Today is St. Michael and All Angels’ Day. Here is Pastor Gernander’s sermon for this festival from this past Sunday.
HE SENDS OUT HIS ANGELS
Prayer: Lord, preserve us in faith so we continue to be served by the holy angels; and let us share with them the joys of the life that never ends. Amen!
Sermon Text, St. Matthew 13:36-43, 24:29-31.
Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Lord, this is Your Word and these are Your words. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen!
Dear people loved by God in Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
We’re starting at the end, with the angels. Jesus is telling us what will be the very last thing the angels do for us.
First, in the parable about the weeds and the wheat, Jesus says it’s about the harvest “at the close of the age,” at His second coming. This is after Jesus raises all the dead. The angels will have something to do: “They will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace.” Jesus says “He will send them out” to do this.
This is the angels gathering the unbelievers and the unrepentant, those who in their life reject God and His Word, or aren’t concerned about being forgiven of their sins – they’ll be sent into hell, the eternal “fiery furnace.”
But that’s not all that the angels will do when Jesus raises the dead. In His words about His second coming from Matthew 24, Jesus says: “He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” The angels will gather us, every believer in Christ, to go into eternal life. What a happy day!
What we want to notice is Jesus’ repeated phrase, “He will send out His angels.” This describes what they do ALL THE TIME. God wants us to know:
He Sends Out His Angels
THE FIRST THING TO KNOW ABOUT THE ANGELS is that the reason they exist, what they were created for, is to glorify and worship God. In Revelation 4 we see angels around God’s throne in heaven: “Before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And around the throne, on each side of the throne, four living creatures, each of them with six wings, and day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty ..!’ ”
This may not sound like God is sending them anywhere, as they praise Him in heaven. What does it have to do with us, we’re way down here! But do you find it hard to praise God? Are there things that make you downcast? Things about yourself or things around you?
In a way, in this picture God sends the angels to you to brighten it up. He pulls back the curtain on heaven. In this picture God is sending them to you to encourage you to sing, to praise God even in the midst of troubles. And to show you that one day you’ll be with them where they are, worshiping Him!
But why are there these troubles? When God created the world, everything was “very good!” Yes, but some angels rebelled against God. In Jude they’re called “the angels who left their proper dwelling” and are in “eternal chains” (Ju 1:6). They became “evil angels,” and were cast out of heaven. Now their status is fixed, they’re always evil angels. The holy angels’ status is fixed too.
But the evil angels belong to hell and its ruler, Satan. He brought sin into the world, and with it death. Where does evil come from? From the devil. Where do our sins come from? It’s because the devil got Adam and Eve to sin, made it so we are all born in sin, condemned. God then promised to send a Savior. But what do the angels have to do with this?
THIS IS THE SECOND THING WE NEED TO KNOW about the angels: They played a part in the history of our salvation. Angel means “messenger.” God sent out the angels to be messengers of the good news, the Gospel, as it happened.
(1) This happened when God sent out the angel to announce to shepherds the “good tidings of great joy” that the Savior of the world was born; then God sent the whole heavenly host of angels sang glory to God in the highest. (2) It happened when God sent two angels to tell the women Easter morning: “He is risen! He is not here.” (3) And it happened when Jesus ascended to heaven, God sent angels to tell the forlorn apostles, “He will come again!”
Think of other events along the way. Angels protected the people of Israel from whose line the Savior was born. Angels came to Jesus to strengthen Him after He was tempted in the wilderness, and to comfort Him in Gethsemane.
That’s how our salvation was won. To join the angels in heaven, we need faith in Jesus. So God distributes His salvation, gives us faith. The angels love this part too: “There is joy among the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Lk 15). This is the victory, our faith; and the angels love to see it!
So the devil attacks another way: he surrounds you with danger and worry. He “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1Pe 5:8). He sows weeds of all kind, to uproot our faith. The story of Job shows that the devil “goes to and fro on the earth,” and he delights in hurting God’s children, trying to inflict such damage that they’ll let go of their faith. But God sees this. He sends out His angels, just for you, as guardian angels.
So: THE THIRD THING TO KNOW about the angels is that they serve God on earth by protecting Christians. They are a way that God the Father “protects me from all danger, guards and keeps me from all evil.” You have guardian angels.
Yes, the angels are adoring God in heaven, Jesus said in today’s gospel that the angels “in heaven always see the face of My Father who is in heaven,” yet Jesus says the angels belong to His “little ones,” they are “their angels.”
All Christians are God’s little ones. But Jesus actually set a child among the disciples when He said angels belong to His “little ones.” When babies are baptized and receive faith in Jesus, they also receive angels to protect them.
This is also taught in the last verse of our reading from Hebrews: “Aren’t [the angels] all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” They serve by protecting. This reveals that the angels don’t protect just anyone – they protect Christians, they protect you. So every baptized child of God has angels guarding them. If you’re baptized as an adult, or when you make the sign of the cross in remembrance of your baptism, you are being reminded that as a baptized child of God, you have angels guarding you, you are the object of their concern and protection!
The Bible reveals many, many examples of this, for instance in the story of Daniel, that “God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths,” and when the apostle Peter was in prison, that “the Lord sent His angel” to set him free.
Once again, it’s always God sending them. These stories not only say what the angels did; they’re a reminder of our constant danger and how God sees and takes care of us by sending angels. How many dangers do they ward off without us knowing it! This is a reason to pray for the angels’ protection. But it’s also a reason to believe and trust that God has protected us all along by their help, and will keep doing so. In our daily prayers we learn to say: “Let Your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me.”
This is a great comfort for us as a church. All baptized children of God here! – so we know His angels are here. As we go through ups and downs even as a church, as we experience Satan’s attacks and know he doesn’t want us to survive as a church as a place for God’s Word to be proclaimed to sinners, as even a small thing like water damage can become a big thing, we have God’s promise: “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways” (Ps 91:11). God is putting these words of the psalm into your mouth as a strong prayer of trust, so that you say in the midst of your worries and fear that His angels are stronger, and never fail to deliver us!
So we come to the last things the angels do for us. That’s how we started. THE FINAL THING TO KNOW about the angels is that they’re our companions all the way to death. Jesus says in Luke 16, about the death of poor Lazarus, that “the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.” So God sends His angels to a Christian’s deathbed. They will carry your soul to heaven, where you’re welcomed by all the saints and all the angels.
Then on the last day is the final time the angels will serve us. Jesus said that “all the holy angels” will be with Him. Jesus will raise the dead, but the angels bring them before Him. As we heard, they separate believers and unbelievers, and bring us to stand before Him, the one who redeemed us so we could be His own and live in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting blessedness to all eternity. Jesus says that then we, “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Just like the angels. Amen!