God chose angels to be His messengers on earth. We can see in His Word many accounts of angels visiting people to share the heart of God. Powerful! This message is not about angels but more about looking at why the angel came to the individual and how we can apply it to our lives.
Do angels visit people on earth today? This has been a subject of much controversy. Everybody has their opinion, but I remember a time when I was praying alone in my bedroom many years ago. I was laying prostrate on the floor crying out to God. Actually feeling like a worm because of some bad choices I had made in my past. I didn’t like myself and thought I had blown any chance of doing anything with my life. Then, as I was praying, I sensed an angelic being hovering over me. Now I didn’t see them with my eyes as I was laying with my face to the ground, but in my spirit I could see one of the cherubim that hovered over the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant above me. Their wings were so long and wide they went through my bedroom walls into my living room and out the outer walls of my house. Again, I saw this all in a vision in my spirit. As they were hovering over me I knew I was in the presence of holiness. It took my breath away. I worked up some courage and asked, “Why are you here?” and the cherubim replied, “I hover over holy things.” I began to weep. My mental opinion of myself was terrible and now this angelic being was telling me they “Hovered over holy things.” I was calling myself “un-holy” and God wanted me to get the message that I was holy because I was forgiven and he washed all of my impurities away. This message brought by the angel visiting me that day changed my view of myself and actually changed my life.
We can learn from the angelic event that happened to Mary, the mother of Jesus, let’s read Luke 1:26:38.
What we can learn from the Mother of Jesus
1. Favor comes from God.
Luke 1:28 – 30 Amplified Bible
“And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one [endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women!! But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace (free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness) with God.”
Mary was just an ordinary young lady with an extra ordinary assignment. She was favored by God. This means that she was endued with grace. She was favored as the Lord was with her. She was human just like you and I. But I believe she received favor because she lived doing the right thing. She was highly favored among women. She was beautiful inside and out.
Grace is “unmerited favor,” meaning something we receive despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mary needed grace from God just as the rest of us do. Mary herself understood this fact, as she declared in Luke 1:47, “. . . and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . .” Mary needed a Savior just like you and I.
God gave His unmerited favor to us when He forgave our sin through the sacrifice of His Son. We can ask for His favor to go before us where ever we go. We are His children.
The word Favor means “to grace, that is, indue with special honor: – Make accepted, be highly favored.”
This is our portion too. Sometimes we receive God’s favor when others think we shouldn’t. I love it when God uses the foolish things to confound the wise. When He uses me in spite of what others think I deserve or what they think I should be doing.. God brings promotion not man. We can receive a promotion that we were not even qualified for. That’s God’s favor! When God gives you favor He puts you somewhere you have no qualifications, or maybe even no right to be there and it is God who keeps you there. Trust in God for His favor.
Remember when God does promote you that you are nothing without Him. Tell yourself: “I am everything in God and I am nothing without Him!” This will keep you humble which is what Mary was and I believe that is why God favored her so highly.
2. Be teachable.
Luke 1:34 Amplified Bible
“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband?”
Mary asked the angel, “How can this be?” It is what Mary does not say that I find remarkable. She does not say, “You have got to be kidding me. That is not going to happen!” She just asks a question in a posture of learning. We too should be teachable, ready to learn even when it seems impossible.
How many times have you questioned God? Maybe God has asked you to do something and your brain just can’t seem to wrap around it because it doesn’t make sense in your natural reasoning.
Can you imagine being in Mary’s situation? You are young, and you’ve never been with a man and now an angel comes and tells you that you will be pregnant and give birth to the Son of God. Mary’s character really shined at this moment because she didn’t shrink back in disbelief. She was in for a lot of ridicule and shame from people who would think the worse in her situation; either she was unfaithful to Joseph, was pregnant before they were betrothed, or even worse, that they had sex out side of marriage. In those days it was the worse evil a woman could do. Yet, Mary was open to what was going to happen. It messes with our natural thinking. This is where a lot of people turn their backs on accepting Jesus because of His miraculous conception. This is why so many atheists fight in our nation to get Christ out of Christmas. It doesn’t make sense and they don’t believe.
Doesn’t make sense
Often God doesn’t make sense. Did it make sense when the Israelites finally were freed to go into the promised land and they came to the Red Sea and water was on one side and the Egyptians were on the other and yet the Israelites prevailed and walked on dry land and their enemies were destroyed and drowned? Did it make sense when the blind man needing to see and Jesus spit in the dirt and put it in the blind man’s eyes and he could see? Did it makes sense that Jesus lingered a few more days while his close friend, Lazarus was very ill and died? Did it make sense that Jesus raised him from the dead? Did it make sense when Jesus died and then rose again and sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me?
We all have had “How can this be” moments in our life. This leads me to my next point…
3. Jesus is our Mercy Seat.
Luke 1:35 Amplified Bible
“Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God.”
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud];…” The word “overshadow” is really interesting when you find out more about it.
Other versions of the Bible state;
CEV – “God’s power will come over you.”
