Why Angels?

I’m looking at the book of Hebrews in the Bible — what an odd way to start.

Angel,_Cemetery_Mauer

Angels.

It can’t be the number one priority can it? So why start with it?

Now I’ve read the commentaries, and I have an excellent study Bible (ESV, I recommend it) and they all deal with the words of the text, about how the writer shows that Jesus is greater than the Angels. I get that. What I don’t get is why it comes so early in the book. hen you start a letter or sermon you start with something either of primary importance or something to grab your listeners or reader’s attention. See the short paragraphs at the beginning of this blog? That’s me trying to lure you in. If you have got this far it worked.

That’s why Hebrews is so odd as a book. It doesn’t do that. I have never, ever thought that Jesus was inferior to angels. Not for one minute. So has the writer of Hebrews got it wrong.

Or it could be that he got it right, but this book wasn’t aimed at me. This could have been the main point to the readers. Could they have been some claiming either that Jesus was inferior to the angels, or that Jesus was equal to the angels, or that Jesus was an angel? Seriously I have no idea, I can only make a guess from the text that there was something like this going on.

But there’s also a bit ofreverse logic, a bit of applied psychology (before the books on applied psychology were written) going on here. Where the writer says, “God never said to an angel …” we can assume he said it about Jesus.

For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be to him a father,
and he shall be to me a son”?
And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.” Hebrews 1:5-6 ESV

This is hat Jesus is like. It carries on like this for the rest of the chapter. It’s worth reading.

angel of the north

But there does seem to be some fascination with angels today, in a sort of pick and mix way, take a bit of the Bible a bit of Paganism, a bit of animism and see what comes out. In interest that shows an interest in the spiritual side that we should encourage.

The sculptor Antony Gormley used an angel to symbolise our hopes and fears, the wings being angled forwards slightly in a symbol of embrace. It is a wonderful sculpture to anyone arriving on Tyneside from the South. People are interested in angels.

The writer of Hebrews does not say there’s anything wrong with angels. Angels are messengers sent from God, if they are from God they must be good. I think the writer really loved angels, but Jesus is even greater.

Today there are people interested in angels. Could this be a good jumping off point to talking about Jesus?

40 blogs of Lent day 6


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