How many of you know that we’re in a battle?
When you’re in a battle, there is a tendency to think horizontally: we stare intently across the battlefield at those arrayed against us, ducking and deflecting the arrows whizzing at us—whether they be made of wood and metal but of daily circumstances or momentary emotions or quivering urges of the flesh. There is a tendency to thank naturalistically, with our five senses heightened and our finite reasoning looking for protection or escape that we can fend for ourselves.
So this week, the Ruach Kodesh instructed me to begin to meditate about angels, because angels operate in the vertical. Angels are sent out from the highest heavens, where they delight to worship HaShem in the most exalted place. Prophets of the Most High urge us to look up and see them arrayed in the skies or in the treetops to fight for us and with us. The angels are ranked, arranged in hierarchical order—which has led many to fall from pride and envy and yet has led many more to humble themselves as ministers to humans, though we are so frail compared to the supernatural angels. Yet we were created “a little lower than the angels” and moreover, in Messiah, we are destined to be higher, to judge the angels. So let’s make sure we learn some lessons from the experience and perspective of our partners in God’s Kingdom. V’eemru (and let us say?)
How many of you have been experiencing a battle personally? How many of you know that Israel is in a battle How many are aware of a prophetic-intercessory connection between Israel’s battles and our own? Nancy has spoken more than once about this connection and urged our Strategic Prayer Centers to pray with this perspective and conviction. In a sense the connection should be obvious: the Messianic Jewish movement, though it began in the diaspora—in America which is geographically far from Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel—is always pointing to Zion, for it was born along with the rebirth of the nation in the land; it was revived with the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967; and it will reach its fullness when the Spirit of Messiah regathers all His people back to the land under His banner, as it is written in Isaiah 11:12, “He will lift up a banner for the nations, and assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” When Messiah lifts up a banner, it is important we look up and see it? V’eemru? I assure, His armies of angels see the banner, and they are rallying to His side to assist Him in regathering His scattered people. V’eemru?
Yes, the connection between the battles taking place in the land of Israel and the battles we face here becomes more obvious when we also lift up our sights in the spiritual realm. Isn’t that what the Spirit is saying through these prophetic utterances? This battle of over Israel is not just being fought between missiles & the anti-missile Iron Dome, but between demonic principalities & angelic armies. V’eemru? Can you see it?
Look at 2Kings 6:15. It is in this supernatural perspective that the prophet calls us to look up and see: “Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was surrounding the city. So his attendant said to him, ‘las, my master! What are we going to do?’”
Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, saw a huge army horses and chariots surrounding the city to capture them and panicked. How many of you can relate, humanly? (Just pretend you aren’t familiar with the rest of this story for a moment. Instead consider about how you’d react when circumstances seem to be against you. So how many of you can relate to Gehazi, humanly? With his natural eyes, all he could see those chariots, and his human reasoning all he could reckon was it was looking bad for them.
Now it happens that Gehazi’s name in Hebrew means, Valley of Vision or Gorge of Seeing—it could be a place of supernatural revelation & power or a place of natural panic, destroying many armies. Alas, despite serving the prophet, Gehazi tended to limit himself to his natural senses and reasoning. He was awestruck by Syrian chariots and later he envied the riches of Naaman.
How are we doing? Can we be set free from the dominance of the spirits of secularism and naturalism to embrace wholeheartedly the supernatural and the holy?
Continuing in v. 16 “Fear not,” [Elisha] replied, “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “ADONAI, please open his eyes that he may see.” Then ADONAI opened the eyes of the young man and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Spirit of God, open our eyes so that we may see chariots of fire!
Last Shabbat morning was crazy. When I got up, our wireless adapter wasn’t connecting, so I couldn’t print my message. When I finally, after several attempts, got our wireless router rebooted, I saw in email that Jesse was not feeling well enough to come in. So I needed another laptop computer for the Powerpoint. I tried calling Shameika, but the phone number I had for her was a wrong number. Meanwhile, we were short-handed with musicians because Pamela and Kim were at the Messiah conference and Vikki couldn’t make it. Donnie couldn’t play guitar because of a hand injury, and Joy was having trouble assembling the music, and when Joy came in, she realized that she need Pamela’s guitar, which was still at our house.
