Allen Jackson - Jesus and His Angels - Part 2
It's good to be with you today. Our topic is spiritual warfare and the end of the age. And we're looking specifically at Jesus and his angels. And I want to plant a seed before you step into the message. It's that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. It's too easy to look at the world today and be filled with anxiety or stress or to be frightened about what's before us. The Lord will take us through. He provides for his people, and you need to set your heart and your attention on God and his faithfulness, not the expressions of wickedness. Begin to thank God that he's watching over your life, that you're not alone. He has a good plan for you and one for me as well. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart to what God is doing in the earth.
I wanna be certain to point out to you that God has made abundant provision for our triumph, for us to be victorious, and I don't believe he intends us to lead our lives afraid. I had a conversation tonight at church with someone that had just 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 multistory 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 has 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". 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 passages. This is just a little sample, an hors d'oeuvres, of some of the things the Bible tells us about Jesus and his angels and the end of the age. 1 Peter 3 and verse 22. Whenever 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 a 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. C'mon, 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 can 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 this angels are there too. It's gonna be a good thing. Look at 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". It'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 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 in heaven and earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that he is Lord. You wanna 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. Matthew 13, Jesus is teaching.
"He left the crowd and he went into the house. And his disciples came to him and said, 'Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.' And he answered, 'The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. And the field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. And the harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.'" Do you get it? It's the end of the age. Who's gonna do the harvesting? The angels. And the wheat and the weeds are gonna grow together. The same climatic conditions that let the wheat ripen will cause the weeds to ripen. You know that's true, intuitively, right?
If you've put out a summer garden or some summer vegetables, you've had a pretty good run. We've had a lot of rain this summer. But the oddest thing happens: the weeds grow too. And it's hard to grow vegetables in your yard in Tennessee in February. Your tomato plants, if you set 'em out about mid January, they're not gonna do great, Obi-Wan. The good news is the weeds aren't growing either. The same conditions that let the intended crop flourish cause the unwanted crop to flourish. And in this case, both outcomes have an advocate. Jesus said it. He said that, "The field is the world. The good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom, but the weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil".
Jesus is the advocate for his people, and the devil is the advocate for those who choose evil. And at the end of the age, the angels are going to harvest humanity. God's going to judge us. "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they'll weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil". Now verse 41 intrigues me. The angels will weed out of his kingdom, so at a casual glance, under the umbrella of the kingdom, there will be wheat and weeds. Do you have enough emotional dexterity for that? It will require of us some discernment. It will require of us some humility so that we don't simply put on a hat that says, "The people of God," but then live in a completely different way. We'll have to have humility to humble ourself before the Lord, submit to him.
We can't live rebellious lives. We can't decide which of God's truth we will choose and the parts that we will lay down and imagine that we're okay with the Lord. Verse 42: "Then they'll throw into the fiery furnace, where there'll 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". If you wanna have some fun, read the book of Revelation and just circle everything that's said about angels. It's a book about angels. It's a book about angels in heaven, on the earth, impacting human beings. It opens with an angel being sent to John with a story about what's coming at the end of the age. And it concludes, there are scenes with a hundred million angels in one snapshot. Can you imagine? It's just an amazing thought to think about.
Think about the hundreds of people that serve in this place every month to help other people. They convene groups, they serve children, they rock babies. They clean bathrooms, they write letters, they pray prayers. It's an amazing expression of the love of God. And it's duplicated in church after church after church across our region, across our nation. God's people serving one another. It's an amazing thing to think about. And you see the confrontation. Again, it doesn't take great discernment. You see the pushback. You see powerful voices amongst us, redefining marriage. God didn't redefine marriage; marriage was God's idea. That's how we know about it, it was in his story.
And we see people with the audacity to say, "We know better than God, we'll redefine that". We have other people demanding unfettered freedom to destroy their babies. We used to blame that on the law of the land but, you know, when the law changed, it exposed the hearts of the people. Our voices to see that turned back have been stunningly small. It's an awkward discussion. The violence in our cities, our basic civil rights are being swept aside, our borders aren't enforced. You don't have to look far, just a casual glance in any direction, and you see challenges. It's true in our world as well.
You know, in our hemisphere, Mexico and Central America, tremendously unstable, violent. The countries are struggling, the people are struggling. It's true across Africa, Somalia. What the people of Somalia have endured for decades is unthinkable to us. It's just unthinkable what they have had to endure. South Africa's facing crime and violence and challenges. The Congo, I mean, across the continent. Europe, Western Europe, is an empty shell. They have very little strength, decayed moral foundation. They truly are a paper tiger.
Eastern Europe, the war in Ukraine. I promise you, they're not showing us what's really happening. The Middle East, Israel struggles with their own challenges internally and with adversaries, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Iran, determined to gain nuclear arms and they tell us outright as soon as they have them they intend to destroy us with them. And we support their ambition. Afghanistan, we abandoned to the Taliban and to Islamic radicals. We handed the women and children of Afghanistan where our finest young men and women had sacrificed. We handed them over to evil. You don't have to look far. It's not a new struggle. It's biblical, from the Garden of Eden to Cain and Abel, to Saul and David, to Jesus and the Sanhedrin, to the book of Revelation. It's the story of Scripture. We're the 21st century edition.
