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The Awe-Inspiring Angel of the Lord in Scripture and His 7 Attributes

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Flipping through the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) certainly contains some characters and features that can be tough to wrap our minds around. Take, for instance, the Angel of the Lord. This figure presents us with quite a contradiction. Who is he? It’s worth understanding who this enigmatic angel really was and why it’s still so important to consider him today.

The Bible never identifies the angel of the Lord by name, but if you look closely, there are clues about his identity. When “the” is used before “angel,” this indicates it could be a unique being apart from other angels mentioned in scripture. He speaks on God’s behalf and carries out His responsibilities.

It is no surprise that the people of ancient times were filled with fear when they witnessed an angel of the Lord. For in some cases, it was actually God manifesting himself on Earth. We now refer to these remarkable instances as ‘theophanies,’ a physical representation of our all-powerful Creator appearing before us mortals.

After the glorious celebration of Christ’s incarnation, references to “the angel of the Lord” in scripture vanish. While angels are still mentioned many times throughout the New Testament, further appearances from the angel of the Lord” seems to stop.  While angels still appear multiple times to communicate God’s will and messages, this noteworthy figure is not mentioned. It can be puzzling that an ‘angel’ appears to Joseph in Matthew 1:24 and is referred to as “the” angel when just four verses earlier, it is called “an” angel.

image of God's hands and angel wings with the text the angel of the Lord & 7 attributes

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,

Matthew 1:24 (ESV)

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:20 (ESV)

Matthew is making sure we don’t forget the angel he mentioned previously – an important detail that helps us understand Matthew 28:2. In this verse, English Standard Version reads, “an angel of the Lord” descended from heaven and rolled away Jesus’ tombstone; however, in Greek, there’s no article before ‘angel,’ which makes it unclear if it was a specific or unspecific one. That said, King James Bible gives better wording by specifying ‘an angel.’

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Matthew 28:2 (ESV)

It’s interesting to consider that when the Bible mentions “the angel of the Lord,” there may have been more than meets the eye – it could’ve actually been Jesus, appearing in the pre-incarnation form! This makes perfect sense given what Jesus said about Himself: He existed before Abraham and was active in the world. So whether we’re talking about Christophany (the appearance of Christ) or Theophany (the appearance of God), chances are these ‘angels’ were physical manifestations of God himself.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

John 8:58 (ESV)

The Angel of the Lord: Yahweh’s Messenger 

The Hebrew word “angel” is Malak, meaning “messenger.” So this messenger is not just an angel but the “angel of the Lord.” The messenger is not just an angel but the angel of Yahweh. 

“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him.

Exodus 23:20-21 (ESV)

Yahweh proclaims to Moses that this angel will lead them, saying, “my name is in him.”

Is it Yahweh, or like Yahweh?

As you get to know this character more intimately, a giant puzzle will make itself known: it’s difficult to discern if the angel of God is delivering messages on behalf of Yahweh or speaking as him. 

Have you ever come across a perplexing contradiction in the Bible? We often wonder how it’s possible that two seemingly opposed ideas can both be true. But even though navigating through these complexities may seem like an uphill battle, there is no denying the wisdom hidden within Hebrew Scriptures.

You can unlock a whole new level of understanding when you explore Scripture. Rather than just accept things at face value, ask yourself why they are written in such an odd or contradictory way – could there be something more that God is telling us? By taking this approach and exploring Jesus’ teachings with fresh eyes, your faith and knowledge of God’s character will benefit enormously.

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12 Visits from the Angel of the Lord in Scripture

The Angel of the LORD Appears to Hagar

 “The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her,
“Behold, you are pregnant
    and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
    because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing, for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

Genesis 16:7-14 (ESV)

In Genesis 16, the angel of YHWH speaks in a way that could only come from God. Promising to bless Hagar’s descendants and multiply them greatly is an unmistakable extension of divine power! And it appears Hagar knew this too – she gives the angel a name indicating her profound faith: El Roi, meaning ‘the God who sees me.’ What assurance these words must have brought to her heart!

God spoke to Hagar in a moment of despair, telling her to name the child she was carrying Ishmael. ‘‘God hears’ – an inspiring reminder that God listens even during our most challenging times!

The angel of the LORD Appears to Abraham 

In Genesis 18, Scripture tells us that the LORD appeared to Abraham and Sarah in the form of a man along with two other men:

“And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.”

