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In the passage about Hagar in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba, we read that God heard the voice of the crying child Ishmael and then curiously the text speaks of the Angel of the Lord who then identifies as God.

“And God את heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭21:17-20‬ ‭

The Angel of the Lord says I will make Ishmael a great nation and then it says God was with the lad. It would follow that He who is with the lad is also he that makes him a great nation.

If the argument against the Angel of the Lord being God is to be made, surely it should read at a minimum, God will make the lad a great nation and the Angel of the Lord delegated to execute God’s promise was with the lad. Vice versa cannot work lest they are one and the same.

Also why is it God opening the eyes of Hagar and not the Angel? After all it’s the Angel speaking (audio only no visual) from heaven, surely if God is opening eyes, He could very well have spoken to her, like God spoke to Abraham

“And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭ “And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭17:18‬ ‭ “(God speaking) And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭17:20‬

unless of course the Angel of the Lord was God and the text is trying to demonstrate this detail.

See that though God is telling Abraham that He will make Ishmael a great nation, Hagar is talking to the Angel of the Lord who says the same thing

“And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭16:10‬ ‭

Is the Angel of the Lord equating Himself to God?

(I’ve added the lad’s name but it’s interesting that from chapter 17 until after Abraham’s death chapter 25 he is never referred to by name. Certainly God never says his name.)

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  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Why does Exodus 3 refer to "the angel of the LORD"?
    – bach
    Jun 21, 2019 at 14:08
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    Thank you @Bach but that’s just another example with its own particularities. I prefer to look at this passage on its own merits. Also the answer provided equated the Angel of the Lord with an angel from Revelation. That’s not a good argument. One refused worship the other accepted it. They are not one and the same. So even if they were the same question (they are not) the answer provided is entirely inadequate Jun 21, 2019 at 14:19
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    I agree with @Autodidact. This is a different text and should be considered, hermenutically, on its own merits. (+1). There are similarities with other places (Malachi 3:1 the malak of the Lord is also called 'the Lord himself') but each place must be considered carefully in its own right, in my view.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 21, 2019 at 14:29
  • So just to be clear, the Exodus 3 passage the Angel of the Lord is mentioned once v2 and then God speaks thereafter. If anything this passage in Genesis would be a counter to the arguments made in Exodus 3 where it would seem the Angel of the Lord was exactly only a messenger. In this passage it intertwines, both God and the Angel of the Lord are making the exact same claims in the first person. And the Genesis 16:10 passage only the Angel of the Lord is speaking and in Genesis 17 only God is speaking but in Genesis 21 both claims in 16 & 17 are intertwined and the Angel asserts Himself as God Jun 22, 2019 at 2:16

3 Answers 3

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The angel of the Lord and God are one and the same "being." They are not one and the same person. I usually ask this question when discussing this topic with people.

Is the angel of the Lord who multiplied Hagar's descendants at Genesis 16:10 the same "being" who multiplied Abraham's descendants at Genesis 17:1,2? The answer is yes. Also notice at Genesis 17:1, the Lord appeared to Abraham and said, "I am God Almighty" etc. This is a physical appearance of God based on Genesis 17:22, "And when He/God finishe3d talking with him, God went up from Abraham. Also read Genesis 18:33 In other words, God went up due north.

Now, what I find interesting is that at Genesis 22:11,15 the angel of the Lord calling out from heaven. And yet you have God calling out from heaven to Moses at Exodus 20:22, "I have spoken to you from heaven." God the Father also called out from heaven at Mark 1:11, "and a voice came out of the heavens; Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased."

So this sort of begs the question? Why does God have the angel of the Lord calling out from heaven when He Himself calls out from heaven Himself? Somebody also brought up Acts 10:3,4 and Galatians 4:14. The angel of the Lord "NEVER" appears in the NT and not even in the book of Revelation.

Now, did you know that there is a difference between the words, "an/a" from the word "the" At Matthew 1:20 it says, "an angel of the Lord appeared etc. What's mny point? The chief grammatical function of "an/a" is to connote a thing not previously noticed or recognized, while "the" connotes a thing PREVIOUSLY noted or recognized. There is only one "angel of the Lord.

Please read Acts 7 where Steven is reading the riot act to the Jews. He mentioned at vs30, "An angel appeared to Him etc. He later says "the angel" at vs38. Remember context! Stephen is talking about "the" angel of the Lord who is identified as God at vs33. Cross reference this to Exodus 3:6.

