September 3, 2013

Emissaries of the Divine

This is another in a handful of posts I have drafted about angels, their mention in the Bible and the reason the Bible brings their existence into sharper focus. True to their very nature they are communicators. If not audibly, also in their very actions. Beings that we are often in the presence of and do not even realize that fact.

Matthew 18:10 ~“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

It is quite clear that people have angels watching over them. This verse is often interpreted to mean that it is only children. We must never forget that we are all God’s children. At the same time this doesn’t mean that all people have an angel watching over them from the time they are conceived to the time they die either. There is no implication here that each and every person has a “guardian angel” nor can this be found in places like Daniel 3:28 and Daniel 6:22. What it does say is that there are heavenly spiritual beings that are committed to heirs in salvation. The key to this passage and its focal point is not so much the angel but one whom the angel is over…the little ones. The Greek  does not say τέκτων/tekton or children it says μικρὸν/micron from which we get the word mirco or small, little in size, stature, or length.

What should be seen in this passage is the esteem of which the “little ones” are viewed in Heaven by angels. These “little ones” are held in such an exulted position that there are angels commissioned by God Himself to watch over them at times. In other words, the little ones are important to God and being important to God, they are not to be brushed off as triviality. Anything God deems as important or worthy of notice should also be taken notice of by man. We should never disregard the things that God regards as noteworthy. We should never dispise those that have supernatural beings as companions, especially when we don’t know for sure when those beings are present or not. We may or may not be entertaining angels unaware.

Matthew 22:30 ~At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

Another interesting passage that is a statement from the Lord but is usually misinterpreted to assume more meaning than it actually contains. People read into this one too. It’s assumed people will not have their spouses back when they get to Heaven or that the meaningful relationship someone had with their spouse here will not follow there. That is not what this passage is saying nor is marriage its focus. We must remember that this is a response to a set-up from the conniving Sadducees. Once again we find the Sadducees laying a word-trap for Jesus. Their daring in their boldness and it is their hope of confounding Jesus and distancing the people from Him.

Jesus being divinely clever immediately narrowed the field of inquiry. After the Pharisees have been disposed of in the paying tax to Caesar line of questioning, the Sadducees appear with a question to ask. It is one connected with their avowed disbelief in the doctrine of the resurrection. The Sadducees and those today that misinterpret this passage mis-frame the context and thereby often miss Jesus’ true meaning here.

The whole importance of this passage hinges in the Mosaic law on marriage on which this subject is based. It is the belief and assumption that the marriage comes to an end on the death of either party concerned; and therefore fully allows the survivor to remarry. A person in this world is therefore permitted to marry again upon the death of a spouse. The second issue is that any man whose married brother should have died without issue is to take that brother's widow as a wife. The last issue (albeit highly improbable) was that remarriage would happen multiple times and the widow would pass through seven brothers in succession under this rule. Remember, the Sadducees are being totally disingenuous as they do not even believe in the resurrection of the body nor angels. Sadducees are for most purposes, anti-supernaturalists. They have also erroneously mixed-n-matched spiritual things with fleshly and earthly things. They have set themselves up for error right from the beginning.

Jesus’ answer to this insidious question is par excellence and exposes the evilness of not only the question but also the hearts of His interrogators. His answer is a sharp contrast to the nature of their question. Firstly, he completely disposed of the difficulty advanced by re-framing the misunderstanding at the core of the thinking that would produce such as ridiculous question. They had framed the question with a boxed in question and had assumed the law still applied in the Resurrection along with the covenant of marriage. Jesus shows the complete ignorance on the part of the Sadducees.

The question, "Whose wife shall she be ?" was not only unnecessary it was irrelevant in the salvational and resurrection scale of things and as such should probably not even be asked.  The basic premise for the framed question is therefore undermined because the law of Deuteronomy applies to this life now and does not apply either to the afterlife nor in the resurrection of the dead. Secondly, if the Sadducees had properly understood the resurrection (which they didn’t), they’d have understood that after the resurrection, the resultant perfection of the Body of Christ would’ve removed the need for a covenant of marriage as the body of resurrected believers in Christ would’ve been more perfect than the marriage. In other words, not only would we love our spouses in that day as much if not more than in marriage here and now, so too our relationships with others. This is the very reason we are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind but also our neighbors as ourselves. This command is given because the resultant relationships in the resurrection will be with the body of believers too…not just our wives or husbands. It behooves us to start working on these kingdom relationships now. Mercy over Law people. Being immortal, there will no longer be a need for reproduction. This means that all the attributes tied to marriage become obsolete and superseded by the coming Kingdom. In this respect people will then resemble the angels as Jesus has already said (at least in this one aspect, perhaps not all).

It is sadly amusing that immediately following this shutdown by Jesus, He will immediately launch into a lecture and "school" these arrogant fools on the resurrection itself. His introduction is biting in its wit…

“Have you not read?”

The so-called teachers that were suppose to be experts are about to be schooled by the supreme teacher, God Himself on something they should have already known and understood. What is truly sad is most of the Sadducees will totally miss what is being communicated by the Great Communicator anyway as evidenced in their desire to kill of Jesus. This is another painful witness to just how hardened of heart and how stupid sin has made the Sadducees (and the Pharisees who were schooled by Jesus just previous to this episode in the Parable of the Lost Sheep).

Luke 15:10 ~ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

This is the back-end of the Parable of the Lost Coin in which a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. She then lights a lamp, sweeps the house and searches intently until she finds it. When she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Here we see many things such as the fact that man has value in the sight of God. He is made in the image of God, he is destined for God’s service, and therefore God has need of him. God gives us our value. The owner of the coin represents God. Her anxiety to find the coin shows God’s intense concern for the believer and the fact that we need to repent and turn to Him from our sins. The coin is like the soul of a person. There is an innate value in a person (like a coin) and God Himself searches for us. He is intent on finding us but the implication is that we must want to be found as people have conscious wills and coins do not.  The coin owner (God) searches in the dark places and will even light the dark (evil) places when needed to find the coin. God will go to great lengths to reclaim us (as if the crucifixion isn't a supreme example of this). There is also the fact that she does find what she’s looking for and because of the find, she rejoices as do angels over the turning of one person back to God.

It is extremely clear from the passage, God’s angels take a keen interest in the conversion and salvation of even one believer. It follows that what is important to God is important to those that love God. It would behoove us to take the same keen interest as the angels in other's conversion and if the conversion of even on does not stir us perhaps we do not love God nor our neighbor as much as we claim?

The main point again is not the angels themselves but it is this: God who dwells in the presence of angels also looks for sinners and rejoices over even one of them turning to Him in trust for their salvation. Here we see the true messenger function of angels and the fact that angels act as a bearer of God’s messages. Not only do they carry messages to people but also the fact of their very presence and their stately bearing communicate the same. In other words, their very behavior of being interested in and concerned with the same things of God sends us an unequivocal message in their actions…we too should love what God loves and hate what God hates. In the context of this passage we should love one another and rejoice of the turning of one sinner from their sin back to God and we should clearly hate the sin itself…not the sinner!

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