Apostolic Christianity: The Halacha of Jesus

Halacha - this Hebrew word means "the guidelines" for living a godly lifestyle - for us it is how to live "The Way" of the Jesus-taught lifestyle. Bookmark this blog and learn what He taught His Apostles - Learn about the Jesus-taught Way of Godly living as the Apostles taught others - the true Christianity learned directly from living with Jesus. This is His Halacha - the rules for living holy and understanding the Word of God.

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Kenneth E. Lamb has written for first-tier information organizations of excellence such as the New York Times, the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times, and the Jewish Information Network. His research, studies, and articles have appeared in 127 countries.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Who are the Angels?

"Then they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but having entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass that while they were in a quandary concerning this, behold, two men stood by them in apparel that flashed like lightning. And they having become fear-stricken and bowing their faces to the ground, they said to them, Why are you seeking the One who is living among those who are dead?"

(Wuest's Expanded Translation, Luke 24:2 - 5)

By Kenneth E. Lamb

Browser version: http://www.kennethelamb.com/rt/an/an0212.htm

Of all the messages delivered to humanity by the angels, this one delivered on Easter morning stands as the crux of Christianity. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:32, "If the dead do not rise, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'"

But today's New Age movement is perverting the message -- and the role -- of angels. Desperately seeking "heavenly" approval for their self-centered morality, angels have become the focus of New Age worship. They are characterized as always approving, always protecting, never judging.

Feminist theologians have turned them into a pathway to rationalizing the "She God" they call Sophia, replacing 6,000 years of masculine characterization with their intellectualized fantasy of goddess worship.

For example, a quick search of the Yahoo! World Wide Web data base reveals dozens of angel-related sites such as An Angel a Day, featuring stories, quotes and poems; for a central web site, there is the Angel Ring which averages nearly 1,000 visitors a month; and Gabriel, Guardian of Winter, the most blatant angel-worship web site, offers visitors the opportunity to hyperlink to Seasonal Alignment & Rhythm for "more information how to align to the energy shifts of the seasons."

But the real winner in the race for web hits is Angels on the Net (www.netangel.com) whose counter shows nearly 26,000 visitors each month. When the page opens, stereo music and the opportunity to hear the voice of an angel greets visitors with each page they select at the site.

Don't kid yourself into thinking this is for flakes. Angels on the Net boasts advertisements from the United American Bank of Central Florida, First Heritage Mortgage Corporation, Southeast Recycling Corp., and American Dental Plan, to name just 4 of more than a couple dozen businesses spending their marketing dollars to reach the "angel" audience.

What is the theme of these sites? Consider as an example this lead-in from Angel Guidance, which purports to put you in touch with your "guardian" angel:

"Do you believe in angels? Do you believe in miracles from God? How would you feel if you knew you could have daily communication with your guardian angel? My name is Fran Lenzo and I am blessed by the presence of my Guardian Angel John, who has been communicating with me ever since the day he gave me a message from our Divine Father in 1994. Please join us on our angelic journey to learn more about the joy of having an "angel in-house." Thank You and God Bless."

But for sheer pop penetration, nothing seems to surpass Betty Eadie's Embraced By the Light. It spent more than 66 weeks on the New York Times' Best Seller list, retailing over 2-million copies. Its success so shook the publishing world that Bantam Books reportedly paid an astronomical $1.5-million for the paperback rights. Despite being filled with Gnosticism, Mormonism, and New Age theology, many who identify themselves as Christians devoured the book's message.

What is the truth about angels? Are you telling the world what God has revealed about His heavenly creatures on the basis of Scriptural authority? Or are you also falling prey to the Satanic lies that make angels warm and fuzzy companions who are always ready to bail us out of our troubles without ever rendering any moral judgments? Only the Bible can measure where you stand.

The most concise reference on the subject is found in Doctrines of the Bible, edited by the Reverends J.L. Hall and David Bernard (Word Aflame Press, Hazelwood, MO, 1993). The book's article on angels by scholar, pastor, missionary and church leader Ralph V. Reynolds runs the gamut from their characteristics to their ministry, and then explains what the Bible reveals about the fallen angels.

In one paragraph alone, the Rev. Reynolds debunks the bulk of New Age, pseudo-Christian cults and feminist lies, setting us straight in our thinking about angels: "Angels are spirits; thus they are immaterial and incorporeal (Hebrews 1:7). They are invisible but have the power to manifest themselves in human form in order to be seen by people. They are not the spirits of the departed, nor are they glorified human beings. They are nonhuman spirit beings with individual personalities."

