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Gabriel

THE VOICES OF ADVENT– GABRIEL: THE HEVENLY SENT ONE

Luke 1:11&12, 19, 26, 28-30, 35-37; Matthew 1:20; Luke 2:9-10; Matthew 2:13

This morning we want to focus on the angelic realm, which is very germane, not only as it relates to the advent season, but to Christians and the Kingdom of God in general.
              
Stanley Grenz, a biblical theologian, says that biblical faith asserts that we are not alone in the universe. Our world is populated by other life forms. In addition to the physical creatures, the biblical authors indicate that spiritual realities also participate in God’s created realm.

Like humans, these realities are moral agents responsible to God to fulfill a divinely given mandate

John Calvin, a reform theologian, said angels were ministering spirits whose service God uses for the protection of his own, and through whom God both dispenses his benevolence and also carries out his remaining works.

Hebrews, chapter 1, verse 1, says that angels are ministering spirits  sent to service those who will inherit salvation.

In fact, every book in the Bible with the exception of seven -- Ruth, Nehemiah, Esther, the Epistle of James, and the three letters of John – have some reference to angels.

Simply put, angels are spiritual beings created by God. They were created before there was time, before there was Earth, and before the foundation of the world was laid.

What are angels?

Angels are moral beings that engage in actions that are either right or wrong.

Angels differ from human beings in very significant ways. They are not material beings; they do not have a body, as such. And we really do not know what they look like.

There have been many artistic depictions of them, but I know of no living person that can honestly say he or she has seen an angel.

But we do know that angels have the powers of will and reason, meaning that they have the power to act and to think.

And neither are they limited by time and space. While people cannot walk through walls, angels are not limited by the  physical realities that limit us.

We cannot be here and there at the same time, but an angel, according to scripture, can be here one minute, and there the next.

And probably the most profound distinction between angels and humans is the fact that they have super human strength.

Their Function

When we look at scripture – specifically, the Book of Revelation (entire book) and the Book of Hebrews (first two or three chapters) -- it becomes clear that one of the primary functions of angels is to praise God.

But in addition, a secondary function is to minister on God’s behalf in the realm of human affairs

The Bible also teaches us that there are different classes of angels – or spirit beings

One group is called the Cherubim. In the Book of Genesis we read that once God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, He put Cherubim out to guard the Garden. They had a sword that moved in different directions to keep Adam and Eve from re-entering it.

Another group is the Seraphim. The Book of Revelation speaks of these angelic beings -- these spirit hosts -- as flooding the Throne God, singing God’s praises.

But then we read of Archangels. In the Book of Daniel, chapter 10, we have an angel by the name of Michael. In fact, throughout the entire breadth of scripture from Genesis to Revelation there are only two angels that are named: one is Michael; the other is Gabriel.

And the fact they are referred to as Archangels suggests that  there is a ranking of angels.

There is another group of spiritual beings – which we’ll discuss in depth at a later date. They are called Demons.

These are fallen angels. They are spiritual beings that have chosen not to act in accordance with God’s divine purpose. Their chief is Satin Lucifer who was at one time the Prince of all angles.

The word “angel” is in Greek “aggelos”, and in Hebrew “maleaach”. Broadly, the interpretation is one who is sent, or a messenger.

We discover from scripture there are two categories : they can either be a human messenger or a heavenly messenger.

So angels, we know from scripture, can take the form of human beings.

I believe that’s why the Bible says that we need to show kindness to strangers. Because you just might be welcoming an angel!

Both of these terms teach us that an angel is someone who has been sent by God with a special commission to fulfill.

Matthew and Luke provide insight  to the work of angels  in the realm of human affairs. Gabriel said to Zachariah, who was a priest, your prayer has been answered.

God uses angels to convey to us that our prayers have been answered.

Indeed, if there is something that you have been urgently praying for and seeking God for, we need to know that God always answers prayers. Even if the answer is no.

In the book of Daniel, chapter 10, the Archangel Michael appears to Daniel and says: “From the first day you prayed, your prayer was answered. But I have been held up for the last 21 days fighting the princes of Persia,” meaning that there was Demonic interference that had kept the response from getting to him.

