Ponder angels and their surprises. Why? Since the 400s, this has been the annual day for Christians to remember Michael, the archangel -- and with him, all God's angels.
Some call Sept. 29 "Michaelmas," though neither that name nor this date are in the Bible.
Michael is in the Bible, though. Make that our first surprise about God's holy angels. They have a leader: Michael, the head angel (1 Thessalonians 4:16, Jude 1:9).
Michael in Hebrew means "Who is like God." What a name for the greatest angel: "No one comes close to God."
Are there other archangels?
Scripture doesn't say. Michael is "one of the chief princes" (Daniel 10:13). Another angel told the Jewish prophet Daniel that Michael was the angelic prince over Daniel and his people (10:21, 12:1).
Michael must be prince over all who rely on the true God, Jews and non-Jews, for Scripture calls all who trust in him who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead "children of Abraham" (Romans 4:22-24, Galatians 3:7-9).
n A third shocker: Not all people have angels protecting them. Only some do: "Are not all angels ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14). If you forget all else here, remember that final word picture. You can't earn or help with rescue from hellfire.
No. You inherit eternal rescue. It's your Father's gift in Christ. Trust him, not yourself.
n Stunner four: Holy angels watch believers constantly. So Scripture says God's children suffer no harm: "He will give his angels orders abut you, to protect you in all your ways. They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone" (Psalm 91:11-12).
n Surprise five: More than 200 times, the Bible calls God "the Lord of armies." Michael commands God's angel army.
God's angel army has ranks, as our military has colonels, majors, lieutenants and so on. Scripture describes angels in ranks of "thrones, dominions, ruler and authorities" (Colossians 1:16).
So don't picture cute little chubby spirits when you picture angels. Visualize fierce fighters. Michael is no one to mess with.
n Michael is stronger than Satan, even. Whoa! On the island of Patmos -- off southwest Turkey, today -- one Sunday in the late first century, the apostle John saw many visions. Among them, John saw Michael and his angels battling Satan and his angels, up in the sky. It was a ferocious fight, but not a fair one. Satan and his demons were hurled to the earth, as John saw it (Revelation 12:7-9).
They were not "bumped" below, nor "nudged." Hurled.
n Angels want no worship. When John, overwhelmed, bowed before the holy being showing him visions, the angel exploded: "Don't do that! I am a fellow slave with you, your brothers the prophets, and those who keep the words of this book. Worship God" (Revelation 22:9).
Imagine -- you, a slave of God, on a par with holy angels.
The Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 747-5564. For more information, see www.rsavior.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.