Dedication Of Saint Michael The ArchAngel
Today Is the Feast Day called the Dedication of Saint Michael the Archangel. And so today I would like to spend the next few minutes talking about Angels.
The invisible world! It’s out there.
How different it is when we open the pages of the Bible because there we discover that in addition to God who is, of course, unseen, there are only two kinds of spirits in the world. There are angels and there are demons. Understand that Angels are broken down into several kind of spirit beings.
In a Homily given by St. Gregory the Great on the Angels, he says “We speak of nine choirs of Angels because we know, by the testimony of the Holy Word, that there are to wit: Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. For nearly every page of Sacred Scripture speaks of Angels and Archangels. And the Books of the Prophets, as is well known, often mention the Cherubim and Seraphim. The Apostle Paul in the Ephesians also enumerates the names of four orders, saying: 'Above every Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and Domination.' Again, in writing to the Colossians, he says: 'Whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers.' Now, therefore, to those four choirs, whom he named to the Ephesians, if the Thrones are added, there are five choirs: and when we join to these the Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, and Seraphim, it is quite clear that there are nine choirs of Angels."
Saint Gregory the Great continues, "We must know however that the word Angel is the name of the office, not of the nature. For those holy Spirits of the heavenly fatherland are indeed always Spirits, but can by no means always be called Angels; for they are only angels when some message is sent through them. Whence also it is said by the Psalmist: "Who maketh His Spirits Angels:" as if to say clearly: "These whom He always has as Spirits, He also makes, when He will, Angels." And those who announce things of lesser importance, are Angels; those who bring important messages are called Archangels.
Well, I would like to expound a little bit more on Pope Gregory's homily with a few more facts about angels before we get to an amazing story in the Bible.
I. They were created by God.
Psalm 145 lists the moon and the sun and the angels, and it says, “At thy command they were created.” God spoke and boom they were there. And they were there by the multiplied millions, at His Word, created by God because there are no baby angels. Jesus made this very clear. They do not procreate. They do not multiply like human beings, so they were individually created by God.
II. They are persons.
You see, the test for personality is intellect, emotion and will, and angels have all of that very clearly. The fact that they are spirit beings doesn’t mean that they don’t have intelligence. Of course they do. Look at the Bible. Look at the messages they bring. Look at the fact that they want to look into the whole story of redemption. Clearly they have intelligence. They have emotions. There are things that cause them joy. There are things that cause them sadness, and they have a will. After all, a third of them, according to Revelation 12, fell with Lucifer, so they chose against God (the one-third did), so they have wills. They are personalities.
III. They are also all originally holy.
It says in Mark 8 that when Jesus comes, “Those who are ashamed,” Jesus said, “of me and my words in this adulterous generation, of that person I shall be ashamed when I come with my Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
“But when I come with the holy angels,” he said. Originally all of them were holy because they were created by God, and of course, they were all holy. And they have rank and organization. You have Michael, for example, who is one of the chief angels–Michael, the Archangel. (Just as a note I use to pronounce Archangels as Archangels (I still do sometimes)-like the McDonald Arches. Which made me think maybe he was the Guardian angels over the McDonald corporation.)
Anyway, you know, when Saint Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4 that when the Lord Jesus returns, He shall come in the clouds and the voice of the Archangel is going to be giving the charge. He doesn’t even have to name him because everybody knows based on other passages in Scripture that that’s Michael who is going to be giving the charge. He is in charge of the host of angels.
And then you have some angels like Gabriel whose main responsibility is to communicate messages. According to the book of Daniel there are also angels that are chief princes, which means that there is a whole category that has a great deal of influence, and a great deal of relationship, and beyond that you have principalities and powers, all organized very, very well, just like the demonic side of the spirit world is also well organized. And so that’s what the Bible says about angels.
And in Hebrews 1:14 it says that they are sent to be “ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation.”
When you think of angels in relationship to the unconverted, read the book of Revelation, and there you see them heaping judgment on the world. When John fell before an angel in the book of Revelation, the angel said, “No, don’t fall before me.” Obviously you never want to give the same worship or adoration to an angel that we give to God. He said, “Don’t fall before me,” and then the angel said, “I am a fellow servant.” Angels are fellow servants. They are just like us in the sense that we both are servants. Servants to God and servants to others. They are there to help us and to minister to those who are heirs of salvation. So we do not worship or show reverence in the same way that we would God.
The word “worship” has undergone a change in meaning in English.
It comes from an Old English word, which means the condition of being worthy of honor, respect, or dignity. To worship in the older, larger sense is to ascribe honor, worth, or excellence to someone, whether a sage, a magistrate, or God.
For many centuries, the term worship simply meant showing respect or honor, and an example of this usage survives in contemporary English. British subjects refer to their magistrates as “Your Worship,” although Americans would say “Your Honor.” This doesn’t mean that British subjects worship their magistrates as gods; it means they are giving them the honor appropriate to their office, not the honor appropriate to God.
Outside of this example, however, the English term “worship” has been narrowed in scope to indicate only that supreme form of honor, reverence, and respect that is due to God. This can lead to confusion, when people who are familiar only with the use of words in their own day and their own circles encounter material written in other times and other places.
