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Satanas. Quien es? (en ingles)

Satans Story: Not Taken Seriously

By Dr. David R. Reagan

Most people do not take Satan seriously. For many he is nothing more than a cartoon character in a red suit with a sneer on his face, horns on his head, and a pitchfork in his hand.

Recent polls have revealed that 60% of Americans believe Satan is just a symbol of evil and not a living being.1 Even 52% of Christians who identify themselves as “born-again” deny the reality of Satan.2

Celebrities often mock Satan and Hell. I remember a few years ago when the 70th birthday party of Willie Nelson was televised nationally. At one point they showed a collection of video tributes to the famed Country singer. One of Willie’s well known friends laughed and said, “Happy birthday, Willie! I look forward to partying with you in Hell!”

Conan O’Brien, the popular late night TV host, wrote and performed a song mocking Hell. The song is so perverse that only parts can be quoted. The following section will give you the idea:3

I’m gonna go to Hell when I die
I’m gonna go to Hell when I die

I can’t be saved, it’s too late for me
I’m going to H-E Double L when I D-I-E
You could say I’m messed up, but I’m keepin’ it real
I’ll sleep with your mom for a home cooked meal
Give a guy with no legs a new pair of shoes
And give Ben Affleck a bottle of booze
I call up Nick Lechey, tell him he’s gay
Then ask Jessica to spell Chevrolet

I’m gonna go to Hell when I die
I’m gonna go to Hell when I die

Cable television’s Ted Turner mocked Hell in a similar manner when he said, “I don’t need anybody to die for me. I’ve had a few drinks and a few girlfriends, and if that’s gonna put me in Hell, then so be it.”4

The Australian hard rock band, AC/DC, released an album in 1979 titled, “Highway to Hell.” The title song bragged about their determination to end up in Hell:5

Ain’t nothing I would rather do
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I’m on the highway to Hell
No stop signs or speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Hey, Satan paid my dues
Playing in a rocking band
Hey, Momma, look at me
I’m on the way to the promised land
I’m on the highway to Hell

The heavy metal band called Acheron has an album titled, “The Rites of the Black Mass.” On the album, a person from the Church of Satan actually reads the rites of the Black Mass as the group sings:6

Glory to thee, Almighty Satan
We praise thee, we bless thee
We adore thee
Thou art Lord
Thou alone, O Mighty Satan

In their song, “The Prince,” the group named Metallica sings:7

Angel from below
I wish to sell my soul
Devil take my soul
With diamonds you repay
I don’t care for Heaven
So don’t you look for me to cry
And I will burn in Hell
From the day I die

There are many other such examples of Satanic songs being peddled today by various musical groups. Most of these songs are probably parodies designed to do nothing but shock. But some of the groups profess to be Satan worshipers.

At the 1991 MTV Awards, the spokesman for the group called Red Hot Chili Peppers acknowledged the receipt of their award by saying, “First of all, we want to thank Satan…”8

Whether the music is a parody or is a sincere expression of worship, the Satan and the Hell it glorifies do not exist. The true Satan has no interest in blessing anyone, except for the purpose of ensnaring their souls, and there will be no partying in Hell. The Word of God teaches that Satan is a real person who is interested only in the destruction of people — all people, even those who claim to worship and adore him.

Notes

1) The Barna Group, “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist,” http://www.barna.org, and Religious Tolerance, “About Ghosts, Satan, Heaven, Hell, etc.,” http://www.religioustolerance.org/.

2) Religious Tolerance, “About Ghosts, Satan…”

3) Conan O’Brien, “I’m Gonna Go to Hell When I Die!” http://www.jesusis-savior.com/.

4) Sam Lavender, “God Made A Way,” http://www.voiceoftheevangelists.com/.

5) AC/DC, “Highway to Hell,” http://www.lyricsfreak.com/.

6) Acheron, “The Rites of the Black Mass,” http://www.av1611.org/.

7) Metallica, “The Prince,” http://www.sing365.com/.

8) Wes Penre, “Satanic Quotes by Musicians,” http://www.illuminati-news.com/.

Satans Story: Ancient Origins

Satan is a spirit being who was created by God before the creation of the heavens and the earth (Job 38:4-7). He is in no way equal to God. He is not omnipresent. He is not omniscient. Many believe he was one of three archangels (the other two being Michael and Gabriel), but the Bible identifies only one archangel by name — Michael (Jude 9). However, the book of Daniel indicates that there may be other archangels when it says that Michael was “one of the chief princes,” obviously implying there are other angels of his type (Daniel 10:13).

We are specifically told that Satan was “an anointed cherub” who was responsible for covering or guarding the throne of God (Ezekiel 28:14). In the Scriptures, cherubim appear to be angels of a higher order who are assigned special guard duties by God. The first mention of them can be found in Genesis 3:24 where we are told that after the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, God stationed cherubim on the East of Eden to prevent them from having access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24).

Some have concluded that one of Satan’s main responsibilities may have been that of a worship leader. That’s because there is a reference in Ezekiel 28:13 to his “tambourines and flutes.” However, the words here in Hebrew are uncertain. The King James Version refers to “tarbets and pipes.” The New International Version translates the words as “settings and mountings.” The New American Standard Bible refers to “settings and sockets,” but provides the alternative translation of tambourines and flutes.

More definitely we are told in the Scriptures that Satan was created in perfection, and that therefore he was “full of wisdom” and “perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12-13). We are also told that he was covered with precious gems (Ezekiel 28:13).

Satans Story: Lofty Fall

As with all of God’s higher beings, both men and angels, Satan was given free will because God desires true fellowship and not the orchestrated adoration of robots. We are told that, tragically, Satan used his free will to make a decision to rebel against God. Isaiah describes it in this way, quoting Satan (Isaiah 14:13-14):

I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne about the stars of God,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly…
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.

Notice the repetition of the phrase, “I will.” The words literally seethe with rebellion. And Ezekiel tells us that the rebellion was rooted in pride: “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor” (Ezekiel 28:17). Satan became filled with unrighteousness and violence, and his sin resulted in God casting him out of Heaven (Ezekiel 28:15-17).

When was Satan kicked out of Heaven? We can only guess. The book of Job tells us that all the angelic host (which would include Satan) “shouted with joy” when God laid the foundation of the earth (Job 38:4-7). So Satan’s fall must have taken place between the time the creation was finished and Adam and Eve were tempted. At the end of the creation week, God pronounced all of His creative work to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31), so the fall of Satan had to take place after that.

The gap between the end of the creation week and the temptation of Adam and Eve could have been anywhere between a few days or a few years. We know there was a lapse of time because Adam gave names to each of God’s creatures before the temptation of Eve occurred (Genesis 2:19-20).

When Satan was cast out of Heaven, he took one-third of the heavenly host with him (Revelation 12:4). Jesus referred to this event when He told His disciples, “I saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning” (Luke 10:18). The angels who rebelled with Satan became the demonic spirits that infest our planet today. This is the reason that Satan was referred to by the Pharisees as “the ruler of the demons” (Matthew 9:34).

In the next segment of this “Satan’s Story” series, we’ll look at what the Bible says concerning the vile characteristics of Satan.

Satans Story: Despicable Character

I want to emphasize that Satan is not some inanimate evil force or power. He is a real person with all the traits of personality — feelings, emotions, will and intelligence.

