§ 12. The Angel of Jehovah.
We think that the angel of Jehovah was a common angel, sent on the errands of the Most High. We believe so for one very strong reason, that the Apostle Paul, speaking of the incarnation of Christ, speaks in this wise, " He does not sure enough take on angels, but he does take on the seed of Abraham" (Heb. ii: 16). That scatters difficulty at a breath. He seemed to be actually an angel. That was his appearance. He seemed to be actually a man. But he makes a vast discrimination. He did not sure enough take on an angel; or, to make it more true to the history, any of them (plural), for he appeared in many,—but he did take on the seed of Abraham. And we are to understand that he employed angels, and that they personated him often; but that he became incarnate in the Son; and that he had, therefore, that sure-enough union, which a peculiar Greek word (depou) denies in the other case.
If anyone asks, Is that your only passage? I say, No. Look at the last chapter of Revelation. The angel, there, rejects the worship of the Apostle (v. 9), and, yet, the next moment personates the Redeemer. " See thou do it not," he says in the ninth verse, and in the twelfth, " Behold I come quickly." This is the manner of angels. They did so at Sodom (Gen. xviii: 2, 13). They did so with Hagar(Gen. xvi: 7, 13), and Lot (Gen. xix: 1,21); and one did so under the oak at Ophrah (Jud. vi: II, 16,20). Our persuasion is, that the " man " who was singled out as Jehovah, was a common angel. And if anyone asks, How dare he personate God, I answer, How dare the prophets? (Œhler, Theol.O. T., § 60); or, as a most satisfying instance, how dare Moses? for most undoubtedly he says, " I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain" (Deut. xi: 14); and most undoubtedly he declares, " I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full" (v 15).
The fact is, it makes the slenderest sort of difference whether it was an angel or not. If it was an angel, God appeared in him, and spoke by him, and wrought miracles by his mouth; and, moreover, gave him a human form, and wrought that miracle in the very act of sending him. If it was not an angel, still it was a human form; and it seems to make not the smallest difference. If it were the Son of God, it would not be his body; nobody pretends that. And if it were a body, God, personally in it, and representing himself by it, would be so like stretching out his arm (Deut. v: 15), as to preclude every possibility of Trinitarian demonstration.
So the matter stands, therefore. We believe that they were angels: but it is unimportant. We believe that they were angels, because the Apostle speaks so, and a distinction is drawn between the ministry of angels and the ministry of Christ (Acts vii: 53; Gal. iii: 19). We believe that they were angels, because Moses deprecated such a convoy, and pled so hard for the presence of God (Ex. xxxiii: 2, 12-15); which surely would be nothing higher than the presence of Christ. We believe that they were angels, out of deference to the straight-forwardness of speech. But grant that they were anything you please. They cannot be built into a hypostatic argumentation; for the rhetoric must remain indifferent. To send an angel, or to send an apparition, or to send a dream, or to send the Second Person in the Trinity, would be all covered under the very same miracle, and there could be no possible distinction that could breed a reasoning.
Miller, John IS GOD A TRINITY? Oak Grove. Kindle Edition.