June 20, 2011
Whitepebble's son asked me to go with him on a return visit, so we took a few minutes to get our ducks lined up. You want to do that before a call. You don't script every word, of course, but you want to get some general idea of where discussion may lead, and how you will respond if it goes here and how you will respond if it goes there. This particular fellow, Whitepebble Jr told me, had some questions about Michael in the Bible. Who is he? Is he really the same as Jesus?
Now, I don't especially like return visits where the main topic is 'who is Michael.' Nineteen times out of twenty, they are simply back door entries into a Trinity discussion, and I don't really like Trinity discussions. Unless handled with care, they can easily run on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on with neither side budging an inch. I bring them to an end fairly promptly if the other side doesn't respond to what strikes me as common sense. If both sides are dug in, it's just a time-waster. Let God sort it out. He knows if he's a trinity or not. But some of those evangelicals are quite happy to blow through acres of time in such debate. Truth be known, some of our own people, as well. But I'm not one of them.
Still, not every call goes by formula. You do have to probe around some to be sure you have a rigid trinitarian dogmatist on your hands...not everyone is. It may be different in your neck of the woods, but here, such a 'Michael' call is usually, not always, an invitation to spend forever locked in fruitless discussion. 'Who is Michael' is just a sneaky way to get into it. See, if Jesus is the same as Michael, then he is NOT God, since nobody anywhere (to my knowledge) claims that Michael is God. That's what riles Trinitarians, the implication that Jesus is not God. Were it not for trinitarian considerations, they'd have no issue with Jesus a/k/a Michael, just as they have no issue with Jesus a/k/a 'the Word', or Jesus a/k/a 'King of kings and Lord of Lords.'
The Witness understanding of this is fairly straightforward. Both Jesus and Michael are described as having the same role. They both carry the same title. So why not conclude they are the same individual, referred to, at different times, by different names? Makes sense to me.
Michael, for instance, leads God's army to battle Satan's forces:
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. Rev 12:7-10 NIV
That's the same role Jesus has, here described as the Word of God and KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (all-caps a device of the NIV):
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.” Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. Rev 19:11-19
So two generals, Michael and the 'Word of God', have the same role. Why not conclude they are the same person?
Of another occasion, 1 Thes 4:16 says:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
The “Lord himself” uses a voice lesser than his own? No. If he has “the voice of the archangel,” it's because he is the archangel. (a word, by the way, which never occurs as plural, but only singular. There are not archangels, but only one)
And 'the archangel' is? Michael.
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses..... Jude 9
It always steams me to come across evangelical sites and read there that "Jehovah's Witnesses say that Jesus was only an angel." No. He is, as one of his titles, the archangel; there's only one. (Not to mention how it steams me even more if they claim JWs say Jesus was "only a man." No, again. His life-force was transferred from long heavenly existance, as God's first-born son, to be born on earth as a perfect man; there have only been two. And by his faithful course, he undid, for those who put faith in the arrangement, the damage done by the first perfect man. Upon his resurrection, he's granted even greater authority than before, as king of God's Kingdom.)
So the Lord himself is the archangel Michael. Is that so hard to comprehend?
Dan 12:1 foretells:
At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.
Right! That's just what Jesus role is in the heavens. He is the 'great prince' [prince of peace] who protects God's people. He is Michael.
Nonetheless, I'm willing to yield on this point in the ministry. It's not central. If you “win,” you've won very little, much like winning on a flood discussion. Moreover, you will not win if speaking with a firm Trinitarian. They have it rock-solid in their head (like concrete, Lee Chugg used to say...all mixed up and firmly set) that Jesus is God, and if he is God, he certainly is NOT the archangel. Don't spend a lot of time on this. Instead, discern that the underlying issue is the Trinity, and deal with that if it seems fruitful. Look, I'm not crazy about Trinity discussions; I've already said that. But I'd rather have an open Trinity discussion than a masked one. In an open one, you can appeal to texts to show that Trinity for what it is. And the texts you'll use are not ones about Michael the archangel.
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