Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Of Men And Angels

Biblegems #209
Question: I ‘m confused. If angels serve as messengers of God to man, as in Luke 2:9-15, how is it that man is “lower than the angels” (Heb. 2:7)?

The angels are likely the first living beings created by God. When Hebrews 2:7 (quoting Ps. 8:5) describes mankind as “lower than the angels,” a contrast is being made between angels and humanity on two levels—1) the order of creation and 2) the roles God has assigned to them. Psalm 8 views the angels as beings whose spiritual nature enables them to abide continually in God’s presence. Moving easily among the stars scattered across the night sky, the angels reflect God’s “glory in the heavens” (Ps. 8:1).

In contrast to that glory, people are mortal creatures of flesh and blood who are only able to look up in wonder and awe at that glory from the tiny environment of earth.
         Ps. 8:3 (ESV) When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

The shepherds on the hills outside Jerusalem likely felt that same sense of awe and wonder when:
“…an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…” and then “…suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Lk. 2:13-14).

But that same contrast in apparent beauty and glory also causes David to reflect on how God has also “crowned” humanity “with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5b) by giving lowly mankind dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…” (Ps. 8:6b). Even though mankind was created in one sense as “a little lower than the heavenly beings,” God has also ”crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5) far above that of the angels.

The “dominion” David spoke of in Psalm 8 was forfeited when Adam and Eve sinned against God in Eden. All creation suffers the effects of death and decay until Jesus re-establishes complete dominion over all creation—not just the earth—, together with all the resurrected, redeemed children of God:
Rom. 8:19-21 (NIV) For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

No angel will ever wear that crown of dominion (Heb. 2:5). Instead, even though they were created before man and have a nature seemingly superior to that of man, they are nevertheless beings who were specifically created to assist God in bringing lost human beings to a salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:14) that will ultimately result in lifting humanity to an exalted position in Jesus Christ over all creation:

         2Tim. 2:12 “…if we endure, we will also reign with him…”

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