You Have Not Obeyed My Voice
After Israel had settled in the promised land, but before the death of Joshua (Judges 2:6), the Angel of the LORD came to the children of Israel. He said to them:
I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I sword to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’ (Judges 2:1-3)
The people of Israel were to purge the land of the inhabitants, but they failed to do so (Judges 1:19, 21, 27-35). It was not a matter of inability, but lack of effort and faith.
The LORD could have given this message through Joshua, or by sending a prophet, but He chose to bring it Himself, appearing to the people. In response to the word of the Angel of the LORD, the people wept, and made sacrifice to the LORD (v 4-5). Though troubles would come, the result of the LORD’s rebuke was that Israel was faithful to the LORD through the rest of Joshua’s life, and throughout the life of the elders who outlived him (Judges 2:7).
Appearing to Gideon
Again, the LORD gave a message to the people of Israel about their failure to be faithful to Him. This time, it came through a prophet (Judges 6:7-10). After the prophet spoke to all the people, the Angel of the LORD came to speak with Gideon specifically. Notice their conversation:
…the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!’ Gideon said to Him, ‘O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.’ Then the LORD turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?’ (Judges 6:12-14)
Gideon focused on his weaknesses (v 15), the LORD wanted him to focus on the strength that was with him (2 Corinthians 12:9). He answered Gideon in the same way He answered Moses (Judges 6:16; Exodus 3:12).
It would seem that Gideon began to understand who this was before him. He asked that He not depart until he brought his offering out to set before the LORD. The Angel of the LORD received the offering, bringing forth fire from the rock upon which it was laid (Judges 6:20-21). Gideon was now certain who it was that had appeared to him (Judges 6:22), and was concerned that he would die (v 23). He named the place, “the LORD is peace.”
The wife of Manoah, a man from the tribe of Dan, was barren. However, in Judges 13:3, the Angel of the LORD appeared to her and revealed she would have a son, Samson. He would have a Nazirite vow upon him, and he would deliver Israel from their enemies, the Philistines.
As the woman spoke to her husband about the event, she said it was “a Man of God” who appeared to her, and she spoke of his countenance as being “like the countenance of the Angel of God” (Judges 13:6). Manoah prayed to the LORD, asking that this Man of God come to them again. God heard his prayer, and answered it. Once more, the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman. She ran to get her husband (Judges 13:9-10). Manoah spoke with the Man, but did not realize who He was. In fact, he asked that He wait, while they prepared a young goat for Him; not as an offering, but as a meal. The Angel of the LORD suggested it be given as an offering.
Then the man asked the LORD, ‘What is Your name?’ (Judges 13:17). In return, the LORD asked why he asked, “seeing it is wonderful?” (see Isaiah 9:6).
Manoah did as the LORD directed, and provided the young goat as an offering. With Manoah and his wife watching, the Angel of the LORD ascended into heaven in the flame from the altar. Now Manoah knew who it was that appeared to him (Judges 13:21).
In fact, he was afraid! He thought that they would die, for they had seen God (v 22). His wife reasoned with him, that if the LORD wanted them dead, He would not have accepted their offering, nor would He have given them the great news of a child to be born.
We’ve noted the Angel of the LORD appearing to Abram, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, national Israel, Balaam, Joshua, Gideon, and Manoah & his wife. In these texts, He is equated with Jehovah, and the phrase Angel of the LORD is often used interchangeably with “the LORD.” Just a few more examples next week.