The Reading: Luke 1:26-31
“behold you will conceive … and bear a son” (v.31) RSV
One of the ways angels are ‘ministering spirits’ (see last week) is by being messengers. God speaks in many and various ways (Hebrews 1:1-2). He has spoken most clearly through his Son, and his words are conveyed to us through the Scriptures and by the Holy Spirit. However, God still uses angels.
The most famous occasion was surely the message to Mary, “Hail, O favoured one, the Lord is with you …” (v.28). He went on to announce the conception and birth of Jesus. Another classic message was that given to the shepherds. An angel conveyed the glorious news of the birth: “… in the city of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Angels again were there at the resurrection of Jesus, “… He is not here; for he has risen … go quickly and tell his disciples …” (Matthew 28:5-7).
Out of the many examples in the Old Testament we might think of Balaam, who when riding his ass, was stopped in his tracks by an angel that he could not see (though his donkey could!). Eventually “the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel … standing … with his drawn sword in his hand.” The angel warned him that he was on a false mission and should change his intention of cursing Israel, to blessing them (Numbers 22:21-35).
In the New Testament an angel appeared to the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, in Caesarea. The instruction was given to send for Simon Peter who was in Joppa. Peter arrived (after having his own vision on the rooftop) and preached in such a way that Cornelius and his household were converted and baptised.
We may need a vision to see an angel, but they are there none the less. Let us be open to their message. This will not be a common occurrence but that does not mean it will never happen. Their ministry is to warn and to guide us.
Thank you Lord for these unseen ministering spirits. May I not be deaf to their help and their message. Amen.
1 What message did the angel give Gideon?
2 What did the angel say to Moses from the burning bush?