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TO THE AMAZEMENT OF ANGELS
By Gene Seay
Text: I Peter 1:10-12—“Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit which was in them, did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
INTRO: Please note the words, “which things the angels desire to look into.” Angels are not omniscient beings, and so they are filled with amazement at the works of God just as we are, AND HAVE A DESIRE TO LEARN MORE.
Before the earth was created, or man was made from the dust of the earth, there was much to amaze the angels of God. A universe without end must have astonished them more and more as they beheld more of it. The stars, the energy of heavenly bodies, the gravity that held the universe together, the planets and comets in their orbits, all were a source of amazement to those heavenly beings. And all the heavenly beings, such as themselves, endowed with a high order of personality and intelligence and life, that characteristic by which all personal beings are endowed with a self-awareness by an act of God, must have been an unfathomable, but joyful, mystery to them. Is it any wonder that “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy”, Job 38:7.
We can imagine the curiosity and wonder of the angels as they hovered about watching developments when God created the earth, and all life within it. But the greatest wonder must have been when God created man in His own image, and then took a rib from Adam and made a woman for him. How utterly amazed they must have been when God then gave our first parents dominion over all He had created. What kind of creatures had God created that He should bestow upon them such a high honor? Had God not at first bestowed this high honor upon one of the archangels, and a third of the ordinary angels under him who collectively rebelled against God? Now He bestows that high honor upon this new order of beings. The angels must have been very puzzled, as we must be, that God then put them under a period of probation by commanding them not to eat of one certain tree, the consequences of which was death. The period of probation was made necessary because God created man a free-moral agent. Free moral agents must have standards of right and wrong to choose between.
We can well imagine the shock and fear the angels must have felt when Adam and Eve broke their probation by doing that one thing that was forbidden. Just like the angels before them had failed in their high office the two human beings He had created and placed in that office likewise rebelled against God. Surely they must have reasoned that God would now destroy them. They saw the disobedient pair trembling and cowering behind their fig leaf aprons. They may well have considered the dews of morning that fell upon every leaf and blade of grass as the earth weeping for man’s misery. And then to their horror they saw God, in Theophany, walking in the garden to confront the miscreants. Surely they must have expected to see a thunderbolt from God destroy Adam and Eve without mercy. How they must have trembled in anticipation of that shocking event they expected at any moment. Had God not already cast out one of the archangels, and a third of all angels, for rebelling against Him? But wait; what is this? The trembling pair began to make excuses, even inventing a wicked religion of self-justification. But did God immediately smite them? Why the delay? No, it cannot be, can it? Instead of destroying Adam and Eve without delay God put a lamp of hope and promise in the hand of the woman by telling her that one of her seed would bruise the serpent’s head, though in the process His heel would be bruised. (See Genesis 3:15). Then, to show them the folly of trusting in self-justification, God graciously clothed them in lamb skins to show them that their way out was to trust in the Lamb of God which He would provide as a remedy for their sins.
With the passing of time other of their descendants rebelled against God, and God decreed to destroy them with a flood. Again to the amazement of angels God displayed His mercy in choosing eight faithful people to build an ark in which they would be saved from death by the flood waters. What a spectacle amazed the angels as they saw the flood waters rising upon the earth and the ark floating upon the surface. How terrible to see the people that were beating upon the sides of the ark and begging for entrance. How sad when the angels saw the only door into the ark closed and sealed. What a desperate confusion they must have observed as the mob of screaming humanity began to climb the mountains vainly hoping to find a place of safety above the waters. As they neared the summits of the mountains people and animals and poisonous serpents became compressed into less and less space. The angels no doubt saw a shocking mob scene as the desperate people began to fight and kill one another to gain limited space on the mountain tops. Still the waters continued to rise, and reached up to their necks and were still rising. They tilted their heads in a vain attempt to keep their noses above water. Then they were compelled to swim, but soon found their lungs filling with water. The angels must have wondered what their last thoughts were when they realized they were drowning. Was it that they were lamenting not giving heed to Noah’s warnings? In a short, while those angels saw only floating carcasses putrefying upon the surface of the waters. What a riveting and shocking thing it must have been to view of the fate of those who defy the God of creation AND OF GRACE.
After more than a year of flood waters covering the earth the waters began to recede, and the angels saw a rainbow in the sky and must have puzzled at its significance. God’s promise of grace shines through even His sorest judgements.
After the children of Israel had been in Egypt for more than four hundred years God appeared to Moses in a burning bush in the desert, a bush not consumed by the flames. The sight must have shocked the angels as much as it shocked Moses. Moses was commissioned to deliver the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt and to deliver them to the Promised Land. How the angels must have been amazed at the plagues of blood and frogs and lightening and hail and insects and boils and death, etc., that God visited upon the Egyptians to compel them to let His people go. How the angels must have marveled at the sight of the blood of the Passover on the door posts of the Israelites. What a glorious deliverance they were privileged to witness when God rolled back the waters of the Red Sea to let the Israelites cross safely through, and then used those same waters to drown the Egyptians who presumed to pursue Israel through the midst of the sea.
How shocked the angels must have been when they saw God open up the earth and swallow the Sons of Korah for rebelling against God’s chosen deliverer. It is the same with angels and men. The more the angels saw with the unfolding of events the more amazed they became. The more we see of God’s doings the greater our amazement.