He appeared to Jesus and tempted Him mightily in the Judean wilderness (Matthew 4:1-10). Jesus carried on a vigorous conversation with Satan. Jesus was not talking to a shadow or to Himself. Satan is never presented anywhere in the Scriptures as anything other than a supernatural spirit being — a person in every sense of the term.

The character of Satan is thoroughly despicable. He is the essence of evil. He is described in the Scriptures as “a murderer” and “the father of lies” (John 8:44). The New International Version puts it colorfully when it says that when Satan lies, “he speaks his native language” (John 8:44).

Satan’s basic nature is perhaps best summarized in some of the names that are given him in the Bible:

* Accuser (Zechariah 3:1 and Revelation 12:10)
* Adversary (Job 1:6 and 1 Peter 5:8) This is the Hebrew meaning of Satan.
* Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24, 27) Meaning either “Lord of the flies” or “Lord of dung.”
* Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15) Meaning worthless or hopeless ruin.
* Deceiver (Revelation 12:9)
* Destroyer (Revelation 9:11) Apollyon in Greek or Abaddon in Hebrew.
* Devil (1 John 3:8) From the Greek word, diabolos, which means slanderer or defamer.
* Dragon (Revelation 12:3-17)
* Enemy (Matthew 13:39)
* Evil One (John 17:15)
* God of This World (2 Corinthians 4:4)
* Prince of This World (John 12:31)
* Roaring Lion (1 Peter 5:8)
* Ruler of Darkness (Ephesians 6:12)
* Serpent (Genesis 3:1 and Revelation 12:9)
* Tempter (Matthew 4:3)
* Thief (John 10:10)
* Wicked One (Ephesians 6:16)

Satans Story: Earthly Domain

Two of the titles in this list are often confusing and disturbing to Christians — namely, “God of this world” and “Prince of this world.” “How can this be?” people often ask. “Didn’t Jesus defeat Satan at the Cross? Hasn’t Satan been dethroned?”

The answer is that Satan’s ultimate defeat was sealed at the Cross, but it has not yet been realized in history. That’s why many years after the Cross, the Apostle John wrote, “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). The writer of the book of Hebrews asserts that all things have been put in subjection to Christ, “but now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him” (Hebrews 2:8).


The de-throning of Satan as the prince of this world was guaranteed by Jesus’ victory over the Cross through the power of His resurrection. But Satan will not actually be removed from his throne until Jesus returns, at which time “the God of peace will crush Satan…” (Romans 16:20). The total defeat of Satan is a delayed benefit of the Cross, just as is the receipt of our glorified bodies.

A key aspect of the conflict between God and Satan is all about dominion. This earth was created for Mankind. God granted dominion over the creation to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28). But when the two of them succumbed to Satan’s temptation, that dominion was lost. Satan stole it, and he became the prince of this earth. That’s why he could legitimately tempt Jesus by offering Him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would only bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8-10).

Satans Story: Ultimate Fate

Satan roams about this earth like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). This does not mean that Satan is free to do as he pleases. He is on a leash. He may be the prince of this world, but he operates under the authority of the King of the universe.

This important point is illustrated in the story of Job. Satan had to ask God’s permission before he could tempt Job, and even when the permission was granted, certain limitations were placed on what Satan could do (Job 1:7-12).

This story illustrates another point. Satan currently has access to God’s throne, and according to Revelation 12:10, he uses that access to accuse believers day and night.

Satan’s Prophesied Fate

Satan’s ultimate fate was prophesied at the very time that Adam and Eve sinned. God spoke a curse on Satan when He said:

I will put enmity
Between you [Satan] and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He [the seed of woman] will bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him [the seed of woman] on the heel.

This is a remarkable prophecy given at the very dawn of history. It is the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible. What God is saying here is that a person born of the seed of woman (a virgin) will suffer a wound from Satan on his heel, but he will then inflict a wound on Satan’s head. The wound on the heel is symbolic of a non-lethal strike. This prophecy was fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The wound on the head is symbolic of a lethal strike and will be fulfilled when Jesus returns and casts Satan into the lake of fire.

Satan’s Current Activities

As we await Satan’s ultimate defeat, we must deal with the temptations he and his demonic hordes place in front of us. Fortunately, those of us who are believers have the blessing of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we are assured that “He who is within us is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

We are encouraged to “put on the full armor of God,” that we might be able “to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). And we are told that if we submit ourselves to God, then when we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7).

We are also advised to avoid giving Satan an opportunity in our lives (Ephesians 4:27). In other words, we should do everything we can to avoid temptation. And in that regard, I have learned through personal experience that it is much easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist it.

Satans Story: False Messiah

As the signs of the end times continue to multiply, Satan must be chomping at the bit because he knows Bible prophecy (Revelation 12:12), and he realizes that the time is fast approaching when he will be able to physically manifest himself as the God of this world.

He is going to do this through a man he will anoint and then possess as his messiah (Daniel 8:24). The Bible calls this man the Antichrist (1 John 2:22), and his characteristics will be the same as Satan’s. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 he is referred to as “the son of destruction.” Utilizing the power of Satan (Revelation 13:2), the Antichrist will conquer all the earth (Revelation 13:7).

And while the Antichrist is consolidating his worldwide empire, Satan will try one last time to seize the throne of God in Heaven. This will result in a heavenly war in the middle of the Tribulation. Satan and all his demons will fight against the archangel Michael and his angels. Satan will, of course, be defeated in this insane effort to displace his Creator.

We are told in Revelation that Satan will be cast down to earth and his access to Heaven will be cut off completely (Revelation 12:10-12). Satan will be filled with great wrath, and he will decide to take out his anger on the Chosen People of God — the Jews (Revelation 12:12-17).

He will begin this process by possessing the Antichrist and then motivating him to enter the rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be god (2 Thessalonians 2:4), demanding that all the world worship him.

When he is rejected by the Jews, Satan will then motivate him to annihilate the Jewish people. Satan will do this because he hates the Jews with a passion. He hates them because they are God’s Chosen People. He hates them because God worked through them to provide the world with the Bible. He hates them because it was through them that God sent His Son, the Messiah. And he hates them because God has promised that one day a great remnant of the Jews will turn their hearts to their Messiah and be saved (Isaiah 10:20-23, Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 9:27-28).

Satan is determined to annihilate the Jews so that God cannot fulfill His promise to bring a great remnant to salvation. Satan has tried to do this many times in the past, as with the Spanish Inquisition and the Nazi Holocaust. This will be his last attempt, and it will almost be successful, for we are told that the Antichrist will slaughter two-thirds of the Jewish people during the last half of the Tribulation (Zechariah 13:8).

Satans Story: Eternal Destination

The Tribulation will end with the Second Coming of Jesus. The Antichrist and his False Prophet will be seized and thrown alive into the lake of fire, which is Hell (Revelation 19:20-21). At that point the activity of Satan will come to a temporary end. He will be held captive for the next thousand years while Jesus reigns over all the earth from Jerusalem (Revelation 20:1-3).

At the end of the Lord’s millennial reign, Satan will be set free, and he will go forth to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:7-8). This is a very perplexing development to most people. What is the purpose of releasing him?

The answer has to do with one of the fundamental purposes of the Millennium. Humanists believe that evil is rooted in society and can be uprooted through societal reforms. In sharp contrast, the Word of God teaches that evil is rooted in the fallen nature of Man (Jeremiah 17:9 and Mark 7:20-23).

