Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Saturday, September 29, was on our church calendar, the Day of St. Michael and All Angels. It is a minor festival, so next year, when it will fall on Sunday, we will observe the Day of St. Michael and All Angels. Today I have the opportunity to speak about the angels because of the reading of the Old Testament.
The word, angel, is derived from the Greek word, ἄγγελος. Like the Hebrew word, מלאך, which is translated as ἄγγελος in the Septuagint, the Old Testament in Greek, ἄγγελος means messenger. In the Bible, these two words mean messengers of God.
However, there are passages in the Old Testament where the Angel of the Lord is clearly God Himself. Our text for today is the first of seven meetings with angels or with God that Jacob had. In Genesis 31:11, it is obvious he found God himself.
On the other hand, particularly in the New Testament, the messenger of God can be a human being. For example, in Revelation 2:12, our Lord said to St. John, "And write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: He that hath the sharp two-edged sword, saith these things." The angel in this case is the pastor of the church in Pergamos, because by his proclamation of the Word of the Lord he was a messenger of God.
There are also many passages in which the nature of God's messenger is neither divine nor human. They are spiritual beings, without bodies by nature and immortal, although creatures of God. The Scriptures do not say much about the origin of the angels, but it is evident that God created them before the human race. Because in the beginning, among the angels was an archangel who led a rebellion of angels against God. He is the devil, Satan, who tempted Adam and Eve in the garden. Therefore, in the Nicene Creed we confess that God is the Creator of all that is visible and all that is invisible. The invisible ones are the angels.
Now there are only two kinds of angels: the good and the bad. The holy angels execute the will of God. We should not invoke or pray to the angels because only the bad ones will respond. In the same book of Revelation (Revelation 22: 8-9), a powerful angel appeared to John. "And after I had heard and seen them, I prostrated myself to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. And he said to me: Look, do not do it; for I am your fellow servant, and your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. " And our text for today, the angels did not speak with Jacob, but God from on high.
Jacob was fleeing from the wrath of his brother, Esau. They were twins, but Esau came out of his mother, Rebekah’s womb first, so he was counted as an eldest son. But, Jacob was the favorite of his mother, and with her help, deceived his brother and his father, Isaac, to obtain the inheritance of his brother and the blessing of his father. So, Esau swore to kill Jacob and Jacob left.
"And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went to Haran; and he found a place, and slept there because the sun had already set; and he took one of the stones of that place and put it on his head, and lay down in that place. " That place had no meaning for Jacob; It was just a place to sleep. "And he dreamed, and behold a ladder that was propped up on the earth, and its end touched in heaven: and behold, angels of God ascending and descending on it."
This vision revealed to Jacób the constant activity of the holy angels of God. In the visions of the prophets, the seraphim and cherubim were always around the throne of God. Then in Revelation, St. John saw the redeemed in Christ along with the angels around the throne, always chanting, "Holy! Holy! Holy! The heaven and earth are full of his glory. " Therefore, in the liturgy we sing the same words with the angels and the triumphant church. But, God also sends the angels from His throne to earth to do His will. For example, the archangel Gabriel announced the births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
And God said to Jacob: "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac: the land in which you are lying, I will give it to you and to your seed. And your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and all the families of the earth will be blessed in you and in your seed. And behold, I am with you, and I will keep you wherever you go and I will return you to this land; because I will not leave you until I have done what I have told you. "
God repeated to Jacob the same promise that He made to Abraham. "All the families of the earth will be blessed in you and in your seed." This is a messianic prophecy. Later God promised King David of his lineage would come the Messiah, the Savior of the world.
So, what is the link in this text and our gospel (Matthew 9: 1-8)? Let us read the first chapter of the Gospel according to John, we begin with verse 45: "Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, We have found Him of whom Moses wrote in the law, and the prophets: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said to him: Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Philip said: Come, let us go. Jesus, seeing that Nathanael was coming to him, said of him: Behold, a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit. Nathanael said to him: Where do you know me from? Jesus answered and said to him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. Nathanael answered and said to him: Rabbi, you are the Son of God: You are the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You see greater things than these. And he said to him, Most assuredly, I say to you, From henceforth you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
Which means, now Jesus is the ladder on which the angels go up and down. In Jacob's dream, God spoke from on high, but now God speaks where we find Jesus. Our gospel says: "And behold, they brought a paralytic lying on a bed; And when Jesus saw his faith, he said to the paralytic, Son, be of good courage, your sins are forgiven you. And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This one blasphemes. "
They went in the presence of God, but they did not recognize Him, because they only saw a man from Nazareth. But, no matter the appearances, God may be in places we do not expect. After his vision, Jacob picked up and took the stone he had put on his head, and lifted it up by column and poured oil on it. And he called the name of that place Bethel, although Luz was the name of the city first. And Jacob vowed, saying, If God goes with me, and keeps me on this journey where I am going, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return in peace to my father's house, Jehovah will be my God, and the stone that I have put for a column, it will be the house of God; and of all that you give me, the tithe I will set aside for you.
By faith, Jacob believed in the presence of God in an unknown place. Bethel means the house of God. For us, the house of God is anywhere we find Jesus Christ. God fulfilled his promise to Jacob and more, because by faith Jacob also received eternal life, the same promise we have in Jesus Christ. We receive this promise at baptism and the Lord's Supper, also when we hear the voice of Christ in the preaching of His Word.
That is to say, our Bethel, our house of God, is where the Word is preached in its purity and the sacraments administered in the manner in which the Lord commanded them. In this house we find the stairway to heaven and we vote, the Lord will be my God. In this we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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