Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Advent 2023: November 13 - Presence

Monday November 13th: Presence

Read Genesis 16.

Before we get into where Jesus is at in this passage, and yes, he is personally there and speaking, we first need to detox on some assumptions.  The word you and I need to detox from is the word “angel.”
We have been taught that angel means a cute chubby baby with wings that is in heaven.  Do yourself a favor and stop that thought.  Drop that image and understanding from your mind.  Start over from scratch.

In the Bible, the word and concept of angel is multifaceted and means much more than that.  The word angel means simply: messenger.  An angel is someone who bears a message from God.  The messenger can be a heavenly creature or an earthly one.  In Revelation 2-3, Jesus addresses the “angel” of each church being written to.  Most commentators understand that the angel being referred to is the pastor of the church.  After all, pastors bring a message from God each week, which makes them earthly angels.  When Ehud comes to the king of Midian in Judges 3, he brings a message from God.  Ehud the judge is an angel.  Perhaps it would be easier to think of “angel” not as a being per se, but as a title for anyone sent by God.  Whether visible or invisible.

Understanding this then, the word “angel” can also be a title for Jesus.  Jesus is “The Angel.”  Or better said: The Messenger.  Rember that saying this does not mean that Jesus is a created being with wings.  Jesus is the Messenger sent from God the Father.  Jesus, the fully divine Son of God, who is equal to the Father, is sent to earth with a message from the Father.  Or, as Jesus claims in the Gospel of John, He acts and speaks on behalf of the Father.  
With this in mind, for much of Christian history people took “The Angel of the Lord” or “the Messenger of YHWH” to be the pre-incarnate Son of God who 2,000 years ago took on our human flesh.  And as we read Genesis 16, note how the Angel of the Lord says and does things that only God himself can do:

Hagar has been kicked out by Sarah.  Sarah sees Hagar as a threat to her standing and future son and treats her harshly which causes Hagar to flee away.
In 16:7, we are told that the Angel of the Lord finds Hagar by a spring in a scene that mirrors John 4.

After the Messenger of the Lord and Hagar talk and discuss why she is running, the Angel of the Lord says this which should perk up ears: “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.”  Back in Genesis 15, God had said these very words to Abraham.
And after this, Hagar calls the name of the Messenger of the Lord who talked with her: “You are a God of seeing.”  She calls the Messenger of the Lord, God.  And also says, “Truly I have seen him who looks after me.”

We will meet this Angel (understand messenger!) of the Lord multiple times in the Old Testament.  He appears in Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges and the Psalms!  As you read the Bible and meet him, you should see this character as none other than Jesus Christ himself.