The Archangel Michael
by Hans Memling, c. 1479
TO CHEW ON: "And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer." Revelation 12:6-7
Here we are given a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the initial expulsion of Satan ("the dragon") and his cohort evil angels from heaven. Michael leads the heavenly army. He is called an "archangel" which means chief or first: a chief angel or angel of the highest rank.
We see Michael in action in several other places in the Bible as well. He comes to the aid of the angel who carries a message of strengthening for Daniel (Daniel 10:13,21). He is part of events to come that Daniel prophesies in Daniel 12. And he is also mentioned in Jude as the angel who disputed with the devil over the body of Moses (Jude 1:9).
The activity of other angels (who are usually unnamed) is frequent throughout Scriptures. An angel or angels:
- Led Lot and his family from doomed Sodom (Genesis 19:1,16).
- Led the Israelites through the desert to Canaan (Exodus 14:19).
- Prepared food for an exhausted Elijah (1 Kings 19:5).
- Shut the mouths of lions so Daniel's life was spared (Daniel 6:22).
- Ministered to Jesus after his 40-day fast and temptation by the devil (Mark 1:13).
- Opened prison doors for Peter and John (Acts 5:19).
I have never seen an angel, though some can make that claim. Yet the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) talks of angelic activity in relation to God's people. Their job is to do God's bidding and perform His will. No doubt that sometimes involves giving a hand to us needy mortals. The writer of Hebrews says of them, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14).
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for angels, part of Your creation I don't know a lot about (by experience) but gladly accept by faith. I welcome their help when You send them to my aid. Amen.
MORE: Feast of St. Michael and All Angels
Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. The liturgy begins with this collect:
"Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
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