Angels: God’s Servants; Our Mighty Friends
Rev. Charles Westby, Pastor
Psalms 103:20-21, Luke 1:1-5, Luke 1:7-9, Luke 1:11-20, Luke 1:24-38, Matthew 18:10
September 29, 2019

In the church year, September 29 is the date designated as the day of commemorating St. Michael and all Angels. Michael is an archangel in the Scriptures. Since today is September 29, I thought we would use the occasion to talk about the angels. In doing so, we give thanks and praise to God for the wonderful Creator He is.

There is a lot we could talk about. But let’s talk briefly about three things: what angels are like; their allegiance, and what they are to us.

In terms of their nature, angels are created spirits. Psalm 104:4 (NKJV) says that God makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flaming fire. Angels do not by nature have physical bodies.

As spirits, angels have a mode of going from place to place that is not hindered by having a body. It is a mode of travel that is very fast, and something that we cannot comprehend.

In one of his visions, the prophet Daniel saw the archangel Gabriel coming to him. He describes this as Gabriel coming “in swift flight” (Dan. 9:21). They can move about as not being there one moment but being there in the next. What magnificent creatures they are.

When we learn about the wonderful creatures God has made, we give glory to God as the magnificent creator. Not only do we do this for the creatures in the animal kingdom that we can see, but also for those creatures in the spirit kingdom that we cannot see. We confess this in the Nicene Creed when we say, “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”

Yet, they have become visible at times for God’s purposes and at God’s command, usually taking on the form of a man.

Now we need to also say that when we use the word “angel” in our Christian tradition and are speaking of these beings, we mean that they are also good, not evil. Satan and demons are these same kind of creatures, bodiless spirits. But they rebelled against God and became evil. So, we do not call them angels but demons.

This then leads us to talk about the angels’ allegiance. We look to Psalm 103, verses 20-21. They say (my translation), Bless the Lord, all His angels, the mighty ones of power, who do His Word, obeying the voice of His Word. Bless the Lord, all His servants, His ministers who perform His good will.

At first, we see that angels are God’s servants. They are utterly loyal to God. They perform His good will.

In addition, we see that the angels obey the voice of God’s Word. This verse ascribes a voice to God’s Word. In doing so, it makes God’s Word a person.

The Gospel of John tells us about this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” We know this Word as God the Son.

The angels obey God the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. At the end of John chapter 1 Jesus says that the angels of God ascend and descend on the Son of Man, at the will and command of Jesus Himself.

We can also see how connected the angels are to Jesus and His mission in the appearances of Gabriel we read about in the Gospel from Luke 1 this morning. There, Gabriel was sent from God to appear to Zechariah, who was serving in the temple. God sent Gabriel to announce to Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth, who was unable to have children, was going to conceive and give birth to a son in her old age. This son was John the Baptist, who went before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to announce the Lord’s coming.

Then Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary, where he announced the incarnation of the Word Himself through the flesh of Mary as Jesus. And this Jesus, Gabriel says, will be called the Son of the most high. He will occupy the throne of His father David. His reign and kingdom will never end.

And we could also turn to Matthew’s Gospel where the angel appeared to Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, in a dream. He told Joseph that the child that Mary was pregnant with was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The angel commanded Joseph as God’s messenger to name the child Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins. And the child Himself will be Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:21, 23).

Angels obey God and are God’s Servants to do God’s good will. Even more importantly, the angels obey our Lord Jesus Christ and serve and praise Him. As such, they are our friends.

This is important because we then realize that no good spirit, who obeys God will ever lead us not to believe in Jesus as God’s Son and the Holy Trinity. The angels believe this about Jesus, praise and confess Him with us, and praise and confess the Holy Trinity. Any spirit that does not profess this with us is not from God.

This leads us to recognize with joy that angels are truly our mighty friends.

First this word mighty. We see it in Psalm 103:20. The Hebrew there literally reads “the mighty ones of power.” That seems redundant to us in English, so the ESV just says “mighty ones.” But there are two Hebrew words there, “mighty ones” and “of power,” and the first word we translate as mighty one. We could also translate it as warrior.

This word has the root, gbr. In Hebrew, the words have roots made of consonants. The name Gabriel has the same root, with the word “el” attached to it. El is a word for God. We could translate “Gabriel,” therefore, as the mighty one or warrior of God.

The angels are good, as we said. They are also strong and mighty, though not almighty. Only God is almighty. But in comparison to us, they have great power.

Thus, angels in the Scriptures are not cute little cherubs. They are more like the depictions in the bulletin today of a warrior angel. They are good. They are also warriors. They fight God’s battles. We heard today in the reading from Revelation about Michael and the angels fighting and defeating Satan. God can send them to protect us in wonderful ways.

We can also see how they are our friends by how the Angel Gabriel does no harm to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:18; 9:20-23), to Zachariah, and to Mary. Zechariah and Mary were startled and frightened by the sudden appearance of Gabriel. But he said to them, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 1:13, 30).

Jesus also talks about the angles being our friends when He says there are angels assigned to “the little ones.” These angels are always in the presence of God. The Christian tradition of the guardian angel comes from that verse, Matthew 18:10.

It is truly grounds for rejoicing that you as Christ’s people have such wonderful, good, and mighty friends, that obey the voice of our Lord Jesus, and are His servants. I suspect that many of you have benefited from their ministrations in some way at some point. When that happens, we thank God.

The angels truly are our friends as we are in Christ. As servants of God and Christ, they love us and seek our good as God and Jesus do. We do not pray to angels or worship them, because they are fellow creatures and servants of God and Christ with us (Revelation 22:9). But we can pray to the Father and our Lord Jesus to send them to help us and defend us, according to the Father’s good pleasure. Like so many other blessings of creation, we rejoice and thank God for how He uses angels in our lives.

Let us close with these words of Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,” including today the ministry of the angels (Psalm 103:2, 22). In Jesus’s Name. Amen.