Episode Five: That War in Heaven

Andrewes on the Role of Angels in Revelation 12:7 and the Bible

Recorded August 29, 2020

 

Sermon 13 of Lancelot Andrewes preserved in A Collection of Posthumous and Orphan Lectures preached by him in the Parish Church of St. Giles outside Cripplegate, London on the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, September 29, 1599.

 

A copy can be found in Apospasmatia Sacra, or on The Project Canterbury Website.

 

      In this sermon, Andrewes expounds upon the Twelfth chapter of St. John the Divine’s Revelation which tells about the war fought in heaven between the forces of Michael and his Angels and the forces of the Dragon and his Angels, using it to explain both the roles of all Angels in the life of the Church and her believers as well as the congratulations due to God and these Angels that should be offered by the Church and her believers. A detailed outline is as follows:

  1. Introduction: Angels in the Christian Faith

    1. The Christian Faith neither worships nor dismissed Angels and the spiritual realm

      1. Adoration and worship are due solely to Jesus Christ ( Col.2:8; Rev.22:9)
      2. Acknowledgment and respect are due to His heavenly host ( Act.23:8; Gen.28)
    2. The Christian Faith includes a thankfulness to God for the roles His Angels play and a giving of congratulations to them for their service 
  2. Who are the Angels
    1. Beings who willingly leave the bliss of God’s Presence in heaven to serve those on earth by taking charge, protecting, and ministering to believers ( Matt.18:10; Ps.16; 91:11; Heb.1)
    2. Beings who willingly leave the glorious Presence of God’s company for the sinful, corrupt presence of creatures formed with clay (Job 4; 17:14)
    3. BIBLICALLY SPEAKING: the word “angel” is a title for a spiritual being who has been given a task by the LORD. Any of the invisible beings spiritual of the spiritual realm: Serephim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Watchers, Princes, Powers, Principalities, Sons of God, Holy Ones (lit.hagios/saints) and even the second Person of the Trinity can serve as an “Angel.”
  3. What Advice and Assistance They Offer
    1. They offer direction, knowledge, understanding, council to God’s people ( Gen.31:11; Dan.9:22; Rev.1:1)
    2. They encamp around God’s people and wage war against both evil men and angels on behalf and in defense of the righteous so that they may overcome the adversary (Ps.34; 2Kng.6:17; Ps.35:6; Exod.12; Isa.37; Ps.91:13)
  4. Why We Celebrate them on St. Michael’s and All Angels
    1. We Celebrate their Great Battle Against and Victory over the Dragon

      1. Michael

        1. Michael serves under Christ taking charge over the Church on earth (cf.Dan.10:13,21)
        2. Michael serves under Christ keeping the devil in check (cf.Jude9)
        3. Michael serves under Christ as the chief spirit among the created spirits (cf.Rev.12:5)
      2. The Dragon
        1. The Dragon is none other than the Slanderer of old [Hbrw: Satan & Grk: Devil] who is shown to both slander the LORD’s goodness to man (Gen.3) and man’s goodness to the LORD (*Job1*).

          1. BIBLICALLY SPEAKING: in the Old Testament “Satan” or “the Satan” is never used to speak of the chief rebel of the Bible, but during the Second Temple period when God’s people began trying to understand the evil they were experiencing in the world from a Biblical perspective this idea developed. See below.
        2. The Dragon is the chief enemy of both the good (Rev.12:13,17) and the bad (Rev.12:9)
      3. The Angels on Both Sides
        1. The angels on Michael’s side are elect of God and are shown to excel in strength and obey God’s commands (cf.Ps.103:20; 1Tim.5:21)
        2. The angels on the Dragon’s side are angels of evil who rebelliously sinned and rejected the positions under the LORD choosing rather to serve under the Dragon as their Prince (cf.2Pet.2; Jude; Matt.12).
      4. The Battle Itself
        1. Scriptures inform us that while they are known as Angels of Peace, they also war and battle for the sake of it (cf.Isa.33:7; Gen.32:2; Isa.6; Lk.2; Matt.26). For they must work toward and fight for the same peace God works and fights for (cf.Heb.11:14; Matt.13)
        2. Likewise, Scripture tells us that there was actually a war in heaven. Because the LORD desires a partnership with His children (both spiritual and human) there must be room for both parties to rebel (Gen.3; Rev.12)
          1. BIBLICALLY SPEAKING: we are told about a “Divine Council” (1Kng.22:19-23; Job1:6-12; Deut.32:8-9; Ps.82)
        3. The Dragon’s Campaign is spiritual in nature utilizing slanderous propaganda and temptation (cf.Ps.104; Eph.6; 2Cor.10)
        4. There are actually Four Battles recorded between Michael and the Dragon:
          1. The First was when the Dragon attempted to make himself like God and Michael stands asking “Who is like God” [the literal meaning of his name] (Isa.14:13; Dan.7)
          2. The Second was the Dragon’s claim over Moses’ body since he died in his territory (Jude9)
          3. The Third was then Michael had to hold the lines against the Dragon’s lessor princes so that the message could come to Daniel (10:13)
          4. The Fourth was when the Dragon turned against the Christ and His Church (12:13)
        5. Why and How the Dragon fights against Michael
          1. The Dragon could not abide to honor a piece of clay [Wisd.2:23-24; Life of Adam and Eve]
          2. The Dragon could not abide the God he wanted to usurp taking up the same clay nature and then him being expected to adore Him.
          3. The Dragon could not abide God’s forgiving the clay creatures and that they were going to be given a position over them who rebelled (6:3).
          4. The Dragon temps Michael and his Angels to likewise rebel with these suggestions
    1. We celebrate their Great Victory Against the Dragon
      1. Michael and his Angels are intrigued, not irritated, by Christ’s redemption of man and worship Jesus for this great saving work ( 1Pet.1:12; Heb.1:6; Rev.5:12-13)
      2. Michael and his Angels refuse to exalt themselves over Jesus or mankind, and in fact they like Jesus are ready to welcome redeemed men and women as brethren (Matt.25:14; Rev.22:9)
      3. Therefore, Michael and the Angels rejected to heed the Dragon’s slandering.

