Angels and us

Angels have always been of interest in the religious sphere, the entertainment business, books, and more. There is even a baseball team that the name. In the religious realm it is simply that angels are part of the testimony of Scripture as messengers of God. They represent an “avenue” in which we can be assured that God is there, interested in us, and watching. Angels have been portrayed as warriors and as neophytes attempting to “win their wings” as they counsel humans losing their way.

In today’s readings, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews focuses on a different role – as administrators of the world – but not so the world to come. The biblical evidence for the angelic government of the world is early: it goes back to the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:8 where the establishing of the nations is described: “He set up the boundaries of the peoples after the number of the divine beings” (NAB) or as more literally translated from the Septuagint: “he set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the angels of God.”

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Hark!

Given that it is the end of Advent and we are just days away from Christmas, given the title of this post, perhaps your mind immediately conjured up “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” That wasn’t what I intended, but so that one might not be disappointed, I can at least offer several choices of YouTube videos of the classic Christmas hymn:

That would certainly offer enough variety and cover a rang of musical tastes. But, as I mentioned, not what I had in mind.

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The time of fulfillment: inhabitants

christ+in+the+wildernessSatan. “Satan” comes from the Hebrew verb STN meaning “to be hostile, to oppose”. The noun means “adversary,” who usually is an earthling in the OT, but in 1 Chr 21:1; Job 1 & 2; Zech 3:1, 2 it refers to a heavenly being and is transliterated “Satan”.

In the LXX, the Hebrew satan was always translated by the Greek diabolos (“the slanderer, the devil”), a word that doesn’t occur in Mark. Continue reading

Testing: angels

temptation_of_christ5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’”

Command the angels…In a wilderness filled with stones and rocks, no special mention is needed about place or details of the place. But the next two tests “transport” Jesus to a new location.  While much has been made in attempts to make the “transport” physical, the pericope works just as well as a vision. What “high mountain” (v.8) exists where one can see all the kingdoms of the world? Does one need to leave the wilderness to see the Jerusalem Temple? Ezekiel remained in Babylon will being “transported” to Jerusalem (Ezek 8:1-3, 11:24). We should remember that Jesus is led [up] by the Spirit to be tested. One need not worry about which mountain or which parapet of the Temple Continue reading

Do angels sing?

hark-the-herald-angels-singStores, offices, and all kinds of places are filled with the sound of familiar and heartening Christmas carols. Some local radio stations are all Christmas music all the time with classic and modern renditions of the secular and religious carols and songs – sometimes as recorded by singing chipmunks.  It becomes part of the ambiance of our Advent season; part of what readies us for the celebration of Christmas.  Continue reading

The desert: inhabitants

christ+in+the+wildernessSatan. “Satan” comes from the Hebrew verb STN meaning “to be hostile, to oppose”. The noun means “adversary,” who usually is an earthling in the OT, but in 1 Chr 21:1; Job 1 & 2; Zech 3:1, 2 it refers to a heavenly being and is transliterated “Satan”.

In the LXX, the Hebrew satan was always translated by the Greek diabolos (“the slanderer, the devil”), a word that doesn’t occur in Mark. Continue reading