Sometimes, when I’m seated high above the forest floor, I look down with an alien perspective. From the vantage point of my treestand, I can see the world around me, yet this world (the woods) is not my world. The woods is a world I long to understand, yet don’t with any kind of regularity. I am the invader here…
We all have our favorite parts of the Bible. Some of us love to read the praises contained in the Psalms…and that’s cool. Others love to search through the prophetic writings contained in Daniel or Revelation…and that can be downright chilly. I know several guys that really dig Paul…and spend their time flipping back and forth between the Pauline letters. Me…I love Stephen. The passages in Acts from Chapter 6 through Chapter 9 stir my blood like no other. Stephen got a chance to speak before the elders and scribes of the Council in Acts Ch. 7…and brother…he laid it down. I love that speech, of coarse, it was so good they killed him at the end of it.
Stephen, in Acts 7: 35-39 was talking about their ‘fore-fathers’ and their relationship to Moses, “This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt”
After about the 100th time reading through this passage, my brain registered the reference to the angels.
“Hmm…” I thought.
Same passage in verses 52-53: “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
OK…what did the angels do? My brain started to think back to other small obscure references to angels. My fingers began flipping to…here:
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
(Whoa…I wonder if I’ve entertained angels…?)
“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.” 1 Peter 1:12
(Does that mean what I think it means…?)
And I can’t forget this one:
“For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11
(I knew someone was looking out for me, otherwise, how would you explain the time when I…Um, never mind, I’ll get back on topic.)
I had to ask myself a question, “What do I think and feel about angels?” I mean…I can tell plenty of jokes about my guarding angel putting in for overtime and hazard pay…but seriously…I really haven’t given angels much thought. I think of them as created beings (just like us), with the free will to choose to obey God or not (just like us), with distinct personalities and abilities (just like us)…yet, I feel like they are puzzled by us. More specifically…they are puzzled by God’s love for us…God’s love for what seems like a weak helpless vessel. By all descriptions, angels seem “WAY” more glorified than us…yet, the gospel was kept hidden from them…and given to us “jars of clay”.
The verse in 1 Peter, which says, “the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look”…speaks to a curiosity on the part of angels. It gives me an image of angels perched far above the floor of our physical world, watching and examining us from the spiritual world, feeling like invaders…trying to figure out WHY…God would invest so much.
And then we read the verses in Hebrews 1:13-14 which says, “But to which of the angels has He ever said,
“Sit at My right hand,
Until I make Your enemies
A footstool for Your feet”?
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”
So…all angels are ministering spirits? I’ve never really thought about it that way. The human writers of all of these passages are really good at referring to angels, yet not really explaining angels. Almost as if, the writer assumed his audience already knew whatever it was they were supposed to know. If that’s the case…I’m not sure I got those translations. I’ve got some questions about this race of ‘super-natural, ascending-descending, appearing-disappearing, decree giving-life taking, ministering spirits’. I think we can safely divide angels into 3 categories:
The Good (those angels that continue to worship God)
The Bad (those angels that do not worship God)
& The Ugly (Bad angels…that impersonate Good angels)
Next week….“The Good”