He’s worshipped and served by angels (1:6-7) — Angels have a lot of dignity, but they don’t have as much dignity and honor as Jesus. Verses 6 and 7 describe two things that angels do that make them inferior to Jesus. He quotes Psalm 97:7 and says that angels worship Jesus, and he quotes Psalm 104:4 to say that they serve Jesus. Angels may be great to us, but they’re worshipers and servants to Jesus. He is much greater than them. They are in an inferior position to Jesus. That’s why verses 8 and 9 quote Psalm 45:6-7 and apply them to Jesus. Angels serve and worship; Jesus is served and worshipped.
Big Idea: Jesus is better than angels, so if you’d pay attention to the message of angels, you’d better pay attention to the message of Jesus.
I have a beef with people who say the Old Testament is boring.
Every time I start to read the Old Testament, I’m captured by the story all over again. In the first pages, you’ve got beauty, love, tragedy, judgement, murder, more judgment, a brand new start, grace, and God’s plan to rescue the world. And that’s just the first few pages! The first twelve chapters of Genesis explain so much about the world today, and they’re anything but boring.
But that’s just the start. You’ve got family dysfunction on a major scale, conflicts between world powers, tragic heroes, deliverance, grumbling, wars, repeating cycles of judgment, and more. The Old Testament is fascinating. It’s unrivalled in all literature, and it’s God’s word.
And you have angels. Lots and lots of angels.
Angels are part of God’s creation. We don’t know when they were created — perhaps the same time as the earth, maybe even before. They’re a higher order than humans, but much lower than God. They’re created beings. They’re not omnipresent. They can only be in one place at one time. They don’t know everything. But they’re still spectacular compared to us, which is why humans tend to freak out when they encounter an angel.
They’re spirit beings. We don’t know how many angels there are, but they’re innumerable. Revelation 5:11 talks about angels “numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.” There are good angels and bad angels, and they’re involved with us.
Angels appear to humans throughout Scripture. Angels play a big role in this world and in our lives.
Angels work in the destiny of nations for the good of God’s people. Good angels withstand Satan while the word of God is being preached to the king of Persia (Zech. 3:1). They work in the protection of the righteous and encamp about them that fear the Lord (Ps. 34:7 8), and they deliver God’s people from their enemies (2 Kgs. 6:15–17). Angels deliver Peter from prison and reassure Paul in the great storm at sea (Acts 12:7; 27:23). They are given charge to keep the righteous in all their ways, and are ministering spirits to those who are heirs of salvation (Ps. 91:11; Heb. 1:14). Angels represent individuals before the throne of God (Matt. 18:10; cf. Dan. 12:1), and if heavenly angels are meant in Rev. 2–3, then they are given specific assignments to congregations of the Church. (Edward P. Myers, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible)
This is amazing stuff.
A few years ago, I attended a study group with Tim Mackie, one of the teachers at The Bible Project. The Bible Project was about to release its video series on spiritual beings, and Tim taught a session one night on the topic. We went back to our rooms and our eyes were bulging. We don’t think enough about the reality of the spiritual world, and the ways that angels and demons interact with what’s going on in the world and our lives. It’s amazing.
So I have a question for you. If an angel appeared to you, would you listen?
Here’s what we know. You’d be terrified if you realized it was an angel. We know that because it’s the pretty consistent reaction of everyone in the Bible who saw an angel and realized it.
- Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was initially afraid when he encountered the angel Gabriel in the temple (Luke 1:11-20).
- The shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem were terrified when an angel appeared to them to announce the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:8-10).
- The women who went to Jesus’ tomb after his crucifixion were frightened by the presence of an angel who told them that Jesus had risen (Matthew 28:2-7).
- The guards at Jesus’ tomb also experienced fear when an angel appeared and rolled away the stone from the entrance (Matthew 28:3-4).
- The apostle John was filled with fear when he saw a powerful angel in a vision on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:17).
- The prophet Daniel was overwhelmed with fear when he saw a heavenly being in a vision by the Tigris River (Daniel 10:5-9).
You’d be terrified, but would you listen to an angel sent by God?
I’d like to think so, but you can find examples of people who did and didn’t listen to angels in the Bible. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, had an angel visit him twice, and he listened both times (Matthew 1:20-24, Matthew 2:13-15). In Acts we read:
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. (Acts 8:26-27)
You can see examples of that in Scripture: an angel appears and communicates a message from God, and people respond in obedience.
But you also see the opposite. Angels told Lot to flee Sodom, but they lingered (Genesis 19:15-16). Sarah laughed at a message from angels, although she may not have realized they were angels at the time (Genesis 18:12).