Angels on Assignment
Angels figure prominently in the Christmas story. The Bible plainly reveals that angels are not a figment of man’s collective imagination. Nor are they a quaint representation of an incorporeal force emanating from God.
Angels are real and David briefly describes their activities in the 130th Psalm:
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
Speaking to the patriarch Job, God declared that when He created the earth, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:6-7). In this passage, Hebrew parallelism describes the angelic host as both “morning stars and sons of God” emphasizing the reality of angels present to witness the creation of the earth.
Although the Bible refers to them consistently in the masculine gender, angels are neither male nor female (Mk. 12:25).
Angels inhabit the heavenly realm, which is the center of their being and activity, but Scripture demonstrates their ability to interact in the earthly realm as well.
Despite the vast number, only two angels, Michael and Gabriel, are specifically mentioned by name in the Bible.
MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
Michael the archangel holds a position of great authority in the angelic order either as the highest-ranking angel or the leader of a enormous group of angelic beings. In Hebrew, Michael’s name forms the question—“Who is like God?”
References to Michael’s extraordinary influence and strength center in the defense and government of Israel.
At the end of one of Daniel’s visions, Michael is identified as, “the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people,” thereby associating his activity specifically with the nation of Israel (Dan. 12:1).
The book of Revelation predicts a great battle in which Michael will lead a vast angelic host to victory resulting in the expulsion of Satan and his demonic forces from the heavenly realm (Rev. 12:7-9).
GABRIEL THE MIGHTY ONE
Gabriel is also an immensely powerful being whose name means “The mighty one.” Although men traditionally describe Michael as another archangel, he is never given that designation in the Bible.
Gabriel holds a high-level position in the angelic realm and his appearances on the pages of Scripture are always connected with God’s Messianic program—which explains his prominence in the Christmas narrative.
Gabriel is the very angel that appeared to Zacharias and to the virgin Mary with the Good News revealing the events surrounding Messiah’s birth, which was a set-time in God’s unfolding Messianic plan (Lk. 1:19-26).
ANGEL’S ON ASSIGNMENT
At the Nativity, the mission of Michael and Gabriel intersected in the unfolding of God’s prophetic program for Israel and the fulfillment of His Messianic plan. These mighty angels were not just on assignment for God’s Chosen People, but for the whole world!
The next time you see an angel figurine—topping a tree, swinging silently above a Nativity crèche or dizzily careening around an angel chime—remember they are not merely an ornament to the Christmas story. Angels are integral to the Christmas narrative.
(1) Henry Morris, The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), 57.
1) Seraph. (Illustrative image, all digital composition forms) (Image credit: By Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (1848–1926)/[PD-US, PD-Art]/Wikimedia/Background image: Pixabay/Enhancement and digital compositions, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, text content. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.