God is going to disprove the Humanist theory during the Millennium. He is going to put all of Mankind into a perfect society where righteousness and justice prevail. There will be no homeless or poor people. There will be no unmet needs (Isaiah 11:4-9).

Yet, at the end of that glorious time, when Satan is released, he will rally the nations of the world against Jesus, and they will march on Jerusalem to overthrow the King of kings (Revelation 20:7-9). This worldwide revolt will prove that you cannot truly change people by changing their environment.

The change cannot be external. It must be internal, and that can happen only through the work of the Holy Spirit who is received by believers when they put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38 and Ephesians 1:13).

This raises an additional question. Why would most of those living in the flesh join a revolt against God after living for a thousand years in a perfect society? Well, just stop for a moment and consider the fact that the Scriptures say Jesus will rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9 and Revelation 2:27). This means He will dictate the law, and it will be strictly enforced by those of us in glorified bodies who will be reigning with Jesus (Revelation 2:26-27). Justice will be swift and certain.

Now, think what it would be like to live in the flesh under such a government. The fallen nature would constantly be desiring the things of the world — drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, gambling, etc. Yet, knowing justice is swift and certain, most people will restrain themselves and praise Jesus through clenched teeth. But once Satan is released, he will call on the frustrated, unrepentant sinners of the world to join him in overthrowing “the joker in Jerusalem.”

Thus, history is going to end as it began, going in full circle. It started with two people in a perfect environment called the Garden of Eden. They rebelled against their Creator. It will end with all of humanity living in a perfect environment, the Millennium, and most of them, like Adam and Eve, will decide to revolt.

The final rebels of history will be supernaturally destroyed by God when they march on Jerusalem (Revelation 20:9). At that point, Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire (Hell) where he will be tormented day and night forever, together with his demons and the Antichrist and False Prophet (Revelation 20:10).

Notice how these revelations of God’s Word dispel the mythical concept of the Middle Ages that Satan and his demons will be in charge of Hell where they will eternally torment the lost souls of Mankind. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that Hell was created for the torment of Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Satan will not be the CEO of Hell. He will be a prisoner of Hell.

He will also be an object of derision. Isaiah says that the saved will be allowed to gaze upon him, and they will mock him by saying, “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities?” (Isaiah 14:16-17).

Satans Story: Self-deceived Deceive

Why does Satan persist in his rebellion against God? Doesn’t he realize there is no hope in his attempt to dethrone the Creator of the universe?

Satan may be the great deceiver, but he himself is the most deceived being in the universe. There is no deception greater than self-deception, and Satan has convinced himself that he can ultimately triumph.

But he is doomed. No matter what he throws at God, it will be tossed right back into his face, and it will be converted to the glory of Jesus.

Consider the Cross. Satan manipulated the murder of God’s Son. He thought he had achieved his greatest victory. But through the power of the Resurrection, God converted the most dastardly act of history into one of history’s most glorious events.

Satan has got to be the most frustrated creature in all of God’s creation. It is no wonder that Psalm 2 tells us that while Satan plots and schemes against God and His Anointed One, the Creator sits in Heaven and laughs! (Psalm 2:4). His laughter is not motivated by a lack of concern. He laughs because He has the wisdom and power to orchestrate all the evil of Satan to the triumph of His Son.

I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, “My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure”…
Truly I have spoken;
Truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.
(Isaiah 46:9b-11)

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January 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Truth of the Virgin Birth: Under Attack

By Dr. David R. Reagan

I’d like to begin by asserting my thesis right up front: Belief in the virgin birth of Jesus is absolutely essential to the Christian faith. To deny the virgin birth is to deny the deity of Jesus, and if Jesus was not God in the flesh, then you and I have no hope whatsoever.
A Doctrine Under Attack

And yet, despite the centrality and essentiality of the doctrine of the virgin birth, there is no doctrine in all of Christendom that has been more reviled and ridiculed.

Consider Thomas Jefferson. He was a Deist who rejected the supernatural. He produced his own version of the New Testament. It was a cut and paste job that deleted the virgin birth, all the miracles of Jesus, and, of course, His resurrection. Concerning the virgin birth, Jefferson wrote:

The day will come when the mystical generation [conception] of Jesus by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.1

In the early 20th Century, when the German School of Higher Criticism invaded this country, the leading popular spokesman of that liberal viewpoint was Harry Emerson Fosdick, the pastor of Riverside Church in New York City. Here is his condescending observation concerning the virgin birth: “Of course I do not believe in the virgin birth… I do not know any intelligent minister who does.”2

In his book, In Quest of Jesus, published in 1983, W. Barnes Tatum, a professor at Greensboro College in North Carolina, called the virgin birth “theological fiction.”3

Hans Kung, the renowned Catholic theologian who has been censured by his church for his heretical ideas, had this to say about the virgin birth: “Although the virgin birth cannot be understood as a historical-biological event, it can be regarded as a meaningful symbol, at least for that time.”4

Theologian Robert Funk, the founder and leader of the notorious Jesus Seminar, wrote these words about the virgin birth:

The virgin birth of Jesus is an insult to modern intelligence and should be abandoned. In addition, it is a pernicious doctrine that denigrates women.5

And then, of course, there is John Shelby Spong, the former Episcopal Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, who is renowned for his apostate views. Here’s what he had to say about the virgin birth:

In time, the virgin birth account will join Adam and Eve… as clearly recognized mythological elements in our faith tradition whose purpose was not to describe a literal event but to capture the transcendent dimensions of God in the earthbound words and concepts of first-century human beings.6

In other words, the virgin birth, like the story of Adam and Eve, is just a myth dreamed up by primitive and ignorant people.
The Significance of These Attacks

Now, the amazing thing about all these examples is the fact that every one of the persons I have quoted was a professing Christian! So, I’m not talking about attacks by atheists or agnostics. Their attacks are expected. I am talking about attacks by professing Christians.

And lest you think this kind of unbelief is characteristic only of the most liberal Christians, let’s take a look at Rob Bell. He is the pastor of a megachurch called Mars Hill Church that is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And he is one of the leaders of what is called The Emergent Church Movement, a movement that claims to be Evangelical, but in reality, is apostate.

In his best-selling book, Velvet Elvis, subtitled Repainting the Christian Faith, Rob wrote these words about the virgin birth:

If you found out Jesus had an earthly father named Larry, they find Larry’s tomb, do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing… Could you still be a Christian?7

Notice how subtle he is with this statement. Without denying the virgin birth, he just proceeds to cast all sorts of doubt about it, and in the process he makes it clear that if it is a myth, it would not jeopardize his faith because he obviously does not consider it to be essential to Christianity.
So, what about it? Is the virgin birth just a bit of mythology? Does it really make any difference to the Christian faith?
Notes

1) ReligiousTolerance.org, “The Virgin Birth of Jesus: Fact or Fable?”
http://www.religioustolerance.org/virgin_b.htm, page 1.

2) Keep Believing Ministries, “Born of a Virgin,” sermon by Dr. Ray Pritchard,
http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2008-12-09-Born-of-a-Virgin/, page 1.

3) Ibid., page 2.

4) ReligiousTolerance.org, “The Virgin Birth of Jesus: Fact or Fable?” page 1.

5) Dr. Mark D. Roberts, “The Birth of Jesus: Hype or History?”
http://www.markroberts.com/htmfiles/resources/jesusbirth.htm, page 10.