V. The Rightful Response of Humanity

    1. This victorious battle should evoke a thankfulness to God and change of perspective:

      1. Man is a desirous palace worthy fighting for by both the forces of heaven and hell, thus if heaven and hell esteem us as such so we ought not think so badly of ourselves. Man is no ordinary thing.
      2. If the angels are busy defending the earth, we ought all the more diligently to fight for heaven. Faithfulness to the LORD is not a past time sport, but a life or death struggle.
      3. The battle that was in heaven, has now come to earth, and believers must know who their enemy truly is. Just as the Dragon and his fallen horde sought to convert the heavenly host, so have they come down slandering God to the nations taking them captive (1Pet.2:11; Eph.6; Rev.12:12)
    2. We ought to pray for further deliverance and protection from the angels against the Dragon on earth since they have been commanded to fight for us and have successfully overcome the Dragon in heaven.
    3. As we are now being made brethren with the Angels we ought to learn to live in such a way that they are not provoked or alienated from us (23:21), having clean words and speeches, due reverence in worship, honorable behavior toward fellow believes, and setting our hearts to understanding God’s will and seeking for His Kingdom to be established on earth as it is in heaven (cf.Eccl.5:5; 1Cor.11; Dan.10:12)
    4. As certain as the Dragon’s defeat was in heaven, so we ought to cling to the same hope for our own lives knowing that the struggle now will be worth it because his defeat is sure.

VI. Last Call Material: Old Testament Imagery for Describing the Devil:

      “Beelzebub” = (Baal Zebub, chief of demons 2 Kings 1:2,3,6,16; Matt.22:24; Mark.3:23; Lk.11:15). Spoken of as such, he is the strong man that holds men and women in slavery by the fear of death until the stronger One comes (cf.Matt.12:24-29; Heb.2:14-15). He is behind all of human idolatry – the giving our allegiance to the lord of the flies, the kingdom of death. All other sins flow from that. The New Testament’s question is not “do you know without a shadow of doubt that if you die tonight you will go to heaven” but rather “Whose team are you on? Who is lord? When things get hard what are you leaning on? (Bank account, bottle, attractiveness, good deeds, etc.) what are you leaning on for significance meaning and worth? To kingdom of God or the kingdom of Beelzebub? Faith is more than believing unbelievable things. Biblically speaking faith is about pledging allegiance to and living within a kingdom system.

      “Lucifer”[1] (King of Babylon)= Babylon is the symbol of man’s corporate rebellion against God and when “Lucifer” is used it is done so to describe him as the leader of it (cf. Isa14:12). Thus, he is the force behind the kings and kingdoms that oppresses the nations. When this title is used it speaks of him as the king, political and economic ruler/god of the world (cf.2Cor.4:4). He is behind the oppressive political and economic structures God’s people are called to come out from under in their lives (Rev.18:4).

      “Satan” (Hebrew literally meaning “adversary/opponent”; “Devil” is from its Greek synonym), is the spiritual power that pushes against God’s kingdom from being realized among His people (cf.Rev.12:9). He is behind the dark current that is flowing against the kingdom of God and His ways, preventing it from taking root or finding footing (cf.Matt.13:19). His influence is what causes people to say to God, “We can’t do that in our situation.” He controls “the pattern of the world” (cf.Rom.12:2) of apathy and hate that the world wants us to fit into and that the Scripture calls us to resist.

 

[1] The King James Bible, from the Vulgate tradition, retains “Lucifer” here while most other English translations translate the word “Morning Star,” “Day Star,” or “Shining One.”

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