In Scripture, the term “worship” was similarly broad in meaning, but in the early Christian centuries, theologians began to differentiate between different types of honor in order to make more clear which is due to God and which is not.
As the terminology of Christian theology developed, the Greek term latria came to be used to refer to the honor that is due to God alone, and the term dulia came to refer to the honor that is due to human beings, especially those Saints that have gone before us into heaven. Scripture indicates that honor is due to these individuals. “He that receiveth a just man in the name of a just man, shall receive the reward of a just man.” (Matthew 10:41b). A special term was coined to refer to the special honor given to the Virgin Mary, who bore Jesus—God in the flesh—in her womb. This term, hyperdulia (huper [more than]+ dulia = “beyond dulia”), indicates that the honor due to her as Christ’s own Mother is more than the dulia given to other saints. It is greater in degree, but since Mary is a finite creature, the honor she is due is fundamentally different from the latria owed to the infinite Creator.
Another attempt to make clear the difference between the honor due to God and that due to humans has been to use the words adore and adoration to describe the total, consuming reverence due to God and the terms venerate, veneration, and honor to refer to the respect due humans. Thus, Catholics sometimes say, “We adore God but we honor his saints.”
In 2 Kings 6. We see The king of Syria is warring with the king of Israel. And the king of Syria says, “You know I’m going to bring my troops over here.” And he’s plotting that, and lo and behold, it’s very clear that the king of Israel knows exactly what’s going to happen because then he withdraws the troops from the area. He is ready for the attack, and this happens a couple of times.
So the king of Syria is very distressed and believes that there is someone within his ranks who is a spy. But one of his servants says in verse 12 “No, my Lord, oh king, but Elisha the prophet who is in Israel tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchambers.” He’s saying, “Your most private conversations are known to Elisha, who then goes and tells the king of Israel what you, the king of Syria, are going to do.”
We see in this verse that God was telling Elisha exactly what the king of Syria was saying. So the king of Syria says, “Okay, where’s Elisha?” They said, “Dothan.” And so the Kings says in verse 13, “Go and see where he is that I may send and seize him.” So he sends a vast army of chariots and horses to capture Elisha.
Well, what happens is this. Verse 15 says, “When the servant of Elisha the man of God arose early in the morning and went out, behold an army with horses and chariots was all around the city, and the servant said, “Alas, my master, what shall we do?”
Well, Elisha is speaking to the servant and he said in verse 16, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
Let’s just change the illustration a little bit. You are driving along the street. It’s midnight and you’ve just driven over a series of sharp objects. All four tires of your car are slashed. Gang members surround you. Some of them have guns. Some of them have knives. Some of them have chunks of iron and stones, and they begin breaking the windows, and you say to the person next to you, “Do not be afraid. Behold there are more with us than are with them.” And the person says, “Why, of course! Forgive me for my anxiety.” I don't think so. You need something more than just the word of a man of God at that point.
Elisha knew that and here’s the miracle that occurred. Elisha prayed and said in verse 17, “Oh Lord, please open the eyes of my servant that he may see.” And so the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots and fire all around Elisha.
Wow! There’s a spirit world out there and notice it says that there was now a vast army. There are more who are with us than with them because there are myriads of angels. In fact, the Bible says 10,000 times 10,000.
IV. They are spirit beings but sometimes God gives them the opportunity and the ability to actually become physical.
What I’d like to do now is to quickly give you four truths that I believe will be a blessing to you in the days ahead. I want you to leave with the confidence that God is on your side.
It is important to realize that God’s Word is more powerful than the armies of the world.
When God wants to defend Israel, God is able to intervene and He has multiple armies and various strategies at His disposal that He can deploy at any moment to defend His people whenever He wants to defend them because God is sovereign and God is the one who rules in the affairs of men.
So the he first is that God’s Word is more powerful than the armies of the world.
2. Elisha’s prayer only opened the eyes of the servant to see angels that were already there.
They were already in place and Elisha was absolutely confident that in the midst of the situation where everyone was ganging up on him, where a whole army was sent to cut off his head, that he could stand there with utter confidence, believing without wavering that if God wanted to deliver him, He could.
Elisha’s prayer didn’t bring the angels. It only revealed them.
3. Only God can open people’s eyes, and also blind them.
You’ll notice that the text says very clearly here, “And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes.” The spirits’ world is ultimately God’s domain even though you have angels and demons interfacing all the time in that spirit world. The fact is that only God can open our eyes to see spiritual world.
4. It’s not necessary for us to see angels in order to appreciate them.
Let me ask you a question. What would have happened if the servant had not had his eyes opened? Would the horses and chariots of fire have been around the mountain anyway? Of course! In fact, here’s the interesting thing. If you look at the text. God never even used these chariots of fire. They were just on call in case he needed them. I don’t see any work here on the part of the chariots of fire. The army comes toward Elisha and God blinded them.
God always has angels on call because they love to serve – not because He actually needs them. But they love to be used, and sometimes He doesn’t use them when it may appear as if it is rational to do so.
So as we take time to contemplate the angels and as we celebrate the dedication of Saint Michael let us pray together: Saint Michael the archangel defend us in battle be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.