Derek looks at heavenly angels today to point out that they are also servants—servants to God around the throne, and servants to the heirs of salvation here on earth. Derek employs the phrase, “The way up is down,” to express the idea of submission. This takes humility on our part.
Let’s look at the heavenly beings. This is one of my favorite passages because it is the message I heard the first time I ever went to a Pentecostal service. Isaiah chapter 6 verses 1, 2 and 3.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; Each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”
The cherubim that you read about in Ezekiel, had four wings. They are not the same beings. The seraphim were around the throne of God. The cherubim—and incidentally this is interesting. The Hebrew word cheruf(?) means a cabbage. This is simply a Prince theory. I think they call it a cheruf, a cabbage, because the cherub’s wings came out of their bodies in the same way that the leaf, leaves of a cabbage come out of a stalk. I make no charge for that. If you don’t like it you can just live with it.
And the cherubs, if you read in Ezekiel, are God’s chariots. He rides on a cherub. But the seraphim, the fiery creatures, are the ones that surround the throne of God. But what I want to emphasize today is they’re all servants, eternally servants. And, as I said and I think we need to bear this in mind, they give twice as much time in heaven to worship as they do to service.
Furthermore, this may startle some of you, but I say it carefully—I’ve read both the Old and New Testament in the original languages—every word for worship in the Old Testament and in the New describes a posture of the body. There is no such thing in Scripture as worshiping apart from your body. You start with the head and move down to the feet. Every single area of the body is involved in worship. Bowing the head is an act of worship. When Moses returned to the elders of Israel in Egypt and told them that God was going to deliver them it says, “They bowed their heads and worshiped.”
You can worship in many ways with your arms—stretching out the arms is asking for mercy, lifting up the arms is praise and worship. And then the whole upper body bending forward is worship. In the Orient that’s the way that people show respect for one another. They bow. That’s worship. Kneeling down is worship. When Solomon dedicated his temple to the Lord he built a big platform and on it he knelt down and he stretched out his arms to God. What was that? An act of worship. Kneeling down is worship. Stretching out your arms is worship. I want to tell you, unless you are absolutely crippled, and God will make allowance for you, you cannot really worship God apart from your body. Worship is the spirit approaching God and honoring God through the body.
I always smile when I hear Christians sing that thing, “Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all.” That’s the angels. And those dignified church members will stand in the rows and it’s all right for the angels, the seraphim. They can fall on their faces. But don’t ask me to fall on my face. I’m dignified. Too dignified. I tell you having been educated at Eton and Cambridge I had a lot to learn about losing my dignity. But I thank God it went!
And then we have the angels in Hebrews chapter 1 and verse 14. The writer of Hebrews says this about the angels,
“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”
But the second word minister means to serve. So angels are here to serve us. I wish we had more respect for angels, really. The trouble is we don’t really believe that angels come to our meetings. I do. That’s why it says Let women have their heads covered. It’s a respect for the angels. I’m not attacking you, I’m just telling you the way it is, that’s all. And some of you are going to have to decide whether you’ve got more fear of man or respect for God.
Now serving is the pathway in the body of Christ to leadership. God, I don’t think, ever takes somebody and immediately makes him a leader. I really respect Don for the way he has worked with so many young men and young women and let them serve to become leaders.
Let me just give you a few examples. Matthew chapter 20 and verses 25 through 27.
“But Jesus called them [the disciples] to Him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles [the nations] lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. [But it’s much stronger word that exercise. It means dominate them.]’ Yet it shall not be so among you; [Who is you? You is us isn’t it. It’s not good English but it’s the way it is.] It shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave”
You notice, the higher up you want to go the lower down you have to start. If you’re going to be just great, you have to become a servant. But if you’re going to be first, you have to become a slave.
I’ve got a series of messages, radio messages, entitled The Way Up Is Down. And that’s the theme. But the interesting thing is the response to that message. It’s never been very popular in America. It’s a remarkable thing. On the other hand surprisingly enough it’s very popular in Germany. I can’t explain that, it’s just that’s the way it is.
But let me tell you, whether you like it or not, the truth is the way up is down. The higher you want to come the lower you have to go. It’s in proportion. If you want to be just a leader, you can become a servant. But if you want to be first, you have to become the slave of all. The way up is down. I think I’d like you to say that with me, will you? “The way up is down.” Again. “The way up is down.” Turn to somebody next to you and say it to them. “The way up is down.”
Then we turn to 1 Peter chapter 5 and verse 5. Now these two sentences are put together in one verse, but they’re somewhat disjointed.
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another,”
That’s the primary submission in the body of Christ it’s to one another. Then there are other submissions—wives to husbands, children to parents, congregation to leaders. But the primary submission is to one another. We all have to be submitted to one another. And then Peter goes on,
“Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility,”
But that English doesn’t bring out the full meaning, because the word that Peter uses describes an apron which was worn by slaves and which marked out a slave. He wore a special kind of apron. So what Peter is saying is put on the apron of slavery. Advertise by your clothing that you’re there to be a slave. That leaves us some time to meditate doesn’t it?
Then in Matthew 25 verses 21 and 23 . This is the parable of the talents and you remember one man received five talents and another received two and another received one. So when the first man came back he had made five more talents. A talent is probably worth two or three thousand dollars.
“And the lord said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Then the second came who had received two talents and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ The lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; [exactly the same words of commendation to the one who had five and the one who had two. The commendation was not for what they had but the use they made of it. Each of them gained one hundred percent.] Enter into the joy of the lord..’”
And then you have the man with the one talent. You know I have discovered there are many, many one talent Christians. You know what many of them do? They take their one talent and they bury it.