Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” (Genesis 16:7-8)
In this passage above we are first introduced to a mysterious being called “the angel of the Lord” whom we will encounter in numerous instances throughout the rest of the Old Testament. Who is the angel of the Lord? Let’s begin with the word “angel” itself. What does this mean? The Greek translation for “angel” is “messenger”, and there is no doubt angels have brought many messages throughout all of scripture. Despite what the world will tell you, there are only a total of four angels in the Bible who are mentioned by name…Michael, Gabriel, Abaddon/Apollyon, and ….well, I won’t mention the fourth. There are also instances when scripture refers to… “an angel”, or in the New Testament, “an angel of the Lord”. Still, who is THE angel of the Lord. It’s apparent this “angel” is THE “messenger” of God. So this messenger is obviously set apart from all the other angels of the Bible and stands above the rest.
In Genesis when Hagar flees while pregnant from her mistress Sarai this “angel” comes to her by a well in the wilderness. He tells her that she is to name her son Ishmael and He will make many nations from him. This is Hagar’s response to the angel…
“You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)
In Exodus 3 Moses is tending to his father in law Jethro’s flock when he encounters a burning bush on the mountain of Horeb or also known as Mount Sinai.
“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. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” (Exodus 3:2-3)
Here is the preceding verse:
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.” (Exodus 3:4)
In Judges 13 the angel of the Lord appears to the wife of a Danite man named Manoah to tell her she would soon have a son and name him Samson…
“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.” (Judges 13:3)
After this encounter Manoah’s wife attempts to describe this person to him. She describes this person as “a man of God” and “an angel of God”. Manoah and his wife later than encounter this “angel of God” together and invite him to have a meal with them. The angel of God refuses, but instead tells them to prepare a burnt offering for him.
“The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.)” (Judges 13:16)
These are just a few of the appearances of the angel of the Lord. He appears, in total, 56 times in the Bible. I’ll end with these verses from Exodus and John…
“But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20)
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18)
Both of these passages confirm that no one has seen God in His uncreated state because He is spirit and He is perfect. So if God and John both confirm that no one has ever seen God then who is the angel of the Lord?
Two things we know about the angel of the Lord:
1. He is God
2. He appears as a man so mankind has a “face” to relate to.
Now the question is…who is God, but also man?