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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Angels, Unaware

A little play on words, for sure, but why do so many people seem to be blissfully unaware that we are all angels ( for good or evil ) because I believe that 'angels' are 'simply' messengers of God, 'sent' to carry out His purposes.

Most Christians are familiar with this verse from Hebrews 13:2; 'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.' ( KJV ), but I believe, as I implied above, that as many seem to forget the fact that they themselves are 'messengers' of God, sent by Him to fulfill a certain purpose, however unbeknownst to them.

Traditionally; 'angels' have been spirit-beings that fulfill many different purposes, from guardian 'angels' to 'angels' of mercy. Along these lines; can not human beings fulfill these purposes as well? Why must 'angels' necessarily be 'spirits, or spirit-beings? I will acknowledge that sometimes, inexplicable events happen in our lives that make us believe in the supernatural all over again, something that just shouldn't have happened ( or been averted, things that make us more aware of the saving Presence of God, making us realize that 'something' is out there ( that we are not physically aware of ), watching over us, caring for us, when it seems there's no help in sight.

Let's review for a bit, what Scripture has to say about these creatures known as 'angels';

To lay a bit of groundwork for the story of Lot's escape from the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, lets look first at a few passage from Genesis 18. Verse 1a reads 'Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre' and in the very next that 'behold, three men were standing by him' ( I believe, in certain circles, this is taken to be indicative of the Trinity, but this is not the time nor place for any such discussion. ) One of these 'men' was obviously the Leader, for Abraham addresses Him alone as 'My Lord'. In the rest of the chapter follows the prayer of Abraham and his conversation with God, pleading with Him to spare Sodom for Lot's sake. The next chapter opens with the words 'Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening' and the following verses tell how Lot brought these 'angels' ( Hebrew 'mal'ak'-messenger ) into his home for the evening, we read in verse 5, that the men of Sodom came to the door of Lot's home, asking 'Where are the men who came to you tonight?' Obviously, these men ( of Sodom ) saw these 'messengers' as mere men! It could be argued here, that they were mistakenly assumed to be 'just' men, and that may or may not be the case, but Lot does not correct their mistake, saying, in verse 8, 'do nothing to these men', and in fact, the author of Genesis also seems to continue the 'facade', referring to these 'angels', in verses 10 and 12, as 'the men'. In the next few verses then; we see these men warning Lot of the importance of vacating the city, but verse 15 reveals once again that these are not 'just' men, when 'the angels urged Lot to hurry', and in verse 18; Lot referred to them as 'my lords' ( plural ), and in the following passage, to a singular person, who replied, as the Lord ( God ) Himself, 'I cannot do anything until you arrive there' ( V. 22 ) We know that God then destroyed that city with fire and brimstone from Heaven, but I believe that this story makes clear that these angels, though maybe not 'mere' men, were simply messengers of God, sent to fulfill ( by His power ) His will!

When the prophet Daniel received his visions from God; he also received help from a messenger of God, sent to help him understand ( Daniel 9:21 ). He first saw this 'angel' in chapter 8, verse 15, as 'having the appearance of a man'. After this unsettling vision; Daniel made his prayer to God for his people and was sent 'the man Gabriel', whom he had seen earlier, who then comforted him with God's Word. Once again, in the next chapter; Daniel receives comfort from this 'angel' with the 'likeness of a man'! At the end of his vision, in chapter 12 then; we see a 'man clothed in linen' that speaks words of comfort and understanding to Daniel, much like we, as Christians, are to do for our fellow man!

The apostle Paul, in Galatians 4:14; reminded the brethren there, how they had 'received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.' Traditionally, the 'angels' in the first part of the book of Revelation are what we might call their 'pastors', or 'overseers' ( Acts 7:53 ). As I hinted at above; there are many passages in the Scripture that seem to point to 'angels' being super-natural, but in many, if not all cases, a human being could just as easily be the 'messenger', as the power that flows through any being comes from God, and He can do His will just as easily through a mere human being as through a spirit being; witness the parting of the Red Sea, for example!

Speaking of 'the sons of the resurrection' ( Luke 20:36 ); Jesus Himself declared that 'when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.' ( Mark 12:25 ( John 1:51 ) Some may argue that we are not 'in the resurrection', that we have not yet 'risen from the dead' ( except spiritually, of course ), and this point can be and has been laboriously argued, but this is not the point here: the point that I have striven to make here, is that biblically speaking, 'angels' are not ( necessarily ) the super-natural ( with literal wings ) spirit-beings that tradition has taught us to envision, but rather that they are 'simply' the messengers through whom God works, showing His power, either super-naturally, or as is more often the case, through ordinary, human means!

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