St. Michael And All Angels
Beloved. We confess in the creed that we believe that God is the Creator of all things both visible and invisible. While humanity is the most important of God’s visible creation, the angels are the foremost of the invisible creation. Sadly, we all too easily forget about the invisible creation. We see the visible and that seems to be the most important to us because we see it all around us. It is easy to get sucked into the thinking that the only things that matter are the things we can see, feel, etc. That’s the thought of so much of the world around us—only what we can touch and see is important—and that’s why so many try to find their happiness and contentment in things. But that will never work because God created us as spiritual beings—that is, our true longings and rest are found only in Him, in communion with Him.
This is one of the blessings of today, the day the Church has set aside to remember the holy angels—the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. It lifts our eyes up to the invisible world around us, which we can’t see but which is reality. This feast day of the Church brings us into and leads us to consider the invisible world, this world of which our reason knows absolutely nothing. The existence of the good and the evil angels is increasingly rejected in the world. People only want to regard as true what the eye can see and the hand touch and so regard themselves as wise, although in reality they are fools regarding the true divine wisdom from Scripture as foolishness.
As we will learn from our text from St. John, whose eyes were opened to be able to see the invisible world around us, it’s a whole new world for us; one in which there is a great spiritual battle going on, one in which the Lord’s holy angels, led by St. Michael, are in battle against the devil and his evil angels who want to destroy God’s work—especially His dear Christians. There was also a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. The dragon fought back along with his angels. But our comfort? But he was not strong enough. St. Michael and the holy angels are victorious in this holy warfare going on invisible to us. Luther comments on today’s feast day: The festival of the angels was set up in the church for the sake of the Christians—not for the sake of the angels—that they may learn to remember the dear angels and thank God that He has decreed that such great lords should be our servants and serve us. [Hauspostille]
Again, the very fact that there are angels, no one can know from their own reason but all throughout Holy Scripture it testifies of the fact and existence of the angels—both the holy angels and the evil angels, the devils. Jesus says in the Gospel about the holy angels: for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven [Mt. 18.10]. Notice: for I say to you; we have to be told/ taught. Scripture tells us there are an innumerable set number of angels created by God sometime during the days of creation although not on which day. It is also important to remember that angels are without a physical body, they are pure spirit—although they can take on human appearance. Because angels are part of God’s invisible creation, they are different than people who are part of the visible creation. That means that when we die, we do not become angels. We are people and remain people—at death our souls are separated from our bodies, but reunited again on the Last Day in the judgment.
Our text: There was also a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. The dragon fought back along with his angels. There are the good angels and there are the evil angels; but all angels were created good and holy. A portion of the angels fell, led by the devil and became the evil angels/ the devils/ demons, enemies of God and humanity. But God confirmed the good angels in the truth so that they could never fall away and now always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.
The holy angels are glorious and when they appear—like the angels announcing Jesus’ birth to the shepherds—they shone forth the glory of the Lord.
The holy angels are blessed as they always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. This seeing/ beholding the face of God is the source of eternal joy and blessedness. It is the same blessedness we will one day enjoy in heaven. There will be our true joy and blessedness for all eternity and what the souls of the saints are already now enjoying, together with the holy angels.
The angels are mighty, but not almighty—only God, their/ our Creator is almighty. What’s interesting is: although God is almighty and could do any and everything, yet He has the angels carry out His bidding. Could God by His almighty power wonderfully protect us and care for us? –Absolutely! But He has chosen to work through His holy angels: There was also a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. The dragon fought back along with his angels. But he was not strong enough.
As with our text in hand, we open our eyes today to look at the spiritual/ invisible world around us, especially the battle over us by the holy angels and the devils, we see that the work of the holy angels is ultimately rooted in the work Jesus. There was also a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. The dragon fought back along with his angels. But he was not strong enough. What is being described here is not the scene/ battle of when the devil and the evil angels rebelled against God and were kicked out of heaven. But as we see from the context what is being described is the battle Jesus fought when He came in the flesh, into this world in order to destroy the devil and his work. Think about the major events of Jesus’ life: angels were there. The angel Gabriel came to the Blessed Virgin, there at the moment of the incarnation/ when God took on human flesh and blood and became also true man. The angels announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds; they announced to the world that the God-man/ the Savior of the world had come. We read that after the devil tempted Jesus, angels came and ministered to Him [Lk 4.11]. We read that during His Passion, in Gethsemane as Jesus was in agony in prayer an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him [Lk 22.43]. Of course, angels announced His resurrection and were there at His ascension. Here in these accounts of the angels appearing at these crucial moments of our Lord’s life, we are getting glimpses of what was going on in the heavenly realms, in the invisible world. Side by side with the great physical struggle that was seen in Gethsemane, on the cross, etc. a great battle was being fought in the spiritual realm. This was the main battle as Jesus came to destroy and undo the devil’s work and it was fought in the visible realms and in the invisible.
