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The Angel of the LORD

A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Study


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In the early books of the Old Testament, the mysterious "Angel of the Lord" repeatedly appears—visibly, audibly, even physically—to the Patriarchs, to Moses, to the Prophets. Who is this Angel? Exploring the biblical texts, the testimony of church history, and the insights of Systematic Theology, Matt Foreman and Doug Van Dorn argue that the answer is beyond doubt: the Angel of the Lord is a manifestation of God the Son. Even more, they argue that this Angel appears more often than people realize, because he appears under different titles, including: the Word, the Name, the Glory, the Face, the Right Hand, even the Son. They show that even some of the ancient Jews spoke of a Second Yahweh in the Old Testament. Christian theologians throughout history have taught this same understanding. Christians today need to be taught again how the Person of Jesus appears throughout the Bible and how he speaks to us today.

This book delves deep into the dark and ancient recesses of our past to bring you rich treasures long buried. It is a carefully researched, heavily footnoted, and selectively illustrated story of the giants of the Bible. There is more here than meets the eye, much more. Here you will learn the invisible, supernatural storyline of the Bible that is always just beneath the surface, lurking like the spawn of the ancient leviathan. It is a storyline no person can afford to ignore any It's easy.

What they're saying

"This book by Matt Foreman and Doug Van Dorn on the Angel of the Lord takes a significant step in addressing these shortcomings. It is to date the most thorough work on the subject. The authors provide detailed consideration of the biblical data. That much is expected in a book of this length. But they also demonstrate that important aspects of this figure, such as his identity as the pre-incarnate Son of the Godhead, is not an idiosyncratic understanding. Rather, they have successfully excavated the works of important thinkers and theologians to demonstrate how their conclusions in regard to certain aspects of what Scripture teaches about the Angel of the Lord align with historic Christianity and inform points of Christian theology."

"The Angel of the Lord is a masterful work of not only biblical and pastoral theology, it is also a much-needed apologetic. The question, “Who is the Angel of the Lord” plagues believers and unbelievers alike, and the answer to that question is much more than a healing balm for the doubting. To understand the nature and identity of the Angel of the Lord is to understand God, himself. This book will bolster your understanding of trinitarian theology, your understanding and interpretation of Old Testament narrative, and help you bridge the gap between deep, heady theology and practical life application. Rare is the book that would fit well on the shelf of both the professional scholar and the armchair theologian.  Angel of the Lord is precisely that kind of book."

"Most works on Christ in the Old Testament focus on prophecy and typology but overlook the obvious: The Angel of Yahweh. Foreman and Van Dorn aim to correct this oversight. They insightfully expound the many texts that feature the Angel, and they convincingly argue that these visitations are nothing less than close encounters of the messianic kind. If you want to see Christ in all of Scripture, I enth­usiastically recommend this stimulating study!"

"Doug Van Dorn and Matt Foreman have published a truly unique book.  Their focus is Jesus in the Old Testament, not typologically, but physically.  The angel who visits Abraham and pulls Lot out of Sodom, the Word who visits the prophets, the Man of war who appears to Joshua, these are all none other than the pre-incarnate Christ.  While some may not agree with every conclusion, this book persuasively demonstrates that Jesus was there in the Old Testament.  This is a must read for anyone interested in the Angel of the Lord or beholding Christ in an even more glorious way."

"The identification of the Angel of the LORD as Jesus pre-incarnate has a long pedigree. Despite its rejection by much of modern scholarship, a renewed appreciation is emerging—not as a simple return to a pre-modern idea bypassing the insights of modern scholarship, but as a full-orbed biblical-theological rediscovery of the exegetical, historical, and theological underpinnings of a broader concept known as the Divine Council. This book by Foreman and Van Dorn fits within this framework, serving as a helpful introduction to both historical and contemporary discussions. That is, through patient exegesis text after text, informed by early Jewish and Christian reflection, the authors highlight the ubiquitous presence of an embodied YHWH variously identified as the Angel, the Word, the Presence, the Glory, and the Name. As an OT theologian already familiar and on board with the thesis, I still learned a lot and was reaffirmed in my understanding. I hope this book gains a large readership. Not every point or argument is convincing, but one would be hard-pressed to dismiss the book’s overall thrust and impulse. Detractors must at least engage the arguments and be willing to respond with same seriousness and depth." 

