Angels carry swords. At our “town” church (in Nairobi) we had the children’s Christmas program early, today in fact. And yes, those “ah … such cute little angels” all carried swords.
I’ve a bone to pick with those silly “Renaissance” (and other) painters who have convinced us that a cherub is a fat baby with wings and that all of God’s angels are lovely and demur maidens. The first biblical mention of cherubs has them wielding flaming swords. And then Ezekiel’s description? Hardly “cherubic” baby cheeks, that. Now I have no problem with little girls (there are four of whom I’m especially fond), but when Psalms 91 says “He will order his angels to protect you” does anyone REALLY picture a body guard of cute little girls?
On the great day of the first fruits of the Resurrection of the dead, an angel of the Lord appeared to the soldiers guarding the tomb. These are tough military guys, remember? “The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.” Joshua, a mighty warrior and army commander in his own right, once had a little run in with an angel. He “saw a man standing in front of him holding a drawn sword.” Where others would have cowered, Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you fightin’ WITH us or AGAINST us?” He knew he was dealing with a fighter … and it turned out to be the angelic commander, in fact, of the army of the LORD (Tolkien’s martial language in Lord of the Rings reflects the traditional KJV: “captain of the host of the LORD”).
You know the drill. Somebody reads “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field” (cue little boys) … “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them” (cue first cute girl) “and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not … .” So, how many of you get scared when you see a cute little girl with tinsel in her hair?
Have you noticed that angels are almost always doing that? Saying “don’t be afraid” to someone? “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host” (cue rest of the little girls). Think of a movie you’ve seen with numberless soldiers preparing to charge into battle, waving their swords aloft. Now think of them all being bright and shiny. Think half a million lumens per soldier. Don’t think wimpy rapiers but flaming broadswords.
“He will give his angels charge over you.” Now that’s a promise of some serious protection.
So to correct popular misconceptions, today at my church the angels (okay, they WERE all cute little girls, including three of my daughters) carried swords. When the readers got to “and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,” the angels all held their swords in the air.