Angels, or at least some ‘version’ of these spirit beings permeate our culture. “The angel in your pocket” is a tiny symbol designed almost as a good luck charm. Angels show up in TV dramas and movies and their activities span a wide scope of creative imagination. Rarely do you see them portrayed with biblical accuracy. It’s more ‘fun’ to be speculative!
In Scripture, and in particular the events surrounding the birth of Christ, angels occupy a prominent role. They distribute ‘birth announcements’ and help those affected deal with the resulting shock and awe. They carry good news to shepherds and offer up praise to God on high for this tremendous turning point in history – God becoming man in the person of Jesus Christ!
One of my favourite hymns, which we sang at our wedding, is “Praise My Soul, The King of Heaven.” One of the stanzas pleads, “Angels help us to adore Him, ye behold Him face to face…” Angels, that is those who did not follow Lucifer in rebellion and are kept bound in chains awaiting eternal judgment, serve and honour God. Their declaration of God’s holiness (e.g. Isaiah 6) and their activity through the pages of Revelation centre upon the honour and worth of the One who created them.
Hebrews 1:6 is one of my favourite texts comparing angels with the Son of God and declaring His superiority over them. “When God brings His firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all God’s angels worship HIM.” The Son of God is worthy of worship and angels lead the choirs in endless praise.
Carol writers through many years have reminded us of this role. Have you sung this year…
Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born King, Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled…? Or how about…
Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains…? Or when did you last sing…Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation…?
Our understanding or lack of understanding of angels in their God-appointed roles needs to be informed by Scripture. We are not to worship angels. (Revelation 22:9) Jesus himself quoted “You shall worship the LORD your God…” when the tempter showed up with his evil offer.
Let’s join the angel chorus in worship of the triune God this Christmas, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. May we who have experienced God’s redeeming grace be prompt to honour the one and only Mediator, the living Word, the one named Jesus who saves His people from their sins.