Get ready to tackle our coolest topic yet: Angels.
Matthew 18:1-10 (10/28/13)
The scriptural basis for an angel who stands continual watch over you personally isn’t as strong as you might wish, unless you are under the age of ten or so. Some angels apparently have the job of keeping little children always in the forefront of God’s mind.
Many denominations, probably most nowadays, believe that a child (even an unbaptized child) who dies goes straight to heaven
. Although I’m not aware that Matthew 18:10 is the scriptural basis for that doctrine, it should be.
Psalms 91:1-16; 34:7 (10/29/13)
Aside from Jesus’ assurance that little children have angels watching over them, there isn’t much in the Bible that supports the idea that we each have a “guardian angel.” In fact, two psalms is all I could find. Psalm 91 is a lovely song of confidence in God, and Psalm 34 is similar to it.
Even so, I think we have to read 91:11-12 and 34:7 in the light of the rest of the scripture.
that God’s people get sick and die. We know
that if we annoy a lion or snake, we’ll get bitten. David knew that, too. So this psalm probably means “no matter what happens, God is with me and will keep me safe for eternity,” and not “I don’t have to take any precautions at all about my earthly life.” Tomorrow we’ll see what Jesus has to say about guardian angels for grown-ups.
Matthew 4:1-11 (10/30/13)
When the Devil tempted Jesus, one argument he used was to quote from Psalm 91, which we read yesterday. Now, if anybody in the world could count on God to send angels to prevent him from striking his foot on a stone, that would be Jesus. Jesus doesn’t deny that that angels could or would help him, but he does say that to call on God’s promises just to test the system is wrong. God expect adults to be mature not only in body but also in mind and in faith. Adults should be smart enough that they don’t go around flinging themselves off of high places, and they should be faithful enough that they don’t have to put God to the test.
1 Kings 19:1-18 (10/31/13)
Children may have guardian angels, but adults seem more likely to be visited by an angel only in times of great need, and mostly because God has work for them to do. Jezebel was a Philistine princess and the wife of King Ahab of Israel. She introduced Baalism into Israel and had several hundred priests of Baal in her court. Elijah challenged them to a contest. When he won impressively, he led the spectators in massacring 400 priests of Baal.
Queen Jezebel was infuriated and sent Elijah a death threat. He ran for his life, which was reasonable but not a very prophet-like thing to do. God sent an angel to minister to him and give him strength for the greatest contest of his life – a meeting with God. In the meeting, God told Elijah to get back to work.
Acts 12:1-19 (11/1/13)
There are two angels in this passage. The real angel is sent by the Lord to rescue Peter. God has work for Peter to do, which is not going to get done if he is executed. We know that was Herod’s plan, because the soldiers who were in charge of him were executed. If a prisoner escaped, the guards got the punishment intended for the prisoner.
The second angel is Peter’s “angel,” whom Peter’s friends think is at the door. (I have no clue why they didn’t go to the door right away to let the “angel” in.) John Wesley says, “It was a common opinion among the Jews, that every man had his particular guardian angel, who frequently assumed both his shape and voice. But this is a point on which the Scriptures are silent.” I can’t think of another place in scripture where an angel impersonates a specific known person, ward or not, so the idea must have arisen from some non-biblical source in intertestamental times.
Luke 22:39-51 (11/4/13)
Jesus did not get the answer he wanted, but God sent an angel to give him the strength to accept and endure the answer he got.
Matthew 26:47-56 (11/5/13)
One angel came privately to Jesus to strengthen him as he prayed; however, Jesus refused to ask for legions of angels to come and interfere in history. He had prayed, received his answer, and accepted it, and now he was ready for the ordeal that faced him.
How often we pray for God to bail us out of difficult situations! For better or worse, that is not the primary function of our ministering angels. Instead, let us pray for the strength to carry out God’s plan.
Daniel 6:1-27 (11/6/13)
A man was locked in a cage overnight with a lion that hadn’t eaten for two months. In the morning, the man was unharmed. Why?
Because the lion was dead
! HAHAHaHahahahaha! In the case of Daniel, however, we have every reason to believe that the lions were alive. The officials and the other satraps were intensely jealous of Daniel, and they figured out a way to get rid of him. Once a law was passed in Persia, there was no way to repeal it. You might think this would lead the king to be more careful about signing laws, but you would be mistaken. So the king and Daniel were in a fix – Daniel because he might die, and the king because he might lose his right-hand man.
Fortunately, God sent a ministering angel to protect Daniel from the lions and to provide a tremendous sign of salvation to the Persians. You might think that after learning about this miracle from the king’s letter they would all start to worship God instead of idols, but you would be mistaken about that, too.
Genesis 24:1-27 (11/7/13)
Abraham had perfect confidence that the LORD would send an angel to lead his trusted servant to a wife for his son Isaac. Although the angel is not mentioned again, the servant says in vs. 27 that he had divine guidance in coming to Rebekah and her family.
Exodus 23:20-33 (11/8/13)
Angels are not teddy bears. We saw before that they often open a conversation with “Fear not!,” and we saw that there are apparently good reasons for that – angels are fearsome. I wonder if the angel in vs. 20 is the same as the terror in vs. 27? God is sending both the angel and the terror ahead of the Israelites.
God sent the angel to guard and guide the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land; that was good. God warned the people not to cross the angel, however, because the angel would not pardon any transgression. Not so good.
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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