A Celtic Christian Worldview (15)
For this region of the air is so naturally constituted that it draws together and collects water vapours from the land and sea’s surface in the buoyant lightness of steam and, lifting them aloft, the air supports them on itself…With the more violent movement of air and wind the Creator also makes thunder and lightning at His secret command through the angels by whom the visible world, like everything else, is governed.
- The Book of the Order of Creation VII.5, 8
After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.
- Revelation 7.1
The Lord showed the apostle John that angels play a role in the management of the creation. And, duly submitted to the Word of God, the writer of the Liber passed that view on without hesitation. Indeed, he even enlarged on John’s view, drawing out the implication that God governs not only the winds and rain by angels, but everything else in creation as well.
It’s not clear precisely what the role of angels is in the government of the world, or how they manage this task; but here the Revelation clearly indicates that angels have control over the winds. Four great angels manage “the four winds of the earth” and determine when, where, and how they shall blow. Undoubtedly, many other angels are assigned with them in this task, though these four appear to have been entrusted with ultimate control.
Is it so difficult to believe that God could use angels, powerful and totally obedient spiritual beings, to maintain the creatures and processes of the cosmos? Not to Celtic Christians, who, we recall, “saved civilization” by their simple faith and obedience.
Nor to me. The interaction of the spiritual and physical worlds must be accounted for in some way. What physicist/theologian John Polkinghorne referred to as an incessant, ineffable information flow between Christ and the creation must be channeled by some means, and angels are that means. Christ speaks, angels obey, and the “laws of physics” follow their course.
The writer of the Liber also expressed the view that inherent in the creatures God has made are operating principles and means by which they, thus “naturally constituted,” do what is appropriate to each individual creature. God speaks, the angels act, and creation responds according to the mechanisms built into it by the Creator. What a glorious vision!
Lest we consider such thinking naïve, we should know that Jonathan Edwards, roundly touted as the greatest philosophical mind to have been brought forth on this hemisphere, agreed with this view. In his book, An Humble Attempt, Edwards explained how it is that God makes the creatures to serve us, His servants. He wrote, “It is by the immediate influence of God upon things according to those constant methods which we call laws of nature, that they are ever obedient to man’s will, or that he can use them at all.” The “immediate influence” of God, it turns out, is mediated by angels, who themselves are put in motion by the very Word of Christ.
Chapter VII of the Liber outlines the place of earth and its surrounding atmosphere as next in the order of creatures made by God. The creation – now in the condition of being affected by sin – is so constructed as to maximize its potential for fruitfulness under the sovereign rule of God. The writer explains that “thunder is heard mainly at that time when the fruits of the trees and of the soil are just appearing, before they begin to ripen. And thus it is through creatures that the growth and decrease of other creatures are ruled at the command of the Lord, the Creator” (Marina Smyth’s translation). Seasons come and go, creatures die and provide nutrients to other creatures, a great chain of continual being unites all creatures, according to their place and function in the ecosystem of the world, under the wise and watchful rule of God, administered by angels.
In place of this glorious, efficient, harmonious, mutually-advantageous, wise, constant, ennobling, and abundantly fruitful and useful vision, contemporary science offers us chance, evolution, and a world red in tooth and claw. Which takes more faith to believe? Which view, believing, leads to more security, stewardship, humility, gratitude, creativity, harmony, flourishing, and industry?
The New Testament advises us that angels may well move in and out amongst us from time to time (Heb. 13.2). Believe it. And the next time you’re outside, and the wind blows your hat off your head, or whips your hair across your forehead, imagine that mighty angel, just over your shoulder, doing the Master’s bidding.
1. We don’t talk much about the work of angels, not even with our fellow believers. Why do you suppose this is so?
2. How can things like the weather, the change of seasons, and so forth lead us to praise and thanks toward our God?
Psalm 91.11-16 (Lauda Anima: Praise My Soul the King of Heaven)
He shall give His angels charge to bear us up, lest we should fall.
They will guard and carry all who on the Savior’s mercy call.
Cobra, mighty lion, serpent: We shall tread upon them all!
Save us, Lord! We love You only; set us up secure on high!
You we know, on You we call in trouble: Hear us when we cry!
Show us Your salvation, let long life forever satisfy!
Thank You, Lord, for every angel who today will serve You as I…
A Christian worldview
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Davies, pp. 11, 12