Back in the 1940’s, Geerhardus Vos, in his epic work Biblical Theology, called the Angel of the Lord, “The most important characteristic form of revelation in the patriarchal period.” And now in 2020, Matt Foreman and Doug Van Dorn masterfully unfold the truth that Vos barely began to scratch the surface. They give amplified meaning to David Murray’s profound slogan: “Jesus on Every Page.” The book is a cannonball blast through the walls of your long settled and comfortable theological castle, exposing passageways and footprints of the Friend of Sinners who strangely first appeared not in Bethlehem, but in Eden, and beyond. The authors painstakingly show how they’re saying nothing new, and just riding in the wake of titans like Athanasius, Luther, Calvin, John Owen, Thomas Watson, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Hodge, J.I. Packer, Joel Beeke, Philip Ryken, and many more. For me, my Old Testament will never again be the same.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Foreman and Van Dorn have provided a long overdue study of the Angel of the LORD. As they note, once one notices the central place this person plays in the Old Testament story, you get a much more integrated view of the Old and New Testaments and the Mediator they reveal. Though this is a theological study, it exhibits a warm devotional style as well. The book is clear and accessible. It will help readers better understand and trust the promise of Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.” 

Foreman and Van Dorn have achieved here a remarkable and long-needed treatment of the most mysterious and significant, yet sadly neglected Person of the entire Old Testament. As one who fifty years ago devoured Geerhardus Vos’s Biblical Theology and has searched since then for a thorough study of the topic, I am delighted to recommend it. The authors’ exhaustive research and compilation gives us here the most comprehensive Biblical study on the Angel of the Lord in the English language. They provide footnotes on this important subject that alone make the book invaluable. The authors faithfully live out biblical truth and love as they pastor churches and serve the Angel of the Lord—Jesus Christ.  May He bless this work of their hands and hearts to the edification of thousands in Christ’s Church.

Matt Foreman and Doug Van Dorn have written a fascinating book on a topic that gets far too little attention in the Church today. The Angel of the Lord will be an entirely new framework for many readers and will answer questions they never knew they had. Christians will often read their Bible and make quick assumptions about what the text might be referring to when it references the Angel of the Lord or the Word of God without understanding the massive significance of these names. But when Christians are equipped with the tools and knowledge to spot the second person of the Trinity at work throughout the entire Old Testament, a new and exciting journey will begin, and the text will make more sense than it ever did before. The authors of this book did their homework and make a strong case for their claims, rooted in a rich theological history. Read The Angel of the Lord and change the way you read your Bible forever.

If reformation is retrieval, this is one of the most Reformed books of recent years. With sweeping grandeur, Foreman and Van Dorn take readers on a spiritual journey to the only place worth really going: to see Jesus. Christless preaching plagues our otherwise orthodox churches, and the saints suffer. Where did the wonder go? It’s still here, in the living pages of the Old Testament, where the Son of God walks. The Israelites knew it. The Apostles knew it. The Fathers and the Reformers knew it. Are we the only generation of believers from the foundation of the world that knows it not? Read this book, and we won’t be for long.

It is always a challenge to ensconce theological questions in the proper historical and cultural contexts. In the case of the Angel of the Lord, this is abundantly clear, but this book accomplishes that aim. Matt Foreman and Doug Van Dorn have produced an engaging look at the identity of this Angel, demonstrating with sound reasoning and scholarship that it is the Christ. Read and you will think, you will be edified, and you will be amazed. I can recommend this book without reservation. It is a necessary addition to the library of any serious student of the Bible.

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