September 29, 2019

Rev. Mark F. Bartels



Old Testament Lesson; Daniel 10:10-14


Epistle Lesson; Revelation 12:7-12                           

Sermon Text; Matthew 18:10-11


About a thousand years ago, there was a little church that was built outside of the city of Rome.  It was named St. Michael's Church.  It was dedicated on September 30th.  It was named after St. Michael, the arch-angel.  St. Michael the arch-angel, (who Pastor Tweit read about in the two scripture readings) is one of the chief angels of God, who watches over the people of God.  Throughout the centuries, on September 30, (actually the celebration would start the evening before, on September 29th) the Catholic Church would celebrate something called, The Festival of St. Michael's Day, thinking about this angel, St. Michael. 

When The Reformation came, about five hundred years ago, The Lutheran Church had to ask itself some questions.  One of the questions was, “Of all of these church festivals we have, which are the important ones for us to continue to celebrate, and keep?” 

The Lutheran Church decided to keep the festival called, The Festival of St. Michael's Day, on September 29th.  But, they added something to it.  They said, “We are going to call it, The Festival of St. Michael, and All Angels.  It is going to be a day we set aside to talk about angel protection”, The Lutheran Church said.  “We are going to talk to our congregations particularly about how God uses angels to protect children.” 

Look at the Bible verse that has been read for about five hundred years in Lutheran churches on this particular day.  It is taken from Matthew, chapter eighteen, verses ten through eleven.  It is Jesus speaking. 


“See to it that you do not look down on one of these little ones, because I tell you that their angels in Heaven always see the face of my Father who is in Heaven.  For the Son of Man came to save what was lost.”


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



I am kind of a softie.  You probably all have watched nature shows, just like I do.   It is so fun to see these cute, little, baby animals.  They are these little, furry, animals that are so cute.  They hang around by their mom, and follow mom.  But, as you watch the nature show, all of a sudden one of these cute, little, furry, animals will head out all by itself somewhere, unaware, totally unaware of what danger might be lurking. 

And, it always just rips my heart out, when they show, right on TV some predator, whether it is a wolf, or a lion, or a cheetah, that has been waiting just waiting.  And they are merciless.  They don't care if that animal is cute.  They don't care if it is going to break Mom's heart.  When they see that little one all by itself, they go after it, grab it, and eat it for supper.  It just rips my heart out, and it is just an animal.

That is the heart Jesus has for children.  Jesus has this deep heart for children, understanding Satan, the devil has his eyes open.  He is merciless.  He doesn't care if Mom and Dad love their children.

The Bible says,

“Our enemy, the devil,

prowls around like a roaring lion,

seeking someone to devour.”

He would just as soon devour the vulnerable, little ones, as anybody.  So, he has his eyes open.  He is watching, and waiting for them to go some place where he can snatch them, hurt them, and destroy them.

Jesus has a such a heart for little children, such a heart to keep them safe, and protected. 

Earlier, before this Bible verse for today, Jesus said,

“I tell you if any one of you,

any one of you causes one of these little ones to sin,

it would be better if a millstone were tied around your neck,

and you would be tossed into the depths of the sea.”

Jesus is saying, “I love little children.  My heart is with them.  Don't you do anything that would spiritually endanger a little child.”

Then, we have this scripture reading where Jesus says,

Don't look down on little children. 

See to it you don't look down on one of these little ones,

because...their angels,

THEIR angels in Heaven

always see the face of my Father who is in Heaven.”

This is such a beautiful Bible verse, because it shows us that our Savior has assigned angels, especially to little children, because of His heart for children.  For all of us, but especially for children, there will be holy angels.  These are the mighty ones of God, these holy angels, these powerful, intelligent creatures.  He has given them the assignment of watching over little children.

I want to read something Martin Luther once wrote.  I love this.  He said,

“The dear angels are not so proud, as we human beings are.  They walk in obedience to God, serve mankind, and take care of little children.  How could they perform a more insignificant work than taking care of children day, and night?  What does a child do?  They eat, cry, and sleep.  A marvelous thing it is that the holy servants of God take care of eating, drinking, sleeping, and waking children.  It certainly seems to be an insignificant work, but the angels do it with joy, for it is well pleasing to God, who has commanded them to do it.”  Pretty awesome to think, pretty awesome to think that God assigned these powerful creatures to take care of children.
And so, it is our duty and role then, as adults, to teach our children to praise the Lord that He would put them in the care, and protection of His holy angels.  I am sure, that is why, when I was just a little kid, one of the first prayers I remember saying, as a little child was this one. 

