Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Volume 02, Number 31
church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker HWY
P.O. Box 30821
Bellingham, WA 98228
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In this issue:
What Do Angels Do Today?
Steven J. Wallace
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some
have unwittingly entertained angels” (Heb. 13:2).
As mentioned in the last article, the subject of angels is an intriguing one
where Hollywood has produced various shows and movies to profit from the
subject. In the first century, some were inclined to worship or at least
claim to worship angels (Col. 2:18).
Still, some may wonder about angels today. What do they do? Do they interact
with us today? Does their work bring them into contact with us? Could it be
that we may entertain angels by entertaining strangers? Is the Hebrew writer
We are called to not forget some things in Hebrews 13. We may be inclined to
not act when the duty to act falls upon us. He had spoken of brotherly
love in the previous verse and these strangers may be brethren of
who are not known to us. They were to remember the prisoners as if chained
with them (13:3). They were to remember those who rule over them and note
their example (13:7). They were to not forget to do good and share (13:16).
And so they were to remember to entertain strangers. Some had
entertained angels unwittingly. Abraham entertained angels in Genesis 18.
Lot entertained angels in Sodom (Gen. 19). Manoah had an exchange with the
Angel of the Lord and did not know it until later (Jud. 13:16).
While we must note what the instruction is for us we must also resist the
urge to read into the text what is not there. The Hebrew writer doesn’t say
we may entertain angels, only that some have. Well, what do angels do today?
Angels rejoice when a sinner repents.
Jesus said, “…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one
sinner who repents” (Lk. 15:10). This joy is in heaven, not on earth (Lk.
15:7). This proves that they know what goes on here and can find great
delight when people obey the gospel. Paul wrote, “For I think that God has
displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have
been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men” (1 Cor. 4:9).
Notice that they were a spectacle to angels also. In some way, God’s
manifold wisdom is made known by the church here to the principalities
and powers in the heavenly places (Eph. 4:10).
Angels accompany saints who die. Jesus taught that when Lazarus
died, although destitute of a friend on earth, he was carried to Abraham’s
bosom by the angels (Lk. 16:22). What a comforting passage! We know
that when the saint dies, he/she is not left alone to travel but is carried
up by a company of angels! All of this is God’s perfect will for us to hold
to and believe in.
Angels are concerned with the status of the saved.
Jesus propped up the innocence of little children in nature as worthy models
of the nature of conversion (Matt. 18:1-4). Humility stands out as a
key trait. He then transitions to the child of grace: a childlike disciple
of Christ who believes in Jesus (Matt. 18:6-9). The one who causes such a
“little one” to sin is doomed, and it would be better for a millstone to be
hung around his neck and drowned in the sea.
The Lord then warns against despising one of these little ones: “Take heed
that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in
heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven”
(Matt. 18:10). To despise is to look down upon or hold one with contempt.
Some have taken this passage to mean guardian angels that are assigned to
each believer. They guide their paths and keep them from harm. This idea
does not originate with the scriptures but with the imagination of
man. What happens when a Christian dies or is harmed? Did the angel fail?
Was the angel negligent? Jesus is not endorsing the guardian angel idea.
Rather, He is teaching that their angels are in heaven, not on earth, and
they always are before the Father, viz., they have constant access to Him.
Just as they are joyful when a sinner repents, they must also be disturbed
when a saint is despised, ridiculed, and spoken evil of.
The bigger point that Jesus seems to be making is that while the lowly
disciple may be held in contempt by others, not only the angels in heaven
know, but the Father is fully aware too! “Do not grumble against one
another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at
the door!” (Jas. 5:9).
Some want to pursue mysterious and sensational material where the
imagination can run wild. Preachers who venture into what seems sensational
and secretive are in high demand by those who have ears to be tickled (2
Tim. 4:3-4). We must be content to stay within what is written and not go
beyond what is taught in the Bible (1 Cor. 4:6).
Let’s appreciate what the Bible gives to us and understand, that angels, as
great as they are, cannot save us from sin. Our emphasis must be on Jesus.
He is our savior, priest, king, shepherd, and captain of our salvation (Heb.
1:5, 6; 2:9-18; 8:1).
Unless noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE AFRAID?
Jarrod M. Jacobs
As Ezra 3 begins, the people gathered together on the seventh
month. They came together to build an altar and worship (v. 1-3) since their
purpose for returning in the first place was to build a Temple for the Lord
(Ezra 1:2-5). Though not explicitly stated, since the incident recorded in
Ezra 2:62-63, they have found men who could serve as priests (Ezra 3:2-3).
The statement that gets my attention is
found in Ezra 3:2. It says that they had built the altar and sacrificed
because they feared the others in the land. They saw some people as threats
to them, so they began rebuilding the Temple by first building an altar to
worship God. This was not a one-time event. They saw that they needed to
have the feast of tabernacles, daily offerings, and other sacrifices God had
commanded them (Ezra 3:4-6) on this altar.
I am impressed that when they feared what
the enemies might do, those folks came together "as one man" (Ezra 3:1,
that's unity!) and determined to build an altar where they could sacrifice
as God had intended. In other words, when they were afraid, they turned to
God and worshipped Him!
Friend, what do you do when you are afraid?
To whom do you turn when you are scared? Do you turn to the Lord or away
from Him? Do you stop and worship and get your mind focused once more?
I know of mothers who have calmed and
consoled their small children by telling them, "Let's pray to God about
being scared." I respect and commend them for this, but my question is, what
are the adults doing? Spend time worshipping the God of Heaven and see how
things can be put into perspective. See how things can be calmed!
I know Asaph was about
to have a nervous breakdown over his worry about the wicked people and what
they seemed to be getting away with. Though the words "fear" or "afraid"
were not used in Psalm 73:1-16, you can read the tone of his worry as he
said even to think about this was "too
painful"! Later he changed his attitude. What calmed his
spirit and brought his mind back into focus? Read Psalm 73:17. When this man
worshipped God and focused on something greater than himself, it put his
life back in focus! He declared, "it is good for me to draw near to God: I
have put my trust in the Lord God" (Ps. 73:28). Was not their worship
producing the same thing for those scared citizens of Jerusalem (Ezra
3:1-6)? It was!
When David lost his son (II Sam. 13:19),
what was the first thing he did before he ate a morsel of food? II Samuel
13:20 tells us he worshipped God! David had sinned before God and saw that
the consequences of his actions meant his child would die (II Sam.
13:13-14). Would such dire news not scare any parent? He fasted and prayed
for a week (II Sam. 13:16-18), but when the news came of the death, he
focused his mind and life upon God and worshipped the One who can reunite
father and son (II Sam. 13:23)!
The worst part of
being scared is realizing how little control we have! Control is an
illusion, anyway! Sometimes, it is that fact that scares us the most, but
what will we do about it? Wouldn't it be wise to act like those brave
Israelites in Ezra? Worship God and turn over our worries to the One who has
control (I Pet. 5:7)!
Created by Tyler Rorvig-Rieksts, last updated.
The Mount Baker Beacon is a
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA.
Send all questions, comments to the editor, John Bass at (360) 325-5149