John sees a vision of Jesus holding the entire angelic world in his hand, symbolizing his universal authority. This sermon explores the reality of an angelic world by highlighting how our knowledge of the universe is actually very limited. Then we learn the role that angels play and how we can participate in the victory that Jesus won over what the Bible refers to as “spiritual powers” that have held us in bondage.
Jesus holds the seven stars in his right hand, which means that Christ has authority over the whole angelic realm. This sermon explores what the Bible means by angels, with the goal of deepening our sense of awe and thereby deepening our worship toward God. Angels stand perpetually in awe of God, and part of their job is to draw us into their transcendent worship of God.
Greg uses the book Horton Hears a Who to help us understand the nature of the angelic realm. Whoville serves as a metaphor for our entire known existence. We assume that our experience of the ever-expanding, 13.5 billion year-old space-time universe is the whole universe. Imagine if there was a higher reality in which our entire universe could fit on the inside of a dust particle like that of Whoville. This is an analogy of how little we know and how much there is beyond our comprehension.
Think about it this way: Imagine a perspective of reality that is as superior to our own current human perspective as human perspective is superior to that of a dog. The human brain is 95 million years more evolved than the brain of a dog. Then, imagine a perspective that is 95 million years more advanced than what humans have now. This serves as proof that we actually know very little about the universe. We just don’t know what we don’t know.
This is actually a biblical worldview. We see this in Revelation 5:11-12. It reads:
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’
“Thousands of thousands” is a metaphor for innumerable. John is saying he saw an innumerable number of groups of angels, each group also being innumerable. There is an inconceivably large number of innumerable groups of spirit-agents. This means that we are oblivious to most of reality. Our time-space universe is simply our tiny Whoville perspective on reality.
There are five things that we can surmise about angels. First, angels are in awe of God. They are worshipping God continually. This is the angel’s natural stance.
Second, there are many different types of angels. People often use “angels” to refer to all the spirit agents existing between us and God. However, the word “angel’ literally means “messenger” or “sent one.” These spirit-agents are sent on assignment to interact with humans. These are the lowest ranking of angels, but the Bible speaks of many other kinds of spirit agents.
Third, angels usually appear as terrifying. They are not cute cherubs that stir warm fuzzies. The first words they usually say are, “Don’t be afraid.” They spark fear because they are transcendent in bizarre ways. They are so strange to us because they participate in a dimension that is quite distinct from our own.
The fourth point is that we should not be overly interested in angels. Paul writes about this in Colossians 2:8-10 and 18-19. The Colossians apparently were being influenced by a teaching that stated that we needed to reach God through various levels of angels. Paul challenges this notion because Jesus embodies the fullness of God, as he demonstrates the true nature of God, which is not found in various angelic beings. In the Bible, angels may suddenly appear to people from time to time, but there is not one example of a person initiating a conversation with an angel or with a dead person.
The fifth thing is God has won the victory in the heavenlies. This is called Christus Victor. The heavenly powers of evil have held us in bondage to sin, but through the cross and the resurrection Jesus has set us free. This is made evident in Colossians 2:13-15 and Ephesians 3:9-11. Our job is to live into this victory and declare it as the essential truth of the entire universe.
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