Allen Jackson - Jesus and His Angels - Part 1
It's an honor to be with you today. We're doing a study on "Spiritual Warfare and the End of Time". In this session, we're gonna look at Jesus and his angels. It's one of the most fascinating topics in Scripture to me. We get so many pictures of the angels and how they interact with human beings, and especially how they influence the life of Jesus. It starts before his birth with the angelic visits to Mary and to Joseph. It continues right through his life until they're ministering to him in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to the beginning of his passion. It's the most remarkable presentation. And the good news is those angels are working on our behalf today. We're not alone in the earth, we're not left to our own strength, or our own wisdom, or our own connections, or our own numbers of people. We have Jesus and his angels helping us bring his purposes forth in the earth. Now, that's exciting. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but maybe most importantly, open your heart.
We've been working through this discussion on "Spiritual Warfare" with a bit of a focus towards the end of the age, because there are some unique components as we approach the end of the age. We are in a period of tremendous change. Whether it's the end of the age or the end of an empire, is not exactly clear to me, but it's the culmination of something. If the Lord looks upon us with grace and mercy, what is before us? If the union holds together, it will be different than it is now, because what we are doing is unsustainable. The trajectory of where we are will destroy us. I assure you, the trajectory of what we're doing, if it escalates and continues in the direction it's going with similar momentum or gaining or accelerating momentum, it will bring the judgment of God in a very forceful way.
We're reading the historical books right now, and with a casual awareness as you read through 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles, you know that wicked leaders bring the judgment of God. That's just it and the people suffer. And if you like the ones that are currently leading, I'm not calling a particular party or individual wicked. We've had a run on this. But you know this is true. Again, with just a casual glance, Daniel, one of our heroes in the Bible, we find him as a slave in Babylon. He spends his entire life as a slave, his entire adult life as a slave in Babylon, not because he was idolatrous, not because he was immoral, not because he was wicked or greedy or covetousness, but because the leaders of the nation led the people on a pathway that brought the judgment of God.
And then Daniel has the challenge of honoring God in the midst of all the disappointment of spending his life as an exile, a slave, a eunuch, I mean, an enormous amount of things to overcome, not because of his own personal, but he was caught up in a season of the judgment of God. If you can't find a motivation to pray for those who have authority over us, just reflect upon that. Leaders make a difference. There is a battle raging in the earth, and it isn't political or ideological or between nation states. It is spiritual. In this session, I wanna look at Jesus and his angels. I love the imagery of that. We'll take a few minutes with that specifically, but I wanna start... one of the ways of understanding history is in the ways that we have conducted wars.
World War I was about trench warfare. They dug trenches, and you've seen movies like "War Horse" and things that kind of reminded you of that. The war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia was jungle warfare, very different. The last few years, most of the wars we've been engaged with were in the deserts of the Middle East, very different kind of a war than would've been true in Southeast Asia. The terrain was different, the responses are different. Well, in recent years, our attention has been captured by terrorism. It's a whole different way of understanding conflict. It's not about nations necessarily being at war. You can't even identify the combatants by uniforms.
And those participating don't acknowledge the Geneva Convention. We have at least the theoretical understanding that there's some humanitarian conduct during conflict between nations, that there's some things that are appropriate and inappropriate. And this whole notion of terrorism has totally obliterated that. They don't wear uniforms; in fact, they'll do everything they can to deceive you so that you don't recognize them as an enemy. We've all heard these stories. If you've paid any attention whatsoever, there's a different moral code in a terrorist conflict. Women and children don't receive any special treatment.
In fact, they're often used as weapons imagining that their adversaries would be more trusting of a child, so they're used as instruments to deliver bombs. It's a toll, they'll build command structures under hospitals or schools thinking that their enemies will be more reluctant to attack those structures, because they're shielding themselves with innocent people. It's a different way of understanding combat. Well, I like the notion, I think it's appropriate to think in terms of spiritual terrorism, because if you're not aware of this, I came to make an announcement the devil doesn't play fair. In the spiritual struggle between good and evil, you would be wrong if you think we're going to play by the rules.
