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The Angel Of The Lord – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 19, 2023 1:00 am

The Angel Of The Lord – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 19, 2023 1:00 am

The word “angel” means messenger. God has used angels down through the ages to communicate to His people. In this message, Pastor Lutzer takes a tour of the Old Testament to identify the “Angel of the Lord,” who wasn’t merely one of the angelic host. Was it Jesus before He became a man?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The word angel in Greek is angelos, which means messenger. God has used angels down through the ages to communicate to His people. Today we begin a series detailing what angels are all about and how they played a crucial role in the Christmas story. We'll begin with the angel of the Lord.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, some people see angels as mythical white-robed flying creatures.

Is this far from the truth? Dave, of course the way you've described it is incorrect, but it is correct to say that they are flying creatures. Do you remember that story in the Old Testament where Elisha was at Dothan and he prayed that God would open the eyes of his servant? And when the servant's eyes were opened to the spirit world, he noticed that there were warriors that had surrounded them, angels. They are everywhere. We don't see them, but I think if our eyes would be open, we'd be very surprised at how many they are and how they actually observe us.

Well, yes, when we think of Christmas, we think of angels. But I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry. It's because of people just like you that Running to Win can continue to expand. And even as we look into the coming year, we're thankful for the many of you who are endurance partners. Endurance partners enable us to be able to plan for the future as we see the growth of this ministry.

Here's what you can do. Go to, click on the endurance partner button. Pray if God would lead you to become a part of this ministry on a regular basis.

Go to, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let me ask you a question. What was Jesus doing before Bethlehem? You and I have potential existence before we were conceived and born, but Jesus had actual existence. He is the one about whom the Bible says his goings forth have been from of old and from everlasting, so he's always been. Frequently from the pulpit, I've quoted my oldest daughter when she was a child who said, Dad, who was taking care of the world when God was a baby? Who was taking care of the world? Well, when Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms, there was more than the eye could see.

There was a divine nature. Jesus was taking care of the world when he was a baby, and he was in the world long before he became a baby because he was the pre-existent one. Now you say, well, did Jesus ever reveal himself in the Old Testament during the times before Bethlehem?

And the answer is yes, he did. This is a very brief series of messages titled The Angels of Christmas, and next time we're going to talk about Gabriel and how he was sent from God to Mary, and then we'll talk about the angels that gave the shepherds the news. Angels are big news today, and we'll also talk about the bad angels and the good angels and how people are not distinguishing between the two of them. But today I want you to know that in the Old Testament, when you have the expression, the angel of the Lord, the angel of the Lord is a reference to Christ who was interacting with people here on earth. That's to be distinguished from an angel of the Lord. There are plenty of angels, millions of angels, but only one, the angel of the Lord. You say, well, can you prove that scripturally?

I'm so glad that you asked that. You should always ask that when you're at the Moody Church. I'd like to leave two propositions before you, and we'll ask you to turn to only two passages today. My remarks will be brief, but I want you to see that indeed, first of all, the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is spoken of as God.

Let me give you an example. I'll simply refer to it in the book of Genesis chapter 22, when Abraham is about to slay his son, Isaac, the angel of the Lord comes from heaven and says, Abraham, do not kill the boy. For now I know that thou fearest God, catch this now, because thou has not withheld thy son from me.

The angel of the Lord is speaking and is claiming to be deity. Now the passage that I will ask you to turn to is Exodus chapter 3. Exodus chapter 3, the story of Moses and the burning bush. You'll notice it says chapter 3 verse 1.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him, there we have it, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush. He looked and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, I will turn aside to see this great sight why the bush is not burned. Verse 4, when the Lord Jehovah saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush and said, Moses. And later on, this God, this angel of the Lord says, I am that I am, which of course is quoted by Jesus in the New Testament as referring to himself. So in the Old Testament, when you have these references to the angel of the Lord, there's evidence that it really is Jesus. Now I've emphasized that the angel of the Lord is Jehovah. A second proposition in your mind, it should be this, that the angel of the Lord is frequently distinguished from Jehovah.

And this is the second passage, it's found in the book of Zechariah. Zechariah chapter 1 verse 12, we read these words. Then the angel of the Lord says, the angel of Yahweh, Jehovah. By the way, no matter what translation you have, when you come across the Old Testament word Lord and the entire word is capitalized, that's a reference to Jehovah. So it says, the angel of Jehovah said, oh Jehovah of hosts, how long will you have mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah against which you have been angry these 70 years? So you find the angel of Jehovah is interceding to Jehovah. Well now let's put all this together, let's think theologically for a moment. If the angel of the Lord is indeed Jehovah and yet is distinguished from Jehovah and can talk to Jehovah, our only answer is that the angel of the Lord must be the second person of the Trinity, namely Christ.

