“Lower Than the Angels”

“For Thou Nast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.” —Psalm 8:5

WHAT is the world coming to? Had the chaotic and distressing conditions of today prevailed a generation ago, many would have concluded that the second coming of Christ was near, and that the world would soon come to an end. But a generation of modernist teachings in our institutions of learning, plus global wars, and the ever-increasing worldliness and atheism of our day, have well-nigh erased all religious viewpoints from the minds of the general public. Hence, while millions today fear that the human race may ultimately be destroyed by nuclear energy or by pollution, they do not as a rule associate their fears with the troublous days foretold in the Bible.

True, many know the Bible teaches that Jesus would come again to this earth, but because of the distorted understanding of this teaching that has been handed down to us from the Dark Ages, it is now considered to be largely a superstitious notion, unworthy of the attention of the serious-minded and enlightened people of our day. It is because sincere but obviously misguided souls in the past donned white robes, mounted housetops, and looked for Jesus to drop out the sky to take them away into the clouds, leaving the earth enveloped in a mass of flames, that the thinking public of today has concluded that the second coming of Christ is not to be considered seriously as offering a solution to the world’s problems.

No one is to be blamed for turning away in unbelief from a grotesque theory of this kind. On the other hand, human wisdom offers no hope of escape from the dilemma into which man’s selfishness and foolishness have plunged the unhappy human race. The question therefore naturally arises, Is no solution to be found? The answer to that question is, Yes, the Bible itself, when viewed in the light of its own reasonable teachings, reveals that in this hour of darkness and great need the Creator of the universe intervenes by sending a divine representative to the earth to straighten out the tangled affairs of the people, and this One is Jesus.

In the light of the marvelous scientific achievements of our day the visit to earth of One who ordinarily dwells in another part of the universe is not unthinkable, or even farfetched. Our space scientists have already sent men to the moon. When we contemplate this, we should remember that the Creator placed the moon where it is, controls its every movement by his unerring laws, and likewise has created and controls the countless other heavenly bodies which are millions of light years farther removed from us than the moon. And how reasonable it is to believe that if man, with his very limited knowledge and powers, can not only visit the moon, but possibly Mars and Venus as well, then surely the Creator, who made the universe, can easily send a representative to visit us if he purposes to do so!

We should have no difficulty in recognizing that the Creator of the universe is able to send someone to visit this planet; but the question properly arises, Are we justified in supposing that he gives that much consideration to such an infinitesimally small part of his universe as we know this planet Earth to be? This question was raised in the minds of many of the world’s wisest philosophers of the past. David, “the sweet singer of Israel,” pondered over it, and found the answer. He wrote, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the Son of Man, that thou visitest him?”—Ps. 8:3,4

David, even without the aid of a telescope, discerned how insignificant this earth must be in comparison to the creative works of God which were spread out before him night after night in all their glory and grandeur. And as for the human race which dwells on the earth, the Prophet Isaiah described the nations as mere “dust of the balance.” (Isa. 40:15) No wonder David raised the question as to why God, through the prophets, had indicated his interest in human beings, an interest so deep and genuine that he had promised to send One to deliver the people from sin and death; One who would become a great King, to rule over and bless all nations.

But David gives us the answer to his own query, saying of man that God had created him only a little lower than the angels, and had crowned him with glory and honor, and had made him to have dominion over the earth, and all things upon it. Ah yes, the Creator had constituted man a king, to have dominion and rule over this part of his universe. And now that this king of earth had disobeyed his law and been dethroned, he proposed to take steps to reestablish him as the ruler of the earth, and restore to him all the glorious privileges of his lost dominion.

Man was made “a little lower than the angels.” We do not know much about angels, except that the Bible assures us that they exist, and that they are much more intelligent and powerful than man, and in almost every way superior to him. Many are unable to believe in the existence of angels because, as they say, we cannot have faith in that which we do not see. What angels really are, what they look like, what their habits of life may be, and what useful part they play in the Creator’s scheme of things, are points of minor importance with respect to our present discussion. It is important, however, to realize that such creatures do exist because the fact of their existence and the nature of their activities are closely related to God’s interest in the human race and his purpose in sending a royal representative of heaven to visit us.

Is it, then, reasonable to suppose that man is not the highest order of being in all the Creator’s vast universe? Even the asking of such a question seems foolish to those human minds which are not too overburdened with the weight of their own importance. Imagine, if you can, a human being—even a scientist—peering through a telescope into the vast universe of worlds which its powerful lenses bring within his mystified view, saying to himself, I am the most intelligent, the most powerful, and the most important of all beings that exist!

How unreasonable for one to take such a view of things when he doesn’t even know how the universe came into existence, nor fully understands the laws which govern the countless millions of heavenly bodies he can see through his telescope, which laws prevent their crashing into one another. He has no idea how far the universe extends beyond the range of his puny instruments. All he knows is that he was able to compound some of the elements of which the earth is made, and put them together to form a telescope, and then by its use to see a great deal more of the universe than is visible to the naked eye. Oh yes, he has discovered that every world in the universe moves at such a fixed rate of speed that he can calculate where it will be hundreds of years in advance, but he does not know why that speed never changes.

The scientist has learned that all matter is made up of atoms. He can even “split the atom.” But he cannot make one. It is something like the nursery rhyme of the broken egg, which states that “all the king’s horses, and all the king’s men, couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.” But in spite of the fact that stretched out before him are millions of created things which he could not create, and that there are forces and laws which he cannot fully explain, the unbelieving scientist and nonscientist alike continue to insist that they cannot believe in that which they do not see, maintaining that they themselves are of the highest order of all living things in the universe. Such a state of mind is really pathetic when we ponder it, yet how few realize it.

