I’m returning for now to our look at the Trinity and the character in Scripture I want to look at first is one that appears a number of times in the Old Testament. Since this is a lengthy subject, I will be breaking it down into various posts, as good readers can tell simply by the title of this thread.
The Angel of the Lord! Some of us can read the text and not notice at times what is so astounding about this figure, something I attribute to the sad tendency that our education in the church can tend to dumb us down even and get only the applicational message out of a text rather than the doctrinal message. Application is important, but it must be rooted firmly in doctrine.
Tonight, I’d like to look at Genesis 16. I’m going to trust that any readers of my blog will have their Bibles open and be looking at the passage. After all, it’d be really annoying for you to have to scroll up and down constantly in this passage to see the text and then come back and see my commentary.
In this account, we have Abraham’s concubine Hagar, in a rivalry as it were with Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Hagar has been able to have a son and because of that, she looked down on Sarah. Back in the ANE, having a child was a great blessing to a lady and to be barren was a curse. This is something that needs to be emphasized in our abortion culture today.
Sarah sends Hagar away with her son and as Hagar is going, the Angel of the Lord appears to her and asks where she is going. This is the first appearance that we have of Scripture of this figure so let’s note some things from this encounter.
The angel tells Hagar to return and submit and then makes some promises which are as follows:
The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”
11 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.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”
Notice this first part. The Angel of the Lord does not say that the Lord will do this or that God will do this. Instead, the Angel of the Lord seems to take the initiative on himself and say that he will increase the descendants of Hagar. Normally, the prophets would all say that this is what the Lord will do and the other angels we see in Scripture would do the same. This one doesn’t.
This angel is also making a promise and it is not being prefaced with a “Thus sayeth the Lord.” What will make this more revealing is to look at what happens after this message is given. How does Hagar respond to it?
13 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.” 14That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
Hagar equated seeing this angel with seeing God. She believed that she had spoken to the Lord and she believed that he was the God who saw her. One might be tempted to think that her view was incorrect, but if we hold to the inspiration of Scripture, we have to ask why did Moses write this in this way with no disagreement unless he wanted us to know something about this figure?
Thus concludes our first look and I urge the reader to keep in mind what is said about the Angel of the Lord as we see him in other passages.