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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: Portraits of Christ

Don Smith :: Exo 2; The Angel of the LORD

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Portraits of Christ in Exodus

The Angel of the LORD—Exodus 2

  1. Perspective is everything.
    • It is said, “I can’t see the forest for the trees.”
    • The whole is distorted by the parts.
    • The purpose is blurred by the problems.
    • The plan is obscured by the pressures.
    • The eternal is confused by the temporal.
    • And the good is overshadowed by the evil.
  2. Israel’s teachers lost sight of God’s promise of Christ.
    • They no longer focused on the God of the Old Testament and His Covenant.
    • Instead, when they read the Scriptures they were preoccupied with formulas for practical living and personal devotional thoughts.
    • They knew more about the Law than about Grace.
    • They knew more about heroes than God.
    • They knew more about prescriptions for prosperity more than prophetic promises.
    • That is why they did not recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah.
    • In other words, they couldn’t see Christ for Moses.
    • He chided the Pharisees, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for He wrote about Me.”
    • That is why Jesus devoted His teaching efforts to giving His followers a proper perspective to the Scriptures.
    • In Luke 24:27 it says, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”
  3. The church in this generation is in danger of losing its Biblical perspective because we are more focused on a man-centered theology than a Theo-centric Gospel.
    • We are teaching remedies to superficial problems, rather than teaching God’s all sufficiency to save lost sinners, as we are.
    • We can’t see God’s purpose in history for the pressing problems in the present.
  4. The study of types and shadows can help us gain a greater appreciation for Christ and how He fulfilled God’s promises.
    • Moses was a type portraying the coming of Christ, a deliverer of God’s people, a mediator of God’s Covenant, a prophet of the coming Prophet, and a servant of the ultimate Servant.
    • The story of redemption and God’s promise to propagate, preserve and protect the linage of the Last Adam, Christ, is an amazing story.
    • All the Scriptures were written to give us a historical perspective of God’s redemptive purpose in Christ.
    • Genesis records the early history of God’s faithfulness to His promise through the lineage of Seth, Noah, and Abraham.
    • Exodus is the ongoing saga of God’s concern and care for His Chosen People.
    • We come now to a familiar event and object—the Burning Bush.
    • It is another foreshadow of Christ.
    • However, let’s not lose sight of Christ by our intrigue with Moses and the bush.

“God is faithful to His promises and His people, hearing Israel’s prayers when they cried out to the Him in Egypt.” (Exodus 2:23-25)

  1. In His time, things change. “In the process of time.” (Exodus 2:23)
    • Previously, Moses attempted to deliver his enslaved brothers from Egyptian cruelty.
    • But after he killed an Egyptian taskmaster, he was not only rejected by his own people but also the first family of Egypt.
    • Moses left behind the privileged life of Egypt he had enjoyed for 40 years.
    • He then entered another 40-year phase of his life as a shepherd in Midian.
    • In God’s timing, Moses was being prepared to shepherd God’s flock out of Egypt.
    • In the meantime, Israel was suffering under the harsh hand of Pharaoh.
    • But as we know from reading Romans 13:1, “There is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
    • God sets up and takes down all governing authorities to accomplish His divine purposes.
    • We cannot afford to lose this perspective.
    • God’s sovereignty works through good and bad governments to accomplish His purposes.
  2. In God’s time, adversity was used to provoke prayer, “they groaned—and cried because of bondage.”
    • In the midst of suffering God no longer was a peripheral dimension of daily life.
    • Their groans and tears were teaching them to pray.
    • Their sense of helplessness prodded them to call out to God.
    • All the pretense, all the formality, all the resistance was gone, after hope in themselves had evaporated.
    • Is it any wonder we tend to learn best in the dark, what we should have learned in the light?
  3. In God’s time, prayer is answered; God’s delays are not necessarily denials.
    • God heard the cry of His Seed in peril.
    • God remembered His covenant, that is, God acted upon the promises He made to the fathers of Christ’s linage: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
    • God did not need to be reminded of them; He hadn’t forgotten them.
    • When we are faithless, He is faithful because He cannot deny Himself.
    • In other words, God was not only moved to act by the prayers of His people, but He was moved to act by His own faithfulness to His promises.
    • He looked favorably upon the Hebrews and was concerned about the preservation of the Chosen Seed.
  4. Here is how we translate all of this into our lives.
    • God is faithful to His promises, no matter how thick the trees in the forest.
    • God uses even the painful circumstances and the troublesome authorities in our life to bring about His appointed purposes.
    • Let’s not lose sight of His sovereign purposes, no matter how many trees are in our path.

