We’ve all heard about the angel Gabriel. He is part, not just of the Christian faith, but of the Jewish and Islamic faiths too. According to Ellen White, Gabriel was “the angel next in rank to the Son of God,” most likely taking the place of Lucifer.*
Gabriel is named—that is, referred to, as “Gabriel”—only four times in the Bible.
He is first named in Daniel 8, when instructed by the Lord to make Daniel understand the vision just given to him (Dan. 8:2-14), which ended with the 2300-day prophecy (verse 14). “And I heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, ‘Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision’” (verse 16).
The only other time Gabriel is named in the Old Testament is in the next chapter, when he appears to Daniel after the prophet’s prayer concerning the return of the Jews from Babylon. “While I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice” (Dan. 9:21). Gabriel said that he had come to impart to Daniel “insight and understanding” (verse 22) regarding the preceding prophecy in Daniel 8, still partially unexplained. Then Gabriel immediately gave him the 70-week prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27, which pointed to Jesus.
The specific use of his name points to what must be the importance of these events.
Gabriel, named as “Gabriel,” appears again in the New Testament with Zechariah, telling him about the upcoming birth of his son, John: “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news” (Luke 1:19).
The final time Gabriel is named in Scripture occurs when he tells Mary about her bearing Jesus: “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:26, 27).
That’s it. Gabriel is named only these four times. What does it mean? I don’t know, other than that the specific use of his name points to what must be the importance of these events, as well as the link between them.
John the Baptist heralds the first coming of Jesus the Messiah, whose dates, as well as His atoning death, is predicted in Daniel 9:24-27, the event that leads to the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14 (KJV). That’s the link.
Also, John is the forerunner to Jesus, whose death offers all who believe in Him “the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time” (Titus 1:2). This same Jesus is now our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb. 8; 9). And after that sanctuary is cleansed (Dan. 8:14), He returns and will establish His “everlasting dominion that will not pass away” (Dan. 7:14). That’s the importance.
John the Baptist (Luke 1:19), Jesus (Luke 1:26; Dan. 9:24-27), the cleansing of the sanctuary (Dan. 8:14)—all events deemed crucial enough to merit, not just the appearance of Gabriel, but of him being named as well.
* Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898, 1940), p. 234.
Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. His latest book is Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity.