The Council of My Nation - Idolatry - The Angel of the Lord

B. The Angel of the Lord

Let us move on now to those passages in which God seems to be interchangeable with an angel. In chapter 18 of Genesis three men appear to Abraham.

It turns out that two of these men were actually angels (Genesis 19:1). But who was the third one? According to some Jewish commentators (Rashbam, and Ibn Ezra), the third man was actually an angel who is called by God’s name. It is this third angel whom Abraham was speaking to and addressing as “Lord”. The Christians argue that this proves that God can take on the form of an angel and even the form of a human, for did this angel not eat and drink with Abraham under the tree? The Jew would point out that this angel was not worshiped and that there is no commandment that we worship this angel. When God appears to the prophets He often sends an angel to represent Him for the purpose of passing on His message to the prophet. The angel speaks the words of God, and the prophet addresses God by speaking to the angel – but the angel is not God. How can we know whose interpretation is correct? Is the angel God incarnate and deserving of worship as the Christian would have it? Or is the angel only passing on God’s words but is an entity distinct and separate from God as the Jew would have it?

Fortunately we have some other passages in scripture which could help us sort things out. Exodus 23:20 has God telling Moses that He will send an angel before the Jewish people. God commands Moses to hearken to the voice of this angel. Here is the direct quote (Exodus 23:22 -) “But rather you shall hearken to his voice and do all that I speak”. In other words God wants Moses to obey the command of the angel because it is God’s words that the angel speaks, but the angel is clearly an entity separate from God. Similarly in Numbers chapter 22 we find an angel speaking God’s words, yet the angel is an entity distinct from God. In verse 35 of that chapter the angel tells Bileam “but the word which I speak that you shall speak”, yet in chapter 23 verse 5 it is God who puts the words in Bileam’s mouth. Again, the angel is the one who speaks God’s words and scripture refers to it as “God speaking”. The very designation “mal’ach” (generally translated as “angel”) literally means “messenger”, highlighting the fact that the angel is an entity subservient to God charged with a mission – but is not an entity who is to be seen as co-equal with God. In fact we find that human messengers of God (also referred to by the term “mal’ach – angel” Haggai 1:13) speaking God’s words. In the book of Deuteronomy we find Moses speaking God’s words without any introductory phrases, he just slips from speaking God’s words in the third person to speaking God’s words in the first person – (Deuteronomy 11:15). No-one attributes divinity to Moses, yet in capacity of messenger to the Lord he speaks for God. God uses messengers, both human and angelic through whom He brings His word to this physical world – but there is no indication that any worship is to be directed to these messengers. These messengers are clearly distinct from God, and as such, are not deserving of worship.

Originally posted on: https://yourphariseefriend.wor...

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