Angels loom large in our future

The Bible makes it clear that angels will be very involved in what lies in store for humanity down the road. They were there when God breathed life into Adam’s lungs at the beginning and they’ll be on the premises when Christ returns to clean house and inaugurate His kingdom on earth. After that glorious day they’ll continue to dwell among us for as long as our limited imaginations can stretch because they’re the constant facilitators of God’s immaculate will and they’re indispensable to His creation’s administration. Our Heavenly Father multitasks but He’s also an efficient delegator who lets His angels remain active as agents in the grand design that continues to unfold.

Much of the future’s a mystery but we’ve been told plenty about what to expect in the short run. When God deems that Satan’s time is up that creep will be eliminated from our world and the Lord will establish a true theocracy. Until that day humans can only dream about living in absolute peace. And we’re not alone in our yearning. In Romans 8:22 Paul expressed that “the whole creation groans and suffers” as it awaits Jesus’ return. Even the Old Testament prophets longed for the wonderful event ahead when God lifts the curse mankind brought upon itself through disobedience, when “a wolf will reside with a lamb and a leopard will lie down with a young goat,” and when nations “will no longer train for war.” (Isaiah 2:4; 11:6) At that time it’ll be the angelic host that’ll see to it God’s royal decrees and divine purposes are fulfilled throughout the universe. You see, our Savior isn’t coming back alone. He’ll return in a spectacular show of power with the heavenly host at His side. As I mentioned in my last essay, two angels appeared to the disciples after Christ ascended and asked them pointedly why they were lollygagging around, gawking into the stratosphere as if they had nothing better to do. They told the awe-struck men that their master would eventually come back the same way he went out and, in the meantime, they’d best be about their evangelical business of spreading the Gospel. History shows they did just that.

It’s true that every generation of believers in the two millenniums of the Christian Church has looked around at the sorry state of affairs surrounding them and felt that surely they were living in the end times. Each of them struggled with their own panoply of conflicts, upheavals and disasters that seemed insurmountable. But somehow the world moved on regardless. If there’s anything our age has in common with the ones that preceded it, it’s that we’re convinced things can’t get any worse and the grand finale has to be near. (My opinion is we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.) Optimists figured science and technology would solve all our problems and, in some ways, it’s vastly improved the quality of life for many. For instance, a plethora of diseases have been eliminated and our ability to better communicate with each other has grown exponentially. However, it’s also given us weapons of mass destruction well-nigh unbelievable. The sad shame is that poverty, hunger, greed, injustice, racism, terrorism, lust, war and senseless killings are as prevalent as ever. While the inhabitants of earth must take the lion’s share of responsibility for those maladies’ continued existence, they’re all things Satan endorses and fuels because, as long as they prevail, he feels he’s able to throw monkey wrenches into God’s perfect plan. To the casual agnostic or atheist the only conclusion is that no one’s in charge of this circus freak show and we’re all headed straight for the abyss. But we who follow Jesus know better. These dark, ominous clouds gathering overhead have silver linings. Someday Lucifer’s rebellion will be ancient history because the Bible assures us that God can’t lose, that the devil and his minions will be exterminated and our world will once again be the paradise it was intended to be all along. And the angels will be instrumental in bringing that about.

Every sixty seconds that pass we’re another minute closer to Jesus’ return. We have to admit the hour’s later than ever before. We all sense that the human race is indeed hurtling towards a climax but only God’s Holy Word tells us what that climax will look and feel like. It says a new world is coming. Admirable achievements in science and technology have offered tiny glimpses of what a Utopian existence might be like but, left to our own corrupt devices and inherent sinful natures, we’ll never attain that goal in a trillion years. It’s our own collective rebellious demeanor that renders us incapable of loving our neighbors as ourselves. We’re fundamentally incorrigible and our punishment for that condition is death. There’ve been many respected geniuses who formulated inspired ideas about how to fix this world but they all died before they could do much of anything about it. As Hebrews 9:27 teaches, “…people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment,” and our best minds were no exception to that rule. Therefore, we can’t depend on anyone but God to repair what’s so obviously broken down here on terra firma and He’s indicated that He will, employing the angels to bring about the healing and restoration we ache for. Readers of the Holy Word can see the writing on the wall that says this madness won’t go on forever. Secular forecasters predict that something, be it global warming, a rogue asteroid, an incurable virus or a nuclear “oops” will do us all in. They say the clock’s ticking and we’re doomed to extinction. Are they right? Will man destroy himself? The answer is “no.” The great I AM has another outcome planned.

Since death is an inevitable fact of life, men and women throughout history have turned to the occult, Eastern mysticism, palm readers and goofy religions like Scientology to discover what the future (and the afterlife in particular) holds for them. The irony is that what they fervently seek has always been freely available all along. The Bible spells it out concisely and exclusively. It states in no uncertain terms that Jesus Christ is coming back with His army of angels in tow. It’ll be a huge surprise to the skeptics, for sure. 2 Peter 3:10 tells us that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” Romans 2:5 says it won’t be a nice day for some because it’ll be “a day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed.” Most think the Rapture will spare believers from the horrors those “left behind” will suffer but, nevertheless, what’ll transpire under Satan’s brief dictatorship will make the Holocaust look like a church picnic. Luke 21Jesus teaches that “People will be fainting from fear and from the expectation of what is coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Elsewhere in that poignant chapter He added, “Nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven.” He also indicated that Christians will not be immune. “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will have some of you put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name.” Yet our Lord includes a comforting salve: “Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” The life He speaks of is eternal life with Him in heaven.

