wrath and hid you under His altar, the cross. (Rev 6:9)

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9

This should be very obvious, but we easily forget it.  Even in the verses that most directly uphold the full and complete revelation of the Father in the Son, the differentiation of Father and Son are also prominently in view:

"Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9)

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." (Heb 1:3)

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." (Col 1:15)

"...see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God... For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Cor 4:4-6)

The Father is perfectly revealed, not by His Twin, not by a Clone, but by Someone who is His Complement.  The Father is revealed in His Son, the Firstborn, His Image, His right-hand Man-Priest.  Self-differentiation is at the heart of God's revelation.  Jesus is not the same as His Father and yet fully reveals Him. More than this - this difference is of the essence of the divine self-disclosure.  Self-differentiation in communion is the being of God - all of this is perfectly revealed in, by and through Jesus of Nazareth.

Now to say that Jesus is other to His Father is not an Arian position.  On the contrary this is a determination to see Jesus' revelation as a full disclosure of the life of God.  It was Arius who would leave us short of full revelation in Jesus.  Here we are embracing the otherness of Father and Son as the very deepest revelation of the divine nature. It is because of His equality with the Father that Christ's otherness must be taken as part and parcel of the divine revelation. Because Jesus fully reveals the divine life by speaking of Another, thus He is not obstructing our view of this Other.   Rather the interplay of He and the Other are constitutive of the divine life which He reveals.  Arius is refuted at the deepest level, and all by heeding this simple truth: God is not revealed in His Twin but in His Son.

This should be so obvious and plain and yet so many take their opposition of Arius in precisely the opposite direction.  Their first and fatal move is to maintain that homo-ousios commits us to three-fold repetition.  They assume Father and Son are identical from the outset - all in the name of Nicene orthodoxy (of course ignoring 'God from God...').  Now when they approach the eating, sleeping, dying, rising Jesus they must account for these differences while upholding that the Father and Son possess identical CVs.  What to do with the discrepancies?  Simple.  Ignore the fact that Nicea pronounced the homo-ousios on Jesus of Nazareth and instead attribute all discrepancies to a human nature that is distinct from His divine nature.  The cost of such a move?  Immediately, the otherness of Jesus is not revelatory of the divine nature, in fact it impedes our view of God.  To see Jesus is suddenly not to see divine life, but merely human.  We have in fact lost the one Image, Word, Representative and Mediator of God.  Jesus of Nazareth has become, to all intents and purposes, homoi-ousios with the Father.  Question marks hover over everything we see in Jesus as to whether or not we should attribute this to the divine life.  We have returned to Arius's problem via another route - we are left short of full revelation in Jesus.

Now if we took seriously the fact that God is not revealed in His Twin but in His Son we would be saved from all of this.  Christ's humanity neither commits us to an eating, sleeping, dying, rising Father, but nor does it distance us from a true revelation of God.  Instead Christ's eating reveals a Father who provides in our frailties, His sleeping reveals a Father who protects in our weakness, His death reveals a living, judging Father, His resurrection reveals a justifying, reconciling Father.  We see into the very heart-beat of the eternal trinity when we see Jesus of Nazareth in all His glorious humanity. 

And all because we have remembered the simple adage: God is not revealed in His Twin, but in His Son!

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