And, of course, Jesus won that battle; the holy angels won that battle in the heavenlies: There was also a war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought with the dragon. The dragon fought back along with his angels. But he was not strong enough. And what was the result? I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night. Because of Jesus and His work, the devil can no longer accuse us of sin. Notice God’s power and Jesus’ victory: His power and victory is not seen now in the suppression of the ungodly—that means that yes there is still evil in the world and the Christian will still suffer—but Jesus’ victory means that the devil can no longer accuse us of sin. There was his power over us. There he could accuse us of sin and drag us down to hell. There he could hold us in his clutches. But now because of Jesus and His work the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night. Try as he will to accuse us of sin—and rightly so—and condemn us before God and bring us down to hell, the devil cannot because Jesus paid the price for our sin. Jesus obeyed God’s holy law for us—all of it, even/ especially the part that we disobey grievously so or so often in weakness. God’s demand for perfect righteousness has been kept: by Jesus for us. And the sin that we commit that must be punished? –Jesus took that sin upon Himself and endured all of God’s wrath over that sin. Now God’s holy wrath has been poured out. His righteous wrath over sin has been satisfied. We are forgiven our sin. In Jesus we are reconciled to God. What can the devil accuse us of? In Jesus it is forgiven. That’s why the great rejoicing: I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ. In Christ Jesus, dear Christian, we are safe. The devil can no longer accuse us. We have been brought into Jesus’ kingdom, the Church; in it we have salvation.
This, then, is precisely why we see the necessity of the work of the holy angels for us. Not only were they battling it out in the spiritual realm as we saw Jesus battling it out here on earth, but now the devil, who cannot accuse the Christian of sin because it is forgiven in Christ, is with his evil angels attacking the Christian to try to destroy that faith in Jesus and His work for us, His victory over the devil, sin and death. Jesus won the decisive victory, They conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb, His victory is now ours through faith in Him. That’s precisely why and what the devil and his evil angels are attacking us—to destroy our faith and the word of God, the Gospel because through the word the fruit and blessing of Jesus’ work is given to us and spread throughout the world. This is a true spiritual battle that we are in! Listen to our text: Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has gone down to you. He is full of rage, because he knows that his time is short. Until his final banishment on the Last Day, the devil and the evil angels spare no effort in attacking the Christian in order to destroy faith; and he spares no effort to obscure and silence the word of God and its spread throughout the world. Woe to the earth and the sea. The battle is on for our souls and we are encircled, the earth and the sea, by the devil and his demons. But this is where the good angels come in! They encamp around us to protect us and fight against the evil angels. We have the promise the Lord spoke through St. David [Ps. 34.7]: The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. Take great comfort and recognize that these holy, mighty beings are serving us at the Lord’s bidding. They are around us and protect us. When you are experiencing great spiritual anguish and turmoil, see that as the visible appearance of that great battle being fought for your soul in the spiritual realm between the good angels and the devils. When something good happens to you or you escape some great danger, credit the Lord who through His holy angel kept you safe. When you sin or suffer some suffering or calamity, be reminded of the evil angels and their goal—the destruction of you and your soul—and be ever more vigilant and on guard.
Dear Christian, today as we open our eyes and see the spiritual world around us, the demons and the holy angels at war, let us thank the Lord that He has given us these mighty warriors as our protectors; let us go to Him in fervent prayer for their protection; let us be confident in dangers that the holy angels are with us; let us join our praise now in church with theirs in heaven, as we will for all eternity: rejoice, you heavens and those who dwell in them. Praise be to God for His holy angels. INJ Amen