Genesis 18:1-3 (ESV)

When Abraham saw his unexpected guests, he was visibly moved – not your typical reaction from a wealthy elder like himself. Yet, upon closer inspection of the figure, something seemed different about him.

Abraham knew he was in the presence of something special when one of his visitors addressed him as “Adonai” or, more familiarly, known as ‘O Lord’ – a term exclusively used to refer to God. Scholars agree that this angelic meeting confirms Abraham’s belief that Yahweh had manifested before him.

“But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns.
And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Genesis 22:11-18 (ESV)

Abraham knew God was taking care of him, and He reassured Abraham with the same promise he had made before. To confirm it, the angel of the Lord said, “declares the LORD,” – revealing that this figure is none other than YHWH Himself! At last, all things came to fruition as God blessed His faithful servant, saying, “you have obeyed my voice.”

The Angel of the Lord Appears to Jacob 

“Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.’” 

Genesis 31:11-13 (ESV)

In Jacob’s dream, we find out that the “angel of God” is really a manifestation of God himself speaking. But wait until we read what follows in Genesis 32:24-30. Then, we learn about an even more powerful demonstration of God when Jacob physically encounters the Almighty.

“And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.  Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.”
Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Genesis 32:24-30 (ESV)

Jacob battled with a figure who had the appearance of man and eventually was convinced that it must have been God. After all, He’d previously appeared to Jacob’s ancestor Abraham in human form. (Genesis 18:1-15)

As Jacob’s life began to wind down, in Genesis 48:15-16, we read that he had the opportunity to bestow a special blessing on his beloved son Joseph and his two grandsons. 

“And he blessed Joseph and said,
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
    the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
    and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
    and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

Genesis 48:15-16 (ESV) Bold mine

Jacob would use the term angel (or messenger) in his blessing. 

The Angel of the Lord Appears to Moses 

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked; behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your 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 at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings”

Exodus 3:2-7 (ESV)

In a remarkable moment of Divine revelation, the angel of God took on an awe-inspiring form as flames engulfed Moses. “God called to him from within the bush,” and it was in this very instance that He proclaimed His name – YHWH.

“God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”

Genesis 3:14-15 (ESV)

The angel of the LORD in the Old Testament is no ordinary messenger: his words and actions point to a divine presence (such as in Genesis. 22:11-18). From Moses’ encounter with a flame burning brightly – often thought of as one of God’s signs throughout Exodus – to shielding Israel out of Egypt, this figure plays an active role in guiding them through difficult times and promising they will be taken into their promised land.

The added detail that “the LORD’ and ‘God” are used interchangeably here confirms what was already suspected – that this remarkable entity standing before ones like Moses isn’t just any angel…it’s actually very closely linked to GOD himself!

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

Exodus 13:21-22 (ESV)

Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.

Exodus 19:18 (ESV)

For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

Exodus 40:38 (ESV)

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Exodus 3:4 (ESV)

The Pillar of Cloud and The Angel of God 

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic,

Exodus 14:18-24 (ESV)

The Book of Exodus tells the incredible story of God’s presence in powerful ways – from a majestic burning bush to pillars of cloud and fire leading Israel on their journey. A divine messenger, known as “the angel of God,” also accompanied them, ensuring that they were always safe.

This messenger was no ordinary angel! Similar to the pillar of cloud and fire, this heavenly being is a representation of God Himself. Depending on how we interpret their actions, either they acted together as one entity or separately, with each playing an individual role – when it moved, so did the cloud!

We only have the privilege of knowing just a tiny sliver of God’s greatness. Despite his omniscience, omnipotence, and eternity, our human brains struggle to comprehend these qualities that make him perfectly divine – they seem beyond anything we can imagine! His ability to be everywhere at once and take any form he desires or even just appear as fire & cloud? That’s something no one but Him could ever do; it shows us time and time again He isn’t bound by physical laws like we are here on earth.

God is always near to us, ready and willing to go ahead of us in life – even if we don’t understand every single detail. We’ll never know the exact member of the Trinity revealed through events such as the burning bush or pillar of cloud/fire; what’s important is that God was with his people just like He still is today!

His holy purposes will be met regardless of our understanding: believing Him without comprehending everything allows for the trust that all things are working together according to a greater plan.

The Angel of the Lord, The Commander of the Lord’s Army, and Joshua 

“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.”
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”

Joshua 5:13-15 (ESV)

(on a side note, I wanted to name our coffee business/ministry Holy Ground, but it was taken – cool name, though, huh?)