I gave you some examples from the book of Acts, but I don't wanna read those to you. It isn't a new struggle. You're biblically aware enough to know that. I would remind you that there are rewards for honoring God from an unseen source. We struggle with this, we talk about spiritual conflict, I think we get more aware of the adversary and more aware of evil than we are of what it means to honor the Lord. Honoring the Lord is the best path. Standing for the truth is the best choice. Again, you don't wanna be reckless. I'm not counseling you to be belligerent but I am encouraging you to begin to cultivate the strength to acknowledge the truth.
Look at Matthew 6:6. Jesus said: "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you". Jesus acknowledges the fundamental challenge we have. He said, "You're praying to something you can't see". But he said, "The Father who sees you". That's an interesting play on words. You're praying to the unseen, and the unseen sees you. And he will reward you. Now you and I have a decision to make. Do we believe Jesus is telling the truth or is he lying to us? If he's telling the truth, why are we ignoring his counsel?
Let's begin to make time in our daily lives to pray for him. We've been practicing some ways to do that. The declaration that Jesus is Lord. When you drive into your neighborhood, Jesus is Lord over this neighborhood. When you drive into work, he's Lord over this neighborhood. When you drive in your driveway, he's Lord over this home and this family. Wherever he takes you, he's over the... Jesus is Lord over the ball field where my kids play. Start to declare your faith, the Lordship of Jesus.
You say, "Oh, Pastor, what difference does that make"? Listen to the last six or seven lessons. You decide. Let's decide if Jesus was telling us the truth. The Bible gives us all sorts of pictures of unseen influences in very visible places. I picked a couple of samples, but you know these. Matthew 17, it's time to pay the taxes, and Peter says the treasury's a little thin and Jesus says, "So we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you'll find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours". It's very specific. He said, "The first fish you catch will have a coin that is equivalent to the tax that you and I would owe".
If we thought we could pay our taxes by going fishing, the lakes of Middle Tennessee would be more crowded. There's something at work there other than Peter's background as a fisherman. There's an unseen influence impacting that. Jesus was aware of a realm of authority that Peter had no awareness of. It's what he was saying to us "when we pray, understand our Father who is unseen, sees us praying, and he will reward us". We haven't lived like that really matters. We've relegated prayer to the people who can't do anything. And I'm telling you, if we will spend more time praying, we'll see God do more. It really matters.
Mark 5, you know this narrative as well, I'm sure. It's a woman with a serious physical issue. "She came up behind Jesus in the crowd and she touched his cloak. She thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I'll be healed.' And immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. And Jesus realized that power had gone out of him and he turned around in the crowd and he said, 'Who touched my clothes?'" He's in a crowd. He's elbowing his way through a crowd. Then he turned to her and said, "Who touched me"? The disciples said, "Are you nuts"? Living Bible. They really said, "Master, it's a big crowd. Many people bumpeth thou".
That's King James. Same meaning. But Jesus understood it differently. Someone had approached him with an expectation, and something had happened. And the woman reluctantly came and said, "It was me," and told her story. Unseen influences, in visible places. It's still happening in the earth. We hear the reports every week, every week. Every week. I brought you a proclamation. I'm gonna ask you to say it with me but I wanna give it to you for your own devotions, your own repertoire. I hope you're collecting some of these things. For me, I label this one "Hope and Encouragement".
I would encourage you to keep a little portfolio of prayers and proclamations and you can match 'em to the circumstances of your week or the needs of your week. You know, I can imagine a time when you don't have as easily access to the Internet or we don't have the freedom to post content in the big buckets and with the ease that we do right now. You want a portfolio of some tools at your disposal. Let's stop living presumptive lives. Let's start to prepare ourselves. There's a conflict on, and the ultimate outcomes are certain, but the immediate outcomes are not. And the arrogance of the people of God has been a consistent vulnerability through the centuries.
When you read the part of the Bible you're reading and they couldn't imagine that God would turn them over to their enemies because they had had victory after victory after victory, and they recited them generation after generation after generation. And then there were false prophets that said, "There'll be no challenges, there'll be no problems. God will deliver you, as he's always delivered you".
Please don't live presumptively. Prepare yourself. Don't wait 'til next week to repent. Don't keep continuing in ungodliness. Honor the Lord. None of us are perfect. None of us are perfect. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, "Praise the Lord" may not come out. I know it's the right thing, it's the desired thing. I'm just telling you. If you're not quite certain what I said, it's "Praise the Lord" in a language you don't know. So I'm not asserting perfection. That's not what I'm talking to you about. But there's a difference in the frailty of our human condition and the willful, intentional practice of ungodliness. Please don't do that. Please don't do that. And if you have allowed it, begin to choose a new path.
What I find is freedom often... spiritual health comes like physical health, with a commitment to transformation. As you begin, you'll have to continue to change your response in order to sustain your momentum. Does that make sense? And I wanna invite you, if you haven't been living with that awareness, that commitment to spiritual health, then you're digressing. I brought you a proclamation. Stand with me, we'll read it together. If you're at home, you can stand with us. And I really built this out of a couple of Scriptures. This isn't just my opinion. I took it from Psalm 34 and from Isaiah 61. You didn't have room in your notes but you can check me later. Are you ready? Together:
I put on the garment of praise and hope. I choose the joy of the Lord as my strength. I lay aside the spirit of heaviness and raise my voice in praise of the Living God. May my eyes be opened to the provision of God and my ears attentive to the sound of His deliverance. Holy Spirit help me, in You I find power and revelation. God has restored my broken heart and set my feet on a path of victory. I have hope for today and the strength to complete the course you have chosen for me. Let the people of God arise triumphant and may the name of Jesus be lifted up throughout the earth. In Jesus's name, amen.