I would like you to consider some of the things that are said about him, and some of the things not said. And then we’ll close, considering his message, because that brings us back to the Lord Jesus. As I have often said, with God’s help I want to try to preach Christ on Sunday mornings. I want you to have the confidence that when you invite an unsaved friend to our church, if they attend in the morning, among whatever else they might hear, at least they will also have some of the rudimentary principles of the gospel. Having said that, I think that we still have things here that will stretch even the most theological minds.
With that in our minds, what is an ARCHANGEL? The Bible speaks about spiritual creatures existing and serving within a limited hierarchy. There are levels of angels and demons, some with greater and some with lesser authority. There are principalities and relative powers in the spirit world. And among them there are archangels. An archangel is one of the angels at the pinnacle of that hierarchy, right under the Lord Himself. But how many archangels are there? It is often said that Lucifer may have been an archangel before his fall, but that is only speculation. And many people believe that this Gabriel is an archangel. But did you know that the Bible speaks about archangels only twice; and only once giving a name? I Thessalonians 4:16 says, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” In regard to the translation of the saints, that particular archangel was not named. The only place where he is named is Jude 9 where we are told that Michael is an archangel. “Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”
But Michael is not a name found in Jude only – we find him mentioned in the next chapter of Daniel as well. God’s servant in Persia was struggling with prophesy and with his own spiritual condition. Although the scripture doesn’t say, it appears that Gabriel returned to help and comfort him. And then he revealed something about angels which is quite important. “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” Then at the conclusion of his message this unnamed angel added – “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” If the being speaking in chapter 10 is an angel, then he seems to be of a lesser rank than Michael. I’m going to assume that the speaker is Gabriel, although I have no proof of that. And based upon that and what we find elsewhere, I’m going to surmise that there is only one Archangel, and his name is Michael.
But let’s think more specifically about Gabriel. Did you know that he is not said to be an angel at all – at least here in Daniel? In chapter 8 we are not told that he is an angel. Verse 15 – “And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.” And here in chapter 9 the water is made even more muddy, because he is called “a man.” “Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.” I think that he was called a “man” because that was the way that he appeared at the time.
Although this Gabriel is not here called “an angel,” the evidence suggests otherwise. For example, at the time that this “man” appeared to Daniel, he flew swiftly to get there. If our translation can be trusted, and of course you know that I believe that it can be, he somehow traveled through the air to get to where Daniel was praying – he flew, and he flew swiftly. Did he have an airplane or an helicopter? Of course not. Did a dozen eagles lift him up at Jerusalem and carry him to the palace at Shushan? Very unlikely. If so, I think that sort of miracle might have been recorded. So how did he fly? He did so as angels ordinarily fly. But I’m not going to tell you that he had some sort of wings, because the Bible does not tell us that. There are some spirit-creatures who have wings – of that there should be no doubt. Isaiah 2 describes Seraphims, and “each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.” But was Gabriel a Seraphim? We aren’t told that he was. Did he have wings? He may have, but we are told that he did. Are wings necessary for flight? Not when we are talking about the special emissaries of God.
There is something else which sets this human-appearing being apart from regular human beings. I believe without a doubt that we read of him in Luke chapter 1. An elderly priest was ministering in the Temple of God, when he had a very special visitation and vision. “And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.” “And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.”
If you want to insist that these two Gabriels are separate angels, I can’t give you an overcoming argument. But, personally, I don’t believe that you’d be right. However, if you to insist that the Gabriel of Daniel 8 and 9 was a man, and this was an angel, I would argue with you. I am convinced, in my heart and mind, that there is only one Gabriel, and that he is an angel of God. And part of the evidence is that about 530 years separate these two visitations. No man since shortly after Noah’s generation has lived much more than a hundred years. Assuming that this creature lived for 600 years, I’m going to conclude that he is something very special. In fact, I’m going to stick my neck out and declare that he is timeless – that he has eternal existence. That is one of the characteristics of angelic creatures. He was there when Jehovah created the world, and he will be a witness to the Lord’s renovation of the world after the Millennium.