“God answered His children’s prayers on Mount Horeb.” (Exodus 3:1-6)

  1. He began to work apart from Israel’s awareness. (Romans 13:1)
    • This is like most of our prayers.
    • While we are looking for immediate answers to our predicaments, God is usually working somewhere else in the forest for long-term solutions.
    • Unbeknownst to Israel, God was answering prayer on Mount Horeb, while they were laboring under the hot sun in Egypt.
    • While Moses thought he was leading his flock, God was leading him to Mount Horeb.
    • Actually, this 7000 foot peak is probably the equivalent of Mount Sinai.
    • It was from this Mountain that God commissioned Moses and gave him the Law.
  2. He spoke to Moses from “The Burning Bush.”
    • It was a strange sight even for a shepherd of forty years in the area.
    • This non-consuming burning bush peaked his curiosity.
    • He decided to inspect it at a closer range.
    • Notice carefully in our text that the emphasis is not so much on the Bush, as it is on the One in the midst of it.
    • Here is where our eyes usually focus, more on Moses’ reaction or the bush rather than the Angel of the LORD speaking out of the bush.
  3. Who is the “Angel of the LORD”? (Exodus 3:1-6)
    • I suggest to you it is a pre-incarnate “Christophany” or an appearance of the Second Person of the Triune God in time and space.
    • He is the One Who revealed the glory of the Invisible God in the Old Testament.
    • Jesus claimed, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”
    • In other words, God appeared as the Angel of the LORD; yet in seeing Him, Moses saw “Elohim,” the Triune God.
    • The Names given to this Angel can be ascribed only to God.
    • He is called, “LORD” and “God”
    • He is referred to as “The God of your Fathers.”
    • “The God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob” and the “God of the Hebrews.”
    • This is the equivalent of calling Him, “The God of the Promised Seed.”
    • In verse 14, the Angel referred to Himself as “I AM.”
    • This name is derived from the words “to be”—“I was, I am, I will forever Be.”
    • It is pronounced “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”—the Self-Existent One, without beginning or end.
  • Now let’s look to the New Testament for the identification of the Angel.
  • When Jesus referred to Himself as “I Am,” the audience was shocked and accused Him of blasphemy. (John 8:56-59)
  • In John’s Gospel we have the record of Christ’s great “I AMs.”
  • Jesus claimed: “I am the bread of life,” “I am the Good Shepherd,” “I am the Door,” “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the true Vine,” “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

Let’s consider other appearances of the Angel of the LORD.

  1. The first reference to the Angel of the LORD is in Genesis 16:7.
    • The Lord appeared to Hagar.
    • She referred to the Angel as, “The Lord, the God Who sees.”
  2. The Angel of the LORD called out of heaven to Abraham, as he prepared to plunge his knife into his only son, Isaac. (Genesis 22:11-12)
    • At that moment, a sacrificial ram was seen nearby Abraham.
    • The ram was caught in a thorny bush by its horns.
    • The foreshadow of Jesus, God’s Son, the Lamb of God, wearing a crown of thorns, offering up his life as a sacrifice on the cross on the same Mount is hard to miss.
  3. The Angel of the LORD appeared to Jacob. (Genesis 31:11-13; 32:24-30)
  4. Jacob pronounced a blessing on Joseph, by referring to the Angel of the LORD as, “The One Who redeemed me.” (Genesis 48:15-16)
  5. The Angel of the LORD was like a pillar of fire, which led Moses and the people out of Egypt. (Exodus 14:19)
  6. The Angel of the LORD appeared to Joshua forty years after He appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush. (Exodus 14:19)
  7. The Angel of the LORD appeared face-to-face with Gideon. (Judges 6:14).
    • It is significant because Gideon offered burnt sacrifices to the Angel of the LORD.
    • No angel could receive such worship unless it was God Himself.
  8. The Angel of the LORD killed 850,000 Assyrian soldiers threatening God’s people. (2 Kings 19:35)
  9. The Angel of the LORD was seen by King David standing between heaven and earth, yielding a sword. (1 Chronicles 21:16)
  10. In David’s Psalm 34:7, he offers comfort for the broken hearted, “the Angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”
  11. (Zechariah describes the Angel of the LORD opposed by Satan. He rebuked Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!” (Zechariah 3:1-2)
    • Then the Lord of host promised to bring forth God’s Servant, Who is the Branch.
    • What is the significance of this being a “thorny bush”?
    • Thorns, thistles, and thickets are used in the Bible as symbols of the curse of sin on the earth.
    • See (Genesis 3:18; 22:13; Isaiah 9:18; 10:33-34)
    • Thorns are a sign of humility and adversity, pain and suffering.
    • They are also a stark reminder of our human condition, our inability to produce fruit pleasing to God in ourselves.

