…God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1 : 26-35 (NIV)
Remember my story in the first lesson about being up on the table? Play acting as, God, the Father, talking to my dear Holy Spirit and my beloved Son, Christ? This is that fullness of time that I imagine they discussed. The Holy Spirit will come on Mary and the power of the Most High, God Himself, will overshadow her. In Greek, the word “overshadow” means to envelop in a haze of brilliancy. I encourage you to read the first two chapters of Luke and Matthew in their entirety.
Luke’s book opens with an explanation for his recording of the gospel. He speaks of things that have been fulfilled. This Bible study is written with these “things” in mind. Every story told in the Old Testament is an echo of the story of Christ condescending to the earth incarnate. Everything in the Old Testament is but a prophecy of the things to come with the birth of Christ as a baby in a manger. And, everything fulfilled in the gospels will become clear in complete and perfect fulfillment in the Book of Revelation. God has a plan. We are all part of his plan and his story.
You are to call him Jesus. The New Testament is written in Greek. As we read this account in the English translation, we miss so much of the impact of the words spoken by Gabriel. Mary and her Jewish community spoke Hebrew. The name Mary hears from God’s holy angel is the word “yeshua” which literally means “salvation.” God is literally saying, “You are to name him Salvation.” Gabriel also visits Mary’s betrothed, Joseph, a mere carpenter. Listen carefully to what Gabriel tells Joseph:
An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (NIV)
He will save his people from their sins. The Old Testament is built on the concept and the need for salvation. God’s precious creation has fallen into sin as the Holy Trinity foresaw. Written in the Jewish Hebrew language, the Old Testament dwells on yeshua salvation throughout its story of God’s struggle with humanity and his fallen angel, Satan. Every time someone in the Old Testament longs for salvation, he or she has uttered the word “yeshua.”
Throughout Israel’s history, the Jews have been enslaved and oppressed by other nations: Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria. For a short time, the nation of Israel enjoyed its freedom under the kingship of Saul, David, and Solomon, but for most of its troubled existence it has been subservient to a larger and stronger governing ruler. At this time, in the lifetime of Mary and Joseph, the Jewish people are under the control of Rome. These visits of the heavenly angel, Gabriel, to the earthly Mary and Joseph, connect and bring into fruition God’s beloved nation’s struggle for its freedom and salvation.
Mary and Joseph are not the first to be visited by the angel of the Lord. Months prior an encounter occurred inside God’s holy temple between Gabriel and Zechariah, a Jewish priest. The miraculous birth of John the Baptist is announced:
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. Luke 1: 11-15 (NIV)
Gabriel tells him that his prayer has been heard. This is huge. This intercession and pleading by a heart-broken husband on behalf of his bereft barren wife has been answered by God. This son will be a joy and a delight…
This angel standing before Zechariah has stood in the very presence of God; he has been sent to deliver a holy message from the Lord. He comforts this mere human who is frightened at what he is beholding. As a priest, Zechariah is familiar with the angelic host through the stories of his people. He knows about the cherubim outside of the Garden of Eden. He knows the story of the two angels who traveled with the Lord to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. He knows the story of the angel who stopped Abraham as he drew back his knife to slay his beloved son, Isaac. He knows of the Angel of Death. He knows of the Archangel Michael who visited Daniel. Angels are messengers of righteous discipline. But this angel Gabriel brings news of wonder: … many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. …he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. This angel is ushering in John, the cousin of Jesus, the Jew’s yeshua. This angel is bringing good news to God’s beloved weary nation of Israel and ultimately to a broken world.
God heard Zechariah’s prayers. His answer to Zechariah and Elizabeth would give birth to a child who would usher in another child who would save all of creation. Do you believe in prayer? Do you believe that prayers have the power to intercede?
What do you pray for yourself? Have your prayers been answered?
What have you prayed for on behalf of someone else? Were those prayers answered?
Do you think your prayers are too small to be heard? Have your prayers ever been heard? In a way that you desired?
Adam and Eve and the Cherubim
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. Genesis 1: 1, 31-2:1 (NIV)
The following chapters of Genesis will give us fascinating details of the creation of our earth and its humanity. But, we get very little detail as to the creation of the heavens and its inhabitants, the angels. We can only imagine that this new kingdom of God was full of glorious and blindingly beautiful light, purity and holiness. But both the angels of the new heavens and mankind of the new earth were created with free will as an all important element. Otherwise, the light filled angels, and the man and woman would simply be beautiful ornaments. The Trinity of God desires more from the creation. They desire an extended kingdom of adopted children.
