SCRIPTURES – Ps. 103; Dan. 10:10-14 & 12:1-3; Rev. 12:7-12; Luke 10:17-20
Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Psalm 103:20
Fall is here, and the leaves are starting to change colors. Actually, they are starting to reveal the colors that have been within them all along. We just couldn’t see them because they were covered by chlorophyll, a chemical within the leaves that is used for photosynthesis. As the days grow colder and the nights grow longer the chlorophyll disappears from the leaves and the underlying colors within them show forth… and beautify our world!
In His Word God reveals to us another beauty and glory that is present among us but is hidden to our eyes. He tells us of angels, mighty spirit beings He created to do His will and minister to His people. Let us bless the Lord for their unseen presence! We need their mighty service in making safe and beautiful our lives.
For, there are other spirit beings also present among us: the devil and his angels. Also created by God but cast out of heaven for rebelling against Him, they have been thrown down to this earth and are wreaking great evil. We need the help of God’s good angels to fight against them! It is us, after all, us followers of Jesus, whom they hate above all and seek to destroy.
Where are they? How do they attack us? There are important things we can learn from today’s Scripture readings.
First, take note that Satan is called “the deceiver of the world” and “the accuser.” He is a voice, then: a voice of accusation and guilt, a teller of lies and deceit. How easy it is to hear his voice and the voice of his evil angels! It speaks to us often.
For instance, we heard this morning of how an angel came to Daniel in response to his prayer and said to him, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, I have been sent to you.” How easy it is, when hearing this, to hear another voice say, “Daniel was a great man of God, a far better believer than you. Of course God loved him and sent His angel to him! He would never send an angel to you.”
The voice speaks truth. You could be a much better believer. You could, and should, pray more, and more fervently. You could, and should, read your Bible more. You could, and should, be a better witness to Christ. You could, and should, fight harder against the sins that you give into so easily. You have good reasons to not expect a holy angel of God to come to you in response to your prayer.
Or, maybe not. Maybe you’re a strong believer and a good witness to Christ. Perhaps you’ve overcome temptations that you once easily gave into. Perhaps you pray easily and prayer is as natural to you as talking. People would not be surprised if an angel from God came to you!
Beware of the voice of pride! Whether it be the “high” pride of confidence in your strength of faith and goodness of life, or the “low” pride of knowing your weakness and sinfulness and thinking that God will not help you because of them, both voices are wrong. Both are the deceiving voices of the evil angels who have been thrown out of heaven. Listen to the voice of Jesus, the Son of God and Man from heaven who came down to us in mercy: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Christ gave this promise to sinners. He rescued us from Satan’s power and the accusations of our sins by forgiving them on the cross. He wrote your name in heaven when He inscribed the eternal Name of the Holy Trinity upon you in your Baptism. You bear the Name before which the demons tremble and flee! This is why God will – and does! – send His holy angels to help you. Yes, we are weak and lowly sinners. Let us admit this! For, we have a Savior who helps and serves sinners, and who sends His angels to do the same.
How their presence is needed! For, the deceiving voices of the evil angels are heard everywhere. They are even in the counsels of rulers and governments! The angel who came to Daniel told him that he had been delayed for 21 days because “the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me.” Thinking about this, Martin Luther wrote:
“Daniel calls the evil angels princes, as when he speaks [in Dan. 10] of “the prince of [the kingdom of Persia].” Hence we may understand why things are so wild and dissolute at the courts of kings and princes, and why they hinder the good and bring on war and unhappiness. For there are devils there, hounding and goading, or hindering to such an extent that nothing goes as it should.” (LW 35:305)
How important it is for us to pray for our leaders, especially those who are not godly and so are more easily influenced by Satan and his hosts. They need the help of God and His good angels.
Above all, however, you need to pray for Christ’s Church and the pastors and teachers who lead it. For, although the devil and his angels have been thrown out of heaven, on this earth they are especially present and active where and when God’s Word of salvation in Christ is proclaimed. They are present and active in churches; in seminaries and Bible schools; and, even in your home when you open the Word of God.
Don’t be surprised by this. The demons are not less wise than us. Have we not, in our air assault against the ISIS army, begun by bombing their command and control centers? Cut off the head and there will be no direction for the body. And so, Satan and his angels seek to attack the Word of God itself and those who proclaim it, that it might be twisted and distorted and people kept from listening to or relying upon it and so kept from God and His help.
Don’t let them take God’s Word from you: from your hands; from your eyes; from your ears; from your mind and heart. “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you,” Jesus says. This authority is God’s Scriptures. We need them, for no earthly weapon can overcome the great spiritual enemies who have been thrown out of heaven and have come down to us in great wrath! They are conquered “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” They are defeated by faith in Christ, faith that is created and nourished by God’s good Word.
It is often in the fall and winter of our lives, when our strength is ebbing and our days are shorter, that God’s Word becomes more important to us. And, that is good! But, none of us knows when our leaves will fall and our days will end. And so, hear God’s word of life in Christ and take it to heart now! Then, when your days end, God will send His holy angels to carry you to heaven, where He will crown you with mercy and great love. With them you will then join in singing,
Bless the Lord, O my soul, bless the Lord, O my soul!
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!