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Don’t Be Afraid

Supernatural Encounters May Be Scary

The Book of Mark wraps up with three women going to the tomb of Jesus to anoint his body. They are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.

They approach the tomb preoccupied, wondering how they will roll the stone away to gain access. As it turns out, this won’t be a problem.

When they arrive at the tomb the stone has already been rolled away. They see a young man sitting there. He’s wearing a white robe. He’s like an angel, but there’s no indication if they realize this or not. But his presence does surprise them.

The first thing he says is, “Don’t be afraid!” (Mark 16:6).

Encountering Angels

Throughout the Bible, whenever anyone has a supernatural encounter with angels, one of the first things these heavenly beings say is usually, “Don’t be afraid!”

I get this.

Should someone not from this world appear before us, our first reaction would certainly be fright. Without assurance, our first response would likely be flight. It would be hard for us to hear their heavenly message if we were running away from them.

I’d like to think my reaction would be different. I’d like to think I wouldn’t be afraid of an angel that God sent to me. I’d like to think I would confidently hear everything they would say, though in awe over their presence.

But I know me. I know better. Though I might be brave in my spirit, in my mind I would fear, just like everyone else.

What will our reaction be when we see God for the first time? Click To Tweet

Encountering God

If a typical reaction to an angelic encounter is fear, what will our reaction be when we see God for the first time?

I’d like to think I’d feel peace. I’d like to think I would approach him with confidence and embrace him. I’d like to think I would remain calm.

But I know better. I know me. I’m sure I would tremble in his presence. Fear and excitement would surge through me in anticipation and apprehension, quaking in fear over the unknown.

Don’t Be Afraid

I suspect the first words God will say to me will be, “Don’t be afraid. Do not fear.”

And then everything will be okay, because I will be home, basking in the glory of his presence.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Mark 14-16, and today’s post is on Mark 16:5-6.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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An Army of Angels To Protect Us

The young girl gazes out into the desert. Something comes towards her. It is Solomon, her lover, traveling by carriage. He is accompanied by a protective band of weapon wielding warriors, tested and poised for whatever threat awaits them. With Solomon—and his army—she will be protected.

In a spiritual sense, this is how it is with God and us. He is coming towards us; with him, we will be protected. (That doesn’t mean there won’t be risks as we journey with him, because there will.) We will also be afforded a band of warriors, ready to battle on our behalf. In the spiritual realm, this is an army of angels.

Centuries later, Jesus tells Satan, “Don’t you know that I could ask my Father, and right away he would send me more than twelve armies of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).

While we might not see angels, we have good reason to believe that they are nearby, ready to protect us from both physical threats and spiritual foes.

Our God, who loves us, will make sure we are protected.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Song of Songs 1-4, and today’s post is on Song of Songs 3:6-8.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty

Celebrate the Holiness of God

The prophet Isaiah has a dream, a vision. He sees into heaven. God sits on his throne over the temple. Six-winged angels, seraphim, hover above him. They sing out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. Earth fills with his glory.”

As their voices ring out, the temple shakes and fills with smoke.

What’s Isaiah do? He shakes in fear. “Woe is me.” He trembles before God because he knows he is unworthy. So unworthy. The sight of the Lord God Almighty overwhelms him. He becomes undone.

If Isaiah would cower before God with a feeling of complete unworthiness, how much more will we?

Yet God offers Isaiah grace and takes away the guilt of his sin. Then God sends Isaiah on a mission.

Does the words of the seraphim, “Holy, holy, holy,” sound familiar?

It also appears in Revelation 4:8. Again, six-winged creatures hover around God. They worship him 24/7, saying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

Three Times for Emphasis

These are the only two passages in the Bible that repeat the word holy three times. Saying that God is holy isn’t enough. Saying that he’s holy, very holy still falls short. Instead the Bible records that God is “Holy, holy, holy.”

Bible scholars tell us that the repetition of three gives emphasis. Today, it would be like bold, italic, and underlined all at the same time. God’s holiness is that significant.

We may gloss over the first holy and even miss it twice, but it’s hard to overlook it when we hear it three times.

The Lord God Almighty is holy, holy, holy. He was, and is, and is to come.

Let’s join the heavenly beings who worship God as holy, holy, holy.

God deserves our praise, and we will do well to offer it, always and forever. Click To Tweet

God deserves our praise, and we will do well to offer it, always and forever.

Our Lord God is holy, holy, holy.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Isaiah 5-7, and today’s post is on Isaiah 6:3.]

Read more about the book of Isaiah in For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Are Seraphim the Same as Angels?

Quick, are seraphim angels?

Until recently I would have said “yes” without hesitation. That’s what I was taught. However, after researching for the post Holy, Holy, Holy, I’ve reached a different conclusion.

First, the dictionary says seraphim are “celestial beings.” Celestial implies heaven or the divine (God). I equate celestial to the supernatural or the spiritual realm. So, that makes them supernatural beings or creatures from the spiritual realm (in contrast to us in the physical realm).

