I’m going to be making some major design and content changes on my blog in the next couple of weeks, which I’ll explain further as the new design is closer to being launched.
One of the changes I’d like to make is to write a weekly post that has to do with faith, and which will be posted on the same day every week. That way, those of you who are of different or no faiths and have no interest in reading such things can just skip those days. I still want you to feel comfortable being here.
(I’ll be doing the same thing with the food posts – posting them on the same day of the week – because not everyone wants to know how to make a salade niçoise).
But you know, sometimes I have something I really want to talk about that doesn’t wait for regularly scheduled programming and new blog designs. Today the subject is angels. Of course anyone can read this if interested, but it’s not meant to convince the non-interested about the presence or lack thereof of angels.
All I hope to do is to clarify things from a Judeo-Christian point of view, if that is the one you subscribe to.
Angels are powerful creatures, you know. It took one angel to put 185,000 Assyrian soldiers to death one night while they were sleeping because they had drawn up in battle against Israel. (2 Kings 19:35). This happened after the Assyrian field commander publicly mocked the Israelites, saying, ” - you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it!“
Those insults prompted the Israeli King Hezekiah’s prayer, and that led to deliverance from their enemy in ways they could never have guessed.
But knowing how powerful one angel can be adds a new dimension to Jesus’ words when he said – right before his crucifixion – “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way.“ (Matthew 26:53)
Jesus could have called out to God, and in that instant have access to at least 72,000 angels. That’s a lot of potentially destructive power right there that he decided not to use for his own benefit. Instead he went to the Cross because he chose to be obedient to the plan of God – it was not because he was too weak to escape the men who were crucifying him.
Angels are warriors. “And there was a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.“
If you’ve ever said or believed, like I have, that good is stronger than evil – there is actually Biblical basis for it. God’s angels beat Satan’s angels in the war in heaven.
Angels can appear in human form. Genesis 19:1 “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them . . .” So there is a technical possibility that the person you crossed paths with, whom you thought might be an angel – actually was.
They appear to people as messengers of God. The angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel, saying, “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.” (Daniel 9:23)
And they appear in order to protect God’s people. “My God sent his angel, and they shut the mouths of the lions.” (Daniel 6:22)
Hm. They shut the mouths of beasts to protect God’s people, but they don’t hesitate to shut the mouths of people who are incredulous either. Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist) – when told his wife would bear a child in their advanced age – did not believe it. He asked the angel how he could be sure of this. And the answer he got in Luke 1:19?
“I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.“
Basically, he had told Zechariah – I am the angel Gabriel. I stand in the presence of GOD! How can you still doubt my message? Do you think God is that fickle?
Angels are righteous – it is in their very nature to be perfect in their obedience to God. (I won’t go into the debate whether they can still be tempted by sin after Satan and his angels fell from God’s grace, but there seems to be evidence that the angels who remain with God do not sin).
They are so righteous, they do not take matters into their own hands. “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’ ” (Jude 6) Many times we swear in anger, or curse people without thinking, but an angel will not rebuke Satan of his own accord. He leaves it to God to do that. He’s righteous and humble.
So these are the kinds of things angels are. And yet these powerful, righteous, protector, warrior, messengers of God are there for us - a chosen people, because that’s what it says in 1 Peter 2:9. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God -“
We don’t become angels when we die. Instead – miraculously – we are a part of the royal priesthood, the chosen people. Completely without any merit of our own, we are set above angels.
“Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!” (1 Corinthians 6:3)
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14)
We hear it all the time when we lose a loved one. We say it all the time when someone dear to us loses a loved one, especially when they lose a child. We say, “He (or she) is now an angel looking down at us.”
But that’s not quite true.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:10 about the little children: “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” The angels of our children have direct access to God. They are in the inner court of his kingdom, in his very presence. The angels hold an esteemed position in the heavenly court.
But we, ourselves, don’t become angels when we die.
Astonishingly, undeservedly, we become something . . . better.
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