ST MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS
September 29-October 1, 2018
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: 2 Kings 6:8-17
“THOSE WHO ARE WITH US!”
1. Mighty servants of God.
2. Mighty servants of God’s people.
2 Kings 6:8-17 (NIV 1984) “Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.” 9The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. 11This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Will you not tell me which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” 12“None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” 13“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
It seems to me there are two spiritually dangerous mistakes we can make when it comes to God’s angels. The first is to adore them, to treat them greater than they are. Even our brother, John the Apostle, fell into that one. He was the one given the Revelation which is written down as the last book of the Bible. An angel delivered that revelation to him and he was so overwhelmed by the vision, so in awe of the angel, that he wrote this about himself, “ I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” (Revelation 22:8-9) How painful that must have been for John to own up to, getting rebuked by an angel. No you don’t want to adore angels, worship them, pray to them, in any way treat them as God. You also don’t want to ignore angels, act or live as they don’t exist, that God does not have them all around us, guarding and protecting us. If this was the 90’s we’d probably be talking about adoring them. If you remember that was when the angel craze was in full swing. Even in the early 2000’s I remember seeing ads in the Journal Sentinel with someone setting up shop at a local hotel meeting room offering to help you get in touch with your own personal angel, for a price, of course. No, instead I wonder if God’s people today aren’t more likely to ignore God’s angels. We live at a time with heightened concerns for safety, and rightly so. As we march to the end of the world there will be more wickedness and evil and people who do evil. We can tend to live in fear, too much fear, for people whose God is the Lord who commands the angel armies.
If fear that forgets the presence of God’s angels describes you in anyway you are not alone. You heard in our reading of a brother in faith found himself very afraid, and with reason. The nation of Aram, where Syria is today, was raiding the nation of Israel. Whenever the king of Aram planned an ambush to destroy Israel’s army, God, through Elisha, warned the king of Israel. As you can imagine the king of Aram thought he had a spy in his camp. But his men told him, “No! There is a prophet of God named Elisha. He’s telling them where they are.” So the king of Aram sent soldiers to capture Elisha.
Then this happened. “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.” Can you blame him? Imagine you woke up in the morning and the breaking news was that Milwaukee was surrounded by troops from the People’s Republic of China. We’d be asking, “What shall we do?” Our thoughts would likely not be centered on the protection God provides through angels. Elisha’s was. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Those who are with us, we are going to find out, are the angels, mighty servants of God and God’s people. Who then are the “those who are with them?” Well the angels’ opposites of course, the fallen angels, we call demons. These attacks on Israel were prompted by demons who were using Aram’s greed and pride to try to wipe out the people who carried the Savior with them. That, God would not let happen. He provided those who are with us, angels. “And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Angels. Mighty servants of God were sent by Him. They appeared as an army. Reminds me of the angels, the cherubim, guarding the Garden of Eden with a sword. Not little babies with tiny bows and arrows. Mighty servants. Of God. They serve Him. In the Bible we see angels serving God as messengers, taking to people the good news of salvation in Jesus. We see them serving God by praising Him for how great He is. We see angels serving God by protecting His people. The angels are powerful. God has given them the power to do things that are impossible for us, like be invisible and the appear, like making it so people cannot see for a time, like ending the lives of those who try to harm God’s people, these and many more for the mighty servants of God.
And they also serve God’s people. You picked that up from the reading in Hebrews, didn’t you? Look again at the last verse of that reading. “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Those who will inherit salvation, that’s you and me. Because the one who is greater than all angels, Jesus Christ, gave His life as a ransom, because the Holy Spirit worked in your life to bring you to faith through the Gospel and keep you in faith, you will inherit salvation. And the angels, the mighty servants of God, are serving you, God’s people. They are all around us though most often unseen like with Elisha and his servant. They are here right now. The Bible tells us they long to look into and understand the truths of Scripture. They love to worship the Lord. Though they have no physical form they have appeared as human beings and some have entertained them without knowing it. And they do a lot of helping and guarding and protecting. The Devil and the demons who were behind the attack on the prophet Elisha want to hurt us too. The angels stop them. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. They help God’s people like getting the Apostle Peter out of jail or helping lift a car off of a person. I still remember Clarence Zastrow telling me how his neighbor who had fallen whose weight was beyond Clarence’s strength was thanking him for helping her up and he didn’t know how that could possibly be. I still remember the triple rollover crash I and my friend survived in college. 60 MPH with no seat belts and all he got was a little scratch. I had nothing. Angels. Mighty servants of God and His people. This doesn’t give us the right to be foolish. Jesus refused to jump from the Temple when Satan urged him to trust God’s promise of angel protection. It doesn’t mean that we should stop being safety conscious. It does mean that because Jesus has made us heirs of salvation we don’t have to live in fear and worry for ourselves and our children. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.
Those who are with us. Angels are mighty servants, of God and of you, God’s people. So don’t ignore ‘em. God has them here for a reason. To give us comfort and peace in a world where sinful people do evil things. But don’t adore ‘em. They are servants of God so it’s only Him that we praise. Amen.