Perhaps this scenario predicted by none other than our gracious Savior is a scary, unnerving news flash. I hate to burst your bubble but perhaps your preacher hasn’t told you that being a follower of Jesus doesn’t guarantee you a serene demise surrounded by loved ones. In fact, it could get downright ugly. Revelation 12 says before time began there was a terrible war waged in the heavens amongst the angels that’s never been fully resolved and its apex approaches when Lucifer will make his last stand. His awful fury will be unleashed upon God’s children without mercy. But it’ll be in vain. The Bible says the devil and his legions of fallen angels will be thrown into a lake of fire where they’ll no longer be able to tempt men and women to sin against God. And it’s the angels who’ll ramrod the Lord’s all-out attack. In Matthew 13:41-43 Jesus tells us, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom everything that causes sin as well as all lawbreakers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” If you’re a fan of happy endings then this one tops them all!

There are other passages that also indicate a battalion of angels will tag along when Jesus returns. Matthew 25:31 plainly states, “When the Son of Man comes in all his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” From that throne He’ll proceed to separate the saved from the damned. In Matthew 13 He presented us with what’s referred to as the “Parable of the Weeds and Wheat” in which both plants were allowed to grow together in the field until the harvest, whereupon the weeds were burned while the wheat was gathered. Some wonder why God doesn’t just step in and eliminate sin right now. Christ explained that if we were to try to eradicate all evil from this world we’d be relying on justice to be done but He pointed out that pure justice doesn’t exist on earth. Everyone’s guilty, including those who’d sit in judgment of others. That task will be handed over to the authorized angels, as the earlier scripture cited indicates. That’s why it’s vital we completely surrender our lives to our Savior. He’s going to turn this confused wasteland back into a lush Garden of Eden where we’ll live in uninterrupted harmony and peace with one another, the angels and our Creator. I feel sorry for those who don’t have that hope to hang onto. When we choose to follow Jesus our sanctification comes with a bonus of the protective watch and care of angels. Without them on our side the odds are stacked against us ever knowing lasting relief from loneliness, angst and a cold, cold heart.

If the Bible is correct then the future for believers is bright, indeed. God’s going to give this planet a complete makeover, relocate the New Jerusalem from heaven to our little spinning orb and give all those who’ve been redeemed by the blood of Christ a revered position above the angels. Not too shabby a deal, if you ask me! But for the time being life can be and often is tough sledding for many Christians. That’s where the angels come in to play. Look at what happened to Elijah. He burst upon the scene during one of Israel’s darkest hours. Like many of us, he could be full of spit and vinegar one moment and depressed the next. For example, he once stood up and challenged Baal’s prophets to prove their god was mightier than the great I AM. When the God of Abraham kicked Baal’s tail decisively Queen Jezebel went ballistic and vowed to chase Elijah down and murder him. Elijah wisely ran away but eventually he collapsed from exhaustion and slipped into a major funk over the whole episode. An angel woke him and supplied him with a supernatural granola bar and Gatorade. He then fell asleep again. The second time the angel roused him the meal was so energizing it enabled Elijah to travel 40 days and nights to the safety of Mount Horeb. The gist of the story is that God won’t abandon us when the world caves in. If we live Spirit-filled and Spirit-directed lives we can claim God’s promises to provide us with what we need physically, psychologically and spiritually to overcome any adversity. In most cases it’s His angels that deliver what’s needed most. It’s called hope and those who don’t know Jesus unfortunately don’t have access to it.

What I’m emphasizing is that, contrary to appearances, Christ is in control of the big picture. In 1 Peter 3:22 the author refers to Jesus as the one “who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him.” And the time’s coming when the 24 elders of His angelic creation will fall down before Him and praise Him with a brand new song. (Revelation 5:9) The angels will surround the throne and join every creature in existence in worshipping our Lord while singing phrases like “Worthy is the lamb who was killed to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and praise!” and “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, honor, glory, and ruling power forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:12-13) While this’ll be a new experience for mortals, it’ll be par for the course for God’s angelic host. They’ve never wanted to do anything but the will of the Father in heaven and give Him all the credit. They’ve never disappointed God. They’re as dedicated to doing good as the fallen angels beholden to Satan are to doing evil. And those two sides are engaged in an epic battle we humans are woefully (some may say blissfully) unaware of. So much so that many people don’t think it’s for real. But the Bible reiterates over and over that it’s real as rain and that Christ and his army of angels will emerge triumphant. Each one of us must make a stand. Jesus said in Luke 12:8-9, “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before God’s angels. But the one who denies me before men will be denied before God’s angels.” I don’t want to even try to envision what it’d feel like to discover the angels don’t know who I am because my claims to be a follower of Christ were bogus. All would be lost for all eternity to come. No, I want to be in that number when the saints go marching into what Scripture describes as “the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9) because it’s going to be a party like none other. Jesus Christ will be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords and every knee shall willingly bow before His majesty.

Yet a lot of frightful stuff is going to go down before that celebration commences and the angels will be in the thick of it. It’s possible other galaxies and celestial systems will be greatly affected by what’s to culminate in that terrific showdown but we aren’t privy to that info. What we do know is that Earth is ground zero and the whole universe is watching. How mind-boggling it is that we frail individuals play an integral part in the most crucial conflict of the ages! What began in Genesis 3:15 with God placing a curse on Satan with “I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel” is going to end at Armageddon and we’ll be there to see it. But don’t despair. Keep in mind the last picture in God’s Holy Word is that of heaven.

If you ever get discouraged I recommend you peruse Revelation chapter 22. There you’ll find that, as one of the redeemed, you’re destined to be a superior to the angels and heaven will be a magnificent 24/7 reality for you. You’ll read of its indescribable beauty where you’ll mingle with the angels who watched over you through thick and thin forevermore. In verse 6 the writer relates that it was an angel who told him “’these words are reliable and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.” And take solace in the line that follows, “Look! I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book.” Stay true to your faith and all will work out fine. That’s a promise.

last day

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