“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
The Angel of the Lord is Jesus
If the previous arguments don’t satisfy the Jews, I don’t know how they can evade the fact that Yahweh is said to appear often as an angel (e.g. Judges 13:16-23). This Angel claims for Himself the eternal name of God. Some respond by saying, “Well, the angel is only paying deference to the office which commissioned him.” But such an argument will not work. No servant would rob God of His honour by allowing a sacrifice to be offered to himself and not to God alone. But the Angel, by refusing to eat bread, orders that the sacrifice made to Yahweh be made to him. This proves he was Yahweh.
Furthermore, Manoah and his wife infer from the sign that they had seen God Himself. Hence Manoah’s exclamation: “We will die; because we have seen God!” (v. 22) When the woman replies, “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time,” (v. 23) she knows that she has certainly seen God. We can also add the fact that the angel refuses to give his name: “Why do you ask for my name, which is wonderful?” (v. 18).
Consequently, Servetus’ views are detestable. He claimed that God never manifested Himself to Abraham or the other patriarchs, but that the Angel was worshipped in His place. The orthodox theologians of the church have correctly and wisely taught that the Word of God was the supreme Angel. The Angel of the Lord began to perform the work of the Mediator by way of preparation for the Incarnation. Although the Word was not clothed in a human body, he came down to the earth in an intermediate form–the form of an angel. He came down in those times so that he would have familiar access to the faithful believers of Israel.
He secured the name “Angel” through this closer contact with humanity. He still retained, however, his character as Almighty God. The same truth is confirmed by Hosea. After he mentions Jacob wrestling with the Angel, he writes, “Even the LORD, the God of Hosts, the LORD is His name” (Hosea 12:5). Servetus says that God only pretended to be an angel, as if the prophet did not confirm what Moses had already written in Genesis: “Why do you ask my name?” (Genesis 32:29-30). Jacob himself declares that he had not seen an angel but saw the One in whom the whole fullness of God dwells when he said, “I have seen God face to face!” (v. 30).
There is also Paul’s statement that Christ lead the people in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:4). Although his time of humiliation had not yet arrived, the eternal Word exhibited a sneak preview of the kind of office he would fulfill. Again, if you candidly consider Zechariah chapters one and two, it will be seen that the angel you sends the other angel is immediately declared to be the Lord of Hosts (Zechariah 1:9 and 2:3). Isaiah 29:5 also says, “And it will be said in that day, ‘Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.’” Even those who aren’t too smart can see that it is God who delivers His people. The repetition that it is the Lord who saves closes down any discussion that the Savior is anyone but the Messiah. Still clearer and stronger is the passage in Malachi which promises a messenger who will build the temple (Malachi 3:1). The temple was certainly dedicated to Almighty God alone. Yet the prophet claims that it is for the Messiah. Hence, it follows that He is the God who was always worshipped by the Jews.