Cute, aren’t they? Seraph and Cherub I used to call them when they were younger, like this. The one blond with his long serious face, like an elf from Lord of the Rings, and the other rosy cheeked with a cheeky grin, who could have modelled for Michelangelo. I can still see the angelic in them now, even though they’re all grown up.
And that’s how we think of angels, isn’t it? Cute. Beautiful. Ethereal.
But it doesn’t match up with the Biblical images of them as messengers and warriors. Frank Peretti’s novels at least give a feel for what their warrior status might be like. https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Present-Darkness-Frank-Peretti-ebook/dp/B00741VSWM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481116907&sr=1-1
So what do we make of the Advent symbol reminding us of Jacob’s dream of angels going up and down a staircase to heaven? What are they doing? Taking messages between God and humans? I must admit, for me it conjures up images of Busby Berkeley dance routines or that fabulous David Niven film ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/stairway_to_heaven_1946/. I don’t mean to be facetious but I struggle to understand this imagery.
However, perhaps it’s better to look at the whole story rather than just this specific image. Jacob has messed up royally – deceived his father, stolen his brother’s birthright, and is now on the run, no mum to look out for his interests, hoping for a welcome at his uncle’s instead. He’s done nothing to endear himself to God and yet, here he is, alone and vulnerable, when God appears, talks to him, and makes an amazing promise to stay with him, bring him back to his homeland, and bless him with a vast number of descendants.
The focus of the story isn’t the strange picture of celestial beings on a ladder – maybe they’re just a means of getting Jacob’s attention or the pictorial language of his subconscious dreams – no, the main point of this story is God and the change that comes about as a result of Jacob’s encounter with Him.
As Christmas approaches, it’s easy to get caught up with the details and lose sight of the main point of that story too. Let’s appreciate the angels but try to see past them to the One who came with a promise to be with us and bless us. And let us respond, like Jacob, with a commitment to turn the stones of our lives into His house on earth.
(Apologies for the late post – I’ve been unwell)