And that's what makes sense out of these passages and many others that we could turn to. And since we know that the Father and the Holy Spirit generally do not manifest themselves to human beings, it only makes sense to know that the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, is the angel of Jehovah in the Old Testament. Isn't it interesting that after the incarnation, after Bethlehem, you have no reference again to the angel of the Lord. Plenty of angels, but no reference to the angel of the Lord. Now today I'm taking you through this thought process because the next question is, if the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is Jesus, the Jesus of the New Testament, is there a similarity between the ministries that the angel of the Lord did in the Old Testament and the ministry that Jesus Christ does in the New Testament and to us today? And the answer is yes, there's probably seven or ten different similar ministries.

I'm going to list five very briefly. First of all, he reveals God. I already quoted from the book of Exodus where the angel of the Lord is revealing God to Moses. And what did Jesus say when he was here on earth? Jesus said, he who has seen me have seen the Father. And Jesus also made this statement. He says, I am that I am identifying himself with the angel of the Lord.

The Bible says the word became flesh and dwelt among us. No man has seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son has declared him, has revealed him. Second, we find that he intercedes for his people. That's based on the passage that I read from Zechariah a moment ago. He intercedes for his people. Now let's go to John chapter 17 where Jesus comes to the Father and says, Father, I don't pray for these alone, but for those also who shall someday believe in me through their word.

And Jesus is the great intercessor. Then also you find in the Old Testament the angel of the Lord comforted people. Remember the story of Hagar. She was cast out of the home of Abraham and she was pregnant with child about to give birth to Ishmael. And the angel of the Lord finds her weeping beside a well. And the angel of the Lord comes and gives her a promise and gives her comfort and tells her that she can go back to her home. And after that, Hagar says, I'm going to call this place Bir lehayroi, which means really, thou God seest me.

And the text says she named the place that because this is the place where God met her. The angel of the Lord gave people comfort in the Old Testament. In fact, it says that the angel of the Lord encompasses around about those who fear him. Well, does Jesus give us comfort today?

The answer is yes. Come on to me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Jesus is there to help us. And where two or three are gathered together in his name, Jesus is there to grant them all that they need.

Jesus is the great comforter just as the angel of the Lord comforted people in the Old Testament because the angel of the Lord is Jesus. Finally, we discover also, or not quite finally, but he judges his people. In 1 Chronicles 21 verse 15, we have that reference to the angel of the Lord judging people because of David's sin. Well, Jesus is going to be the judge. He's going to come, the Bible says, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ who will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power.

Takes your breath away. Jesus is going to come as judge. The book of Revelation has many, many paragraphs describing the judgment that Jesus will bring to this earth. And then, of course, he is the deliverer. He delivers his people. And Jesus came, the Bible says, to deliver his people from their sins. The angel of the Lord delivered people in the Old Testament. Jesus delivers them in the New Testament because, I shall say it one more time, he is the angel of the Lord performing essentially the very same ministries.

Now, if you've been following this, then naturally a question arises. If Jesus was doing all of these things in the Old Testament times as the angel of the Lord, why Bethlehem? Why the Incarnation? Why is it that God became flesh and tabernacled among us? Why didn't Jesus just keep doing what he'd been doing, blessing us, delivering us, helping us? The reason is because there are some things that the angel of the Lord could never possibly do unless the angel of the Lord became flesh. Very quickly, let me give you five things that the angel of the Lord could never have done if he had not taken on human flesh. First of all, he could not be our savior. He could not be our savior.

You say, why? Because you cannot take the angel of the Lord and nail him to a cross. You can't nail a spirit to a cross. And without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. So if God was going to have a sacrifice that he was going to accept, namely the sacrifice that he himself demanded, which is the heart of Christianity, God demands a sacrifice and then he provides the sacrifice that he demands. If he's going to do this, he needs a body that can be nailed to the cross and a body with blood. And the angel of the Lord didn't have one as the angel of the Lord.

So that angel of the Lord became flesh so that we could be redeemed, so that we could have someone today who died for us. And the Bible is very clear that he died for sinners. And because of that, you and I could be reconciled to God. That's good news if you're a sinner. If you're not a sinner, then of course it doesn't really apply. The Bible says Jesus died for the ungodly.

I'm ungodly, so I'm glad that Jesus died for me. So one thing that Jesus could not have done as the angel of the Lord is he couldn't have been a savior. Secondly, he couldn't have been our brother. You say, well, why is that important? Because the whole business of inheritance has to do with family.

That's why it's important. You see, the scripture says that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. When the will of the universe is going to be opened and read, it's going to apply to us because we're going to inherit all of the same things that our brother Jesus inherits. The Bible says you shall inherit all things.

