“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thes. 4:16)
Among the company of the Lord’s messengers, His angles, are the spirits of departed saints and men in the flesh. Angels speak on behalf of God. They appeal to the Lord’s people by revealing the mind of the Lord. Their message sets in motion God’s purpose in the earth. In them is expressed the anointing of God and the spirit of wisdom, of might, of revelation, of understanding, of counsel, of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. Thus, they serve as a spiritual instrument through which the seven spirits of God are sent out into all the earth. And just as the seven Spirits are before the throne of God (Rev. 1:4), so does John behold and hear the voice of many angels round about the throne (Rev. 5:11).
It is from this position in God’s presence that the ministry of the Spirit by the angels proceed. Thus, Gabriel introduces himself to Zacharias saying: “I am Gabriel, that stands in the presence of God” (Luk. 1:19). This proximity of angels to the throne sheds light on the matters we now speak. For it is from the throne that the Lord descends in the voice of an archangel.
The throne of God is neither a physical location nor a physical seat in a faraway heaven. God, who is omnipresent Spirit, does not sit on a chair. But just as He is everywhere, so is His throne – for it is a spiritual throne that is approached in and by the Spirit. Is this not why the writer of the Hebrews encourages us to: “come boldly unto the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16)? We can all ascend and experience the throne through union with Christ within ourselves. Therefore, the throne is but a symbolic representation of the sphere of God’s absolute dominion and almighty power. It is a realm of eminence and glory in the Spirit. It is the domain of God’s presence from which His sovereign authority and power advance. We need not look elsewhere, for God’s throne is within us in the high place of the spirit man, just as Satan’s throne is in the high places of the carnal mind.
As we consider all the participants and activities taking place around God’s throne, which John portrays, we perceive one thing – that God is a vast family. There is a saying in the west that the kitchen is the heart of the home. This is because the kitchen is where family members often congregate. Similarly, the throne is the heart of God’s Kingdom for it is where the multitudes gather. They all gather around One. For at the center of that throne is Christ Jesus. And although there is only one throne and only One who sits upon the throne, He is not alone for He is encircled by a vast company of elders, beasts and angels who are gathered around and before His throne.
Of this awesome scene, John writes: “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Rev. 5:11). In this awe-inspiring passage we witness the gathering together of the members of God’s family in Christ. For in the One we see many – many sons, many king-priests, many messengers, many voices, many sounds.
Great expressions of God’s authority and power advance from the throne. We read that “out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices” (Rev. 4:5). These are not natural occurrences but figurative representations. The lightnings, thunderings, and voices out of the throne are indicative of God speaking and His word going forth out of His mouth to accomplish its purpose on the earth. And because God is a family, never do we read of lightning, thunder and a voice but of lightnings and thunderings and voices (See Rev. 4:5, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18). The declaration of God proceeds through those who have been conformed to His image and bear His nature and message. Thus, we read that these thunderings and voices are of a people: “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven… And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns’” (Rev. 19:1,6).
Today, the Lord is manifesting Himself in a sound. And to those who have ears to hear, it is as the sound of many waters and mighty thunderings. The voice of a great multitude of those in this age and of bygone years are declaring the full gospel of the Kingdom and it is as the sound of lightnings and thunderings and voices accelerating the glorious event of the manifestation of Christ. Of these events John writes: “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven… when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices” (Rev. 10:1, 3). This voice of the seven thunders is the fullness of the revelation of Christ to His elect. It is the totality of His life and victory and the complete revelation of His will and purpose in His saints. This might angel who ushers this revelation is the same archangel in whose voice the Lord descends from heaven.
In our opening passage we read that the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God following which the dead in Christ will rise first. From the passage it seems the Lord’s appearing is merely accompanied by a shout and a voice. However, the original Greek indicates that the Lord descends from heaven “IN a shout” not “WITH a shout” (Greek: ‘en’ meaning ‘in’). The Lord also manifests “IN the voice of an archangel” not “WITH the voice of an archangel”. So, the Lord Himself is in the shout and in the voice.
The Word, the Logos of God, is expressed, revealed, manifested, in the shout and in the voice of the archangel. That voice is a pure and powerful word that imparts His life. For the Word that He is and speaks are His Spirit and His life. It should come as no surprise then that the voice of the archangel is in fact the voice of the Son of God. Thus, Jesus said: “the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live” (Joh. 5:25).
Let us further consider this archangel.The word ‘archangel’ only occurs twice in scripture and is a combination of two words: “archo” which means to be chief, to lead, to rule and “aggelos” (i.e. messenger). Thus, this archangel is God’s Chief Messenger. Who else is God’s Chief Messenger other than the Lord Jesus Christ? He is Chief in all aspects in God’s Kingdom – He is the Chief Shepherd, the Chief Cornerstone, the chiefest among ten thousand (Son. 5:10). He is Chief of a great multitude of messengers.
The second occurrence of the phrase ‘archangel’ is in reference to Michael the archangel (Jud. 1:9). The name Michael means “who is like God”. A name in God’s economy is more than a designation, it signifies one’s nature. Thus, Michael the archangel is indicative of one whose nature is like God. Accordingly translated we see that Michael the archangel is the ‘Chief Messenger who is like God’. This tribute can only be placed upon Him who is Head and who is the sole expression and very image of God’s nature – Jesus Christ. This is why it was said to Daniel: “Michael, first of the chief heads” and “Michael your head” (Dan. 10:13, 21 YLT). Herein is the profound mystery of Jesus Christ appearing as the angel of God.
“Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries” (Exo. 23:20-22).
To be continued…
May the voice of Son of Man intensify in our spirit. May it ring true in the ears of every saint called to hear and apprehend it in this hour.