SOMETHING TO CONSIDER FROM LUKE 15
“I tell you that … there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
There is a lot we do not know about heaven’s angels.
The Bible gives us only a general picture of what they look like in the realm of glory (Daniel 8; Isaiah 6; Revelation 4, to name only a few references).
We are told they are older than the material universe (Job 38), perhaps only a little older … perhaps trillions of years older. But their exact age, we do not know.
We are told that one of their purposes is “to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1). But we do not know in what sense their service to the saints will continue throughout eternity, if, indeed, it does.
There is something else we do not know about the holy angels. We do not know how many there are.
- In Revelation 5:11 we have been told that, around the throne of God, “the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands.” Generally-speaking, a myriad may be considered “an indefinitely large number.” But technically, a myriad equals 10,000.
- We should notice that, in this verse, the word “myriad” is plural … “myriads.” That is, there are at the very least two myriads of angels. If so, there are no fewer than 20,000 of these spirit beings.
- But notice that this verse also describes their number as “myriads of myriads.” Not “myriads and myriads” but “myriads of myriads” (that is, not 20,000 plus 20,000, but 20,000 times 20,000.) If we multiply two myriads (20,000) times two myriads (20,000), there are no fewer than 400 million angels (the population of the United States is ~ 327 million)!
- And just for good measure, the Apostle John adds to this number, “and thousands of thousands.” But again, we do not know the exact number. Only God knows.
Now picture, if you will, at least 400 million holy angels singing together – and shouting joyously together – at the time God was creating the material universe (Genesis 1).
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)
Wouldn’t you like to have been there and heard that!
Now picture perhaps 400 million holy angels praising God at the announcement to the shepherds of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2).
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:8-14)
Wouldn’t you like to have been there and heard that!
Now picture in your mind’s eye at least 400 million holy angels, joining a great multitude of saints, all standing around heaven’s throne, worshipping God (Revelation 7).
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12)
Can you imagine this! An innumerable assembly of reborn Christ-followers, standing in the throne room of glory with at least 400,000,000 angels, all bowing before the Lamb of God in worship. Many of you who are reading these words will be there! We will witness this scene firsthand! Every believer will be there because he trusted in the blood of Jesus, the Sin-bearer, to wash away his sins … sins he gladly turned away from to follow the Holy One.
It is interesting that angels are not the only ones in heaven that rejoice. Jesus tells us a parable that reveals how God the Father responds when each and every sinner responds to His offer of pardon through the Cross of Christ His Son:
A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.” So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.
But when he came to his senses … he got up and (returned) to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him … And the father said to his slaves, “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again. He was lost and has been found.” And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:11-13, 17, 20, 22-24)
Is it possible to imagine this taking place: the First Person of the Trinity rejoicing when even the worst of sinners repents and believes in His gracious provision of salvation, accomplished through His Son Jesus! That is what takes place!
And there is something else that takes place. At least 400,000,000 angels also rejoice at the salvation of each and every believer.
“I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)
Did you know that? If you are a reborn Christ-follower, did you know that this is what took place in the realms of glory at the moment of your salvation … the glad, joyful, ecstatic celebration of God the Father and His millions upon millions of angels as they observed your repentance from sin and faith in the Sin-bearer!
That makes the Super Bowl look like a funeral.