6) ReligiousTolerance.org, “Common Beliefs of Many Liberal Theologians, Skeptics, Humanists, etc,”
http://www.religioustolerance.org/virgin_b1.htm, page 4.

7) Dr. Gregory R. Reid, Trojan Church: The New Age Corruption of the Evangelical Faith, (LaVergne, TN: Xulon Press, 2008), page 100.

Amazing Births

The Bible tells us about many remarkable births. For example, there is the birth of Isaac to parents nearly 100 years old. And then there are the births of Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist — all of whom were born to women with barren wombs.

In like manner, there have been some remarkable births since Bible times — like the Dionne Quintuplets in Canada in 1934, the first such birth in which all five survived to infancy. In 1974 in South Africa, the Rosenkowitz family gave birth to sextuplets, again the first such birth in which all six survived. And then there were the McCaughey Septuplets born in Iowa in 1997. Only to be outdone by the Suleman Octuplets born in California in 2009.

But none of these births, as spectacular as they may have been — none of them is the most spectacular birth of modern times. The most amazing birth since biblical times would have to be that of Louise Brown in Lancashire, England on July 25, 1978. She was the first baby conceived outside the human body — the first “test tube baby.”
Louise Brown

History attests to barren wombs made fertile. History attests to amazing multiple births. History attests to conception outside the womb.

But none of these births is as amazing, as miraculous, as stupendous as the birth of Jesus of Nazareth — the birth proclaimed to the shepherds of Bethlehem by the angels of God. The birth of Jesus of Nazareth is the most unique birth in all recorded history, for the Bible tells us that He was born of a virgin.

And that’s where I would like for us to go right now — to the Bible. Let’s begin our study of the virgin birth of Jesus by examining the Scriptures.
The Virgin Birth of Jesus

To set the stage for our study, let’s consider a passage from Matthew 1, verses 18-21.

I am going to present these verses from a version of the Bible you may not be familiar with. It is called the Jewish New Testament. It is a translation by David Stern, a Messianic Jew who lives in Jerusalem.8

The purpose of this translation is to show that the New Testament is a book that was written by Jews and is steeped in Jewish culture. He does this by restoring the Jewish names of people and places that have been anglicized in our English translations. Consider carefully this very familiar passage:

18 Here is how the birth of Yeshua the Messiah took place. When His mother Miryam was engaged to Yosef, before they were married, she was found to be pregnant from the Ruach HaKodesh [the Holy Spirit].

19 Her husband-to-be, Yosef, was a man who did what was right; so he made plans to break the engagement quietly, rather than put her to public shame.

20 But while he was thinking about this, an angel of Adonai appeared to him in a dream and said, “Yosef, son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh.

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Yeshua [which means, ‘Adonai saves,’] because He will save His people from their sins.”

22 All this happened in order to fulfill what Adonai had said through the prophet,

23 “The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call Him Immanuel.” [meaning, “God is with us.”]

How is Satan attacking the truth of the Virgin Birth?
Notes

8) David Stern, The Jewish New Testament (Clarksville, MD: Messianic Jewish Communications, 1989).

Truth of the Virgin Birth: Satanic Attack


The Bible clearly states that Jesus was born of a virgin. And I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that Satan hates the fact of the virgin birth. He hates it because it attests to the divinity of Jesus, and Satan is determined to do everything possible to convince the world that Jesus was just a man.

As an example, consider one of the featured songs contained in the popular Broadway musical and movie called, “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” In one of the key scenes in the production, Mary Magdalene sings a song about Jesus while he is sleeping. The words go like this (emphasis added):9

I don’t know how to love him.
What to do, how to move him.
I’ve been changed, yes really changed.
In these past few days, when I’ve seen myself,
I seem like someone else.

I don’t know how to take this.
I don’t see why he moves me.
He’s a man. He’s just a man.
And I’ve had so many men before,
In very many ways,
He’s just one more.

Notice the words, “He’s a man, he’s just a man.” Satan has orchestrated attacks like this on the fact of the virgin birth ever since it was proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem.

Philosophers and scientists scoff at it as nothing but a “childish myth.” Jewish leaders, from the earliest of times, have written it off as “a cruel hoax.” Saddest of all, many modern day Christian theologians contend that it is “a non-essential legend.”

Satan’s attacks have been very successful.

Today, the virgin birth is flagrantly denied by professors at many Christian seminaries. In fact, I would venture to say that it is the most ridiculed doctrine in the Christian faith. It is usually dismissed as nothing but a “johnny-come-lately myth” conjured up by a bunch of ignorant shepherds in the First Century.

This observation is supported by polls. In 1998 the Harris group took a poll of over 7,000 clergy in the U.S. and found the following percentages of clergymen denying the virgin birth:10

19% of American Lutheran clergy
34% of American Baptist pastors
44% of Episcopalian priests
49% of Presbyterian ministers
60% of Methodist clergy
79% of Congregational pastors

This unbelief among clergy is taking its toll on the American general public. In 1998, the year the clergy poll was taken, 83% of Americans believed in the virgin birth. Ten years later, that percentage had dropped over 20 points to 61%.11

Still, these polls show that among the general public there is much more faith in God’s Word than among the clergy!
Ambivalence in Jesus’ Time

The interesting thing is that this ambivalence about the origin of Jesus is nothing new. Even in the time of Jesus, His origin was a matter of ambivalence and constant speculation.

In John 6 we are told that the Jewish leaders scoffed at His claim that He had come from Heaven. They said, “How can you claim that you came from Heaven when we know your mother and father?”

In John 7 we are told that some of the residents of Jerusalem rejected Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah because they said, “We know where you came from, but whenever the Messiah comes, no one will know where he came from.”

And in John 8 we are told that some of the people accused Jesus of being born of fornication while others claimed he was a half-breed Samaritan.

Another interesting thing is that Jesus Himself revealed the reason for all this ambivalence about His origin. Here’s what He had to say about it in Matthew 16:13-17

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking His disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

Note carefully that last verse. Jesus said His divinity had been revealed to Peter by God the Father. The point is that the only way that anyone will ever know the deity of Jesus is by a divine revelation from God. Man will never come to this knowledge through philosophy, theology, or science. It must be revealed.

Man through his own knowledge will always conclude that Jesus was a great scholar, inspired teacher, visionary prophet, moral leader — or whatever.

But Man, reasoning on his own, will always miss the central fact that Jesus is the Son of the Living God. And therefore, man operating in the flesh will always deny the virgin birth because the virgin birth and the deity of Jesus are inseparable.

If Jesus is God, then He must be born of God. He cannot be born of human parents. It is therefore my position that to deny the virgin birth is to deny the deity of Jesus.

For you see, without the virgin birth, Jesus is — in the words of the Broadway musical — “just another man,” born with the flawed sin nature inherited by all of us from Adam. And if Jesus is just another man, then you and I have no hope whatsoever. That’s why the virgin birth is not a peripheral issue. It is central to the Christian faith.

What are three reasons why the Virgin Birth is essential? Find out in our next installment of this “Truth of the Virgin Birth” series.
Notes

9) STL Lyrics, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him,”
http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/jesuschristsuperstar/dontknowhowtolovehim.htm, page 1.

10) ReligiousTolerance.org, “Beliefs of Christian Clergy & Public,”
http://www.religioustolerance.org/virgin_b7.htm, page 1.

11) Wtop.com, “61 Percent Believe in Jesus’ Virgin Birth,”
http://www.wtop.com/?nid=773&sid=1544302.

