God an Angel?
Wednesday of Pentecost 4
15 June 2016
The Old Testament shows the patriarchs receiving divine visitations in creaturely form. In these mysterious meetings Abraham, for example, entertains three men. The text calls them collectively Lord and also refers to them with both singular and plural verbs. The text is a divine vision (theophany) through which God, the holy Trinity, communicates His promise to Abraham (Gn 18:1-8). Here God promises the seed that would be the forbearer of the Seed, Christ our Lord (Jn 8:56). At pivotal moments in the Old Testament revelation of God to His chosen people God uses these theophanies.
Perhaps the most famous theophany is God's visit to Moses in the burning bush (Ex 3:1-6). Here the presence connected by the Word with the bush is called both the "angel of the Lord" and also "the Lord." Augustine wrestles with this divine appearance and in his typical style exhaustively sorts through all the possibilities before he comes to that which he thinks to be most likely.
God the Son was among His people in these earthly appearances (not incarnations) as the divinely-sent messenger or angel who carried God's Word of rescue to His people. Angel simply means "messenger" in Scripture. These theophanies are all gospel moments in the life of the Old Testament church. In them God the Son proclaims, "I am Your God and I will rescue you." In these appearances the Son of God is foreshadowing His substantial incarnation of Mary when He will not merely appear to His people, but dwell among them (Ex 3:1-6). He is here also first called the Angel of the Lord, and then God.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo

"Was an angel, then, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? Therefore He may be rightly understood to be the Savior Himself, of whom the apostle says, 'To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever' (Rm 9:5). He, therefore, 'who is God over all, blessed forever,' is not unreasonably here understood also to be Himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. But why is He previously called the Angel of the Lord, when He appeared in a flame of fire out of the bush? Was it because it was one of many angels, who by an arrangement bore the person of his Lord? Or was something of the creature assumed by Him in order to bring about a visible appearance for the business at hand, and that words might then be audibly uttered, whereby the presence of the Lord might be shown, in such way as was proper, to the bodily senses of man, by means of the creature made subject?
"For if he was one of the angels, who could easily affirm whether it was the person of the Son which was imposed upon him to announce, or that of the Holy Spirit, or that of God the Father, or altogether of the Trinity itself, who is the one and only God, in order that he might say, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?'...
"But if the creature was assumed for the purpose of the business at hand, whereby both to appear to human eyes, and to sound in human ears, and to be called the Angel of the Lord, and the Lord, and God; then God cannot here be understood to be the Father, but either the Son or the Holy Spirit. Although I cannot call to mind that the Holy Spirit is anywhere else called an angel, which yet may be understood from His work; for it is said of Him, 'And He will show you things to come' (Jn 16:13); and 'angel' in Greek is certainly equivalent to 'messenger' in Latin: but we read most evidently of the Lord Jesus Christ in the prophet, that He is called 'the Angel of Great Counsel' (Is 9:6; this may reflect a Latin text not available to us), while both the Holy Spirit and the Son of God is God and Lord of the angels."

On the Trinity, 2.13
Exodus 3:1-6

"When Moses was sent to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, it is written that the Lord appeared to him thus: 'Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and 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."
O Christ, You have appeared to the people of old as the Angel of the Lord to tell of Your wonderful rescue of them at the Red Sea when they passed through as on dry ground, foreshadowing the rescue of Baptism. Appear among us through Your Word that Your ministry might not be bound but abound in preaching and sacraments among us, the people whom You continually promise to rescue. Amen.
For Paul Marker, that he would be recover fully from back surgery and be freed from chronic pain

For all those who have suffered loss from the earthquake in Nicaragua, that God the Lord would rescue them and bring them safely through the rebuilding
For all the enemies of the church, that God the Lord would send angels to proclaim the message of salvation and bring them into the church and peace would reign
For the followers of Islam, that they might be brought out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ through the proclamation of the holy church and join us in the baptized community of those redeemed by precious blood
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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