The Angels of Heaven

Luke

The Angels of Heaven

December 8th, 1963 @ 7:30 PM

Luke 2:1-16

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Related Topics: Angelology, Angels, Gabriel, Michael, 1963, Luke
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THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 2:1-16

12-8-63    7:30 p.m.

 

 

On the radio you are invited to turn in your Bible to the second chapter of Luke, and with us in this great auditorium in the First Baptist Church of Dallas, to read together the first sixteen verses.  The first sixteen verses of the Third Gospel, Gospel of Luke, chapter 2; starting off with a decree from Caesar Augustus in the days of Cyrenius the governor of Syria; do you have the place?  Luke chapter 2, the first sixteen verses.  And we are preaching tonight about The Angels in Heaven.  Now all of us reading together:

 

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:  and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not:  for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

 [Luke 2:1-16] 

 

You can easily see why such a passage should be chosen for such a subject as I speak of tonight; The Angels in Heaven.

There will be a time in these later days when I shall prepare theological discourses on the angels in heaven.  We shall enter the subject deeply.  It is so interesting to me.   I know it will be to you.  But tonight, because of this season of the year, when we see representations of angels everywhere, when the choir and its music speaks of them so frequently, and when the story is so filled with their words of glory and praise, I thought it would be in keeping with this happy season of the year if I spoke on the angels of heaven.

First: they are created beings, as we are.  Colossians 1:16, "For by Him," our Lord, "were all things created, that are in heaven, that are in earth, visible, corporeal, invisible, spirits, whether they be thrones," and this refers to spiritual beings, "thrones, dominions, principalities, powers:  all things were created by Him, and for Him:  And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together, consist."  The whole created universe revolves around the person and glory and dominion and power of the Son of God our Lord.  And among those created beings are the angels in glory.

The eighth Psalm says that God created us, mankind, just a little below the angels, and crowned us with glory and power [Psalm 8:5].   But in Christ we shall be a joint heir with the Son and Prince of heaven.  And in that day that is to come, we shall be exalted above the angelic host; so much so that Paul could say, in 1 Corinthians 6:3, that, "We shall judge the angels."

They are created beings, and we are not to worship them or to pray to them.  As glorious as was the intermediate angel who mediated to the apostle John the visions of the Revelation, so overpowered was the apostle with the presence of that glorious creature that he fell down to worship him, and the angel said, "See thou do it not: for I am of thy brethren, and of the prophets who speak of Jesus: worship God" [Revelation 22:9].  So the angels are fellow creatures and fellow servants, as we:  they invisible spirits; we in our corporeality and our humanity, but someday to be exalted above them.

Their numbers is beyond imagination.  How many angels are there?  How many did God create?  In the fifth chapter of the Revelation and the eleventh verse, John says, "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the cherubim and the elders:  and the number of them, and the number of them was muriades muriadon, chiliades chiliadon."  What is that?  The King James Version translates it, "And the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands"; beyond what mind could imagine has God created the glorious angelic hosts – myriads of myriads, of thousands of thousands, of ten thousands times ten thousands, beyond what mind could conceive of, God’s angelic host.

May I speak of their power?  Our Lord, when He was being arrested, was defended by Simon Peter.  And the Lord said to Simon, "Put up the sword, sheath it.  Thinkest thou not I could pray to My Father, and He send Me twelve legions of angels?  But then how could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be, and the Son of Man must die?"  [Matthew 26:51-54].   A legion, a full compliment was six thousand.  Twelve legions of angels would be seventy-two thousands of angels.

What is an angel able to do, just one, just one?  When the Assyrian army under Sennacherib held Jerusalem in an iron hand, surrounding the city, threatened Hezekiah with slaughter and slavery, God said to Hezekiah, "Be not troubled nor afraid:  I shall put a hook in his nose, and send him back by the way that he came."  And that night, and that night, an angel, an angel, one angel, that night one angel passed over the camp of the Assyrians; and when Sennacherib arose the next morning, he counted one hundred eighty-five thousand dead corpses!  [2 Kings 19:35].  That may be redundant, corpses would never actually be dead, but I just can’t help but emphasize it.  I’d expect a corpse to be dead, but they were dead dead.  That’s what I’m saying.  One angel, just one:  and our Lord spake of seventy-two thousand, the power of an angel!

The twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Matthew says, "And there was a great earthquake, because an angel," an angel, "came down from heaven and rolled the stone, and in contempt sat upon it, as though a stone could encase and hold and imprison the Son of God!  And his face was like the lightning, and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men" [Matthew 28:2-4], the power of an angel.  And an angel came and smote Peter on the thigh, and said, "Arise, and his chains fell off" [Acts 12:7], the power of an angel.  And an angel struck Herod Agrippa I, and he died because he blasphemed the name of God [Acts 12:23], the power of the angels of God.

I must speak so briefly.  They are in ranks and in separate stations and assignments.  There are angels.  There is an archangel.  There are cherubim, plural, cherubim.  There are seraphim, plural; and they have names.  "God calleth His own sheep by name" [John 10:3], He knows you, your name; the number of the hairs in your head.  He knows where you live.

