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Michael And All Angels Sermon
Revelation 12: 7-12
September
29, 2019

 

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May the grace, mercy and peace of God be with us in the name of our risen Lord and savior, Jesus Christ; Amen.

After commuting my freshman year of college, I moved into the dorms in the fall of 1983. Having planned with my roommate for what our place would be like, I took it upon my self to build us an “L-shaped” loft to get our beds up off the floor, so we could have more room for desks, a couch, and so on. Not being the master carpenter, when we assembled the loft in the room I discovered that the leg on the back corner of the loft was less than a half inch too short. I went through my boxes and found a book that was perfect to put under the leg to even things out. It was a book that a well-intentioned relative gave me when I graduated high school and was going to possibly be headed to seminary one day. It was a book written by Bully Graham simply titled, “Angels.” I liked to say that for the last three years of my college education, my bed was held up by angels!!

What do you believe about angels? Do you picture them as little baby cherubs with curly blonde hair and fat cheeks? Are they female or male? Are they former human beings who have died and “earned their wings? Some of those ideas have come from interesting events in history. For example, during the black plague paintings became popular of cherum angels consoling parents who had lost children to death. Somewhere along the line people started believing that some of their deceased relatives might have become the guardian angel for living family members. There isn’t much if any Biblical support for most of what we currently think about angels, so this is a good day to talk about what we do know about angels from the scriptures.

First of all, the appearance of angels in the Old Testament seems to have come from the Jewish peoples’ attempt to reconcile there monotheistic beliefs (there is only one God) with the many-gods of the religions around them. Yes, there is only one God, but that God has helpers, messengers. In fact, before God created humanity, God may have created these mysterious beings in anticipation of helping to interact with men and women. Abraham’s interaction with the three beings and Jacob’s wrestling with the angel on the banks of the Jabbok River are two examples of such interactions.

History shows that during that time that fell between the Old and New Testaments, Jews developed an elaborate systematic hierarchy of angels. Our reading from Revelation describes a war that had broken out in heaven at some point during those early times of humanity between the good and evil angels. In it, we hear about the army of angels, lead by our hero, Michael, defeating those evil angels and kicking them out of heaven. Depicted as a dragon, Satan (or the Devil) fell to earth and now resides here. His chief weapons in the war to control this realm seem to be accusations. Before you think that this is not that serious a weapon, consider how many times you have heard those voices or nudges telling you that you aren’t good enough, that what you have done will never be forgiven, and that you have no worth in God’s eyes. When I think of the number of people taking their own lives in this day and age I know that this is a very powerful weapon of God’s enemies.

In this system of angels, there were four archangels who held up the four legs of the throne of God. Michael, the warrior angel, Gabriel, the one who announced the coming of the end of time, Raphael, the healer, and Uriel, the angel of death. In the New Testament the predominant archangel is Gabriel, the one who announces the birth of Jesus to Mary. There is a whole host of angels singing Gloria In Excelsis Deo at the birth of Christ. And the only mention of Michael, the warrior angel, is in the letter to Jude and in Revelation.