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Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Who Is The “Angel Of The Lord?”

“And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.” (Genesis 16:7)

In Genesis Chapter 16, we are given the first instance in the Bible of the expression, “The angel of the Lord.” After Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, flees from her mistress, she encounters the “angel of the Lord” by a fountain of water in the desert between Canaan and Egypt. But the question is: Who exactly is this “angel of the Lord”, and what is his position? In order to answer this, let us consider a few things that we know about him from what the Bible tells us:

He Speaks With Authority

“And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” (Genesis 16:9-10)

The first peculiarly striking aspect of the “angel of the Lord” is that he speaks with the authority of God Himself. Other “angels” appearing throughout Scripture do not speak with the authority that belongs to God alone but as those sent forth on His behalf. For example, In Genesis 19:13 the two angels who come to warn Lot to depart from Sodom before its destruction say:

“For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.”

They plainly state that they have been sent by the Lord. They also make it clear that they are acting under strict orders to refrain from destroying the city of Sodom until Lot is safely out (Genesis 19:22). These two angels are acting under orders from God while the “angel of the Lord” states in Genesis 16:10, “I will multiply thy seed…” Whenever we read of any instances of other angels, that is, those not designated as THE angel of the Lord, speaking to people, they state what God has done, is doing, or will do, they do not talk about what they themselves are doing, and they are certainly not claiming to be able to do those things that God alone can do (such as giving many descendants to a person, such as is told to Hagar here).

He Is Worshiped

“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed…And he said, Draw not nigh thither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:2, 5)

When we compare this to what the angel who showed John the events of the Book of Revelation, we read that the worship of angels is forbidden:

“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.” (Revelation 22:8-9)

He Bears The Name Of God

“Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.” (Exodus 23:20-21)

Others Identify Him As God

After the “angel of the Lord” speaks to Hagar, she responds:

“And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?” (Genesis 16:13)

Later, when Jacob is referring to the “Angel of God” appearing to him in a dream, he says:

“And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said… I am the God of Bethel…” (Genesis 31:11,12a,13a)

He Identifies Himself As God

During Moses first encounter with the “Angel of the Lord” at the burning bush (Exodus 3), the “angel” tells Moses after commanding him to take off his shoes:

“…I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” (v. 6)

In the Book of Judges, Manoah has an encounter with the “Angel of the Lord” and dares to ask the angel what his name is. The angel responds:

“And the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” (Judges 13:18 ESV)

“Wonderful” is one of the names that Isaiah ascribes to the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6).

He Is No Longer Mentioned In The New Testament

It is noteworthy that the expression “The Angel of the Lord” is unique to the Old Testament and is not found as such in the New. The King James Version does occasionally designate angels as “the angel of the Lord” (e.g., Acts 5:19), but the use of the definite article (the) is inaccurate and the indefinite article (an) should appear, as is the case in most other translations. After the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, “THE Angel of the Lord” does not appear again in Scripture.

Summary

In light of all of these details, I believe that it is most fitting to conclude that the “Angel of the Lord” is none other than the pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ: God the Son. There are many other intriguing factors to consider as we read the encounters of the “Angel of the Lord” with His people throughout the Old Testament. Lord willing, we shall look at these as we come to them.

***English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
*All other Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version (KJV)

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 5, 2010]

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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Our Exceeding Great Reward

“After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. (Genesis 15:1)

After Abraham’s meetings with Melchizedek and the King of Sodom, the Lord speaks to him in a vision and says, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your Shield and your exceeding great Reward.” What comforting words these must have been! I am your Shield, the Lord tells him, I will protect you. As we saw before, Abraham had defeated a much larger army under the leadership of Chedorlaomer and chased them all the way to Hobah, near Damascus. The possibility must have entered his mind that this army could very well regroup and return for retribution against him and his small militia. But the Lord confirms to Abraham that He Himself is a Shield for him and will protect him.