How many of you have ever had mornings like that? How many of you have considered more may be going on than meets the eye? How many of you have considered that these things were happening to us while large numbers of missiles were flying deep into Israel?
So we pressed into prayer and trusted in the Spirit of Messiah to bring everything into order, and He did. And during the Time of Waiting and prophecy, there were two messages about the battle we face and reminding us that the Lord is the Master of breakthroughs. V’eemru?
In 1 Chronicles 14, David won a battle against the Philistines, after consulting with HaShem. He called the place of victory, Baal-perazim, which means means: “Master of Breakthroughs.” In v. 11, David explained why: “God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like the breakthrough of waters.”
But the Philistines attacked again (those Philistines down in Gaza never seem to give up, do they?), so David again inquired of God. the winning strategy was different this time. 14b… God said to him, “Do not go up after them, instead circle around behind them and attack them in front of the balsam trees.”
God is a master of battle plans—only this time, instead of a frontal assault, the Spirit of God directed David was to do a flanking maneuver—God is a great general! But the next part of His plan was a little different: 15 “Now it will be when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then march out to battle, for God will have gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.”
Commentators find this verse a bit mysterious. What’s this about a sound of marching at the tops of the balsam trees? Most human armies don’t march above the tree line, do they?
But angelic armies do! This time Adonai Tzva’ot (the Lord of Armies) ordered an angelic army to join David’s human army to attack the Philistines together. It was important that David’s listen for the angelic army first.
Gehazi saw angelic armies, David heard them; Messiah Yeshua knew he could call on them at any time.
Our battles look different when we look up and see or hear angelic armies on our side. V’eemru? It’s important to look up, lift up your heads!
For as Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” When we think our struggle is against flesh & blood, we are thinking horizontally; that’s natural; but when we see that our struggle is against rulers, powers & forces of wickedness—that’s vertical; that’s supernatural. At just such a time, we need to see that though there haSatan and his minions may be our adversaries, Mic-ha-el and the angelic armies are our allies. V’eemru?
Angels are sent from the highest heavens, where they delight to worship HaShem in the most exalted place. In Isaiah 6, the prophet beholds seraphim flying about HaShem in the Temple, calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” Seraph comes from a Hebrew root meaning fiery or burning. These seraphim are angels of spiritual fire, and they are on fire to worship the Holy One. How about you?
In Revelation 5:11, John “looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders—their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,” and they are now and forever worshipping the Lamb who was slain seated on the throne. When we worship here in this sanctuary, are we aware that we are joining myriads of angels around the throne?
Angels may also appear as ordinary human
s. The angels that went down to Sodom and Gomorrah looked like fine-looking young men. Heb. 13:2 advises us, “Don’t neglect to show hospitality to strangers—for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it.” At our Bible study, Lil and Barry shared stories about strangers who turned out to be angels, showing up and disappearing suddenly….
While hasatan and eil angel seek to deceive and trip us up, good angels are sent to be our guardians and helpers, “to bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).
Why are angels so coy? I may have to do with the vertical perspective. Angels like to spend as much time as possible in heaven (wouldn’t you?), but when the Lord sends them, they can drop down into our world from out of eternity and when their mission is accomplished, go up again, between moments.
Also, good angels don’t want us to pay too much attention to them, lest we worship them: you shall worship Adonai your God alone. V’eemru? .
The angels may be ranked, in hierarchical order. Church fathers and Kabbalistic Rabbis have come up with elaborate ranking systems, each with ten levels, though the Christian and Jewish schemes are different.
