Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today is the day of St. Michael and All Angels, when we recognize the service, protection and care of the holy angels. We confess in the Nicene Creed that God is the Creator of all things visible and all things invisible. Visible creation is all the things we can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Many people think that this is all that constitutes the universe, material things. This visible creation is good, and God created us to take care of it, as preschoolers learned this week.
However, the Scriptures speak of spiritual beings, without physical form, but with will and power. There are the spirits of dead humans, who are in heaven with God or in hell. The blessed dead in heaven pray for us, as the holy angels pray for us, but there is a chasm between us and the dead. We cannot communicate with the dead and we must not attempt to communicate with them.
When we talk about angels, we often talk about spiritual beings created by God in the beginning without physical form. They are not eternal like God, they are not omniscient like God, they are not almighty like God, but they are more powerful and intelligent than us. The book of Revelation says there are angels with the power to destroy the earth, if God would allow them, but God would not allow it.
The word, angel, is derived from the Greek, άγγελος, which, like the similar word in the Hebrew, מלאך, means messenger. Sometimes, in the Old Testament, the phrase, the Angel of the Lord means God Himself. In the Book of Revelation, when the risen Jesus said to John, write a letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum, the word refers to a human being: The pastor of the church who is the messenger of God.
But, many times, the angel is not God, nor a human being. The angels were created in the beginning to announce the Word of God and execute the will of God. They can appear to us in visible form. But, note, there are two types of angels, the blessed and the bad. Some are rebellious against God and we should not listen to them, because their desire is our downfall. The prince of the rebel angels is as our reading of Revelation says (Revelation 12: 7-12), "the ancient serpent, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world."
Holy angels only speak and act by God's command. In the visions of the prophets, God is always sitting on His throne, surrounded by innumerable types of angels, archangels, seraphim and cherubim, who stand before Him night and day, to serve Him and offer Him praises continually.
Every Sunday we sing with all this heavenly choir, "Holy, holy, holy, God of the universe! The heavens and the earth are full of your glory." Because St. John saw this same vision of the Old Testament prophets, but with the Lamb of God, who is Jesus Christ, sitting on the throne of God, and among the angels, faithful believers of all the nations who have passed to glory. So, we prepare ourselves for the day when we are reunited with this multitude before the throne of God.
There are two of the archangels named in the Scriptures. Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist to his father, Zechariah, and the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary. Michael is mentioned in the Old Testament and the New Testament as the warrior angel who fights for the people of God. As our second reading says: “And there was a great battle in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was their place found in heaven anymore.” This fall of the devil was linked to the victory of Jesus on the cross, because our text says:“ Now is the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; because the accuser of our brothers has been overthrown, which accused them before our God day and night. And they have overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of his testimony; and they have not loved their lives until death. ”
To be perfectly clear, I will read from our Lutheran confessions, the second of the Smalcald Articles, written by Martin Luther in 1537 for a meeting with the Smalcaldic League to prepare for an ecumenical church council that they were trying to see accomplished. Although the aforementioned council was never held, the Smalcald Articles are seen as a supplement to the other Confessions of the Lutheran Church and are still used to this day in the Book of Concord.
On the invocation of the saints: “Certainly, the angels of heaven pray for us, like Christ Himself, and if the saints of this earth and, perhaps, those of heaven, do as the angels, it should not be deduced from this that we have invocation of angels and saints, worshiping them, fasting on their behalf, celebrating them, offering them masses, making sacrifices for them, founding temples, raising altars, dedicating cults, serving them, in this way, or in any other way considering them as intercessors and granting them various gifts , to each other different and special, as the papists say and do. ”
It is not idolatry to remember the saints and angels who are in glory, and thank God for the protection of His angels, but it is idolatry to invoke the Virgin, the saints or the angels as mediators between us and God Almighty Father, because Jesus Christ, the Son, is our only Mediator and High Priest.
Therefore, I want to focus on our reading of the Old Testament. This past Monday, in the morning prayer service with which we began the new school year, I read the parallel text of our gospel (Matthew 18: 1-10), Luke 18: 15-17, in which Jesus told them if we did not receive the kingdom of heaven as little children, we will not enter it. Then in Matthew, the Lord said to them, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; because I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."
The Lord sends His angels to protect the youngest children. But, let's see the Old Testament reading:
“The king of Syria was at war against Israel, and consulting with his servants, he said: In such and such a place will be my camp. And the man of God would say to the king of Israel: Look not to go through such a place, because the Syrians go there. Then the king of Israel sent to that place of which the man of God had told and admonished him; and he watched there, not once or twice. And the heart of the king of Syria was troubled by this; and calling his servants, he said to them: Will you not declare to me who of ours is of the king of Israel? Then one of the servants said: No, king, my lord; but Elisha the prophet is in Israel, who declares to the king of Israel the words that you speak in your most secret chamber. And he said: Go, and see where he is, so that I send to take him. And he was told: Behold he is in Dothan. Then the king sent horsemen there, and chariots, and a great army, which came by night, and surrounded the city. ”
Then, Elisha's servant raised early in the morning. “There was the army that had the city surrounded, with horsemen and chariots. Then his servant said to him: Ah, my lord! What will we do? And he said to him: Do not be afraid; because more are those who are with us than those who are with them. ”
Now, look, what did Elisha do? “And Elisha prayed, and said: I beg you, O Jehovah, to open his eyes to see. Then Jehovah opened the eyes of the servant, and looked: and, behold, the mountain was full of men on horseback, and chariots of fire around Elisha. And after the Syrians went down to him, Elisha prayed to Jehovah, and said: I beg you, make bline these people. And he struck them with blindness, according to the word of Elisha. ”
Who did Elíseo pray to? Neither Michael nor Gabriel nor any other than the Lord of the angels' armies. Today we pray in the name of Jesus, because we know that Jesus is Jehovah and also, our High Priest because of His sacrifice on the cross. The Lord said to His disciples, you can ask for anything from the Father in my name. We can approach God only by the blood of Christ that was shed for us. We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. There is no other name given to men. The triune God for us is enough. In Him we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
Send Pastor David Ernst an email.