10-5 The Angel in the Temple / Tabernacle
Psalm 78 says that because of their sins, "He (i. e. the Angel) forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among men". This implies that the Angel was physically present in the tabernacle, and that God's displeasure was shown by this Angel literally being withdrawn. A number of other references support this idea of an Angel physically being present in the tabernacle, and therefore being the source of the glory which sometimes shone forth:
- 1 Chron. 13:6 "David went up. . to bring thence the ark of God the LORD that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it". The unusual phrase 'God the LORD' may imply 'the Angel the Yahweh', as if recognizing that the Angel had God's Name, as we know the Angel which lead Israel was given by God. Thus in this context David goes on to say about the ark of the Lord "whose Name is called on it". When Uzzah died it is stated "there he died before God" (v. 10), as if he died in the presence of an Angel- i. e. the Angel present inside the ark which he touched.
- 1 Chron. 15 and Ps. 68 describe the entering of the ark into Jerusalem in terms of the Angelic march through the wilderness at the Exodus, thus connecting the Ark with the Angels.
- The commands concerning the tabernacle were given to Moses by the Angel- do phrases like "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8) have primary reference to the Angel speaking the words? In the same way, does Psalm 99:1 refer also to the physical presence of an Angel between the cherubim? "The LORD reigneth. . He sitteth between the cherubim (through His Angel); let the earth (land of Israel) be moved". Similarly "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel (the Angel- so Isaiah 63 describes the wilderness Angel), thou that leadest Joseph like a flock (the Angel lead them through the wilderness); thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth" (Ps. 80:1). And again in Ps. 20:1,2 "The God of Jacob (i. e. the Angel who Jacob recognized had been so much in his life) defend thee; send thee help from the sanctuary. . ", as if it was in the sanctuary (Holy Place) that the Angel was located.
- Acts 7:38 (especially the Diaglott translation) speaks as if the Angel was physically present with Moses on the journey: "he (Moses) was in the church in the wilderness with the Angel which spake to him in the Mount Sina and with our fathers". In passing, this implies that it was the same Angel (Michael) who gave the promises to Abraham, who gave the Law, and who went with them through the wilderness. Truly He is the Angel connected with Israel!
- Lev. 4:17 describes the priest as sprinkling the blood "before the LORD, even before the veil". This implies that the veil and the "LORD" were associated, as if the Angel, the 'LORD', was just behind the veil, i. e. in the Most Holy.
- Num. 14:42,44: "Go not up, for the Lord is not among you. . but they presumed to go up. . nevertheless, the ark of the covenant of the Lord (which the Angel had made with them) departed not"- as if to imply that the Lord (the Angel) was in the ark, and therefore did not go up with them because the ark did not.
- Ecc. 5:1-7 is about how one should go "to the house of God" (the temple) to offer sacrifice and pray to God: "Be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools. . . let not thine heart be hasty to utter any word before God. . . when thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it (by bringing the vow to the temple). . . suffer not thy mouth (your prayers and vows) to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the Angel that it ws an error"- as if there was an Angel in the temple, albeit manifest through a priest? Cp. v. 2 "let not thine heart be hasty to utter any word before God". The priest was "the messenger (Angel) of the Lord of Hosts" (Angels)- i. e. of the Angel in the temple? (Mal. 2:7).
- 2 Chron. 31:2 [Heb.] speaks of Jerusalem and especially the temple as the city of the hosts of the Lord- as if the Angelic hosts were especially present in the temple.
- It was because of this fact that when the Angel located Himself outside the camp, the tabernacle was set up again in that same location outside the camp- "I will not go up in the midst of thee (said the angel). . . and Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp. . as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended (the Angel). . . and the Lord spake unto Moses face to face" (Ex. 33:3,7,9,11). In passing, note that it was because Joshua lived in this tent (he "departed not out of the tabernacle") that he is said in Ps. 91 to have made his habitation with the Angel, who therefore protected him in the subsequent wanderings. And to raise the fascination factor, note that the Septuagint tells us that Moses "pitched his own tent" and called it the tabernacle (Ex. 33:7 LXX); similarly, "the tent" may be a synonym for Moses' own tent (see Ex. 18:7). Does this mean that the mighty Angel of Israel was Moses' personal guardian, seeing that "the Angel of the Lord encampeth (tent language again) around about them that fear Him" (Ps. 34:7)?
The Angel In The Temple
When the temple was built, this same Angel would have lived there. There are many references in Isaiah to the Lord-Angel- coming out of His dwelling place in the temple to punish the Assyrians; the sacrifices and prayers made "before the Lord" in the temple were thus made in the presence of this Angel. Such phrases as "The Lord of Hosts (Angels) which dwelleth in Mount Zion" (Is. 8:18) are common. Solomon's dedication of the temple emphasized the fact that God's Name dwelt there-which was carried by the Angel (Ex. 23:20,21), and that His eyes (Angels) were present in the house. Thus Mic. 1:3 speaks of "the Lord cometh forth out of His place (the temple, v. 2), and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth". This probably has primary reference to the Angel going forth from the temple to slay the Assyrians in Hezekiah's time. Dan. 8:11 speaks of "the prince of the Host" living in the temple, a phrase recalling the Angel captain of the Lord's host in Josh. 5:15. The Messianic Ps. 3:4 speaks of Christ praying to this Angel in the temple on the cross: "I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of His holy hill" of Zion.
We have seen that the "God of Israel" is an Angelic phrase, and that Angels have been associated with the glory of God, e. g. at the declaration of the Angel's name to Moses in response to his request "Shew me Thy glory"; "the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham" (Acts 7:2); and we have suggested that it was an Angel who made the promises to Abraham by appearing to him. Coupling this with the notion of descriptions of the Angels' physical movements being literal, it is worth considering whether the visions Ezekiel had of the progressive departure of "the glory of the God of Israel" (Ez. 8:4) from the temple to the East of Jerusalem and then further away are describing the literal departure of the Angel from His dwelling place over the ark in the temple. Similarly "the glory" Angel departed (1 Sam. 4:21) when the ark over which He dwelt was taken by the Philistines.
Even in New Testament times, the Lord Jesus could speak of God as “him that dwelleth” in the sanctuary / Most Holy (Mt. 23:21,35 RVmg.). Presumably the Angel was still in some degree present in the Sanctuary even then.