Friday, December 30, 2016

What about angels? .......... Parables 530

October 22, 1996

Angels are everywhere. They are fashioned into stick pins, earrings, tie tacks, cross stitch designs and wall plaques. They are the topic of books and poems. Three “angels” even star in a television series. Of course all are “good” angels, who do kind deeds and have beautiful faces.

Far from being figments of human imagination, angels are described in the Bible as created beings who do the will of God and act as His messengers. There are referred to more than 300 times in both the Old and New Testament. Most bring messages to God’s people, some are warnings and others, like those who appeared to the shepherds near Bethlehem, bring good news.

There is a negative category of angels too. Jesus’ disciples excitedly reported, “even the demons submit to us in Your name.” To this, Jesus replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven . . . Do not rejoice over this but rather that your names are written down in heaven.” Jesus downplayed their focus on demons but did not deny that they exist.

Fallen angels are not like those people who go astray and we call “fallen angels.” People have hope—Christ promises to save and give new life to any who come to him—but the angels who fell from heaven are not similarly blessed.

Jude 6 says, “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these He has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.” These angels are doomed. God “hurled” them out of heaven without offering them a second chance.

The prince of these fallen angels has many names. Revelation 12 calls him, “the great dragon,” “that ancient serpent,” “the devil,” “Satan,” and the “accuser” of God’s people. In another passage of Scripture, Jesus calls him “the liar” and “the father of lies.”

While some say there is no devil, Jesus describes him as an actual personality, a created being who resists God. Others think he is behind every corner and all evil. The Bible keeps a balance. Satan does exist, but we are capable of doing wrong all by ourselves. Furthermore, Satan is not a counterpart to God; he is not all powerful nor does he know all things. He cannot be everywhere. He can disguise himself as “an angel of light” but since God “hurled him out of heaven,” his domain is darkness and lies.

The prophet Isaiah described his rebellion this way: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”

With those expressions of pride, Satan lifted himself above God but his ambition backfired. As Isaiah says, God “brought (him) down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.”

Before he is finally judged, the devil “roams the earth, like a roaring lion.” His main activity is putting untrue ideas in our heads in such a way that we think they are true, even that they are our own thoughts. He is subtle and powerful but we are not helpless. Through studying Scripture, we can learn to detect his schemes. Through “the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony and by not loving our lives” we can overcome him.

Christ death and shed blood guarantee forgiveness and eternal life to those who believe in Him. Christians can give testimony to His saving power and we know Satan cannot ruin what God has done for us. Our fear of death is broken. Unlike fallen angels who have been cast into outer darkness, we know when we are “absent from the body, we will be present with the Lord.”

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