As Joshua encountered the LORD’s commander, he could have never anticipated what would happen. At first glance, it appeared to be merely a man, but upon further inspection, this figure revealed himself as an angelic manifestation of God! In awe and reverence at its holy presence, Joshua humbly bowed down in worship – much like Moses did when confronted with a similar divine being so many years before in Exodus 3.

The divine had a special way of granting people the courage and strength to fulfill their missions – before Jacob (Gen 32:22-32), Moses (Exod 3:1-4:17), or Joshua embarked on theirs’ they were visited by the angel of the Lord. 

The Angel of the Lord in The Book of Judges 

It is unclear whether Judges 2:15 refers to an appearance of the angel of the LORD or whether it’s a messenger in the form of a prophet. 

The reason that some biblical scholars consider this a prophet versus a divine appearance is that a prophet is mentioned in Judges 6:7. Still, then in Judges 6:11, the angel of the LORD does make a physical appearance.  (more on this shortly).

When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites,

Judges 6:7 (ESV)

Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.

Judges 6:11 (ESV)

In Judges 5, Deborah sang a powerful poem that praised the Lord for his victory over King Sisera and the Canaanites. Not only did it express joyous celebration, but it also included a curse from the angel of the Lord.

“Curse Meroz, says the angel of the Lord,
    curse its inhabitants thoroughly,
because they did not come to the help of the Lord,
    to the help of the Lord against the mighty.

Judges 5:23 (ESV)
image of Silhouette of a Statue of an Angel with Storm Clouds for the post angel of the Lord

The Angel of the Lord Appears to Gideon 

In Judges 6:11-12 we see the angel of the LORD again make a physical appearance.

Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.’”

Judges 6:11-12 (ESV)

In this passage, the angel of the LORD is in human form as the verb sat down is used, and Gideon mistakes the angel for a mere human. Gideon doesn’t even realize this is God as he refers to the man as “lord” (lowercase). 

Gideon had an attitude – he sarcastically pointed out that if the Lord were really with his people, they wouldn’t be stuck in their current situation. He questioned where all those great wonders told by past generations went off to.

And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

Judges 6:13 (ESV)

Then the angel of the LORD responds to Gideon:

 “And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?’’” 

Judges 6:14 (ESV)

But STILL, Gideon isn’t convinced that he is speaking with God and the LORD speaks again in Judges 6:15-24:

And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me.
Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.”
So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so.
Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes.
And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.

Judges 6:15-24 (ESV)

The Angel of the Lord Appears to Samson’s Mother and Father 

In Judges 13, we can read about this account.  Here is a brief portion.  

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.
Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”

Judges 13:2-7 (ESV)

In verse 18, we learn that the angel’s name is too wonderful to understand, so He doesn’t reveal it to Samson’s parents.  In Isaiah 9:6, we learn that the Messiah’s name is listed as “Wonderful Counselor,” among other names. The angel of the LORD here in Judges 13, as well as chapter 6, performs miracles, which are normally attributed to God himself.

And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?”

Judges 13:18 (ESV)

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

The Angel of the Lord Appears to David 

In 2 Samuel 24 we read that the LORD was so displeased with David’s lack of trust that His anger burned against all Israel. So, instead of punishing Himself, He gave King David a choice: select his own punishment for this misdeed.

Here is a glimpse of the story beginning at 2 Samuel 24:15.

So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.”
And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.’’

2 Samuel 24:15-17 (ESV)

It seems likely that David encountered the same angel as the one afflicting the people and the one on the threshing floor. Still, it’s not certain if he saw this divine being as a direct representation of God, but he does pray to the Lord, indicating that he thought they were separate beings.  

This angel holds immense power, the ability to take life away. However, it’s important to remember that only God is able to bring and end lives – not even spiritual forces, including angelic beings or demonic spirits, have this authority on their own.

“‘See now that I, even I, am he,
    and there is no god beside me;
I kill and I make alive;
    I wound and I heal;
    and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Deuteronomy 32:39 (ESV)

The Lord kills and brings to life;
    he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

1 Samuel 2:6 (ESV)

We know that God allowed Satan to afflict Job, and in Genesis 19, for example, Moses wrote about the angels who visited Lot in Sodom, however, this topic is a post for another day.

The Angel of the Lord Appears to The Prophet Zechariah 

Zechariah 1 gives us a glimpse into the word of God, revealed to Zechariah in an awe-inspiring vision. Unlike a dream where one is asleep, this kind of experience requires being awake and alert – something that reveals how powerful these prophetic visions were! That said, it’s interesting to note how despite having such a profound spiritual encounter with what appears to be an angelic figure speaking directly from Heaven itself, Zechariah still calls him “lord” (lowercase) and instead implies reverence without acknowledging that this heavenly being is God. 

