December 5 - 11
The Lord of Hosts
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Gen. 19:1, 12, 13; Matt. 16:27; Luke 2:8-11; Heb. 1:14; Rev. 5:11; 7:1.
MEMORY TEXT: "The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them" (Psalm 34:7, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHT: The angels, who serve God unselfishly, play an important role in our everyday life, and they work actively for our salvation.
WHO ARE THE "HOSTS"? The scriptural usage points to the angels as representing the hosts over which God is Lord. Angels surround His throne and do His bidding. Occasionally, people have seen them and recognized in them a power available for their protection. (See Gen. 32:1, 2; 2 Kings 6:17.)
David mentions the title "Lord of hosts" when he approaches Goliath (1 Sam. 17:45). He uses it again in the climax to his poem of praise in Psalm 24 (verse 10). Jeremiah uses the name 88 times as indicating that God is the Saviour and Protector of His people. To understand God better, we need to understand something about His angelic hosts. In heaven, there are thousands of them, ten thousand times ten thousand, ever worshiping God and ready to go on their missions throughout the universe. Myriads of them are at God's service here in this world. Each child of God has his or her own guardian angel. This angel always has access to God Himself on His heavenly throne. This week, we shall try to become better acquainted with God by studying the work of His angelic hosts. We will see how He uses angels in His activities for humankind.
What creatures and how many of them does John see around the throne of God? Rev. 5:11.
Heaven is the headquarters of the universe. There God is seated on His throne. God is infinitely great. The universe is infinitely large. Its work must be one of almost unbelievable complexity. It is through angels that God conducts His work.
God's work for the world is of great importance, to Him and to every one of us, whether sinner or saint. Every detail is closely watched. Not a sparrow in this little earth of ours falls to the ground without His notice. No king rules, no saint falls, without God's being aware of it.
Angels keep all the extremely complex and mutually interwoven affairs of earth under Heaven's control. In Ezekiel 1:15-21 and 10:9-16, the seemingly chaotic array of worldly affairs is likened to four wheels kept under the control of four living creatures, cherubim, who in turn are under the direction of God. (See Ezek. 1:26, 28; 10:1, 5, 18-20.)
"The seraphim around the throne are so filled with reverential awe as they behold the glory of God, that they do not for an instant look upon themselves with admiration. Their praise is for the Lord of hosts.... They are fully satisfied to glorify God; abiding in His presence, beneath His smile of approbation, they wish for nothing more."Evangelism, p. 21.
Describe Jacob's dream in Genesis 28:10-15. What does it symbolize?
David spoke of God's "throne in the heavens" and of His kingdom which "ruleth over all," with His "angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word," the "ministers of his, that do his pleasure" (Ps. 103:19-21). Micaiah saw "the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left" (1 Kings 22:19). Daniel beheld the Ancient of Days seated on His throne, which appeared "like the fiery flame" (Dan. 7:9, 10). Peter tells us that angels are even interested in our salvation (1 Pet. 1:10-12). These things, which mortal eyes cannot see, are just as real as, and infinitely more important than, the visible things of earth. The Bible draws the curtain aside and helps us to glimpse the close connection between heaven and earth.
|Why would angels be interested in your salvation? What does this tell us about their nature?|
What role do angels play in Christ's second coming? Matt. 16:27; Luke 9:26.
The angels of heaven are the attendants of Christ and are under His command. When Satan rebelled and was cast to earth, a majority of the angels remained loyal to Christ. (See Rev. 12:4, 7, 8.)
Since the first rebellion, all the loyal angelic host has been closely connected with Christ in continued warfare against the dragon. In the conduct of the work of Heaven, many activities involve the entire universe. But none are of greater importance than those activities having to do with winning the world back to God. The angels are closely connected with Christ in the conduct of this work, ever eager to be sent on missions of mercy.
"Our Saviour ... is surrounded with heavenly intelligences, cherubim, and seraphim, ten thousand times ten thousand of angels.
"All these heavenly beings have one object above all others, in which they are intensely interested-His church in a world of corruption. All these armies are in the service of the Prince of heaven, exalting the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. They are working for Christ under His commission, to save to the uttermost all who look to Him and believe in Him. These heavenly intelligences are speeding on their mission, doing for Christ that which Herod and Pilate did against Him. They confederate together to uphold the honor and glory of God. They are united in a holy alliance, . . . to show forth the power and compassion and love and glory of the crucified and risen Saviour. "Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 967, 968.