“Dear Father in Heaven,

Look down from above.  Bless Daddy and Mommy, and all who I love.  May angels guard over my slumbers and when the morning is breaking, awaken me.  Amen” 

My mom and dad wanted to teach me to pray for angel guard, and angel protection.  That is why we teach our children in Catechism Class, or here at Christian Day School, Martin Luther's Morning and Evening Prayers, which both end this way. 

“May your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me.”

So, let's talk about what the angels do, who they are, and how and why they protect us, whether it is our children, or us. 

        -First of all we know angels are spirit beings.  They don't have physical bodies like you and I have. 

Although we do know, sometimes, the Lord causes them to manifest themselves with bodies, which we see in scripture on occasion.  In fact, The Bible even tells us we should be hospitable to strangers, because you don't know if, unawares, you may be taking care of an angel!  So, sometimes they may appear to be humans, or have human bodies, but they are spirit beings.

        -We know they were created by God.  They are creatures of God.  We assume they were created on one of the first days of creation.  We say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of all things, visible and invisible...”  And, while we know what days the Lord created the visible things, we do not know when He created the invisible things, like the angels.  But, we assume it was early on, because The Bible tells us, in the book of Psalms, the angels sang for joy, as they watched God creating the world.

So, they are spiritual creatures. 

        -We know they are very, very powerful.  An example is in the book of 2nd Kings, when the Assyrian army was about to attack the city of Jerusalem.  The Lord kept the city of Jerusalem safe with one angel.  He unleashed the power of one angel, and that one angel, in one night, slew 185,000 Assyrian enemies.  That is power.  They are powerful creatures who watch over us.

        -They are intelligent.  When, in the book of Hebrews, it describes Jesus taking on human flesh, it says,

“God made Him a little lower than the angels.” 

So, we assume the angels are superior to us in intelligence and strength, by far. 

        -We know they are personal beings, because they have names.  We know the names of two of them. 

-'Michael', which means, 'who is like God'. 

-'Gabriel', which means, 'mighty one of God'. 

        -We know they have roles. 

-One of their roles is to sing praises to God, to praise the Lord.  They see the Lord.  They see things we don't see.  They see what He has done.  They see what He does all of the time.  We have pictures of them, for example, in the book of Isaiah, gathered around the Throne of God, singing,

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.”

-We know one of their jobs is that they are messengers.  The word 'angel', means 'messenger'.  We call ourselves The Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  Right in the middle of the word 'evangelical' is the word 'angel'.  'Evangelical' means, 'good message', or 'messenger'.  We have the good message of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  They are messengers. 

In scripture, they deliver very important messages. 

Who was it that announced the Savior was born?  The angels. 

Who was it that announced the resurrection of Jesus from the dead?  It was the angel who said to the women,

“He is not here.  He is risen.” 

Who was it that announced Jesus would come back again, someday after Jesus ascended into Heaven?  It was the angels who said to the disciples,

“The same way you saw Him go into Heaven,

you will see Him come back again.” 

They are messengers.

        -We also know, according to scripture, they have different ranks. 

-There are angels called Cherubim and Seraphim.  Scripture describes them as Lord God of 'Sabaoth'.  Not sabbath, but 'sabaoth'.  It is a different word.  It means, 'God of armies', 'God of the Hosts'.  It describes the angels as this army that has been sent to protect and watch over God's people. 

        -Particularly we know the angels are there to guard and protect.  The Bible says,

“The angel of the Lord

encamps around those who fear Him.” 

God has sent His angels as an army to camp around His people, like an army protecting us.  There is a passage that says,

“He will give His angels charge over you,

or watch over you,

and keep you in all of your ways

so that you do not dash your foot against a stone.”  

They are there for the physical protection.

        -We also know The Bible says the angels are ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.  They are sent to watch over the people of God.  We see examples of that in Scripture.  You all know the story of Daniel in the lions' den, and how the angel kept the mouths of the lions shut, as he protected Daniel from physical danger.

You probably all know the story of Peter, who was in prison.  The Lord sent an angel to free Peter from prison, and protecting him from physical danger.

You all probably could tell stories about how you know there was angel protection. 