According to the thinking of first century Judaism that was the apostles' world, the angels are the "us" God refers to in Gen. 1:26. This story from The Midrash Says by Rabbi Moshe Weissman (Benei Yakov Publications, New York, 1980), the Midrash being the oral exegesis of the Torah dating from about 100 years before Jesus and put into written form beginning in the second Christian century, powerfully presents the concept:

"Moses wrote down the Torah according to HaShem's (Hebrew for "The Name") dictation. When HaShem told him to record the passuk (passage) "Let us make man," Moses objected. "Master of the Universe," he asked, "why do You give apikorsim (heretics) an opportunity to err and deduce from this plural form that there was more than one God who created man?"

"Write as I told you!," HaShem answered him. "If someone wishes to err, let him err."

Rabbi Weissman then notes, "HaShem indicated that misconstruing Torah does not stem from intellectual misconception, heresy is rooted in faulty character. HaShem stated, 'If someone wishes to err, let him err,' since a man whose wish and desire is to misinterpret Torah will forever find a pretext to do so, if not the phrase, 'Let us make man,' then another."

Interestingly, early Christianity did not see the visit of three men to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom as that of three angels; they believed instead that God Himself appeared to the Patriarch accompanied by two angels.

It was the Jewish commentator Rabbenu Sh'lomo Yarchi, known by his acronym Rashi, who began the three angels story around AD 1000, in order to preserve rabbinic Judaism's denial that God could become flesh and dwell with humanity. So-called mainstream Christianity bought into Rashi's anti-Christian apologetics designed to stop Jewish conversions and now teaches this anti-Christianism as its doctrine.

According to Alfred Edersheim's The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Judaism, as expressed by the unequaled Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus, believed in "two Angels which accompanied God (the Divine Word) when on his way to destroy the cities on the plain" at the very time Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem.

And we know from the writing of Eusebius Pamphilus, whose Ecclesiastical History written in the fourth century preserves a snapshot of early church life, that this interpretation of Genesis still existed 400 years later: "The Lord God, therefore, appeared as a common man to Abraham, whilst sitting at the oak of Mamre. And he, immediately falling down, although he plainly saw a man with his eyes, nevertheless worshipped him as God, and entreated him as Lord."

This partially explains why so many first century Jews could easily believe Jesus is God manifested in flesh -- the concept was already an accepted part of their theology -- and would remain so for the next thousand years!

Altogether, angels recorded in Scripture make 104 appearances to humanity, although Hebrews 13:2 opens the door to believing there are other unrecorded interactions. In every case when gender is noted, they are male, garmented in white or other dazzling clothing. We only know the names of four: Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer, and Abaddon. We also know when they exercised their free-will; one-third sinned, choosing Lucifer over God. Their fate is the same as sinful humanity's: eternal torment in the Lake of Fire.

The most grievous lie perpetrated on today's culture is angel worship. It takes the form of prayer to angels for deliverance and making them, instead of God, the creators of moral standards.

The ability to fall into angel worship twice caused the apostle John to fall in Heaven itself according to the Book of Revelation. In each case, he, and we through his revelation, are reminded angels are fellow servants and to "worship God!"

The second half of society's angel relationship -- the desire for "angel approval" of our lifestyle -- reflects the moral relativism that is America today. Because the theology of angel worship is a lie, the "Anything Goes!" morality characterizing the worldly lifestyle fits right in with angels who only comfort and never confront.

But we know angels will be the greatest confrontational force ever unleashed on humanity; just as they announced the birth and everlasting life of our Savior, so too they will announce his return.

They will pour the bowls of affliction on humanity John bitingly describes in Revelation, and one will receive the honor of chaining Lucifer and casting him into the Second Death.

But for the saved living in truth, angels will be our eternal partners worshipping Jesus. We will sing praises together and share the streets of the New Jerusalem, and see what John saw in Revelation 15: 2 - 4:

"And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.

"They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: "Great and marvelous are Your works, lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!

"Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested."

Why will we share this great vision? Because we heeded the message of the angels: We did not seek death, but instead looked for the living One.
- 30 -

All Scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version of the Bible.

Originally published at: http://www.kennethelamb.com/rt/an/an0212pfv.htm

Republished at: http://thehalachaofjesus.blogspot.com/

Complete index of Mr. Lamb’s blogs: http://www.blogger.com/profile/14444338


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