Evil does not play fair, evil will exploit a child. You or I can do something in innocence or maybe from a lack of awareness. No awareness whatsoever that there's a spiritual connotation to it, but we expose ourselves to some unclean or unholy spirit, and it will take advantage of the opening, and you didn't intend that to be the outcome. But evil doesn't play for you. You don't have to purchase a ticket that says, "I want to invite evil in". In fact, I had a conversation with a woman last night in Long Island, and she identified... I didn't know her. She identified herself to me. She said, "I'm a," she said, "You would probably understand me to be a traditional liberal".
I don't know what that has to do with our conversation, but she was trying to tell me she didn't come from a conservative evangelical Christian background. And she said what's happening is horrendous. People don't understand what's happening to them spiritually. She said, "I've been listening a bit to some of your sermons". She said, "You're right. They're opening their lives up to spiritual forces and they don't know it". And I'm just sitting there. I mean, she didn't really ask for any input, and she didn't take a breath, so there wasn't room for any. But she ran through a list of 12 or 15 things that would open the life of a person to unholy spirits, then she was preaching with far more zeal than any preacher I knew. Tremendous.
I was amazed at her awareness of spiritual things. I mean, she started with yoga and she didn't back up. She said, "People think they're stretching. They're not stretching, they're entertaining the occult". And I mean, off she ran. I mean, you see, evil doesn't play fair. We've got to get this sorted in. You don't negotiate with evil. They'll negotiate with you to get you to yield the point and then when you yield the point, they'll occupy it and ignore their component of the negotiation. I'll give you an example. For decades we've been told in the public square, in a corporate setting or in academia or in a government setting, that if we brought our Christian faith to bear, and one person raised their hand and they said, "I'm offended by that, I'm not one of those, and I don't wanna be exposed to that," then we were told to be quiet and withdraw that expression of faith. Sound right?
That our faith, our ideology, our worldview had no place in the corporate boardroom, in the sports arenas, in academia, yada, yada, yada, in the government settings until today. So we yielded for decades. We said, "Oh, well, we'll make our faith private". That's just a matter between us and our God. And we'll take that home, or we'll take it inside our church buildings. We don't want that to be encroaching on the marketplace. The marketplace should be ideologically neutral and worldview neutral. Anybody remember all that? That was the negotiation.
So we came home and were quiet and shut up. And now we find ourselves in a place where the marketplace has a worldview and an ideology, and they are driving it through the heart of the culture; and the things they negotiated with us to get us to be quiet, we raise our hand and we say, "Well, I'm offended". They say, "Too bad, you're wrong". That sound right? It's an expression of evil. It wasn't done in an open way. It wasn't negotiated. It wasn't discussed. It's bullying and intimidating and threatening. Now we hear phrases that the language they are turning on us like the tyranny of the majority. I think that's really close to democracy. It's okay. It is the theater of the absurd. Understand, the root of that is manipulation, domination, control.
And those are descriptors of an unholy spirit. The Spirit of God will not dominate you, will not control you, will not manipulate you. He'll convict you. He'll invite you. We are witnesses to spiritual terrorism. The origins of it are spiritual, but they're being expressed through physical structures, through corporate settings, and political settings, and professional sports settings, and through churches. The apostasy in the church is growing at an unprecedented rate. Very visible, high profile expressions that have historically been Christian, denying the authority of the Word of God, denying the uniqueness of Jesus. The technical word for that is apostasy. The biblical language for it is a false church. They have ecclesiastical architecture and theological language, but they deny the authority of Scripture, the uniqueness of the redemptive work of Jesus. It's not Christianity, it is spiritual terrorism.