On what two special occasions did angels minister to Christ?
Matt. 4:1-11 _____________________________________________________
Luke 22:39-43 ___________________________________________________
|When Christ prayed to have "the cup" removed from Him, God responded by sending an angel to strengthen Him instead. Looking back over your life, was there a time when you prayed to have "a cup" removed but God sent an angel to help you drink "the cup" instead? What form did "the cup" and the angel take? How does this experience prepare you to identify with and to minister to others facing trying circumstances?|
Describe the work angels do for humans. Heb. 1:14.
If we would understand the impact of angel ministry in our lives, we must first appreciate angels' involvement in the work of Heaven. In a previous lesson, we learned the extent to which the Trinity have expended Themselves for the sake of this world. This is not to say that God is any less involved in upholding other inhabited worlds or in communing with their holy inhabitants. Not at all. But this world has been the object of untold attention and immeasurable blessings because it is a lost world. As "foot soldiers" of God's army, angels are used in every battle and participate in every victory. They are personally involved.
"Into the experience of all there come times of keen disappointment and utter discouragement-days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of His earthborn children.... Could we at such times discern with spiritual insight the meaning of God's providences, we should see angels seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a foundation more firm than the everlasting hills; and new faith, new life, would spring into being. "Prophets and Kings, p. 162.
How did angels minister to humans in the following verses?
Acts 12:7-10 ______________________________________________________
Matt. 28:1-7 ______________________________________________________
How only can we be aware of the work of angels on our behalf?. 2 Kings 6:17.
"Angels are constantly ascending and descending this ladder of shining brightness, bearing the prayers of the needy and distressed to the Father above, and bringing blessing and hope, courage and help, to the children of men. These angels of light create a heavenly atmosphere about the soul, lifting us toward the unseen and the eternal."The Acts of the Apostles, p. 153.
|As you pray Elisha's prayer in 2 Kings 6:17, replace the word his with the word my and the word he with the word I. Then envision the angels ascending and descending the ladder, bearing your prayer to the Lord of Hosts and bringing you blessing and hope in return.|
What news did an angel host bring to shepherds? Luke 2:8-12. What song did a host of angels sing? Verses 13, 14.
"Heaven and earth are no wider apart today than when shepherds listened to the angels' song. Humanity is still as much the object of heaven's solicitude as when common men of common occupations met angels at noonday, and talked with the heavenly messengers in the vineyards and the fields. To us in the common walks of life, heaven may be very near. Angels from the courts above will attend the steps of those who come and go at God's commands."The Desire of Ages, p. 48.
Describe other instances when angels communicated important messages from God.
Gen. 19:1-23 ______________________________________________________
Judg. 13:1-5 ______________________________________________________
Matt. 1:18-21 ____________________________________________________
Matt. 28:1-7 ______________________________________________________
Luke 1:26-38 _____________________________________________________
Acts 1:10, 11 _____________________________________________________
Acts 27:22-24 ____________________________________________________
When Mary first received her angel messenger, his news greatly troubled her. But as he continued with the rest of the message, she grew calm and accepting. Thus, she symbolizes what we all can become by God's grace-ready and willing to act upon His instructions, submissive to His will.
|"Do not forget to entertain [be hospitable to] strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Heb. 13:2, NIV). This was written at a time when inns were rare, and those that did exist were dirty, prohibitively expensive, and of poor repute. Thus the same need for hospitality may not be as great today. But the principle remains. What hospitality needs exist today? How can we as Christians fulfill them?|
Sometimes the special assignments given to angels were unpleasant tasks. After Adam and Eve's disobedience, angels escorted them from their garden home and guarded the tree of life. (See Early Writings, pp. 148, 149.) Shortly before the Flood, with Noah and his family and selected animals safely inside the ark, an angel came to close the door. Angels aided in the confusion at the tower of Babel and worked mightily in behalf of the children of Israel prior to their escape from Egypt by bringing destruction to that nation.
What message did an angel give in Genesis 19:1, 12, 13?
Because of its iniquity, God saw fit to withdraw His protection and mercy, and the city met its doom. Angels carried out His purpose. At the same time angels were working to save Lot and his family. Their patience and insistence is an example of how God is eager to save us from the destruction of this world.