The fact that so many things exist of which we have little or no understanding—either as to how they were created, or the laws which govern them—should be ample proof that somewhere in this universe there exists intelligence and power vastly superior to our own. Should it not also be apparent that the Creator of the vast universe could, if he so decreed, send a visitor to this earth from one of the other planes of intelligent existence—a visitor powerful enough to exercise a tremendous influence in the affairs of men? The Bible assures us that God did so propose! It is to this that David refers when he speaks of man as being of sufficient importance in God’s sight as to merit such a visit.

But why should God send a visitor to this earth? All the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning this visit, and the New Testament explanations of these prophecies, indicate that it is due to the fact that man became a rebel against divine law, and that through sin and selfishness the human race would finally perish unless the Creator did something about it. So we read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16

Jesus was the messenger from heaven—the One who came to save the rebellious race. He gave a wonderful parable to illustrate this, in which he likened the whole vast universe of God to a sheepfold in which there were a hundred sheep. One of these went astray, and the good shepherd sought and found the lost sheep, which well represented the human race. Jesus was the Good Shepherd who came to earth to rescue humanity from the wilderness of sin and death.

Yes, the human race is “lost.” David said that man had been made a little lower than the angels, “crowned with glory and honor,” and made ruler over everything of a lower nature upon the earth. This statement of David’s is quoted in the New Testament, and the explanation is added, “But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, … crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”—Heb. 2:8,9

How true that we see “not yet” all things put under man! He has long since proved his inability to rule himself, to say nothing of ruling over the dominion as a whole. While the Creator commissioned man to multiply and fill the earth and have dominion over it, he forfeited that dominion and the right to live forever when he transgressed the divine law. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return,” was the sentence pronounced upon man when he was driven out of Eden into the unfinished earth to die.—Gen. 3:19

It is well to note in this connection, however, that man was sentenced to death, and not to eternal torment, as the theology of the Dark Ages teaches. Nor is it true, since he sinned and is not permitted to continue to live on the earth, that God made a provision for him to be transferred at death to heaven. Man was made to live on the earth, “a little lower than the angels,” and there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that it is God’s purpose for human beings at death, or at any other time, to become angels.

Man was created perfect as a human, and was made in the image of God; that is, able to reason, and to know right from wrong. That was more than 6,000 years ago. But throughout all the years since then the race has been degenerating, until today we are not able even to approximate what a perfect man is like. We are all imperfect and dying, deformed in mind and body. Our intellects are dwarfed; our bodies diseased and decaying. The original perfection of both mind and body is lost, and selfishness is driving the race headlong toward destruction.

But the Creator did not lose interest in his human creatures when they disobeyed his law. He was still “mindful” of man, and began to make promises to send a visitor to earth from the heavenly courts—One who would be equipped and empowered to rescue him from the pit of sin and death into which he had fallen. This visitor was Jesus, and when he was born the angel announced, “Fear not, … for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”—Luke 2:10,11

“A Savior, which is Christ the Lord”—how full of meaning are those words! Truly the world needed to be saved; and the world is still waiting for that salvation—a salvation which God had promised would reach the people through the Christ whom he would send. This promised One was to be born into the world as a “seed” through whom “all the families of the earth” were to be blessed. He was to be the great Lifegiver of the race, and the Mediator between God and men. He was to be “the Prince of Peace.” He was to be a mighty King to rule over all nations. (Isa. 9:6,7; Zech. 14:9) Truly he was to be a Savior, and a great one; and it was the happy privilege of the angels on that first holy night to announce to the shepherds on the Judean hills that this long-promised One was born; that he had come.

And from whence did this holy Child come? The Scriptures are explicit on this point. In the first chapter of the Gospel according to John we learn that Jesus had a prehuman existence; that from the very beginning of creation he was the “Word,” or spokesman, of the Creator, participating in all the works of creation. This great One, the apostle explains, was “made flesh,” and dwelt among us. Here, then, was the first phase of the foretold “visit” to earth of a heavenly messenger representing the Creator, and manifesting the Creator’s interest in the welfare of his fallen human creatures.

And why did this highly exalted messenger from heaven visit the earth in such humble form, and under circumstances so lacking in splendor and glory? The apostle answers, saying that Jesus was made flesh “for the suffering of death.” (Heb. 2:9) As man was “a little lower than the angels,” so Jesus partook of the same nature, that he might be the exact correspondence of the perfect Adam. Yes, Jesus was made flesh for the suffering of death, not to be a human king over the nations; for the main purpose of his first visit was accomplished when he tasted death “for every man.” Jesus said to his disciples that he would give his flesh for the life of the world, and this he did, voluntarily and gladly, upon Calvary’s cross.—John 6:51

It was the death of the man Christ Jesus that opened the way for the restoration of the lost inheritance of life and rulership. This is what the apostle meant when he wrote, “We see not yet all things put under him, but we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, …that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Heb. 2:8,9) We see, then, that an important step toward the restoration to result from the promised visit to earth has been accomplished. However, man is still fallen. He continues to die. He is still ruled by sin and selfishness, and makes war upon his fellows. Now, indeed, the ingenious ones among the human race are producing instruments of destruction which threaten the very existence of the human race.

Nevertheless, the first phase of the promised visit to earth by which God indicated he would intervene on behalf of the people to save them from eternal death is now an accomplished fact. We see that man is still dying, but we see also that Jesus has come and died for man; and in this we recognize the beginning of the outworking of the divine plan to save the people from death and restore them to life and happiness as the kings of earth, again crowned with the glory and honor of the human nature, only a little lower than the angels.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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