Waited on By Angels. St. Michael 2013.
St. Peter Lutheran Church
Revelation 12:7-12 (Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3)
September 29, 2013
Out of Nothing, Week 3. Prayer.
“We are waited on by angels”
There’s nothing like seeing an angel to make you understand clearly what you are apart from Christ.
Apart from Christ, you are nothing. The greatest of saints experience this when they see the holy angels. Because the angels are in the presence of God. They reflect His glory. The light that shines from them exposes the corruption in us like a searchlight.
Godly people like Daniel see an angel, and it kills them. The angel has to pick Daniel up and put him on his hands and knees. Daniel is a godly man, greatly loved by God, but not because of any goodness in him. The goodness of the angels is spotless. Angels exist wholly to praise God and serve Him and look upon His face. When the angels praise God, there is nothing in them held back from God. But Christians never praise God without reservation. Not while we are in the flesh. And the truth is, we don’t want to. We think it’s unreasonable to do nothing but praise God—at least in the flesh. Daniel was no exception.
The angels are with us. We don’t see them. If we did we’d be terrified. Yet they are with us. In the liturgy we sing it repeatedly. First the Gloria in Excelsis, which is the angels’ song at Christmas—Glory be to God on High, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Then at the Sacrament of the altar: Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth”. That is the hymn that Isaiah the prophet and St. John in Revelation heard the angels singing. Sabaoth is Hebrew for “hosts” or “armies”. In singing those hymns we are announcing something to the congregation and the world that is terrifying to anyone who is paying attention and believes what the words say. We are in the presence of the angels, singing their songs to God; their glory is among us, the glory that laid Daniel in the dust. Even more we are in the presence of their Lord, the fountain of all glory, daring to open our lips to sing praise to Him—our unclean lips and hearts which, because of the sin inherited from Adam, do not want to give God all glory, but instead want to hold some of it back for ourselves.
Yet we do not die. The Scriptures say that God sends the holy angels to serve us. Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? asks the Epistle to the Hebrews (1:14).
The angels are spirits. They are not flesh and blood, although they appear in the Scriptures usually in the form of a human being. Their work is to praise God forever, constantly, and to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27). That is what heaven is; to see God’s face and praise Him constantly.
They also serve human beings. They pray and intercede for the Church. They lead and protect Christians. We see that in the readings from Daniel and Revelation today, and it’s hinted at in the gospel also. The little children are protected by guardian angels who are assigned to them personally, Jesus tells us. The angels fight against the devil and his fallen angels on behalf of God’s people. St. Michael the archangel is depicted in Scripture as being the commanding officer of the angelic army; he fights alongside the angel coming to speak with Daniel, and he and the angel host fight against Satan in Revelation and throw the devil out of heaven. In 2 Kings Elisha is alone with his servant in an enemy city. The servant is afraid, and Elisha prays that the Lord would open his eyes. And when his eyes are opened, he sees that Elisha is surrounded by horses and chariots of fire—an angel army.
The angels also serve and help people by bringing God’s message to us and by defending and helping the Church and its preachers so that the Gospel of Jesus will be proclaimed. The word “angel” in Greek means “messenger.” The angel Gabriel brought the message, the good message or news or Gospel of the incarnation of the Son of God to Mary. Angels preached Jesus’ resurrection to the women who found the tomb empty on Easter. An angel broke Peter out of prison in the book of Acts so that he could continue to preach the Gospel.
Also the angels comfort and strengthen God’s people when they are faint. When Jesus was praying and sweating blood in the garden of Gethsemane, an angel came and strengthened our Lord, who though He was God had humbled Himself to experience our weakness in the face of hell, Satan, and death, which were attacking Him.
Why does God send the angels to do this for us?
They are better than we are. They are holy and serve God always, completely. We are sinful. Apart from His Spirit we don’t serve Him at all. Even with His Spirit in us we have a sinful nature that opposes Him so that we find that even when we want to serve God there is another will in us that rebels against God.
He sends the angels to serve us because He has made us holy and exalted us high above the angels.
When God became a human embryo in Mary’s womb, He glorified human beings. God became what we are. We are flesh and blood and so is God, forever.
God became human and He became sin, and in His flesh destroyed our sin. In His death on the cross Jesus put our sin to death. In His resurrection He raised you from the dead and seated you with Him at the right hand of God (Eph. 2). Your life is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3). We have been made higher than the angels because of Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8).
The great glory of Christians—we are not waited on by human servants, but by angels. We may be poor and nothing in the world, but the Christian is served and guarded by angels.
He says that God’s judgment of us is not true. He says it in our conscience.
According to the flesh, according to the law, he’s right. But the Gospel is God’s final word; it says the law is fulfilled and we are sons of God in Christ. Our sins are no more. We have died and been raised. We are new creatures.
Spiritual warfare is lived out in prayer. When did Jesus sweat blood and become overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death? When he prayed.
Daniel was fasting, mourning, and praying for his people for 3 weeks. It took the angel 3 weeks to get there because the powers and principalities—the devil and his angels—obstructed the angel.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…(Eph 6: 12, 17-18)
This is where the Church’s work is done.
We are nothing in ourselves. We have no power. But we have God’s word that we are His Sons and heirs and that He will hear us in prayer. We also have His command to pray.
So we pray through faith in the Son—Our Father.
We pray with certainty—Amen—not because we can force God to give us anything. But to pray is to expose our sin and helplessness to Him, and to put His promises before Him with assurance that He will do what He has promised, whether we are worthy or unworthy.
By the blood of the lamb we clothe ourselves as priests. We confess that we are sons of God even though we know our sins. And we intercede as priests—taking all troubles to Him;
Troubles of family, unbelieving friends, church. Even small trials.
And He sends His angels to defend and help us.
I thank you my heavenly father, through Jesus Christ, your dear son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger, and I pray that you would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please you. For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
The peace of God…