How are angels involved in the following passages?
2 Chron. 32:20, 21 _________________________________________________
1 Chron. 21:14, 15 _________________________________________________
Rev. 16 __________________________________________________________
"The God of the Hebrews had prevailed over the proud Assyrian [Sennacherib]. The honor of Jehovah was vindicated in the eyes of the surrounding nations. In Jerusalem the hearts of the people were filled with holy joy. Their earnest entreaties for deliverance had been mingled with confession of sin and with many tears. In their great need they had trusted wholly in the power of God to save, and He had not failed them."Prophets and Kings, pp. 361, 362.
At the end of time, angels will again carry out the will of God as the history of sin is closed. They will conduct the work involved with the plagues and the sealing. (See Rev. 16; 7:2, 3; Prophets and Kings, p. 591.) Then, at last, earth's clouds will part and down the trackless corridors of space will come all the angels of heaven accompanying their King as He returns to take His redeemed ones home with Him. How bright they will shine! How richly fulfilled they will be as they reopen the gates to Paradise and escort their human friends to the tree of life!
|How do you reconcile these destructive acts of God's angels with the goodness of God?|
FURTHER STUDY: Angels also serve as controlling agents. How did John the revelator see them in this capacity? Rev. 7:1. How was Daniel saved from death? Dan. 6:22. Also read Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 96, 97 and Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 456, 457. Angels unseen are commissioned by God to hold in check throughout the earth powers that could prematurely explode into outbreaks that would engulf the entire world in final destruction. Satan incites people everywhere to outbursts of wrath and violence. But angels from God hold them in check. Had it not been for the restraining activities of the angels, earth's troubles would long since have erupted into conflicts that would have ended only in Armageddon.
"Fearful tests and trials await the people of God. The spirit of war is stirring the nations from one end of the earth to the other. But in the midst of the time of trouble that is coming-a time of trouble such as has not been since there was a nation-God's chosen people will stand unmoved. Satan and his angels cannot destroy them, for angels that excel in strength will protect them.'Selected Messages, book 2, p. 55.
SUMMARY: The God of heaven, whom we serve, is the Lord of hosts. Under His command innumerable angels move throughout the universe, fulfilling His wishes. Nothing delights them more than to perform some duty, some service, for their beloved Maker. Angels are by our sides continually. They encourage us in the way of life. They offer us opportunities for spiritual growth. They minister to our every need. Should we not praise God for giving us such personal attention and sustaining us constantly on the battlefield of life?
Following a Good Example
As a child growing up in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Republic of Congo), I lived near an Adventist church. I knew nothing about the church or the people who worshiped there, except that they were different. My friends and I sometimes threw stones and shouted accusations at the believers as we walked by the church.
Some years later a friend told me that, according to Revelation 13, the Catholic and Protestant churches would combine and persecute Christians who kept God's laws, I could not understand how Christians could hurt other Christians. Then I began to wonder who were these Christians who kept God's law.
Shortly after I was married, my wife became a Seventh-day Adventist. I was not happy when she told me, for I still thought this church was a bad church. I got angry when she refused to go to the market or cook on Saturday or when she refused to eat certain foods, even ir' though she prepared them for me. But I noticed that when I argued with her, she no longer argued back. Something had changed.
I went to another area of Zaire to work in the gold mines. I discovered that the Adventist church was there too! Curious, I decided to attend a service. As I listened to the preacher and studied the texts he gave, many of the things my wife did began to make sense to me. I liked the way Adventists worshiped too. They did not shout or play loud music as my church did. When I learned about returning a tenth of my earnings to God, who gave them to t"," me, I decided to try. I began returning tithe and waited to see what would happen. Not long after this I found a gold nugget weighing about six pounds!
I returned to Kinshasa and began attending church with my wife. I read some Ellen White books, and soon I realized that the religious minority that would be persecuted for "keeping the law" was the Adventist church. I decided to be baptized.
African men want women to follow them, but this time I was glad to follow my wife's example! My only regret is that so many years passed before I took my stand. I think of all the people I could have witnessed to over the years and wish I had made the decision sooner.
Satulu Gerembaya is a businessman living in Kinshasa, Republic of Congo.
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