God also reinforces to Abraham that He is his “exceeding great Reward.” Abraham has been offered vast wealth and riches from the hand of the King of Sodom and he has declined to accept even a shoestring from him (Genesis 14:23). I wonder how many who witnessed Abraham’s refusal of this offer that day thought to themselves, “How foolish!” Those who went with him into battle accepted payment for their part (v. 24), what did they think about Abraham telling the king, “No.” Along with the murmuring within the camp that must have been going on, Abraham’s own flesh must certainly have put some doubt in his mind as to whether or not he had made the right decision. We know that he had to be having some anxiety about the possibility of being attacked and about whether he had made the right choice in turning down the King of Sodom. When God tells someone Fear not, you can be sure that this is not merely a formality! That person is feeling fear.

If I may paraphrase what God is saying to Abraham here, He tells him: “I know that you’re worried and afraid, Abram, but you do not need to be. When you were fighting in battle, I was right there with you, protecting you. I will do it again if necessary. You did the right thing by turning down the King of Sodom’s offer, it was not what I wanted for you. But you haven’t lost anything: I am your Reward, a Reward that is far greater than all the riches of this world!” What Abraham is literally being told is that God Himself is his payment, his compensation. Not that God will provide the reward, He is the Reward! And His worth is “greatly multiplied” beyond that which the King of Sodom had offered.

God’s words to Abraham at this time are the most intimate that we have seen thus far. The Word of the Lord came unto Abram, as surely as it does to all who love Him. The Lord calls him by name here saying, “Fear not, Abram…” What a comforting reassurance that we belong to Him when He calls each of us by name (John 10:3). And what God declares that Abraham now has is of greater worth than anything else He will ever give him: Himself. Beyond all of the manifold blessings that God will give unto him throughout his life, this is the greatest. God Himself is His Reward.

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so often being presented today as something that will enhance a person’s life. Serving God is portrayed as a means to an end with the Christian’s focus being on the gifts he hopes to receive from the Lord rather than on the Lord Himself. Seeking to know what is in the heart of God has been replaced with a desire to receive what He holds in His hand. Our only purpose for fellowship with the Lord is that we might make known to Him our needs and requests; our prayer and communion with Him being no more than the vehicles and instruments whereby we seek to procure the material. But the day will come when we step from this life into the next and all of the material blessings are gone, no more of the worldly wealth remains, and all of our possessions are left behind. Our most precious possession that we will have in that day will be being in the presence of our dear Savior… just as it should be now.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published December 14, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

The King Of Sodom

“And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,” (Genesis 14:21-22)

Some of the highest spiritual peaks in life are immediately followed by the valleys of temptation. Staying vigilant and being alert for the temptation to lose our trust in God when times are tough and our resources are lean is one thing, but what about the other times? What about the times when we are prospering, when we are successful, when we are well-fed rather than starving? The tempter comes not only when our need seems great, but also when it seems that we have no need at all.

From a human standpoint, things could not have been brighter in the life of Abraham as he made his way home from rescuing Lot. He was now without a doubt the greatest hero in all the land, doing what nobody else had been able to. With a small force, he had completely routed the armies of Chedorlaomer and the kings of the East, and now he was leading a procession of grateful rescued captives along with all of the looted treasures of Sodom and Gomorrah.  There is no question that Abraham was at this time considered to be the most famous and powerful man in all of Canaan.

Not only this, but Abraham had just encountered the priest of God, Melchizedek, and had enjoyed fellowship with him. This enigmatic gentile king and the very first Hebrew had come together and partaken of the Bread and the Wine of the Lord’s Supper, looking forward to the day that the Lord Jesus Christ would secure their own redemption through His death and resurrection. Melchizedek at this time reveals to Abraham that God is the El Elyon, the Most High God, Possessor of Heaven and Earth. What a profound experience of the presence of God this must have been!