Truth of the Virgin Birth: Essentiality


Let’s focus for a moment on the essentiality of the virgin birth. Why is it so important to the Christian faith? I would argue that there are three reasons.

First, it relates to the integrity of the Bible as God’s Word. The Bible says point-blank that Jesus was born of a virgin. If that is not true, then what can we believe in the Bible? If what it says about the birth of Jesus is fiction, then how can we believe what it says about His death and resurrection?

Second, it relates to the integrity of Jesus as Messiah. In order for Jesus to be our Savior, three conditions had to be met:

a) He had to be Human. No angel could die for our sins.

b) He had to be Divine. A mere mortal could not bear the infinite price that had to be paid for our sins.

c) He had to be Sinless. A sinner could not die for the sins of others.

The virgin birth guaranteed the fulfillment of all three of these conditions:

a) Because He was born of Mary, He was Human.

b) Because He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, He was Divine.

c) Because He was born holy, without a sin nature, He was qualified to serve as our Savior.

This last point is extremely important. You see, even though both Adam and Eve sinned, God placed the responsibility on Adam (Gen 3:17-19). Romans 5:12-21 emphasizes this point. It states that just as death entered the world through the sin of one man, Adam, and resulted in condemnation for all men, so also, the hope of life and justification have come through one man, Jesus Christ.

The point is that the sin nature is transmitted by the father, and therefore, for Jesus to be born without a sin nature, He had to be born without an earthly father. And this brings us to another important point. It was not the birth of Jesus that was miraculous. He was in the womb of Mary for 9 months and was born just like you and me. What was miraculous was His conception. In a great miracle of creation, He was placed in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, describes the process in these words:

The body growing in Mary’s womb must have been specially created in full perfection, and placed there by the Holy Spirit, in order for it to be free of inherent sin damage.

Christ would still be “made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3), because His body was nurtured and born of Mary, who was herself of the seed of David. He would still be the Son of Man, sharing all universal human experience from conception to death, except sin. He is truly “the seed of the woman” (Genesis 3:15), His body formed neither of the seed of the man nor the egg of the woman, but grown from a unique seed planted in the woman’s body by God Himself.

That is, God directly formed a body for the second Adam, just as He had for the first Adam (Genesis 2:7). This was nothing less than a miracle of creation, capable of accomplishment only by the Creator Himself.12

Notes

12) Henry Morris, “Creation and the Virgin Birth,” pamphlet published by The Institution for Creation Research (no date), pages 5-6.

Truth of the Virgin Birth: Annunciation


Let’s go to the Scriptures and continue with the nativity story by reading from Luke 1, beginning with verse 26 — once again using the Jewish New Testament.

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gavri’el was sent by God to a city in the Galil called Natzeret,

27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Yosef, of the house of David; the virgin’s name was Miryam.

28 Approaching her, the angel said, “Shalom, favored lady! Adonai is with you!”

29 She was deeply troubled by his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Miryam, for you have found favor with God.

31 Look! You will become pregnant, you will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Yeshua.

32 He will be great, He will be called the Son of HaElyon [meaning Son of the most High]. Adonai, God, will give Him the throne of His forefather David;

33 and He will rule the House of Ya’akov forever — there will be no end to His Kingdom.”

Let’s pause for a moment because I want to remind you of a very important fact: the person who wrote these verses was a man named Luke who happened to be a medical doctor. This is important because he gives us more information about the virgin birth than all the rest of the Gospel writers combined.
The Annunciation

And I don’t think that was any accident. Think of it — God used a medical doctor, a man of science, to give us the detailed facts about the virgin birth! And I believe God did this on purpose so that no one could rightfully dismiss the story as the mythological imaginings of an ignorant and superstitious person. The most important witness of the virgin birth is a medical doctor!

Another thing we need to keep in mind as we consider these verses from Luke is that in that day and time, there was no such thing as shot-gun weddings — they just didn’t exist!

A formal marriage contract, called a Ketubah, was negotiated and signed at which point the couple was considered to be married, but the marriage was not consummated until after a waiting period of 9 months to a year. During that time the husband prepared a house for them to live in and the wife proved her faithfulness.

And if the woman became pregnant during that time, it was a very serious matter. It meant she would either be stoned to death for infidelity or else be humiliated by a divorce decree. So, Gabriel’s announcement that Mary was to become pregnant during that waiting period carried grave consequences, to say the least.

Let’s consider Mary’s response to Gabriel’s announcement:

34 “How can this be,” asked Miryam of the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered her, “The Ruach HaKodesh [the Holy Spirit] will come over you, the power of HaElyon [the Most High God] will cover you. Therefore, the holy child born to you will be called the Son of God.

36 “You have a relative, Elisheva, who is an old woman; and everyone says she is barren. But she has conceived a son and is six months pregnant!

37 “For with God, nothing is impossible.”

38 Miryam said, “I am the servant of Adonai; may it happen to me as you have said.”

What clues do the Scriptures give us that show Mary was innocent?

The first thing we need to note about Mary’s response to the announcement by the angel Gabriel that she would have a child is that although she was probably no older than 14, she was no naive child. She knew what it took to have a baby, and so she immediately proclaimed, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Gabriel responds by telling her that the conception will be miraculous by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I doubt that Mary had any idea what that meant — just as we cannot fully understand it today — but nonetheless, knowing it would highly complicate her life and her relationship with Joseph, she responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, so do to me as you please.” That, my friends, was an incredibly brave statement of faith.

But Mary’s response is not the only evidence of her innocence. Further evidence can be found in Luke’s account. Let’s continue reading:

39 Without delay, Miryam set out and hurried to the town in the hill country of Y’hudah

40 where Z’kharyah lived, entered his house and greeted Elisheva.

41 When Elisheva heard Miryam’s greeting, the baby in her womb stirred. Elisheva was filled with the Ruach HaKodesh

42 and spoke up in a loud voice, “How blessed are you among women! And how blessed is the child in your womb!

43 “But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44 “For as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy!

45 “Indeed you are blessed, because you have trusted that the promise Adonai has made to you will be fulfilled.”

Notice that the innocence of Mary is attested to over and over again in these particular verses. For example, the first thing they tell us is that Mary ran to a relative, Elizabeth, to share with her the good news of her pregnancy. Let me ask you, how many pregnant unwed girls have you ever seen behave in that manner? They are normally overwhelmed with shame, and the last people they want to know about their situation are their relatives!

And her innocence is further confirmed by the fact that she chose a priestly family to share the news with! The significance of this is that Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias, was a priest. If Mary were pregnant by fornication, it would have been the responsibility of Zacharias to report her and have her tried and stoned to death.

I think Mary’s innocence is also confirmed by the reaction of Elizabeth when she cried out “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” She did that before Mary could even tell her the purpose of her visit!

The passage says she did it under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Elizabeth was given a supernatural word of knowledge, and this must have served as a confirmation to Mary of the message that Gabriel had given her.

And further confirmation is supplied by John the Baptist who at that time was still in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth. He began to leap with joy in his mother’s womb when Mary arrived, because he sensed the presence of the Messiah!
What other clues do the Scriptures give us that show Mary was innocent?

 

Let’s continue with our search for evidence of the innocence of Mary. The next piece of evidence is to be found in a beautiful song that Mary sings to Elizabeth:

46 Then Miryam said, “My soul magnifies Adonai;

47 “and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior,

48 “who has taken notice of his servant-girl in her humble position. For imagine it! From now on, all generations will call me blessed.

