Praying for Angels

By | 20 August 2006

It seems that everything I decide to write about here involves prayer. That’s a good thing, though. Since prayer is the means God has given us to communicate with Him, it’s profitable to consider it frequently.

My consideration today is on what God will do in extreme situations by dispatching His angels to our aid. The first example I want to cite is that of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19 where Sennacherib, king of Assyria, has come up to Israel. Hezekiah is desperate for God’s intervention and prays thusly: “O LORD the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.” [15-19]

Hezekiah knew that Israel was the specially-chosen nation that God had set aside for Himself, and he also knew that Sennacherib was a ruthless, cruel, merciless conqueror. God knew this, too, and didn’t need to be reminded of this fact, but He had to hear it from Hezekiah to have public witness that Hezekiah knew who God was, and what role he was playing in His nation.

God’s verbal response has been saved for us, as He spoke through Isaiah: “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD.” [32-33]

Now, if God had just stopped there, I am positive Hezekiah would have been thrilled to bits. But God had more to say: “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” [34]

How exciting must this prospect have been for Hezekiah?! God told Hezekiah not only to not worry about the Assyrian army, but that He Himself would defend Zion, Jerusalem, His Holy City! Now there’s an answer to prayer we don’t typically expect: not only does God answer Hezekiah in the affirmative, He answers him with a specific promise to take all of the responsibility of the defense of the city upon Himself – He wasn’t going to use the means of Israel’s armies, as He often had in the past. No, God decided to handle this one Himself – no earthly means are necessary here.

God had already determined that Sennacherib’s reign was to end soon, and his reign of conquering terror was now over. The first part of God’s verbal response to Hezekiah is recorded in verses 21b-28, where God unlooses a harsh string of curses against Sennacherib, mocking him and his presumed continued conquests of weak nations.

God’s judgment of Sennacherib was both incredibly swift, and incredibly frightening. But from it we can derive comfort in God’s ways. Verse 35 explains in a very short sentence what God did to the Assyrian army: “And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians.” Wow: one angel, in one night, single-handedly wiped-out 185,000 of the toughest, meanest, strongest men ever to be assembled into an army. One hundred eighty-five thousand men following Sennacherib on his incredible string of successive victories. One hundred eighty-five thousand men reveling in their king’s cruelty when vanquishing the next nation in his path. One hundred eighty-five thousand men sent in a few hours to eternal judgment for their sins.

The second example I want to cite is in the book of Exodus, and the record of the final plague brought upon Egypt. God promises to eliminate every first-born in all the land of Egypt, except for the first-borns found in houses marked with the blood of the Passover lamb. Exodus 12:12-13;23 records this thusly: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt…For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.” For the Israelites, that night was going to be one of eager anticipation of their coming emancipation. For the Egyptians, it was to be a night of never-before-heard mourning, even howling to their gods for the calamity God was to bring upon them.

God brought a destroyer upon the entire population of Egypt, from animals to servants, citizens to the Pharaoh’s house itself. The Egyptians weren’t made privy to the means of salvation, and were punished. We are never told how large the nation of Egypt was, but we do know that they were about the same size as the Israelites living in their midst. When Israel was finally chased out of the land by the Egyptians, we are told there were about 600,000 men above the age of 20. If we presume that all of them were married, there were about 1,200,000 adults in the nation of Israel at the time of the Passover – plus children. Since the Egyptians numbered about the same, it is not out of line to think there were about 2,000,000 people in Egypt. Presuming 10% of them were first-born, that means that 200,000 people were killed in Egypt by God’s destroyer in one night – along with all the first-born livestock.

In one night two hundred thousand souls were ushered off into eternity by God’s destroyer – punished for not just their own sins, but also for Pharaoh’s refusal to let Israel leave his country. That’s a very busy night for any being – it’s hundreds of people per second that God had killed by His destroyer.

The amazing thing about all of this to me is that that self-same God is on the side of His chosen people today. I don’t know if He still answers prayer by sending angels directly to comfort His people, or to exact His judgment on evil doers, but I do know that He can. Imagine what would happen if God sent His angel, His destroyer to eliminate the terror camps of Islamists. I know that’s not what we typically think to pray for in the New Covenant in Christ’s blood, we think to pray for salvation for those people – that they would stop shedding blood, that they would come to know God’s free gift of grace in His Son Christ Jesus, and leave their evil ways behind them. But I think it’s time for Christians to start praying that if God won’t pour out His grace and mercy on those people, that He instead pour out judgment. I think it is unwise to pray just for the destruction of God’s enemies since we no longer live in a specially-separated, geographical nation for His glory like David did when penning some of the Psalms, but praying for peace doesn’t mean we pray for pacifism. Peacemaking is one of the lofty callings of the Christian. And sometimes peacemaking can only come after violence.

I pray that God would do a mighty act for His name in the earth – and whether that mighty act is a mass conversion and salvation of Islamist terrorists, or whether that act is a single night in which His destroying angel is sent out to rid the world of them, I pray that He will receive the glory for it.

There is coming a day in which every evil doer will be eternally punished, damned to Hell. That same day will prove to be the initial glory of God’s chosen people when we no longer have to deal with sin and temptation and evil and distress and fear. When Christ returns to purge the world of all its evil, those left who have not bowed their knee willingly to His authority will be on their faces in fear – knowing they are going to be burning for eternity in a fire that was designed to punish fallen angels. I can’t imagine the horror that will be, and I hope you bow before the Lord Jesus willingly as I have before it is too late.

His destroyer is prepared for the final coming in judgment of the world. I’m claiming Christ’s sacrifice to protect me just like the Israelites claimed the blood of their lambs spread on their door posts and lintels. And I’m looking forward to the day when I awake, as Hezekiah and the inhabitant of Jerusalem did, to see every enemy gone – dead and no longer a threat to me.

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