Just Like Michael
St. Michael and All Angels
29 September 2017
Dr. Mikhel Soovik was one of my favorite college professors. Professor Soovik, who taught philosophy, was a wizened little Estonian, who looked like Yoda of Star Wars and often delivered Yoda-like enigmas in his lectures. Once, he let it be known that his birthday was on St. Michael and All Angels Day. Some really sharp student made the observation that he must have been named Mikhel because St. Michael's Day was his birthday. Upon hearing this incisive commentary on the source of his name, Professor Soovik made a characteristically wry face, shook his head, flapped his arms, and said, "I am not named after St. Michael. I am St. Michael, the Archangel;" a statement that went down in the annals of collegiate fame.
While this seemed a good joke on St. Michael's Day, Professor Soovik actually had something. Although he was an enigmatic preacher to the average listener, he really understood and always preached the gospel in the college chapel, which was a lamentably rare occurrence. He had suffered a great deal in his life, knew what it was to have a gracious God and wanted his hearers to know it too. He thought of himself as a great sinner and daily in need of the divine mercy. In Hebrew, the name Mikhel means "one like God." He shared the divine passion for the proclamation of the gospel to save poor sinners. He was a true preacher of the gospel. He was an angel sent by God to proclaim the life and death of Christ for sinners like him.
Every preacher is part of the proclaiming angelic armies. "Angel" means messenger. We wrongly presume that the angels are but winged women in flowing robes. No, they are the messengers of the God who wants the world to know that He has redeemed it through the bloody offering of Christ for sinners. Certainly, the great company of the church's preachers is included among those who are messengers of God. God uses them to proclaim His word, as all who hold office in His name serve His purposes. In government, those who execute judgment and serve the people do so in God's place. Even if they don't recognize it, in the world those who serve others do so in God's stead. All of us can be angels, just like Michael.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther

"Consider that you have been born and called by God to serve your neighbor. And surely among the punishments for original sin the holding of civil office is not the least; it is easily second only to death. Indeed, some of the heathen, like Demosthenes, considered death less bitter than the administration of the state. And Augustus, who was a very successful and wise emperor, thought of laying aside his power. But others, like Nero and Caligula, became completely effeminate by reason of satanic madness and relaxed the curb on their desires.
"By nature, of course, and because of original sin we are eager for domination, and we have imbibed this poison by the inspiration of Satan in Paradise. 'You will be like God,' he said, 'when you eat this fruit' (Gn 3:5). There God said: 'Well, I will fulfill your desire, since you are striving for a position equal with God's and wish to preside and rule over others. I will make you sick of ruling.'
Accordingly, holding civil office is really a kind of punishment-not light and small but very severe and cruel-against original sin, in order that we may learn how great the malice of men who are ruled is, and how great Satan's malice is. For no one understands or believes this except the magistrate, whom the devil resists with all his might. And Michael fights with the bad angels not only in the church but also in the state; for plunderings, thefts, frauds, and murders are works of the devil, which the magistrate cannot remove from the hearts of men. Yet in one way or another he restrains outward crimes with punishments and the sword, which he bears for this use by the command and authority of God.
"Therefore let them remember their duty and show themselves men; for God loads them with dignity, purple, gold, and adornments to terrify the devil and scoundrels, since original sin rages and Satan drives men to crimes of every kind.
"This indeed is what God says: 'Behold, the man has become like one of us' (Gn 3:22). The word 'one' is set aside. All indeed are delighted with purple, gold, and titles; but when questions arise, cases, and troubles, then at last we see the magnitude of the burden. Then indeed there is need of courage that is not weak and effeminate but is great and manly-courage with the knowledge that it is bearing the burden and punishment of original sin."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 41.45
Daniel 10:10-21

And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. And he said to me, "O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you." And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia, and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come."
When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was mute. And behold, one in the likeness of the children of man touched my lips. Then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, "O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. How can my lord's servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me."

Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, "O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage." And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, "Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me." Then he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come. But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.  (ESV)
Collect for St. Michael and All Angels
O everlasting God, whose wise planning has ordained and constituted the ministry of men and angels in a wonderful order, mercifully grant that, as Your holy angels always serve You in heaven, so by Your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
For all those seeking work, that the Lord would grant them employment in the world
For our friends and fellow confessors at Westfield House, Cambridge, that they might be upheld in the most holy faith of our Lord Jesus Christ as they begin a new term of study
For Issues, Etc., that the Lord would speak through radio and the internet and that many more people would here of His compassion for sinners
Art: WEYDEN, Rogier van der  The Last Judgment (1446-52)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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