Gideon encounters an Angel
There are also clearly supernatural angels in the Bible. One example where such an angel appears is an episode in the life of Gideon. Gideon was a man who rose from relative obscurity to lead Israel and to deliver them from the Midianites. The Midianites were a tribe who raided from the desert and made life almost impossible in Canaan.
"Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, 'The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valour.'” (Judges 6:11,12)
Gideon is called by God to lead the Israelites to defeat the Midianites and expel them from the land; he is called by an angel. This angel is empowered to speak the words of God to Gideon:
"And the LORD turned to him and said, 'Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?' And he said to him, 'Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.' And the LORD said to him, 'But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.'” (Judges 6:14-16)
The angel not only speaks the word of God, but is described as God when he speaks. The words are those of God, but the voice is that of the angel.
"So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, 'Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.' And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight." (Judges 6:19-21)
It is clear from this account that the angel is more than a human messenger. The angel is able to perform a minor miracle and then to vanish from sight. This is not an ordinary human being.
However, Gideon did not initially realise that the being he encountered was, in reality, an angel.
"Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, 'Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.'” (Judges 6:22)
Up to this point, Gideon had thought that the being talking to him was a human being. The reason for this is that angels look like humans. As a consequence of this similarity of appearance angels are often described as men in the Bible. Examples of this include the angels who appeared in the tomb of Jesus at the resurrection (Mark 16:5 and Luke 24:4).
The fact that angels look like human beings is also seen in this passage from the letter to the Hebrews:
"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13:2)
It would only be possible for an angel to be mistaken for a human being if angels look like human beings. This passage is therefore good evidence that angels look exactly like humans. Occasionally an angel is described as a man, for example in the accounts of the tomb of Jesus on the day of the resurrection.