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John 1:51

Posted 10/11/21, by Dan Vis

I really love the story behind how Jesus called Nathanael to be one of His disciples. It's an amazing string of verses, about which I've built an entire course, called The Hero's Journey.

And one part in particular that intrigues me is the extraordinary promise Jesus made regarding what Nathanael would experience in becoming a disciple:

John 1:51
And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

In reviewing the life of Nathanael, it's not immediately clear how this promise was fulfilled. There's no real record of Nathanael ever seeing a single angel interact with Jesus as far as I can recall, much less multiple angels. The sole exception is the time two angels appeared at the ascension of Jesus. And there they only appeared for a moment after Jesus had already been received up into a cloud (Acts 1:9-109 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;). They weren't actively, continuously, "ascending and descending upon the Son of man". I get the sense Jesus was talking about something else entirely.

More likely, this promise was an allusion to the dream Jacob had, of a ladder that "reached to heaven" with "angels of God ascending and descending on it" (Genesis 28:12And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.). When Jacob woke up, he said "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not" (Genesis 28:16And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.). In fact, this may have been all Jesus meant, that Nathanael--and every future believer, who chose to follow the path of discipleship--would come to know this same essential truth: that Jesus was God with us.

But I suspect there's even more. That part of the mission of Jesus was to pull back the curtain on the invisible spiritual realm. To show those who live in tune with Him, the reality of angels working tirelessly on our behalf. That just as Elisha prayed to open the eyes of his servant to the "horses and chariots of fire round about" him (II Kings 6:17And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.), Jesus wanted to open Nathanael's eyes to the working of these ministering spirits constantly strengthening Him.

In this week's blog posts, I want to spend a little time exploring what the life of Jesus reveals to us about angels. That the curtain might be pulled back for our eyes too. That we might become more sensitive to the presence of angels, ascending and descending, on our lives. That we might acquire, much more fully, eyes of real faith.

The promise Jesus made to Nathanael, is as much for us, as it was for him...

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Posted by Dan Vis on 10/11/21
It is a nice thought that angels are by our side, even if we can only see them by faith. Wishing you God's grace Doranita, as you work through the week ahead!
Posted by Kathryn D. Search on 10/11/21
I look forward your talks about the angels. I am becoming a little more aware of them in my life, but not enough. And, I can see I need to focus more on my memorizing too, especially since reading of your experience in the past and how it helped you so much to grow in Christ.

Posted by Doranita Tyler on 10/11/21
It’s so comforting to know we are not alone. God cares so much for us. If we could yet open our spiritual eyes to look past the pain, suffering, challenges and struggles all around us.

Looking forward to the journey this week. This week holds many challenges for me, that I have surrendered to God. I look forward to witnessing His glory.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/11/21
That's a beautiful quote Jeannie, and I love how it suggests we are climbing that ladder (step by step) we have the companionship of angels who are similarly traversing up and down the ladder. Quite a thought.

And that's definitely an interesting thought Karen, that one reason the angels were created was for the possibility some world would one day rebel. Wow! Just shows that God has made plans for every eventuality. Still thinking on that one!
Posted by Karen Yang on 10/11/21
It is a striking thing to know that “angels working tirelessly on our behalf”. Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? says that angels are created to minister for the heirs of salvation-the humanity. In other words, we were in the mind of God even before the creation of the angels, from the foundation of the beginning.
Posted by Jeannie Marcoux on 10/11/21
I love the thought that angels bring the presence of God to us. This reading brought this quote to my mind.

“Planted firmly upon the earth, and reaching heavenward to the throne of God, is a ladder of shining brightness. God is above the ladder, and His light is shining along its whole length. This ladder is Christ. Every round that you climb, you are coming step after step into fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, and are becoming fashioned after His divine similitude. The angels of God are constantly ascending and descending this glorious ladder. They will not let you fall, if you keep your eye fixed upon the glory of God which is at the top of the ladder.... – {UL 256.2}”


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