A Devotional Thought for September 29, 2016:
THE SECRET WEAPON ANGELS (AND PASTORS) CARRY TO PROTECT US
Ask any group to draw a picture of an angel, and 99% of them would be sporting wings. De-wing the angels and their popularity in our culture would fly out the window. We want angels as long as they have those cute wings.
And so it is with other things. We want leaders as long as they have warm smiles. Give us doctors with jovial personalities. Teachers with entertaining classrooms. Pastors with shiny shoes and handsome faces.
The lion’s share of our lives is wasted in making big things little and little things big. We are addicted to the trivial.
Every hour of every day demons stalk us but we fret over wrinkles and varicose veins. Our sinful nature fights God tooth and nail but we get all worked up over the high weeds in neighbor’s yard. Our greed and lust and a thousand other wrongs make us deserving of hell, but we freak out if the A/C quits working in the middle of July.
We are pros at making big things little, and little things big. We yearn and long for so many things that do us little or no good, while forgetting about the One who does us nothing but good, who hungers and yearns and longs for us—the Lord of angels, the God of redemption, the one who is anything but trivial.
We pray, “Let your holy angel be with us, that the wicked foe have no power over us.” If God’s angel is not with us, the wicked foe has all power over us. Then we are lambs in the midst of wolves. But the holy angels of God are with us. And they defang the demons.
The weapon of the angels is not tucked into a scabbard or holster. The weapon of angels is concealed in their mouths. It’s the sword of the Spirit, the word of their Lord. Revelation 12 says Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon and his angels. And how did they overcome him? By the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.
Angelic words steeped in divine blood—these words shield you from the fiery lies breathed out of the Dragon’s mouth. They are not trivial words, but words as weighty as the Lord himself. We don’t need angels with wings but with words, divine words to shield us from the devil’s lies.
As it is with angels so it is with those whom Scripture often calls angels or messengers from God—the pastors of the church. God calls and places them in our midst. They are in a congregation what Michael is to the whole church. The pastor is God’s messenger, our angel, who guards us with the shield of the Father’s word.
So what do we need from our pastors?
Do we need someone whose sermons sound like pep talks or stand-up comedy, or one who preaches us into repentance and forgiveness with the Law and Gospel?
Do we need him to say: Thus says my Conscience or Thus says my Experience or Thus says my Denomination, or one who proclaims Thus says the Lord?
Do we need someone to quote from 1-2 Opinions or one whose speech is saturated with the Spirit-breathed word?
We need pastors who carry that same concealed weapon in their mouths, who are outfitted with the same word the angels have: the word steeped in divine blood, shed for you. That is all we need, for the word does it all.
That divine speech converts us into little children so that we enter the kingdom of heaven. It breathes into water that becomes our second womb where we are born from above. It is the Spirit’s sword that cuts to the heart of the matter, and leads to confession and absolution. This word, joined with our body and blood in the incarnation, finds its way into our body and blood at the Lord’s table.
What God gives is anything but trivial. He gives himself. He gives his very own word—incarnate, crucified, resurrected, ascended, all for you.
The worst of hell is what we’ve deserved, but God gives us the best of heaven which we have not deserved. Our salvation is complete and perfect in Jesus.
There is no more to be done—the Serpent’s head has been crushed, the Passover Lamb has been sacrificed, the Red Sea has been parted, the New Joshua has led you into the Promised Land, the temple of his body has been destroyed and rebuilt. Now salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been cast down, and they overcame them by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.
This is the weighty word we need and the weighty word God provides. This is the saving word our pastors preach into our ears that with Michael, the angels, archangels, and all the saints in heaven, we might forever rejoice at the feast of the Lamb in his kingdom, which has no end.