Isaiah 63:9 – The Angel of the Lord Saved Israel

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POSTED 03 NOVEMBER, 2017

“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.”

reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume I

In a selection of Isaianic statements recalling the goodness of the God of Israel, specifically involving the Exodus (Isaiah 63:11-12), a reference is made to malakh panayv, or “the messenger of His presence” (Isaiah 63:9, YLT). When readers of Isaiah 63:9 encounter this verse isolated, then the statement would seem to suggest that this malakh panayv is just a supernatural agent sent from God, to perform important acts of deliverance for His people in past history. Might it be that such a malakh panayv has just a notable distinction among members of the Heavenly host, but that this is ultimately just a created being like the rest? Motyer’s observations on this figure being “the Angel of His Face” (LITV) need to be considered:

The angel of his presence is ‘the angel of his face’. The face means personal, recognizable presence. This is the angelic being who made the Lord’s presence recognizably real among his people…distinct from God only in so far as God-in-revelation is different from God-in-himself.”[1]

It should not be surprising that various examiners have concluded that “the messenger of His face/presence” of Isaiah 63:9, is the previous figure encountered encountered in the Tanach or Old Testament of the malakh YHWH, the “messenger/angel of the LORD.” This entity was the means by which God proper saw to the deliverance and salvation of Ancient Israel in the Exodus, and as previously examined, is frequently seen speaking in the first person “I” as the LORD or YHWH. In his commentary on Isaiah, Oswalt draws the conclusion that the malakh panayv of Isaiah 63:9 is actually Yeshua the Messiah, indicating connections between “the messenger/angel of His face/presence” and Yeshua being “the image of the invisible God” in Colossians 1:15:

the angel of his face is an expression that does not occur elsewhere in the Bible, but does occur in rabbinic writings. The genitive could be understood appositionally: ‘the angel, his face,’ or perhaps objectively: ‘the angel that is in the very presence of.’ In any case, this expression conveys the same sense that is found throughout the OT in most of the texts that discuss some visible representation of God. The angel is the Lord himself as visibly present (see Exod. 20:21-23; 33:2, 14-15; Num. 20:16; Josh. 5:13-15; Judg. 13:6, 21-22). Delitzsch makes a good case for this being an expression of the second person of the Trinity and points out such passages as Col. 1:15, which calls Christ ‘the image of the invisible God’ (cf. also 2 Cor. 4:6; Heb. 1:3). It is hardly coincidental that this figure is represented as the means by which God has saved and redeemed his people.”[2]


NOTES

[1] Motyer, Isaiah, pp 513-514.

[2] Oswalt, Isaiah 40-66, 607.


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