On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, “I saw in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses.
Then I said, ‘What are these, my lord?’ The angel who talked with me said to me, ‘I will show you what they are.’ So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, ‘These are they whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.’ And they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, ‘We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth remains at rest.’
Then the angel of the Lord said, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will you have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these seventy years?’
And the Lord answered gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster. Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the Lord of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.
Cry out again, Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’”
And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, four horns! And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” And he said to me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.

Zechariah 1:7-20 (ESV)

An angel spoke to Zechariah in the vision while a mysterious man in red rode among the myrtle trees. But it didn’t take long for them both to be revealed as one and the same: The Angel of the Lord! This divine figure often appeared before mortals with human features.

An angel and the Lord had a direct conversation – Yahweh of armies, as He was known 53 times throughout Zechariah. 

In verse eight of this scripture, we see a mysterious figure referred to as simply ‘The Man.’ It turns out that the man is actually The Angel of the Lord – someone distinct from God but speaking on His behalf nonetheless. 

Our heavenly Father is so loving that He sends the angel of the LORD to intercede on our behalf – just as Jesus continually advocates for us now. While questions still remain around his identity – one thing is for certain: our prayers are constantly being heard no matter who or what serves as an intermediary between us and God.

Though the distinction between the angel of the Lord and God Himself is not explicitly stated, it’s clear from Zechariah that we don’t need to understand this difference in order to learn what God wants us to gain from his Word.

The angel of the LORD in the New Testament 

“Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look.
Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’
“This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’
This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us.

Acts 7:30-38 (ESV)

Stephen spoke out to the Sanhedrin and reminded them of their rejection of Jesus, but before he could finish his sermon, they threw him out and stoned him. He began by referring to “an angel”—but made it clear that this was actually God himself! Later in the speech, Stephen pointed back to two major moments — when a divine being appeared as an “angel” at the burning bush, then again on Mount Sinai — showing us all that these were true examples of where God revealed Himself through His angels.

While we humans may never glimpse the face of God Himself, it stands to reason that some people throughout history would have gotten a chance encounter with Jesus before He assumed His human form. And while angels are typically seen as messengers or spiritual guides in scripture, no mention ever made in the Bible suggests the Holy Spirit assumes this role.

The form you have selected does not exist.

7 of the Power and Authority the Angel of The Lord Has

  • The angel of the Lord is no mere messenger from God – it’s something more powerful, a representation of God Himself.
  • The angel of the Lord has the divine power to both bring life into existence (Genesis 16:10) and take it away (2 Samuel 6) – truly something only God can do!
  • The angel of the Lord is said to possess divine knowledge and understanding – the same kind of power only found in God. (Genesis 16:13Exodus 3:7)
  • The angel of the Lord also shares God’s title of ‘judge of all the earth’ and is a reminder that He alone has authority over everything. It serves as an awe-inspiring example of His power and righteousness. (Genesis 18:25)
  • In Exodus 23:21, the angel of the Lord is said to have the authority to forgive sins, which belongs to God alone.
  • According to Biblical accounts, the angel allowed Moses and Joshua to revere it as God’s messenger without citing any consequences. Other angels aren’t so; they are often seen prohibiting individuals from giving them the glory that rightfully belongs only to the Lord.
  • This angel was special – its authority surpassed any other heavenly being mentioned in the Bible.

Scripture makes it unmistakably clear that the angel of the LORD is actually God, manifested in a very tangible way. Even more extraordinary – Jesus Christ has been identified as being part of this manifestation; an incredible and humbling example that even within His Divinity, He was capable of taking on flesh.

You may enjoy this video about the angel of the Lord from the Bible Project.

Or one of these recommended resources to learn more about the angel of the Lord:

The Angel of the LORD: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Study by Douglas Van Dorn, Matt Foreman

Angels of the Lord: 365 Reflections on Our Heavenly Guardians by Catherine Odell, Margaret Savitskas

Angel Armies: Releasing the Warriors of Heaven by Tim Sheets

The angel of the Lord is a divine being that has multiple appearances throughout scripture. This angel delivers messages from God, offers protection, and harbors great power and authority. The next time you read scripture, keep an eye out for references to the angel of the Lord. What other biblical examples of the angel of the Lord do you find in scripture?

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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