I’ve always rather fancied encountering an angel…consciously. A few people I know have had this experience and I confess to a touch of envy. How cool must it be to see one of these impressive entities that appear in Scripture?
Except that in Scripture they don’t necessarily seem all that impressive. Some individuals met angels and thought they were just ordinary people. Others saw ordinary people and thought they were angels! And some were entirely surrounded by angels but never even noticed – which is probably a fair reflection of reality, and of most peoples’ experience.
Yet in Scripture, even when angels do feature extensively (as in Revelation), they somehow manage to remain slightly elusive and almost anonymous. A few are named, and their appearance may be striking, but mostly they seem to have only brief, ‘walk-on’ parts in the narrative; hardly ever the main character.
But there are reasons for this:
“It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come…” (Heb 2:5).
Pause and let this sink in.
“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb 1:14)
Pause some more and reflect on this.
“Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Cor 6:3)
Pause again, and be astounded.
Angels remain in the background because we mortals are called to be the leading players. Awesome though these heavenly beings certainly are, as far as this earth is concerned, God has ordained that they play a supporting role to his human sons and daughters; his physical image-bearers; those he has destined to be his vice-regents in creation, now and in the age-to-come. That’s you and me.
This is not to demean angels. Far from it. Rather, it is to underline the astonishing honour & authority that he has prepared for us ordinary men & women. Yet not so ‘ordinary’.
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit…” (CS Lewis: The Weight of Glory)
King-of-the-coming-age, help me to appreciate those around me in the light of their breath-taking destiny.
And to live each of my days in anticipation of, and preparation for, this vocation.