I remember one day, a woman, who was a mom, called here at the church.  As soon as I picked up the phone, and started talking to her, I could hear this incredible tension in her voice.  She said, “Pastor, my daughter was in a terrible car accident.”

My heart just sank. 

Then, she started to describe it.   She said, “She was going down the interstate, and tried to take a ramp.  She was going way too fast, and her car rolled over, and over, and over.  Her car got crushed.”

I thought, “Oh no!”  I was expecting the worst.

But then she said, “Pastor, she walked out of that car, without a scratch on her body!”  

She and I both together, at the same time said, “Thank God for His holy angels who watch over us, protect us, and keep us safe!”
Let me pause for just a second.  I am not going to tell you some of the things I did, when I was a child, because I would not want to give any kids here any ideas on some of the really not very smart, things I did, that probably were very, very dangerous, which I didn't know at the time.  Martin Luther said, “The fact that any of us survived to the age of twelve is proof angels exist!”

And so, we know God sends these holy angels to protect us, and guard over us. 

All adults here, we should teach our children to pray for that angel protection, and have confidence, have confidence in life that God is going to protect us.

Now, you may ask yourself the question, “But, the angels don't always protect us.  How come people still get hurt?  How come people still get in to accidents?  Does that mean the angels are not watching over us?”

        -The angels primary concern is to do the bidding of God.  That is what they are there for. 

God's primary concern is your eternal salvation. 

And, that is the angel's concern too.  They want nothing more than you, and your children to be saved.  That is why The Bible tells us,

“There is more rejoicing in Heaven amongst the angels

over one sinner who repents

than ninety nine that don't need to repent.” 

The angels are so thrilled to think that you, and your children will be in Heaven forever, and sing the praises of God with them, and be in a holy Heaven. 

The Bible tells us The Old Testament authors wrote the Bible, and told about the Christ who was coming.  They didn't even totally understand all of the prophecies.  They longed to look into Christ's coming.  And, it says even the angels longed to look into these things.  You know that even though there were angels who fell, God didn't become an angel to save the angels.  God became a human being, to save human beings.  And, the angels longed to look into the fact that God loves us so much.  And so, their hope, and their whole goal for us, too, is that we be saved. 

And so, sometimes the Lord tells the angels to hold back their hand, and not always protect us physically.  Let me give you an example. 

-Do you remember when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, and there was this mob that came up to Him with swords, weapons, and torches?  Don't you think all of the holy angels were just waiting to be able to protect Jesus from what was about to happen?  Peter grabbed his sword, and cut the ear of Malchus.  Jesus picked up Malchus' ear, and put it back on.  He said, “Peter, put your sword back in its place.”  Then, Jesus said, “Don't you know right now I have twelve legions of angels at my disposal?”  That's sixty thousand angels!  Sixty thousand angels, “Boom”, could have stopped it all.  But, the Lord held back on that protection from the angels, because His main concern is our salvation.  Jesus had to go to the cross.  He had to physically suffer and die, to purchase us at that great price.

So, we understand sometimes God permits things to happen to us that may hurt, or harm us, physically.  But, His whole goal is the eternal salvation of our souls.  He always knows what is best.

So, we pray that the Lord send His angels to guard over us, His holy angels.  And, we trust that God loves us dearly.

In this scripture reading, (and this is speaking especially to adults), Jesus says,

“See to it that you don't look down on one of these little ones,

because I tell you that their angels

always see the face of my Father in Heaven.” 

Jesus loves children.  He wants to keep them safe, and He want you and me to keep them safe, too.  Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma, church members, God loves the children.  We should not consider it a small, minor, insignificant work, not in any way, to keep the children safe.  He assigns His holy angels to guard over the little children.  And so, as it is your duty to watch over children.  Let us, with all our might, strive to make decisions, (whether it be decisions about their bodily care, what they are learning, and who they are learning it from), because the devil is waiting.  We need to do everything we can to keep them safe, keep them in The Word, keep them encamped in the Lord's Camp, with the holy angels guarding over them.

We pray, let us all daily pray, not only for ourselves that God's holy angels be with us, but let us especially pray for the children, because of Jesus' heart for children.  And whether that is a little child, a child in grade school, high school, or college, that God would send His holy angels to guard over them, and keep them in all their ways.



Now may the peace of God, which passes all understanding keep our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus our Lord