The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
The Son of God appeared many times in the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord. God created angels to be His messengers and servants, so we know there is a great difference between a created angel and God the Creator. An angel speaks in the name of God but is not God. In the same way, an ambassador speaks for the President of the United States but does not call himself the President. An ambassador will say, “The President has decided to do this.” He does not say, “I am the President.”
For this reason we can see from the very words of Scripture that the Angel of the Lord is not a created being but God. He is called God and calls Himself God. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush that was not destroyed by its fire.
3:2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
The Angel of the Lord called Himself God.
Exodus 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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.
When Moses asked for the name of the name of God, he received this answer:
Exodus 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
The name of God, I AM, is used by Jesus to identify Himself and to show that He has always existed.
John 8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
As we will see later in this book, the I AM passages in the Gospel of John are very important for all believers to study, understand, and believe. This particular verse, John 8:57, identifies Jesus with God in the burning bush. The Angel of the Lord revealed in the burning bush is the Son of God before He came to live among us.
When we start to recognize the Son of God in the Old Testament, many more passages take on new meaning. To show this, I capitalized The Word in the following passage.
Genesis 15:1 After these things The Word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
The Word is the name for Jesus in John 1:1. In Genesis 15:1, The Word of the LORD said, “I am thy shield.” Knowing that the Bible is one unified truth, we can see:
1. God promised Adam and Eve a Savior.
2. The Savior spoke to Abram (Abraham) in a vision.
3. The Savior appeared to Moses as a burning bush and spoke to him.
When we read the Old Testament, we should not think of it as a long prelude to the New Testament Gospel of Jesus. Instead, we should read the Old Testament as the first part of the Gospel of Jesus, filled with promises, blessings, comfort, love, mercy, and forgiveness.
The Savior’s appearance as the Angel of the Lord is worth special consideration in the story of Abraham and Isaac. The Lord promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. In fact, as the first believer of modern times (after the Flood), Abraham became the father of all Christians across the earth. But when Abraham and his wife Sarah were considered too old to have children, they were promised a son.
Sarah laughed, so the baby was named Isaac, a pun on the word for laughter in Hebrew.
Have you ever known a man who had his first child in old age? It is obvious how deeply Abraham loved his only son with Sarah. Nevertheless, God commanded him to sacrifice his only son on a distant mountain. Abraham obeyed and took his son Isaac with him on a three day journey to Mount Moriah. When the boy noticed wood and fire for the sacrifice, he wondered why he saw no lamb to be slaughtered. His father said, “God will provide Himself a lamb for the sacrifice.”
Abraham left his servants and took his son up on the mountain. He tied Isaac and placed him on the wood on the altar. Any father who loves his only son can imagine the unbearable pain felt by Abraham as he lifted his knife over Isaac, obedient to God’s command. The Scriptures indicate no struggle from the son, who obeyed his father. Then the Angel of the Lord called out his name twice:
22:11 And the Angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
The almost-sacrifice of Isaac remained a mystery to everyone until the Father sent His only-begotten Son to be a sacrifice for all sins. The Son obeyed the Father’s will and laid down His life to redeem the world from sin. Once the apostles understood and believed in the cross and resurrection, the ancient story became clear. God intended that Abraham and Isaac would help all people identify with the Father sacrificing the Son. Although the story of Abraham and Isaac turned out well, just as the sacrifice of Christ did, both events are filled with agony and wonder. We can appreciate the cross of Jesus better by understanding how this story of Abraham and Isaac was told with agony and wonder for centuries before the baby Jesus was born.
The Angel of the Lord stopped the sacrifice. He was not a created being, because He identified Himself as God. Abraham feared God and did not hold back his only son from Me.
And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.
The Savior was present to give Abraham a substitute for the sacrifice. The substitute was a ram, representing the Man Who would be our substitute through His atoning death.
The God of Abraham praise;
All praised be His name Who was and is and is to be And still the same!
The one eternal God,
Ere aught that now appears;
The First, the Last: beyond all thought
His timeless years.
Posted by Gregory Jackson at 5:58 PM