[Sept 29]--Angels and Demons: Flaming Guardians

Genesis 3:21-24

So we know that the angels were there near the beginning of creation, praising God and worshipping him as he finished up. Undoubtedly they watched as he created the first man out of the dirt and infused it permanently with his image. This was the height of creation, and the grandest display of his wisdom and power. Like the angels (to some degree), this new creature would have freedom of choice as to whether or not to serve the Maker.

Presumably sometime between what Job 38 refers to and the creation of mankind there occurred the fall of Satan. We also don’t know how long Adam and Eve spent in the Garden before they fell—It could've been mere days or thousands of years.

Today’s passage gives in some detail some of the consequences of the Fall of our first parents. Again, last year we went over some of those: Destroyed intimacy between husband and wife, destroyed intimacy between God and mankind, shame, the blame-game, and a host of others. A lot of these bad consequences manifested immediately, but most of the worst of it wouldn’t be displayed until years later.

This passage gives us some insight into what changed once we left the Garden. As long as Adam and Eve were in that perfect environment, they'd never experience death or sickness. Yes, we were originally designed to live forever. There were two trees in the middle of Eden: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Only one was banned, namely the Tree of Knowledge. We had free access to the other one, so we would've lived forever as long as we ate from it.

Once sin entered the picture, however, that was no longer a good option. Can you imagine growing older and older and older and never dying? For insight into this, I need to turn to C.S. Lewis (as I regularly do). He points out that my bad temper is pretty bad if left untended. It just gets worse and worse, but eventually I die and it can’t get any worse than that, at least not in this life. But if I live on and on and on, then a few thousand years later, if left untreated it will only be worse on an order of magnitude. In fact, that’s the definition of Hell: Hell doesn’t make a sinner reconsider and repent. He only hates God more and more. Lewis compared our sin to a hemorrhage that goes on forever and forever; death is God's tourniquet. Time heals a lot of wounds, but it doesn't heal a sinful nature.

Or if you want a modern example, consider Gollum/Smeagol from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He'd lived for hundreds of years past his normal lifespan due to the Ring he'd owned. In the end he was just existing on lust for the Ring and hatred for anyone who kept it from him. There was no joy, no peace, no love (not even for the Ring), no rest. He wasn’t living, not really. He was just existing. There’s a huge difference.

So what does this have to do with angels? Note that they’re God’s tools in this instance to keep a bad situation from growing worse. In their fallen state, our first parents would never have been able to resist the temptation to live forever in this world. So the Lord, in his incredible mercy, used angels as his enforcers to keep them away from that which would've destroyed them.

I could be wrong, but I believe that’s still a role for them today. We’re supposed to ask the Father to keep us out of tempting situations, right? Even with the Spirit living inside me, I’m weak. And I believe that sometimes the Lord uses his agents to answer that prayer, to keep a bad situation from getting worse.

Whether they do that today or not, we need to ask the Father to use whatever means he deems necessary to keep us out of sticky situations. What did Paul say? “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” Sounds good to me.

Father God, I won’t know until I reach glory how many times you kept me from sinning worse than I do already. For all those unknown times, thank you. May they be less and less needed.

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