The Angels of Concordia
Guest Thoughts by Debbie’s Dad
The Bible clearly speaks of angels, the created beings that carry out missions for the LORD on earth. Few have seen angels, but many are recorded in Scripture. In both the Hebrew and Greek, the words that we translate as angels have the meaning messenger – a messenger from God.
Angels In the Old Testament
In Genesis 18 Abraham conversed with men (angels) that accompanied the LORD. At the peak of Israel’s’ kingdom, the Psalms recorded the practical theology of trusting the Lord and described the angel of the LORD as a protector (34:7). Other Psalms described how angels are given charge to watch over us (91:11) even as they praise the Lord (103:20).
As the nation of Israel divided and finally fell, the prophets provided more insight into the work of angels. The prophets saw angels as “Seraphim” (Isaiah 6:2) and “cherubim” (Ezekiel 10:1-3). Daniel, while in captivity in Babylon, actually named two angels who came to help him: Gabriel and Michael (9:20-27 and 10:13, respectively). Similarly, a man, identified as an angel came to help Zechariah understand the visions he was seeing (cf. Zech. 1: 7-9).
The Angels and the Messiah
After a long period of silence from God, the people returned to a devastated and conquered the land. The most well-known messenger is the angel Gabriel who informed Mary that she would give birth to Israel’s Messiah – “the king of Jacob’s people forever” (Luke 1: 26-38). It was an angel that announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem (Luke 2:8-15), then angels warned Joseph to flee to Egypt and then to return when Herod had died and the danger had passed (Matt. 2:13-15 and 19-21). Angels ministered to Jesus at the beginning of His ministry (Mark 1:13) and rolled away the stone after his resurrection, remaining at the tomb to greet His followers (Matt. 28:1-2 and John 20:12). Jesus acknowledged the role of angels (e.g. Matt 22:30; 13:39; 25:31) as serving Him. Angles similarly ministered to the apostles in their ministry opening prison doors (Acts 5 and 12), providing ministry guidance (Acts 8:26 and 10:1-7) and encouragement in perilous times (Acts 27:23-25).
In all of these cases, the angels appeared as people, sent from God to give messages: to warn, to explain, to encourage, and to protect.
My Angelic Encounter
Back in the period 2003-2006 when Debbie attended Concordia University in Ann Arbor, I actually saw some angels at work: warning, explaining, encouraging and protecting!
Before you declare me a heretic, let me explain. Debbie was accepted to Concordia in the fall semester of 2003 after 2 years of hard work at Washtenaw Community College. She was able to transfer 51 credits and began as a sophomore. On paper, all was well academically. But physically, it seemed a mission impossible for her to live on campus and succeed as a student. Being quadriplegic, she needed caregivers to get here up in the morning and then put her to bed at night; that could work. But how could she make it through the day? – For three years! The Concordia staff was terrific, charting her path to classes and then walking with my wife and me across every path on campus to make sure they could be traversed by a wheelchair. Every ramp and every door threshold was checked. Out toilet seat was tested on the David Dorm toilet.
But the daytime routine was the killer- ominous, overwhelming effectively impossible. How could Debbie …
- There Be fed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner??
- Handle loading and unloading her backpack/travel to and from classes throughout the day?
- Open and close the pages of her books/take notes in classes to help her keep up?
- Study at night, turn pages in books/ practice foreign language, look at note card, etc.?
Indeed it was not possible … but when my wife, Debbie and I explored the David Dorm where she might live, angels appeared. Appearing as friendly college girls, they came alongside and asked us what we were doing. We explained and like angels do, they warned us of things we had not thought about, explained how others could help Debbie through the day, and encouraged us that it would work. And soon, they assembled an entire army of the most wonderful young women we could imagine. The army grew and grew and they spent the next 3 years encouraging and protecting Debbie – enabling her to complete her degree.
|A few of “Angels” of Concordia with Debbie in 2006
Being and Angel to Others
Sure I know these young women were not the heavenly being like the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles saw, but they sure behaved as if they were sent by the LORD. They played the role of angels, providing us the message that what seemed impossible, was made possible by their sacrifice of time and energy to be Debbie’s hands and feet. To me, they will always be angelic. And they set a wonderful example for me to follow. They glorified God by their Christ-like lives …
Encourage the people who are afraid. Help those who are weak. Be patient with every person. 1 Thessalonians 5:14b (ICB)
Debbie earned her BA degree in January 2007, enabled by that platoon of wonderful young women in David Dorm and across campus. Many of them still keep in touch with Debbie online, pray for her and, as angels always do, encourage her from afar. May the Lord send to each of us someone to whom we may serve as an angel, just like that.