Kept by God (and His Angels)!
Rev. Angus Stewart
The holy angels are inseparably connected
with the birth of the Lord Jesus. In Luke 1, the angel
Gabriel comes to the temple to tell Zacharias, the
elderly priest, that he will be the father of John the
Baptist, Christ's forerunner; six months later, Gabriel
announces to the virgin Mary that she will give birth to
the incarnate Son of God. Three times Joseph is directed
by an angel in a dream in Matthew 1-2: he was told to
marry Mary, to flee from Herod (who was influenced by
the devil; Rev. 12:4) into Egypt some months after
Christ's birth in Bethlehem, and to return to Israel
after Herod's death.
Moreover, on the very day Christ was born,
an angel appeared at night to some shepherds near Bethlehem
to declare the Saviour's birth. Whereupon the single angel
was joined by many of his fellows: "And
suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the
heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the
highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke
2:13-14). This is the only recorded biblical reference to
angels on earth worshipping the Most High; everywhere else
angelic praise is mentioned, it occurs in heaven.
Strikingly, Scripture reveals that not only did that angelic
delegation to Bethlehem adore God; not one of the heavenly
host failed to praise the newborn King: "When he bringeth in
the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the
angels of God worship him" (Heb. 1:6).
Near the start of His ministry, angels ministered to Christ
after His temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:11); near
the end, an angel strengthened Him in His human nature
during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43).
It was an angel who rolled away the stone from Christ's tomb
(Matt. 28:2)—not to let Him out (for the risen Lord had
already departed) but to let His followers see that He had
The disciples' last sight of the Lord Jesus—His ascending
into heaven, arms outstretched in blessing—was accompanied
and explained by two angels (Acts 1:10-11).
The Son of man not only frequently spoke
of good and fallen angels; He also battled with the devil
and his demons, especially during His temptations, in His
exorcisms and at His crucifixion.
John 1:51 is especially revealing, for
Jesus told Nathanael and Philip, "Hereafter ye shall see
heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending
upon the Son of man." The ministry of angels upon Christ,
apart from the few examples given, was not visible and even
then they were not seen by the disciples prior to Christ's
resurrection, for they were either absent or sleeping when
angels appeared. But they and we, by faith, can understand
something of the continuous care, protection and guidance
the God of heaven and earth provided for His incarnate Son
through their invisible ministry.
Our Lord's references to angels ascending
and descending upon Him was an allusion to Jacob's dream in
Bethel (Gen. 28:12). The angels who protect Christ, their
head, invisibly watch over Jacob or Israel and all Christ's
"little ones" (Matt. 18:10; Heb. 1:14). Through His heavenly
messengers, the Almighty aids our weak faith by assuring us
of His own covenant presence with us, preserving us from
evil, according to His eternal and sovereign will. May the
Triune God—who reminds us of His care by His angels—keep
you, believer, by the grace and Spirit of Jesus Christ in
2012. "The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming
in from this time forth, and even for evermore" (Ps. 121:8).