Listening or seeing – which is more important?
Where Isaiah speaks of Jesus … surprisingly
Other appearances of the Angel of the LORD are at the time of Judges when he reminds the people of their disobedience and their breaking of the Covenant (Judges 2:1-5), a cosy chat with Gideon under the oak tree to empower him for service (Judges 6:11-24) and to the parents of Samson, telling them about the great son they were going to bring to the world. This is an interesting story because, through it, we find out a bit more about the Angel of the LORD. We find out that he has the appearance of both man and angel (Judges 13:6) but we get a clear declaration of his identity after Manoah, Samson’s father, asks for his name. He doesn’t give it but after a burnt offering was made, the following happens:
“As the flame blazed up from the altar towards heaven, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. When the angel of the LORD did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realised that it was the angel of the LORD. ‘We are doomed to die!’ he said to his wife. ‘We have seen God!’”(Judges 13:20-22)
So Manoah knew exactly who he was dealing with, God himself. And because he didn’t exactly die as a result, it was God in the form of Jesus, the memra of God.
It was the Angel of the LORD who ministered to Elijah when he was on the run from Jezebel after the showdown on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 19) and who prompted King David to build an altar at the site where the great Temple would be built (1 Chronicles 21:18). The fiercer side of his nature was shown when he did to death 195,000 Assyrian soldiers who were surrounding Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35).
In fact it’s amazing how many familiar Old Testament stories include dealings with the memra of God, through the Angel of the LORD.
It is time to venture a little deeper, to further cement this idea of Jesus’ appearances to his people, in the guise of the Angel of the LORD. One passage of scripture that really sets the seal on this comes from the book of Isaiah.
“I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, ‘Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me’; and so he became their Saviour.
In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:7-9)
Here God states that He is to be the Saviour of His people, but that it was actually the Angel of his presence (of the LORD) that did the saving. The only Saviour we know, of course, is Jesus Christ, so what we present here is a pretty strong case that the Angel of the LORD is Jesus himself. Perhaps the clincher is the fact that the Angel of the LORD appears nowhere in the Gospels, because even Jesus couldn’t appear in two places at the same time!