Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Michael Is a Name for the Son of God Himself, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

There has risen a question or two from readers regarding my last post where the archangel Michael in Daniel 12:1 is identified as the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. One or two asked if it was "orthodox" to believe that the phrase in Daniel 12:1 "At that time ... Michael shall arise" is a reference to the coming of Jesus Christ to "defend His people." I could quote John Calvin, John Gill, Isaac Watts, Charles Spurgeon or a host of others to show the orthodoxy of such a belief, but it seems that a few readers searched this subject on "Google" and the search engine brought up far more links to articles by heretical Jehovah's Witnesses, who also affirm that Michael is Christ,  than any writings of the aforementioned orthodox theologians. It just proves that Christians who try to base their theological beliefs on what they learn from "Google" are taking as big a risk as sick patients who try to get their diagnoses and treatments from the Internet.

Anyone who denies the deity of Jesus Christ is not an orthodox, evangelical Christian. Though Jehovah's Witnesses are in agreement with ancient orthodox Christian scholars that Michael is another name for Christ, they are incorrect in their views on the nature of Christ. Christ is no created being. He is God. However, an orthodox evangelical Christian should not cast away a particular truth of Scripture just because there is a corruption of that truth. For example, we don't throw out marriage just because the Mormons mar the sacredness of it through polygamy. Likewise, we should not throw out identifying Michael as another name for Christ just because the Jehovah's Witnesses have corrupted their view of the nature and deity of Jesus Christ and identifed our Lord as a created being.

Orthodox Theologians throughout the Centuries Have Identified Michael as Christ

Though there are many orthodox theologians of ages past that I could quote to defend the belief that Michael in Scripture is Jesus Christ (Calvin, Gill, Watts, Owen, etc.),  the words of the great Hebrew scholar Samuel Horsley should be sufficient to show you the orthodoxy of this belief. Samuel Horsley (15 September 1733 – 4 October 1806), a brilliant linguist, biblical scholar and evangelical pastor of the 19th century, is known for his brilliant defense of the doctrine of the Trinity, particularly in opposition to the Unitarians of his day who taught that the early Christians did not hold to the doctrine of the Trinity. Anyone who is familiar with Bishop Horsely knows of his erudite orthodoxy and clear writings on the subject of the Trinity.

Samuel Horsley also believed that the Michael of Scripture is Jesus Christ.  So, to squelch any notion that it is unorthodox, "cultish," or Unitarian to hold that "Michael" is another name for the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal second Person of the Trinity, read the following words of Samuel Horsley, L.LD (Cambridge), D.Theol (Oxford). In his message on Daniel 4:17, Samuel Horsley declared: 

"We read of another personage superior to Gabriel, who is named Michael. This personage is superior to Gabriel, for he comes to help him in the greatest difficulties; and Gabriel, the servant of the Most High God, declares that this Michael is the only supporter he has. This is well to be noted: Gabriel, one of God's ministering spirits, sent forth, as such spirits are used to be, to minister for the elect people of God, has no supporter in this business but Michael. This great personage has been long distinguished in our calendars by the title of 'Michael the archangel.'

It has been a long time fashion in the church to speak very frequently and familiarly of archangels, as if they were an order of beings with which we are perfectly well acquainted. Some say there are seven of them. Upon what solid ground this assertion stands I know not: but this I know, that the word "archangel" is not to be found in any passage of the Old Testament : in the New Testament, the word occurs twice, and only twice. One of the two passages is in the 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians, where the Apostle, among the circumstances of the pomp of our Lord's descent from heaven to the final judgment, mentions the "voice of the archangel." The other passage is in the Epistle of Jude, where the title of archangel is coupled with the name of Michael,— "Michael the archangel." This passage is so remarkably obscure, that I shall not attempt to draw any conclusion from it but this, which manifestly follows, be the particular sense of the passage what it may: since this is one of the two texts in which alone the word "archangel" is found in the whole Bible,—since in this one text only the title of archangel is coupled with any name,—and since the name with which it is here coupled is Michael,—it follows undeniably that the archangel Michael is the only archangel of whom we know any thing from holy writ. It cannot be proved from holy writ,—and if not from holy writ, it cannot be proved at all,—that any archangel exists but the one archangel Michael; and this one archangel Michael is unquestionably the Michael of the book of Daniel.
I must observe, by the way, with respect to the import of the title of archangel, that the word, by its etymology, clearly implies a superiority of rank and authority in the person to whom it is applied. It implies a command over angels; and this is all that the word of necessity implies. But it follows not, by any sound rule of argument, that because no other superiority than that of rank and authority is implied in the title, no other belongs to the person distinguished by the title, and that he is in all other respects a mere angel. Since we admit various orders of intelligent beings, it is evident that a being highly above the angelic order may command angels.
To ascertain, if we can, to what order of beings the archangel Michael may belong, let us see how he is described by the Prophet Daniel, who never describes him by that title; and what action is attributed to him in the Book of Daniel, and in another Book in which he bears a very principal part.
Now Daniel calls him "one of the chief princes," or "one of the capital princes," or "one of the princes that are at the head of all;" for this I maintain to be the full, and not more than the full, import of the Hebrew words. Now, since we are clearly got above the earth, into the order of celestials, who are the princes that are first, or at the head of all ?—are they any other than the Three Persons in the Godhead? Michael, therefore, is one of them; but which of them? This is not left in doubt. Gabriel, speaking of him to Daniel, calls him, "Michael your prince," and "the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people;" that is, not for the nation of the Jews in particular, but for the children, the spiritual children, of that holy seed, the elect people of God,—a description which applies particularly to the Son of God, and to no one else. And in perfect consistence with this description of Michael in the Book of Daniel, is the action assigned to him in the Apocalypse, in which we find him fighting with the Old Serpent, the deceiver of the world, and victorious in the combat. That combat who was to maintain ?—in that combat who was to be victorious, but the seed of the woman? From all this it is evident, that Michael is a name for our Lord himself, in his particular character of the champion of his faithful people, against the violence of the apostate faction, and the wiles of the Devil. In this point, I have the good fortune to have a host of the learned on my side."

