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Your Guardian Angel Has a Name

9/25/16

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Your guardian angel has a name. That should shock you as it did me when I first read it in a 1995 Lutheran Witness article ("The Truth About Angels," March 1995, 3). I was use to gathering with nameless angels and generic archangels in the Divine Service. I knew I had a guardian angel, but one with a name?

But it's Scriptural that angels have names. You heard Michael named in the Old Testament reading as "the great prince who protects your people." Jude 9 specifically identifies him as an archangel. "But Michael the archangeldisputed with the devilabout the body of Moses." And from the Christmas account you know of Gabriel. He says to Zechariah, "I am GabrielI stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to speak to you." Six months later we read, "God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin. named Mary."

Guardian angels are personal beings not forces. That means they have personality, character, individuality. When they appear in Scripture they take the form of men and the pronouns used to refer to them are always masculine. This isn't the world's view or the popular view of angels. You don't even have to Google this. Look at the print of the 19th century painting in our library; go a Christian Book Store, or a curio shop, and you'll find angels depicted as feminine most of the time. This matters because the names Scripture gives to angels are male names and the pronouns used for angels are he's not she's.

Probably just as shocking to some as your guardian angel has a name is the fact that you individually have a guardian angel. If you grew up Lutheran and were taught the prayers in our Catechism, you have prayed with Lutherans since 1529, "Let Thy holy angel be with me that the wicked foe may have no power over me." But it wouldn't be a Scriptural prayer if we were not saying back to God what He had first said to us.

Say it He has. You heard in the Gradual from Psalm 91 the promise, "God will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." Retaining the King James, you know that the promise is to you the individual not to ya'll. "God will command His angels concerning thee to guard thee in all thy ways." Of course here the angelic protection is plural, angels not angel, but in Matthew 18 it's singular. Jesus says of little ones, either children, little in the faith, or both, Jesus says "Don't despise one of these little ones; for their angels do always behold the face of My Father."

Your guardian angel has a name, but you don't know it. Neither did the seminary professor mentioned earlier, so he gave one to his guardian angel. Why not? People name their cars, their guns, their pets. You name something to personalize it. And you can bet your guardian angel knows your name. In Daniel 12 twice the angel calls Daniel by name both times in a tender way. "But as for you Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time" (4). "And he [the angel] said, Go your way Daniel.to the end, then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age'" (9,13).

You can't think God takes any less personal care of you through your guardian angel than He did others in Scripture. He sent an angel to shut the mouth of the lions to protect Daniel. He sent an angel to slaughter 185,000 Assyrians to protect the City of Jerusalem. Angels were sent to minister to Jesus in the wilderness after the Great Temptation, and a single angel was sent down to that dark, dark night in Gethsemane to strengthen Jesus who knelt sweating great drops of blood. Do you think that's all in the past? Do you think these are just stories we tell kids no more real than Batman and Superman? Think again.

Your guardian angel has a name; that's scriptural, but don't call upon that name but the name of Jesus. This is Scriptural too. It is at the name of Jesus that Philippians 2 tells us that "every knee will bow those in heaven, on earth and under the earth." That is not only all people but all angels, all archangels, all the company of heaven, and all those in hell including the evil angels bow at even the mention of Jesus' name. In the military if a high ranking officer enters even a large room like a mess hall the entire room jumps to its feet. With just the mention of Jesus' name, the whole room, the whole world, the whole universe, visible and invisible, falls on their face.

It's Jesus' name that is important because Acts 4:12 says that Jesus is the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. You could know the name of not only your guardian angel but the name of 10,000 times 10,000 angels and there would be absolutely no salvation in knowing that. It all has to do with the name of Jesus.

The first 72 pastors returned from their maiden missionary journey and what are they amazed at? "Lord, even the demons [evil angels] submit to us in Your name." And contrary to the world and popular thinking angels aren't out there ministering to everyone, not even to all fools, babies, and drunks. No Hebrews 1:14 clearly says angels are ministering spirits "sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation," those in Jesus' name.

