SOARING WITH THE ANGELS
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
3 OCTOBER 1993
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 12:1-4
I suppose at one time or another, each one of us has thought or dreamed about flying; not in an airplane, but flying ourselves, under our own power.
That we could fly just as we are; to be able to steer ourselves just by bending our hands in the direction we wanted to go.
That we could fly as fast as we wished, or as slow, or even to hover in the air, like standing still in the air, and being able to see whatever we wanted to.
That we could soar with the angels of God, and even fly into His presence whenever we wanted to.
That we could fly even at the speed of thought.
Have you ever looked at all the misery in the world, and wished you could do something about it?
That you could fly around the world and take away the weapons of war from any people who are harming others?
That you could bring food to the hungry, and hope to those who are depressed and can see no hope?
Wouldn't it be wonderful just to be part of such a miracle?
But such a gift from God comes with responsibility.
Jesus was speaking in parables to the people, and Peter questioned Him as to whether he was speaking to the disciples or to everyone else (Luke 12:41):
41. And Peter said, Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?
And instead of answering him directly, Jesus told him a story about slaves and masters that Peter would relate to his own service to the Lord.
Note what He says in conclusion in Luke 12:47-48:
47. "And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes,
48. but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
Being typical human beings, we always want the rewards and benefits; but we don't always want to put in the effort.
We may all want to soar with the angels, until we understand what might be required of us.
Many people are afraid of responsibility, and they run and hide from it.
But if we are truly Christians, then we already have been given the responsibility; the responsibility to live as Christians, and there is no longer any place to hide.
And the sooner we recognize this responsibility, and accept it and act upon it, the sooner we'll be able to really soar with the angels.
On at least two occasions, the prophet Ezekiel was able to soar with the angels, and each time he took with him the responsibility the Lord had given him.
Ezekiel was God's witness to the people: to convict them of their sins so that they would repent, or to pronounce God's judgment if they didn't.
And remember that we, also, are to be God's witnesses in the world; not necessarily to pronounce His judgments, but always to be a witness of His will and way.
Let's begin by looking at Ezekiel 3:12-15.
12. Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard a great rumbling sound behind me, "Blessed be the glory of the Lord in His place."
13. And I heard the sound of the wings of the living beings touching one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, even a great rumbling sound.
14. So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away; and I went embittered in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of the Lord was strong on me.
15. Then I came to the exiles who lived beside the river Chebar at Tel-abib, and I sat there seven days where they were living, causing consternation among them.
Ezekiel soared with the angels, but not just for the joy of flying. He had a mission, and the mission troubled him, because the people were not listening to the Lord.
The people knew that Ezekiel was a prophet of God; they also knew that he was very zealous for the Lord, just as they were not.
Likewise, the people knew that they were not fully living for the Lord; thus Ezekiel's sudden appearance, and the seven following days of silence, was a witness against them.
God would like to use us in similar ways.
Are our lives before others such a witness, that without saying a word, others would be convicted to change their ways?
This is what it takes to soar with the angels.
Another time that Ezekiel soared with the angels is recorded in chapter 8.
Let's begin at verse 3.
3. And He [the Lord] stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy, was located.
4. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain.
5. Then He said to me, "Son of man, raise your eyes, now, toward the north." So I raised my eyes toward the north, and behold, to the north of the altar gate was this idol of jealousy at the entrance.
6. And He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, that I should be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations."
Surely, the Holy Spirit has shown most of us similar practices that are going on in and around the churches, our families, and our communities; but have we done anything to correct them?
I know that some of us have; but could more of us do so, too; and could all of us do even more, so that the Lord would want to be in our presence all the time?
For this is what it takes to soar with the angels.
The apostle Paul also soared with the angels. Listen to his account of such a flight, beginning at 2 Corinthians 12:1.
1. Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
Listen to Paul's reluctance to tell this story, for he doesn't want people to think of him as being proud, but that he is only doing his job for the Lord; therefore, he only refers to himself in the third person.
2. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
3. And I know how such a man whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows
4. was caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
Paul had committed himself wholeheartedly to the service of the Lord; whether he was preaching or teaching, or earning a living, or just being himself, he was a witness of the glory of God.
And the grace of God let him soar with the angels, right into His presence.
Just as with a pilot of an airplane, training begins on the ground.
And just as a young bird must practice before flying from the nest, so must we practice.
Each of us has been given the instruction manual, and we are presently in school.
It's time to do some practical flying.
Make sure your fuel tanks are full.
And don't forget that the best and most powerful fuel is love.
Let's soar with the angels!
Your Comments are welcome
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