49 “The Mighty One has done great things for me! Indeed, His name is Holy;

50 “and in every generation He has mercy on those who fear Him.”

I ask you, what unwed pregnant girl has ever behaved in this manner, singing songs of praise to God in front of her relatives? The behavior of Mary is the behavior of innocence!
The Response of Joseph

And her innocence is also confirmed by what Matthew tells us about the behavior of her husband, Joseph. Matthew says that because Joseph was a righteous man, he at first wanted to divorce Mary quietly, but then changed his mind and decided to go ahead with the marriage because an angel appeared to him and assured him of Mary’s innocence (Matthew 1:18-23).
Joseph

Matthew makes it clear that Joseph’s initial response to the news of Mary’s pregnancy was one of shock. He was clearly an innocent party. And his willingness to continue with the marriage showed that he was convinced by the angel’s visitation that Mary, also, was completely innocent.
The World’s Objections

Yet, the world, including some professing Christian leaders, screams “Nonsense!”

“It’s scientifically impossible!” they say. Well, of course it is! But the conception of Jesus was a miracle of God performed by the One who spoke the whole universe into existence. As Gabriel said to Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”

The critics respond, “But it’s mentioned only in Matthew and Luke. There is no mention of it in the Gospels of Mark and John, nor is there any mention of it in the epistles of Paul, Peter and John.” My response is to ask, “How many times must God state something for it to be true?” One is enough for me.

It is stated specifically in two Gospels, and it is referred to indirectly by Paul in Galatians 4:4 where he refers to Jesus as having been “born of a woman,” which was a very quaint statement in a male dominant culture.

The critics counter by claiming that the early Christians simply tried to deify Jesus by relating his birth to pagan myths of great people, like Alexander the Great — people who were supposedly born of a union between a god and an earthly woman. But all such myths crudely pictured gods coming to earth and having sexual intercourse with women.

The idea that Orthodox Jews in the First Century would try to deify their Messiah by applying pagan myths to Him is preposterous. It is equally preposterous to believe that they would devote their lives to a myth and be willing to die for it.

The last gasp of the critics is their contention that a virgin birth was nowhere anticipated in the Hebrew Scriptures, and therefore, it had to be a myth that was conjured up later by ignorant and superstitious people.

But this ignores the fact that the two writers who mention the virgin birth were both educated men — Matthew, the former Roman tax collector, and Luke, a medical doctor.
The argument also ignores the fact that the virgin birth of the Messiah was definitely anticipated in Bible prophecy.

 

Truth of the Virgin Birth: Bible Prophecy

At the dawn of history, in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned, God promised them that one day they would be reconciled to Him through “the seed of woman.” That statement clearly implies a Messiah who would be virgin born. You can find that statement in Genesis 3:15

And I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.

Thousands of years later, the prophet Isaiah specifically stated that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. In Isaiah 7:14 we find these words: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”

Some liberal theologians argue that the Hebrew word for virgin used in this passage can also mean “maiden,” but they overlook two facts:

  1. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek about 280 years before Jesus, producing what is called The Septuagint, the 70 Jewish sages who made the translation used a Greek word in this passage that can only mean virgin, because that was their interpretation of the meaning of the passage.
  2. And that word, parthenos, is the word that Matthew used in his Gospel when quoting the prophecy. Again, it can only mean virgin.

As we have seen in this series, the Scriptures are filled with solid evidence of the virgin birth. And yet, they do not prove the virgin birth because the virgin birth, like the deity of Jesus and His resurrection, must ultimately be accepted by faith.

But, we are not called to exercise a blind faith. We are given substantial evidence upon which to base our faith.

Yet, the world still screams: “It is impossible!”

In response, we need to keep in mind the words that the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary. He said, “With God, nothing is impossible.”

What the world so desperately needs today is the simple, child-like faith of Mary when she said, “Behold, I am the hand maid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to the Lord’s Word.”
Thoughts About Mary

In that regard, I’d like to add a word about Mary. In the Protestant tradition she has been almost completely ignored, mainly due to the fact that Catholics have given her so much attention.
Time on Mary

Now, she certainly is not to be elevated to the status of a god, as some have done, but she does deserve our attention. For one thing, most people don’t seem to be aware of the fact that she was probably only about 13 years old when she was visited by the angel Gabriel. That was the age of marriage in Israel at that time, as it still is in much of that part of the world.

So, we are talking here about a teenage girl who is a model of faith and purity and devotion to God. And one of the keys to her character is revealed in the song of rejoicing that she sang when she became pregnant with the Christ Child. That song, recorded in Luke 1, reveals that she was steeped in the Scriptures. She obviously had been born into a righteous family where she had been taught God’s Word from childhood.

Nonetheless, the Scriptures also reveal that she was a sinner in need of a Savior, just like all the rest of us. She began her song of rejoicing by declaring, “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47).

And like Mary, all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All of us need a Savior.

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sobre Angeles (disculpas, esta en Ingles)

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Yes, the Bible teaches the reality of angels, and it teaches that they sometimes take on human form in order to minister to those who are in the process of being saved (Hebrews 1:14).
What are angels? Where did they come from? What is their purpose? Do they have a ministry today? How do they relate to the end times?

The Ministry of Angels: Origins

Dr. David R. ReaganBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) which were created by God (Genesis 2:1 and Colossians 1:16). Exactly when they were created is not clear, but they pre-date the creation of the material universe because the Scriptures say that they witnessed the creation and rejoiced over it (Job 38:4-7).

One of the greatest myths concerning angels pertains to their origin. Many people are convinced that when a saved person goes to Heaven, he or she becomes an angel. There is no biblical basis for this belief. Angels and humans are two separate entities. The Bible says that Man is slightly lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:5-7), but the Bible also teaches that through redemption Man becomes superior to angels and that the saved will one day judge the angels — most likely the fallen angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).

Jesus spoke of two kinds of angels — the “angels in Heaven” (Matthew 22:30) and “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). The latter seem to have originated from Satan’s rebellion against God.

Satan was originally one of God’s most glorious angels, “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). But his heart became lifted up because of his beauty (Ezekiel 28:17), and his pride motivated him to try to take the throne of God (Isaiah 14:12-14). Due to his rebellion, he was cast out of Heaven, down to earth, and one third of the angels were cast out with him because they joined his rebellion (Revelation 12:4).

The Bible does not tell us when this revolt took place, but it was most likely after the end of the creation week because at the end of that week God pronounced all of His creation to be “good” (Genesis 1:31).

I believe these fallen angels are the demons that are referred to in both the Old and New Testaments. Satan, in fact, is called the “ruler of the demons” (Matthew 9:34).

Three places in the Hebrew Scriptures we are told that people sacrificed to demons (Leviticus 17:7, Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:37). With the opening of the New Testament, there is an explosion of demonic activity, undoubtedly in response to the First Coming of the Messiah. Jesus was often confronted by demons who recognized who He was (Mark 3:11), and much of His healing ministry was directed at casting demons out of people (Matthew 8:16).

The Bible teaches that some of these fallen angels did not keep to their properly assigned domain (Jude 6), and they were thus bound in a place called Tartarus, probably a compartment in Hades, possibly even the abyss or chasm that exists in Hades (Luke 16:26). What is meant by “not keeping to their own domain” is not clear. Some believe this is a reference to Genesis 6 where we are told that “the sons of God” had sexual relations with “the daughters of men” and that their union produced a race of giants known as the Nephilim (Genesis 6:1-4).
What is the nature of angels? What forms do they take? How many are there? Just how powerful are they?

