There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.
It seems that in other parts of Scripture–both Old and New Testaments–the writers seem to think that this is God himself showing up in the bush. Heck, this account itself makes that claim. So, I’m wonder if angels aren’t so much heavenly beings with their own individual personalities, but rather incarnations (pun intended) of “parts” of God. Maybe certain attributes, perhaps? And so, maybe it is the case that all the stories about angels and heavenly hosts and battles really are more symbolic of general spiritual forces rather than individual beings with their own personalities and such. Maybe they are not “representatives” of God, but are just God in certain forms. Perhaps they are like pre-incarnations? I think we need a new vocabulary to talk about this. Either way, this text clearly says “the angel of the Lord appeared” and then the rest of the story says it’s YHWH himself.
If you want an even more provocative thought. Recall Job, when the “angel Satan” does a bunch of stuff to Job? Well, Job goes on to say that the Lord has done those things to him, and both times he does this, the text clearly says, “Job did not sin with his lips or ascribe wrong to God.” “Satan” does something, Job says God did it. The Bible says Job is right.
Lastly, as a disclaimer on these Marginalia posts. These are my stream of conscious thoughts as I read Scripture. They are not fully-formed doctrinal positions. I think it beneficial not to shield people from even the craziest left-field questions that pop up in one’s mind, but to invite them into the thinking process.