Thoughts On Eternity By Jack Kelley Whenever it seems like the whole world is about…
The Angel of the Lord – Part 2
By Randy Nettles
Isaac was probably a teenager or young adult when he had his “altar call” experience. I’m sure it left a lasting impression on him for the rest of his life. Isaac would always remember the words that were spoken by the angel of the Lord to Abraham. “I will bless you, and in multiplying your seed [through Isaac] as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore, and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed my (angel of the Lord) voice” (Genesis 22:17-18).
Sarah lived a long life and died at the age of 127 years. After her death, Abraham asked his eldest servant and steward, Eliezer, to make a vow unto him and the Lord: Abraham told him, “And I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that you shall not take a wife unto my son of the sons of the Cananites, among whom I dwell: but you shall go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac” (Genesis 24:3-4). This wording of the vow described by Abraham is unusual. Why didn’t he just say; swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth? It’s ambiguous, but I think he could be referring to God the Father as the God of heaven; and the angel of the Lord as the God (who appears) of the earth.
Eliezer suggested taking Isaac with him on the trip, but Abraham said no to this idea. Abraham was afraid that he might not see Isaac again, for he was getting very old. Abraham told Eliezer: “The Lord God of heaven which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spoke unto me and that swore unto me, saying Unto your seed will I give this land; He shall send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife unto my son from there” (Genesis 24:7). Regarding this last verse, the He that Abraham mentions is God the Father; the angel is the angel of the Lord, not just a created angel.
The second person of the Trinity, Christ and/or the angel of the Lord is the angel/messenger that God the Father sent to guide and protect Abraham and accompany on their long journey from Ur of the Chaldees. He is the same one that appeared unto Abraham when He confirmed His covenant with him as per Genesis 17:1-8. The same angel was with Eliezer on his long journey, allowing him to be successful with his mission for Abraham.
Upon entering the land of Abraham’s brethren, Eliezer prayed to the Lord for a test to determine which girl would be the right choice for Isaac. “And let it come to pass that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down your pitcher [at the well], I pray you, that I may drink; and she will say, Drink, and I will give your camels drink also, let the same be she that you appointed for your servant Isaac” (Genesis 24:14). The one who passed this test was Rebekah who was the daughter of Bethuel. Bethuel was the son of Nahor, who was a brother of Abraham’s.
“And the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord, and he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way [of no use], the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren” (Genesis 24:26-27). Eliezer then recounted to Laban (Rebekah’s brother) what Abraham had told him at the start of his trip: “And he said unto me, the Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with you, and prosper the way; and you shall take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father’s house” (Genesis 24:40). In verse 17, Eliezer said the Lord led him to the house, and in verse 40 it is the angel who led him. This suggests the angel is the Lord Jehovah Himself.
Eliezer returns home safely with Rebekah in tow and tells Isaac everything he had done. “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Genesis 24:67). Rebekah was Isaac’s one and only wife throughout his life. Sometime later, Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. She bare Abraham six children.
“And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, and hundred threescore and fifteen years. Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; the field which Abraham purchased on the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife” (Genesis 25:7-10).
Abraham dies at the ripe old age of 175 years, and Isaac inherits all of his possessions. This instantly makes Isaac very wealthy as Abraham was indeed blessed by God throughout his long life. “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi” (Genesis 25:11).
Isaac was 40 years old when he took Rebekah for his wife. She was barren for 20 years before Isaac “intreated” the Lord for his wife to conceive. Rebekah gave birth to twins shortly after Isaac’s prayers to the Lord. They named them Esau and Jacob. The Lord was with Isaac as He was with Abraham. “Then Isaac sowed in the land, and received in the same year and hundred fold: and the Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great” (Genesis 26:12-13).
As Isaac grew old, his eyesight failed him and he became blind. When Isaac was approximately 155-160 years old, it came time for him to bless his eldest son, Esau. Rebekah devised a plan to trick Isaac into blessing Jacob instead. Esau had already sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. When Esau heard that Jacob received his father’s blessing, due to his trickery, he became irate and vowed to kill Jacob. Rebekah told Jacob to flee for his life and go to the land of her brother, Laban, for a “few days.”
Isaac confirmed Rebekah’s decision and told Jacob to go and take a wife from the daughters of Laban in Mesopotamia. Rebekah and Isaac did not want Jacob to take a wife from the Canaanites as Esau had done. Jacob did as he was told and left Beer-sheba and went north toward Haran. Unlike Eliezer’s trip to Haran, Jacob traveled alone and not with a caravan. Also, Jacob did not have a huge dowry to give to the family of his future wife.
Jacob traveled about 60 miles until he came to a place called Luz (later named Bethel). As the sun was setting and night came, Jacob lay down and fell asleep. “And he dreamed, and behold, a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold the Lord stood above it, and said, I AM the Lord God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac: the land where you are on, to you will I give it, and to your seed” (Genesis 28:12-13).
God’s covenant promise to Abraham and Isaac was given to Jacob as well. The Lord would bless Jacob with numerous descendants and would give the land to them. He also said: “And behold, I AM with you, and will keep you in all places wherever you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you about. Jacob awoke out of his sleep and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:15-17).