No sooner has Abraham left the table of Communion with Melchizedek then he is met by the King of Sodom. I am sure that the king of Sodom had a broad smile on his face as he poured out praises and adorations to the returning hero. Patting him on the back, he tells Abraham,

“Great job, Abram! you did it. Your mighty power is unmatched, what a victory you had over Chedorlaomer. You have my undying gratitude and I want to personally present you with the key to the city of Sodom. We already have plans to build a twenty foot statue of you in the town square, and the Chamber of Commerce would like you and Sarai to have season tickets for all the home games of the local football team. Abraham, the world is your oyster. What a fantastic job you did beating those kings and chasing them all the way to Hobah, your name has been in the headlines of the Sodom Times every single day for the past three weeks. I tell you what, you have definitely earned the right to keep all of the goods that those Eastern kings plundered from us, why don’t  you just let me have the people and you can keep everything else for yourself, how does that sound?”

Sodom is a portrait of this world. The King of Sodom represents the prince of this world, Satan. The temptation is that Abraham will get his eyes off the things of God and turn them to the things of this world. Had he accepted the offer of the King of Sodom, he would have been beholden to him. Even though Abraham had a right to receive a bounty for delivering the wealth of Sodom back to the king, doing so would have put him under subjection to him. For the remainder of Abraham’s days, anytime that Abraham would have told anyone how God had prospered him there would always be this footnote; his legacy would forever bear the parenthetic annotation that the king of the wicked city of Sodom had contributed to Abraham’s success. The glory that belongs to God alone would have been divided with the prince of this world.

What a striking similarity this temptation shares with our Lord’s own temptation in the wilderness. “Give me the persons”, says the king of Sodom, “take for yourself the goods.” The devil makes the same enticement to the Lord Jesus Christ, Take for Yourself the wealth, the goods, the very kingdoms of this world, but give unto me the souls of men (Luke 4:5-7). What an ironic contrast between the type of man that Abraham was and the type of man that Lot was: Lot, who symbolizes the backsliding believer, was willing to sacrifice his fellowship with God and with Abraham that he might partake of the wealth of Sodom (this world), Abraham was unwilling to sacrifice his fellowship with God even for all the wealth of Sodom – which is exactly what was now being offered to him. Lot wanted all that Sodom had to offer, Abraham wanted not a single part of it.

There are those who believe that it does not matter how or from whom the child of God receives a “blessing”, they just naturally assume that any wealth or increase that comes their way is free for the taking. I shudder to think that if Abraham had been a proponent of modern Prosperity Theology, he would have accepted everything that the King of Sodom offered him and then asked him for more. He would have just assumed that this was God’s way of rewarding his faith and that it was his faith that had secured for him the riches of this world. God indeed provides for those who are His own, but we must decide if we will have our eye on the things of God or the things of this world. Are we going to trust in God or are we going to trust in the prince of this world? Is our own heart interested in the eternal spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), or are we seeking to lay up for ourselves earthly treasures which thieves can steal and that rust corrupts (Matthew 6:19-21)? Abraham had learned the lesson that what he had in God was not for sale at any price. His nephew, Lot had not learned it yet. Have you?

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published December 10, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Melchizedek, King Of Salem

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
   Possessor of heaven and earth;
 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” (Genesis 14:18-20)

After his victory over the army of Chedorlaomer, Abraham met two kings as he returned home: Melchizedek and the King of Sodom. The first of these is Melchizedek. Melchizedek is one of the most mysterious people we encounter in all of Scripture. He has a brief encounter with Abraham and then we hear nothing of him again in the Book of Genesis. What we are told of him in these three verses definitely leaves us with more questions than answers. The Psalmist will bring up Melchizedek again, speaking of a coming “Priest after the order of Melchizedek “(Psalm 110:4). The writer to the Hebrews will explain how Christ fulfilled this prophecy and what it means for our Lord to be a “Priest” after this order (Hebrews 7). But just who was Melchizedek in the first place?

