And I don’t mean metaphorically.
Okay, I know what you are thinking. “Godawa, you have gone too far. You are now officially a Nephilim Nut who has hallucinations of giants where there are none. There are no giants in the Gospels. And besides, Jesus was peaceful. He told his disciples to put away their swords. Heresy, I say! Burn!”
Well, fear not. Even though I have in fact discovered an historically documented giant over ten and a half feet tall in the approximate same time and location as Jesus (details to come in future posts of my novel Jesus Triumphant), I am not talking about the New Testament. I’m talking about the Old Testament. And that’s a different story—kind of, but not totally.
The Angel of Yahweh
A visible tangible Angel of the Lord, or more accurately, “Angel of Yahweh,” appears throughout the Old Testament in many times and places.
He met with Abraham several times (Genesis 16:7-11; 21:17; 22:1-9).
He met with Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5; 23-25).
He met with Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22).
He met with Moses (Exodus 3).
He met with Joshua (Joshua 5:13-15).
And many other prophets and people of God (1Kings 19:7; Zech 3:1).
So, who is he?
Some readers may assume “Angel of Yahweh” means an Angel from Yahweh. But it doesn’t usually. It often means “Angel, the being of Yahweh” or “Yahweh as an Angel” because it is used interchangeably with Yahweh himself (Gen 31:11-13; Exodus 3:2-6).
And actually, “Angel” means “messenger,” so, technically, the Angel of Yahweh is “Yahweh as messenger.”
The Angel of Yahweh is Yahweh
When God was explaining that he would lead Joshua in conquest of Canaan, here is what he said:
“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice…for my name is in him.”
In his new book, The Unseen Realm, scholar Michael Heiser explains that the ancient Jewish word for “The Name” of God, (ha-shem), was the equivalent of God’s own presence. The name carried the very essence of a being, much like Abraham meant “father of a multitude.” So when God says his name was “in an angel,” he was saying that that angel was his very presence.
Notice how in these passages, Yahweh and Angel of Yahweh are used interchangeably:
“For I am Yahweh who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
Now the angel of Yahweh went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers.”
There are a lot of other examples, but you get the point. The Angel of Yahweh is Yahweh’s presence amidst his people in the humanoid form of an angel.
Jesus is the Angel of Yahweh
There are plenty of theologically refined ways in which Jesus is implied as being Yahweh through the name of Yahweh being in him (John 17:6; 8:58) and the deity of the Son of Man (Dan 7:13; Matt 26:64), among others.
The most blatant example of Jesus being explicitly described as the Old Testament Angel of Yahweh is in the New Testament book of Jude.
Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
“Behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”
Now the angel of Yahweh…said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers.”
So, the Angel of Yahweh in the Old Testament is a pre-incarnate manifestation of Jesus as Yahweh. The texts in Exodus and Judges then show the equivalence of Jesus “saving his people out of Egypt” with the Angel of Yahweh going before Israel and bringing them up out of Egypt. But you might also notice that the Jude passage adds that Jesus “destroyed those who did not believe.” See? I didn’t make it up. Let’s take a closer look at these actions of destructive judgment taken by Jesus in the Old Testament.
Was Jesus a Giant Killer?
Now that we’ve discovered that the Angel of Yahweh is the visible presence of Yahweh, and that manifestation of Yahweh is Jesus, now notice that the Angel of the Lord is no peacenik in the Old Testament. As the military commander of the heavenly “army of Yahweh,” Jesus actually killed a lion’s share of evil heathen and rebellious Israelites.
- The Angel of Yahweh (Jesus) destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from heaven (Genesis 19:1, 24).
- The Angel of Yahweh (Jesus) killed the unbelieving Israelites in the desert (Jude 5).
- The Angel of Yahweh (Jesus) killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night (2Kings 19:35).
- The Angel of Yahweh (Jesus) had every intent of slaying Balaam (Num 22:23), Moses (Exod 4:24, LXX), Jerusalem and all its inhabitants (1Chron 21:16) and stopped only in response to personal intercession.
- The Angel of Yahweh (Jesus) went before Joshua and participated in killing the enemies of Israel in Canaan (Joshua 5:13-15).
Wow, well, liberal Christians and other Bible haters sure won’t like the implications of the Biblical Jesus slaughtering evildoers, but there it is. Hang that on your pacifist, anti-capital punishment, false idol, gentle Jesus, meek and mild.
Let’s look at the rest of the passage about the Angel of Yahweh in Exodus that we read above…
Exodus 23:20–23, 28
“Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice;…for my name is in him. “But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. “When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out…”
The underlined phrase about Amorites and Hittites etc. was a repeating phrase that God used to indicate the specific clans that were “devoted to destruction” of every living thing (Deut. 7:1-5 includes an additional people, the Girgashites). But why? Well, one big reason is because all of those people groups are described as having giants in them, and Joshua’s goal was to eliminate the giants from the land of Canaan (Joshua 11:21-22).
First off, we must understand that the following words are defined in the Bible as being giants described with different names by different peoples. But they are all giants:
Nephilim (Num. 13:33),
Anakim (Num. 13:33),
Rephaim (Deut. 2:10-11),
Zuzim, Zamzummim (Deut. 2:20),
Emim (Deut. 2:10-11).)
Those giants were directly or indirectly described in connection with the clans that were devoted to destruction. Many of them were in the hill country, where Joshua focused his efforts of “holy war” (Joshua 9:1-2; 11:21-22). Notice in the passage below how most of those peoples (Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites, Canaanites) are those who have the giant sons of Anak in them (Or Anakim).
However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the sons of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”…“The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
The Amorites are described as having giants “as tall as cedars” (Amos 2:9), and the Perizzites are part of the land of the Rephaim, also giants (Josh. 17:15).
These are the peoples that the Angel of Yahweh (Jesus) said he would help “blot out” or utterly destroy. Since Jesus is the commander of the army of Yahweh, a military of angelic warriors (that’s what “heavenly host” means), the implication is that he is participating in the conquering defeat of Israel’s enemies in and through the military actions of His people (Judges 2:3). But even more so, the Angel of Yahweh is described as explicitly and actively “blotting out” those peoples (Ex. 23:23). He participates in slaying the giants that plagued the Promised Land.
So, yes, Jesus was a giant killer.
A shout out to BDK over at Omega Frequency Podcast for bringing this to my attention.
 Matthew J. McMains, “Hosts,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2013, 2014).