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In Genesis 16} When Hagar runs away from Sarai and is crying in the wilderness an Angel of the Lord appears to her. Now I know there are instances in Joshua and even later in Abraham's story where 'one like the Son of Man' appears in human form. My question is if this angel that appeared to Hagar is the Lord or just a messenger?

My main curiosity is because the angel itself says "I will make your son Ishmael a father to a great nation and he will hold his fist against his kin..." My question is how can the angel claim to make such a promise that so closely mirrors YHWH's promise to Abram regarding Isaac? Is God extending his blessing to both of Abram's children?

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  • The Hebrew is מַלְאָך malakh "messenger", very often used for servants of divine or even human rulers. Even a non-angelic being speaking for God, e.g. a prophet, can be a malakh. That said, it is sometimes used of what seems to be the theophanic angel, e.g. Exodus 3:2, in which "the angel malakh of the Lord" appears within a bush but in the next couple of verses God speaks from within the bush. So disputes about the word "messenger" should really not sway you one way or the other. – Luke Sawczak May 11 '18 at 5:12
  • Gen 16:13 refers to "The LORD who spoke to her". it says - So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "You are a God of seeing," for she said, "Truly here I have seen him who looks after me." So it's not just that the messenger spoke in the first person – barlop Jan 31 '19 at 16:12
  • Also you got the quote wrong. Genesis 16:10-12 10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, "I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude." 11 And the angel of the LORD said to her, "Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you shall call his name Ishmael; because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen." – barlop Jan 31 '19 at 16:46
  • -1 You are misquoting 'cos you are not quoting from any bible translation you are completely making up your own words – barlop Feb 1 '19 at 15:53
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I believe your question is whether the messenger was speaking on behalf of himself or on behalf of God and if he is speaking on behalf of himself does that indicate that the messenger was divine? And if divine and speaking for himself, are two persons blessing or is the second person merely relating the words of YHVH?

Trinitarian commentator Adam Clarke extrapolates out from verse 10 that God is plural:

3d. The angel of Jehovah. This phrase is especially employed to denote the Lord himself in that form in which he condescends to make himself manifest to man; for the Lord God says of this angel, “Beware of him, and obey his voice; provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in his inmost” Exo_23:21; that is, my nature is in his essence. Accordingly, he who is called the angel of the Lord in one place is otherwise denominated the Lord or God in the immediate context (Gen_16:7, Gen_16:13; Gen_22:11-12; Gen_31:11, Gen_31:13; Gen_48:15-16; Exo_3:2-15; Exo_23:20-23; with Exo_33:14-15). It is remarkable, at the same time, that the Lord is spoken of in these cases as a distinct person from the angel of the Lord, who is also called the Lord. The phraseology intimates to us a certain inherent plurality within the essence of the one only God, of which we have had previous indications Gen_1:26; Gen_3:22. The phrase “angel of the Lord,” however, indicates a more distant manifestation to man than the term Lord itself. It brings the medium of communication into greater prominence. It seems to denote some person of the Godhead in angelic form.

However, I find it more in line with Occam's Razor to simply accept the scripture's designation of the messenger as just that: a messenger. A messenger often speaks in the first person when relaying the words of God. In fact, if you listen to a few sermons or scan a few prophets or epistles you'll see that it is common there as well.

This dictionary supplies the following as the primary gloss for "messenger":

Definition of messenger 1 : one who bears a message or does an errand: such as a archaic : forerunner, herald b : a dispatch bearer in government or military service c : an employee who carries messages https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/messenger

I see no need to make more of it than that.

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I'm convinced that the angel of the Lord is the preincarnate Jesus Christ and as some have said the word "malak" does refer to actual angels,or messengers/humans like at Malachi 3:1 and to Jesus Christ who is the messenger of the covenant also at Malachie 3:1. So where's my proof? Look at Genesis 22:11, 15 where the angel of the Lord calls out from heaven two times. At vs16, "and said, By Myself I have SWORN, declares the Lord because you have done this thing etc. vs17, indeed, I will greatly multiply your seed etc. See also Genesis 17:1,2. Here is the kicker in all of this. Angels do indeed speak for God, BUT angels cannot SWEAR oaths on behalf of God. Look at Hebrews 6:13, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since HE COULD NOT SWEAR BY NO ONE GREATER, HE SWORE BY HIMSELF, vs14, saying, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you." Swearing an oath is a personal matter of conscience. And Jesus Christ is the only physical manifestion of God, John 1:18 and 1Timothy 3:16. Does this make sense? I have more evidence but this should do for now.