If you ever wonder whether God has heard your prayer, I am here to tell you that God heard your prayer from the very first day you opened your mouth, but that sometimes there is interference in the line. Sometimes there is something that is blocking you from receiving your response.

If God were to give us our response immediately, sometimes we  couldn’t handle it. And sometimes God has to bring us to the point where we are ready to receive that response.

If we just look back over our lives, we would realize that there were many things that we asked for. But the fact is that God knows the right time. God knows when we can handle whatever it is that God desires for us.

But please note that God always answers prayer.

But then six months after visiting Zechariah, the angel Gabriel went to see a young virgin by the name of Mary. To the best of Biblical scholarship, we believe that Mary had to be between the ages of 14 and 18.

Now, I am talking to the women in the audience. Can you imagine an angel coming to you and telling you that you are about to conceive.

Well, yes your head would spin like Mary’s did. She said: “I have never known a man.”

But we need to look beyond that dialogue. One of the things that interaction teaches us is the revelation of God’s activity and will in our lives. Sometimes I have received things in my life that I didn’t deserve.

Mary did not do anything. She was no more special than any other Hebrew girl who lived in her village at tat time. But God decided to smile on her. God decided to show favor -- to bestow his Grace upon her.

Some of you have been worried about many things – you have been worried about your job, about how you are going to make it. But, bless God, Christmas is around the corner, you’ve still got a job; you’ve got $2 over your lunch money in the bank; and your kids are doing okay.

Sometimes God gives us things that we don’t deserve and yes, that is the good and the bad.

Job said should I take only the good from God and not the bad? We live in a world where there is good and evil, good and bad.

But the thing to keep in mind here is – as Mary said – no thing is impossible for God. So if God allows some pain, some misery, some suffering to enter your life you need to know that God is prepared to see you through it.

The angel leaves Mary and then he goes to the confused groom, Joseph – whom we shall discuss next week. Just imagine – and I am talking to the men right now – that your sweetheart pops up one day and says: ‘Honey, I have something to tell you.”

And so Joseph was troubled, befuddled. He couldn’t figure this out.

The angel said to him: “Fear not. Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.”  Because what she carries was conceived by the Holy Sprit.

Likewise, sometimes parents may look at their children, and wonder, when observing something they may be doing: “Where did they get that from?”

And I am here to tell you that what is in them – the talent, the skills, and the abilities that are in them — came from Go. And God allows these young people to showcase their talent not for our glory, but to bring into focus that God is the source.

Joseph, like us, needed a little clarity. He needed to understand that we’re not as powerful as we think we are, but that all power comes from God. God is trying to push away the distraction, that whether we lose our job today, we’re still going to be okay. That whether the stock market goes up or down, we’re still going to be okay.

After the angel leaves Joseph, he goes to visit the shepherds. And the Bible says that they were startled by this bright light, and that the angel tells them: “Do not be startled by strange occurrences.”

We need to understand that God moves and God works in ways that are out of the ordinary, that are not mundane. Those are not familiar to us.

And when we see strange things happening, when we hear strange music designed to raise our level of awareness, then [we see] there is more than one way to get to God  There is more than one way to fulfill God’s purposes for God’s Kingdom here on Earth..

And lastly the angel leaves the shepherds and goes back to visit Joseph This man must have really had problems. He had to have two visitations!

But notice what the angel said to Joseph. He said: “Get up! Get up! And take the child.”

The translation of “Get Up” from Greek to English is “stop sleeping.” That is, stop sleeping! wake up! move now!

The voice of Gabriel reminds us of two things. The first is that God is near. Gabriel said I stand in the presence of God and I want you to know that God is not removed from our situations; He is not removed from our circumstances. God is fully aware of what every person in this fellowship is going through and experiencing.

But God is waiting on us to stop looking to other tings and to other people. He is waiting for us to turn to him.

Because when we do, we’ll find out that – and here is the second point -- Jesus is near! The angel said I bring you Good News of great joy that will be for all people. Our Emmanuel.

God is with us. One of the reasons we don’t see God’s presence is because we’re not looking for him.

Christianity is a paradox. If you want to keep it, you have to give it away by sharing it with others. If you don’t know that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior  I invite you to invite him into your heart today.

 And make him Lord of your life.