Supernatural (Week 1)

[This Advent Series focuses on the Angels Perspective of the Christmas Story]

Message #1: Angels: God’s Messengers!

 
Janet Miller reads Luke 1:5-25, 57-66 and prays.  
 
From the Bible, what we can learn about angels and their perspective on the greatest miracle to ever happen, “Christmas: When Heaven came to Earth”?
 
A clarifying note: This sermon series is focused on angels, whom I am calling the “Loyal Host of Heaven.” These messages are not focused on the fallen angels, known as demons, who are destined for judgment because they call Satan (the Devil) their lord and not God. In this series, I cannot cover every issue of the supernatural realm—of angels and demons, cherubim and seraphim, seen and unseen. Needless to say, the more I study the Bible on this topic, the deeper it becomes and the more I realize there is much more to this discussion than I first suspected. Let’s take a big picture look by answering 3 questions about angels this morning:  
 
  1. What are angels and where did they come from?
 
  With the notable exception of the “Angel of the Lord” (a wonderful topic beyond the scope of this study) angels are not God! Angels are divine (called the holy ones, heavenly ones) spiritual (disembodied) beings, supernatural members of God’s family with a job to do for God. Angels are created beings with a specific job description, just like we are created beings with a job description! Angels are the messengers of God (that is what both the Hebrew and Greek words for angel actually mean). Angles are also called “watchers” in the OT (Daniel 4 and Job 7).
 
Angels are older than humanity. We know this from Job 38:4-7, when God is speaking to Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
 
God calls angels “morning stars” and “sons of God” and teaches us that they were in full function at Genesis 1. They are not as old as God for God is pre-existent meaning God has always been. God is the beginning and end of all things. As John 1:3 says of Jesus, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” This includes angels. But what so many people forget is that while angels are completely separate from us and older than us, they are also created by and subordinate to God.[1]
 
The Loyal Host of Heaven shouted for joy at Creation, witnessed the Fall of humanity, are actively participating in the restoration of humanity, have key jobs to fulfill in the consummation, and we will be with them for all of eternity. Angels are distinct from humans and are not interchangeable with us, nor us with them (in form or function). Jesus says that we will one day become like the angels, but please be very clear in knowing that Jesus never says we will become angels (Matthew 22:30).
 
At this time of history, angels are a part of a different realm than us, but they interact with this realm by God’s command and empowerment, which we will see throughout these sermons. But as powerful as angels are they are not all-knowing, all-seeing, or all-powerful like God. God has created the angels for divine purposes, to be in His presence as His heavenly host, but we are not to pray to angels, bow to angels, or worship angels. While we were made a little lower than the angels (Heb. 2:7), we will one day (in the Eternal Kingdom) judge the angels (1 Cor. 6:3).
 
  1. How many members of the “Loyal Host of Heaven” (angels) are there?
 

Obviously, Gabriel is named as the angel in the Christmas story (Luke 1:19), but did you know that there are only 2 angels named in the Bible? The first is Gabriel (e.g. current passage and Daniel 8:16; 9:21) and the second is Michael (called the “chief prince” in Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; “archangel” in Jude 9; and leading in battle in Rev. 12:7).  

But are there only 2 angels? No! John in Revelation 5:11 teaches us, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands” (cf. Hebrews 12:22). In addition to our discussion on angels, this verse also references “the living creatures and the elders” so I just want to acknowledge that there are other heavenly beings that are not part of this study. There are also specialized forms and functions of heavenly beings such as the cherubim (Gen. 3; Exodus 25; Ezekiel 10) and seraphim (Isaiah 6). While some argue that these are angels with a specific form and function, a key question is whether their description is representative of all angels because most angels, when they appear to humanity, appear human.
 
