Friday, June 5, 2015

Angelic Ministers of God's Greatness - How Angels point to Christ's Post-resurrected glory

Hebrews 1:5-6 "For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”?
And again, “I will be a Father to Him
And He shall be a Son to Me”? 6 And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.”

Today's post concludes what has been a series of post on the subject of God's heavenly emmisaries - the angels. In keeping with the meaning of the term "angel", we have deemed this series: "God angelic ministers", since angels delivered messages to God's people in the Bible and minister aid to believers today. (see Psalm 91:11; Hebrews 1:14).  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 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.   

In this study we considered the following about God's angelic ministers in regards to how they minister God's greatness: 

1). Angels illuminate the greatness of God's power

2). Angels can energize God's people to do His work

Yesterday considered the third major area of the Angel's ministry - namely the glory of Jesus Christ. We chose to split this final heading into two sub-headings, with attention paid yesterday to how the angels minister to us the glory of Jesus Christ in His incarnation. Jesus ever retains the humanity He assumed in His incarnation, albeit glorified, resurrected humanity. Which is why today we want to understand how the angels help highlight the glory of Jesus Christ in His resurrection (and thus His ascension and 2nd coming).

Writer, author, Dr. John Piper weighs in on how the angels will show once and for all that the resurrected, glorified Christ is truly glorious
As we have been exploring how the angels minister to us the greatness of God, we have solicited the counsel of great minds both past and present. Dr. John Piper is a wonderful author and preacher who wrote a piece commenting on Jesus Christ's return to earth in Matthew 25:31-33. This short excerpt demonstrates how the angels point us to the glorified, resurrected Christ and His second coming: “And all the angels with him.” All of them. Did you get that? Heaven will be left empty of its armies. All the angels will be with him! This means that the triumph is so sure that one doesn't have to cover his rear guard. No one will threaten heaven. All the armies of God on the front line with the Son of Man. Jesus could handle the conquest of earth alone. He is God. But the angels come to magnify him and do his bidding. What is that bidding? Just this: “He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds.” They are going to gather you and me to meet the Son of Man. ( )

Angels point the way to the glory of Jesus Christ in His resurrection and beyond
By way of the Gospel records we see ample witness of how the angels pointed to the glory of Christ's Deity and aided him many times throughout the humility of His humanity. We see two equal emphasis on their pointing the way to His post-resurrected, ascended glory.

When one reads the Gospel accounts of Christ's resurrection and ascension, angels are seen in those episodes as well. Inasmuch as we are witnessing a sequence of historical, literal events that transpired in time and in space, we must include the reality of angelic beings. 

The events of the empty tomb, Jesus' post-resurrection appearances and the cause for the disciple's belief in the resurrection stand in the mind of scholar William Lane Craig as being the three chief events needing to be explained. Certainly I concur with him and would like to add one further detail - the presence of angels. What were the angels achieving as they ministered the glory of Christ's resurrected power to the Apostles? Moreover, what can we learn and apply to our lives regarding Jesus' resurrection power for today? Please note the following thoughts:

1. Angels protected the message and messengers who proclaim Jesus' resurrection from the dead
Matthew 28:3-4 "And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men."  When we look at this detail, it is significant for a number of reasons. First, the women were already on their way to finish the anointing process of Jesus' body in Matthew 28:1. Second, this detail mentioned by Matthew in 28:3-4 reminds the reader of the manifest impossibility of anyone coming to steal the body of Jesus, since the enemies of Jesus had arranged the tomb to be guarded in Matthew 27:62-66. But now when we realize that the presence of angels led to the collapse of the soldiers, it is apparent that the angels were sent to defend, to protect the women and those who would be peering into the empty tomb. Passages such as 2 Kings 6; Psalm 34:7; 91:11 and Hebrews 1:14 remind us of how angels defend or protect God's people. But notice a second significant reason for the presence of angels in the events of the Risen and Ascended Christ...

2. Angels aided in the declaration and explanation of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.
We read in Matthew 28:5-7 "The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” The Hebrew and Greek words translated "angel" speak of a "messenger". Angels are seen throughout scripture announcing things to people. Notice again the function of angels both declaring an explaining in Acts 1:9-11 "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” The angels were doing what they were created to do: declare and explain the glory of God (Psalm 68:17) and the equal and shared glory of the Son (Luke 2:14). Now notice the third significant reason as to why angels are included in the resurrection and ascension accounts of the Living Christ...

3. Angels' presence demonstration the Deity and humanity of Christ in His resurrection from the deadThe Old Testament makes it abundantly clear that the angels function in the capacity of a royal court demonstrating the Deity of Yahweh. In Job 38:7 and Psalm 104:1-4 we see the angels, from the inception of their creation, exalting God for His creative power. In Psalm 68:17 we see angels attending the giving of the law atop Mount Sinai, demonstrating before the newly redeemed Hebrew nation that uncontested Deity of Yahweh. Daniel 7:10-13 portrays the Lord, the Ancient of Days and the Pre-incarnate Son of Man in royal Deity, being attended by innumerable angelic hosts. Later on in Daniel 12:1-3 we see Michael the archangel attending what will undoubtedly be the Divine power of God Himself raising believers from the dead in the resurrection of the righteous and unbelievers in the later resurrection of the wicked.

Such associations between Yahweh's Deity and angelic presence enables the reader to understand that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was indeed the resurrection of the humanity of the Son who also was, is and forever will be God. The Living Christ who came out of the tomb on Sunday morning had angels attending to assert the fact that He is as much Full Deity as He is glorified, resurrected humanity.

Closing thoughts
We have spent the last four days considering how the angels minister to believers the greatness of God. In these four posts we have summarized this angelic ministry under three headings:

1). Angels illuminate the greatness of God's power

2). Angels can energize God's people to do His work

3). Angels minister to believers the greatness of God in Jesus Christ

In that last point, we saw angels pointing us to both Jesus' incarnation and post-resurrected glory. May these posts be used of God to further His Kingdom in our days.