So how is this event to be interpreted? (Deuteronomy 33:16)

  • Our focus must be more on the Angel, Who dwells in the midst of the bush, than anything else.
  • It is a sign of Christ entering into the curse as our substitute.
  • The Shekinah glory of Christ shone through the curse of sin.

Other Scriptures give us further insights:

  1. The Angel of the LORD is referred to as, “The Angel of His Presence.” (Isaiah 63:8-9)
    • The presence of God with man is revealed as “The Angel of the LORD.”
  2. Moses is warned by God about drawing near Him. (Exodus 3:5-6)
    • The presence of a Holy God must be respected.
    • He is a consuming fire.
    • His presence makes common ordinary things uncommonly holy for His purposes.
    • This Angel is the Purifier and the Protector of His people.
  3. The Angel of the LORD is referred to as, “The Angel of the Covenant.” (Malachi 3:1)
    • He is the God of grace and the Mediator of a New Covenant.
    • He is the faithful God to all His promises.
  4. Jesus gave us clues to interpret His own life. (Luke 20:34-38 and Mark 12:24-27)
    • Jesus Christ is the Angel of the LORD, radiating His glory out of the midst of this thorny bush.
    • It is He who promises life to the dead.
    • He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.
    • The Burning Bush was a foreshadowing of Christ’s identity with sinful man.
    • It is a reminder that Christ raises the dead.
    • He is revealed as a non-consuming fire because He is eternally holy.
    • God promised His children deliverance from Egypt. (Exodus 3:7-11)

We see from this event the following insights on this “God of the Bush.”

  1. He knew His children’s sorrow. (Exodus 3:7; Isaiah 53:3; Hebrews 4:15-16)
    • He is a man of sorrows, Who is familiar with our plight.
    • He is a sympathetic High Priest, Who welcomes us to come before His throne of grace in our time of need.
  2. He came down to deliver His people from their bondage. (Exodus 3:8)
    • He is a merciful God, Who came to seek and save the lost.
  3. He is faithful to His covenant people. (Exodus 3:8)
    • Three times in our text He reiterates His promise of giving them a land flowing with milk and honey.
    • The blessings of God ooze with His grace.
  4. He commissioned Moses to return to Egypt. (Exodus 3:9-10)
    • Those who have seen the glory of Christ are best prepared to share the Gospel of His deliverance from bondage.
    • He empowered Moses to deliver His people. (Exodus 3:11-12)
    • God never calls His people to do something without first giving them the capacities and the resources to complete it.
    • The greatest comfort promised Moses was the Angel’s perpetual presence.
    • If God be with us, who can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)
    • I also think it significant that this is the first of five occasions when Moses tried to convince God of his personal inadequacies.
    • Search the texts and you will find no argument from God.
    • Moses and his people were powerless to deliver themselves or to do anything God required from them.
    • The consolation was “He would be with them.” He would give Moses a sign of God’s power.
    • Perspective is everything.
    • It is said, “I can’t see the forest for the trees.”
    • The whole is distorted by the parts; the purpose is blurred by the problems.
    • The plan is obscured by the pressures; the eternal is confused by the temporal.
    • And the good is overshadowed by the evil.
    • The goodness and sovereignty of God is eclipsed by the goodness and resources of man.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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