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Archive for September 29th, 2019

Texts: St. Matthew 18: 10, Hebrews 1: 8, Revelation 19: 9-10

Texts: St. Matthew 18: 10, Hebrews 1: 8, Revelation 19: 9-10

St. Matthew 18: 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven

This has been the verse to support the teaching about “guardian angels” assigned to each of us. But there is no verse that actually states Our Father in heaven assigns angels to each person at birth. Nevertheless, when our Lord teaches about His forgiveness and the little ones, that the little ones have “their angels”, our ears should be alerted as we see the importance the Lord puts on salvation for us all and gives us the same work to us in our time here on earth, as in the hymn verse:

To comfort and to bless,
To find a balm for woe,
To tend the lone and fatherless,
Is angels’ work below.

This verse about “their angels” is from the chapter of Our Lord’s Sermon on Forgiveness in Matthew 18.  The Lord wants the little ones to be saved, the lost, the lone, the last.  He comes to save them and place them, us,  under His wings as a mother hen protects her chicks under her wings.  To even cause of one of these little one to be separated from their Lord, Jesus said, It would be better if a millstone be tied around his neck and he be cast into the sea. Why do we have so many troubles, doubts and divisions and rancor and rage these days? This nation and so many others have murdered so many little ones in the womb, despising the little ones.  The millstone of God’s judgment is around us.

So much our Lord knows we are all little ones, standing in the need of prayer,  that in “…heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is heaven”.  The angels, these powerful, spiritual beings, reflecting our Father in heaven, “love’s pure light”, are concerned about the little ones. So much does the Lord want His little ones to repent and return home to Himself, He taught in Luke 15, Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  The angels of God share in the joy of God over one sinner, one little one, who has come to the Lord.“Guardian angels” is a moot point, yet, it is connected in the Bible with this passage, Hebrews 1: 8 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? So it is clear: Angels minister to us, serve us for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation.  So the first aspect of angels is they SERVE.

What else has the Lord assigned angels to do? Revelation 19: 9-10

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Angels share with us this: they worship with us, God, and they hold to the testimony of Jesus:  worship and witness.

                                                                            Worship: 

1In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.  Isaiah 6: 1-4

The thrice-Holy is sung every time in the Divine Liturgy:  “…with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Thy Holy Name, ever more praising Thee and singing:  Holy, Holy, Holy:  the very song of heaven.  We sing the thrice-Holy just before the Word of Institution. Why do we so sing? The next part of the Thrice-Holy Communion Hymn is:  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. This is the Palm Sunday song as Jesus entered into Jerusalem to suffer and die and rise again. He comes to us in His Body and Blood in the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Witness:

Martyria, testimony of Jesus can be understood as  about Jesus or from Jesus. Which: yes to both. The angels witness about Jesus and from Jesus is clear. Note the angels witness in the life of our Lord upon earth and  gave the testimony from Jesus and about Him: 

  1. At His birth,

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. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

  • After His three temptations in  the wilderness, the angels comforted Him Matthew 4:11
  • Before His trial and crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke 22 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.
  • At the empty tomb, angels announced to Mary Magdalene and Peter and John: He is not here, He is risen, Why do ye seek the living among the dead? Tell the message to all.
  • At the Lord’s ascension in heaven, two angels are present.

Serving, worshipping and witnessing:  what ties all three of this together in a tight bond?

Angels means messenger. The word, Gospel is euangelion”,  The word angel in Greek is the same root word in Gospel angelion:  message:  Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good message. The main task of the angels is to be a messenger to relay messages from the Lord to us.  The greatest message any angel or mortal could ever hear or announce, to a mortal, the virgin Mary of Nazareth, was assigned to a chief angel by name, Gabriel:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

115 Years ago, the New York Times added to it’s front page:  “All the news that’s fit to print”. No, it’s not. The Law of God and the Gospel of God are not fit to print in the New York Times nor any worldly media.  The Law of God witnesses to sin and evil, and the Holy Spirit to the One who saves us from both sin and evil. The picture above is from a church in Stuttgart, Germany showing St. Michael casting down the fallen angel, Satan and St. Michael is holding a cross. The Bible does not tell us that Michael was wielding a cross. Yet, this speaks the truth of the “eternal Gospel”, Christ’s death and resurrection by which we die to sin and the devil and live in Christ with the Good Message, the message of the angels, of our Lord’s triumph.

We are baptized to serve the Word of God for others.  We worship the Word of God made flesh in Jesus Christ.  We witness to the Word of God, the Word made flesh.  There are evil angels cast down to the depths who in their wrath confront us daily in these dark times with enslaving ideas about greed, life, marriage, the purpose of life.  As Philip Melanchthon wrote in a hymn regarding the evil one:

As he of old deceived the world
And into sin and death has hurled,
So now he subtly lies in wait
To undermine both Church and state.

We too can be and

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Their time is short…fallen angels, created beings, which means evil has an end, and that end began in the flesh of the Son of God.  The Word of God ties serving, worshiping and witnessing together in a tight and blessed bond, a bond that frees us from sin, death and power of the devil in the Name of Jesus.

John the Baptist has been portrayed many times in icons sporting a pair of wings but he wasn’t an angel, he was a messenger. When a friend or family member helps us we might say:“ You’re an angel”.  Again, angel means messenger, you and I are  like the angels when we tell of Christ and from Christ: His conception, His birth, His temptations, His ministry, every message, every Word from God, the Lord’s suffering, His crucifixion, His resurrection, the life of His saints from every nations, tribe and tongue. Give the Gospel, the Good Message to someone in need. Be an angel:  Serving, worshipping and witnessing the Word of God as the angels do above and here,  in the Name of…

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