The Bright Angel

After all this I saw another angel come down from heaven with great authority, and the earth grew bright with his splendour.”
Revelation‬ ‭18:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In John’s vision, an angel appears from Heaven. John was told that he had “great authority” and every where he went the earth lit up, brightened by “his splendour“. Why would that be significant? We will see in the next few verses the important message he had to declare, but initially this bright being illuminated an earth darkened by the wickedness of the beast and his followers.

Perhaps one reason he was so lit up, was because he had just come straight from the presence of God. Remember the Old Testament story where something similar happened with Moses? We read in Exodus 34:29-30, “When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.” The people were not comfortable with his bright face, so Moses had to wear a veil, as described in Exodus 34:33, “When Moses finished speaking with them, he covered his face with a veil.” But no veil was necessary to cover our angel, newly arrived on Planet Earth.

There is one thing we Christians have to be careful of. That is, how do we appear to other people? Is our visage bright and cheerful, or do we look as though we have just taken a sip of vinegar? Are we smiling or miserable? You see, it is no good us pilgrims trying to share the Gospel with others with a miserable face. If our body language is at variance to our message. If we are excited about our relationship with God, as we should be, then others around us should be able to pick up our excitement. Anecdotally, Francis of Assisi has been credited with the saying, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words”. Whether true or not, the point is that the delivery of what we say, and our body language when we speak, must be in step.

I’m personally excited about God, about the wonders of His creation, about His transforming power, about His accessibility, and I’m excited about Jesus, His Son, who gave up His life, taking on board the punishment for all mankind’s sin, and giving us instead His righteousness. And we can now enter into God’s presence, intimately empowered to call Him “Daddy”. In my opinion it is impossible to have a miserable face when we consider all of that!

Father God. How can we express our love and gratitude enough. With faces shining with our love for You, we worship You today. Amen.

A Shining Face

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us
Psalm 67:1

Have you ever seen anyone with a “shining face”? Not literally of course, but I have been in someone’s company when they seem to have come alive, and their face seems to light up with expressions of enthusiasm and excitement. They seem to radiate with an infectiousness that impresses and invites us as well to get caught up with whatever is illuminating their thoughts and communication.

Psalm 67 starts with a request that God would make His face shine on us and that He will be gracious to us and will bless us. But what does that look like in our societies today? Would we know if God behaved in that way to us? Calvinistic theologians talk about “common grace”, which is defined as the protection and care that God provides for everyone. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, “…For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” So this would include the air we breathe, or the rain watering the crops in the fields. The sun for warmth, and so on; everyone, Christian or not, will benefit from His “common grace”. But the Psalmist was meaning more than that. He was asking God for His specific grace to be poured out on His people, encompassing natural and spiritual blessings. So in the natural world today, as God’s people, we will ask for blessings that will encompass good health, provision for our everyday needs, success in whatever we turn our hand to, for example, our employment, and so on.  And God’s graciousness also extends to spiritual blessings. We can find a few in the first chapter of Ephesians. In verse 3 it says that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing because of our relationship with Jesus. And, amazingly, these blessings are not held back because through Jesus we are holy and without fault in His eyes. We were chosen and loved by God even before He put the world together (verse 4). We have been adopted into God’s family and we give Him great pleasure (verse 5). He has smothered us in His grace (verse 6). He forgave our sins through the blood of Jesus (verse 7). God has poured out on us His kindness, wisdom and understanding (verse 8). Through Jesus we have an inheritance from God (verse 11). The spiritual blessings that we receive are limitless, and available to us just for the asking. 

So when we pray the first verse of today’s Psalm, we are tapping into God’s unlimited resources, both natural and spiritual. But is that our experience? Do we enjoy God’s blessings on a daily basis? But do we ask God for His blessings? Do we ask for more of Him in our lives, with more love and more power? Do we pray for Him to meet our needs, thanking Him for the provision He continually makes for us? That is not to say that we will not encounter problems in our daily lives, but His provision and presence will always help us to overcome them. Too many questions? The Psalmist was quite simply asking God for His blessings, and so must we. And as we stare into the face of Jesus, His shining face dims the world and its contents around us. Jesus is enough for me. You as well?