God Did Not Make You “a Little Lower Than the Angels.”

I love these verses from Psalm 8.  They speak of how God made us in His glory and gave us dominion.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:  Psalm 8:3-6

This reminds me of the first chapter in Genesis where God made man in His image and likeness and gave him dominion over all the earth and everything in it.  (See Genesis 1:26)

But all too often we belittle ourselves because of mistakes we’ve made or because of a negative self image–based sometimes on what others think and say about us, but usually on how we see ourselves.

So this declaration in Psalm 8 that we are just “a little lower than the angels,” has always been encouraging and comforting to me.

Angel Workshop at the Prison

I am currently conducting a workshop on the subject of “Angels” in my prison ministry at a nearby Federal women’s prison .  We have been studying everything the Bible says about angels.  And how these amazing stories can apply to us today.

When we got to Psalm 8, I really made a point to the women that we must remember how God originally made us in His image and likeness.  No matter what they had done, no matter what I or anyone had done, underneath all the “mud” that the world had thrown on us or that we had wallowed in ourselves,  we were so much more than that in God’s eyes because of how He originally created us. We need to remember how glorious God made us, how close we are to Him and how dearly He cares for us.

It was a very moving moment.  Everyone in the room felt God’s love.

This idea has always given me a sense of divine awe.  It’s one thing to give lip service to this concept and say, “Oh yes, isn’t it marvelous that we’re made a little lower than the angels,” but to let the idea sink way down into your heart and then change the way you live is another thing altogether.

Just think, we are just a little lower than the angels!  What could be more glorious than that?

An amazing discovery

The next week, I was doing some more research for the “Angels” workshop and had out that illustrious old and monstrous book, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.  I was curious about how the Hebrew word often translated angel is really just the word messenger.  Sometimes it’s translated as angel and sometimes as messenger.

But then I made a startling discovery.  In Psalm 8:5 in the phrase, “a little lower than the angels,” the original Hebrew word for angels is elohim, or God.

This is not really a new concept.  I have since found Bible translations that bring out this point.  The Amplified Bible for example.  Some Bibles use the term “divine beings”, or “heavenly beings.”  But I had not noticed this before since I usually use the King James, which uses the word “angels.”

I imagine that Bible scholars have gotten into all the nitty gritty about this verse.  Does it mean: gods, God, angels, heavenly beings, etc.?

The main point for me here is that we are much more than we seem to be.  The physical world and it’s ways and means try to define us as limited, mistake-prone, lowly beings which chance throws around like a football.

But God has made us so much more

Actually, He has made us so very different from that.  We are His image and likeness.  Just a little lower than Him.

If we are His image, how can we be lower?  Doesn’t the image look just like the original?  Aren’t we then, an exact duplicate of God.  No!  God does not make a bunch of fellow Creators.  He creates and we are the creation.  We are not the source or cause or creator of ourselves or the world, God is.  In that sense we are “lower.”  We reflect all God’s glory and are “filled with all the fulness of God.”  Ephesians 3:19  We are just not the source of this glory.

I will even venture to say that we are above the angels instead of just below them.

It is clear that Jesus is above the angels.  Hebrews 1:5 tells us, “For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

Now we cannot make any claim on being THE Son of God.  Jesus is the only Messiah.  But we are Jesus’ brothers and sisters.  He said so himself.  He referred to God as his Father and our Father.  We are therefore, the sons of God, the daughters of God, the children of God.  And consequently above the angels in the order of God’s creation.

I’m not talking about the sinning race of Adam, the “old man” referred to by St. Paul, as above the angels.  I’m talking about the “new man” or original man of God’s creating made in His image and likeness.   This is our true identity–however much it may seem to be covered up by the world’s material perspective and worn out, man-made theological doctrines.

So remember who and what you are as a child of God.

You are glorious.  You are the radiant image and likeness of God’s divine nature and fullness.  So is that person sitting next to you on the bus or standing in the checkout line in front of you.

Remember who you are.  Remember who they are.  And live accordingly.

Blessings,

James

 

 

 

Joseph and the Angel

“…the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream saying Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife:  for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”                    Matthew 1:20

Hey, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the birth of Jesus?  We usually focus on Mary.  We can’t even begin to imagine what a holy taste of heaven she must have glimpsed when the angel Gabriel announced to her that she would be the mother of the long awaited Messiah.

(In a recent post, “Are You Ready for Christmas?” I talked about how God’s angels prepare the way for Christ’s appearing, but I wanted to expand on some of the ideas just a bit.)

For me, the crucial part of the story of Jesus’ birth is that the angels always prepare the way for what God, the Divine Choreographer, plans to do.  Have you ever stopped to think how Mary would have felt when she discovered she was pregnant if Gabriel had not told her what was going to happen?

But God did prepare her.

So here’s Mary, not just with the glow of impending motherhood that so often comes with pregnancy, but with a sacred realization that prophecy is being fulfilled through her.

But now think of the conversation she must have had with Joseph.  As much as he loved her, he really did not believe her story.  He was deciding how to put her away since, in his mind, she must have committed adultery.

Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes, or sandals rather.

How would you feel if your espoused wife comes back pregnant after a three month visit with her cousin?  You can hardly blame him for acting the way he did.  But Joseph is part of the plan too and God sends an angel to him in a dream to calm his fear, explain what is going on and what role he will play in God’s plan.  It wasn’t enough for the angel to appear to Mary.  Joseph needed his own angel.

I think that too often we don’t give Joseph enough credit for his part in this divine series of events which led up to Jesus’ birth.  He had a vital role to play and if he hadn’t done his part, things could have gotten pretty complicated and Mary would not have had his much needed support.  It took an amazing amount of humility on Joseph’s part, to accept what was taking place.  But he did!  He was faithful to what God revealed through the angel before and after Jesus’ birth.

I love this story because it shows how God fulfills prophecy and how He sends His angels to prepare the hearts of those He has chosen to work through.

How does this story apply to you?

The beauty of the Bible is that even though the events took place thousands of years ago, the lessons are still just as true and applicable today as they were then.

Have you ever had a friend who “saw an angel” or had a “divine experience” that seemed a bit unbelievable or even wacko?  Or maybe you had a spiritual experience that one of your friends just can’t swallow.

There’s just no way you can humanly convince the other person that an angel comes to you.  So you really don’t even need to try.  If God wants someone else to be involved in what he’s revealing to you, He will communicate it clearly.  He’s the one who sends the angels.  You don’t.  He’s been doing it for thousands of years and knows exactly how to do it.  You can trust that.

Angels come in many different ways.  Sometimes it’s the coo of a dove, the still small voice in our heart, an innocent remark made by a child, a friend or stranger appearing at just the right moment with just the thing we need.  Sometimes, it’s a quick kick in the derrière.  But it is always God communicating His love to us in a way that we can see and accept.

When God sends an angel to you…

… do everything you can to be obedient to what He tells you.  And if it seems like God is asking you to do something simple that puts you in a supporting role instead of  in the spotlight, remember Joseph who graciously accepted the role God assigned to him.

As always, I ‘d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this subject.  Just add your comments in the box below.  Or if you are on the home page, there’s a little header at the top of the article that says, “comments.”  Just click on that.

Christmas blessings to you,

James