St. Michael & All Angels (tr.)

Trinity 15, 2019

For The Epistle – Revelation 12:7-12

The Gospel – St. Matthew 18:1-11

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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We have a unique Feast Day on our calendar today. Not the usual saint that we might think of.

 

Today is the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels.

 

Angels are also considered saints of God by the way.

Saints are sanctified ones. Holy ones who are called out or separated out.

 

Angels can certainly be called sanctified, since they exist to glorify God day and night. They are holy creatures by nature.

 

And yet this is also our calling. We are called out by God, chosen and holy to be separated and set aside to be His holy instruments.

 

Angels, like us, are created beings.

They like us are created to worship and love God.

They, like us are created to serve God.

 

They are servants of God in that they are messengers for God. The very word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger.’

 

They carry His messages. 

But they also carry His warnings, His pronouncements of blessings or pronouncements of judgment.

 

We too are servants of God. For example, in 2 Corinthians, St. Paul writes, “…but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities…etc.

 

 

So, we serve God by enduring hardships, promoting the Gospel despite those hardships.

 

We serve Him in praising Him…Psalm 113:1

            “Praise the LORD!

            Praise, O servants of the LORD,

                        praise the name of the LORD!”

 

Others we might miss if we aren’t careful, such as, Romans 6:22.

 

“But now that [we] have been set free from sin [we] have become slaves of God...”

 

 

Our Collect for the day informs us that God has ordained the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order.  

 

It goes on to say that angels always do God’s service in heaven and on earth.

 

So, both angels and men or mankind are servants of God. There is a wonderful order set by God, and we like the angels are part of that order.

 

Angels serve God in worship in heaven around the throne.
And they serve man on earth in carrying out God’s will to defend us and comfort us, as we live here on earth. God has ordained this.

God has ordained this hierarchy of men and angels in the created order.

 

We hear of angels back in the Garden of Eden. Angels or Cherubim were sent by God to guard the Garden of Eden so that Adam and Eve would not attempt to get back in.

 

We have carvings or shaping or fashioning of angels that sit on the seat of the Ark of the Covenant. 

 

Images of angels were sewn into the fabric inside the Tabernacle curtains to project an image of heaven to the viewer.

Icons in a Church are to present the same sort of heavenly image for us.

 

We may be a bit more familiar with some of the angelic appearances of the New Testament.

 

Of course, there is the well-known passage of Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, who is working in the Temple. An angel appears to him there.

 

The angel tells him his wife will have a child. “Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know that my wife Elizabeth will bear a son?

For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years…’

[19] And the angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.’” (ESV)

 

Certainly, a messenger there. Bringing good news from God to John’s father, Zechariah. …directly from the presence of God.

 

Michael and Gabriel are the only two Archangels mentioned in the Bible. Michael being the most prominent one.

 

In the Letter of Jude, we have this interesting passage, mentioning the Archangel Michael.

 

Jude 9, “But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (ESV)

 

God had concealed the location where Moses was buried. No one knew where he was buried. Probably so that he would not be brought up and used by the Israelites in some inappropriate superstitious way.

It is plausible that Satan would seek to find a way to stir up controversy about the whereabouts of Moses’ body and Michael opposes him at this point. “The Lord rebuke you.”

 

We also have some places that tell us of a certain class of angels that fell at some point in time past.

 

They have been allied with Satan to wreak havoc on earth with God’s people. It is Jesus who tells us, “

 

Matthew 25:31–33

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

 

[34] Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

 

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (ESV)

 

St. Peter has some heavy words as well about the end of both wicked men and angels.

 

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction…. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment…

 

 

 

 

 

then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…” (ESV)

 

In Revelation, as the passage for us today, we are reminded

 

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, [8] but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. [9] And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—

-he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. [10] And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down…. they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them!

 

But we also see the wonderful heralding of angels as well and their joyful message of salvation for all mankind offered in the Christ child.

 

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. [10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (ESV)

 

Speaking for God. Representing God. Giving a message of great joy. That is what the angels do.

 

And just as joyfully but perhaps a bit more somber, is the other end of the spectrum.

 

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. [2] And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, [3] but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. [4] While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. [5] And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? [6] He is not here, but has risen.

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, [7] that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (ESV)

 

Messengers of God. Giving comfort and hope and direction to the downcast followers of Jesus. The body is not stolen. It is risen. It is glorified.

 

Finally, there is the exhortation in the letter to the Hebrews on how we are to show great hospitality, not only to fellow Christian brethren, but even to strangers if we are able.

 

And in not showing partiality, but rather pouring out total hospitality and care for others, he says, “Let brotherly love continue. [2] Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (ESV)

 

Commentator - A passage where the term “angel” does not appear, however, probably best captures the “unknowing” character of hospitality: the visit of the three men to Abraham and Sarah in Gen 18:12–15 to announce the birth of Isaac. In traditional Jewish interpretation of this passage, the three men were understood to be angels (Philo, Abraham 107, 113; Josephus, Ant. 1.196). The point for the hearers of this discourse is clear: they must be willing to extend hospitality to all strangers, for they can never know what manner of visitation from God the strangers might bring.[1]

 

And there are many other instances of the appearing of angels, their working for God to bring tidings and show God’s power.

 

But in the grand scheme of redemption, Jesus Christ is central to all of it.

He was in the beginning, He marshalled His angels all throughout the history of the world to carry out His will. We have many of these instances captured in the pages of Scripture.

 

They announce both Jesus’ birth and death. They assist in the judging and carrying out of God’s final destruction of all evil at the end of time and they live to praise and glorify God day and night.

 

In John’s Revelation, we get a glimpse of the heavenly realm. We get to hear about the glory of heaven, Christ on His Throne.

Those He has saved around the throne and angels in great numbers also joining in the praise chorus…sharing in the joy of our great redemption which they were commissioned to participate in, in various ways.

 

Here is what John tells us. “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, [10] and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

[11] And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, [12] saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (ESV)

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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[1] Johnson, L. T. (2012). Hebrews: A Commentary. (C. C. Black, M. E. Boring, & J. T. Carroll, Eds.) (1st ed., p. 340). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.