Monday, March 05, 2012

Prostrations

At Joshua 5:14 Joshua prostrated himself before the prince of the army of Jehovah, who was doubtlessly Michael the archangel,[1] and called him "my lord." The Hebrew word here rendered "worship" in the KJV is the same word used in Genesis 43:26, 28 regarding Joseph and 1 Chronicles 29:20 for King David. However, all such prostrations are "to the glory of God the Father."--Philippians 2:11.

At John 20:28, while there is no indication of prostration, Thomas declared to the resurrected Jesus: "My Lord and my God." The meaning of this is qualified by John's explanation in verse 31: "these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," not God. Jesus functioned as "God" to Thomas, like Moses functioned as God to others, but Thomas still believed that Jesus was the agent representing God in God's behalf. If Thomas literally believed that Jesus is God in the Trinitarian sense, then he would have been more accurate to declare, "My Lord and my God as the second person of the Godhead with human and divine natures!" Did Thomas believe that? Or did he believe that Jesus was God's agent with OT precedent? Thus, there was no need for Jesus to correct Thomas, as he replied in verse 29, as he and their contemporaries knew what Thomas meant.

At Jude 9, while Michael the archangel does not rebuke Satan over his intentions to misuse Moses' body, and instead leaves the ultimate rebuke to God, he does rebuke Satan by preventing him from misusing Moses' body. Similarly, Michael the archangel at Revelation 12 rebukes Satan and the demons by preventing them from invading God's court, and restricting their movements to the earthly sphere of activity. Likewise, Jesus during his earthly ministry dismissed Satan during the temptations (Matthew 4:10), and like his pre-human identity of Michael the archangel, left the ultimate rebuke to God. This is consistent with how Jesus treated the demoniacs he encountered: while rebuking and dismissing the demented demons, he still left the ultimate rebuke to God.[2] This ultimate rebuke is when God decides it is time to execute his judgment of death upon them.

An interesting case involving prostration and an angel occurred twice in Revelation, once at 19:10 and again at 22:8. Both times, the apostle John prostrated himself at the feet of an angel to worship him. His intentions though were evidently headed the wrong way, as he apparently was over-awed by the angel. Thus, both times the angel censured him, and redirected his worshipful, exclusive devotion to God. Comparing these events with Thomas' declaration to Jesus at John 20:28 shows what was in Thomas' heart. God the Father resurrected Jesus from the dead (Galatians 1:1), and Jesus as the "Son of God" (John 20:31) stood before him as living, tangible (materialized) proof that Jesus was resurrected. Thus, Thomas was now a true believer and gave ultimate glory to God the Father, Jehovah. Likewise with Joshua, he was not censured for bowing to Michael the archangel because he knew that ultimate devotional worship belonged exclusively to God Jehovah--as he said at Joshua 24:15: "But as for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah."

Footnotes:
[1] Daniel identifies Michael the archangel as the prince of God's people (Daniel 10:21; 12:1), and Revelation 12:7 identifies him as the commander of the angelic armies. So the conclusion seems inescapable that this prince who Joshua met and bowed down to is Michael the archangel.

[2] This is seen during his encounters with the Gadarene demoniacs (Matthew 8:29; Mark 5:7; Luke 8:28, 31) and the Capernaum synagogue demoniac (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34).

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