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  • Just to clarify you are saying that the Angel of the Lord is one of the persons in the Godhead in the form of an angel. Correct? Oct 20, 2019 at 3:10
  • Yes and no! Yes, Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity within the Godhead. The word "Godhead" simply means "Deity."
    – Mr. Bond
    Oct 20, 2019 at 17:32
  • And "no" Jesus did not take the form of an angel but rather took the form of a man. Even though angels who are spiritual beings they to0 can take the form of a man but they are angels by nature. The word in Hebrew for angel is "malak" and that word simply means messenger. So, angels are messengers and men are messengers for example at Malachi 3:1. John the Baptist is identified as a "malak/angel/messenger." And John is no "angel" except maybe to his mother. Context determines how the word is used.
    – Mr. Bond
    Oct 20, 2019 at 17:44
  • So the angel that spoke to Moses out of the burning bush and to Abraham at the sacrificing of Isaac, and to Hagar when he spoke from heaven, those were men according to your view? Oct 20, 2019 at 19:05
  • Ok, the angel of the Lord that spoke and appeared physically to Abraham, Hagar (and btw the angel of the Lord did not speak out of haven to Hagar, He physically appeared to her) and at the burning bush, also at Genesis 18:1 and Genesis 22 as well as at other places is the preincarnate Jesus Christ appearing as a man. What is your point, or who do you say is the angel of the Lord?
    – Mr. Bond
    Oct 20, 2019 at 19:32
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Genesis‬ ‭21:17-20 is an example of several places where God personally delivers a message and thus can be truly said to act as a messenger Himself. This is one of numerous places where this occurs. Here are some further examples: Gen 6:13, 8:15, 9:8, 17, 15:13, 17:3, 4, 21:12, 35:1, 10, Ex 4:3-8, 6:2, Deut 1:6, 1 Kings 12:22, etc.

There is possibly another case of this in Acts 10:3, 4 and Gal 4:14.

Indeed, there are many places where the LORD (= Jehovah) acts as a messenger and is called "The Angel of the LORD", eg, Gen 16:7-13, 22:11-17, 32:24-30, 48:16, Ex 3:2-6, 32:34, Num 22:22-35, Josh 5:13-15, Judg 2:1-4, 6:11-23, 13:3-23, Isa 63:9, Dan 3:25, 28, Hos 12:4, 5, Zech 3:1-7, Mal 3:1.

We see more of this type of writing in Ex 23:20, 21 where God is called an angel. In Zech 2:6-12 we read that the LORD (= YHWH) says that the LORD (= YHWH) has sent Him, no less than three times! There is a similar phenomenon in Isa 48:11-16. That is, YHWH refers to Himself as more than one person.

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  • . . . but the expression 'the angel of God' states that two individuals are in view . . Genesis 21:17.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 21, 2019 at 21:36
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    @Nigel J - correct - the same as in Ex 23:20, 21 where God is called an angel. More than one person is in the Trinity. See also Zech 12:8.
    – user25930
    Jun 21, 2019 at 22:12
  • See also Zech 2:6-10 where Jehovah says that Jehovah has sent Him!
    – user25930
    Jun 21, 2019 at 22:18
  • Thank you for the response. I had to take my time looking up the references. I don’t know it helps the passage in question directly but it does establish a trend which I guess has its merits. Like @NigelJ, I was a little confused, but your comment in the comments section cleared it up. At first I had the impression that God was taking on multiple personas but that’s not what you meant. +1 Jun 22, 2019 at 2:14
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Are you guys having a bit of trouble with this? When 'The' Angel of the Lord appears and speaks to Hagar; to me, that is most clearly understood to be the pre-incarnate Christ. 'An angel is a messenger; they'll humble themselves and they don't take His glory.

Angels don't have authority like the Lord God does. To me that is God speaking, and since the Father is invisible, then that is essentially the pre-incarnate Christ who appears. It is His main purpose to: seek out and save those that are lost. He also has always been the visible image of the invisible God. Who do you think had fellowship with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, and who do you think was seeking them out, when they had sinned? It was the pre-incarnate Christ.

No one has seen God [His essence, His divine nature] at any time; the [One and] only begotten God [that is, the unique Son] who is in the intimate presence of the Father, He has explained Him [and interpreted and revealed the awesome wonder of the Father]. (John 1:18)

It is quite clear that it is God in the flesh who is confronting Hagar. Whenever people say they see God in the Old Testament it is most likely pre-incarnate Christ who appears personally before them. Christ was is and will always be in the bosom of the Father, and the lord is the exact visible image of the invisible God, and His perfect representation.

When Moses sees God in the burning bush, and when Hagar sees God, they are seeing the Son of God, whom The Father had sent forth. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are in the most intimate triune relationship, and communion, since the beginning. Preincarnate Christ is God just as how the incarnate Christ explained and revealed Almighty God over 2000 years ago.

I love what the Father says here and how He brings glory to His name:

"Father, bring glory to your name." Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again." (John 12:28)

This verse reminds me that God loves to be up close and personal in a loving relationship with His created people and that He does not discriminate!

"She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me." (Genesis 16:18).

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    May 28, 2023 at 12:48
  • Welcome Mitchell Boy Your absolutely right in all that you said. Here is something else for you to think about. Those people who think the angel of the Lord is just that an angel have an "enormous" problem of explaining Genesis 22:11,16. TAOTL calls out of heaven 2 times and says at vs16, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son." The point is that angels cannot swear oaths on behalf of God Himself. That's why the preincarnate Jesus Christ is not an angel. Hebrews 6:13-17 backs this up, please read it.
    – Mr. Bond
    May 28, 2023 at 13:20
  • No one is having trouble. It’s phrased this way intentionally May 28, 2023 at 13:40

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