‘And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels…’ 1 Timothy 3:16
While the Bible tells us a lot about the activities of angels through the history of God’s people, they do not take centre stage and, as such, one can’t really trace the time of their origin. Some things we know, however, are that they are spirits, they were created by God, they worship Him, they are His messengers, they serve the heirs of salvation, and they do not die.
Also, they are so strong that one killed an army of 185 000 men in one night. And Jesus made reference to the fact that there are whole legions of them (over 80 000), so … yeah, they are quite a lot, and quite powerful too.
So picture this.
Did you know that the angels rejoiced at Creation (Job 38:7)? They had never seen a material world before, nor ever experienced such a dimension as Time, yet they watched as the Lord made these novel constructs, and they rejoiced. “How awesome is our Lord! He is in a class of His own … Holy!” Just when they thought God was so awesome He went ahead and blew their minds, making water and plants and animals and … to top it all, He wanted to make a being in His image and likeness out of, ahem, clay?! Of all the gems in the universe, He chose red earth? Oh well, He knew what He was doing. And what He made was a Clay-being, living and breathing. So much potential locked inside ‘walking Clay’. “Isn’t the Lord awesome?”
And God loved Clay. He gave authority in the material universe to Clay, and the ability to make things, to reproduce after his kind. They spent much time together, like friends. It was a privilege to watch, even much more to experience. But the angels could only watch in amazement as Clay experienced it all.
But Clay went ahead and ruined everything. He sinned and introduced an evil into God’s Creation, an evil that made Time a dreadful thing because of the end it promised. An evil called Death. And it was all because of Clay.
But the Lord didn’t turn away, loving as He is. He stuck with Clay and gave him rules and instructions to keep Death away a little longer, and to allow Clay and his descendants to still be able to interact with the Lord, in spite of their fallen, flawed and Death-tending nature. Over the centuries the Lord would even have to send the angels to help Clay’s people out of their self-induced mishaps and the consequences of their actions. Sometimes He sent them to help those that actually pleased Him. But in the end, Death still took over their bodies and they were separated from the Lord for the rest of eternity. For beings that lived all their lives in an immaterial realm, the ramifications of such a separation were stark and horrific to even consider.
Yet Claykind — or ‘mankind’, as they like to call themselves — lived their lives with its pursuits and desires, ambitions and dreams, oblivious to the larger supernatural world that surrounded and influenced their courses, oblivious to the battles the angels fought on their behalf in the unseen in obedience to the Lord’s orders, and oblivious to their impending eternal doom. Anytime they looked at mankind it was his cringe-worthy fallen state that stared back at them.
But then, the Lord had never strayed from His plan.
In the fullness of time, it all unfolded. The sacrifices and coded notes He’d slipped to mankind over the centuries through the prophets suddenly made more sense. He was going to settle the Man problem, by becoming a Man Himself.
Ah, the privilege! Such a wonder! Such a marvel! For the Creator of Worlds to take on the frame of the very creatures that had rebelled against Him. It was unspoken of in any other terms, but then it was the Lord here. He was coming in to make things right.
He had come, and He was a human baby.
“So this is what the Lord looks like? A Baby?! That’s Him right there, and the people are oblivious to even this? Have they no idea what’s just happened? Have they not an inkling of how privileged they are?”
Soon the order rang out, and one of the angels zapped over to a group of human shepherds to tell them the great news. Soon as he flicked the visibility cloak on, the men gasped in fear at the alien intruder. “Whoa, don’t be afraid! You won’t ever have to be afraid again, because what I’m here to tell you is GREAT NEWS about something that will bring joy to all your kind, EVERYONE! Because, for you, this very day, a Saviour has been born down in David’s town! He is Messiah, yes, the One you’ve been waiting for. He is the LORD! But instead of a shiny being, what you’ll find is a Baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger—” [a paraphrase of the account in Luke 2:10-12]
The men were still trying to grasp it all when the angel was suddenly joined by a heavenly knighthood, a multitude of them, singing and rejoicing! The skies were agog with light and music and joy so thick. The gist of what they sang was summarised as, “Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
They understood that God was bridging the gap between Himself and man, by Himself. But this would not be the end. They would watch Him grow as a man. They would watch Him die, and wonder why. They would watch Him rise, making the way for mankind to become a newer kind of being: sons of God. The Godkind. A people that are pleasing in His sight, and would do His will always. The product of God in union with man.
The journey to this was long and wrought with much agony, but it was the Lord’s doing. And He did it well. And the angels watched it all.
And they still watch, amazed by His goodness and faithfulness shown toward us. They are not to be worshipped, and they are quick to deflect any attempt to worship them, quick to point the attention to the One that deserves it all.
It was all His doing.
And when they look on the New Creation, the result of His sacrifice and victory, they are amazed over and over again.
“How favoured is mankind? The Lord has brought peace and goodwill to him.
How awesome is our Lord?
Just when we think He is awesome, He keeps on blowing our minds!
The Lord God Almighty is in a class of His own!
He is Holy!”
‘All [the prophets] were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves – through the Holy Spirit – the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!’
1 Peter 1:12