There are a couple of other things about Gabriel, which indicate that he is a special messenger from God. For example, he had been given authority to strike Zechariah with speechlessness. But more importantly, each of the messages that he brought was divine prophecy; it was not something which any man could have concocted on his own. And here in Daniel 9 we know this to be true, because at least one very important aspect has been fulfilled. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
And remember that this was not his first visit to Daniel. The prophecy in chapter 8 may not have been directly about the Messiah, but it was about the future. And the future empires of Persia and Greece, have, since that revelation, become undeniable history. This messenger carried material which only Divine authority and sovereignty could predict and guarantee. So there should be no doubt about the nature of this Gabriel – he was an angel of God. And one of these days, perhaps not long from now, when we hear the voice of Michael the Archangel, we will meet this angel as well. What a glorious day that will be.
Having identified and highlighted this Gabriel, now I want to turn more specifically to …
In Daniel 8, after describing the Kingdoms of the Medes and Persians, followed by the Greeks, he eventually comes to the Antichrist. “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.” This Prince of princes, might also be called the King of kings and the Lord of lords. This is a brief but important reference to the Son of God.
Then as we have seen over the last couple of weeks, here in Daniel 9, the central character of this prophecy is the Lord Jesus. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself.” We studied this pretty thoroughly last week, so let’s move on.
There are two more visits of Gabriel, which are described in the Word of God, & then there is a possible third.
Please turn to Luke 1, where Gabriel made a visit to Jerusalem. Zechariah was one of the Lord’s priests whose turn it was to minister in the Temple. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had not been blessed with any children, and by that time they were quite old. While he was in the Holy of Holies, an angel came to him, announcing that his wife would soon become pregnant; but this wasn’t all. Verse 13 – “The angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” When Zacharias doubted the promise, the angel replied, “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.” It appears to me that the angel who was sent to Daniel with prophecies about the Messiah, was sent to this elderly priest with even more prophecies related to the Christ.
But the context of this visit goes on – Verse 27 – “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Mary may have had questions about this, but she didn’t have the same degree of unbelief as Zechariah. “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Doesn’t it appear that Gabriel has the blessed task of announcing various aspects of the coming of Christ? The angel then told Mary about her elderly cousin Elizabeth, and she immediately made plans to travel from her home in Galilee to Judah to be there to help Elizabeth with her delivery. In making that trip, it was probably necessary to get permission from the man to whom she was betrothed to be married – Joseph of Nazareth.
Now, I’m going to willingly stick my neck out and take you to another scripture which I will say speaks about Gabriel and about Christ Jesus. Please turn to Matthew 1:18 – At some point, probably after the birth of Elizabeth’s baby, Mary returned to Nazareth, but by this time, she was obviously expecting a baby. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
Notice a couple of things between the angel’s visits to Mary and then Joseph. Both visits were about the same momentous event – the coming of the Messiah. And note that both times he introduced the name of “Jesus.” Certainly God wasn’t under any obligation to send Gabriel to either or both Mary and Joseph. In fact there is at least one argument that it wasn’t an angel but the Son of God, who visited Joseph. But there isn’t conclusive evidence that it was not Gabriel. For the sake of my message, which on its own is a very poor argument, I’m thinking that the angel of Matthew 1 is the same angel who made the other announcements of the coming of the Christ.
It has never been the will of God that angels preach the gospel. The Lord has always left the work of the evangelism to human evangelists. But I doubt that there was ever any angel in the hierarchy of God, who wanted that job more than Gabriel. He was probably a part of the angelic host who made the heavens resound in praise when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He yearns to tell you that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that Israel had so long desired. But before becoming Israel’s king, Christ had another more important work to do first. It was essential that He give up – that he sacrifice his life – on Calvary as a substitute for those whom the Lord intended to save. Before Christ could be a king over a righteous people, it was necessary that the Lord make those people righteous. And that He did by suffering the judgment that their sins deserved. Gabriel said, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from there sins.”
Has Christ Jesus saved you? Have you repented of your sins before God? Have you put your trust on the Lord Jesus? “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” “He that believeth on him is not condemned: BUT he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”