Sunday, August 28, 2011

MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL

Introduction
The Bible is not a book about angels. The Bible is a Book about God and the redemption He has wrought for man in Jesus Christ. But throughout the Bible angels are mentioned. Now, angels belong to the invisible realm, which is to say that angels are spirit beings. Therefore everything true we know about angels is on account of the revelation of God. If God hadn’t told us about angels in His Word we wouldn’t know what angels are and what they do.
The Bible teaches us that angels are God’s messengers. To be sure, as Jude mentions in verse 6, there are angels “who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode.” These, we believe, are what the Bible refers to as demons. The head or prince of the demons is Satan who is the Devil mention in Jude verse 9.
Satan means “accuser” or “adversary” or “traducer.” The word “devil” means the same. Therefore Satan, the Devil is the accuser, the defamer, the slanderer. The Apostle John under inspiration of the Holy Spirit calls Satan “…the accuser of our brethren…” Revelation 12:10.
Jude in verse 8 says that men have crept in unnoticed and speak evil of dignitaries. This is to say that they emulate the devil in that they slander those in offices of power. It’s the same in verse 10 of the Epistle of Jude. They speak evil, ie,  “…these slander whatever they do not know.” But Satan is the chief of all slanderers. In fact Satan, the Devil is the prince of the slanderers. In Ephesians 2:2 he is referred to as “…the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience…”
The word “prince” there, as in prince of the power of the air, means that Satan is “first,” number one, ruler of the power of the air, ie, the demons. The same word “prince” is used to describe Jesus in Revelation 1:5 where it says that Jesus is “…the ruler [or prince KJV] over the kings of the earth.”
Now, here’s what all of this has to do with Michael. The word for ruler or prince comes from the same word that speaks of Michael. Michael is the archangel – NT Greek = archangelos. From two words – archo = to be first, reign or rule over. And – angelos = messenger or angel. As Jesus is the archon, ie, first or ruler over the kings of the earth, and as Satan is the archon, first or ruler of the power of the air, so Michael is the archon, first or ruler over the angels.
Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.
From this verse (Jude 9) we’ll be looking at the Archangel Michael in His role as Messenger and Contender.

Messenger
The chief or first meaning of angel in the Bible is messenger. An angel is one who bears a message from God. A messenger or angel may refer to a human as well as an angelic being. On account of this, in Malachi we see that the word “angel” is sometimes better translated as messenger. For the Lord says in Malachi 3:1, “‘Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
Now, it will help us, as we try to gather some more information about Michael, if  we would take note of what Malachi is saying here. The Spirit through His prophet Malachi is prophesying about Jesus Christ some four hundred odd years before He was to be born.
The messenger who was to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord was, of course, John the Baptist. For we read these words in Mark 1:1-3, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD, make His paths straight.”’”
So there’s no doubt about it that John the Baptiser was the messenger who prepared the way of the Lord. But whom did he prepare the way for, according to the LORD in Malachi? Notice that the LORD through His prophet Malachi says that John the Baptiser will prepare the way of the Messenger of the covenant. And notice that this Messenger of the covenant is the One in whom the people of God Malachi’s day delight. Literally the Messenger of the covenant is the One in whom they are delighting, not “will” delight. Therefore the people of God in Malachi’s day were delighting themselves in the Messenger of the covenant.
The Messenger or Angel of the Covenant is the Angel of the LORD who is made known throughout Scripture. There are far too many places where He is mentioned in Scripture than we have space to look at. But keep in mind that the Angel of the LORD appeared with two other angels to Abraham in Genesis 18. He appeared with a message regarding the covenant promise of a son for Abraham in his old age.
We know that one of these angels was the LORD, ie, the Angel of the LORD, the Messenger of the Covenant, because of what we read in Genesis 18:22: “Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood before the LORD.” The passage makes it clear that the Angel of the Lord is the LORD Himself. And then we read what Abraham’s grandson Isaac says in Genesis 48:15&16, “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has fed me all my life to this day, the Angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads…” So, Isaac wants the Angel, ie, God, to bless his sons. Therefore Isaac was delighting in the same Messenger or Angel Malachi was delighting in.
Moses met the same Angel of the LORD in the burning bush. Exodus 3:2, “And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of the bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” And then in Exodus 3:4&5 we read, “So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’”
Moses trusted in the Angel of the LORD to lead them through the Wilderness. The LORD Himself was the Angel in the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud. And then Joshua, who was Moses successor, also had a very personal encounter with the Angel of the LORD.
Joshua 5:13f., “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite to him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, ‘Are you for us or for our adversaries?’ So He said, ‘No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’ Then the Commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take the sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:13-15.
So, like Moses before the burning bush, before the Angel of the Lord, Joshua had to remove his sandals from his feet because he was in the presence of holiness. But notice how the Angel of the LORD identified Himself. He said He was “Commander of the army of the LORD.
Calvin is excellent on this verse, so I quote him at some length: “[Joshua] puts his question as if addressing a man, because it is only from the answer he learns that it is an angel. This doubt gives more credibility to the vision, while he is gradually led from the view of the man whom he addresses to the recognition of an angel. The words, at the same time, imply that it was not an ordinary angel, but one of special excellence. For he calls himself captain of the Lord’s host, a term which may be understood to comprehend not merely his chosen people, but angels also.”
What does all this have to do with Michael the archangel? Well, if you were to turn to Daniel 12:1 you would see there that the archangel Michael is not only the prince of angels but also is the great prince of God’s chosen people. For there Daniel by the Holy Spirit says, “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince of the people…” The KJV renders it, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great  prince which standeth for the chldren of thy people…” The RSV renders it, “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people…” And let’s not forget the NIV which renders it, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise…”
So, we see then, that Michael is the same Angel who looked after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the same Angel who looked after Moses and his successor Joshua. For who else is the great prince of the chosen people of God if not Christ? Does not the Apostle Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 10:4 say that the Rock who was with God’s chosen people in the wilderness was Christ?
And notice that Michael the Archangel is not just the prince who looks after the people of God. He is the “great” prince. The Hebrew word for prince here is the word sar. The Hebrew word means the same as as Csar or Caesar or Kaiser etc. The word “prince” as used of Michael the Archangel therefore means head person, captain, ruler. Therefore Michael is the great Captain of God’s elect people and His elect angels. And, as you know, there is only one Head of the Church, ie, Jesus Christ. Therefore how can Michael be called the great prince of God’s people if He is not also Christ?
And not only that, look what was said to Daniel regarding Michael the archangel in Daniel 10:21b: “No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince.” Michael is identified as Daniel’s prince.
How can any created angel be Daniel’s prince when angels are ministering spirits? For the writer to the Hebrews says of created angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” Hebrews 1:14.
Now, you might say that Jesus came to minister, ie, to serve and not be served. But that doesn’t prevent Jesus from being Prince. Indeed Jesus is referred to as Prince in Acts 3:15, “…and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead…” And in Acts 5:31, “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour…” Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6b calls Jesus the Prince of Peace, “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” And Daniel speak of Messiah the Prince in Daniel 9:25, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks…”
So, will the real Prince please stand up? And that’s exactly what you have in Daniel 12:1,  “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince of the people…”
We agree then with the writer to the Hebrews that Michael the Archangel cannot be a created angel but must be the Word who permanently became flesh. For the writer to the Hebrews says, “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.” Hebrews 2:5. Therefore how can the Captain of the LORD’s army be anything other than the uncreated eternal second Person in the Trinity, the Word become flesh?
And we must mention that though Michael appeared as a Man at times, such as to Joshua, and also when He wrestled with Jacob, these were just temporary manifestations. They are what theologians call Theophanies or better, Christophanies. They are temporary appearances of the pre-incarnate Christ.
Now, just before we have a brief look at Michael the Archangel as Contender, let’s clear up a couple of things. Some people point to Daniel 10:13 and say, How can Michael be God when it says there, “Michael, one of the chief princes…” Well, it’s very easy because the word “one” may also be translated as “first.” Thus: “Michael, first of the chief princes…” Some English translations have this as the rendering in their margins. But this is how, eg, Matthew Henry renders it. But, even if you leave it as is, how does this suggest that Michael is not the uncreated 2nd Person in the Trinity? For the Angel of the LORD can still be one of the chief princes listed in the Book of Daniel, can’t He?
In Daniel 10:13 the prince of the kingdom of Persia is also mentioned. Up ahead in Daniel 10:21 the prince of Greece is mentioned. Therefore what’s wrong with saying that Michael is not the Prince of Persia, nor is He the Prince of Greece, nor is He the Prince of the power of the air? With these princes in mind, there is nothing wrong therefore with saying, “Michael, one of the chief princes…” Surely nothing is wrong with saying that Michael is one of the chief princes. He is one of the chief princes! That’s what Daniel 10:13 is saying. But this doesn’t mean that Michael the Archangel is not the pre-incarnate Word.
Commenting on the Book of Daniel Matthew Henry says, "Here is Michael our prince, the great protector of the church: The first of the chief princes." Says John Calvin commenting on the same Book, “Some think the word Michael represents Christ, and I do not object to this opinion … Michael may mean an angel; but I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the person of Christ.”
Now, there’s another verse people use to discount the view that Michael is Jesus. And that verse in found in Paul’s Epistle to the Thessalonians that speaks of Christ’s future or as it is usually referred to, the Second Coming. 1 Thessalonians 4:16&17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
Now, the KJV and the NIV both have with the voice of THE archangel. I of course prefer THE archangel rather than AN archangel. For then if you say AN archangel are you not suggesting that there might be another archangel? Yet how can you possibly have two arch angels if arch means to be first, to reign, to rule over?
We’ve seen that Michael is the prince of the people of God. Therefore is there another prince who reigns or rules over the people of God? It’s far less confusing and much more in line with Scripture to refer to Michael as THE archangel. For you can search long and hard and you will not find any other archangel mentioned in the Bible. Michael is the only archangel ever mentioned therein!
Sometimes on a Christmas card you might find the created angel Gabriel referred to as the archangel Gabriel. But nowhere in Scripture is Gabriel called the archangel. It’s Michael who has been given that designation. And it is Michael who has the power and authority that goes along with it.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 we are told that the Lord will descend with a shout. That shout is a command. In John 5:28&29 we read Jesus say, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” Whose voice are those in the graves, those who are dead, going to hear? Is it the voice of Jesus or the voice of Michael the archangel? Well, John under inspiration of the Holy Spirit says they are going to hear Jesus’ voice. Therefore we would conclude that the voice of Jesus and the voice of the archangel are the same. Because Michael is Jesus and Jesus is Michael.
And what about the sound of the trumpet of God that accompanies this? Matthew 24:30b&31, “And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
So, who commands the angels? Who sends them with a great sound of a trumpet to gather His elect. Is it Michael or is it Jesus? Well, if we understand that Michael the Archangel is Jesus we don’t have any problem, do we?

Contender
Now, some people look at Jude verse 9 and conclude that Michael cannot possibly be Jesus on account of what it says there. “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke.’”
If Michael were the Lord then how can the Lord say to the devil, ‘The Lord rebuke you’? Wouldn’t the Lord just say to the devil, “I rebuke you”? Well, we see this kind of thing going on in Zechariah 3:1&2, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at His right hand to oppose Him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan. The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’”
We don’t believe this is same contending with Satan that Jude is referring to. But we do believe that it sheds a great deal of light on Jude 9. For notice that the LORD Himself said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan!” So, we can get rid of any notion that says that if Michael were the Lord then He would have said, “I rebuke you, Satan!”
But as it was for Joshua the high priest, so it was for Moses, and so it is for all God’s people.
Michael the archangel, ie, the Angel of the LORD is standing up in defence of His people. He is standing against the Satan, the Devil, the accuser of the brethren. Satan is the accuser and Christ is our Advocate who intercedes on our behalf. As the Apostle John under inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 2:1b.
Jesus contends for us against Satan and his demons. He is Michael, the great prince who stands watch over us, who protects us. As Jesus says in John 10:27&28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
The voice of Jesus Christ is the voice of the archangel Michael, the great prince who stands watch over us.
We’ve noted that when the Lord returns He will return with the voice of the archangel. And when He does so He will wake the dead and they shall join those who are alive to meet the Lord in the air. And related to this we’ve noted that Jesus will send His angels to gather His elect from the four winds.
We’ve noted also that Satan is the prince of the power of the air. But we see that Christ in His Second coming has control of the air, that invisible realm. Therefore Michael the Archangel has won His dispute with the devil!
The Book of Revelation gives us a ring-side seat of what is happening before the physical return of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 12:7-10, “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to death.”

Conclusion
No longer is Satan able to stand before the throne of God and accuse us. Our Advocate has interceded on our behalf. Michael has fought the dragon and has won. He has cast Satan and his angels out, cast them down to earth. It’s as Jude says in verse 6, “He has reserved [them] in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”
And let me again remind you that the words “angel” and “messenger” are interchangeable. And that in the Bible the word “angel” can refer to a man as well as to an angel. Michael the Archangel who is also the Man Jesus will testify to this.
And not only that, Jesus is the Word, the Logos, the Word of God. Jesus is the Messenger of God who has come into the world with the greatest Message ever told! We did He come? “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8. I believe that the Angel of the LORD has done just that!

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