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  • Writer's pictureNœmer Girón Araullo

The Divine Agency of the Son – The Messenger/Angel of the Covenant in Malachi 3:1ff

I have often referred to myself as the only Binitarian who is not yet fully convinced that the Lord Jesus was the Angel of the LORD (yes, I know, I am all alone in my neutrality). However, recently I read a post by Noemer Araullo that was one of the most succinct, yet solid arguments for Christ as the messenger of the LORD. I think that you will find it well-reasoned and thought-provoking. Enjoy. Mario Shepard



 

As a former Unitarian-turned-Trinitarian, I've learnt to unlearn & relearn. Now as a biblical ″Binitarian″, I feel that I've been freed from manmade creeds that used to prevent me from freely investigating such theological/Christological views as what I've now written here.

Say, for example, those so-called theophanies in the Old Testament may also be viewed as Christophanies. How so? According to most Bible readers, the two mentions of the word ″messenger″ {Heb. malakh, Gk. aggelos} in Malachi 3:1 indicate that it doesn't refer to only one person, as opposed to the two mentions of the word ″Lord″, which refers to only one person, i.e., the speaker in the verse, although there be some, esp. Unitarians, who differentiate the LORD (YHWH), the speaker, from the Lord, the one spoken of or prophesied, who they say had yet to come into existence‽


They make the very same argument with Psalm 110:1, concerning the LORD′s prophetical pronouncement to ″my Lord″ (Adoni), “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thine footstool.” This is not the case with Malachi 3, though.


I prefer to reference Brenton′s Septuagint Translation of Malachi 3:1, which renders it this way:


“Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come into his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom ye take pleasure in: behold, he is coming, saith the Lord Almighty.” (Mal 3:1 LXX)


This passage is a messianic prophecy as the following verses clearly show; however, the first messenger mentioned as ″my messenger″ is fulfilled in the person of John the baptist (Matt 11:10, Mark 1:2 & Luke 7:27), who was to survey/prepare the way before the LORD Himself (the speaker in Malachi 3:1), and not before anyone else! Now, that is in & of itself interesting enough, but here's where it gets even more interesting (at least for me).


The second messenger, ″the angel of the covenant,″ is none other than the Lord, whom they/we seek & take pleasure in!! As for the phrase ″his temple,″ it may well be interpreted as being the physical body of the Messiah (John 2:19–21), of which the author of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me’” (Heb 10:5).


As for the speaker, bearing the Name (haShem) of the LORD {i.e., the Tetragrammaton as per the Masoretic Text (MT), viz. the sacred name of the God of Isræl, hence the LXX rendering it ″the Lord Almighty″}, who said that His messenger (John the Baptist) would prepare the way before Him, He was simply prophesying His own coming, referring to Himself in the third person. Come to think of it, the Lord Jesus had a habit of referring to Himself in the third person as the Son of man, esp. when speaking of future events. That's why I tend to agree with the majority who makes no distinction between the [prophesying] LORD (Adonai) and the [prophesied] Lord (ha Adon) in the Malachi 3 text.


Why? Occasionally, the LORD God sent a divine spokesperson who physically appeared to some of His people as recorded in OT Scripture. This one-of-a-kind spokesperson was God′s physical representative in olden times. In many instances, He was called the Messenger/Angel of the LORD {Heb. Malakh YHWH}. Although called an angel, He was no ordinary angel in that He isn't merely a created being as all other heavenly angels are. The Hebrew word ″malakh″, which means messenger, has been used of both heavenly & earthly beings (Gen 19:1, 2Sam 2:5).


Take the Genesis 18 passage, for instance, where three heavenly beings came to Abraham. Verse 1 says that the LORD appeared to Abraham, who in turn bowed himself toward the ground upon meeting Him, with two of His angels whom He later sent off to Sodom to fetch Lot & his family. In the meantime, Abraham tried to strike a bargain with the One left speaking with him, Whom he addressed as LORD. Eventually, this LORD is said to have rained brimstone & fire upon Sodom & Gomorrah from out of that LORD in heaven (Gen 19:24). Wait. Were there two beings called LORD? One in heaven and one on earth?


Let's let the LORD answer our queries: “Behold, I am sending an angel before you to protect you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to his voice; do not defy him, for he will not forgive rebellion, since My Name is in him” (Exod 23:20–21). Spoken to Moses, this was one of God′s promises to Isræl if they should keep His covenant.


