Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
One challenge in interpreting the Bible is that, in any language, many words have multiple meanings. They often have a common sense, but for a group within the population, they have a special meaning. For example, to baptize in the Greek language can simply mean to wash, as in the washing of hands or dishes, and some passages of the New Testament use the word in this sense. But, of course, for Christians since the first century, "to baptize" means something more: not just plain water, but water bound to the Word of God, a spiritual cleansing for spiritual regeneration, the giving of the Holy Spirit in the heart and the start of new life in Christ. This is an example.
In the New Testament and the Old Testament, two words are both translated as "angel". The word ἄγγελος in Greek and מַלְאָך in Hebrew. Both in their common sense mean "messenger". The word "evangel" is derived from the Greek word for "good news" or "good message."
In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, much of the book consists of letters to the seven churches, dictated by our Lord Jesus Christ, the risen Christ, to the Apostle John. The contents of these letters is a very deep topic, but I do not want to talk about the content at this time. I note that each letter begins this way:
"Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus."
"Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna."
"Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum."
And so on. Now, it makes no sense to write a letter to a spiritual being, so the best understanding of these verses is that the angel of the church is its pastor, a human being, because the pastor is the messenger of God to the church, one who proclaims the Gospel.
However, after the seven letters, St. John says an angel appeared to him and showed him a vision of the kingdom of God in its glory, the future of the world and Christ's victory at the end of the world in the same book of Revelation . Finally John says in Revelation 22: 8:
"I, John, heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book. Worship God. "
John fell down to worship before the angel, for the angel appeared to John as a divine being. But the angel said do not do it, I am thy fellow servant. So in this case, the angel was not a human being, nor was he God. Many verses in the Bible speak of angels in this way. In catechism class, when we speak of the Apostles' Creed, we speak of God as Creator of all things visible and invisible. The visible things are plants, sun, moon, clouds, stars, all creation around us. The invisible things are angels, spiritual beings without visible form, but immortal creatures of God, who execute the will of God and bring God's revelations to men.
There are two types of angels, good and bad. Good angels exist only to serve God and we neither worship or pray to them. Evil angels are the devil and those who follow him. Today in our basic doctrine course we will discuss in more depth the angels and creation.
But there is another sense in which the Bible speaks of the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament. For example, in Genesis 16: 7-13, we find the story of Hagar, Abraham's servant upon whom he fathered her son, Ishmael. Abraham's wife, Sarah, was angry and commanded Abraham to cast Hagar and her son into the desert. They were lost in the desert, but say the verses:
"And the angel of the LORDfound her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORDásaid unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORDásaid unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORDásaid unto her, Behold, thouáartáwith child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORDhath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his handwill beáagainst every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And she called the name of the LORDáthat spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?ö
In these verses, the Angel of the Lord speaks as God Himself. Many theologians believe that in this verse and others, the Angel of the Lord is the second person of the Holy Trinity, before His incarnation as Jesus Christ. Also in our text for today we find the Angel of God described with the attributes of God.
When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only legitimate son, Isaac, at the last moment an ┴ngel of the Lord appeared and said, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing; I already know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your onlyson ; Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered a burnt offering instead of his son. "
This Angel did not speak in the name of God, but as God Himself. And if He was the second person of the Holy Trinity, He was the only Son of God that God the Father Almighty would sacrifice for the sins of the world. The Lord provided a lamb for Abraham and for us.
Isaac, the only legitimate son of Abraham, was the only hope of the descendants that God promised to Abraham, but Abraham had the faith to be willing to sacrifice everything for God. God also promised Abraham that through his seed all nations would be blessed. If He who told Abraham not to sacrifice his only son was the second person of the Holy Trinity, He was the same seed of Abraham, in His incarnation as Jesus Christ, whom the Father sacrificed on the cross for us. God's promise was fulfilled in the seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, but more in Him who was raised on the third day. Jesus Christ was God's messenger who announced the good news, but this Gospel was the hope of new life in His death and resurrection.
Therefore, the choir of angels proclaimed the good will and peace with God to men on Christmas Eve. The angels in heaven, the spirits who serve God and the angels on earth, the preachers of the Word of God, have the same message: the good news of eternal life in Christ to you through His death and resurrection. Therefore we hope and peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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