Angels as God’s Messengers and Workmen
Genesis 28:1-5, 11-15 (12/30/13)
The Hebrew and Greek words that are translated as “angel” both mean “messenger,” or sometimes “deputy” or something similar. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see this week that God sends angels when he wants a message delivered or some specific job done. Unless the angels going up and down the staircase in Jacob’s vision were on their way to other tasks, their job here seems to be to get Jacob’s full attention so that God can speak to him.
Psalm 103 (12/31/13)
For 2014, let’s all resolve to be like the mighty angels: doing God’s word and obeying his will! No wonder God counts on them to deliver his messages and run his errands.
Matthew 24:3-8, 29-36 (1/1/14)
I can only tell you two things about end times. First, this is the end of 2013. Second, the angels don’t know the day and hour of the end times, so they are on constant standby to go out and gather up the elect. Happy New Year!
Mark 16:1-8; John 20:10-13 (1/2/14)
Random Walk in a Gallery of Religious Art, Step 55: Three Women at the Tomb, by Johann Ludwig Lund
Luke 24:1-24 (1/3/14)
God had to send angels with the message that Jesus was risen. Otherwise people would have thought, as Mary did, that the body had been moved for some reason. They had a hard time believing the good news even when it was delivered by angels!
The Gamble family Bible says that this painting, Three Women at the Tomb, is by Johann Ludwig Lund. Could be, but I couldn’t find it on the web, so don’t quote me. This painting is much more stylized than some of the others we’ve seen, and the expressions on the faces of the women and the angel are fairly neutral. Mark says that the women were astonished, shocked, and afraid, and these ladies just look puzzled. Still, Bloch shows the women as being of different ages and personalities, which causes us to think about what Salome, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James might have been like, and that’s good.
Previous Step. Next Step.
"Three Women at the Tomb" by Johann Ludwig Lund, from the Gamble family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter. Photography by Daryl Lee.
It’s fairly rare to find the same story in all four gospels, mainly because John went out of his way to report on incidents that Mark, Matthew, and Luke had not included in their own, earlier books. All four of the gospel writers, however, tell us that angels spoke to Mary Magdalene and the other Marys when they arrived at the tomb.
Acts 10:1-23 (1/6/14)
Okay, I’m finally willing to say that Christmas is over for this year. Fortunately, God never stops giving us gifts, and one of the greatest gifts was the spread of the Gospel to the gentiles. Before Peter’s vision and the angel’s visit to Cornelius, you had to be a Jew to be a Christian. (Theoretically, a gentile could become a Jew, but it’s difficult to figure out all the rules if you weren’t raised with them.) The angel’s message to Cornelius was the first inkling anyone had that the Good News was for everyone.
Acts 23:1-9 (1/7/14)
Am I the only one amused by vs. 5? Paul quotes a rule that you shouldn’t speak evil of a ruler of the people, but notice that he doesn’t apologize or say he was mistaken. He just implies that he wouldn’t have said it out loud. Never pass up the opportunity to keep your negative opinions about other people to yourself.
Anyway, Paul was a pretty good rabble-rouser. He knows exactly how to take attention off of himself: get the Sadducees and Pharisees arguing about resurrection! The argument expands swiftly, and one of the Pharisees shouts, “What if an angel spoke to him?”
Angels as Inferior to Jesus
Hebrews 1:1-14 (1/8/14)
A very early reactionary movement in the early Church was based on the idea that while Jesus was mighty fine, Jesus wasn’t enough
. People in this movement followed the early missionaries around, saying to the Gentile converts, “Yes, but…” But you also have to be circumcised. But you also have to follow the Jewish dietary law. But you also have make sacrifices in the Temple. But you also have to revere angels. The writer of Hebrews carefully rebuts (har har) each of these arguments. Jesus, he says, is so far superior to the angels that those who follow him have no need to follow angels; indeed, the task of the angels is to serve for our sake.
Hebrews 2:1-18 (1/9/14)
The writer of Hebrews continues his argument that Jesus is superior to the angels. The quotation in vss. 6-8 is identical to Psalms 8:4-6a in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint. Most OT quotations in the New Testament are in fact from the Septuagint, not from the Hebrew. By the first century, Biblical Hebrew was a “dead language,” like Church Latin. The vast majority of Jews used the Septuagint as their scripture text.
I’m impressed, though: even though the writer could not remember where it was from, he got the wording exactly right. Next week we’ll start a new study, “14 ‘Verses’ Not In the Bible,” which will help us to become just as accurate as the writer of Hebrews!
Entertaining Angels Unaware
Hebrews 13:2 (1/10/14)
We’ve seen in our study that the business of angels and the lives of God’s people have been intertwined since the Garden of Eden. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an angel, but we’ve also learned that some angels are hard to tell from ordinary people. The writer of Hebrews recommends that we always remember that the person we’re dealing with may be one of God’s angels, and that we act accordingly.
More on Angels
Gabriel and Michael
Cherubim and Seraphim
Armies of Angels and the LORD of Hosts
Angels say “Fear Not!”
Guardian and Ministering Angels
Angel of the Lord - "The" or "An"?
Angels not in the Bible
Final Tidbits about Angels
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