The said angel had previously appeared to Moses from the burning bush (Ex 3:2), and introduced Himself to him, saying “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (v6). When Moses asked Him His name, He said “I AM THAT I AM” [...] “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Isræl, I AM hath sent me unto you” (vv13–14). In comparison, isn't this what Jesus said to the Jews when they questioned Him, “You're not yet 50 years old, and you've seen Abraham?” (John 8:57b) What did Christ say to them? “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was . . . . I AM!” (Jn 8:58)


No wonder Moses referred to this unique messenger (sc. the Angel of the Covenant) as the Angel of the LORD, the LORD, & God interchangeably (Exod 3), because not only does He bear God′s Name, He also has the power to pardon transgressions, in other words, forgive sins, because of it. As a matter of fact, centuries later He authoritatively took away the inquity (sins) of the high priest Joshua (Zech 3:4). Also, as an intermediary, He had pleaded with the LORD to have mercy on the city of Jerusalem & the cities of Judah (Zech 1:12). This to me seems to be a foreshadowing of the Christ′s mediation between us & God (1Tim 2:5), as He eventually became the mediator of a new & better covenant (Heb 9:15, 12:24, 8:6).


God′s command to Moses that he should listen to this Messenger′s voice reminds me of God commanding the apostles during the Transfiguration to listen to His beloved Son (Luke 9:35). The same enigmatic entity, who had told Moses to take his sandals off his feet for the place where he's standing is holy ground, also told Joshua, son of Nun, exactly the same thing; Joshua had even worshipped Him, falling on his face to the earth (Josh 5:14–15).


The Messenger/Angel of the LORD has many descriptive titles interchangeably used of Him alone. One of the most recurring ones in OT Scriptures would be ″the Word of the LORD″ {Gk. ho Logos tou Kyriou; Aram. Memra Adonai}, Who speaks/interacts with God′s people time & time again. He's also called the Captain {Heb. Sar – Prince} of the LORD′s host (Josh 5:15), a.k.a. the Prince/Ruler of the host (Dan 8:11) and the Prince of princes (v25), where the Hebrew word ″sar″ was also used of Him, up against Whom an anti-Christ figure was prophesied to stand & magnify himself.


Also, one of my personal favorites is that messianic prophecy in Jeremiah 30:18–21, where the LORD has prophesied a Noble Leader/Prince & Governor/Ruler, Who shall be [One] of themselves (Jacob/Israel) and proceed from the midst of them, and Whom the LORD shall cause to draw near and approach Him (v21), which has been fulfilled in the Son of man coming to the Ancient of days, being brought near before Him (Dan 7:13), and to Whom was given dominion & glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations & languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Dan 7:14). Another parallel prophecy is that apocalyptic passage in Daniel 9:25, which mentions Messiah the Prince!


Consequently, Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” It's noteworthy that this verse was worded differently in the LXX, which says, “For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, whose government is upon his shoulder: and his name is called the Messenger {Gk. Aggelos – Angel} of great counsel: for I will bring peace upon the princes, and health to him.”


As a fulfillment of such Messianic prophecies, the angel Gabriel proclaimed to Mary, concerning her yet-to-be-conceived Son′s destiny, that “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:32–33)


In light of all this, as we look through the lens of Biblical ″binitarianism″, we can now make sense of such NT passages in which Christ has been called God or described as one (John 1:1, 18; 8:58; 10:30; Acts 3:15; Rom 9:5; Phil 2:5–8; Col 1:16–17; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8ff; 13:8; 2Pet 1:1; Rev 1:8–13, 17–18; 21:6–7; 22:13), seeing as He's the one & only fully divine agent deriving His divinity/godhood from the definitive God, i.e., His Father Who begot Him from eternity before His works of old (Mic 5:2, Prov 30:4, 8:22).


The Lord Jesus Christ is and has always been the image of [the invisible] God (Col 1:15, 2Cor 4:4, Heb 1:3, John 14:9), and the [spiritual] Rock of His people (Deut 32:4, 15, 18, 31; Matt 16:18; Rom 9:32; 1Cor 10:4; 1Pet 2:8), because He's the same yesterday, today & forever (Heb 13:8).


Amen & amen!!


Noemer Araullo


Note: the plural term ″nobles″ in KJV′s rendition of Jeremiah 30:21 would be misleading because the original Hebrew word ″addîyr″ used in the MT is an adjective, meaning great, majestic, noble, powerful, glorious, lordly, mighty, principal, worthy, etc.; that's why for this particular text I prefer the JPS Tanakh 1917 (the Jewish Publication Society – a translation of the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible into English), which translated it as ″prince″!


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2 Comments


Derdz Araullo
Derdz Araullo
Oct 14, 2022

You misspelt the word 'iniquity', my dear. ;-)

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Nœmer Girón Araullo
Nœmer Girón Araullo
Oct 14, 2022
Replying to

I've forgotten that my wife's a proofreader!! :-D

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