Thursday, May 31, 2012

Are You Waiting to be Called?

Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator.

Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed.

When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. 

A sign on the receptionist's counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.
The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in.

Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on.
They muttered among themselves that they hadn't heard any summons yet.

They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified.

Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants,
"Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled."

The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying,
"Wait a minute, I don't understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That's not fair!"

The employer said,
"I'm sorry, but the last several minutes while you've been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message
in Morse Code:
'If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.' None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his."

We are so busy living in a world that is full of noise and clatter, like that office.
People are distracted and unable to hear the still, small voice of God as He speaks in creation, in the Scriptures, and in the life and work of Jesus Christ.

 So, are you listening, or are you waiting to be called?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Is Michael the only archangel?

Is Michael the only archangel?

The word "archangel" occurs in only two verses of the Bible.

First Thessalonians 4:16 exclaims,
"For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first."

Jude verse 9 declares,
"But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said,
'The Lord rebuke you!'"

The word "archangel" comes from a Greek word meaning "chief angel."

It refers to an angel who seems to be the leader of other angels.

Jude verse 9 uses the definite article "the archangel Michael," which could possibly indicate that Michael is the only archangel. However, Daniel 10:13 describes Michael as "one of the chief princes."

This possibly indicates that there is more than one archangel, because it places Michael on the same level as the other "chief princes."

So, while it is possible that there are multiple archangels, it is best not to presume upon the Word of God by declaring other angels as archangels. Daniel 10:21 describes Michael the archangel as "your prince," and Daniel 12:1 identifies Michael as "the great prince who protects."

Even if there are multiple archangels, it seems that Michael is the chief among them.

Is there an angel named Raphael in the Bible?"

No, the Bible nowhere mentions an angel named Raphael.

Only two angels are named in Scripture - Gabriel (Luke 1:26) and Michael (Daniel 12:1), the latter designated as an "archangel" in Jude 9. The angel Raphael does appear in the apocryphal book of Tobit (or Tobias), which is considered inspired by the Catholic Church. In that account, Raphael disguises himself as a human, keeps the younger Tobias safe on a journey, chases away a demon, and heals the elder Tobias of his blindness. Because of these actions, Raphael is considered by Catholics as the patron of the blind, of travellers, and of physicians.

In the book of Tobias, Raphael identifies himself as one of seven archangels "who stand before the Lord" (Tobit 12:15).

Raphael also offers prayers on Tobias' behalf, and Tobias, in turn, thanks the angel because he is "filled with all good things through him" (Tobit 12:3).

John sheds some light on the religious notions in the time of Christ.

"A great multitude of sick people" are sitting beside a pool in Jerusalem, waiting for "the moving of the water." They believed that an angel would descend from heaven and stir the water, making the pool a place of healing for them. Jesus approaches a man who had been infirm for 38 years and asks him if he wants to be healed.

The man's sad, superstitious reply is that he cannot be healed, because he cannot get into the pool quickly enough.

Jesus then bypasses all superstition and shows His power to immediately heal the man (John 5:3-9).

Although the Book of Tobias was not included in the Hebrew Scriptures, the Septuagint did include it; therefore, the story of Raphael would have been familiar to almost everyone in Jesus' day.

It is quite possible that the "angel of the pool" the sick man was waiting for was, in his mind, Raphael.

It is interesting that Raphael never shows up in John 5.

It is Jesus, not an angel, who "heals all your diseases" (Psalm 103:3).

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