Nature

Angels are created spirit beings (Nehemiah 9:6 and Hebrews 1:14). Yet, the Bible clearly teaches that they can take on human form and appear to people. In the Old Testament there are recorded appearances of angels to Abraham, Hagar, Lot, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, Daniel, and many others. The New Testament opens with a whole series of angelic appearances related to the birth of the Messiah. After the death of Jesus, angels appeared at His tomb and at His ascension. Peter, John, Phillip, and Paul all had angelic encounters in their ministries.

In their biblical appearances angels always manifest themselves as men. There is no mention of them having wings. The idea that angels have wings is rooted in the Bible’s description of some special angelic beings called Seraphim and Cherubim who reside in the throne room of God in Heaven. Seraphim are described as having six wings (Isaiah 6:2). Cherubim are depicted with four wings (Ezekiel 1:5-6).

When angels take on human form, they appear like any normal person (Genesis 18:2 and Genesis 19:1-17). When they manifest themselves in their spirit form, they tend to appear as dazzling light (Matthew 28:1-4).

Angels have emotions. They rejoiced over the creation of the universe (Job 38:7), and we are told that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

Angels do not marry or procreate (Matthew 22:30). They do not age nor are they subject to death (Luke 20:36). Therefore, their numbers remain constant. The exact number is not revealed, but it is very large. Ten thousand angels appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 33:2). David saw 20,000 at one time (Psalm 68:17). When John was raptured to the throne room of God, he saw ten times ten thousand (KJV) or, as the New American Standard Version puts it: “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands” (Revelation 5:11). The book of Hebrews says there are “innumerable myriads” (Hebrews 12:22).

Angels have great knowledge, but they are not omniscient. Jesus said, for example, that angels do not know when His Second Coming will take place (Mark 13:32). Angels are very powerful (2 Thessalonians 1:7 and 2 Peter 2:11), but they are not omnipotent. They are obedient servants of their Creator (Psalm 103:20). They can move about rapidly, but they are not omnipresent. In short, angels are not gods, and therefore, they are not to be worshiped (Colossians 2:18 and Revelation 22:8-9).

There is no biblical passage that says angels have to eat to stay alive, but the Bible portrays them as eating when they take on human form (Genesis 18:1-8 and 19:1-3). Also, Psalm 78:25 refers to the manna God provided to feed the children of Israel in the wilderness as “the bread of angels.”

In like manner, the Bible never specifically says that angels sing, but their singing is implied in two ways. First, their words are often expressed in poetic form (Luke 2:14, Revelation 4:8, 11, and Revelation 5:9-10,12-13). Second, music is a universal form of worship, and angels are pictured worshiping the Lord unceasingly (Psalm 148:1-2 and Revelation 4 and 5).

When angels speak to a person, they always use that person’s native language. But the Bible indicates that angels have a language of their own that they use among themselves (1 Corinthians 13:1).

What are the different types of angels, and what about the special angels that serve in God’s throneroom?

Types

There is quite a variety of angels in addition to the regular ones and the fallen ones.

The Bible indicates that Satan may have originally been the supreme angel. Before his fall, he is referred to as “the anointed cherub” (Ezekiel 28:14). He is further described as “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12- 13). After Satan’s fall, an angel named Michael became the chief of God’s heavenly host. He is the only angel referred to in the Bible as an “archangel” (Jude 9).

The Hebrew Scriptures portray Michael as “the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people [the Jews]” (Daniel 12:1). The book of Revelation pictures Michael as the commander-in-chief of the armies of God, and in this capacity, he wages war against Satan in the middle of the Tribulation when Satan tries one last time to take the throne of God (Revelation 12:7-9). So important and powerful is Michael that some cultic groups, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists, have incorrectly identified him with Jesus.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 we are told that when Jesus appears for the Rapture of the Church, the event will be heralded by the shout of an archangel. Since Michael is the only angel identified in the Scriptures with this title, he is most likely the one who will utter the shout.

Another angel VIP is Gabriel. He emerges in the Scriptures as God’s premier messenger. He appeared to Daniel twice, first to interpret a vision concerning the Antichrist (Daniel 8:15-26), and second, to present the prophecy of the 70 Weeks of Years (Daniel 9:20-27).

In the New Testament, Gabriel serves as an angel of annunciation. He was the one who proclaimed to Zacharias that his wife would give birth to a prophet named John (Luke 1:8-20). And he is the angel who told Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:26-33).

There are two mysterious groups of angels that occupy the throne room of God. They are called Seraphim and Cherubim. The Seraphim are pictured only once in the Scriptures, in Isaiah 6:1-3. In this passage Isaiah is given a glimpse of God’s throne room in Heaven. He sees angelic creatures called Seraphim hovering above God’s throne. They are described as having six wings each. They appear to be worship leaders as they cry out, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole world is full of His glory.”

The Cherubim are first mentioned in Genesis 3:24. After the fall of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, God posted Cherubim with flaming swords “to guard the way to the tree of life.” They are next mentioned in Exodus 25 when God told Moses to place images of two Cherubim on the mercy seat (the lid) of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18-20).

When King Solomon built his magnificent temple, he placed two gigantic images of Cherubim in the Holy of Holies. Their outstretched wings hovered over the entire chamber, including the Ark of the Covenant with its smaller Cherubim (2 Chronicles 3:8-14). These symbolic usages of Cherub symbols indicate that Cherubim are special guardians of God’s things.

The most detailed description of these enigmatic celestial creatures can be found in chapter one of Ezekiel’s prophecy. Ezekiel was a prisoner in Chaldea by the Chebar River when he had a vision of a storm coming from the north with glowing figures in the clouds (Ezekiel 1:1-4). He described them as “four living beings” that had “human form,” but each of them had four faces and four wings (Ezekiel 1:4-6). They gleamed like burnished bronze (Ezekiel 1:7). Each of these creatures had the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of a bull, and the face of an eagle — seemingly representing all of God’s creation (Ezekiel 1:10).

Ezekiel later identifies these creatures as Cherubim (Ezekiel 10:15) when he encounters them for a second time. The second encounter is a sad one. It occurred when God decided to withdraw His glory from the Holy of Holies in preparation for the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. As the glory of the Lord (what the Jews called “the Shekinah”) departed, Ezekiel witnessed Cherubim accompanying it to Heaven (Ezekiel 10:1-22).

When the Apostle John was raptured to Heaven from the Isle of Patmos, he saw similar creatures in front of God’s throne. Like Ezekiel, he referred to them as “four living creatures” (Revelation 4:6). What he saw was very similar, but not exactly the same. He does not mention each having four faces, and he says they had six wings each instead of four. But he does state that each one had a different face, and the faces mentioned are the same as what Ezekiel saw — lion, bull, man, and eagle.

The only other special angel mentioned in the Scriptures is a very special one indeed. He is the one who is referred to throughout the Old Testament as “The Angel of the Lord.” I believe He is none other than Jesus making preincarnate appearances.
What are the different roles that angels play in human history — past and present?

