Of the myriads of created spiritual intelligences, only three are named: Lucifer (Satan), Michael and Gabriel. Of the three, one (through pride) lifted himself to assume deity, and fell; one is identified with an office; and the third has no such identity given him, but tells Zacharias to whom he was sent on one occasion, “I … stand in the presence of God”. Our thoughts in this paper centre around that one whose name heads the article.
Michael is mentioned by name five times in Scripture, and once he is designated by his title only. In the first mentions of his name he is referred to twice in the same incident, and whilst we may be tempted to treat this as one, we should take careful note of the scriptural terminology given to him. The Scriptures referring to Michael are Daniel 10. 13, 21; 12. 1; Jude 9; Revelation 12. 7; and 1 Thessalonians 4. 16.
In the three Old Testament references Michael is not referred to as the archangel, but as (1) “one of the chief princes, [who] came to help me [the angel sent to Daniel]”; (2) “Michael your prince”; and (3) “Michael … the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people”, i.e. the Jews. In the three New Testament Scriptures, one refers to Moses; and one to the woman and the Man-Child; the third is to the rapture of the saints. From this it will be clearly seen that all but the last have to do with Israel—“your prince”, “the prince … of thy people”, Moses who is inseparable from Israel, and the woman who symbolizes Israel, “of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came”, Rom. 9. 5.
It is worthy of note that, when we read about Gabriel, his appearances are with messages of comfort—“Fear not”. He is the messenger of peace. When we read of Michael, we read of contention and conflict. He is the warrior, the messenger of protection from God. Michael’s name means “Who is like God?”, or Who is like £7? or Who is like the Strong One, the Mighty One? We shall see the importance of this as we proceed.
But first we note that it is “your prince”, and “the prince of thy people”. In Exodus there are several references to Israel being called by Jehovah: “My people”. Indeed Leviticus 26. 12 declares, “I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people”. In Daniel 10, however, reference to Israel is only made to them as his people. Why the difference?
The answer is found in Exodus 32. 7-14, where we note the Lord’s displeasure with His people. Note the use of thy and thou to Moses by the Lord, and to the Lord by Moses. Many times had He chided, and in mercy “repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people”, but in Daniel’s day so complete had been their stiffneckedness that He had now turned aside from them, leaving them to their wilfulness, yet having His hand stretched out still, in mercy.
More than once in the Daniel prophecies we learn that he was being told of a time then a long way off, 10. 1, 14; 12. 1, 4, and it would seem that even in the time of their rejection Michael is working behind the scenes for their protection, for he is warring with the “prince of Persia”, while the angel is sent to Daniel. Even in our day, the forces against Israel were no match for them in the 1967 Six-day War, though more than twice as numerous as were Israel’s—and one cannot but feel that they were super-naturally helped then.
Jude exhorts his readers earnestly to “contend for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints”. The Epistle brings to our remembrance in verse 5 the dealings of the Lord with Israel for their unbelief. Numbers 26 closes with the fact that none who came from Egypt went into the promised land, “save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun”. It would appear that the last twenty-four thousand to die in the wilderness were those who joined themselves to Baal-peor, Num. 25.
Jude’s reference to the dispute between Michael and the devil over the body of Moses is interesting, as is the comment he “durst not bring against him a railing (blasphemous) accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee”, v. 9.
Numbers 25 records the sad story of Baal-peor following upon the Lord’s protection for His people against Balak by controlling the prognostications of Balaam. Psalm 106. 28-31 records the incidents of Numbers 25, and comments that at Baal-peor Israel ate the sacrifices of the dead (or dead ones). And who to be more honoured among the dead by Israel than Moses! Had not the Lord “buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Baal-peor”? And further: this was a secret tomb!, Deut. 34. Naturally speaking, how commendable to honour such a one in these circumstances! The power of death was in the hands of the devil, Heb. 2. 14. It seems that the devil assumed a right over the body of Moses because of death under these unusual conditions, and contended that right with Michael, whose only reply was “Jehovah (the Ever-Living One) rebuke thee”.
Two other leaders, each named Joshua, are brought to our attention in Scripture. One, the son of Nun, who, succeeding Moses, was destined to lead Israel into the promised land—he was their saviour and prefigures the Lord Jesus Christ. The other, Joshua the great high priest (Newberry margin) is destined to lead Israel back to their God. In Zechariah 3, he who should have been the sanctifier of God’s people is brought to our notice. The worship of Israel had become soiled, spoiled, and filthy because of their departure from Jehovah to other gods, therefore this Joshua stands before the Angel of Jehovah in filthy garments, and Satan stands by to accuse him and be his adversary. Once more the words “The Lord rebuke thee” ring out against Satan in his efforts to thwart the ways of God. If he had sought to oppose the purpose of God in regard to the body of Moses (and had failed), his attempt is equally futile in seeking to arrest the purpose of God now in regard to the representative of His people, however defiled with demonworship (Deut. 32. 17; 2 Chron. 11. 15; Psa. 106. 37) they had become. Joshua, their great high priest, is about to be cleansed and fitted for the great work Jehovah had for him—that of leading the people back to the paths of rectitude and obedience to Jehovah prior to the coming of the BRANCH —the Lord Jesus Christ—and so, cleansed, prefigures Him.