GNB – “God’s power will rest upon you.”
ISV – “Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will cover you.”
LITV – “Holy Spirit will come upon you.”
Message Bible – “Power of the Highest hover over you.”
“Come over,” “rest upon,” “cover you,” “come upon you,” “hover over you”… all these statements are what happened to Mary in the conceiving of the Son of God. The Holy Spirit overshadowed or hovered over Mary to make her fruitful.
Overshadow is translated in the Greek (G1982 Strongs Hebrew and Greek Definitions): “to cast a shade upon, to envelope in a haze of brilliancy; (figuratively) to invest with preternatural (Supernatural) influence.”
God supernaturally investing Mary with His power, his life, and she was divinely impregnated. This makes me think of the Cherubim who hovered over the covering or lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represented God’s presence, the most holy place. The lid or covering was also known as the mercy seat. Read Exodus 25:17 – 22.
In the Old Testament, Leviticus 16 talks about how the Priest were to approach the mercy seat. How they were to bring a cloud of incense to cover the mercy seat so that they wouldn’t die. They were to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifices and on the mercy seat for atonement for the uncleanness of the children of Israel sins (Lev. 16:12 – 17). God spoke to Moses in the Holy place from the mercy seat (Numbers 7:89).
Mercy seat is translated “to cover, to condone, to cancel, appease, make an atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon; to pitch or to purge (away), (make) reconcile (-liation).” (Strongs #H3722)
Jesus Christ, was the ultimate High Priest appearing before the throne of God after His making atonement or covering of the sins of humanity, and He is our mercy seat (Hebrews 9).
The very act of the Holy Spirit hovering or overshadowing over Mary, who would give birth to the “mercy seat” (Jesus) to pardon, cleanse, conceal, cover, disannul to pitch or purge away our sins has brought the Old Testament to the New Testament as Jesus Christ covers us all. He is the mercy seat of atonement! Mary was the Mercy Seat mother.
We need the Mercy Seat (Jesus) in our relationships with people to pardon what they have done to us and help us forgive them. We might even need the Mercy Seat to pardon what we have done to others. It is a place of mercy. How many of you need mercy today? We all do.
Getting back to Mary’s teachable question: “How can this be?” It was the Holy Spirit that made Mary’s womb fruitful. The Holy Spirit makes us fruitful (Fruit of the Holy Spirit Gal. 5) and equips us with His power (Acts 2) to do what God has called us to do.
When we have those “How can this be” moments in our own life remember no matter the task; be it great or small, public or private, physical or spiritual, God is faithful to equip us with His power through His Holy Spirit. We can stand and remember that “Nothing is impossible with God!”
Luke 1:37 Amplified Bible
“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”
4. Be obedient.
Luke 1:38 Amplified Bible
“Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her.”
Mary could have refused to be pregnant and NOT carry the Son of God. I am sure she was surprised that the angel told her she would give birth, let alone to the Son of God. It was unexpected. Something she didn’t even expect or think could happen to her. Yet, she trusted God and His plans and purposes.
Mary had an immediate response of obedience. She had and exemplary attitude of servanthood in the face of a crazy word from an Angel! She knew that she would get looks, loose friends, get ridicule, and receive persecution. She was about to be pregnant as a Virgin! She is not married yet! She knew this would be very difficult and the community would shame her, BUT despite this, she said, “I am the Lord’s Servant!” Q. Can you say that? Are you quick to obey God no matter the circumstances? Are you sticking close to his Word, not wavering from the Truth no matter what others might say or do? Let’s be like Mary!
Has God ever asked you to do something you never expected to do? Mary’s trust in God, and her obedience and cooperation with God’s plans and purposes, is a great example to follow. Allow God to work in you as He wants to, and know that all His plans for you are for your good. When unexpected things happen, keep trusting Him!
5. Mary knew how to be quiet and trust God.
Whatever Mary may have thought or felt, she controlled it because she said to the angel who first brought the news, “…let it be done to me according to what you have said.”
I believe that when God speaks something to us, many times we need to keep it to ourselves. He gives us the faith to believe what He has said to us, but if we try to tell it to others, they may think we have lost our minds. Other people do not always have the faith to believe what God has told us.
Luke 2:19 NKJV
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
When God spoke to Mary through the angel, there was a gift of faith that came with that word to her from the Lord so that she was able to say, “Let it be done.” But she was also wise enough not to go around knocking on doors saying, “I just had a visitation from an angel who told me I am going to give birth to the Son of God. I am going to get pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and the Child I will bear will be the Savior of the world.” Mary knew how to keep her mouth shut and her heart open. I encourage you to do likewise.
Allow the Holy Spirit to equip you. Spend some time with Him as He hovers over you to do great and mighty things. God can use anybody and He wants to use you. Don’t think less of yourself. Know that since God created you, He has good plans for your life. Have you given up on a dream God gave you? It is time to resurrect that dream and believe all things are possible with God. He will help you fulfill what He has called you to do. Don’t give up!
Your sister in Christ,
Pastor Kris Belfils