The beautiful angels were created first because the Holy Family foreknew that the newly created kingdom of God would break into the two separate kingdoms of Heaven and Earth as darkness, sin and degradation quickly found its way into the new divine light. Led by Satan, one of God’s most exquisite creations, a third of the angels would reject God’s light and fall from heaven into darkness. But the rest, myriads of them, would choose to remain in the heavens in the holy presence of the Holy Trinity. A holy battle of God’s remaining host of angels will fight over God’s beloved humanity from this time forward until the literal end of time against the fallen unholy Satan. Our first glimpse of the angelic is found deep within the story of Adam and Eve:
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden.. Genesis 2: 8-10 (NIV)
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked;so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Genesis 3: 1-7 (NIV)
After Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, they were found by God hiding in naked shame. They had effectively removed God from their marriage and therefore were no longer able to live with him in the Garden of Eden. There was no room for deception and betrayal in that perfect place. Because God knew the cold outside his home, he made the first blood sacrifice as he provided them with animal skins as clothing. And because he knew the darkness and death that waits outside of the garden, he commanded his cherubim angels to guard the entrance:
And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis. 3: 22-24 (NIV)
These cherubim are angelic beings with a specific purpose to guard God’s holy dwelling. By their actions, Adam and Eve have chosen to leave and will not be granted a way out of the darkness and brokenness until the fullness of time will bring the Son of God to make the ultimate blood sacrifice to atone for their sin. They will not be allowed to eat from the tree of life. Because of their sin, they were not equipped to live forever.
The angels, created for this very purpose, now serve as messengers from the Father to their “brothers and sisters” on the fallen kingdom of the Earth: Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:14 (NIV)
In the painful and powerful story of Job, listen carefully to the role of the angels. Job questions his very life: Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Job 38:2-7 (NIV)
Who have you lied to? What were the consequences?
Who has lied to you? What were the consequences?
What would perfection be for you?
Is the serpent who tempted Eve actually Satan? What other possibility is there?
The 29:11 Story
The 29:11 Story recognizes several angels. You will find Gabriel in the middle of every 29:11 Story necklace or bracelet. That places him at the beginning of the New Testament between Joseph and his betrothed, Mary. Joseph, a carpenter, is a wooden bead. Mary is a beautiful pink. Gabriel’s bead is a clear crystal bead denoting his angelic light and brightness.
Every 29:11 Story features two heaven beads. One blue bead is for the kingdom of the Heavens at the beginning of the first creation. Another matching blue bead, as the new Heaven in the penultimate chapter of Revelation, is found at the very end of each 29:11 Story. The angels are the glorious inhabitants of the heavens.
Each angelic event recognized by The 29:11 Story is represented by a beautiful clear crystal bead. The first and the last of these angels beads echo each other as the Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament. And these two events, Genesis’ Garden of Eden and it’s cherubim as guardians of paradise, and the Book of Revelation's host of angels, are bridged by angels who deliver message after message from God, the Father, to mankind bound on the earth. Our second angel is in the story of Abraham. It is the three visitors, a beautiful purple crystal, purple for the divinity of the Lord, and a crystal for the two angels it represents. Our third crystal angel is in the story of Moses when God sent his mighty angel of death over the city of Egypt. This beautiful crystal bead is grey, reflecting the blackness of death.
Our next crystal angel bead is in the story of the major prophets. The prophets encounter angel after angel. The book of Daniel is full of these light filled messengers from God, the Father, who was the fourth “man” in the fiery furnace and the angel in the lion’s pit. Ezekiel, our last major prophet in the 29:11 Story, is also full of awful and awesome angelic beings: "Each of the cherubim had four faces: One face was that of a cherub, the second the face of a human being, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle." Ezekiel 10:14. (NIV)
On the 29:11 Story, the major prophets are represented by five bronze beads. Bronze symbolizes judgement throughout the Bible. This beautiful clear crystal bead, nestled between Daniel and Ezekiel, serves as the angelic visitations witnessed by the prophets as they warned the beloved child of God, Jerusalem, of her degradation as she turned away from her holy Lord God.