Genesis is the book of beginnings, or origins. It is the book that serves as the background against which the remainder of the Bible is written. Nearly every important and key figure introduced in the narrative is done so in connection with his lineage. This person begat so and so, or this man was the son of that man. Here we have a person to whom the great Abraham voluntarily submits himself, and we are not told anything about his lineage or, really, where he even came from. While many have speculated that this man was the king of ancient Jerusalem (referred to here simply as Salem), the term “Salem” means peace. “Melchizedek” literally translates to, king of righteousness. How the phrase “Melchizedek king of Salem”  literally reads in the original Hebrew is, the king of righteousness, king of peace. Rather than tying him down to a specific place, it seems that we are really being given the titles of this man.

“Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.” (Hebrews 7:3)

Some Bible commentators have ran away with these words used to describe Melchizedek and have concluded that he was none other than the pre-incarnate Christ Himself, what theologians call a Theophany of God the Son in the Old Testament. But this is problematic for many reasons, not the least of which being that it seems illogical that the writer to the Hebrews would call the Lord Jesus a “Priest” after His own order. Additionally, Hebrews 7:4 plainly states that Melchizedek was a man. But what this does tell us about the man Melchizedek is that, from our perspective, we know not from whence he came. Of course he actually had a beginning and an end of life, but we sure have been told nothing about it. We know not the place from where he steps onto the pages of Scripture in Genesis 14:18, nor to where he departs in 14:20.

What Melchizedek did is quite remarkable and is a picture of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ:

  • He comes bearing bread and wine, the two elements of Communion. (Matthew 26:26-27)
  • He revealed the Father to Abraham when he declared God to be the El Elyon, the Most High God (Luke 10:22). This is the first time in the Bible that God is referred to as such.
  • He pointed to the fact that God is the God of all mankind when he declared Him to be Possessor of Heaven and Earth – as both Jew and gentile alike come to the Father through Jesus Christ (Luke 24:47)
  • He pronounces blessing upon Abraham by the authority of God, and pronounces blessing to God on behalf of Abraham illustrating the unique nature of the Role of Jesus as the Great High Priest. Priests spoke to God on behalf of the people, prophets spoke to people on behalf of God; but only Christ would serve the Role of both. Melchizedek’s two blessings are a picture of this.

How Melchizedek came to know God at all is quite a mystery, let alone how he came to be His priest and the fact that he was apparently in closer fellowship with the Lord than even Abraham was at the time. We have been led to conclude that Abraham was the only man upon the entire Earth to truly follow the Lord God. Suddenly, Melchizedek comes on the scene representing God and profoundly impacts Abraham’s concept of the Lord.

Regardless of how it may seem at times, there are always others to whom God is revealing Himself; there are always those who are farther along in their walk with the Lord than we are; and no matter where a person comes from or what background they are coming out of, if they are servants of the Lord, we can have fellowship with them.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published December 9, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

 

Fighting The Battle God’s Way

“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.” (Genesis 14:14-15)

Not a whole lot of detail is given to us concerning Abraham’s involvement in the war between the five kings of the cities of the Plain of Jordan and the four kings from the East. In fact, we have the first 13 verses of the Fourteenth Chapter of Genesis that tell us how the war began, what it was about, and how the campaign of the Eastern kings under Chedorlaomer played out. Abraham’s victory over them, however,  is summed up in just two verses: 14 and 15. But in those two verses we see three very peculiar “tactics” employed by Abraham that are counter-intuitive and contradictory to accepted military strategy. This is the first of many instances throughout the Bible where we see that the methods used in battle by God’s people are quite distinct from conventional, human wisdom.

