Hebrews 1:14 - Angels in Christ's Service: The Example of Their Liturgy
Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?Hebrews 1:14
The topic about the angels appears to be intriguing and mysterious at the same time. It arouses interest and curiosity, and it can also be confusing. We confess the existence of the angels, also the reality of the fallen angels, the devils, and evil spirits. We confess God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible – including the angels. Yet it would be easier if they would still appear the way that they did in the Old Testament.
We're living in a time of space science. We hear about discoveries in space, journeys to space stations, about satellites and telescopes prying into the universe. Even our children know about galaxies, the Milky Way, and planets formed by gases. Series like Star Trek retain the interest of many viewers. Yet when it comes to the existence of angels, can we still believe in them? Have you ever seen one? How realistic are the stories about the battles of the spirits, and about angels and devils in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12)? And how credible are the Frank Peretti novels when it comes to the background of these books in the Holy Scriptures?
In the Scriptures the place and work of the holy angels have an important role. Their task and function may have changed since the ascension of our Saviour, yet the New Testament shows the reality about their function. The Word of God also opens our eyes for the way that the devils and demons are active as the forces of evil, especially in the last days. In Hebrews 1, for instance, we see the contrast between the Son who governs and the angels who serve. Then in our text we read about this service of the angels. These angels are under the government of Christ the Son for the purpose of his work of salvation!
There are two sides to their service, a heavenly side and an earthly side. The author first uses the word "liturgy" for them as ministering spirits, and then "deaconry" for their service of those who inherit salvation.
We know the word "liturgy," too. We use it for the order of service in the worship of the church: our singing, praying, listening, offering, and so on. In Isaiah 6 we see the seraphim and cherubim involved in worship before the throne of God in heaven.
They're the 'mighty ones who do his bidding ... his servants who do his will.'Psalm 103
Now, Isaiah receives his vision in connection with his calling as prophet. He realizes that his service is first of all service to the LORD. Woe to him if he would speak his own words, or if he would speak to please the people! The "liturgy" of the faithful angels is an example to him for his service as prophet.
That is beautiful and difficult at the same time, as it is for the office bearers today. The life of everyone standing in the sight of God is a life of service to the Lord. It is "liturgy" before his throne. That's why the Lord Jesus taught us to pray, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." That is, we confess, "Grant that everyone may carry out his task and service as willingly and faithfully (with as much dedication and devotion) as the angels in heaven." The angels he uses as an example; they should motivate and stimulate us to serve the LORD in obedience and faithful devotion!
That's how the Apostle Paul encourages the women in 1 Corinthians 11:10, not to do their own will or follow their own impulses, but to submit to the authority of their husbands and respect the position in which God created them as the glory of man. That will require self-control, which they will render "because of the angels," says Paul! The angels were there when God created people and gave them their place as man and woman. The angels eagerly anticipate the restoration of this creation, and the salvation of man and woman as the glory of God.
Likewise, the angels are looking at each and every one of us to see us make a difference as we are renewed for service to our holy God. So we pray with the Lord's Prayer that we may fulfill our "liturgy" as willingly and faithfully as the angels, those ministering spirits given as examples to us.