The Bible doesn’t provide such details, however. At our zakenim meeting this week, Pericles asked if we knew who was the highest angel. How many of you think you know. So I asked him who he thought this highest-ranked angel is. [a] He said, Michael. How many of you agree? However, I pointed out that there was one higher: Lucifer. For Judah (Jude) 9 says, “But when Michael the archangel, disputing with the devil, was arguing about the body of Moses, he did not dare to render a judgment against him for slander, but said, “May the Lord rebuke you.” So we see Michael deferring to the devil—even after this once brilliant archangel had been banished from heaven, as described in Isaiah 14:11-15.
Apparently, this archangel had a very vertical problem—pride. So Proverbs 16:18 warns us, “Pride goes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.” Also in Matthew 23:11-12, after warning about the titles associated with positions, Yeshua says, “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” So you can me Rabbi, or you can call me Professor, or you can call me Glenn, but all I desire is for my Master and Savior to say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” V’eemru?
Bad angels want to be in control and to be worshipped, but good angels just want to minister and serve, because that’s what they see Yeshua the Messiah Himself doing, becoming a servant of all. V’eemru?
Even though God has set all things in order, He also likes to turn things upside down. In my message last Shabbat, I mentioned Rabbi David Levine’s teaching at the message at the Messiah conference called hafooch, which means upside down. Though He is and ever shall be in the Highest Place, the Son of God emptied Himself and became a human, a slave who would die on the cross, for atone for our sins.
The angels are amazed, and want to know more about this upside-down mystery.
According to Psalm 8:5-6, David sings with amazement, “What is man, that You are mindful of him? and the son of man, that You care for him? Yet You made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and majesty!”
The angels might be similarly amazed at the honor and authority God and entrusted to human beings. Lucifer might looked at us and saw how finite and gravity-bound we are in our flesh and wondered, what did the Most High see in us? But then he found out that the Son of God would become one of us!
Moreover, 1 Corinthians 6:3 says, “Don’t you know that we will judge angels?” Talk about hafooch! Talk about turning the angelic ranking system upside down! What are we, lower than the angels, shuffling around on the earth, or are we higher, as Ephesians 2:6 says, “He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua.”
So where are we, lower or higher? (Both!)
Imagine what the archangel who was so highly exalted must have thought about this plan?
But what do we think about it? On the one hand, we must stop believing the likes of the satan, the accuser/slanderer, who would either try to puff us up (ready to fall with him) or to humiliate us try (to convince us we are scum and nothing). Both false pride and false humiliation are lies of the accuser, who would shake you down.
Don’t let him! For if you have trusted in Messiah Yeshua, you are heirs of God and co-heirs of Messiah!
Or as Jacob 4:7 counsels us, “Therefore submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.” V’eemru?
Remember, in our mere humanity, we were a little lower than the angels, and when we sinned, we went a lot lower. Yet in union with Yeshua, in Messiah, we are seated in heavenly places. V’eemru?
Therefore, good angels are wise to be humble. Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out for service to those about to inherit salvation?”
That is why Gabriel was glad to announce good tidings to old Zechariah and then to the young Maria, after first telling them, “fear not!” so they wouldn’t be in awe of the angel, but only rejoice in the glad tidings. That is why, in Revelation 14:6 John “saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.” That is why in Revelation 19:10, when John fell at his feet to worship the angel, the angel said, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren.” Can we learn from these examples?
The phrase “ministering angels” appears in the traditional hymn, Shalom alaychem, malachay haSharayt. If you pick up your siddur, you can find it near the beginning of the evening service. Malachay means angels (or messengers) sharayt means ministering. As the priests used to minister, in the holy place. angels have a priestly ministry, to worship God & serve people. Indeed, we also have a priestly ministry, worship God & serve people.
So the vertical perspective does not need to lead to pride, or envy, or worship of anyone but the Most High. V’eemru? Instead, the vertical perspective should strengthen our faith—our supernatural confidence that in Messiah, we do have the victory. No matter how fierce the battle may seem, or how fast the arrows may whizz, in Messiah we are safe, in Messiah all Israel will be saved, in Messiah you will fulfill your destiny, in Messiah we will all fulfill our destiny together, and in Messiah we will judge the angels. V’eemru?
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