The last angel on every 29:11 Story is the angel at Jesus’ empty tomb: His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
Have you ever seen an angel? Have you ever felt the presence of one? When and why did it happen?
Has anyone else ever told you about seeing or sensing an angel? Did you believe them?
Between my son’s initial diagnosis of bone cancer and his rediagnosis, my dear sister-in-law, Jane, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her battle with cancer was horribly brutal. I remember visiting her shortly after she had awakened from a two-week coma. I was holding her hand and I asked her if she had been to hell and back. She locked me in with her eyes and said “No, I have been to heaven and back.”
She was very weak and struggled to say, “I thought my cancer was retribution for my divorce. I would not look at God. But then I turned and looked and he was there and he has always been here and he was so bright and so white.” And still locking me into her eyes, she said, "And he is here now.” She looked straight through me while saying this, and beyond me into the room at what and who she was seeing. I remember being absolutely in awe at her experience. And I also know now that Jane’s story to me was one of my most valuable I have ever received from anyone. It prepared me for what was to come.
Chemotherapy and numerous surgeries required that William and I spend lengthy times at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. This was 2 hours away from our home in Huntsville. My husband and his parents stayed with my other two children while we were away. Numerous family members helped us pass the time in Birmingham. One of our favorites was William’s Aunt Jane. She would entertain the smaller children who were in the oncology unit. She was a natural storyteller. I remember one time Jane telling me that she wished that she had what William and the other children had. She was not talking about cancer, but about these children’s faith in God. At the time, Jane was very busy blending her new complicated family. She had three children of her own and had been through a bitter divorce with their father. She had recently married a widower who had two children of his own. Jane knew that I had come into her family years before with little to no religious background. I did not “find “ God until I was in my mid 30s. I told her that I had had a thirst for something that was lacking and had started going to a women’s Bible study. I suggested the same for her. She responded, “Who has time for that?” I told her that I had found that giving God time in a busy day actually made my days more peaceful and manageable.
Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer six weeks before William finished his first year of his battle with his cancer. Please don’t miss the significance of Jane’s timing. About nine months after this discussion, I felt the need to call her. "I wish you were here,“ she said. “This morning I had a visit with my ex and his wife.” Jane’s ex-husband’s new wife had been a friend of hers before the betrayal of her marriage. She went on to explain that she had found a women’s Bible study and that they had helped her to learn how to forgive the two. “I told them that I was forgiving them and letting them go.”
William was rediagnosed shortly after Jane's death. His cancer had found its way into his lungs. I would painfully cling to Jane’s vision. I’m not sure who Jane saw repeatedly during her brutal battle with cancer. Was it God, his Son, or just an angel? Just an angel? What a glorious “thing” to see! I do know she saw someone and that that "someone" was very bright and filled with light and critically important and comforting to her... “And he has always been here…”
What is your story? Please do not take this question lightly. What have been the highlights of your life? The low points? What are your hopes for your future?
What surprised you today?
What new connections in the Bible did you make today?
What questions do you want to explore further about today's study?
Read the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke in their entirety. How are they the same? How do they differ?
What else can you glean from Luke and Matthew regarding salvation? What are the stories of Zachariah, Simeon, and Anna?
What other angelic visions does Joseph have? Matthew 2:13, Matthew 2:19-20.
What happened to the third of God’s beautiful host of angels who chose to follow Satan? The Old Testament offers little explanation as to their fate but Jesus Christ does: Read Matthew 25: 31-46
Now read 2 Peter 2:4
Who else is named Yeshua in the Bible? Why does that name fit him biblically? Can you find him on the 29:11 Story?
The Book of Revelation is full of angels, myriads of angels. I invite you to open John’s book and read a bit of it to get an idea of just how many there are and what their role will be in the end times. Now read: Revelation 7: 11-12 And: Revelation 19: 9-10
The word “myriad” means a countless or extremely great number. The kingdom of the heavens contains myriads of angels minus one third of the original ones created in the beginning of time: read Revelation 12: 1-9. Now read Luke 10: 18. What do you glean from these two passages? What is the time frame of them?
What did you learn about “a new heaven and a new earth,” in Revelation 21 from the last lesson?