A SPACE STORY FROM THE BEGINNING
THE OLD TESTAMENT REVISITED
By Roland Smyth
Continued - 4
Angels. Not one of them shows up in the Bible with wings growing out of his back. It was their assumed close cousins, the cherubs and seraphs, who had the wings; but in what I'll call "real-life" terms cherubs and seraphs rarely, if ever, made any public appearances. The prophets only saw them in bizarre and unearthly visions.
Besides wings, they had additional features which easily placed them several breeds apart from angels. Usually, they were depicted in ancient art and literature as having animal bodies with human heads, like sphinxes. The cherubs, that is. As for the seraphs, the verse arrangement was the order of the day. They wre commonly portrayed as having human bodies with animal heads, and sometimes with more than one! Some seraphs, though, were closely associated with--would you believe--flying serpents! (Dragons?) And on top of all that the Bible says they had six wings, not a measly two. Cherubs, on the other hand, were apparently limited to only two.
All in all, then, these creatures were most certainly not what we normally think of as angels. Truth is, they are not even called angels in the Bible! That label got tagged on them later on (because they dwelt in "heaven"), and during the Renaissance the notion was so popular that their wings got transferred over to the real angels by over imaginative artists. Well, so it goes. Just as reality sometimes gets transformed into so-called myths, so too do myths sometimes get transferred into so-called reality.
Anyway, as is evident from the last chapter, angels look pretty much like men and even share some of our basic needs. I guess that's not exactly what you'd call a red-hot news flash from yours truly, but the likelihood that Jehovah himself was an angel might be a novel idea for some. And even if it isn't, what if I were to tell you that revealing excerpts from the Bible provide ample evidence that he actually was?
This can prove to be a very significant insight into commander Jehovah, I think, for if the Bible itself designated him as an angel, then it automatically dethrones him from his high office as God in the same breath! After all, was it not God who created the angels in the first place?
But the question arises, why would some of the Old Testament writers be so foolish as to expose their own God? Well, because they didn't realize what they were doing, that's why; they didn't know then what we know now. As far as they were concerned (some of them, anyway) there was nothing incompatible about angels being gods and the Chief Angel being God.
Notice I said "some of them." Other Old Testament writers held entirely different opinions--especially in later centuries when the Fleet, including Jehovah, had long since departed. Both viewpoints were compiled into the Holy Book though, and were sometimes even placed side by side in the same verses by the final editors. Apparently these editors didn't know for sure what viewpoints were the right ones, so they mixed them all together to ensure that they'd at least get something right. Some sort of ploy goes on today, actually. Politicians, for instance, will practically promise anything, and everything, if they think there are votes to be gained. Then, once in office.......
And now for the evidence of which I speak.
There's a report in Genesis 32:22-32 which relates the unusual circumstances of an encounter of the fourth kind. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, actually wrestled in hand to hand combat one night with someone who at first is only identified as "a man." As the story draws to a close, however, the man is identified as "God." No name or title, just 'God."
Fortunately, the same incident is briefly repeated in the Book of Hosea (12:2-5), and this time a name is given. The man was, of course, Jehovah. But the prophet Hosea went further than just identifying him by name, he also identified him as... that's right... an angel. Some would deem it very strange that Hosea wrote such a thing. But is it?
Remember that back in Chapter 18 of Genesis (the luncheon scene) it was definitely implied that Jehovah was an angel. Hosea was only confirming that he was.
There are other incidents which are not quite as explicit as Hosea's account of Jacob's encounter, but they can hardly be classified as inconsequential either.
For example, did you know there was an angel inside that "burning bush" the day "God" spoke to Moses? Yes an angel, and if you consult Exodus 3:2 you can see for yourself. As soon as Moses went over for a closer look though, the text drops "angel" and replaces it with "the LORD" and "God." Naturally, all three terms can apply to the same person, and in this context most probably do, but the church authorities prefer not to think so. Thus, the famous story continues to get told over and over again without so much as a whisper of the angel, and some Orwellian-styled Ministry of Truth succeeds in scoring yet another propaganda victory.
And then there's an incident in Genesis 16:1-15, wherein an angel appears to Hagar, Abraham's Egyptian concubine and mother of his first born son. The text first identifies the angel as "the angel of Jehovah," then as Jehovah himself, and finally as God. Again, all three terms can apply equally well to the Commander (they were no doubt bunched together here by the final editors), but orthodox theologians stubbornly persist in missing the point.
Next, in Judges 6:11-22, an angel pays Gideon a visit. The same pattern emerges. The angel is at once an "angel of God," the "angel of Jehovah," and Jehovah himself. This switching back and forth from one term to another occurs several times and almost leaves your head spinning!
In Judges 13:1-24 an angel also pays a visit to the future parents of Samson. Not surprisingly, he is identified as an "angel of God," and "angel of Jehovah," and a "man of God." Samson's parents, on the other hand, are staunchly convinced that they had seen no one less than God in person! (Again, the editors were covering all the angles here.)
Finally in Judges 2:1-4, "the angel of Jehovah" announces to an assembled crowd that it was he who had led the Israelites out of Egypt; that it was he who had given them the Promised Land; and that it was he who had made an everlasting covenant with them. Funny... the way the story usually goes, it was Jehovah who did all these things.
Well, he probably did. It's just that sometimes he was called an angel and sometimes he was called God.
I imagine a lot of the confusion got started because sometimes he was in plain view of anyone who happened to be right on the scene, and sometimes he (and his cohorts) were inside a "UFO" where they were--in a fashion--completely out of sight. At such times the ship was perceived as "God." I mean, you really gotta sit back and picture this thing through the eyes of your average desert nomad of three or four thousand years ago. No doubt it put on some pretty awe-inspiring light shows which could only have been comprehended as "God." I'll tell ya, it sure as hell would have fooled me if I'd been there at the time! And who knows? Maybe in a former lifetime I was.
Anyway, there's really nothing new in this business about the Old Testament identifying Jehovah as an angel. It just hasn't received that much publicity over the years, that's all. Actually, by the strict definition of the word, it hasn't received any publicity at all! Bible scholars have noticed the identification, though (how could they miss it?) but, as might be expected, their comments on the "mystery" are only briefly recorded in those kinds of books which inevitably gather dust on library shelves. Nobody reads them. Well, hardly anybody, that is. Those that do are usually so inclined in their thinking as to keep the information safely tucked away in the deeper recesses of their minds.
It's no wonder. As previously mentioned, the Old Testament's classification of Jehovah as an angel automatically denounced him as the sort of God he is presemed to be. It's really quite remarkable. The Old Testament is its own worst critic! Now, if only we could somehow get this aired on the six o'clock evening news...