A Word About Angels
We often deal with God’s mysteries by “explaining everything away.” We do this when we can’t understand some Bible meanings, or when we deal with various phenomena that we don’t understand. We used to work at a university that was about an hour’s distance from our home. It was late at night, and I was trying to be careful of traffic and also deer that cross the highways at night. I was very sleepy and still had about 45 minutes to go. The next thing I knew, I was pulling into my driveway. How did I get there safely? The last thought I had when driving was that I was afraid of dozing. But here I was in front of my house. Could it have been an angel who was guiding me? I was unable to “explain it away.”
I began to think of how God protected Daniel in the lion’s den, and how Peter was unable to explain how he escaped from prison. God was orchestrating everything, and His angels obeyed His commands. Angels are present in our daily lives, even though we are not aware. Angels are ministers of God sent out to help those who are receiving salvation. They appeared to Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, and to many others. The angel Gabriel spoke both to Mary and Joseph and gave them courage to follow the Spirit’s leading. Angels ministered to Jesus at crucial times in His earthly life.
Our purpose in studying Hebrews is not to try to understand angels, but it does compel us to be aware of their presence. Great throngs of angels worshiped at Jesus’ birth; they spoke to the women at the empty tomb.
Hebrews 1:6 says, “Let all the angels worship Jesus.” Most of you probably have been in a time of worship where you felt the supernatural presence of the Lord in your midst. Of course it is God the Holy Spirit who is leading you. But perhaps His angels were leading you into God’s presence to worship in Spirit and in truth. The angels’ greatest calling is to praise and worship the Lord. They do this night and day before the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
At times they lead us in a very unique way. Back in the early 1970’s, as we were beginning an international student ministry in Korea, we held an evangelism training conference at the Anglican seminary in Seoul. We were seeking to hear from God in order to establish foundations for our future direction of ministry to the world. We had committed to be a community that made worship, the Word of God, and witnessing to Jesus Christ the center of all that we would do. But we wanted God to speak directly to us about our priorities. He did indeed speak, but not in the way we were expecting!
Each morning at the conference, at 5:30 AM, we began our day by praising and worshiping God in the school’s chapel, appropriately named “Chapel of the Heavenly Hosts.” It was my morning to lead worship, but I overslept. Quickly the nine of us in our small room put on our clothes and rushed to the chapel. Our dormitory was about 5 minutes from the chapel. As we were running, we heard beautiful praise coming out of the chapel, more beautiful than usual. From the other direction, an older staff lady was running toward the chapel with a dozen or more girls behind her. We all paused a moment in astonishment at the beauty and power of the praise that was coming from the chapel. We entered and no one was there. But the praise continued. I looked at my watch, and it was only 3:00 AM! We didn’t oversleep; we just were awakened at 3:00 AM by the sounds of praise. Over twenty of us were gathered there, and we experienced together this mighty visitation of the angelic hosts! God confirmed to us that the heart of missions is worship and praise, and that He had raised up our ministry to call the nations to praise the Lord! In this strange, almost unbelievable yet historic event, God laid the foundation for the ministry of Yesujeondodan (lit., “Jesus Evangelism Band”—later to become Youth With A Mission Korea).
Perhaps you have some testimonies of how angels have ministered to you, led you closer to the Lord, directed your paths onto God’s way, or protected you at critical times. Please share them with others who may be with you now, and be sure to let us all know about them.
Let’s not get too excited or curious about angels; but let us be careful not to ignore them or attempt to “explain them away.” You may notice other activity of angels as we continue our study of Hebrews. They are agents of God to help us on our pilgrimage of faith.
Hebrews 2:1-4 – The Danger Facing the Hebrew Christians
The second chapter of Hebrews opens with a warning, the first of five such warnings in the book. Look for these warnings as you continue to study. This first warning is that they were in danger of drifting away from the great salvation of God in Jesus Christ. They were beginning to drift away because they neglected “so great a salvation.”
Remember that the Church of Ephesus, all of whom had experienced the amazing love of God—the long, high, deep and wide love—left their first love. They did so by neglect; they began to drift away from God’s love without knowing it was happening. They were occupied with maintaining pure doctrine and making sure that there was no heresy in their church, but they drifted away from the “new commandment” that Jesus gave His disciples the night before He was crucified. (John 13:34-35) They took their eyes off of Jesus. The author of Hebrews warned them, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”
The solution to the problem of drifting away from our great salvation is twofold.