Roles

Michael is the commander-in-chief of the heavenly host and the designated defender of Israel. Gabriel is God’s special messenger. The Seraphim are worship leaders. The Cherubim are guardians. The Four Living Creatures of Revelation are either identical with the Cherubim or else they are special representatives of all God’s creation. Like the Seraphim, they praise God without ceasing (Revelation 4:8-9).

Regarding the host of regular angels, the Bible makes it clear that they are servants of God who have a variety of tasks. One of those tasks is indicated by their name. The very word, angel, is derived from the Greek word, angelos, which means “messenger.” The Hebrew equivalent, malakh, also means “messenger.” Accordingly, angels are often pictured in the Scriptures as delivering messages from God. The examples abound throughout the Scriptures. To mention only a few —

  • The Law was given to Moses through angels (Acts 7:53 and Galatians 3:19).
  • Angels are portrayed as mediums of revelation to God’s prophets (Daniel 4:13-17, Zechariah 1:9-11, and Hebrews 2:2).
  • Abraham was informed by angels that his wife would have a child (Genesis 18:1-10).
  • Lot was warned by angels of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1-16).
  • Joseph was visited by angels three times in dreams. He was assured that Mary was a virgin (Matthew 1:20). He was told to take his family and flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13). And he was informed when it was safe to leave Egypt and return to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-20).
  • Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, was told by an angel to send for Peter to receive a special message from God (Acts 10:1-8).

A second major role of angels is to minister to the needs of saints. They were sent to provide food and drink for Elijah as he lay dying in the wilderness (1 Kings 19:1-8). In like manner, angels were dispatched to minister to Jesus after His exhausting 40 days of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:11). An army of angels surrounded the prophet Elisha to protect him when his life was endangered (2 Kings 6:15-19). In the New Testament, we are told that Peter was released from prison by an angel (Acts 12:5-11).

An equally significant role of angels is to execute judgments of God. They were sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:12-15). An angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night to prevent them from attacking Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:35). Psalm 78:49 speaks of a “band of destroying angels” that was sent to torment the Jews in the wilderness when they rebelled against God. The New Testament makes it clear that God will execute His end time judgments on the nations through angels (Matthew 13:49- 50 and Jude 14-15).

Some angels seem to have highly specialized responsibilities that relate to the natural universe. Revelation 16:5 refers to “the angel of the waters.” Another is called the angel “who has power over fire” (Revelation 14:18). In Revelation 7:1 four angels are pictured who have control of the winds of the earth.

The most popular concept of the role of angels is that of guardians. Most people seem to believe that God has assigned a guardian angel to each person. The Bible never says this, but it does indicate a guardian role for angels. As I have already mentioned, the Archangel Michael is the protector of Israel (Daniel 12:1). Jesus indicated that children have guardian angels. He is quoted in Matthew 18:10 as saying, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father…”

Hebrews 1:14 indicates that believers may have guardian angels: “Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” I love this verse, and I often claim it in prayer. For example, when I have to travel out of town, I always pray for the Lord to post an angel at my home to watch over my wife. And I always pray for the Lord to surround my airplane with angels to guarantee a safe flight.

A companion verse to Hebrews 1:14 can be found in Psalm 91:11-12

11) For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.

12) They will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

The letters Jesus dictated to John for the seven churches of Asia Minor are addressed to “the angel” of each church. Some believe this is a reference to the pastor, and that could very well be, but I cannot help but imagine that the Lord has assigned an actual angel to guard each of His true churches.

With one exception, which we will see later, angels are never given the responsibility of proclaiming the Gospel. This is the work of the Holy Spirit through human evangelists, pastors, and laymen. But angels are often portrayed as playing an active role in evangelistic preparation. Thus, it was an angel who directed the evangelist Philip to the location of the Ethiopian enunch so that the Gospel could be shared with him (Acts 8:26). The situation is reversed with the Roman soldier, Cornelius. An angel appeared to him in order to direct him to Peter so that Peter could share the Gospel with him. Angels guide, but the Holy Spirit instructs (Acts 8:29).

Several verses indicate that angels are active and involved eyewitnesses to what is going on in the Church and in the lives of believers (1 Corinthians 4:9, 11:10 and 1 Timothy 5:21). Surely the “cloud of witnesses” referred to in Hebrews 12:1 must include the angels as well as saints who have gone to be with the Lord. In this sense I think we can consider the angels to be our cheerleaders! We know for certain that they celebrate when a sinner repents and is saved (Luke 15:10). The Bible also indicates that they attend the death of a believer. In His story about Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus left us with the comforting concept that when a believer dies, his spirit is ushered into the Lord’s presence by angels (Luke 16:22).

Dr. Vance Havner commented on the impact of angels as observers in his book, Though I Walk Through the Valley (1974). He tells the story of the pastor of a small country church who was working late into the night on a sermon. His wife asked him why he was spending so much time on a message that would be given to such a small congregation. He replied, “You forget, my dear, how large my audience will be!” Dr. Havner added, “Nothing is trivial here if Heaven looks on. We shall play a better game if, ‘seeing we are encompassed,’ we remember who is in the grandstand.”
What are the future roles angels will play in the end times?

Angel of the Lord: OT Appearances


Several years ago I received a letter from a fellow in Champaign, Illinois in which he asked me a number of very thought provoking questions about Jesus before He became incarnate in the flesh. Since that time, a number of other people have contacted me with a variety of questions concerning the same subject. I’ve collected my answers and will post them in four parts in this “Angel of the Lord” series.
Question: Did Jesus make appearances before His incarnation?

Answer: Definitely. A good example is found in Isaiah 6. King Uzziah, who had reigned for 52 years in Judah, had just died, and Isaiah, who was probably only a teenager at the time, went to the Temple to mourn the king’s death.

Isaiah was surprised by a vision in which he saw the Lord — the King of kings — “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted” (Isaiah 6:1). In John 12:41 we are told that what Isaiah saw was Jesus in “His glory” — the glory He had before He became incarnate (Philippians 2:5-8).


Question: I have heard that “the Angel of the Lord” who is often referred to in the Old Testament was really Jesus making preincarnate appearances. Is this true?

Answer: “The Angel of the Lord” is referred to 56 times in 51 verses in the Hebrew Scriptures. The first reference is found in Genesis 16:7-12 where it says that “the Angel of the Lord” appeared to Hagar as she was fleeing in the wilderness from the rage of Abraham’s wife. The Angel told her to go back home, and then He revealed to her that she was pregnant with a son whose name would be called Ishmael.

A study of the subsequent appearances of the Angel of the Lord makes it very clear that they were pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus.

A good example is found in Exodus 3. There we are told that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush (verse 2). Then we are later told that the Angel spoke to Moses and said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (verse 6).

In Exodus 23 we are told that God the Father spoke to Moses and said He would send an angel to guide and protect the Children of Israel in the Wilderness. He refers to this angel as “My angel” and states that “My name is in Him” (Exodus 23:20-23). This is obviously no ordinary angel.

In Judges 13 we are told that the Angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah and his wife to inform them that they would have a child named Samson. When Manoah asked the Angel for His name, He replied, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” (Judges 13:18). Manoah got the point of this statement immediately, for he turned to his wife and said, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God” (Judges 13:22).

The Angel’s deity is also attested to by the fact that on two occasions He accepted worship. When He appeared to both Moses (Exodus 3:1-5) and Joshua (Joshua 5:14-15), they were told to remove their sandals for they were “standing on holy ground.”
Couldn’t the Angel of the Lord have been God the Father rather than God the Son?

October 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment