If angels ask – June 9, 2019
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
If angels ask, “What’s wrong with humans? Why all the fighting? Why did some have to wade through bloody waters at a place called Omaha Beach? Why did some raised as Lutherans try to kill them there? Why the ovens at places like Dachau, with human ashes rising into the sky?”
“Why do angels have to look down on such things?”
Would we just shrug our shoulders? Would we dare admit the killing still goes on? What would we say about screaming matches in American households? How could we explain parents killing their own children? What excuse could we give for suicides?
Sometimes we refer to man’s inhumanity to man. Is that the answer? Is it inhuman when humans act this way? Or, is it just human? Is it only natural for us to fight and kill?
What should we say if angels ask, “What’s wrong with you?”
Maybe we should tell them the truth. Maybe we should answer, “You already know! After all, war started up there among you—and it landed here on earth.”
We know little about life in heaven, and less about angels who dwell there. We know only a few of their names. We know of a Gabriel. We learn about Michael. We are told about one called Satan.
We are told about a war in heaven.
We might ask, “If heaven is absolutely perfect, why did some angels rebel?”
They might ask, “If earth was absolutely perfect, why did the first humans rebel?” And then, they might ask the embarrassing question, “If the Creator God loves the world so much, why did you rebel?”
What would we say? Must we admit that rebellion is in our nature? But if our sinful nature has been washed clean in the waters of Baptism, if we are now God’s own child, why do we so often continue to rebel?
To the point, why do we so often switch sides? Why do we find ourselves so often fighting alongside of the forces of darkness against Michael and his angels?
What if angels ask, “Why do you go to war against the merciful and holy God?”
Again, our answer can be: “You should know!”
The holy angels know how powerful demonic forces can be. After all, devils are still angels. They can read thoughts. They can suggest evil. They can tempt. The Bible warns that their leader is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). In the hymn “A Mighty Fortress,” we warn about the old evil foe. We confess, on earth is not his equal.
Good thing we have holy angels fighting for us! Better yet, the Lord of heaven and earth is on our side. We sing, “for us fights the Valiant One whom God himself elected.” No one can pluck us from his father’s hand. That’s his promise.
The Christian would need to turn traitor to lose this protection.
We have the answer. When angels ask “What’s wrong with humans?” we tell them, “The problem is sin. The solution is our Savior—the One who sends you to guard and keep us.”
And then we can add, “Keep standing guard over us until you can escort us to our father’s house.”
Prayer: Redeemer of the world and Savior of sinners, you have taught us how sin entered the world and how it has infected us. The fall of angels into sin warns us. The payment for our sin comforts us. Deploy your holy angels to guard and keep us as we walk the dangerous paths on earth. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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