Now, there's some things I would submit to you that awareness is gonna be key and vigilance. John 10, Jesus said, "The thief only comes to steal, to kill, and destroy; but I've come that you may have life and have it to the full". I lived in Israel for a while, I can tell you they live with an awareness that we don't. I have flown in and out of the airport in Israel dozens and dozens of times, and they ask questions very similar to the questions we ask at our airports. "Did you pack your bag? Has it been with you since you packed it? Did anyone give you something to take with you on your trip"?
Now, when they ask you those questions in Israel, they're listening. When they ask me those questions in the States, I don't think they ever... I'm not even sure I have to answer. I'll just kind of nod and grunt. We're all good, and we get our boarding passes and go get on a plane. They live with a different kind of an awareness than we do. I could tell you many stories. I was answering those three little... there are three questions, and they are pretty typically the same. And so one time I thought, you know, I was proud of my language skills, so I thought I'll answer in Hebrew. Well, at the end of those three questions, I'd pretty much blown through my vocabulary 'cause, I mean, they're pretty much yes and no questions. And so they decided to ask me a few more questions.
So I said, "Could you ask that in English"? And they said, "No, you started in Hebrew, you'll finish in Hebrew". An hour later, six different security people. I'm still answering questions. I discovered pretty quickly they're paying attention. They're paying attention. It would be benefit us all to live with a little bit more spiritual awareness. We tend to say, "Well, I'm not sure I believe in that," and imagine that is protection. That's about as effective with spiritual things as it is with a virus. You can meditate on that. In Revelation 21, in verse 7 (it's very near the end of your New Testament) it says, "He who overcomes will inherit all of this, and I'll be his God and he'll be my son".
The message of the book of Revelation, which is a description of the end of the age, is the requirement of overcoming. You've heard me say that before, but that requires vigilance. It's not overlooking. We've been an overlooking church for long enough. We're gonna have to become an overcoming church. Now, I want to add to that, 'cause sometimes we get a little frightened at this point, and I've given attention to some expressions of evil and how it isn't fair. And it is easy, I think, to become a little intimidated. I wanna be certain to point out to you that God has made abundant provision for our triumph for us to be victorious. And that we... I don't believe he intends us to lead our lives afraid.
I had a conversation tonight at church with someone that just had come back from Ukraine, and they said one of the challenges they have is there's so much fear that people are jumping out of the windows of their multi-story buildings. They're so terrified of what's coming in the immediate future that they'll jump out of a building just to take their life. The Bible tells us that's in front of us, that men's hearts will fail them for fear of what's coming on the earth. And what will sustain you is not overlooking what's happening, ignoring what's happening, a lack of awareness. What will sustain us is an awareness and understanding of God's provision.
Look at Psalm 98, verse 1. "Sing to the Lord a new song, for he's done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations". Righteousness is a fancy religious word. It means a right standing with God, the ability to stand in the presence of God without fear, without guilt, or without shame. Imagine standing before the Creator of all things without guilt or shame. What would that be worth? Everything you have. It's literally priceless, and it's a free gift. Our righteousness comes through faith in Jesus. He's made his righteousness known. It's been revealed to the nations.
Revelation does not come as a result of study. Revelation is understanding that God gives to us. That's not to devalue study. It's to say that there are things God will reveal to us beyond our effort. And then look at Isaiah 42. "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you, I will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles". You need to tuck some of these verses into your heart, the very least into your phone or whatever you do to remember things. "I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you, I will make you to be a covenant to the people".
God said the rulers of the earth, at the beginning of the book of Psalms, the rulers of the earth gather together and they make their plot and their schemes against his anointed one; he says God looks from heaven and he laughs. You don't have to be frightened or anxious. Cultures change. Nations rise and nations fall. Leaders come, and leaders go. The selection of leaders is fair and unfair, appropriate and inappropriate. Don't give your emotions to things. Keep your heart tuned to the Lord. Participate in the process. Stand up for righteousness and truth. When you see wickedness and evil, identify it, don't participate in it. We're gonna have to get over this phrase. I hear it far too frequently from God's people. "Well, I didn't want to be disruptive".
