The Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
“… with the archangel’s call …” (v. 16) RSV
Archangels seem to be few and far between. There may be many of these ruling (‘arch’) angels in existence, but only one or two are mentioned in the Bible, and although there are several named in the Apocrypha and in Islam, there is only one named in the Bible. Though Gabriel is best known as an archangel, he is never actually described as one. He appears to Daniel (Daniel 8:16, 9:21) and to Zechariah (Luke 1:19, 26). On these occasions Gabriel is a messenger.
In today’s reading, the archangel who descends with the Lord at the end of time is unnamed. But this most significant moment, the end of the world as we know it and the rapture of believers who are still alive on earth, requires the chief of the angelic host.
The only archangel to be named is Michael. I believe it is wrong for him to be called Saint Michael, since the word ‘saint’ is reserved for the redeemed people of God. Angels do not need redeeming (except for the fallen angels who cannot be redeemed). Michael is named in the letter of Jude with reference to disputing with the devil about the body of Moses (Jude 1:9). A fuller description of his activity is found in the book of Daniel where again he is in conflict with evil forces (Daniel 10). He appears to be the angel who has responsibility for Israel. Maybe that can now be applied to the New Israel (the people of God).
Nevertheless, he is a contender. We shall be considering the activity of the fallen angelic host, but rest assured that God provides us with spiritual protection in the form of his good angels, who are under the leadership of the Archangel Michael.
These battles may be unseen and often unrecognised, but in the heavenly realm there is warfare. (More next week!)
Lord, forgive me that I am ignorant of these things. Help me to trust you that those who are with us are more than those who are against us. Amen.
1 How many angels are at the disposal of Archangels?
2 Do angels die or marry?