Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Bethany Bullet - October 1, 2013

No Place so Sacred from such Fops is barr'd;
Nor is Paul's Church more safe than Paul's Church-yard:
Nay, fly to Altars; there they'll talk you dead;
For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.

There is a very good chance you had never heard the entire final stanza of this poem penned by one Alexander Pope.   There is an equally good chance that you are very familiar with its closing line, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”  Since Pope’s poem first made that idea famous, folk from Edmund Burke to Abraham Lincoln have used it in literature or in politics.  In the world of entertainment the words have been spoken in cinema and sung in song.   We’re quite familiar with the saying, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

What I wonder is, “Where is it that angels fear to tread?”

In one of Daniel’s visions, Michael the archangel, steps forward in a time of distress unequaled in earth’s history to protect God’s people.  Elsewhere in a portion of John’s revelation we see Michael and the entire band of the angel army come forward to do battle with the dragon and his fallen angels.  God’s angels feared not to face God’s opponent in combat according to John.  God’s angels feared not to shield God’s people in time of terror according to Daniel.  So where is it angels fear to tread?

If you haven’t guessed by now I’m thinking almost nowhere, and that while Pope’s line has found fame, in reality it is almost impossible to find a place that angels fear to tread.  Of course, I said ‘almost’ twice.  One angel was heard crying, in John’s Revelation, “Fear God and give Him glory.”        

Perhaps it is safe to deduce that in the angel’s fear of God, they fear to tread against His command and even into His presence on their own accord.

One angel in particular, Lucifer and his allies (that go unnamed) lacked such fear.  Before the 3rd chapter of Genesis is penned the angel of light (that is what Lucifer’s name meant), had rebelled and sought to replace God; the very thing those he lead into temptation in Genesis chapter 3 do themselves. 

While not the thrust of the text before us, this does give us an occasion to ponder some often asked questions. 

Adam and Eve possessed “free will” prior to the fall.  That is, they could choose to obey God or they could choose to disobey God.  Since the fall, all of us are born in sin and unable to please God, to obey and to believe.  Our wills and human nature are no longer free but bound in sin. Hence faith is a gift, one that God does and must work in our hearts, not something we can produce of, by or on our own.  Similarly it is fair to deduce that prior to Lucifer’s (Satan’s) rebellion the angels themselves were free to stay true to God, to trust, serve and fear Him yet they were also free to reject Him.  This is where similarity between anthropic and angelic community cease.  After that fall, those who rejected God were confirmed in their disobedience, barred from both heaven and repentance; now their leader is the prince of this world and his legion the demonic hordes.  Those who stayed true to God, obeyed Him, sided with Him and fought for Him. Michael and the heavenly host are confirmed in their state too, never shall they rebel, never shall they fail, and ever shall they serve and fear God!  

It is this action to which we should turn our attention!  While angel stories are awesome, and many of us have heard many of them, it is not the angels ‘where’ but their ‘how’ that really give us reason to celebrate a festival occasion such as All Angel’s DayThey fear God

This fear is two-fold I would offer… 
1.       First they have “holy homage” that is they stand in awe and devotion before God because of who He is: the One and Only, Eternal and Uncreated, Perfect and Pure and Self-Existent One! 
2.       Second they have “holy horror” that is they stand in alarm and dread before God because of who they are: creatures.  Of course, as already stated, they are a sinless-creature, confirmed in such status forever.  Yet, they fear God, and reveal that in and of themselves they are unworthy of His company, such display is revealed in Isaiah’s vision of an angel covering his feet with his wings.

If the angels of God, fear Him because of whom they are, how much more ought we?  Remember that is something that is different between us and the angels: 
·         We though brought to faith,
·         We though righteous at His decree,
·         And we though “on His side”
·         Are still at the same time sinful creatures. 

We will on occasion rebel from His rule, we will on occasion disobey His commands and we will seek to have our will and our way win the day.  We are in constant need of forgiveness, Holy Horror, alarm and dismay over who we are is indeed the right disposition of our hearts!  And yet so is Holy Homage, for the One who sends angels to defend and protect His people and do battle with His enemies has come Himself in Christ Jesus.  To protect us, He defeats those that oppose us, sin, death and the devil himself, and wins our victory and so we stand before Him in awe and devotion of who He is! 

Though it won’t become as famous in culture or history as Pope’s poem I’m sure, PK’s would read differently:
They Fear God for who He is and who they are
In example and person from us they be not far
Let the world rebel and not to God be true
But let us serve and fear as the angels do.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counter