My college campus years were spent in downtown Philadelphia, the primary building being an eight-story structure just across the street from a large Sheraton Hotel and conference center. On one occasion, President Ford was coming for an event. I worked part-time for the college in campus security, and in advance of the President’s arrival I drew an assignment of manually operating an elevator to take two secret service agents with high-powered rifles to the roof of the building. The advance team and detailed preparation was impressive.
My sister had a somewhat similar experience a couple of year earlier when Ford was Vice President. His oldest son was married in the church facility where my sister attended, and she was the VBS director who had to run a week-long program on that church campus in Catonsville over the days prior to the wedding. While she was dealing with throngs of kids, throngs of secret service agents were running around the same space making preparations for the Saturday wedding, including things like trial runs of helicopter landings and evacuations.
When an important person like a President is coming to town, the advance preparations are extensive. And so it is not surprising to see angels here, there, and everywhere when the King of Kings came to town in Bethlehem.
What exactly are angels? You’re taught in Theology 101 that the answer is found in Hebrews 1:14 – “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” They are servants of God to do His bidding. The word for angels – angeloi – means “messengers.”
Every so often in Scripture we see the curtains of heaven pulled back just a bit to reveal the work of angels, most of it being done out of sight. Angels are created, heavenly beings, dating back to before the creation of man. We know that one-third of them followed Satan in rebellion against God, and these fallen angels are the demonic forces at work against the progress of the Kingdom of God.
We know also that the good angels are organized in varied ranks in similar fashion as a military operation. They are given missions and assignments to carry out. And in that the incarnation of Christ and his subsequent work on the cross is the focal point of all history, angelic assignments related to this must have to rate very high with the heavenly hosts. If we are to have a first-person view of their role in the incarnation story, it probably is not stretching the point to imagine that the angels found these missions to be rather special among all their deeds of service over the eons of time.
To include the passages related to the angels and the incarnation, we would essentially have to print here the entire Christmas narratives from Matthew and Luke. An angel comes to Joseph on four total occasions. Gabriel visited Zechariah and scared him half to death. An angel spoke to Mary. And of course there was the vast angelic chorus who sang for the shepherds.
You might feel like this entire topic is so “back then” or “over there” in the spiritual realm. We’ll get to see angels when we pass from this life, but what does it have to do with the here and now? Well, chances are you’re not going to see an angel, but the truth is that they are rather near. The Scriptures teach that as children of the King we are in a constant spiritual battle … that though it appears our conflict is very much physical and material, in fact it is a struggle on a much higher level that is the true reality.
Ephesian 6:10 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.