12-3 The Angel Gabriel
The degree to which there was an Angel in Old Testament times specifically representing Christ seems to have been generally overlooked. Even in more general terms, there are references to Angels doing things which elsewhere we are told Jesus did:
- Jesus is described as the redeemer of Israel in Lk. 1:68; 24:21, and passage after passage in the prophets says the same. But very often the language used to describe Israel's redeemer has Angelic hints: Lk. 1:68 says that through Christ God "visited (a word with Angelic connections) and redeemed His people" (Israel).
- Is. 44:6 calls "the Lord of Hosts" (Angels) Israel's redeemer.
- Is. 49:7 calls this redeemer the "Holy One of Israel"- which as we have seen is also Angelic language. There is a connection between the tempting of the Holy One (the Angel Gabriel?) at Massah (Ex. 17:7; Dt. 6:16) and the new Israel tempting Christ (1 Cor. 10:9).
- The arm of the Lord- a title of Christ- is described as awaking (cp. Christ's resurrection), and as being "It which hath dried the (Red) Sea, the waters of the great deep; that hath made a way for the ransomed to pass over" (Is. 51:9,10). This is describing the work of Christ in language applicable to the Angel of the Exodus who brought Israel through the Red Sea.
- Christ is called "The messenger (Heb. 'malak', the Angel) of the covenant" (Mal. 3:1).
- It is quite possible that the Angel of Rev. 10:1 who descends from Heaven in a cloud with a face like the sun, holding the books of judgement is referring to Christ's second coming in person.
- Is. 43:1-5 is full of allusions to the Angel leading Israel through the wilderness into Canaan; "I am. . the Holy One of Israel, thy (Israel's) saviour". Is the Angel saying "I am your Jesus"? Maybe Acts 7:35 helps: "This is Moses (Jesus) whom they renounced. . him God sent to be a . . redeemer with the hand of that Angel which appeared. . in the bush" (Diaglott). The strong partnership between Moses and the Angel in the wilderness perhaps points forward to that between Christ and the (same?) Angel Gabriel [?].
- Is. 45:8 describes the spiritual coming of Christ from heaven at His first advent: "Drop down, ye Heavens, and let the skies pour down righteousness". Is. 64:1 is similar: "Oh that Thou wouldest rend the Heavens, that Thou wouldest come down. . . men have not heard. . . what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him". This is quoted in 1 Cor. 2:9 about the revealed mystery of Christ's Gospel (see the context there). Coming down is Angelic language- but here it is used concerning Christ.
- Jesus is described as the "prince" (Mic. 5:2; 1 Chron. 5:2 AVmg. ); but this is a title of Angels in Daniel.
- Christ's promise that "I will go before you into Galilee" (Mk. 14:28) sounds very much like a conscious allusion to the Angel going ahead of Israel; as if Christ felt that he (through the Comforter Angel? the Angel Gabriel) had taken over the role of the Angel that represented him previously?
- "Let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches" (Rev. 3:22 etc. ) is a pithy example. The primary speaker of the letters to the churches was the Angel-the Angel Gabriel? But they were actually from Christ, "The Lord the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:17 RV). The one special Angel in the midst of the Cherubim in the Old Testament visions of Ezekiel 1 would then equate with the Son of Man ("The Lord the Spirit") in the midst of the lightstands (Rev. 1:13) and the lamb on the throne surrounded by Angels in the four living creatures of Rev. 4 and 5.
"That rock. . . "
1 Cor. 10:4 clearly states: "they drank of that spiritual rock which followed them. . . and that rock was Christ". However, Dt. 32 seems to imply that the rock was an Angel. "I will publish the name of the Lord (a reference to the Angel declaring the name in Ex. 34). . . He is the rock. . He found (Israel) in a desert land. . He led him" (v. 3,4,10). This is all describing the activities of the Angel. Israel rebelled against the Angel (Is. 63:10), "lightly esteemed the rock. . . of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful" (Dt. 32:15,18). Another link between the rock and the Angel is in Gen. 49:24: "The mighty God of Jacob (an Angel). . . the shepherd (the Angel, Is. 63:9-11). . the stone. . of Israel". Note that Jesus is clearly the shepherd, the stone and the rock (of offence).
The language of 1 Cor. 10 invites us not to interpret "the rock" just as the physical rock. It can be shown (Ch. 13) that the Comforter was an Angel representing Christ, in fact the same Angel as in Is. 63 which led Israel through the wilderness. It is therefore fitting that "the rock", the same Angel, should be chosen by Paul in 1 Cor. 10 as a type of Christ. What came from the rock was "spiritual drink"- showing that the Rock Angel spiritually as well as physically fed them. Christ's interpretation of the manna as representing the word in John 6 would support this idea of the Angels spiritually strengthening Israel on their journey. Ex. 29:42 implies this happened daily; the Angel stood at the door of the tabernacle each day to speak with them. Perhaps the same is true today for those who through Angelic help feed daily on the manna of the Word. See 'Angelic strengthening of men' (Ch. 8) for more on this.
It is possible that Israel tempting Christ in 1 Cor. 10:9 is meant to refer back to 1 Cor. 10:4 "They drank of that spiritual rock that followed them; and that rock was Christ". Tempting Christ was therefore tempting the rock to produce water. The rock was a title of the Angel that was with them, and it was he, representing Christ, whom they tempted.
Although this Angel Gabriel has now been replaced at God's right hand by Jesus, He still seems to represent Jesus, seeing the Angel in the midst of the candlesticks (cp. the Angel between the cherubim) was "one like the Son of man" (Rev. 1:13)- i. e. it was not the Son of man Himself. Similarly the Comforter Angel (see later; probably the same Angel) personally represents Jesus, so much so that His presence with the disciples was to be the same as Christ's physical presence among them (hence the emphasis on the use of the personal pronoun in the Comforter passages). The vision of Rev. 1 has close links with that of Dan. 10. If the Rev. 1 vision is concerning the Angel, then so is that of Dan. 10. The context of the Daniel vision is that he had been praying for the opposition to the restoration to be overcome. He was therefore given this vision of the mighty Angel who was going to answer his prayers; Daniel describes the vision as being "of a certain man" (10:5); when the Angel comes to him to tell him that despite the opposition He was going to answer his prayers, Daniel describes him as "one like the appearance of a man" (10:18)- possibly implying that it was the same Angel he had seen in vision, although in a less awesome appearance.
Isaiah 9 describes the titles which Jesus was to take (at His ascension- Phil. 2:9 etc. ); they include (v. 6) "Mighty God"- 'El Gibbor' (see margin). This phrase is the same as 'Gabriel'. So can we conclude that at His ascension, Jesus took over the role of the Angel Gabriel? Thus until then the Angel Gabriel would have been a type of Jesus, and perhaps His guardian Angel. Maybe this implies that we will take over the role of our guardian Angel when we are glorified. Is. 9:6 also gives Jesus the title 'Wonderful'- which is the name of another Angel (Judges 13:18 mg. ; or is this just another title of the Angel Gabriel?). Thus when Jesus was exalted above the Angels as explained in Heb. 1, Jesus took the names of the Angels as He took those of God Himself.