YOU HAVE NOT OBEYED MY VOICE
After Israel had settled in the promised land, but before the death of Joshua (Judges 2:6), the Angel of the LORD came to the children of Israel. He rebuked them,
“I led you up from Egypt and brought you
to the land of which I swore to your fathers;
and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant
with you. And you shall make no covenant
with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’
But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore
I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns
in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.'” (Judges 2:1-3)
The people of Israel were to purge the land of the inhabitants, but they failed to do so (Judges 1:19, 21, 27-35). It was not a matter of inability, but lack of effort and faith.
The LORD could have given this message through Joshua, or by sending a prophet; but He chose to bring it Himself, appearing to the people. In response to the word of the Angel of the LORD, the people wept, and made sacrifice to the LORD (v 4-5). Though troubles would come, the result of the LORD’s rebuke was that Israel was faithful to the LORD through the rest of Joshua’s life, and throughout the life of the elders who outlived him (Judges 2:7).
APPEARING TO GIDEON
Again, the LORD gave a message to the people of Israel about their failure to be faithful to Him, this time, by sending a prophet to them (Judges 6:7-10). After the prophet spoke to all the people, the Angel of the LORD came to speak with Gideon specifically. Notice their conversation:
Gideon focused on his weaknesses (v 15); the LORD wanted him to focus on the strength that was with him (2 Corinthians 12:9). He answered Gideon in the same way He answered Moses (Judges 6:16; Exodus 3:12).
It would seem that Gideon began to understand Who this was before him.
He asked that He not depart until he brought his offering out to set before the LORD. Having prepared an offering, he brought it to the LORD. The Angel of the LORD received the offering, bringing fire forth from the rock upon which it was laid (Judges 6:20-21). Gideon was not certain Who it was that had appeared to him (Judges 6:22), and seemed concerned that he would die (v 23; cf. Exodus 33:20). He named the place, “the LORD is Peace” (v 24).
APPEARING TO MANOAH’S WIFE
The wife of Manoah, a man from the tribe of Dan, was barren. We read:
…the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
‘Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you
shall conceive and bear a son.’ (Judges 13:3)
It was revealed to her that the son born to them (Samson) would be a Nazirite. It was also revealed that he would deliver the Israelites from their enemies, the Philistines.
As the woman spoke to her husband about the event, she called the One who appeared to her “a Man of God,” and spoke of His countenance as being “like the countenance of the Angel of God” (Judges 13:6). Manoah prayed to the LORD, asking that this Man of God would come to them again.
God heard his prayer, and answered it. Once more, the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman. She ran to get her husband (Judges 13:9-10). Manoah spoke with the Man, but did not realize who He was. In fact, he asked that He wait, while they prepared a young goat for Him; not as an offering, but as a meal. The Angel of the LORD as much as told Manoah that he should offer the young goat as an offering instead. Then Manoah asked the LORD, ‘What is Your name?’ (Judges 13:17). In return, the LORD asked why he asked, “…seeing it is wonderful?” (see Isaiah 9:6).
Manoah followed the LORD’s suggestion and provided the young goat with a grain offering as a sacrifice. With Manoah and his wife watching, the Angel of the LORD ascended into heaven in the flame from the altar. Now Manoah knew who it was that appeared to him (Judges 13:21). In fact, he was afraid! He thought they would die, for they had seen God (v 22). His wife reasoned with him, if the LORD wanted them dead, He would not have accepted their offering, and would not have given them the great news of a child to be born.
What a fearful thing for the people of Israel to have the Angel of the LORD come and speak with them. Recall the fear when He spoke from Mount Sinai to their fathers?
Gideon was despondent about the situation in Israel, but the Angel of the LORD purposed to use his weaknesses to bring about great things.
Samson would be a great deliverer for the people of Israel. His birth was announced, not by an angel, but by the Angel of the LORD Himself!