Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: "Angels" by Billy Graham and "Everything the Bible Says About Angels and Demons"


It all started with what was perhaps the 30th viewing of Frank Capra's classic film from 1946, It's A Wonderful Life. Clarence the Angel. I'm good at trivia. Not to sound arrogant, but I'm very good at trivia. All kinds of trivia. At work one day last month a co-worker planned a birthday cake moment for a fellow co-worker and the woman planned time to play trivia. I step up to bat. The questions all had to do with Christmas. Natch. It was December and we were already firmly embedded in all Christmas, all the time. Question: What was the name of the angel in It's A Wonderful Life? Oh, and what's his last name? Aha. I know that. Clarence Odbody. How did it fly off the tongue so quickly? I had just watched It's A Wonderful Life a couple of nights before. I win! I win! Oh, how this proud person playing trivia games gets excited - when she wins.

We live in a world where angels are quite prevalent in our society. People post angelic moments on Facebook and other social media platforms. Well, actually only on Facebook and Pinterest. Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Tumblr aren't all that big into angels. You'll read someone saying things like "their dead family member is now their angel." You have to understand the emotional attachment that goes with that, but being a scripturally minded person I know this is not scriptural.

God created angels. He created them before he created man. Angels are mighty and majestic warriors working on behalf of God almighty. Satan was once an angel in the army of God. A powerful angel, most likely equaled by only Michael, the Archangel. Satan had pride and he coveted God's role, so he took to having his own revolution and carried about a third of the angelic beings with him. Those that went with him are now demons. Satan isn't equal to God. He has a tremendous amount of power, but he isn't God. He isn't omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent or any of the other attributes that God has. Scripture even states that Satan (once known as Lucifer) is roaming around the earth. Folks, God doesn't need to roam. He is everywhere. I suspect Satan is currently hanging out with the various terrorists groups around the world. With all of the evil acts taking place on planet earth one would be hard pressed to find more evil than the en masse atrocity makers known by various names, but all wanting to kill those they perceive as infidels. Satan is making sure his demons have their marching orders, so they are in the atmosphere attempting to screw up all of our lives, but they have a particular fondness for sex trafficking moguls, drug cartel empire builders and various other "evil-doers," including the aforementioned terrorists.

Everything the Bible Says About Angels and Demons.  No author is attached to the book. There are some 300 references to angels throughout the Bible. This book delivers verses with little commentary or theological teaching attached to the verses. This isn't some significant theological tome, but it was an intriguing look at what scripture states on both angels and demons.

In a poll taken in 2007 some 75 percent of Americans said they believed in the existence of angels and 70 percent of those polled believe the devil is real. Judeo-Christian beliefs indicate the reality of both, but pop culture enjoys the descriptions of angels and demons. Feature films, television programs and literature delve consistently into the worlds of both.

I'm a Christian. I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe in the Cross and the Resurrection and I believe the devil is real and yes, he is indeed roaming the earth. He is consistently trying to convince people that they can defy God and distort his words without suffering adverse consequences. One of Satan's main goals is to attempt to separate people from God by enticing their disobedience to God. Needless to say, Satan has been successful. We are now living in a post-Christian world. As one of my Jewish friends (committed Jews are as loathed as committed Christians and neither group goes around killing unbelievers) recently said to me "I don't want to live in a world without Bible believing Christians."

Angels visit people throughout scripture. We learn of archangels, angels, cherubim and seraphim and their role in God's universe. One of the get up out of the chair moments is when we reach the references in the final book of the Bible - Michael has so much power he will literally tie up Satan with a key and a chain.

This book so fascinated that I went into my collection of books and found the Billy Graham book on Angels: God's Secret Agents. I hadn't read it since the mid 1980's and it is powerful. Graham's book is used extensively as a resource for the book Everything the Bible Says About Angels and Demons. Graham is clearly one of the most consequential teachers of scripture in all of human history and no one human being has reached more people with the Word of God (outside of the writers of the inspired Word of God).

I am glad I read the Graham book, since he digs deep with "believable" modern day encounters with "potential" angels and some superb theological interpretations, even though Graham had the unique ability to simplify the complexities of some of the scripture passages.

Angels serve as agents of protection and deliverance, sometimes standing between God's people and physical harm. (Exodus 14:19-20) Of course, they also remove obstacles and opposition. There are even references to the "angel of the Lord" and many Biblical scholars believe that these rare references indicate that is Jesus Himself. It's called theophany.

Jesus refers to angels and demons often throughout the Gospels. He is tempted by Satan and even tells Satan that he could call up twelve legions of angels. A legion in the Roman empire included 6000 soldiers, so that would mean some 72,000 angels would have been there if He needed them. He didn't need them.

Satan is a created spirit, but he can't create a thing. He isn't personally at work in every unbeliever. He can't be everywhere (unlike God) at once, so his influence is indirect. This is where the minions (the demons) of Satan come in to play. Folks like us aren't the focus of Satan. The Paris shootings took place today, so I will boldly state that Satan most likely took a road trip to the city of lights. His complete takeover of a group like ISIS is fully fleshed out. Beheadings, burning people alive, sex trafficking young women, killing all people that don't believe what they believe...How much more evil can you get?

Satan seeks to entice even Christians into doubting God, but the true church will stand.

Knowing truth isn't enough. What we do with what we know is vital and these two books outline our walk with God.

If you are looking for emotional attachment to your spiritual wisdom then take comfort in Luke 16:22. This may be the one moment in the "everything" book that had me reading it over and over again. "Jewish writings indicate a belief that, after death, angels carried to heaven the souls of the righteous. By including this detail in the verse from Luke, Jesus seems to confirm this. Many suggest it's realistic that angels who ministered to people throughout their lives would also attend to them on their flight to heaven." (The verse is: the time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried.) Again, this is from Luke 16:22.

I highly recommend these two books (in conjunction with one another) for an introductory lesson into angels.

I consistently give people the same answer when they ask why do you believe in God. My answer is always the same. My chief reason for believing in God is that Israel exists. There is no reason in 2015 for this tiny sliver of land known as the nation of Israel to still exist, other than for God.

Copyright Read On Read Now 2015