Category: Columns

Who is the angel of the LORD?

This is the 19th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Identified as Yahweh and yet distinct from Him, “the angel of the LORD” appears numerous times throughout the Old Testament. This messenger is above all others. He is called “commander of the LORD’s army,” “the God of Abraham,” “Judge,” and “I AM WHO I AM” – a name only the one true God ever claims.

Who is this awe-inspiring messenger? Ancient Jews believed him to be a special angel, the highest revelation of the unseen God. Similarly, Roman Catholics generally regard the angel of the LORD as an angelic representative of God, as do some Protestants. Many evangelicals, however, consider him either as a manifestation of Yahweh – a theophany, derived from the Greek words theos (God) and pheino (to appear) – or as the preincarnate Son of God, a Christophany, the Lord Jesus.

We should note that the Hebrew word malak and the Greek term angelos, translated “angel,” mean “messenger.” While angels in Scripture normally are spirit beings of higher intelligence and power than humans, there are times when the term refers to human messengers, or to the Son of God. The context helps us determine the correct application.

Norman Geisler writes, “Jesus Christ appears in the Old Testament in His preincarnate state as ‘the Angel [Messenger] of the Lord’ … Once the Son (Christ) came in permanent incarnate form (John 1:14), never again does the Angel of the Lord appear. Angels appear, but no angel that is worshiped or claims to be God ever appears again. The Father and Holy Spirit never appear as a man. Hence, Jesus Christ, as a person, eternally existed and appeared as a man before His virginal conception on earth.”

Just as the Holy Spirit is active on the earth prior to the Day of Pentecost, so Jesus works collaboratively with the Father and the Spirit to bring a divine word, direction, and deliverance prior to His conception in a virgin’s womb.
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Jesus in the Old Testament

This is the 18th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Prophetic portions of the Old Testament anticipate a coming Messiah. While explicit references to his deity are rare, key passages offer clues of the Anointed One’s eternal nature and divine power. 

Isaiah 9:6-7 is one example: “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the LORD of Armies will accomplish this.” 

Since the Israelites are strict monotheists, the very idea of “Mighty God, Eternal Father” coming to sit on King David’s throne and rule forever no doubt fuels great wonder and encouragement in God’s people. The name “Mighty God” means more than a godlike person, for the same Hebrew term, El Gibhor, is applied elsewhere in the Old Testament to Yahweh (Isa. 10:21; Jer. 32:18). Isaiah understands that the Messiah is God in the same sense of the term.

As for “Everlasting Father,” Isaiah does not mean to confuse the Father and the Messiah as if they are the same person. Rather, the prophet uses a Jewish idiom to describe the Messiah’s relationship to time, not His relationship with the other members of the Trinity. The Messiah is everlasting, just as God the Father is called the “Ancient of Days” in Daniel 7:9. It is similar to Micah’s messianic prophecy, which declares, “His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times” (Mic. 5:2).

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God as Father of the church

This is the 17th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available through Amazon and other booksellers.

Let’s consider the wonderful doctrine of God as Father of the church – specifically, as the Father of everyone who receives His Son, Jesus Christ, by faith and thus is adopted into God’s family.

The Bible speaks of adoption as an act of God making born-again believers members of His family. As in first-century Roman culture, all former relationships of the adopted child are severed, and the adoptee is made a full-fledged member of his or her new family under the father’s authority, and with the full privileges and responsibilities of an adult

For Christians, then, no longer does the evil one hold his servants captive, in spiritual blindness, alienated from God, and destined for outer darkness. Christ has come to our rescue, redeeming us from the slave market of sin and joyfully welcoming us into the Father’s family as Jesus’ coheirs in His everlasting kingdom.

Adoption into God’s family is part of the Father’s predestined plan for everyone who believes. It is inextricably bound to all other elements of salvation, spanning from eternity past in foreknowledge to eternity future in glorification. As a consequence, we may rest assured of our salvation, for just as a Roman father could not disown an adopted son, God is faithful to His promise to conform us to the image of His eternal Son.
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The Father of Israel

This is the 16th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available by contacting the MBC or through Amazon and other booksellers.

In the previous column, we explored how Yahweh is the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Scriptures depict the fatherhood of God in other ways, as well. In this article, we examine God as the Father of Israel, and in the next column we survey God as the Father of the Church.

The Israelites enjoy a unique relationship with Yahweh, who creates a nation for Himself out of the pagan tribes of the world. Then, He calls Himself the Father of Israel. This special relationship is anchored in God’s sovereign will and eternal plan to deliver the redemption of sinful mankind through a special people marked off as His own.

While the Israelites enjoy great benefits as the “firstborn” of Yahweh (Exod. 4:22), they may claim no merit of their own in this unique relationship. In fact, they often come under the chastening hand of their Father when they violate the terms of their covenant with Yahweh.

In a terse warning to the Israelites, Moses contrasts the faithfulness of God with the once and future corruption of His people: “Is this how you repay the LORD, you foolish and senseless people? Isn’t he your Father and Creator? Didn’t he make you and sustain you? Remember the days of old; consider the years of past generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders, and they will teach you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance and divided the human race, he set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the people of Israel. But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob, his own inheritance” (Deut. 32:6-9).
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The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

This is the 15th in a series of articles on the Trinity, excerpted from “What Every Christian Should Know About the Trinity,” available by contacting the MBC or through Amazon and other booksellers.

While Jesus assures His followers that God is their Heavenly Father, He alone shares a unique relationship with the Father as the eternal Son of God. There is an intimacy in this union that only exists between two eternal, all-powerful, and all-knowing persons. We explore this relationship in more detail in future columns.

Still, it may prove helpful here to note a few New Testament passages where Paul and Peter use the phrase “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” How is it that Yahweh is both the God of Jesus, and His Father?

Let’s begin with the verses themselves, and then follow up with a few observations.

Romans 15:6 – “so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice.”

2 Corinthians 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.”

Ephesians 1:3 – “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.”

1 Peter 1:3 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus  Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
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