Angles on Angels
I’m not thinking of the sort that we entertain unawares, the kind that appear in the guise of man; and certainly not the chubby cherub variety, beloved of Raphael and artists and greeting card manufacturers; nor the pretty lace-gowned female sort that rival fairies in all the gift shops; I’m thinking of the mighty warrior and messenger angels of the Bible; of Archangels Michael and Gabriel, whose appearance paralyses people with awe and fear! There’s a fair sprinkling of them throughout the story of the nativity isn’t there, and what I’ve realised more this Advent, is that this awe and fear inspire a very ready obedience in those to whom the angels appear.
Mary, though thoroughly shaken, said to Gabriel “I am the Lord’s servant, and am willing to accept whatever He wants. May everything you have said come true”
Encountering an angel in his dream, totally changed Joseph’s plan of action, “When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.” And then again when the angel of the Lord came in another dream to warn Joseph of Herod’s murderous plot, and the need to flee to Egypt, “Joseph obeyed. He got up immediately, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight” And in the final dream we’re told about, when God’s angel informed Joseph that all those who were out to murder Jesus were dead, and that he was to take his little family and return to Israel, we read, “Joseph returned immediately”
Then the shepherds in the fields above Bethlehem, treated to the ultimate sound and light show by the armies of heaven, were absolutely terrified – scared out of their socks! But having been given instructions to look for this wonderful baby King, lying in a Bethlehem manger, Luke says, “…they left running for the village”
It makes me wonder, what would quicken my obedience, when I actually know what the Lord is asking of me? Sometimes, I’m not very speedy or ready to put his will into action, but more likely to say “Tomorrow” or “When I’ve finished….” or I just go plain deaf! Do I need a bit more reverence and wonder, to enter more into “the fear of the Lord” rather than perhaps my at times over-familiar attitude and barging into God’s presence? I remember some 30 years ago, at a meeting in the Great Hall at Ashburnham, an older friend sharing with us all, shaking as she did so, how she had been visited by an angel 2 days previously. We all ooohed and aaahd and said “How wonderful – wish that could happen to me1” And she asked us if we would be prepared for that, and to be careful what we asked for, as it had been a terrifying and awesome experience, from which she was still trembling.
So yes, I do want to be more readily obedient……but perhaps just the draught from an angel’s wing?