Who Makes The Angels His Ministers?
And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire.” Hebrews 1:7
In last week’s installment we looked at Hebrews 1:6 and the writer’s quote of Psalm 97:7 which established Christ Jesus as superior to the angels in heaven based upon His power over death and resulting ascension to the throne in glory. In His righteous judgment of offering Himself on our behalf, He has cast down His adversaries (the rebellious angels) with the guarantee that he will burn them up (Matt. 25:41), delivered those in Christ from the wicked one, and preserved the souls of the faithful. His church (ZION) rejoices in the gladness of His salvation and willingly worships Him along with the remaining faithful in the heavenly realm.
This week, we consider the position and the role of those the writer of the Hebrew letter calls angels and ministers. The quote in Hebrews 1:7 is originally found in another psalm, Psalm 104:4. It reads, “He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers.” (NAS)
Two of the LORD’s “employees”
Psalm 104:1-9 is a psalm of praise to the greatness of the LORD and His power manifested in His work in creation. The remainder of the psalm (vss 10-35) references all things created as His possessions for which they are sustained and dependent upon Him for their provision, be they plant, animal or mankind.
You can’t help but notice that the word order is reversed between the Hebrew translation and that of the Greek. In the Old Testament literal translation (which the NASB presents), it appears the emphasis is upon the elements of wind and fire being employed to carry out the LORD’s will. This fact that all the elements of nature are under the control and disposal of the LORD is confirmed throughout the Old Testament.
On the flip side, it’s also clear that throughout the Old Testament the angels were employed by the LORD to execute His will. From making appearances in the flesh to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, to mediating the law on Mt. Sinai to Moses.
The Biblical record, and our own experiences reveal the tremendous power that is unleashed through the elements of wind and fire. Regarding the angels, the Bible records the power they wield, such as our reference previously of the devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah, or their ability to strike dead those who don’t give glory to God (Acts 12:22-23). They both manifest His power and are utilized to execute His will. However awesome the manifestation of the power of either the elements or the angels are demonstrated to be, they are still clearly conveyed in Scripture as being inferior in power and stature to Him who created and reigns over them all. So really there is no conflict in translating this inspired utterance either way. They both represent the same principle. The elements, the angels, indeed all things created, are truly under the control of the Sovereign who created them and are being employed to accomplish His purposes.
The True God employs His ministers and messengers
Another obvious contrast the writer of the Hebrew letter utilizes to communicate that Jesus Christ is above the angels is the terminology. Jesus is the one declared as the Begotten Son. The angels, although called “sons of God” in the Old Testament, are here called ministers of fire and spiritual messengers to the Begotten Son. Just as an aside, it does say on J-day “when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven”, He’ll be returning “with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” (2 Thes. 1:7). They will be part of the message of judgment as His messengers. It’s also clear from the writer of the Hebrew letter that the angels are ministering spirits “sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation”. (Heb 1:14) That service is in behalf of Jesus Christ.
Psalm 104 and Psalm 97 are addressed to and addressing the same subject-the LORD, as in Yahweh. In both Hebrews 1:6 & 7, the Hebrew writer attributes the worship accorded Yahweh in Psalm 97:7 as now due Jesus the Christ; and In Psalm 104:4, the elements/angels who are said to be servants and in service to Yahweh, as now in service to Christ Jesus. In Psalm 104 it says, “O LORD, how many are your works!” (Ps. 104:24); and “You send forth your Spirit and they are created.” (Ps. 104:30) ? Now hear what Col 1:16-17 in the New Testament says concerning Christ, “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” The conclusion scripturally is that Christ and Yahweh at the very least are deemed to be equal. If one is apt to let the Scripture do the interpreting, than the honest mind is going to see Jesus in glory presented as one and the same as Yahweh. Now, “them’s fightin’ words” for some folks, but it appears the Spirit is fighting for us to see exactly who Jesus in glory truly is.
One last thing to consider. The first attribute given in Psalm 104 that represents Yahweh’s (the LORD’s) splendor and majesty is how He clothes Himself in light. How does the inspired writer of Hebrews introduce and present Jesus to his readers? “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Heb. 1:3) It seems as though the Holy Spirit is pulling out all the stops, employing all the sacred writ in an attempt to help us see in who’s service we too are employed, Amen?