"Go," said He to Ananias, "go to the street that is called Straight; there you will find Saul of Tarsus down on his knees praying" [Acts 9:11].  The Lord went to Zaccheus up to that tree, up that street and to that same tree where he climbed up, and said, "Zaccheus," called him by name as though He had known him all of his life, and Zaccheus had never seen Him before, and He had never seen Zaccheus [Luke 19:5].  The Lord knows you.  You have a name.  The Lord knows His angels by name.  They are named.

One is Michael, who is like God, the mighty God.  Michael: he stands for Israel; God’s chosen people. Michael: he fought, he fights, in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation, against Satan and casts him down to earth with a third of his angelic host [Revelation 12:7-9].  He contended, in the ninth verse of Jude, he contended with the devil himself about the body of Moses.  There’s only one little hint there that I don’t quite understand:  practically every theologian will say there is one archangel, one.  In the ninth verse of Jude, he is called "Michael the archangel, ho archangelos, the archangel."  At the raising of the dead, it is Michael the archangel, whose voice shall be heard, and the dead shall be raised [1 Thessalonians 4:16].

But there’s only one thing I wonder at.  In Daniel, Michael is called "one of the chief princes" [Daniel 10:13]; and if Michael the archangel is called "one of the chief princes," that means there are other chief princes, if he’s one of the chief princes.  And if Michael is an archangel, then I do not know, but it just seems to me if Michael the archangel is one of the chief princes, then there are other archangels.  I think there are.  But he has to do with defending His people and with raising in triumph God’s beloved who sleep in the dust of the ground; and he fights for the people of God, Michael.

Gabriel; Gabriel is always announcing redemption.  In the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel, he foretold the coming of the Messiah [Daniel 9:20-27].  In the Book of Luke, he stands to announce to Zacharias the birth of John the Baptist [Luke 1:11-19].  In the later chapter, the [same] chapter of the Book of Luke, he stands before Mary to announce the birth of the Savior [Luke 1:26-38].  Gabriel: does Gabriel have a trumpet?  Well, the Texas song says so, that Gabriel has a trumpet.  I don’t know, it just says in the fifteenth chapter of the first Corinthian letter "that the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed" [1 Corinthians 15:52].   Well, who has the trumpet that sounds?  Michael has the voice:  "At the voice of the archangel the dead shall rise; at the sound of the trumpet the dead shall rise" [1 Thessalonians 4:16],  well, maybe Gabriel has the trumpet.  We don’t know.

Another name of an angel, Lucifer; and when we have opportunity sometime, we shall carefully see the angel, the cherub, in whom sin first was found.  When you read the story of the garden of Eden, and the sin transgression of our parents manifestly, beyond that story and that beginning, there is another sinister, evil conspirator, who is an enemy to God and to God’s creative workmanship [Genesis 3].

Sin does not begin in our parents.  Sin begins before, before.  Sin begins in an angel.  And he carried with him a third of the host of heaven [Revelation 12:4].  Satan is not in hell, as Milton says.  Satan is loosed.  He has access to heaven.  He has access to earth.  He has a kingdom in this earth.  He rules over angelic host himself.  Some angels are in darkness, in prison, waiting the great judgment day of Almighty God.  We shall look into those things in the future.  I must hasten.  I must hasten.

There are angels who look over and watch over and guard over us.  The angels are interested in us.  The angels look down upon us.  For example, our Lord says, "I say unto you that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth."  Joy in heaven.  And the Lord says, "I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" [Luke 15:10].

He makes a distinction there.  When somebody comes to Jesus, there is gladness in the angelic host; there is gladness in their presence.  Who are they in the presence of the angels who rejoice when somebody is saved?  They are so interested in redemption that Peter says, "And they desired to look into those things" [1 Peter 1:12], marveling, the angels, as they watched, and as they looked, and as they followed the life of our Savior, as they ministered to Him, as they strengthened Him.  The story of redemption so beautifully sung about, the angels are interested; they were interested, "desiring to look into it":  listening to the words of the prophets, seeing what they spake of, wondering what God would do to save the lost sinner man.

There are guardian angels.  In the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, our Lord says, "Do not despise one of these little ones," a child by nature, or a little somebody who has just come to Jesus and maybe is feeble in the faith, "Verily I say unto you," whenever the Lord says that, He is going to say something new, a new revelation, "I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven" [Matthew 18:10].  There is an angel; there is a guardian angel for each one of these little ones, each one.  And according to the Word of God, the more I read it and the more I study it, I am the more convinced that there are guardian angels who minister to us.  For example, first Hebrews, the fourteenth verse, the last verse, says, "Are they not ministering spirits?  Are the angels not ministering spirits, sent to minister to those of us who are to be the heirs, the inheritors of salvation?"  [Hebrews 1:14].  The angels watch over us, and minister to God’s children.

