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A Mighty Misapprehension

How often do you hear a young child described as mum or dad's 'little angel'? It's a curious thing, that acts of 'cuteness' or 'good' behaviour are approved in such a way. Maybe it's the traditional Christmas nativity play characters with golden wings and tinsel that create the misapprehension?

The angelic visions we see in the Bible are a far cry from this. The living creatures in Ezekiel's vision (ch.1) with their four faces and four wings - creatures able to withstand the burning coals within the throne of God - are certainly neither fluffy, nor glittery!

Isaiah 6 describes the seraphim, mighty angelic beings, with six wings covering their feet and face, constantly declaring the holiness of God. They were powerful beings, yet unable to look at the awesome presence of God.

Then there are the mighty cherubim, first found in Genesis 3:24, guarding the way back to the presence of God after the fall of Adam and Eve. Cherubim, we learn from Exodus 25:18-20, are the angels that cover; they are over the throne of God, the mighty protectors of God's presence. Not that He needs protection, but they are a powerful statement of the strength at God's disposal - a long way removed from the paintings of little babies with wings that we see in stately homes!

How amazing must have been the day when Gabriel was called before God's throne with the cherubim over, the seraphim around and the living creatures within it. God gave Gabriel a task: to go to Mary and tell her that God was to come over her as the Holy Spirit, and one who was God would grow in her as the Lord Jesus. I imagine Gabriel must have been shaken as he learned the plan of God for salvation. Would the Lord really leave His mighty throne and reduce Himself to be a man? Gabriel knew that man was weaker than any angel yet now Jesus 'was made a little lower than the angels' (Heb. 2:9).

Then, surrounding the human birth of one who was God, we find a host of angels, reflecting the glory of God, putting fear into shepherds on the Bethlehem hillside (Luke 2:8-14).

When the Lord Jesus came to the garden of Gethsemane we see His sorrow and the depths of His anguish as He looked ahead to the cost of redeeming His people. God called before His throne another angel to be sent into the garden to strengthen Jesus (Luke 22:43). How did the angel strengthen Him? Was it with words from the Father? Was it simply the shining reflected glory that acted as a spur to Him in His time of deep distress? Whatever form the strengthening took, it gave Him determination to go on.

Isaiah tells us in chapter 53 that He was silent in His suffering; silent before His accusers. Praise God for His silence! When the Lord Jesus rebuked Peter for cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest, He said, 'Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?' (Mat. 26:53). Imagine the force represented by 72,000 angels. One word and the Lord could have ended His suffering at that point, and yet His silence has enabled our salvation.

How those angels in the courts of the Father must have looked back and forth, from earth to the throne, willing the command to come, desperate to save their King and return Him to the throne.

No command would come to save Him; but it was given to roll the stone away from the tomb evidencing the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, now to ascend back to the courts of heaven.

The Lord Jesus passed all those majestic beings; the thousands of gathering angels, Gabriel, Michael, strong angels; to take His rightful place on the throne, between the cherubim, over the living creatures and before the seraphim. What a God we have! What a Saviour!

Bible quotations from NKJV