Summary: A message looking at the ministry of angels.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
In this text the Lord Jesus Christ says that the angels ascend before they descend. The order seems strange. We would think that it should be the other way round. The fact that angels go up before they come down tells us that they are here on earth. The Lord already has His beachheads on enemy territory. The angels who serve the Saviour have four important duties:
1. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHILDREN
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 18:10).
How often those angels must ascend that shining stairway heavily burdened by cases of child abuse, of child neglect, with reports of those who hurt the faith of these little ones, who deceive them with lies and withhold from them the truth of God. Up they go, up that long ladder, to present each case at God’s throne.
2. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHRISTIANS
"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14).
What appalling tales they have to tell of Christian inconsistencies, outright worldliness, carnality (even gross sin), weird beliefs, broken homes, damaged lives, ruined testimonies. Of course some have better and brighter reports to make, of victories won, holiness demonstrated, lives transformed, homes reclaimed.
3. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR CHURCHES
"Unto the angel of the church..." (Revelation 2:1)
What sad reports so many of them have to make. What thoughts must be theirs as they trudge the upward-leading stairs. Churches split over the colour of a carpet, pastors run off by vindictive deacons, preachers embroiled in sin, strange heresies entertained and then given honourable status in the family of God. Yet others have glad reports of revival, souls being saved, new missions launched, the Holy Spirit being allowed full sway.
4. THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR COUNTRIES
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people" (Daniel 12:1)
What reports must those angels have to bring of communist Russia, atheistic China, pagan India, apostate Britain and America. What tales of war and rumours of war, of earthquake and pestilence, famine and want, persecution and pillage, of hellish philosophies, greed and intrigue, treaties broken, and men’s hearts failing them for fear. Heavy indeed must be their tread on that stair.
Up they go. God is still on the throne. Time’s short day is ebbing fast away. The dawn of a new day is just over the horizon. All the factors of space and time, beyond the ken and scope of human minds, beyond the grasp of angel intellects, all are weighed in the balance of omniscient genius and ordered by omnipotent power and incarnate love to work together, to the eternal glory of Him who sits on the throne. So back they come, down that stairway, enlightened, encouraged, energised, to pick up again their secret mission on planet earth.
All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him, crown Him, crown Him,
Crown Him Lord of all!
(Acknowledgement - John Phillips, Exploring the Gospel of John, Kregel Publications, 2001)