Second, I was surprised to discover that we only see seraphim in two verses in the Bible, both in the same passage, written by Isaiah. Isaiah doesn’t call them angels. He does say they have three pairs of wings and they fly. Interestingly, they only need two wings for flight.

In Isaiah’s vision, these seraphim are in the temple, worshiping God. Their adoration is not subtle. On the contrary, it is intense. Their voices reverberate and the temple fills with smoke. That sounds like a Christian rock concert to me, which gives us something else to contemplate.

In addition to worshiping God, one seraph talks to Isaiah.

That’s it. That’s all we know about seraphim. They’re not angels, they worship God, and they can fly and talk.

Next we’ll look into cherubim and then angels. Stay tuned.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Isaiah 5-7, and today’s post is on Isaiah 6:2.]

Read more about the book of Isaiah in For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Do Angels Fight for Us?

We Can Only Guess about Battles in the Spiritual realm, but angels fight for us

The book of Daniel contains six stories and four prophetic visions. In Daniel’s final, and longest, vision, we get a glimpse— perhaps metaphorically—of what happens in the spiritual realm and how angels fight for us.

Starting with chapter 10, Daniel receives a vision about a great war. This troubles him. It saps him of his strength. Afterward, he stands up trembling.

Daniel mourns for three weeks about what this vision might mean. During this time he fasts and shoves aside personal hygiene. Daniel is in distress, trying to figure out the meaning of this terrifying vision. Why is God not answering? Why is he delaying?

At last, an angel appears—three weeks late. The angel explains. God heard Daniel’s prayers on day one. He dispatched his messenger immediately. But the angel had to battle an evil force that tried to keep him from carrying out his mission.

At last, the mighty angel Michael came to help this messenger battle the evil that opposed him. Together these angels fight the fallen angel. Finally, with victory assured, this messenger, this angel, is no longer detained. He proceeded to Daniel to complete his mission and explain the vision.

God has angels working on our behalf. Click To Tweet

Angels Fight for Us in the Spiritual Realm

This account of good angels battling bad angels in the spiritual realm may be hard for us to grasp. But the idea that angels fight for us should also encourage us. God has angels working on our behalf, either directly, to come to our aid, or indirectly, to battle supernatural forces of evil.

Our reality is more than what we can observe, more than our physical world offers. There’s a spiritual dimension, too. While we may not know what happens in this other reality, we are assured God works on our behalf in ways we can’t understand.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Daniel 10-12, and today’s post is on Daniel 10:12-13.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Are God’s Angels Preparing Your Way?

God sends an angel to guard and guide his people into the Promised Land

I’ve read the book of Exodus a dozen or so times, but I never remember reading today’s passage. I’m sure it was there, but it never clicked with me until now.

The Israelites have left Egypt. They wander around in the desert as God prepares them for what is to come.

In the midst of his instructions God promises to send an angel to his people. The angel will protect them and guide them to the Promised Land. God adds that the people must listen to the angel and do as he says. If they resist the angel, he will hold it against them, because God is with the angel.

How amazing is that? The people will have a supernatural being to guard and guide them. (If only they had been better followers.)

While this promise is just to the Israelites at that time, God is able to do the same for us today. And it’s not unreasonable to consider that he will. In fact, there have been times of desperation when, not knowing what to do, I called for God to send angels to fight for me in the spiritual realm.

I believe he did. Relief came quickly.

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We don’t normally think too much about angels in our experiences today. But maybe we should. While we would be remiss to think too highly of angels, we are equally in error to dismiss them.

Do you think angels are active today? Have you ever had any angelic encounters?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Exodus 23-25, and today’s post is on Exodus 23:20-23.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Five Angels in the Bible With Names

Most of the time when angels are mentioned in the Bible, their names are not given. Apparently, their names aren’t important; their message is what matters.

However, the names of four angels are mentioned:

Michael

The only archangel in the Bible is Michael. Jude reveals Michael argued with Satan about the body of Moses (Jude 1:9). Later, in Revelation, Michael leads his army of angels in a battle against the dragon (Revelation 12:7).

Michael is also mentioned in the book of Daniel, although here he is not called an angel, but “one of the chief princes” (Daniel 10:13), “your prince” (Daniel 10:21), and “the great prince” (Daniel 12:1). In these instances in Daniel, Michael is referred to by another supernatural being, who may or may not be an angel.

Gabriel

Also appearing in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, Gabriel arrives with messages for Daniel (Daniel 8:16 and Daniel 9:21), Zechariah (Luke 1:19), and Mary (Luke 1:26). He is only mentioned these four times.

Raphael

Raphael makes his appearance in the book of Tobit, which is one of the apocryphal books of the Bible. He is mentioned twenty-nine times, in this one book. Raphael appears to Tobias in the form of a man.

Whereas most angels merely communicate God’s message, Raphael accompanies Tobias on his quest, offering advice and encouragement, perhaps even being an instrument of healing for Tobias’s father, Tobit, and Tobias’s wife, Sarah.