Some four thousand years later, at a time when wickedness and religious hypocrisy was at its highest and darkest and true righteousness had almost vanished from the earth, the angels were shocked into attentiveness at the thunderous preaching of John the Baptist who warned the people to repent, and condemned the religious rulers for their hypocrisy. He baptized those who did repent in the Jordan River, and warned the people who refused to repent of the blackness of darkness forever (Jude 13) that would drown their souls in torments of the fire that gave forth no light. God’s laws rule the universe, and those who rebel against those laws are rebelling against the Lawgiver, and bring upon themselves the miseries of the fire that is never quenched. People who refuse to repent sign their own death warrant.
One of the greatest marvels angels were privileged to look into was the incarnation of Jesus, the Son of God. See them as they lean forward to observe that tiny Human Being lying in the manger in a stable where the horned ox and the lowly donkey sought refuge from the dews of night. There to their wondering eyes lay a Baby, in His humanity so frail and dependent, and yet they knew that Baby in His deity was the very Omnipotent God that created the universe. Wonder of wonders! There before their wondering eyes was the hope for humanity. They must have breathed out in their astonishment, What hath God wrought? Then for the rest of the life of Jesus on earth the angels’ attention was riveted on every thing Jesus did or said. They beheld every miracle. They listened to every word. They rejoiced over every sinner who repented. They sorrowed with Jesus as He wept at the tomb of Lazarus and as He wept over Jerusalem. They were there in Gethsemane as He sweat as it were great drops of blood, and wondered at His words, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
Angels witnessed the trial and condemnation of Jesus, observed the stripes with which we are healed being administered upon His quivering flesh, followed Him as he walked wearily bearing His cross to the place of crucifixion. They observed the nails being driven into His hands and feet. They saw the cross as it was lifted to an upright position. They saw the crown of thorns on His head. They observed the blood from His wounds dripping into the dust at the foot of the cross. They saw the soldiers gambling for His garment. They heard the jeers of the crowd of blood-thirsty scorners.
A terrible darkness then came upon the earth that must have shaken even the angels to the very center of their beings. It was such darkness as mortal man had never experienced. There was something supernatural about that darkness. There may well have been no light anywhere in the universe. Though it is only speculation on my part, I am inclined to believe the lights went out all over the endless universe. After all it was the Creator of that universe who was dying on the cross. Surely an inky black darkness must have been draped over every star and every source of light and plunged the universe into a primeval darkness so intense that not one shred of light shone anywhere. Men’s hearts failed them for fear. The flowers of the field closed their petals, and the birds on the limbs tucked their heads beneath their wings. The blackness of darkness was over all the earth. It was the darkness of divine judgement upon the Person of the Son of God for man the creature’s sin. There during those three house of darkness the Savior suffered the condensed essence of hell to pay the debt that sinners such as you and I owe the law of God we have all transgressed against. Those angels themselves may have cried out in agony at the sufferings of Jesus. They must have wondered why God would sacrifice His beloved Son for such worthless and depraved sinners who by all accounts deserve only eternal damnation.
Then there was a terrible anguished cry out of the darkness of hell that descended over Calvary and rent that darkness and pierced every heart of that wicked crowd of crucifiers, and troubled every soul. The cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” is the most agonizing cry ever heard by mortals or angels.
The angels saw the blood flowing from the side of Jesus and from the wounds in His hands and feet. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness was an Ark of the Covenant, and on that Ark was a Mercy Seat. On that Mercy Seat was a Cherubim at each end with their wings stretched out over it with their faces looking down upon the place where the blood that represented the blood of the Covenant was sprinkled. This is a symbol of the intense interest angels have in the unfolding of God’s redemptive work, the things the angels desire to look into.
The angels watched as tenderly the body of Jesus was wrapped and placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. They were there at the tomb when Jesus arose from the dead and appeared, first to the women, and later to the disciples. They were present when Jesus commissioned His church to carry the gospel into all the world and baptize those who believed in Him, and teach them to observe His commandments. (See Matthew 28:18-20.) The angels accompanied Him as He ascended into heaven, and now marvel at His ministry in heaven as our representative and advocate there.
The angels must be amazed at how God has preserved His church institution, and how it has expanded its ministry into all the earth, and are amazed at every sinner who repents. In fact we are told there is joy in the presence of the angels whenever a sinner repents and is saved. (See Luke 15:7.)
The angels are still learning and marveling at every fresh revelation about the wonderful work of redemption. There are so many things to learn and marvel at that there is for them no dull moment. We are told in our text that the angels still have never tired of looking into those amazing revelations of grace for sinners. Let us emulate that thirst for divine knowledge. Those who are saved by the grace of God cannot help but be consumed with a thirst for more knowledge. We have a book that is a wealth of divine truth which a thousand lifetimes cannot exhaust. Let us, like those angels, desire to look into the things that angels are so engrossed with.
Let us be aware that those angels are hovering about us as we gather together in meeting with an intense curiosity to hear and see what is said and done here this day. Let us conduct ourselves with the dignity and intense devotion for truth that might thrill the angels of God that are here, but cannot be seen, as well as the people here that can be seen. Truly we are this day in the presence of an innumerable company of angels. Cf. Hebrews 12:22.
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