Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Angelic ministers of God's greatness - Angels Illuminate the greatness of God's power

Psalm 103:19-22 "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all. 20 Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will. 22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion; Bless the Lord, O my soul!"


Today's post features that part of God's created order that is not too often spoken about - namely the angelic realm. Romans 12:1 states - Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,which is your spiritual service of worship. God's tender mercies and graces are chiefly expressed in such ways as the Spirit's application of Christ's atoning work, the scriptures, prayer and supplies of strength he uses in ministering to His saints to each other in the gifts. In addition to these mercies, God also utilizes His heavenly ministers to aid, uphold and encourage His people in ways that are not often discussed.   

The great preacher and founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley, once preached a sermon simply entitled: "Of Good Angels".  In that sermon Wesley notes the relationship between God's tender mercies and the angels: "So perfectly are the angels of God qualified for their high office. It remains to inquire, how they discharge their office. How do they minister to the heirs of salvation?  Wesley later notes: "I will not say, that they do not minister at all to those who, through their obstinate impenitence and unbelief, disinherit themselves of the kingdom. This world is a world of mercy, wherein God pours down many mercies, even on the evil and the unthankful. And many of these, it is probable, are conveyed even to them by the ministry of angels; especially, so long as they have any thought of God, or any fear of God before their eyes. But it is their favourite employ, their peculiar office, to minister to the heirs of salvation; to those who are now "saved by faith," or at least seeking God in sincerity." )

In surveying the hundreds of passages in the Bible on the vast subject of the angelic realm, we can summarize under three main headings what angels achieve in God's overall purposes toward human beings: 

1). Illuminating the greatness of His power

2). Energizing God's people to do His work

3). Emphasizing the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Today we will consider the first of these.

Angels Illuminate the Greatness of God's Power
When we consider Psalm 103, the Psalmist begins in Psalm 103:1-2 "Bless the Lord, O my soul,And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits". Among the benefits mentioned by the Psalmist, we see God's rich mercies (103:3-7); revelations of love (103:8-18) and reighning Sovereignty (103:19-22). Each of these benefits are worthy of their own treatment, but all together the Psalmist is desiring to focus on God's greatness as revealed in these benefits. At the end of the Psalm the writer makes mention of the angels. Why? Like an exclamation point on the end of a sentence (!), angels serve to get our attention and look to how great God is and the benefits He bestows because of His greatness. To illustrate how angels illuminate God's greatness in another way, think of highlighter markers. Angels are God's highlighters that illuminate how great and awesome God is to what can be our dull and incomplete undrrstanding. Just as the colors in the previous sentence hopefully got your attention, the angelic realm does the same for our spiritual attention. Angels serve to illuminate the greatness of God's power. 

Angels are the most expressive intelligent beings in God's creation. The ways in which they communicate and illuminate God's greatness is by itself indicative of the God who made them. Notice how the angels illuminate God's great power:

1. Angelic numbers illuminate God's great power
Whenever you arrive at the New Testament, you discover that in Hebrews 12:22, the word translated "myriads" can refer to either tens of thousands or by extension an innumerable host. In Revelation 5:11, if we multiply the phrases used to describe the numbers of angels around the throne, we come up with around 100 trillion angels! Depending on how literal you take those numbers, we can say at least when it comes to the number of angels in the invisible realm, we have to use numbers like trillions or even larger numbers. To think that Jesus Christ's name alone is worth more than all the angels put together (Hebrews 1:1-4) or to think that all the angels put together are simply described as God's "armies" or "hosts" or even "heavenly court" ought to point us to the Great power of God.

2. Angelic strength points to God's great power
Angels are dramatically powerful beings.  For example, one particular angel in 1 Chronicles 21:14 was instrumentally used by God to wipe out 70,000 men in judgment.  In 2 Kings 19:35 God answered the prayer of Godly King Hezekiah by having one angel destroy 185,000 of the mighty men of Sennacherib's Assyrian forces. Jesus told Peter prior to His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:53 - "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" Then in Revelation 9:13-21 we see 4 angels unleashed to kill 1/3 of humanity in the judgment that will occur in the future great tribulation. All of these examples demonstrate the power of the angelic realm, and yet such power is insigificant in comparison to God. Again, by their strength angels illuminate God's great power, since it is He who empowers them. 

3. The angels' worship illuminates God's great power
The point of today's post has been to begin understanding how angels minister the Greatness of God in regards to His power. Without a doubt their vast numbers and strength point to the One from whence they derive their very existence and ability. However, when we behold the scenes of angels offering up worship to God, it is where we see even more the great power of God. Isaiah 6:3-4 records the scene following God's majesty shining forth in the Heavenly temple - "And one called out to another and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.'
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke." Or who can forget these words in Daniel 7:10 
“A river of fire was flowing and coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him;
The court sat, And the books were opened." In Jesus' birth, Luke records in Luke 2:12-14 "
This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in amanger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Then one final example involves angels and perhaps the redeemed saying these words in Revelation 19:1 "
After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying,
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God." Roger Ellsworth in his book: "What the Bible says about angels" notes: "If the angels enjoy God, should we not do the same? If the angels, great as they are, find reason to praise God, should we not also be praising Him?" 

Closing thoughts
In closing today, we can note that Angels are God's heavenly emmisaries whose main task is to point the way to His greatness. Such provision of angelic beings is among the many mercies expressed by God to His people. We saw today that angels illuminate God's great power by their sheer numbers, strength and worship. Tomorrow we will consider how God, in His tender mercies towards His people, uses Angels to energize His people in accomplishing His work. 

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