Saturday, July 21, 2012

What do angels want?

"Of which salvation... the angels desire to look into." I Pet. 1:10, 12 This passage always captures my imagination, the Greek word for "to look" literally means to stoop down or to bend over. Such illustrious word usage makes it easy for the imagination to run wild, for us to picture the angels leaning over the edge of heaven straining to see details of this divine drama. It begins with a race, though made a little lower than the angels, made superior to them in the fact that they were made in God's own image, rebelling against the God who made and sustained them. The concept of rebellion would not be strange to them, the angelic race was itself divided between those who rebelled against the Almighty and those who remained loyal. However, it was at the mere generality of rebellion that the similarities stopped, for unlike angels these humans married and procreated and perhaps the angels were ponderous at the idea of a spreading, contaminated race. The gulf between the humans and angels is further widened by the fact that when the angels rebelled it was an unpardonable act, they were separated, the angels that remained loyal God placed on one side and those siding with Lucifer placed on the other, forever antithesized. With these humans on the other hand, the first thing God did was to kill an animal as their substitute, cover their nakedness with it's skin, and promise that one day a conqueror would come to relieve them of the curse. Surely by now the angels were curiously crowding around to see what the Father of lights was doing. And then for the next 2,000 years (for whatever sense of time is had by such creatures in such a setting) the anticipation builds as they are periodically sent as messengers and helpers to steer these unruly sons of Adam and daughters of Eve along the course the Captain has set. Then, in the fullness of time, God the Son is brought forth as incarnate deity and the angels are allowed once more to enter the realm of man and sing of the mystery that they still don't fully comprehend, that of peace on earth and good will toward men. They continue their ministrations to the Son for the next 33 years, and one is even given the task of delivering the message to Jesus' followers at the empty tomb that they should not look for the living among the dead, that he was not there but had risen. Finally, Jesus has ascended back into heaven, the angels continue to marvel at this unfolding mystery and yet Peter says in the present tense that the angels still long to "look into" these things. The main purpose of this small statement is to cause the reader to stop and consider how precious, unique, powerful, and wonderful is the gospel. We are so enthralled with the doctrine of angels, we love to read novels depicting what it might look like "behind the scenes", we love to hear preachers and teachers unfold the biblical revelation we have on who they are and what they can do, and if they could give us a word of advice from their personal experience, I bet they would say to follow their example and be less interested in them and more interested in the wonder of the gospel!

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