At this moment I am reading the book TEOLOGIA ELEMENTAR, published by the IMPRENSA BATISTA REGULAR, written by EMERY H. BANCROFT, translated into Portuguese, 1966 edition. Pages 27 and 28 give a theological explanation about the Angel of Jehovah. We are going to describe the explanation in its entirety, which begins like this: “Whatever is spirit is able to manifest itself in visible form, for John testified, saying: ‘I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him’ (John 1:32). And also in Acts 2:1-4 the Spirit manifested himself in tongues as of fire, and they rested on them.”
The Bible record shows that God has manifested himself in visible form. In this case Paul lied in 1 Tim. 6:16 when he affirmed that God has never been seen by men, and John, the apostle, also lied, in John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12, for, if he has been seen in a theophany, in the form of a dove, or in the form of an angel, he has literally been seen, and they have, therefore, lied. Let us continue the reading of the theology book:
“The angel of Jehovah,” in the Old Testament, is a manifestation of divinity. The Bible traces a clear distinction between “an angel of Jehovah” and “the angel of Jehovah.” This distinction, however, is only preserved in some versions.
Let us observe a few examples in which “the angel of Jehovah” is declared to be a manifestation of divinity:
- In the experience of Hagar and Ishmael (Gen. 16:7-13), “the angel of Jehovah,” in v.10, is clearly identified in v.13 as being Jehovah. In chapter 21, when Abraham sent away Hagar and the boy, the Bible text says: “God heard the voice of the boy. The angel of God called to Hagar out of the sky, and said to her, ‘What ails you, Hagar? Don’t be afraid. For God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him in your hand. For I will make him a great nation’” (Gen. 21:17-18). In these verses, also, God manifests himself as “the angel of Jehovah.” In the episode in which Abraham, tempted by Jehovah, offers his son Isaac to be dead on an altar, also: “The angel of Jehovah called to him out of the sky, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Don’t lay your hand on the boy, neither do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me’” (Gen. 22:11-12).
- In the book of Judges we read: “The angel of Jehovah came up from Gilgal to Bochim. He said, ‘I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you to the land which I swore to your fathers; and I said, “I will never break my covenant with you: and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.” But you have not listened to my voice: why have you done this?’” (Judges 2:1,2). Here the angel of Jehovah says clearly: I did what Jehovah has done.
One may ask: Which of the tree persons of the Trinity manifests itself as the angel of Jehovah? Answer: In the Old Testament the angel of Jehovah is clearly a manifestation of divinity, and he is identified with the second person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ. The angel of Jehovah was God the Son before the definitive incarnation. When the angel of Jehovah appeared to Manoah: “The angel of Jehovah said to him, ‘Why do you ask about my name, since it is wonderful?’” (Judges 13:18). And in Is. 9:6, we read that it is one of the names of Jesus.
This is what the page 28 of the book already mentioned above, Teologia Elementar, says to prove that a theophany, in other words, Christ, who would only be born 1.600 years later, was spiritually seen in the angel of Jehovah, who is none other than Jehovah (Gen. 22:15-16; Ex. 3:2-4).
The book theologically explains that there is a big difference between “an angel,” and “the angel” of Jehovah. “An angel” is a messenger of God, and “the angel” is Jesus before the incarnation. Let us biblically analyze this theological affirmation. In the book of 1 Chr. 21:15, we read: “God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was about to destroy, Jehovah saw, and he relented of the disaster, and said to the destroying angel, ‘It is enough; now stay your hand.’ The angel of Jehovah was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of Jehovah standing between earth and the sky, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces” (1 Chr. 21:15-16). We see that, according to the Scriptures, an angel and the angel of Jehovah are the same thing. Theology is mistaken.
- In Ex. 23:20-21 we read that the angel of Jehovah kills and does not forgive. This is in blatant contradiction with the New Testament, which says, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is to come” (Matt. 12:32). Therefore, the angel of Jehovah is not Jesus Christ. Theology is mistaken.
- The angel changes the promise he makes: “I will send an angel before you; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite” (Ex. 33:2). The promise is repeated in Ex. 34:11. And in the book of Judges the angel says that he will not drive out the nations any more. And he says this as vengeance (Judges 2:1-3). Jesus acts differently: when a servant or disciple sins, he intercedes for him before the Father (1 John 2:1). Jesus came to this world to save, and not to condemn (John 3:16-17).
- The angel of Jehovah persecutes the sinner (Ps. 35:4-6). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, goes after the lost (Luke 15:4-7). The angel of Jehovah has nothing to do with Jesus.
- The angel of Jehovah curses: “Curse bitterly its inhabitants, because they didn’t come to help Jehovah, to help Jehovah against the mighty” (Judges 5:23). But Jesus recommends the Christians saying: “Bless those who persecute you; bless, and don’t curse” (Rom. 12:14). If a Christian does not curse a lost sinner, because he needs salvation, why the angel of Jehovah does? He does it because he does not love. And there is more: The text says that Jehovah needed the help of the men of Meroz, and Paul declares that God does not need the help of men (Acts 17:24-25).
- The angel of Jehovah changes himself into Satan. When Balaam went to meet Balak, king of the Moabites, with orders from Jehovah (Num. 22:18-21), he went, but the wrath of Jehovah was kindled, and “the angel of JEHOVAH placed himself in the way for an adversary” (Num. 22:22). The Bible says “adversary,” but the Hebrew says SHATAN, that is, Satan. In verse 32 the angel of Balaam says: “I have come forth as an adversary.” And Jesus came to this world to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8).
- It is written in the book of Psalms: “The angel of Jehovah encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Ps. 34:7). Uzzah feared Jehovah and was killed (2 Sam. 6:6-7). King Josiah ruled from when he was eight years old. He feared Jehovah, walked in his ways, purified Jerusalem and served Jehovah with all his heart, but the angel of Jehovah did not deliver him from the hands of Pharaoh Neco, who killed him (2 Kings 22:1-2; 2 Chr. 34:8). Josiah celebrated the greatest Passover in Israel’s history (2 Chr. 35:18). Never before or after had a king turned to Jehovah with all his heart as Josiah did (2 Kings 23:25). Well, the angel of Jehovah did not encamp around him to preserve his life from the hands of the Pharaoh Neco, who killed him (2 Kings 23:29).
Jesus, on the other hand, saves the sinner and the lost. He saved a prostitute in Luke 7:36-48. He saved a thief that was crucified with him (Luke 23:39-43). Jesus is decidedly not the angel of Jehovah; rather, he is the Only Begotten Son of the Father, who came down to this pit to reveal the true God that is father, love, and wants to save every man.
By Olavo Silveira Pereira