This is taught plainly in John 1:51. Jesus says the angels of God ascend and descend nowhere else other than on the Son of Man, than on Him. The flesh and blood of Jesus that's why He says Son of Man is the connecting link between heaven and earth, the pipeline by which angelic beings pass from here to heaven and from heaven to here. And think of not just your guardian angel making that trip, think of far more than you can believe or even imagine.

C. S. Lewis says that what we call empty space is really the packed reality of Heaven through which wheel many more types of created beings than we have ever dreamed (Hideous Strength, 320, 327). He's right; Scriptures don't just speak of angels, archangels, and guardian angels, but of cherubim, seraphim, and beings with four faces covered with eyes, of principalities, powers, and dominions. Remember the first time you looked through a microscope and were astounded to see all the life forms moving, darting, living in that clear slide of water? It's like that between heaven and earth, and when the Lord does for us what He did for Elisha's servant our eyes will be opened and we'll never unsee that again.

Our guardian angel has a name, but we call upon the name of Jesus; we pray in the name of Jesus; we worship in Jesus' name; we don't worship angels. Men in Scripture who worshiped visible angels were brought up short really quick. And based on Scripture accounts of angels appearing to men directly, we shouldn't long for that either. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and Mary and angels appeared to the shepherds and at the empty tomb, their very first words had to be "fear not" for the people they appeared to were "sore afraid."

But even given this warning, you still wonder, "Why don't I see more direct evidence of angels in my life as those in Bible times did? Why am I in this area too condemned (?), sentenced (?) to live by faith and not by sight? Luther answered this question. He said, "My answer is that this happened because the Son, the heir of all things, has appeared and has been sentWhen He Himself is present there is no need of ministers and forerunners" (LW, 4, 124). And this brings us to the awful in both the modern and the archaic sense of that word truth that the angels sometimes fold their wings.

Read Acts 12 Peter is rescued by an angel from prison where Herod had put him, while James is murdered by Herod. Read 2 Corinthians 12, Paul is not delivered from the angel of Satan that was sent to torment him. And you know of faithful Christians who have died horribly in and out of war, even children, even babies. Never mind asking where does the love of God go when the waves turn the minutes to hours. Where do the angels of God go when danger, devil, or death stalk His sheep, particularly His lambs?

Go back to the garden where Jesus is sweating blood begging to be delivered from drinking the cup filled with your sins, God's wrath, and the Devil's glee. Go back there where holy Jesus, meek and mild is sent an angel not to take the cup away from Him but to give Him strength to drink it. Go forward now to when the mob arrives. Jesus levels it with 2 words "I am." The apostles think this is the time for the sword, and Jesus says, "No more of this." And then astoundingly says, "Put your sword back ...Don't you know I can pray to My Father and He will at once send Me more than 12 legions of angels?" That's about 60,000 angels.

Had Jesus did that He would have been delivered from drinking the cup that held the suffering, damning, and dying your sins of just today deserve. This would have left you and the whole word not just un-redeemed but irredeemable. This would have left the sins of the world still in need of an atoning sacrifice, and God's wrath still burning hotly against sinners. This would have left you and everyone you know with a God who is not your friend, who is unreconciled to you, who is out to get you.

But Jesus drank that cup, didn't He? He turned away from the help of men, of angels, and even from the help of medicine, so that He might endure, suffer, be damned, and die in place of all poor miserable sinners everywhere. There is no reason on earth, under earth, or above earth for guardian angels with names not to speed to the rescue of those in Christ. Jesus left no requirement of God undone; indeed, Scripture says He did all things well. Jesus left no sin, no guilt, no shame not covered by a drop of His holy blood, sweat, or tears.

The only reason angels didn't minster to Him till after the Great Temptation was over; the only reason an angel came to strengthen but not to deliver him in Gethsemane; the only reason angels were in the empty tomb but not rescuing Him from the bloody cross was our salvation. Your salvation is exactly what your guardian angel with a name is first and foremost protecting in Jesus' name. Amen

Rev. Paul R. Harris

Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas

St. Michael and All Angels (20160925)