February 26, 2012

God’s Messengers

The word “angel” can also be translated “messenger” and refer to a prophet, ambassador or teacher. However, many biblical references for angels refer to beings sent by God to people who did not have the written Word to guide them. Since Jesus came, God’s use of angels and prophets as messengers has diminished.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1–2)
Yet the Word of God tells us how God spoke to the prophets using angels. This helps me realize that He desires to communicate and is not without the means to do so. The ancients may not have had Bibles, but that did not stop God from speaking to them. 

For instance, the patriarch Jacob was given messages from God. In one, he was told to leave the land where he had met and married and gained much, and go home.
I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred. (Genesis 31:13)
Jacob heard from God. Even though this meant great upheaval for him and his family, he obeyed what God said. While on his journey, he had a visit from angels.
Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim. (Genesis 32:1–2)
Today’s devotional draws from this Old Testament narrative something for God’s people today. It says that we find angels around us also — when we obediently go on the path where God directs. If we go our own way, we may also meet them, but this will be an entirely different encounter, like Balaam who met an angel with a sword in his hand and strong rebuke on his lips.

The messengers of God can bring rebuke, but as those who met Jacob, they can also be “friendly helpers” who are emissaries of God’s love — bringing messages of grace and comfort. The devotional writer warns that if anyone wants to hear from God, His messengers do not haunt the roads that we choose for ourselves, but will meet us on paths of obedience.

Lord, Your people experienced both kinds of messengers. Some brought words of rebuke. Some came with words of comfort, revelation and instruction. When Jesus came, He promised the Holy Spirit to Your people. He fulfills both roles as He uses Your word, along with all sorts of messengers, to rebuke and guide us. I’m thankful that You gave us Your Word as the solid ground for clear communication. Whatever else angels might contribute, You have not left us in a dark silence, but put Your awesome message in a precious Person and into a precious book.

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