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God’s staff team: Michael

Isn’t it exciting to know that God has staff meetings? The Lord created the hosts of heaven to help us rule the earth and fill the earth with his glory. In these heavenly staff meetings, a couple of angels are called on for the major assignments: Michael and Gabriel. Let’s look at Michael.

The little book of Jude mentions Michael in a doozy of a story. “When the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you’” (Jude 1:9). There is nothing in the Bible that records this episode. All we have is Deuteronomy 34:5-6 which states that Moses died and the Lord “buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.” This is one of those rare cases where the New Testament alludes to or quotes from a non-canonical book (in this case, the Assumption of Moses, or the Testament of Moses, both written in the first century AD). Stories about angels were very popular in ancient Jewish literature.

So, why is Jude bringing this up?

When we look at the end of Moses’ life, he was pretty worn out by Israel’s constant complaining. He made it to the border of the promised land, but the Israelites had “made his spirit bitter, and he spoke rashly with his lips” (Ps 106:33). Satan must have reasoned, “If Moses disqualified himself from entering the promised land, he should be disqualified from entering heaven.”

How does Michael respond? Jude says that he’s not going to “presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment.” On Satan or Moses? Or both?

Michael not only refrained from passing judgment on Moses (and avoided the risk of slandering him); he also refused to judge Satan, and instead called on the Lord, saying, “The Lord rebuke you.” Mike left all judgment—whether it was about Satan or Moses—to the Lord. That’s one self-disciplined, humble angel!

Perhaps our image of angels is too static and bland. Michael not only shows us what good angels do; he shows us who they are. Michael did not step out of his identity when contending with someone who had completely abandoned his identity. And that is Jude’s point. To step out of one’s God-appointed identity and usurp God’s role as judge will inevitably lead to slandering others.

We need to be like Mike! We don’t know everything that’s happening inside other people’s hearts. Everyone struggles with something—fear, control, doubt, insecurities, pride. Everyone has a backstory that influences them every day. We cannot presume to put a bow on all our judgments. 

Be like Mike. Be humble.