Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Angels Part 1 Devoted to Worship

As a result of re-reading two Frank Peretti novels, some interesting discussion at our weekly Bible study group, and my read the Bible in two years commitment, I have been wanting to learn more about angels. Since I just finished the Fruit of the Spirit series here, and since my other studies take up my meager devotional times, I'm exploring the notion of writing about what I learn from my angel study here. I am not sure if there will always be a direct connection to special needs, but it will keep me accountable to actually do the study, and I hope it will be encouraging to you.

I am using a book called "Angels" by Douglas Connelly, A LifeGuide Bible Study. It is divided into eight studies. I don't expect to quote much of the book (it is mostly just suggested scripture passages and questions) but I don't want to pretend that the format is entirely my own idea, either.

First, some background: I believe angels are real, spiritual beings. The Bible speaks about them extensively. What is hanging me up is a mixture of what I will call "folklore" and flashes of Bible stories that I have heard from childhood on. I want to have a clear Biblical understanding of who these creatures are, what they do, and how they are different from people.

Today's passages are Isaiah 6:1-7 and Revelation 5:11-14. The Isaiah passage describes a vision that the prophet Isaiah experienced in the year of the death of King Uzziah (740 B.C, King of Israel). He suddenly finds himself in the presence of God and His angels. Isaiah calls the angels seraphs (which means burning ones) and describes them as creatures with six wings. Two wings cover their faces, two wings cover their feet, and with two they fly. As they fly they call to each other, worshipping God:

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.
Isaiah 6:3 (NIV)

Isaiah also describes a close encounter with one seraph. Understandably so, Isaiah becomes acutely aware of his own faults and sins and confesses aloud that he is undone because of his unclean lips. One of the seraphs flies to him with a live coal in his hand, touches Isaiah's lips with the coal and assures him, "See this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." (Isaiah 6:7, NIV)

In Revelation, the apostle John describes a similar scene around God's throne where millions of angels sing:

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!
Revelation 5:12 (NIV)

Their praise inspires every creature in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and on the sea to respond in kind:

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
forever and ever!
Revelation 5:13 (NIV)

From these passages we can glean several truths about angels, and particularly seraphs:
  • They are spiritually pure - they reside in the presence of the Holy God.
  • They are actively at work worshipping God and tending the altar.
  • They understand that sin requires purification and atonement.
Most importantly, we can enter into worship with them. Though we are not pure as they are, there is a way that we can be cleansed. Our sin is atoned for, and we can worship God as they do. I was particularly drawn to the simplicity of their worship. They focus on God's character - Holy, Almighty, Glorious, Worthy; and what He is due - in short, everything. This simple formula should be accessible to everyone. One of the blogs I frequent, Specialgathering, is focused on creating communities of worship for individuals with special needs. At the foot of God's throne all are equal.


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