Opening Prayer. Lord, grant us ears to hear your message, in spite of overwhelming circumstances, events or people. Amen.
Scripture. Judges 13:3–5, 21–24.
The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Although you are barren, having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” . . . Then Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord. And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.” And the woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The Messengers of God. From Dawn Duncan Harrell.
It’s hard not to confuse the message with the messenger.
In Greek, Scripture’s messengers are angelos, from which the English derives our “angel.” In Hebrew, it’s malakh,a word akin to “king.” Either way, these messengers are scary-beautiful (or just scary) supernatural beings.
Yet, they’re still only representatives of God.
Sometimes they destroy the forces arrayed against us (2 Kings 19:35). Other times, the destroying angel metes out our own just deserts (2 Samuel 24:17).
Sometimes the messenger opposes us in our self-interest (Numbers 22:32). Other times, it stands against us in spite of our righteousness (Job 2:1–7).
Sometimes, as in the origin story of Samson above, the terrifying messenger brings tidings of great joy.
In any case, it’s hard not to be distracted by such messengers. Yet God keeps sending them.
This Christmas, my messenger appeared as a broken wrist. “BEHOLD!” the broken-wrist “angel” shouted, messing with my expectations for the season and disrupting my plans. Sometimes it brought prayers, well-wishes and food (from you; thank you). Other times it brought pain and limitations that distracted our entire family with anxiety, short tempers and tears.
That freaked-out response is typical in Scripture, too. People crumple to the ground, terrified to distraction by the blazing messenger. For this reason, angels often begin, “Fear not; I bring you tidings of [insert message]” or end, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you. Bend the knee to God!” (Rev 1:17; 22:9).
Whether they carry a message of judgment or salvation, they point the recipient back to God’s tidings and redirect her to worship the King of kings.
As of this writing, I’m still wondering what, if any, personal message our broken-wrist “angel” has for me. While real and formidable, the power and pain of the broken-wrist messenger mustn’t distract me with its sensationalism.
If there is a meaning-for-me in this event, I’ll be able to recognize that it’s from God when it reorients me away from worry and back to God, away from crumpling to the messenger and back to worshipping the King of kings.
For to me is born a Savior, who is the Anointed, the Lord (Luke 2:11).
What circumstance, event or person is shouting “BEHOLD!” at you? How does this “messenger” tempt you to be distracted from the message? How does it redirect you to God or retrain you to worship the King of kings? How might God be using it to minister his message to you?
Closing Prayer. Glory to God in the highest heaven and in our home, peace because of his favor (Luke 2:14). Amen.