Few Against Many

“But while superior tactics are usually important in determining the shifting scales of engagement or battle, they are not necessarily sufficient for success in a campaign or war. A tactically or technically advantaged force may be beaten by a tactically inferior but numerically superior enemy.” (Taken From The Oxford Companion to Military History as quoted from answers.com)

According to conventional military strategy, superior numbers in combat is to be preferred even over superior tactics and technology. In other words, the army with the most soldiers on the battlefield has a distinct advantage over the enemy. While the ability of a simple, nomadic herdsman like Abraham to be able to muster a fighting force of 318 men (from his own household, no less. That was definitely some household!), it is inconceivable that his little militia was in any way comparable to the huge army deployed by Chedorlaomer.  We read in verses 4 and 5 that about a year went by before Chedolaomer responded to the rebellion of the kings in Canaan. It very likely took many months for him to arrange the logistics of deploying the huge force that he brought with him. We also know that his army was vast and powerful because in verses 5-12 we read of the swath of carnage that they plowed through the land, utterly annihilating every tribe of people in their path.

“One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.” (Joshua 23:10)

There is a saying, “One plus God equals a majority.” We see the truth of this statement again and again throughout the Bible as the armies of God’s people waged war when they were greatly outnumbered by their enemies. But when God fights for us, it doesn’t matter how many others are fighting by our side. The Lord will underscore this to Gideon in Judges 7 as He whittles Gideon’s army down to just 300 men against a multitude of Midianites. 300 was enough because it was God Who saved Gideon and delivered the enemy into his hand (Judges 7:7).

Dividing His Own Forces

The second peculiar thing about Abraham’s attack against this enormous army of the kings of the East is that he chose to divide the little fighting force that he had. It is usually the opposing army’s strategy in combat to “divide and conquer” their enemy, a smaller army will usually seek to stick together as much as possible for defensive purposes. Already greatly outnumbered, it would seem logical to make a show of force by closing ranks against the enemy allowing for a sort of “back to back” fighting that would prevent them from being divided and flanked. The Greek phalanx and the Roman legion of ancient times found their strength in their tight formations that would prevent the enemy from cutting through their ranks. Even when vastly outnumbered by barbarians, the Roman legions would employ their classic “tortoise shell” formation, each man’s overlapping shield protecting himself and his comrades while every third soldier would raise his own shield overhead providing a similar covering atop the formation. The result was an impenetrable wall of iron shields that the enemy was unable to break through from any direction, including from above!

But Abraham takes his already thin ranks and divides them further. This intrepid tactic is used again and again by God’s people throughout the Old Testament and seems to lead to confusion and surprise on the part of their enemies as they become convinced that they are up against a much greater sized force. Dividing a smaller army up like this seems to be illogical from a human standpoint, but the psychological results are quite effective!

Attacking By Night

This particular strategy actually makes a great deal of sense for a smaller army fighting a much larger one: get ’em while they’re sleeping. Of course, this has been done often throughout history by armies seeking to take advantage of  the element of surprise. But the image of Chedorlaomer’s army, fresh from a string of unbroken victories, their camp filled with the lamentations of their captured slaves, their coffers overflowing with the booty from their conquests; being drunken with the celebrations of their swift and merciless routing of their enemies; certainly convinced that they were now free to return to their homeland at their own leisure – having no one else to contest their superior might – paints a very vivid picture of God’s judgment coming upon the wicked:

“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

The wicked are most at ease and comfort under the shadows of darkness. The evil feel safe under the cover of night. But the judgments of God are something that no one can hide from  indefinitely, and His vengeance for the iniquities of the depraved falls suddenly. When the space for repentance has been exhausted, only swift and sure judgment remains.

The “Tactics” Of The Lord

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Like Abraham, when we enter into conflict (though ours is usually spiritual, not physical), we do not use the methods, tactics, and strategies that the world uses. If we are trusting and relying on the Lord to fight the battle for us, He will show us what to do and how to do it. Often, the methods that God chooses for us to use are very different from those used by those who are not His own. But even when we are greatly outnumbered we can be sure, as Abraham was, that when God is with us and we are in His will, we are on the winning side!

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published December 8, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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