Folks, if you're watching evil, I believe we're supposed to be disruptive. I don't believe we're to be silent partners with wickedness and evil and ungodliness. I think we need to begin to shape our response differently and say something that's a little more truthful. "Well, I didn't have the courage or I didn't love the Lord enough to draw any attention to him. So I just cooperated with evil". We're gonna have to grow up, church. This is our watch. Had a conversation the other day. We were talking about people and we said we don't hate people. Human beings are the image bearers of Almighty God. We may disagree, we may not support every behavior.
We can disagree with the behavior, we can even hate a behavior, but all people have an innate value before God. But if you're climbing through the window of my house in the middle of the night uninvited, as an image bearer of God, I'll do my best to help you go meet him. Some behaviors are not okay. They're inappropriate. And we're gonna have to have the courage. God's provision for us is abundant.
Now, let's take a minute, there are some amazing passage. This is just a little sample, an hors d'oeuvre of some of the things the Bible tells us about Jesus and his angels and the end of the age. 1 Peter 3, in verse 22. Whatever I... if it's a complex topic, one of the things I will do is go see what Peter had to say. He's a fisherman. And the things he wrote to us in the New Testament are written with a simplicity. If you're gonna learn Greek, New Testament Greek, you won't start with the Letters to Paul. You'll start with what John had to say and Peter had to say, because they wrote with the simplicity that if you're like me, you'll be grateful for. Paul had a goofy brain.
So, I'll start with what Peter said. He's speaking of Jesus. He said he'd gone into heaven and is at God's right hand with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to him. Now, I love the imagery 'cause it's an important, I think, doorway into this topic that the angels are in submission to the authority of our Lord. Come on. Jesus has authority over the heavenly host. Now that gets better. Look at Matthew 16. "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world and yet forfeits his soul? Or what could a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done".
The first time Jesus came, he was born in a stable in Bethlehem, and the angels filled the night sky on the outskirts of Bethlehem with an announcement to the least of these, to the least welcome into the culture, the shepherds. They were at the bottom of the social ladder, but there was a vulnerability to Jesus because of his birth into the earth as an infant, there was a vulnerability because of the hatred of the king in Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt. It's not a triumphal beginning. It's an amazing story, and we celebrate it for many reasons, but it describes his second coming. He's coming back to the earth, and it says when he comes, he's going to come with the glory of the Father.
Glory has kind of a technical meaning in Scripture. It's the appearance of the power and the majesty of God. The manifestation, all of the glory, the power, the significance, the magnitude of Almighty God will be made visible when Jesus returns, and all of his angels are there, too. It's gonna be a good thing. Look in 2 Thessalonians 1: "God is just; he'll pay back trouble to those who trouble you and he'll give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels".
That's a fun study, we'll do it another time. The descriptions of angels, there are mighty angels, and powerful angels, and angels that can hold back the wind, and angels that can bring judgment, and angels that deliver messengers and messages, and angels that stand on behalf of people groups, and angels that change the course of nations. There's a hierarchy even amongst the angels. And Paul writes to the Thessalonians, and he said when the Lord is revealed from heaven with fire and his powerful angels.
We think of Christianity as this timid, downtrodden, overlooked, easily swept aside, out of date. I assure you that is a wrong estimation of the people of God in the earth. The Creator of heaven and earth is watching over us. Jesus, the head of the church, has been given the name at which every knee will bow and heaven and earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that he is Lord. You want to be numbered amongst his people. And when he steps back into time, he's not coming in the vulnerable package of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. He's coming with the glory of Almighty God and his powerful angels in attendance. You would rather be on his side.
The Scripture says that some of us have entertained angels, and we didn't know it. I wanna pray with you before we go, that we'll have the discernment to recognize what God is doing in the earth. We don't wanna be overwhelmed with the darkness and the bad news; we want to be aware of the moving of God. Let's pray:
Father, give us understanding hearts and the discernment to see and recognize what you are doing in the earth that we might take our places. I thank you for your faithfulness and your great provision, in Jesus's name, amen.