In each of the foregoing we see the powers of darkness, energized by their leader, Satan, opposing the purposes of God.
In Revelation 12 we come to the climax. The woman (Israel) is about to bring forth the Man-Child (Christ), and the red dragon (Satan) awaits to devour the Child as soon as He is brought forth.
Note that the symbolism here has nothing to do with the Virgin Birth of the Lord Jesus as such, but of a cleansed, sanctified, and restored Israel awaiting and bringing in the conditions suitable for the millennial reign of Christ.
The battle is now set in full array: Michael, “one of the chief princes”, “your prince”, “and the prince that standeth for the children of thy people”, together with the angelic hosts at his command on the one hand, and Satan with his angelic host on the other. The result is foreknown, for the battle is against the sovereignty of God—the devouring of the Man-Child, God’s Sovereign—and Michael (“who is like El?”) is contesting the adversary Satan who is cast down to the earth to wreak his vengeance on those who dwell there. This vengeance is greatly increased “because he knoweth that he hath but a short time”, v. 12. Space does not permit the development of this subject, nor is it relevant to the present paper.
We refer now to the Scripture where the archangel is not named. It must be patently clear by now that divine sovereignty had delegated to Michael the work of holding in check the onslaughts of Satan and his forces. And what greater target for the accuser of the brethren than the Bride of Christ. Hence when the rallying command that we await is given, is it not possible that the voice of the archangel will hold at bay those enemy forces, thereby making clear the passage for the redeemed of the Lord to pass through? “So shall we ever be with the Lord”, 1 Thess. 4. 15-17. Hallelujah, Amen!
This event, of course, precedes in time that of the war in heaven, though we have placed it here. The reason for this is that the rapture of the Church is not directly connected with Israel. It may be for this reason that Michael is not mentioned by name.
It seems, however, that there is another aspect of Scripture which must be referred to here. We may all be familiar with the interpretation of that figure the prince of Tyre, Ezek. 28. 2, as representative of Satan, but perhaps not so familiar with the devil’s relationship to the “prince of Persia”. Persia, of course, is the present-day Iran (from Aryan, or Ary a, meaning noble or distinguished). It is one of the oldest nations, contemporary with Babylon, and also over the centuries has had its strong religious system, albeit a false faith.
A cursory reading of the beliefs of these old religions will perhaps leave us wondering what evil is in them, unless we keep ourselves in the love of God and feed on the Scriptures of truth as guided by the Holy Spirit, and with His anointing. So closely is the camouflage created by these false beliefs, that to the unlearned they could pass as being so nearly correct as not to matter.
They have their supreme being (though not always as vitally personal as the True God). They have their miraculous virgin birth, but not in the purity of the true Virgin Birth, and yet they raise the virgin to the state of deity and heaven, whereas Scripture confines her activities to earth (no reference to heaven being made in them to the woman of Revelation 12). They have their human prophets, but none sinless or so wise as the Sent One of God. They have their dictums which occasionally bear some resemblance to the sayings of the Lord Jesus in content and moral value, and yet lack the power for them to be kept for they have not divine authority. They have their meditations (yogas) to induce purity of thought, or relationship, and of all that goes to make up life; but do not meet the basic need of man— reconciliation to God.
All these, and much more, form part of these religious systems which are not of God. The thoughts taught appear to be but the thoughts of men: their efforts to maintain their religious standards are in the maintenance of good works, and so, by their own efforts (strenuous and in many ways commendable by human standards) they seek a place of favour, or to be absorbed into the Great Self when life on earth ceases.
Behind these teachings and efforts are the satanic princes, one of whom controlled Persia in Daniel’s day. There are: demonic powers (if we will accept the original meaning of “daimon” — a god, goddess); events beyond man’s control; an evil deity; those for or against divine power; the lot or fortune assigned from heaven; gods of lower ranks; etc. Whilst none of these gods is subject to the authority of the True God, yet not all of their influences can be said to be bad in the gross sense of the word. Herein lies their subtilty.
Today there is the rising again of these old cults in new forms, and also there are new ones being introduced answering to the spriritual “prince of Persia” and “prince of Javan”, who by religious and philosophical means oppose the showing of that “which is noted in the scripture of truth”. In Daniel’s day it was Michael who showed himself strong against these gods. Today we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”—divinely empowered and not humanly motivated. In this manner we have been equipped for the last days when perilous times shall come.
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits [even those which purport to be outpourings of the Holy Spirit] whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world”, 1 John 4. 1. “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him”, 1 Cor. 8. 5-6.
MICHAEL - Who is like God? - the Mighty One! Hallelujah!
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