September 6, 2013

Ministering Spirits and Harbingers of Doom

Hebrews 1:14 ~ Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Angels are all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those of us who will be heirs to salvation. In this passage we are plainly taught that ministering to the saints is a constant employment of angels throughout the ages. In accord with this we see them in Jacob's dream of a ladder as "ascending and descending " from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven continually in the discharge of their great duties. The word for ministering, λειτουργικὰ / leitourgika (from which we get the word liturgy/service), is not classical, but it is drawn from the Septuagint and it implies "sacred service." Heirs of salvation...because salvation is both a present state and a final destination. The ministering from angels is ongoing from that point forward or from the point of conversion forward to the believers introduction in glory on the presence of the Lord. 

According to this declaration we are also furnished by the Scriptures with numerous examples of their actual ministry in the lives of the children of God. Therefore angels instructed as they comforted with their presence (after the initial shock of their arrival).They appear as a presence around us, but they are not unconcerned spectators watching in silence. Michael "who is as God(?)",  Gabriel "the strength of God" and Raphael, "the healing of God " bear right within their names hints to their very nature. They are ministering spirits sent by God and are virtually shades or a shadow of God's presence. God has chosen through verse like this in Hebrews to reveal to us their deep concern for our welfare, their active attentions to us both day and night. They pay particular regard for those who are of a meek spirit and are the despised of the world.

Like the angels we must see that service must be rendered even at the cost of our own will. Angel strive to serve with their will in alignment with God. They make conscious effort to get and to stay in harmony with God's will. This of course is a direct reflection of Jesus Christ’s active and passive obedience to the Father’s will. If Jesus and the angels conform to the will of the Father we absolutely should also.

Angels are without exception, ministering  spirits. Their duties are ever in reverence to God but never lordly or regal. They render service in droves to the Lord of the universe, and are constantly busied at the footstool of the Almighty, while Jesus sits on the throne.  Service is not a single incident in the history of angels; it is their whole history and primary purpose from God, for God. They are unfixed in form, appearing as winds, fires, etc.

Angels as messengers of God can be extremely personal in the case of Mary and Zechariah but they can also be extraordinary impersonal when carrying out the Lords will as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. We must realize that angels often carry out the judgments of God and will do so in the future (Revelation). We must never take lightly beings with supernatural power and a duty to herald judgment that can annihilate entire populations. They may think on their own but their will is to serve the Sovereign God. They do not rule but they are angel-princes  and are behind a  nation's character. They are blind to partisanship, but on a spiritual level are personifications of national spirit. A prince of Persia is on the side of Persia, and the prince of Greece on the side of Greece (Daniel 10:20). A human will is the meeting-place of many forces brought into harmony but still under the volition and control of man but  an angelic will seems almost non-existent but is instead a single force moving in a straight line towards a point as directed by God. In this respect angels are merely a manifestation or expression of God’s will. To attribute or ascribe to them dominion and authority is to infringe on the territory of God. It is why Christians are warned against worshiping them in Colossians 2:18 and implied in Revelation 19:10.

2 Peter 2:4 ~ For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment…

Ah yes, the bad angels or those that were cast down from their former estate. In God’s economy, being a rebel is not cool, it is unholy and risks certain damnation. We can easily learn that lesson from the fallen ones in the Bible. Still there are people that strive against God vainly, just as Lucifer did in his foolish pride.

The sin of the angels was the self-will that found expression in self-indulgence. Instead of keeping dignity as the servants of God they asserted a dignity for themselves in defiance and independence of God. The Bible is replete with what happens to angels and people that do this. When the self-dignity of angelic and human depravity works itself out, it always showed itself as immoral sensuality/sexuality, and moral evil, upon which the judgments of God must come. We see it as clearly today as Peter did writing.

We will find nearly every false teacher of false teaching finds as its driving force self-willed men, teaching self-willed opinions total AWOL of the Bible. We need only look at people like Joyce Meyers and Joel Osteen. The fruit of such teaching is precisely what you might have expected it to be, it is a license to self-indulgence and sinful self-centering - so with the angels, so too with people. With catchphrases such as “Your Best Life Now”, “I Declare” and “Become a Better You” the self-aggrandizing becomes callously obvious in its godlessness.

It is therefore ironic that a city like Sodom was destroyed by angels sent to it. It was a cesspool of immorality that was the end result of self-will, which manifested itself in horrible immoralities of the most repugnant type…just like today’s culture with its murder on demand (abortion), rampant sexual deviancy (adultery and homosexuality) and materialistic greed that is so bad we have made our children wage slaves to China. Sodom fell under judgment because it had been given over to the same sins that we are guilty of. 

Jude 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Even empowered by his status as one of God’s elite angels, Archangel Michael had enough sense to allow the rebuking of a demon or fallen angel to the Lord Jesus Christ. When dealing with fallen angels (demons) we are dealing with no small spiritual power and we are better off leaving these things to God Himself as He is all powerful and sovereign. There is a startling truth revealed here by Jude. In a nutshell, to deny the reality of spiritual beings battling beyond our sight is to deny Scripture which is to deny the truth of God. This is not a myth recounted by Jude, it is a fact. Considering the exact form of Moses departure is not entirely clear the possibility of what Jude narrated here is highly probable when cross-referencing Old Testament Scripture for validation. In this passage Jude is essentially rebuking the false teachers who brought railing accusations against the apostles (v.10). Jude then alludes to the fact that even a celestial being like the Archangel Michael would not be foolish enough to rebuke the Devil in a slanderous matter. What we learn primarily from this passage is not so much about the angels but rather about judgment. Not even the angels are capable of final judgment. Humans should not be so foolish to assume they could. Higher judgment from a higher authority await all including Lucifer. Judgment is reserved for God alone who is the only one worthy or capable of doing so in a perfectly just manner.

This passage also teaches that there are two categorizations of spirits in conflict relating to matters affecting people. Not only do angels minister to the needs (sometimes dire ones) of the Saints. The demons and devils use their demonic and evil influence to try and destroy the saints. But God being all-wise and all-powerful lifts the curtain to show us the world behind the world and reveal the mechanics of the spiritual battlefield so we do not remain in a spiritual blackout. God wants us aware of the spiritual elements that effect our daily lives.

That scum Satan and his acolytes brings accusations against us (Joshua) ; but the angels defend us, and hands over the accuser to a higher judgment exactly as it should be. We should discern what is right or wrong based on the truth of Scripture and the conviction of the Spirit but in the end judgment is left to the Lord. If we as believers are going to stand and fight we need to know our limitations in the overall battle or it could mean our demise. This goes for our political battles and how we in the church drag our politics into the pulpit  and how we drag our personal grudges into the church where they do not belong. Many in the church assume so much undeserved authority to themselves that they often condemn people to literal fire and an eternal hell here and now when they have no authority to do so. We assume the position of judge and in so doing bring judgment on ourselves…just like the fallen angel that Michael is in conflict with here. It is just another sad irony of how the angelic domain mimics or parallels the human one.

Finally, the word rebuke here is ἐπιτιμήσαι / epitimesai and means much more than correction or admonishment. It means to censure or to find definitive fault in judge  This prerogative is only ascribed to God and if an archangel understands this…so should we. What should we learn from this fact? We should humble ourselves to realize that in situations where it is clearly someone in the wrong and judgment is needed or seems inevitable, we should always appeal to God. Why should we do this? Simple…we then take ourselves and our adversary into God’s presence. Once there, our adversary does not stand a chance in Hell...literally.

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