Monday, February 9, 2009
I0209 - Angel of the Lord, a 2nd look
This post is part of our group read of the Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.
Having outlined in the previous post Calvin's defense that Christ is indeed the Angel of the Lord, I have continued to think on this truth - that there is more to this understanding than I perhaps had previously grasped.
Consider these words from 1.13.10:
"The orthodox doctors of the Church have correctly and wisely expounded, that the Word of God was the supreme angel, who then began, as it were by anticipation, to perform the office of Mediator. For though he were not clothed with flesh, yet he descended as in an intermediate form, that he might have more familiar access to the faithful. This closer intercourse procured for him the name of the Angel; still, however, he retained the character which justly belonged to him - that of the God of ineffable glory.........he is the God who was always worshipped by the Jews."
Calvin is telling us here, that the title of Angel of the Lord, Angel of the Covenant (Mal 3:1) was then a beginning, by way of anticipation of Christ performing the office of Mediator. Then especially concluding that "he is the God who was always worshipped by the Jews."
I had missed this idea of the faithful saints in the OT knowing somewhat of a mediator through the title, Angel of the Lord, and whom they worshiped as truly God.
Saying in another way, In the past with undoubtedly some help I've noted the identification of the Angel of The Lord (at least in several passages if not all) with the 2nd Person of the Godhead. But what I believe I missed is the IMPORT of what this means. That's what I'm trying to grasp now as I take a new look at the scripture passages Calvin cited. There is an application to make of this -- the application perhaps comes out in Calvin's commentary on Act 7:30 when he writes:
Therefore, let us, first of all, set down this for a surety, that there was never since the beginning any communication between God and men, save only by Christ; for we have nothing to do with God, unless the Mediator be present to purchase his favor for us. Therefore, this place doth plentifully prove the divinity of Christ, and teacheth that he is of the same essence with the Father. Furthermore, he is called an angel, not only because he had the angels always to bear him company, and to be, as it were, his apparitors (officers) but because that deliverance of the people did shadow the redemption of us all, for whose sake Christ was to be sent of his Father, that he might take upon him the shape of a servant together with our flesh. It is certain, indeed, that God did never appear unto men as he is, but under some shape agreeable to their capacity; notwithstanding, there is another reason why Christ is called by this name, because he being appointed by the eternal counsel of God to be unto men the minister of salvation, doth appear unto Moses to this end. Neither is that contrary to this doctrine, which is written in the 2nd chapter to the Hebrews, (Heb_2:16) that Christ never took the angels, but the seed of Abraham; for although he took upon him the shape of an angel for a time, yet did he never take the nature of angels, as we know that he was made very man.
SEE CALVIN on Act 7:30.
There is Gospel-Truth in this title, Angel of the Lord, when it is applied correctly to the eternally-begotten Son 0f God.
What do you think? Let me know