Columnists > Soul Food

Dust off the angels

But remember that real ones are not tame

Issue: "Mid-term, mid-field pileup," Dec. 11, 1999

At first glance the doctrine looks pretty thin, not to say spectral. We are not quite sure, when pushed to it, whether cherubic beings were invented by Giotto or Peter Paul Rubens, adornments for their beatific visions in oil. We fear to tread where angels go because we find the New Age already camped there, boutiques bristling with titles like 57 Ways to Get in Touch with Your Angel, all touchy-feely and unencumbered with facts. And yet, there is something there, is there not, in our own pages? And like the stars in the evening firmament that burst upon our consciousness one by one, we can see them now if we pay attention, the actors and spectators at every epochal event of human history, salvation history. When the cornerstone of creation is laid they are there, midwifing the first morning with song (Job 38:7). When Paradise is blighted by sin's stain they are posted at Eden's gate, till He comes who alone can reverse the curse (Genesis 3:24). One stays Abraham's hand (Genesis 22:11), when God is satisfied that his heart is true-a father who would sacrifice his only son, imagine. They mediate the giving of the Sinai law (Hebrews 2:2), then arc their wings above the mercy seat to indicate how breaches of it will be atoned (Exodus 25). They herald salvation (Luke 1:26), make straight its paths (Matthew 2:13), comfort its Author (Luke 22:43), announce His victory (Matthew 28:2), and will spearhead the mopping-up operation against the Serpent (Revelation 20) when they return in full regalia with their glorious Champion (2 Thessalonians 1:7). Hagar, Lot, Elijah, Daniel, and Peter are among the beneficiaries of their ministrations (Genesis 16:7; 19:16; 1 Kings 19:5; Daniel 6:22; Acts 5:19)-and Lot can be grateful that they are pushier and more muscular than the Hallmark angels. For we are talking about warfare in high places, and your soul the spoils of war. We are talking about Lucy and Edmund and the other side of the wardrobe, with a topography and history all its own, teeming with precincts and principalities and powers. Here is an angel dispatched to Daniel (Daniel 10). But wait-he is waylaid by an evil "prince" who rules the Persian realm. Then prince Michael (archangel) comes with succor and the message can get through-but now the angel must be off again to fight the "prince of Persia" and the "prince of Greece" (parallel realities, if you will, that make Matrix and The Truman Show look like child's play). One day, when the partial is past and the fullness has come (1 Corinthians 13:12), we will smile to see the extent of angel dealings in the human drama-things we mistook at the time for coincidence, for a stranger, for a bit of good luck. Did an angel chuckle mischievously day after day as he replenished the meal and oil in the widow of Zarephath's jug? Did another churn up the sea on the day Paul's ship was beached at Malta? And, more recently, who was it that kept the little ones out of harm's way in Ft. Worth on the day the Lord brought seven precious ones home? O unbelieving world-forever reading only half the story, forever working at a puzzle with the crucial pieces missing, measuring the miracles in a closed system you imagine, but it never quite adds up. Behold, the horses and chariots at Dothan that encircled Elisha and the army of Aram are here still, and "those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kings 6). And now the Christmas ritual begins, of angels dusted off after sitting 11 months in mothballs. They are lovely on the mantelpiece, they make no demands, are tolerant and tame. But my thoughts will tend to wander ... to swift riders on horses white and fiery red and black and pale, who flank the throne of the Lion of Judah and ever live to do His bidding. And I will wonder what they think of it.

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Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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