14-7 Angels In The Kingdom Of God
ANGELS IN THE KINGDOM.
Jesus will return to earth with His Angels, and this means that throughout eternity there will be Angels with us on the earth. This is something to take into account in our visions of the Millenium and Kingdom age. It appears that they are more prominent in the setting up of the Kingdom, and that we will take over their role later on. We have seen that they are the "reapers" sent forth to gather the saints, and that they will be responsible for punishing the nations (2 Thess. 1:7,8). Initially, the Angels and Jesus will be physically together in the judgement of the world- the unrepentant worshippers of the beast "shall be tormented. . in the presence of the holy Angels and in the presence of the Lamb" (Rev. 14:10). Presumably the individual beast worshippers will be brought together to one locality for this judgement- the literal location of Gehenna, where the unworthy saints will be punished? This gathering process will be by the Angels, as was that of the saints and of the nations to Armageddon (Rev. 16:16).
There are indications that the Angels will still have a distinct role in the Kingdom. Isaiah 19:18 describes the cities of Egypt swearing "to the Lord of Hosts" when Egypt and Assyria will be blessed by "the Lord of Hosts" (v. 25). If these "Hosts" are redeemed saints, one would expect the name Yahweh Elohim to be used. Similarly, every man shall sit "under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for (because) the mouth of the Lord of Hosts (Angels) hath spoken " (Micah 4:4)- i. e. because of the Angels' instituting the Kingdom, none can oppose it. And it may be possible that when "all people will walk every one in the name of his God" (v. 5), their personal 'god' may be an Angel.
"The God of Jacob" has been shown to be a fairly clear reference to an Angel or Angelic power. In the Kingdom "Many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob" (Bethel), Is. 2:3. The "mountain of the Lord's house" is the temple, and it was God's house in the sense that the Angel lived there- as Bethel was the "house of God" by reason of the Angels being there. Does all this imply that the Angel will literally dwell in the temple again during the Kingdom? In the same way as the glory-Angel departed from the temple as described in Ezekiel, so He will return, along with Christ. The many references later in Isaiah to the Lord returning to Zion would then fit it. In what sense can Jesus be said to return to the temple?
God's great desire is that all His people should be one. Eph. 1:9,10 makes it seem that God's subsequent desire to unify us and the Angels is a bigger part of His ultimate purpose than we often recognize: "Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which he hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven (Angels) and which are on earth (us)". Isaiah 48 in describing the fullness of the new creation has the same idea- "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the Heavens: when I call unto them they stand up together. . they are created now and not from the beginning (i. e. a new creation)" (v. 13,7). When the "call" goes forth, Angels and saints will "stand up"-i. e. be glorified- together.
Taking over of the Angels' role in the Kingdom.
We have said that the Angels are described as most active in the setting up of the Kingdom, but that in time we take over their roles. It is to help us visualize our part in that age that so much has been revealed to us about how the Angels operate now. We have said that the Angels are reapers; the descriptions of the final judgements on Israel in Revelation indicate that we start to take over this role as the time of judgement for the world draws to a close. "Behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of Man (n. b. like the Son of man-i. e. the saints), having on His head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another Angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat upon the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe; and he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped" (Rev. 14:14-16). The "earth" here is probably 'the land'- of Israel. The saints are commanded by an Angel that the time has come to reap the spiritual harvest of repentant Jews now accepting Christ. There are other references indicating the part of the saints in welcoming repentant Israel- e. g. Jer. 3:15. Perhaps this Angel is Palmoni, the "wonderful numberer" of Dan. 9:13, in whose hands the overall control of the timing of God's purpose is held. This would indicate that the saints will co-operate with the Angels, each playing different roles, in the execution of God's purpose. This is exactly how the Angels operate in this age. In this case, the basic Heavenly organisation and ways of working would remain unchanged, but the size of the elohim would be increased by our joining their ranks. Alternatively, in view of the fact that the world to come has not been put into the hands of the Angels but of us, it may be that only during the setting up of the Kingdom are we under such direct control of the Angels.
At present it is the Angel-cherubim's job to "keep the way of the tree of life". They have been given this charge, and yet they chose men to fulfil it who will keep the way pure- thus the Angels decided concerning Abraham, "I know him, that he will command his children. . and they shall keep the way of the Lord" (Gen. 18:19). It will be our duty to take over as the way keepers from the Angels, although we should have had good practice in this life. Thus we will say to the mortal population "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Is. 30:21).
It would even appear that to some degree a repentant natural Israel take over the role of the Angels as God's eyes walking up and down and to and fro in the earth (land?). This follows from Zechariah describing the Angels as walking to and fro in the earth (1:10;6:7) and 10:12 describing Israel doing the same once they have been regathered and start to carry the name of God.
We have shown that the Angels do not possess ultimate power and knowledge, and therefore they need to find out our true spiritual state through the trials they bring upon us. However, God works through such weakness, as he does with us the prospective elohim, in order to bring about His very finely planned purpose. He allows Himself to be limited by the Angels, and it appears from our own experience of Him working through us that this is one of His most sublime characteristics. "The LORD is in His Holy Temple; the LORD's throne is in the Heaven: His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men" (Ps. 11:4). Apparently a Hebraism is being used here which implies God is squinting at us. To squint implies limitation of vision; God's eyes are the Angels, and so He, the great God in Heaven, allows Himself in some way to be limited by them.
The Angels have a degree of independence in how they execute that purpose, and to this end they talk to one another and co-operate in love and meekness to bring about that purpose. All this sets a great example of how we should operate, and points us forward to the glorious days of unity ahead in executing God's purpose. May the readers of these words enthusiastically apply themselves to copy the Angels' great example of zeal in doing God's will, that they may be merged with them "in the dispensation of the fullness of times".