Thursday, July 13, 2006

Human salvation - God's love demonstrated to angels

Last Sunday I expounded on Job 38 in my sermon, commenting about the verse referring to the angels’ happiness as they witnessed the creation of our world.

Part of Christian faith is recognition of the cosmic scope of GOD'S eternal love. God asked Job the haunting question, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? ...when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (v.7)

To that question we are left breathless. We have no answer because we were not there. But we are told who was there. God tells us who sang for joy to see our world created – it was His heavenly host, the “morning stars”, the “sons of God”, His holy angels!

Those same angels are watching the unfolding of our lives and the working out of God’s plan to save us through the sacrifice of His Son, ever since we were created. St. Peter tells us that “angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1.12).

For our salvation is “the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the angelic authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:9-11).

Scripture gives us plenty of glimpses of angels worshipping God in Heaven. But how often do we note that the worship which angels render to God is related to, among other things, their knowledge of the history of human salvation? It is ultimately the only salvation they have ever seen, for no salvation was offered to any angel who sinned. Yet, although it is about the rescue from eternal damnation of another species (humanity), human salvation is a tremendous source of delight to the angels. Even the founding of the material universe itself made the angels shout for joy (Job 38.7).

The angels’ joy at the beginning of our world possibly suggests that the whole material universe was made as a demonstration to them of His love. (A “Grand Demonstration”, as Dr.Jay Adams called it).

‘…The Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world’ knew He would have do die to give eternal life to sinners even before the Fall into sin. Knowing before He created the earth that He would have to die, why else did He proceed? The angels may hold the answer to this frequently asked question.

Witnessing human salvation, the angels were able to see, as they could not see in any other way, how the same just God who punished their rebel colleagues is also a merciful God who saves sinful creatures even at the cost of the sacrificial death of His unique Son. Following this reasoning, it is easy to understand why ‘there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’ (Luke 15.10).


Stan said...

Pr. Naumann,
You wrote:
"The angels’ joy at the beginning of our world possibly suggests that the whole material universe was made as a demonstration to them of His love."

I am curious if you could perhaps expand on this. Our understanding of God's love seems to be completely relational, we understand it only by virtue of how it relates to us. Consequently, we don't understand God's love in terms of His creation (ktisei), animal and the like, but in terms of His human creation... and we do such only because of His Son. Apart from whom we would not know God's love... I wonder if a connection could somehow be made to that statement you made and the other comments you had regarding angels rejoicing over humanity's salvation.

Also, regarding your last paragraph... the notion that God knew of the fall into sin before the fall seems like a rather linear and rather mortal way of trying to under the all-knowing-ness of God. I guess, from a purely human perspective, if God's mind worked like that, such a statement could be made... but when speaking of the Divine it almost seems dangerous to speak in terms of kairos rather than in terms of aiwon. Just $0.02, probably not worth that much.;-)

Thank you for the insightful post. Pax.

- Stan

Pr. Jonathan Naumann, Ph.D. said...

There is great mystery in the statement in the apocalypse that speaks of the Lamb as "slain" "before the world was made" (Rev. 13.8). It is not a "linear" description of chronology obviously. It sounds more like a resolution in the mind of God held prior to His creation of our world.

We know His motive for creating a world, knowing that He would have to die for it - LOVE.

It is not that God's mind works like ours. It is that our minds work as they do because, we were created in His image.

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I think particularly if there are angels because I've been in times or circumstances that just because an angel has been there not been a disgrace