And it's because we're part of the family. You see, angels, and now I'm talking about those many angels that we're going to be talking about in the next sermons, those angels can never possibly be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Have you ever thought to yourself that you'd like to be an angel, travel with swiftness and speed? But I would not trade places for any angel, including Michael or Gabriel honored though they are. Because no angel will ever be an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. No angel will ever be exalted to that privilege because no angel can ever possibly be a brother to Jesus. So Jesus is our brother.

God is our father. That could have never happened apart from Bethlehem. Third, Jesus could not have been the King of David over David's territory. Just like we're going to be looking at next week when Gabriel comes and says he shall be great and shall be called the son of the highest. The Lord God shall give onto him the throne of his father, David. In order for that to happen, he had to be of the lineage and the household of David and to be that he had to become a man. So that's why God took on human flesh.

Also he could not be our high priest in the sense that he is. Yes, in the Old Testament, the angel of the Lord, as we noticed intercedes for the people of God, but the angel of the Lord as the angel could not say what could be said of Jesus after the incarnation when it says that we have a high priest who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities because he was in all points tempted like as we are. That could not have been said apart from God becoming flesh at Bethlehem. And then of course, finally, Jesus, the angel of the Lord could not have said that he had conquered death unless he had died. The angel of the Lord as the angel of the Lord would never possibly die, of course, in order for there to be death, there had to be humanity. And that's why when Jesus came to this earth, he assumed human form, he was 100% God, 100% man, and he did that so that he could die as the God man and later on say, I am he who lives and was dead and am alive forevermore.

Amen. And that's what, that's what Jesus was able to say as a result of coming to Bethlehem. Do you understand now why the incarnation that is the coming of God in flesh is absolutely central to everything that we believe, everything that we love, everything in which our faith is placed.

It is the, the, the hub, the hub of Christianity. And it's not a myth. If it's a myth, then I'm myth taken and mithrable. It actually happened in space and time.

How does this apply to you? There's a story that comes to us from ancient Russia during the days of the czars and was the time when Nicholas was the czar. And Nicholas was friends to a man who had a son. And because of that friendship, the son was given the very important responsibility of doling out money to the soldiers and to do so regularly. They didn't have checks. They didn't have it electronically put in their banks in those days, had to be given out personally. And the son had that responsibility, but he also had a gambling habit. So he gambled a lot of the money away and he knew that he could not pay the debt. Well, the story is that he knew that Nicholas was going to come and observe the men in the barracks and that he would hear about what this young guy had done. So he took the ledger and he wrote out all that he needed and the amount that was missing. And he decided that he would take a nap and maybe at midnight blow out his brains because there was no way that he could pay. And on the piece of paper, he wrote the amount and then under it he wrote who can pay question mark. The story is that Nicholas himself did show up, saw the situation and wrote one word under the question.

He wrote the word Nicholas. When the young man woke up, he didn't believe that it was the signature of the czar, but he checked it because they kept it on file. And he discovered that the czar was going to cover the payment. And the next day from the czar's office, money came for the soldiers.

The young man's debt was covered. As you look into your life today, who can pay? Who can pay for our sin? Who can make up?

Who can make it up? We can't. But Jesus became one of us. He died the just one for those of us who are unjust to bring us to God.

And because of the incarnation, he's qualified to do just that. Have you received him? Have you accepted what he has done on your behalf? Have you bowed your head and thanked him for the birth in Bethlehem? Thanked him that the angel of the Lord became one of us to redeem us forever. Well, this is Pastor Lutzer. I hope that you picked up on how enthused we are here at Running to Win to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible. And even as I spoke about the topic of angels, we are well aware that we are in a spiritual battle. And we here at Running to Win try to go into countries that oftentimes are closed, especially hostile to the gospel.

And it's because of people just like you that this ministry continues to advance. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? When you do that, you help us plan for the coming year, even as you are planning your budget for the year to come. You'd like to find out some info. Here's what you can do. Go to When you're there, you click on the endurance partner button. And even as you partner with us, we deeply appreciate your prayers. Of course, as you think about giving to us regularly, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Check it out right now.

Go to, click on the endurance partner button, or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thank you in advance for standing with us. As I've already emphasized, we are in a spiritual battle, but we believe that Jesus won it. We believe that the strong man has been bound. Now we want to go and plunder his house.

You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. For the most part, angels are anonymous. Only two have names we see in the Bible. One of them was Gabriel, who told Mary that she would bear the Christ child. Next time on Running to Win, we'll meet this famous angel and see what he had to say. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-19 02:34:37 / 2023-12-19 02:43:05 / 8

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