First, pay closer attention to God’s mercy and grace in saving us. Take a few moments and consider the greatness of your salvation in Christ. In what ways is your salvation great? Read Isaiah chapter 53 and discover what happened on the cross of Calvary: Jesus forgave us for our sins that we commit every day. He destroyed the root of sin—pride, arrogance at trying to live without God. He brings peace that the world cannot understand, and He heals our sicknesses, mentally, emotionally and physically. (Isaiah 53:4-6) Jesus Himself is our salvation.
All the angels in heaven worship Him. All people on earth must worship Him. If we will make worship of God our top priority, then we will not drift away from this great salvation.
Have you experienced the miracle of salvation in your personal life? Are you a worshiper who continues to commit your body as a holy, living sacrifice, which is your spiritual worship?
Second, understand how it was brought to us. Jesus Himself called us to make our home in Him and in the Father. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God. It was confirmed by the disciples and apostles of Jesus. Then God Himself bore witness through miraculous signs and wonders of His Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 2:5-18 – God has put all things in subjection to His Son, Jesus Christ.
After telling us that God did not subject the world to angels, the author quotes Psalm 8. Take a moment to read this psalm in the Old Testament; then read it again here in the New Testament.
In the Old Testament, we read that God put the whole world in subjection to man, giving him dominion over all creation. It is a beautiful psalm that shows both the majesty of God and also the remarkable dignity of man. It speaks of man in general. But in the New Testament the “son of man” is identified as Jesus Christ. In Matthew 21:16, when children worship Jesus, Jesus quotes from Psalm 8 to show that their praise of Him is right. In 1 Corinthians 15:27 and Ephesians 1:22, Paul teaches that God’s putting all things in subjection under man’s feet finds its fulfillment in Christ. This passage in Hebrews does the same thing. Through Christ’s coming to earth, He restores to fallen man the dignity and wholeness of his life. Psalm 8 can be applied to ourselves only through its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. (This is how we should understand the Psalms, because they are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.)
We do not yet see . . .
We do not yet see all things subjected to Christ. (Hebrews 2:8)
All the world would agree to this statement. We do not yet see the demonic coronavirus subjected to Christ. We do not see the evils of homelessness, refugees, greed and many other evils under His control. The world is in great despair and confusion because of these evils. Yet we Christians walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Non-Christians cannot see, because God’s Kingdom is hidden; it is not of this world.
So we do not despair and lose hope.
But we see Jesus! (Hebrews 2:9)
God made Jesus “for a little while” lower than the angels, through His suffering and death on the cross. But now—through His resurrection, we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor! By His suffering and death, Jesus experienced death for every person in the world, past, present and future!
Do you see Jesus as Lord over the coronavirus? Lord over the kingdoms of this world? Our focus is important. When we focus on fake news, bad reports, dangers to come, we are worshiping worldly fear. We worship what we focus on, and we Christians must not be guilty of false worship. When we worship God, we see Him at work today in the world. We do not underestimate the evil powers of Satan, but we proclaim that the Lord Jesus Christ reigns over all powers of sin and death.
When we see Jesus, we become bold and confident. At times we Christians do worry and are afraid. Fear is a natural emotion. But we have experienced the truth that perfect love drives out all fear. We do not have time to be afraid! We must work together and cooperate with our governments and be diligent in taking sanitary measures to curb this virus. We dare not underestimate it’s deadly power by saying that it will be over soon. We do not know. We must be careful and not be presumptuous. Now is the time for Christians to rise up and become encouragers and to reach out in loving service to the lost world.
Consider these questions:
- What happens when fear grips a whole nation, or nations? How can we Christians bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who are paralyzed by fear and anger?
- What are you doing to “remember” your Great Salvation? Do you feel like a victim?
- We are not angels, but we can cooperate with God and welcome His angelic help. Have you tried calling upon God to send His angel forces to curb this pandemic?
- In what specific area in your life do you need to see by faith that Jesus is reigning?
- Try to share a word of hope to someone in the next few days.