Uriel

Another apocryphal angel is Uriel. He is mentioned by name only three times, in the book of 2 Esdras (2 Esdras 4:1, 2 Esdras 5:20, and 2 Esdras 10:28). He comes to the prophet Ezra with messages from God. At one point he holds Ezra’s hand and comforts him.

In addition to the above, these four angels (and more more) appear in a single verse in Enoch 9:1: “Then Michael and Gabriel, Raphael, Suryal, and Uriel, looked down from heaven, and saw the quantity of blood which was shed on earth.”

In Enoch chapter 10, God gives each one of them an assignment in the pre-flood world. Notably, Uriel is sent to give Noah a message of the coming flood, Enoch 10:2.

Many other angels are also named in the book of Enoch.

Jeremiel

In 2 Esdras, another book of the apocrypha, we learn of another archangel, Jeremiel (2 Esdras 4:36).

[Discover more about the Bible at ABibleADay.com: Bible FAQs, Bible Dictionary, Books of the Bible Overview, and Bible Reading Plans.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Do Angels Have Wings?

I’m not sure if I assumed it or someone taught me, but I always thought seraphim and cherubim were two special classes of angels.

Though seraphim and cherubim aren’t mentioned often in the Bible (2 and 69 verses respectively), angels make a much more frequent appearance, in some 290 places.

In none of those passages does the Bible call angels seraphim or cherubim. (The dictionary labels all three as “celestial beings.”) Although seraphim and cherubim have wings, no verses say that angels do.

Do Angels Fly?

The Bible never says angels fly, though there are some hints they are occasionally airborne, but as supernatural beings, they don’t need wings to go vertical.

Angels are mentioned more times in the New Testament (182 times) than in the Old (108 times), with Revelation giving them the most coverage (77 times), followed by Luke (24 times) and Acts (22 times).

We don’t know if angels have genders or not, but one verse (Judges 13:21) implies that particular angel is masculine, so I refer to angels as “him” rather then “it.”

While we see seraphim as worshiping God and cherubim as hanging out with God in heaven and attesting to his glory, angels serve as God’s messengers to us. They show up unexpectedly, suddenly appearing and then disappearing.

Do Not Be Afraid

Apparently either their arrival or their form is frightening, because they often say, “Do not be afraid.”

If an angel ever visited me, I wonder if I’d shrink back in fear. I’d like to say I wouldn’t, but I suspect I would.

Regardless of how I react, I will want to listen carefully to what the angel tells me, receiving it as a word from God.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Judges 13-15 and today’s post is on Judges 13:21. See 290 verses that mention angels.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Cryptic References in the Book of Jude

The short book of Jude, contains many examples to illuminate the main theme of his letter (concerning ungodly people in the church). However, some of these illustrations fail to accomplish that goal for us in our world today. They are more cryptic than clarifying.

The first is in verse 9, where Jude talks about the archangel Michael having a disagreement with the devil about Moses’ body.

Now we may be familiar with the angel Michael. He is mentioned in the book of Daniel and Revelation, but there is no mention in the Bible about him and Satan verbally sparring about Moses.

This verse is actually a reference to an ancient, non-biblical text, called “The Assumption of Moses.”

Similarly, in verse 14, Jude mentions a prophecy of Enoch. We also know of Enoch from the book of Genesis, but there is no mention of him ever prophesying. Again, this is a reference to an ancient non-biblical text, “The Book of Enoch.”

Jude was comfortable using examples from these two books because they would have been common knowledge to the people he was writing to. As such, these familiar references would have helped readers, in that day, better comprehend the points he was making.

That is not to imply that these non-biblical books need to be elevated to the same level as the Bible or used as a viable source for forming our theology.

There were merely communication tools, along the lines of Paul, in his letter to Titus, citing a local poet’s disparaging remarks about his own people of Crete.

While all these references may be confusing to us now, they were clarifying back then.

[Jude 1:9, “Michael” references, Revelation 12:7, Jude 1:14-15, “Enoch” references, Titus 1:12]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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The Error of the Sadducees

In The Error of the Sadducees and Pharisees, it was noted that the Sadducees’s error was taking away from the Bible, dismissing or ignoring certain sections.

Paul notes that the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, angels, and spirits, even though all are addressed in the Old Testament.

In order to challenge or trick Jesus, the Sadducees smugly present him with a hypothetical situation. Jesus pointedly tells them they are in error because they do not know the Bible. He then corrects their errant thinking, amazing the crowd and silencing his critics.

Few followers of Jesus would admit to ignoring parts of the Bible or dismissing sections as irrelevant, but it is actually a common occurrence.

When we read the Bible, it is naturally all too easy to focus on the parts we like and understand, while quickly skimming or even skipping the confusing and confounding passages. As a result, our understanding of God is diminished in the process.

It is the error of the Sadducees.

[Acts 23:8, Mark 12:18-27, also in Luke 20:27-40 and Matthew 22:23-33]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.