Too Many American Evangelicals Are Influenced by Medieval Roman Catholic Theology

For those who may still be hung up on the word "archangel," and see it as representing some kind of "created" angel, I submit that you have received your tradition from Roman Catholic tradition, and not the study of Scripture. Further, modern dispensationalists have so twisted the Scriptures to fit their futuristic framework, that they have unintentionally missed the beauty and power of fulfilled prophecy in Daniel 11 and 12, where Jesus Christ is identified as the Incarnate Creator come to earth to deliver His people.

I close this blogpost with words from 19th century orthodox Scottish minister James Farquharson, a Hebrew scholar and member of the English Royal Society of Fellows. His words should reassure orthodox evangelicals that the word archangel is one of the New Testament titles given to Christ and does not represent a "created" angel (as Roman Catholics and Jehovah's Witnesses believe). After reading the following defense of the identification of Michael as Jesus Christ, I would urge you to return to the post entitled At That Time Michael ... Shall Arise and see if the prophecies of Daniel 11 do not give you chills in seeing Daniel's predictions of future world events fulfilled precisely as God revealed they would be in the 500 years preceding the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to defend "His people" at Calvary.
"Archangel is a title given, by Jude, to our Lord himself. The only other passage, in which the title occurs, is in 1Thessalonians 4:16.  At the first view of that Thessalonian passage, it might seem, that the title is there given to some Being distinct from our Lord. Hence an objection might be raised to the correctness of considering it as applied to him in any other part of Scripture. But when we compare that passage with others in holy writ, we discover that there, too, we must consider it as applied to him.
The words of I Thessalonians 4:16 are, "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." Here we must understand the shout with which the Lord himself shall descend, the voice of the Archangel, and the trump of God to signify the same thing,—that is, the summons that shall call the dead from their graves.
 As to the shout, the passage itself ascribes it to the Lord ; and respecting the voice, the Lord himself informs us, that it is his own voice that shall raise the dead to life. Jesus Christ says in the Gospel of John 5:19-29: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth : and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man, Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

Thus, it is not at the voice of any created being, that all that are in their graves shall come forth; but it is at the voice of Him, by whom, Paul assures us, "all things were created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, and who is before all things." (Colossians 1:16-17.) It is the same voice, which said, "Let there be light," "and there was light," (Genesis 1:3)the same voice, at whose command the tribes of animated beings sprang to life, and which gave the decree for the creation of man,—that shall command the graves to be opened,  and call the "dead to come forth out of their graves" (I Thessalonians 4:16). On his own authority, also, we learn, that the trumpet, that shall sound in the day of the resurrection from the dead, is the trumpet of the Son of Man. "Then shall appear," says he, "the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
It is not said, here, that he shall send his angels to raise a great sound of a trumpet; but he himself shall send them with, or, as it might be rendered, by a great sound of a trumpet. We have thus a proof, drawn from Scripture, that Michael is a name for the Son of God himself. The Archangel, in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, whose voice is to raise the dead, can be no other than our Lord; and in the 9th verse of Jude, the Archangel is named Michael. Although not of "the nature of angels," (Hebrews 2:16) our Lord is their Commander, for "angels, and authorities, and powers, are subject unto him," (I Peter 3:22) and "thrones, dominions, principalities, powers, and all things, were created by him, and for him" (Colossians 1:16).
We observe, further, that the very name, Michael, is an appropriate name for our Lord, and for him alone. The literal meaning of the term Michael is, Who is like unto God; or, supplying the obvious ellipsis, He who is like unto God.

It does not belong to our present subject to illustrate, at length, the peculiar and essential doctrine of the Christian religion, presented to our notice in this literal meaning of the name Michael. Our immediate purpose is, to demonstrate that Michael, the great Prince who standeth for the children of Daniel's people, is clearly no other than Christ.

Confining ourselves here, then, to the proof of this, we observe, that Christ himself, in the passage we quoted from John chapter five, claims like honour to himself as is due to the Father, and says, that "as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself, and as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." Here then is a claim, on the part of Christ himself, to a likeness to God, in some of the most essential powers and attributes of the divine nature.

The Apostle Paul, in declaring the Divinity of Christ's nature, has often made use of terms that might seem to be professedly translations of the name "Michael," (i.e. "who is like unto God"). In 2 Corinthians 4:4, he says, "the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." In Philippians 2:5- 7, he says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; But made himself of no reputation.” In Colossians 1:15, he calls Christ-the Father's dear Son, “ the image of the invisible God." And in the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews 1:1-4 he says, God “ hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."

We might adduce many other proofs to a similar effect, but we trust it is now abundantly demonstrated, that Michael, the great Prince, in this last vision of Daniel, is the same with him who is predicted as the Messiah."