St. Michael and All Angels September 29, 2019
7 Now war arose in Heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in Heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in Heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
In the Name of Jesus.
If there is a conversation about you, a conversation being carried on by, say, three or four persons, wouldn’t you want to know what they’re saying?
These three or four persons talking about you, wouldn’t you want to know if they were malicious toward you, speaking ill, tearing you down? Or if they were friendly and favorable, holding your name in high honor? And to know if that conversation was not just about you, but it even determined how you would stand in the future, if you would stand with a name held in shame, or if you would stand with a name of good reputation, held in honor by all?
There is that conversation about you and me.
Now war arose in Heaven, writes John.
John would not know of anything of a war in Heaven, except that he was an Apostle, and the Lord, as John was on the Island of Patmos, revealed to John a scene of the conversation of the Council in Heaven.
This Council consists of the conversation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. From this conversation of the Three persons of the Holy Trinity, God creates all things—the Earth and the planets, the trees, plants, and animals, and as the culmination of it all, Man and Woman.
“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
But in that conversation of creation, before he created the man and the woman, God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, created the angels.
God gave the angels position at the Council in Heaven. They are spirits, not humans, they have no flesh and blood—that belongs to the Man and the Woman. The angels would have position in Heaven, but God created them to be servants to the Man and the Woman, who were, after all, the Image of God, and the culmination of all creation.
They were created as servants to us, to you and me and our children, to bring to us the tidings from the Throne in Heaven, to be bearers of light, messengers of heavenly decrees. Then, one of the chief angels rebelled, and many of the other angels with him.
These who fell, they made themselves to be messengers to us not of light and good tidings from Heaven, but of the lie, bearers of darkness. They made themselves malicious and small-minded little servants, always speaking guilt and shame and accusation. And they tempted us and brought us into this darkness of the accusation.
These fallen angels, these unclean spirits, they are messengers of darkness, always speaking the accusation.
But in Heaven, the conversation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is the conversation of light. The Father speaks to the Son, sending him to Earth to become Man and to die for all men and women, redeeming us with his own blood.
The Son presents the testimony of blood to his Father, interceding for us, declaring us to be clean by virtue of his blood and justifying us to his Father.
The Father and the Son send forth the Holy Spirit to bring the decree of this justification to the sinner on Earth, the Holy Spirit calling sinners, gathering us into the Church—for the Church is nothing other than redeemed sinners gathered to hear the Gospel and be given the Sacraments.
And, in this conversation in Heaven, this conversation about you and me, this conversation in which you and I are justified before the Father and made his own, what becomes of Satan and the unclean angels? Revelation 12:7:
Now war arose in Heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in Heaven.
War in Heaven. Satan, here called the dragon, defeated and thrown out, their voice of accusation silenced.
John is describing what happened when the Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, was crucified. In the Holy One’s crucifixion, the unholy angels lost their accusation. For, how can you accuse a sinner, when that sinner has been clothed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus?
So we hear the decree from Heaven. It is that you are justified before the Father. You are justified by the blood of the Son which he shed on the cross.
This justification is brought to you as the Holy Spirit gathers you into the Church to hear the proclamation of the Gospel. For the Gospel is always nothing other than the Word of the forgiveness of all your sin.
This justification was sealed to you in the promise of Holy Baptism.
This justification is made sure to you every time the One who gave himself on the cross now brings that redeeming blood to you, as he gives you to eat his Body and drink his Blood for the forgiveness of your sin.
What happened to the accusation?
It is still there, as long as we live in our sinful flesh. The accusation is still heard as God has his Law proclaimed, and as long, then, as the unclean angels testify in our consciences not of Christ’s mercy and grace, not of his justification of the sinner, but testify in our consciences of our sin.
But in our life of faith we know this: War arose in Heaven. And Satan was thrown down. And his voice of accusation is cancelled out before the Father by the Word of Jesus.
That is the cross. For what accusation can stand against a sinner who is clothed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus?
That is the cross. Satan still has a voice as long as we are in our sinful flesh, until the day when Jesus stands upon the Earth and brings it all to its full, final culmination, but even as we await that Last Day, we do so in the knowledge that the Accuser is thrown down, and his voice is not heard in eternity.
We still hear the Law; we still hear the accusation. But it is our Lord’s gift to us to show us our sin, to put us under guilt, so that we then depend upon only his Gospel.
His Gospel that all sin is forgiven. That by the blood of the Lamb, you are clean. That we rejoice in the holy angels, the messengers sent by God to watch over us, protect us, and keep us in our Lord’s good Word of the Gospel, which is life to the sinner.
And we rejoice that our Lord gives us to speak this comfort and encouragement to one another. So that as a brother or sister is tempted by unclean angels to despair, as a brother or sister is being held under the accusation, we speak the opposite testimony, the Word of blood of the Lamb which cleanses the conscience. The Word spoken in Heaven and, in the Gospel, spoken to us here on Earth. Revelation 12:10:
And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the Earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in Heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.
In the Name of Jesus.