“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my fathers’ house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and all that you shall give me I will surely give You a tenth (as a tithe)” (Genesis 28:20-22).
Jacob spent 20 years in Haran under his uncle Laban’s authority, and worked for him during all this time. Seven years were spent there in lieu of wages for marrying his oldest daughter Leah, and seven years wages for marrying his younger daughter, Rachel. The last 6 years were for accumulating his flock in lieu of wages for shepherding Laban’s flock. During this time, eleven sons and one daughter were born to Jacob and his wives (and their handmaids). Jacob fed and took care of Laban’s livestock.
He made a deal with Laban concerning his wages. Jacob would claim all the speckled and spotted cattle and brown cattle and goats among the sheep. Laban would claim the remainder of the livestock for himself. The Lord was with Jacob and blessed him (as promised). “And the man increased exceedingly; and had much cattle, and maidservants, and menservants, and camels, and asses” (Genesis 30:43).
Jacob’s success was not lost on Laban’s sons. “And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob has taken away all that was our fathers; and of that which was our fathers has he gotten all this glory. And Jacob beheld the countenance of Laban, and behold, it was not toward him as before. And the Lord said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of your fathers, and to your kindred; and I will be with you” (Genesis 31:1-3).
“And it came to pass at the time the cattle conceived, Jacob had a dream where the angel of God spoke to him, saying: Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said, Lift up now your eyes, and see; all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban does unto you. I AM the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar, and where you vowed a vow unto me; now arise, get out from this land (Mesopotamia/Haran), and return unto the land of your kindred in Canaan” (Genesis 31:10-13). In verse 11, the angel of God (or angel of the Lord) speaks to Jacob in a dream. In verse 13, He tells Jacob that I AM the God of Bethel (where Jacob had encountered Him decades earlier). This confirms that the angel of the Lord is God as one Person of Elohim.
Jacob obeyed God and left Haran with his entourage to make the long journey back home. He had no way of knowing his mother Rebekah had died by this time. She had always believed Jacob’s stay would only be for days and not years, but she was wrong. They never had their reunion (this side of heaven). It had been 20+ years since he had last seen his parents and twin brother. When they entered the northern part of Canaan, they were greeted with quite a spectacle. “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called that place Mahanaim” (Genesis 32:1-2).
These were actual angelic beings that appeared in their natural state (not as men) to Jacob. The Bible doesn’t mention the reason for the meeting, but I assume God was showing Jacob that He was with them and would protect them. Jacob probably needed this reinforcement of faith, as he was informed by messengers that Esau and 400 men were coming from Edom to meet him. This news put the “fear of God” into Jacob as he feared Esau would kill him, so he prayed mightily unto the Lord for protection and deliverance.
They camped that night by Succoth near the Jabbok River. Jacob made his family cross over the ford while he remained behind. “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the Hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And the man said, Let me go For the day is breaking. And Jacob said, I will not let you go, until you bless me” (Genesis 32:24-26).
Evidently Jacob knew this was no ordinary man, but an angel or messenger of God. This messenger asked Jacob a rhetorical question (for he already knew the answer): “What is your name?” Jacob told him his name and the man told him: “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel: for you are as a prince that has power with God and with men, and have prevailed” (Genesis 32:27-28). Jacob then asked the angel what his name was, “and he said, Why is it that you ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved: (Genesis 32:29-30).
After the messenger blessed him, Jacob knew he wasn’t an ordinary angel but the angel of the Lord, God Himself, in a human body. Jacob did indeed get the blessing; however, he did walk with a limp for the rest of his life. As the sun was rising, Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming with all of his men. Jacob’s prayer must have been answered for Esau was genuinely happy to see him and to meet his new family. “And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are these with you?” (Genesis 33:4-5). The twin brothers made peace and went their separate way.
Jacob and his entourage came to Shalem, a city of Shechem which is in the land of Canaan, and lived there for a while. Jacob’s older sons Simeon and Levi killed Shechem, a prince of the city, for raping their sister Dinah. They also killed his father Hamor and all the males of the city. They spoiled the city and took all of their flocks and wealth, their wives and little ones, and took them captive. After this tragic event, God told Jacob to go to Bethel and dwell there. The Lord instructed him to build an altar unto God, who had appeared unto him when he first fled from the wrath of Esau his brother decades earlier.
God appeared again unto Jacob at Bethel and confirmed his covenant with him “And God said unto him, Thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be your name; and he called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of you [Israel], and kings shall come out of your loins; and the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to you I will give it, and to your seed after you will I give the land” (Genesis 35:10-12). Just as God changed Abram’s name during the original confirmation of the covenant, so he did with Jacob. The name Israel means a prince who prevails with God.
As they traveled south from Bethel towards Hebron, Rachel (who was pregnant) went into labor and had her second son. However, she died giving birth to Jacob’s son, and was buried in Bethlehem, near Hebron. Jacob named his new son Benjamin. He was Jacob’s 12th son. “And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him” (Genesis 35:27-29).