God’s Vast Host: Angels
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!’ Luke 2:8-14
When they are visible to us, quite infrequently to say the least, they appear as men, as any other human would appear, though they are seemingly known almost immediately as an emissary of Almighty God. In the recent movie “Noah angels were depicted as other-worldly, large, supra-powerful entities. No evidence in the Bible supports such angelic appearances. They are described anthropomorphically for our benefit, for example, in Isaiah 6 with six wings, but perhaps only to reflect their speed, care, protection, and special characteristics to do God’s bidding. The laws in our dimension of existence do not restrict them as they restrict us.
The angels were created by Him. Some of them apparently fell through sin (rebellion) and were cast down from heaven, led by Satan (also known as Lucifer); these remain in a perpetually condemned state according to Scripture. The angels who remained obedient are emissaries of God who obediently do His will. They are primarily invisible to us, but a couple have been given names, Gabriel and Michael, and they have appeared or been made known to men, mostly through dreams. But to those like Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father, Mary, and the shepherds, Gabriel appears in person. Their appearance is just as real in dreams. Unnamed angels appeared as men to Abraham and Sarah, as well as Lot’s family, for example. The fallen angels follow their chief, Satan, and are participants in a cosmic battle against God, His heavenly host, and us to destroy the salvation of men and women if they could.
But angels are quite real as God’s Word relates their existence to us. Why are they? Why did God create them? Well, that remains with God and is as His Word declares. We know something about their purpose, however, in seeing how God directs those who were obedient and seeing how the others conspire against God and against us, as in the Book of Job. We learn about them when we get glimpses of angelic life in the Scriptures, both the angels and the devils.
We understand who our enemies are in passages like Ephesians 6 and why we require armor in defense against “powers and authorities in high places. We learn who these devils are and who the Devil is, as he presents himself in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. C.S. Lewis has brilliantly and Scripturally depicted the temptations and psychology of the Devil (Screwtape) and his demons in his book, The Screwtape Letters. Remember Satan charades himself as an “angel of light.
We also learn that obedient angels are a particular aid to us in our traversing the snares and pitfalls of this life. When our eyes are eventually opened to this whole world, we will know more about the angels’ interaction with us, performing for God on our behalf, or, in the case of Satan and his minions, trying to bring us down as they do Satan’s bidding. It is definitely a part of the world which is mostly a mystery to us. The eyes of faith are what opens the door to this entire world, the whole apple of life, so to speak, sort of akin to Martin Luther, who allegedly threw his inkwell at the Devil, splattering the ink on the wall. Or the Wise Men believing the angel who told them firmly not to go home through Herod’s Jerusalem.
C.S. Lewis writes that we men fall into a quandary over our belief in this other realm of existence, devils especially: We do not believe in them, denying their reality on one hand, or we are overly obsessed with them on the other. Neither should reflect your heart and mind. My wife has been known to express that “her guardian angel was doing splits to get her out of a particular jam. On the other hand, we all need to be more conscious of telling Satan to get behind us, even out loud, when we know he is actively shooting his darts at us. Do we all have an assigned “guardian angel? Scripture seems to allude clearly to something similar to this when Matthew 18:10 says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
It seems the shepherds outside Bethlehem to whom the angel announced the good news of Jesus’ birth were the sole audience of the most magnificent concert ever: God’s angel choral host singing, “Glory to God in the highest! Performed on the first Christmas Day! Complete with orchestra! Ok, I do not know that exactly from Scripture, but I imagine it, or the most beautiful a cappella performance ever. It is the pink “Angels’ Candle which is the last candle lit in the Advent Wreath, before the middle white “Christ Candle is lit on Christmas Day. The angels played a central and critical role in heralding the coming of the promised Son of God, who had been promised in response to the sin of our first parents in the Garden of Eden; God’s provision for that penalty of sin: death!
Angels and devils are real. They seriously impact your life. They aid or subvert you depending on if they are God’s or are followers of Satan. Your faith grasps their reality, or your lack of faith ignores or denies them. It is not wise to ignore or deny what God tells you is real. Know, study, and love His Word, and take up the whole armor of God to defend against the wiles of the Devil, and his demons. Angels were there at His birth, and so was the Devil and his cohorts, who could not through Herod destroy Him, though they tried. Jesus lives, and His angels are.
“Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’ Joyful, all ye nations, rise, join the triumph of the skies; with the angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!’
(1st verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, 1739)
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