Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In the Service of God

If we're going to talk about angels, one of the first things we have to understand is how fundamentally different the angels are from mankind. We are simply not the same beings.

Angels have been specifically created in the service of God. They do His work. They carry His messages. They scout His missions. Every time we see an angel in the Scriptures, he is doing some measure of God's work. Angels come to Lot in Sodom to see if the rumors of the town are true. Angels come to Hannah and tell her about her child. Angels come to Mary and Elizabeth and Joseph and tell them about the coming births of John and Jesus. Angels come and move Peter out of prison. Angels rattle the prison bars around Paul until they come loose. 

Every time we see an angel, he is doing the work of God. And most of us would say, well, isn't that what we all do? 


At least, it shouldn't be. We talk about it a lot. We say things like, "We were sent to be the hands and feet of God in this world." We were sent to break down walls, to turn over tables, to restore the dignity of the poor, to free the prisoner, to redeem the lost, to heal the broken, etc. We were sent to do what God would do in His world if He were here. 

Oh, how devastatingly wrong this is! First, it puts us on the same plane as God, pretending that we could ever do the things that God can do. Second, it reinforces in us a sense of God's absence - if He were here...but He's not, so we have to.... Third, it takes us out of the role of mankind and places us into the role of angels, trying to live in the service of God. Fourth, it leaves undone the true work of mankind: manifesting the glory of God in the world. 

That's what we were created for. 

Every time we see a man (or woman) in Scripture, this is what they are doing. They are manifesting somehow the glory of God in the world. Adam and Eve manifested the glory of God's design. Noah, the glory of God's saving grace. Abraham, the glory of God's chosenness. David, the glory of God's faithfulness. Solomon, the glory of God's wisdom. Paul, the glory of God's redemption. Do you see where we're going with this? Mankind, and the covenant relationship that he had with his Lord, was intended to do nothing more than to manifest the glory of God. 

We were not made in the service of Him, but for the glory of Him.

What makes this so difficult is that we see both in Jesus, and that's where we got this twisted idea that we have. We see the ways that Jesus manifests the glory of God, and we think that must be His divine nature that does this. So we assume that this is what the angels do. And we see the way that Jesus gives His life in the service of God, and we think that this must be what His human nature does. So we assume this is what we are supposed to do. 

But we've got that just backward! The entire testimony of Scripture tells exactly the opposite story - it is the angels who were created in the service of Him and mankind for the glory of Him. It was the human nature of God that glorified Him; the divine nature did His work. 

I know, I know. This changes everything. It changes the way we think of ourselves. It changes the burden that we carry for the Lord in this world. It changes the way that we live and act and love. It has to. 

It also changes the way that we look at angels. It becomes the foundation for our very understanding of them. 

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