I’ve been looking for an excuse and the perfect time to introduce this subject, and since the whole story from yesterday started with a demon-possessed girl, I guess this is as good a time as any. For the next few days we’re going to take a break from Acts in order to study what the Bible actually says about the spiritual realm, specifically angels and demons.
Quite frankly, I’m approaching this topic with some trepidation. First off, I need to be very careful not to say more than what Scripture actually says. Or if I do slip into speculation, I need to make it clear that this is what I’m doing. The other reason I’ve been slightly reluctant to do this is because of the very real danger that we’ll focus on them to the detriment of what’s really important.
Before we get to today’s passage, I need to submit a reminder which is very relevant to this issue. When I’ve been reluctantly volunteered as the “Bible Answer Guy” in Bible studies and other settings, someone will inevitably ask some question that’s meant to stump me. There are tons of questions out there which betray an ignorance concerning the purpose of the Bible. Please hammer this home in your brain. Tattoo it on your forehead if that would help. Here it is: The Bible is there to tell us everything we need to know about life and the afterlife. It’s not there to tell us everything we’d like to know. It’s there to tell us how to relate to God and to others. It’s there to tell us how to prepare for the next life.
It’s not there to tell us about dinosaurs. It’s not there to tell us if there are aliens on another planet. It’s not there to tell us every detail about the afterlife (“Will I see my dog there?”).
This goes for angels/demons as well. The Bible tells us what we need to know about them, and that leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions. How do they perceive reality? They apparently don’t have eyes or ears or skin like we do. How do they “see”? What do they “see” when they look at a human being? What are the limits of their power? Were the demons ever given a second chance, and if not, why not? I’d like to know the answers to questions like this, but apparently they aren’t important enough for us to know in this life.
So what’s the first mention of them in Scripture? You might have expected me to cite Genesis chapter 3. If you’re reading the Bible cover-to-cover (which I recommend), then that's certainly the first mention of them. But that’s not the first chronological mention of them.
That would be today’s passage. After a long period of silence and suffering, Job finally got the audience with God that he’d been demanding. In the ultimate example of the cliché “Be careful what you wish for,” the Lord Almighty showed up and gave Job the third degree. Basically the Lord’s main point in the final chapters of the book are “Who do you think you are? I’m God, and you’re not.”
In making his point, the Lord asks Job “Where were you when I made the universe out of nothing? When I created the mountains and the oceans and the deserts and the plants and the animals and everything else? If you think you can actually challenge the way I do things, then obviously you know better than I do.”
He then lists a few examples, and he just presents what I call a “throw away” line. That’s where the author of Scripture just casually mentions a subject of deep mystery and then moves on to the next topic. It would be like me talking to my wife about my day: “Yeah honey, I studied for my classes for a while, checked my email, went to the store, ran over a couple of school children and came back home. Does Chinese food sound good for dinner?” In examining this topic, a lot of what we know depends on verses like this.
The Lord just casually mentions that as he was finishing up creation, the angels “shouted for joy.” As he was creating the earth and everything on it, these spirits saw what he was doing and clapped. As he was moving land masses around, they “oohed” and “awed.” And when he created man out of the dust of the earth, they were awestruck. They watched in wonder as the Lord himself made this creature of dirt into his own image. As he made things, they worshiped.
So when angels were created, the first thing on their agenda was worship of their Creator.
So what’s the point here? What can we learn from this? The same point which the Lord was making to Job: Stand in awe and wonder before God. He deserves all praise and honor and glory and worship. For the act of Creation alone, he deserves all this.
Father God, I’m going to follow the angels’ example. I’m going to gaze at your creation today, and worship.