Gideon also encountered the theophanic angel of the LORD:
"And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an
oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite:
and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from
the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and
said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. . . And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in
this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the
Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord,
wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in
Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house. And the LORD said
unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the
Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If now I have found
grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring
forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry
until thou come again.
"And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and
unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket,
and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the
oak, and presented it. And the angel of God said unto him,
Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this
rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD
put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the
flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the
rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the
angel of the LORD departed out of his sight. And when Gideon
perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O
Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face. And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou
shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD,
and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of
the Abiezrites." (Judges 6:1-18).
Again we see the hallmarks of this theophany: the shifting identification,—
is this an angel, or the LORD? Also the willingness to accept
worship even including sacrifice, which a created angel will not do;
see for instance the angel of Revelation, who said, "See thou do it not:" "And I John saw
these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell
down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these
things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy
fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which
keep the sayings of this book: worship God." (Revelation 22:8-9).
This angel speaks the words of the LORD in first person, with no
prophet's preface of 'thus saith the LORD,' and willingly accepts
worship. Who is He?
Moses at the Burning Bush
Not only is this theophanic "angel of the LORD" acclaimed as God by
those who encounter Him, He Himself claims to be God:
"And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of
fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the
bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush
does not burn.'...Moreover 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 upon God...Then Moses said to God, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel
and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they say to me, "What is His name?"
what shall I say to them?' And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say
to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."'" (Exodus 3:2-14).
To put the bluntest possible point on the issue, when the theophanic "angel of the LORD" says to Moses, "I am the
God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"
— is He fibbing, or is He telling the truth?
From the time of Justin Martyr, Christians have affirmed, He's telling the Bible truth
— He really is God — and He is a 'sent messenger', which is what 'angel' means.
What is an 'angel,' literally speaking? A messenger:
from an unused root meaning to despatch as a deputy. . .
AV - angel 111, messenger 98, ambassadors 4, variant 1; 214
1) messenger, representative
1c) the theophanic angel
'Angel' means messenger, envoy or ambassador, one sent,— even if just a man: "Then Jacob sent messengers [malak Strong's 0439]
before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of
Edom." (Genesis 32:3). In its most literal meaning, the word does not
specify any order of created heavenly beings — though God does maintain
a stable of created, ministering spirits to fill this task. Literally,
it identifies a messenger, envoy or ambassador, one sent by another.
Even human beings can be dispatched as God's messengers, as was the
prophet Haggai: "Then spake Haggai the LORD’S
messenger [malak] in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am
with you, saith the LORD." (Haggai 1:13). John the Baptist is the first 'malak', 'messenger', of Malachi 3:1: "'Behold, I send My
messenger ['malak'], and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek,
will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger ['malak'] of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,
says the LORD of hosts.'" The first 'malak', 'angel' or 'messenger', is a human being, John the Baptist, as identified
by Jesus in Matthew 11:10: "For this is he of whom it is written: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare
Your way before You.' Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist;
but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (Matthew 11:10-11). The second 'malak', 'angel'
or 'messenger of the covenant', is God Himself, God incarnate, Jesus Christ.