If the angel of the Lord is God Himself, why is he called the angel of the Lord? Young's Literal Translation of Judges 6:22 says, And Gideon seeth that He is a messenger of Jehovah, and Gideon saith, 'Alas, Lord Jehovah! because that I have seen a messenger of Jehovah face to face!' Can man see Almighty God face to face?
21 Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. 22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23 But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” (Judges 6:21-23, English Standard Version)
Judges 6:21-23 does not identify the angel of Jehovah as Jehovah. Note that the angel left in 21b and then Gideon speaks to Jehovah about the angel of Jehovah who had just left. This verse proves the opposite point, that the angel of Jehovah is not Jehovah.
The following is what I wrote about 2 months ago on this very subject.
The angel of the Lord first appears as the angel of the Lord at Genesis 16:7. And he says in the following verses that he will multiply Hagar's descendants at verse 10. At verse 13 Hagar says, "Thou art a God who sees; Have I even remained alive after seeing Him."
At Genesis 17:1-2 you have the Lord appearing to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. verse 2, And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply your exceedingly."
Going to Genesis 22:1 it says, "Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham etc." At verse 11, "But the angel of the Lord called to him/Abraham from heaven, AND SAID, Abraham, Abraham! etc." verse 12, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him, for now I KNOW that you fear God, since you have not WITHHELD your son, your only son, FROM ME."
Verse 15, "Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, verse 16, AND SAID, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, verse 17, "indeed I will greatly multiply your seed as the starts of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies." Verse 18, "And in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because YOU HAVE OBEYED MY VOICE."
So what we have here is the angel of the Lord at Genesis 16 who multiplied Hagar's descendants and was identified as God is the same being who made the covenant to Abram at Genesis 17:1-2 who is identified as God. It is also the same being (the angel of the Lord) at Genesis 22:16-18.
All of this is backed up by the writer of Hebrews at Hebrews 6:13-14, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, HE SWORE BY HIMSELF, Verse 14, "saying, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you." At Luke 1:73, "The oath which He swore to Abraham our father."
A couple of points of interest. The angel of the Lord is speaking in the "first person" here. This is confirmed at (Genesis 16:10, Genesis 21:18, Genesis 31:13). Also the angel of the Lord appears at, Genesis 16:7-14, Genesis 22:11-16, Exodus 3:2-4, (the burning bush), Numbers 22:22-38, Judges 2:1-3 and at other places.
Also note, that the angel of the Lord never appears in the New Testament, although he is mentioned at Acts 7. Another important point that people miss is there is a difference between the words, "a or an" as opposed to the word "the." For example, some will say the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph at Matthew 1:20 and say "the angle of the Lord appeared etc. despite the fact that the word used is "an" angel of the Lord appeared.
The grammatical function of "an" or "a" is to connote a thing not previously noted or recognized. In other words, it's just that, an angel/messenger. The word "the" connotes a thing PREVIOUSLY noted or recognized, i.e "THE angel of the Lord. Finally, the Biblical evidence clearly points out the angel of the Lord is the preincarnate Jesus Christ.
Remember, God the Father cannot be seen and the Father has no separate manifestation from the Son. The Son is the only manifestation and revelation of the Father. What is known of the Father is revealed through the Son. To see the Son is to see the essence of the Father, John 1:18, John 10:30, John 12:45, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3.
For reference, one might examine these examples of anthropomorphic theophanies. What appears in each of these is the repeated phrase “The Angel of Jehovah” 22:15-18; 31:11-13; 48:15-16, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 6:11-24, and Judges 13:15-23. In every case, it is always God appearing to man. In each example where the phrase “The Angel of Jehovah” is used, the spokesman is represented as the messenger of Jehovah. The phrase “The Angel of Jehovah” is only used to describe the spokesman of deity. This term is never applied to anyone else in scripture. He is always functioning as the spokesman of the divine triad. 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 this was 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 of Jehovah.” He is angelic not in nature but in function. In nature, he is God. In function, he is the messenger in the triadic unity.
Definition of terms, simply put, "Theopanic" is derived from two Greek words, “Theos” meaning God and “phainein” meaning to bring to light or to show. A theophany then is an appearing of God. Theophonic experiences in scripture assume many forms, yet all seem to have a singular function. They communicate the will of God to man. They provide man with a point of reference that man can comprehend. In so doing, God is demonstrating compassion for the limitations of the human mind to understand things that are beyond his ability to comprehend. In some theophonic experiences, God will accommodate only man’s sense of hearing. One only heard the voice of God. God speaking to Noah in Genesis 6 is just such an example. Another is Genesis 12 where God spoke to Abraham. Sometimes, these theophanies would be accompanied by some type of material phenomenon such as fire, wind, or earthquake as in the cases of Moses in Exodus 3, the nation of Israel in Exodus 13 and Elijah in 1Kings 19. Each of these accompanying natural phenomena would appeal to a broader range of physical senses as God sometimes chose to speak in these things. Still, at other times, God chose to assume an anthropomorphic form as in Genesis 18 when he appeared to Abraham in the company of two angels, all in human form.
Anthrophomorphic, as defined by Websters, "comes from the late Latin word anthropomorphus, which itself traces to a Greek term birthed from the roots “anthrōp” meaning human being, and “morphos” meaning shape or form." This the term is used in theology to refer to God appearing in human form.
Divine triad and triadic unity simply refer to the godhead - Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The following passages make it clear that the “Angel of the LORD” is almost always, the LORD (Jehovah) Himself, probably Jesus in particular. 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.
A closely related phrase, “Angel of God” who is clearly God as in Gen 6:13, 8:15, 9:8, 17, 15:13, 17:3, 4, 21:12, 16-21, 35:1, 10, Ex 4:3-8, 6:2, 23:20, 21, Deut 1:6, 1 Kings 12:22, etc. See also Acts 10:3, 4, Ga 4:14.
Indeed, in other places we see that the LORD sends the LORD:
- Zech 2:6-12 – the LORD (= YHWH) claims three times that He has been sent by the LORD.
- Isa 48:11-16 – again, the LORD has been sent by the LORD.
Thus, unsurprisingly, the LORD is the messenger to the human race and underlines the importance that the Godhead places upon such messages. Therefore, the LORD sending the LORD makes the LORD and messenger, or in Greek, and "angel" (which is messenger). We see this regularly in the Bible where the prophet says that God told him something or, "The LORD says … ". This makes the LORD a messenger or angel.
This is not to suggest that Jesus is an angel in the sense that He is less that God; far from it! However, the Greek and Hebrew word for “angel” simply means messenger and it is in this sense that Jesus is the messenger in the above passages.