Redeemer Ev. Lutheran Church, Iola, WI

Sermons, Devotions, and News from Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iola, WI

Monthly Archives: September 2014

Redeemer Report 1.2 (October 2014)

Read the Church Newsletter Oct 2014 here!

Redeemer Report 1.1 (September 2014)

Read the Church Newsletter Sept 2014 here!

St. Michael and All Angels

September 29th is historically known as “Michaelmas,” or, the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, a day of the year set aside as the celebration of the angels in the Church.

Angels are discussed throughout Scripture as winged beings, some with two wings (1 Kings 6:24), some with four wings (Ezekiel 1:6), and some with six wings (Isaiah 6:2).  Sometimes, though, they appear in human form (Gen. 19:1-5), so that, as the writer to the Hebrews says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebr. 13:2).

There are a number of ranks among the angels, each seemingly designated a special purpose.  The cherubim are described by Ezekiel (1:5-14, 10:20), and are the same type that adorn the ark of the covenant (1 Sam. 4:4).  It would seem, then, that the cherubim are a kind of honor guard to the throne of God.

The seraphim are often described in a glorious light, and would seem to be the messengers who spoke to the shepherds at Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:13-14).

Archangels are the highest order of angel, their name meaning “chief angels.”  Michael is the only one explicitly named as an archangel, so it is unclear whether he is the only one or whether there are several others.

Michael is also one of only two angels given names in the Bible, the other being Gabriel.  Whereas Michael is usually considered a royal and warrior-type of angel, Gabriel is a messenger and a herald.  Michael’s name means “Who is like God?” and Gabriel’s means “Strong man of God.”  There is another angel given a name in the Apocrypha, Raphael, whose name means “God heals,” but his existence may by mythical.

The angels may have different specific purposes, but they are unified in one common overarching purpose: service in the kingdom of God.  The word “angel” literally means “messenger,” and our word “evangelism” comes from the same word.  Angels are therefore those tasked with delivering the messages of God—which we see accomplished in many of their appearances throughout Scripture, such as appearing to Mary and to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus, likewise coming to Abraham to tell of the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But they are also soldiers in God’s armies.  Jesus said he could call down legions of angels to defend him in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:53), and in Revelation 12:7-12 they are pictured as a fighting force that defeats Satan and the evil angels.  They are also the protectors of God’s people, as when Daniel was in the lions’ den “God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths” (Dan. 6:22).

St. Michael Slaying the Dragon

Ultimately, the angels serve God and, therefore, his followers: “Are [the angels] not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebr. 1:14); “Let all God’s angels worship him” (1:6); “For he will command his angels concerning you / to guard you in all your ways” (Ps. 91:11).  Therefore, the doctrine of guardian angels is sound.

We can take comfort in the protection of God’s mighty angels, but, even greater, at the command of our conquering Lord these angels have cast Satan out of heaven, signifying that the devil has no power to blot our names from the Book of Life.

St. Matthew the Evangelist and Apostle

Today is the celebration of St. Matthew the Evangelist and Apostle.  As we have done previously, what follows is some background on the life and work of this saint.

All that we know of the apostle Matthew’s early life is that he was a tax collector.  This was a position which caused him to be hated by the Jews, because he served the Roman oppressors, and because tax collectors were famous for shaving off extra money for themselves.  But this was a life that he left behind him when Jesus said, “Follow me” (Matt. 9:9).

With the other eleven, Matthew served as an apostle of Christ, and received the same commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).  According to tradition, Matthew went and preached to the Egyptians, converting the whole country, and it was there also, according to legend, that he was betrayed by the king and murdered while offering prayers in the church.

But the most famous of Matthew’s evangelism efforts is in the writing of his Gospel.  The Holy Spirit spoke through Matthew as he wrote this work, which had as its aim specifically to preach the message of the Messiah to the Hebrews.  In his Gospel, he points specifically to Christ as true Man (and therefore Matthew’s symbol is often that of a winged man), thereby demonstrating the humility of our Savior.

If one word were used to describe St. Matthew, it would be humility.  In his Gospel he refers to himself continually as “Matthew the tax collector,” showing what humble beginnings he had.  Like all Christians, Matthew’s hope was not in himself or in anything he could do, but in the almighty God who became a man such as us, so that he could show us his mercy and grant us salvation.