Back to the number of angels, David Jeremiah summarizes well, “To give you a perspective on how many angels this is, the average football stadium in America holds about 50,000 people. It would take some 2,000 stadiums of that size to hold 100,000,000 people. The total number of angels John saw may have far exceeded 100,000,000–10,000 was the highest numerical figure used in the Greek language. ‘Ten thousand times ten thousand’ may have been John’s way of describing an inexpressibly large company of angels” (David Jeremiah, Answers to Your Questions about Heaven, 2015, 38). While the common view is that there is an “innumerable” number of angels, there are only 2 of the Loyal Host of Heaven named in the Bible. Why?
 
  1. What is the perspective of the angels on the Christmas story?
 
The Bible teaches us that the angels excitedly waited to see what God was going to do with His creation. Only God knows the plans of His own mind and He reveals them as He chooses. The angels longed to know what was on God’s mind for the descendants of Adam and Eve. For thousands of years they have watched, they have delivered messages, and they continue to give God unceasing worship.
 
I imagine that on that 1st Christmas morning the angels were like children on Christmas morning—anticipating and hopeful! They longed to see what God would do to restore His creation. Remember, the angels are messengers, but they do not have full knowledge. Could they even imagine what God would do? Gabriel is faithful to deliver the messages to Zacharias about John, and as we will see next week to Mary about Jesus. Anticipation grows! Hundreds of years of messages and thousands of years of watching are coming to a head… HOPE!
 
The mystery is about to be revealed! Listen to 1 Peter 1:10-12, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 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.” (cf. Romans 16:25-27).
 
Would they be amazed and awe-struck to see Jesus Christ take on flesh and become lower than them so that God could dwell among people that Christmas morning in a promised new way? The angels know Jesus in His glorified form! The revelation of Christmas is the miracle of the incarnation—God who is Spirit and exists outside of creation took on flesh and came amongst us into creation. The Christmas Miracle of Immanuel—God is with us, once again! God had walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but justly removed them from His presence upon their rebellion (Fall). God made a way for humanity to be in His presence once again. This is the Christmas miracle that the angels are now participating in.  
 
Gabriel knows the goodness and love of God, but he is about to see another level of the depths of God’s love poured out on humanity. When Gabriel enters the Holy of Holies in Luke 1:11, he is moving forward the plan that God had him tell Daniel over 500 years prior (see Daniel 8 & 9). This message God gave Gabriel to deliver to Zacharias is good news for Gabriel, as much as it is good news for all humanity, because it is God making all things right, from all the rebellions. It is what Gabriel and the innumerable of Loyal Host of Heaven, have been longing to know. The Loyal Host of Heaven have been watching this story unfold and will continue to watch the greatest story ever told unfold before them. They have front row seats in the very presence of God, but they heard something that first Christmas that not a single one of them could have known for it was only known in the infinite mind of the triune God—the cry of a little newborn baby named Jesus. Jesus who would grow up and fulfill every ancient prophecy of the Messiah. Jesus who would die a sinner’s death on the Cross for humanity. Jesus who would defeat death and Hell itself, forever removing the sting of death. Jesus, God, Eternal… a baby…  
 
The perspective of the angels on that 1st Christmas was one of increased awe and wonder of God, if that is even possible, and renewed hope and anticipation for humanity.  
 
What is your perspective on Christmas and how does it affect your worship of God? Have you lost the awe and wonder of God?
 
The angels, more than any human, know the meaning of Christmas and their perspective should lead us into worship and celebration of God.   The angels know that our best days are ahead of us! To have HOPE is what it means to live in Advent! How does your perspective on Christmas affect you and those you encounter on a daily basis?
 
Listen to it here.
 

Footnotes:

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[1] For further study, do a Hebrew word elohim, take a journey of understanding the divine council of God as overtly witnessed in Job 1:6 and 1 Kings 22:19 and referenced (but misunderstood) in Genesis 1:26, as well as Psalm 82. Additionally, explore the terms in the Bible that speak to the nature, status, and function of the loyal host of Heaven. I exhort you to not be scared to learn directly from the Bible because your Bible will never contradict your doctrine if your doctrine comes from the Bible. May the Spirit reform you through the renewal of your mind. There is such a diversity of opinion, even amongst evangelical scholars and theologians.

 

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