I may blog a bit about some of our deeper discussions but that remains to be seen. The rule for Lifegroups is what is said in the group stays in the group and while that pertains to the personal things people share, this study is going to become intensely personal very fast so I'm not sure how much I will be able to share here.
The conversation last night flowed a bit around angels, satan, hell and the decision to choose or reject God. We often talk about our place in history, how long people have populated the earth, how long before Christ returns. The things that happen, those choices made that lead people to eternal life - or eternal damnation - and all of the days in between. Thousands upon thousands of days. Each day we wake up and we get to choose God - or reject God - all over again. We live our lives, doing the routine stuff we do, go to bed every night and start it all over again the next day. Someday, though, we are told, the choice will be final. We will choose or reject God for the last time.
What is the angels' story? How long were they created before there was the battle and satan chose - his final choice - to reject God? How many angels chose to follow him? How many angels stayed? We know the earth has a population roughly around 6 billion people. Are there that many angels? Are there more?
What was their history? What is their story? What did they do for God in that time? We know they were created to serve God but what did that service look like before earth was formed? What, besides His will here on earth, do angels do now? What does their daily life look like? Do they sleep? Do they eat the same things we eat (probably not - I doubt heaven processes food...)? Do they have to shower/bathe? Comb their hair? Did they go to school? Do they ever get tired of their job? Do they have pay raises and job evaluations?
When did human beings decide angels look like cute little girls or beautiful women? I collect them - beautiful figurines, wall hangings. I have a cute little angel picture with a wonderful saying on my refrigerator about angels in the house... Where in the Bible is a female name given to an angel? Where in the Bible is anything feminine attributed to an angel? They're all fearsome creatures to behold - people fall down as though dead whenever one appears. People are told to not be afraid and even that just makes them capable of standing before an angel - I don't recall a story including a lot of confrontation or boldness. Just questions and agreement with what the angel says.
How glorious must Jesus have looked to John that he would fall down dead when Christ appears to him in the opening of the Revelation? I mean - John spent 3 years with Christ on this earth. Walked with Him, learned from Him, reclined with Him while they ate. They weren't casual friends, they were close friends, dear friends and still... John falls down as though dead.
Think about that - you are finally back in the presence of a dear friend, someone you haven't seen for a long time, someone you loved more than life itself. What do you do? You run up to them, you hug them, you cry, you hug tighter... You don't prostrate yourself in front of them out of fear and worship.
How magnificient is Jesus in heaven? I don't think we have words and I think our brain runs into an invisible ceiling - or wall - when we try to imagine it.
What about satan. Cartoons depict him in hell - gleefully poking people with his pitchfork, reveling in whatever torture he can come up with.
But... satan fell to earth. He didn't fall to hell. He is allowed to do whatever damage God grants him permission to do. However...Jesus holds the key to death & Hades (Revelation 1:18) NOT satan. Satan will be tossed into the lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10) along with those whose name is not found in the book of Life (Revelation 20:15). Same fate. Satan isn't put in charge of the burning lake - he's in it, too.
Where is his power? The deception, the lies... After last night's conversation, my heart ached even more for those who don't see the truth of Jesus Christ, who can't see the beauty, the amazing perfection, in the plan of God. For those who twist it to suit themselves while all the time missing out on all that God offers through His brilliance. My heart just breaks and I cry out to God for wisdom on how to share Him with those who don't believe. There is an urgency in the air, I think. It's as if we can start to see the end shimmering in the not-so-distant distance, like heat waves off the asphalt in summer.
We think we are so smart... We think we can do better on our own... We think we have it all figured out.
After last night, to me, satan holds even less power than the little I thought he had.
I also think I have to stop collecting angels.*
*That's a personal conviction - I'm not going to judge people as 'bad' for liking and/or collecting angels!