Angel of the Lord

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A title given to those angelic servants of God who are given specific tasks in furthering God’s purposes among humanity. These tasks include the giving of revelations, guidance, encouragement, warnings and the execution of judgment on those who oppose God’s purposes.


The status of the angel of the Lord

He is identified with the Lord

Ex 3:2–6 The angel of the Lord here speaks for God and is recognised as God and as a messenger from God. This may indicate that the angel speaks on God’s behalf (compare with the role of the prophets) or, as some believe, this may be a manifestation of the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.
See also Ge 16:7; Ge 16:13; Ge 31:11–13; Jdg 2:1–2; Jdg 6:11–12; Jdg 6:14; Jdg 13:19–22; Zec 3:1–2

He is distinguished from the Lord

2 Samuel 24:16 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’ The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
See also Zec 1:12–13; Lk 1:19; Heb 1:4

The angel of the Lord is active in various ways

He calls and speaks

Ge 16:7–8; Ge 21:17; Ge 22:11; Ge 22:15; 2 Ki 1:3; 2 Ki 1:15

He has physical contact with people

1 Ki 19:5; 1 Ki 19:7; Ac 12:7

He appears in human likeness

Ge 18:2; Ge 18:16; Ge 18:22; Ge 19:1; Jdg 6:11–12; Ac 27:23

He appears in supernatural form, often evoking fear

Ex 3:2; Nu 22:22–24; Nu 22:31; 1 Ch 21:16; Lk 1:11–12; Lk 2:9

He appears in dreams and visions

Ge 31:11; Zec 1:8; Zec 1:11; Zec 3:1; Zec 3:5; Mt 2:13; Mt 2:19; Ac 10:3

Functions of the angel of the Lord

He reveals information, often about forthcoming births

Judges 13:3 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, ‘You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son.
See also Mt 1:20; Lk 1:11; Lk 1:13

He gives guidance and instruction

Acts 8:26 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’
See also Ge 16:9; Ge 22:11–12; Ge 24:7; Ge 24:40; Ex 23:23; Nu 22:35

He comforts those in need

Genesis 21:17 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.
See also 1 Ki 19:5–7; Ac 27:23–25

He affirms promises and gives blessing

Genesis 22:15–18 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.’
See also Lk 1:26–28; Lk 1:30–33; Lk 2:10–11

He leads, delivers and protects Israel

Psalm 34:7 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
See also Ex 14:19; Is 63:9

He rebukes sinful Israel

Judges 2:1–4 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, ‘I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.” Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, “I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.” ’ When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud,

He rolls back the tombstone

Matthew 28:2 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

He rescues those in prison

Ac 5:19; Ac 12:8–9

He executes judgment on sin

Acts 12:23 NIV (Anglicised, 2011)
Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
See also 2 Sa 24:15–16; 2 Ki 19:35; Ps 35:4–6
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