When Elijah was under the juniper tree and he was so discouraged he wanted to die, an angel touched him and fed him [1 Kings 19:4-5].  In the lions’ den, when Daniel was cast to those ferocious beasts, Daniel said, "An angel from God did the Lord send to keep me and to save me" [Daniel 6:21-22].  The Lord was ministered to beyond what I have time to follow by the angels of heaven [Matthew 4:11].  And in that dark storm at sea, Paul said to those aboard ship, "For there stood by me this night an angel of God" [Acts 27:23].  Watching the Ethiopian eunuch pass by, the angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go preach the gospel to him" [Acts 8:26], the angels that watch over us.

And the angels are coming in mighty power when the Lord comes back from heaven to the earth, and they’re going to gather God’s elect that they be saved, and they’re going to cast into judgment and perdition these who rejected the mercies of our Lord; the angels.  "Behold He cometh; and the angelic host shall descend from glory with Him" [Matthew 25:31].  And when we die, the angels carry us to heaven.  "And it came to pass," if the Lord tarries, and we fall asleep in Jesus, "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom" [Luke 16:22].  When we die, the angels take our souls to be with our Lord in heaven; the angels.

That’s why in our beautiful and most precious songs you’ll see that recur again and again.  For example:

 

My latest sun is sinking fast,

My course is nearly run;

My strongest trials now are passed,

My triumph is begun.

 

O come, angel band,

Come and around me stand;

O bare me away on your snowy wings

To my immortal home;

O bare me away on your snowy wings

To my immortal home

["My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast"; Jefferson Hascall]

 

When we die, the angels come for us, to take us to heaven.  You see it in the song,

The consecrated cross I’ll bear

Till death shall set me free;

And then go home a crown to wear,

For there’s a crown for me.

 

O precious cross! O glorious crown!

O resurrection day!

Ye angels from the stars come down

And bear my soul away.

["Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?"

stanza 3, George N. Allen; stanza 5, Henry W. Beecher]

 

It’s good theology.

And that’s why the song about Elijah, when Elijah was carried up into heaven in a whirlwind, he saw the chariot of God [2 Kings 2:11].  And in Psalm 68:17, "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels."  And that’s why in the singing, in the singing, we speak of the chariot and the angels coming for Elijah to take him up into glory.  Sing it with me, everybody:

 

Swing low, sweet chariot,

Coming for to carry me home,

Swing low, sweet chariot,

Coming for to carry me home.

 

Now look at the theology in the stanza.  This is good Bible, this is good theology, this reflects the spirit and the revelation of the Word of God.  Sing this stanza with me:

 

A’lookin’ over Jordan, what did I see?

Coming for to carry me home,

A band of angels a’comin’ after me,

Coming for to carry me home.

 

Swing low, sweet chariot,

Coming for to carry me home,

Swing low, sweet chariot,

Coming for to carry me home.

["Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"; Author Unknown]

 

That’s the Book.  "And it came to pass, when that beggar died, loving Jesus, that he was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom," into the presence of the glory of God [Luke 16:22].  To the Christian it’s a triumph whether we live and the Lord changes us in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, or whether we fall asleep in Jesus and the angels take us in their arms to glory.  Oh the blessedness and the preciousness of the faith and the hope we have in the Lord Jesus.

Now while we sing our song of appeal, somebody you, put his life in the hand and the keeping of Christ; somebody you, put his life in the fellowship of our dear church; one of you, a family of you, as the Spirit of Jesus shall press the invitation to your heart, make it tonight.  Make it tonight, come tonight.  Make it now. There’s a stairwell at the front, at the back, on either side; there are aisles all of which lead to the front and to the Lord; make it now.  Make it now.  Come now, while we stand and while we sing.

THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 2:1-16

12-8-63

 

I.          The created, ministering hosts of God

A.  Created as we are (Colossians 1:16, Revelation 22:8-9)

B.  We are created lower (Psalm 8:5)

      1.  But in Christ we are to be exalted above (1 Corinthians 6:3)

C.  Their numbers is beyond imagination (Revelation 5:11, Hebrews 12:22, 2 Kings 6:17)

D.  Their power (Matthew 26:51-54, 2 Kings 19:35, Matthew 28:2, 4, Acts 12:7, 23)

 

II.         Their ranks, names

A.  They have names (John 10:3, Acts 9:11, Luke 19:5)

      1.  Michael – "who is like God"

a. Stands for God’s chosen people; fights Satan (Revelation 12:7)

b. The archangel (Jude 9, Daniel 10:13, 21, 12:1)

2.  Gabriel

a. Always announcing redemption (Daniel 9:26, Luke 1:5-7, 26-33)

b. Does he have a trumpet? (1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16)

3.  Lucifer

a. Sin beyond the garden – first in an angel

 

III.        Interested in us

A.  Joy in heaven (Luke 15:10, 1 Peter 1:12)

B.  Guardian angels (Matthew 18:10, Hebrews 1:14, 1 Kings 19:5-8, Daniel 6:22, Acts 27:23, 8:26)

C.  Will return with the Lord (Luke 16:22, Psalm 68:17)