Around the Throne or Among the Tombs
“…day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’”
– Revelation 4:8
“Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”
– Mark 5:5
Looking at Angels to Know Christ
Scripture doesn’t encourage us to focus on angels. We are human beings, created for Jesus Christ – the Son of God. He is our Life and Light, our Salvation and Song, our Lord and God. If we have Christ, we have God, and if we are God’s and He is ours, it is insanity to look elsewhere for help or strength or protection. Turning from the beauty of God in Christ so that we can fixate on angels is like replacing the sun with a flickering match – it is an inconceivably great step downward. This is why angels in scripture always point humans to the worship of God and never of themselves. However, in the two verses listed above, I think a brief examination of angels can help us grow in our adoration of and dependence on God in Christ.
The verse from Revelation shows us what angels who have remained faithful to the Triune God do “day and night”: they stand in the light of His glory, shouting songs of worship, gazing on and being overjoyed by His Holiness.
Likewise, the verse from Mark shows us how demons – angels who have loved themselves rather than God in Christ – spend their nights and days: crammed into the dying body of a human, wandering among the tombs, crying out in anguish and cutting themselves with stones.
The differences are stark and startling. Faithfulness to YHWH leads to joy in His presence, rebellion leads to anguish among the tombs. Faithfulness to YHWH leads to mouths filled with His praises, rebellion leads to mouths filled with cries of torment. Faithfulness to YHWH wreaths the angels in glory, rebellion leads demons to take up residence in unwilling hosts of flesh. The sad, scrapping, chaotic existence of the “Legion” in this demon possessed man is a brief glimpse at the self-undoing that awaits every sentient creature – angelic or human – that opposes God until the end. And the glad-hearted seeing, savoring, and singing of God’s beauty that we see in the four Living Creatures of Revelation is a bright shadow of what awaits those who have trusted in Christ.
These two passages paint a vivid image of the two paths that are set before all of us. We – like the angels – will be somewhere forever, and it will either be the infinite descent into oblivion that is separation from God, or the infinite ascent into Life that is His redeeming embrace. But humans have something angels do not – the blood of God the Son spilled on their behalf.
More Graced than the Angels
God did not die for angels, but He did – in Christ – die for humans. The wounds in the Creator’s hands are there so that any who would can come to God as their eternal Life through Jesus Christ. Unlike the Legion in Mark 5, no one reading these words is doomed to separation from the presence of God. And, unlike the four living creatures in Revelation 4, anyone reading these words whose heart clings to Christ as Lord and God and Savior knows their God – and will exponentially know Him for eternity – with the double intimacy of being both His creation and His blood bought Bride.