ANGELS: Worship God by Martin Shannon
Loving & Learning From Angelic Messengers
From: All God’s Angels
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:13)
We began these reflections with the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible and the book of beginnings. We end with the Revelation to John, the final book of the Bible and the book of new beginnings. The author, who identifies himself as John, is thought to have been living in exile on the rocky Greek island of Patmos, during a period of persecution in the early church (1:9-10). The opening work of the Greek text, apokalypsis, means to uncover or disclose, suggesting a veil being lifted to reveal something that would otherwise remain hidden from view. From the very start of his report, the writer considers himself to be only a witness to, rather than a participant in, the things he is being shown. He knows that whatever understanding he can convey is made known to him by someone else. And it all starts with the sending of an angel.
The book of Revelation accounts for more than one-quarter of the references to angels in the entire Bible. They instruct John and they lead him; they tell him and they show him. John sees and hears angels in all aspects of their duties: they deliver God’s acts and words of both judgment and mercy to the Earth; they worship and praise in the courts of Heaven; they welcome the redeemed and abandon the reprobate; they proclaim God’s reign and defeat God’s enemy; they shed light on the Earth and bring the plagues of wrath; they protect, they fight, and they sing. They emerge always at the ready, unwaveringly dedicated to executing whatever tasks they are assigned. From fantastic scene to even more fantastic scene, the angels in the book of Revelation appear focused on a singular purpose: to serve Almighty God.
Thus we end where we began. The first priority of the Heavenly host is to serve at the pleasure of their Creator and Lord – angels do God’s bidding, nor ours. This should give us pause as well as great hope: pause as we confront our all-too-human penchant for thinking everything is about us; and great hope because, by their dedication to God’s will, the angels are forever dedicated to God’s will for us. If we dare take John as our example, then ultimately what the angels do for us is reveal God. For it is never the intention of the angels that our attention should rest on them. They are always intermediaries pointing us beyond themselves, pointing us to Jesus. Toward the conclusion of his vision on the island of Patmos, just before he is overwhelmed with the consuming splendor of Heaven’s glory, John falls down at the feet of the angel who has been showing him the revelation from the beginning (22:8-9). But his Heavenly guide will have none of it. “You must not do that!” exclaims the angel. “I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades. Worship God.”
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