Monday, February 8, 2016

Jesus Christ, the Angel of Jehovah, and Michael the Archangel - part 1

In the combox of the Angelomorphic Christology thread, a Reformed gent who posts under the name ANNOYED PINOY and yours truly have been engaged in a serious discussion that delves into various Christological issues. In my 02-03-16 combox post, I wrote:

>>I personally believe that the portrait of Michael in the Scriptures coincides with the one who is termed "The Angel of Yahweh"...>>

Two days later, ANNOYED PINOY responded with the following:

>>As you probably already know, traditionally those who reject Jesus [Michael] as being the same person as the pre-incarnate Jesus appeal to Dan. 10:13 where Michael is called "ONE OF the chief princes." Implying that Michael is one of other equals. Since we know that Jesus higher than all the angels, it's unlikely (though not impossible) that Jesus would be called one among equals. It's not impossible because even human kings can be called, or actually be or function as a general, and so have others who equal to him in one sense; though inferior to him in another sense. Michael is called an archangel in Jude 1:9 and traditionally Jews (as far back as the intertestamental period) and Christians have often considered Gabriel an archangel as well.>>

I will shortly provide selections from two respected Protestant scholars/theologians who maintain that Jesus Christ is Michael the Archangel and have convincingly (IMO) addressed the Dan. 10:13 passage; however, before I do so I would like to briefly comment on Gabriel as an archangel. As I am sure most know, it is only Michael who is ever termed 'archangel' in Scripture; but as mentioned above, "Christians have often considered Gabriel an archangel as well." I think one of the reasons why Gabriel (and Raphael for Catholics) has been termed an archangel is that only three angels (four for Catholics) have been mentioned by name in Scripture: Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer (plus Raphael for Catholics)—none of the Cherubim and Seraphim are named in Scripture—leading many to believe that Gabriel must also be an archangel, even though he is never actually termed one. Some Protestant Christians believe that Gabriel is a cherub and not an archangel; however, for Catholics this is not an option—Catholic tradition dogmatically teaches that Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are archangels.

Moving on from Gabriel to Michael, lets see what a couple of highly respected  Protestant theologians have written on Dan. 10:13. First, the 18th century Reformed Baptist, John Gill, who wrote the following in his commentary on Daniel:

but, lo, Michael one of the chief Princes, came to help me; called in the New Testament an Archangel, the Prince of angels, the Head of all principality and power; and is no other than Christ the Son of God, an uncreated Angel; who is “one”, or “the first of the chief Princes”, superior to angels, in nature, name, and office; he came to “help” Gabriel, not as a fellow creature, but as the Lord of hosts; not as a fellow soldier, but as General of the armies in heaven and earth, as superior to him in wisdom and strength; and he helped him by giving him fresh counsels, orders, and instructions, which he following succeeded: (John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments - Daniel, p. 224)

And second, the 19th century Lutheran scholar Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg, who penned:

We have already pointed out in the Christologie that the doctrine of the angel or revealer of God, runs through the whole of the O. T., who in a twofold respect, first, as the highest of all angels, then as connected with the hidden God by a oneness of essence, appears as his revealer. But in Exod. xxxii, 34, with this highest revealer of God, another angel is associated, standing in the same relation to him as he to the Most High God. He who has hitherto been the leader of the Israelites, the מלאך יהוה, declares, when they have transgressed, that he will no longer lead them himself, but send his angel (מלאכי) before them (comp. Christol. i. l, p. 223.) Let us now examine how far the two can be recognized again in our book. There cannot be the least doubt, that Michael is identical with the מלאך יהוה . It is true Michael is called, chap. x. 13, one of the angel chiefs, השרים הראשנים ; but that the author intends by this designation merely to present us with a view of his relation to the other angels... (E. W. Hengstenberg, Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel and Integrity of Zechariah, pp. 134. 135.)

In the above selection, Dr. Hengstenberg mentioned his Christologie (English - Christology of the Old Testament), and from the first volume of that famous work we read:

After Israel had contracted guilt by the worship of the golden calf, He who had hitherto led themJehovah=the Angel of Jehovahsays, in Exod. xxxii. 34, that He would no more lead them Himself, but send before them His Angel, מלאכי : "For I (myself) will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiffnecked people, lest I consume thee in the way;" xxxiii. 3, compared with xxiii. 21. The people are quite inconsolable on account of this sad intelligence, ver. 4.

The threatening of the Lord becomes unintelligible, and the grief of the people incomprehensible, if by the Angel in chap. xxiii. an ordinary angel be understood. But everything becomes clear and intelligible, if we admit that in chap, xxiii. there is an allusion to the Angel of the Lord κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν who is connected with Him by oneness of nature, and who, because the name of God is in Him, is as zealous as Himself in inflicting punishment as well as in bestowing salvation ; whilst in chap, xxxii. 34, the allusion is to an inferior angel, who is added to the highest revealer of God as His companion and messenger, and who appears in the Book of Daniel under the name of Gabriel, while the Angel of the Lord appears under the name of Michael.

On account of the sincere repentance of the people, and the intercession of Moses, the Lord revokes the threatening, and says in xxxiii. 14, "My face shall go." But Moses said unto Him, "If Thy face go not, carry us not up hence."

That פנים, face, signifies here the person, is granted by Gesenius : "The face of some one means often his personal presence,himself in his own person." A similar use of the word occurs in 2 Sam. xvii. 11: "Thy face go to battle" (Michaelis: "Thou thyself be present, not some commander only"); and in Deut. iv. 37, where בפניו means in, or with, his personal presence : "He brought them out with His face, with His mighty power out of Egypt."

The state of things has in xxxiii. 14, 15, evidently become again what it was in xxiii. 20, 21. The face of the Lord in tlie former passage, is the Angel of the Lord in the latter. Hence, we cannot here admit the idea of some inferior angel ; we can think only of that Angel who is connected with the Lord by oneness of nature. (E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament, 2nd edition, 1861, 1.127, 128.)

[NOTE - ANNOYED PINOY has published two related threads on Dr. Hengstenberg: FIRST; SECOND.]

Shall end here for now. I have much more I hope to contribute, but it will have to wait until later this week do to time constraints.

Grace and peace,