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  • John 1:18 does not explicitly state “And Jesus Christ is the only physical manifestion of God” I am not saying you’re incorrect I am saying how you have arrived at your conclusion is not obvious or explicit. Nor the text in Timothy, it too does not state what form Jesus had prior to incarnation. John 17:5 would be a starting point in that direction. – Nihil Sine Deo Oct 18 '19 at 23:39
  • My point is the fact that God the Father has no separate manifestation from the Son. The Son is the only manifestation and revelation of the Father. In other words, what is known of the Father is revealed through the Son. To see the Son is to see the essence of the Father. That's why I gave John 1:18 and 1 Timothy 3:16. Also on this point please read John 10:30; 12:45, Colossians 1:15; and Hebrews 1:3. And what about John 17:3, what do you want to know? Please read John 17:5 and explain how Jesus had glory with His Father before the world was? Did Jesus preexist His incarnation? – james Oct 19 '19 at 0:20
  • Welcome to BHSE! Make sure you take our Tour (lower left). Thanks – John Martin Oct 19 '19 at 1:45
  • Yes Jesus the Word in English, Logos is Greek, Eth in Hebrew, preexisted and has had a total of four forms that we know of, glorified Spirit prior to Creation, The Angel of the Lord after Creation, incarnation God and glorified body God. And if Jesus did not preexistent to incarnation then what we known of the Father is not from Jesus but from Scriptures an additional source. But the point is you might consider editing your response to include your additional references. Thank you – Nihil Sine Deo Oct 19 '19 at 12:46
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Your question I believe is as follows: Is the angel that appears to Hagar the Lord or just a messenger (meaning that his message is not necessarily divine)? If it is the former, how can God makes a promise regarding Ishmael that so closely mirrors His promise to Abram regarding Isaac.

Well first of all, regardless of whether this was a messenger (whatever you mean by that) or the Lord itself the bible clearly regarded this a genuine revelation, or else the bible wouldn't record it. I ask you why would the bible record a prophecy that it believes to never have come true? The fact that the bible considers it significant and important enough to record it reveals that the biblical authors considered it a genuine divine revelation. Indeed the bible itself alludes to the fruitfulness of Ishmael and to the fact that his children multiplied in numbers,

These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes. Gen. 25:16 (ESV)

The number twelve is quite significant in the bible as the tribes of Israel themselves were said to be twelve. So here the bible is most likely hinting that the tribes of Ishmael numbered twelve just like the tribes of Israel which were said to be numerous "as the sand of the sea and as the heavenly stars". So you see according to the bible this prophecy indeed came true.

As for your other question, how can god extend to both of Abram's children the same blessing? Well it is not exactly like that. God clearly tells Abram in Gen. 21:12 "through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned". This clearly indicates the superiority of Isaac's offspring. But even though the bible distinguishes between Isaac and Ishmael it goes on to bless Ishmael telling Abram, "I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.” So you see blessing both of Abraham's children with many children is not necessarily seen as a contradiction as long as one is more distinguished than the other.

Hope you find this helpful.

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  • You've avoided his "main curioisity" is it god or is it the angel. And when you say "Well first of all, regardless of whether this was a messenger (whatever you mean by that) or the Lord itself the bible clearly regarded this a genuine revelation" You're not only avoiding that question, you're bringing up a straw man. Nobody denied or questioned whether or not it was genuine revelation. He's accepting that it's (genuine) revelation. – barlop Jan 31 '19 at 16:07
  • @barlop at the time I wrote this I understood that he was asking whether it is a genuine prophecy or not. And I still don't see why you are so convinced that the OP accepted this as fact. From his second question you can see that the he thought that if it is just a messenger then the problem of similarity between Ishmael and Isaac's blessing would be resolved. This clearly implies he had doubts whether this messenger was divine. (for this is the only way it would be resolved)! In any case if you think you have something better, youre welcome to post your own answer. – Bach Jan 31 '19 at 19:19
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The phrase “The Angel of Jehovah” is always represented in scripture as the messenger of Jehovah. Every time the phrase “The Angel of Jehovah” is found in scripture, it is used to describe deity. This term is never applied to anyone else in scripture. “The Angel of Jehovah” is always seen functioning as the spokesman of the Triadic Unity. In each case, this is deity appearing in human form. In every example, those to whom “The Angel of Jehovah” appeared, always understood at some point that they were speaking to God, and they honored him as such. The Angel of Jehovah will always assume divine authority in each of these Old Testament exemplars. He will always be seen serving as the agent of communication, hence the term “The Angel (messenger) of Jehovah.” This spokesman then is not represented as angelic in nature but in function. In nature, he is God. In function, he is the messenger in the Triadic Unity.

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