The Angel of the Lord Appeared, Armed with a Smoking AR-15

OK. Work with me here.

As I was studying Scripture in preparation for a few posts on the hot topic of gun control, I began to come across quite a few verses that depicted the angel of the Lord as being armed and dangerous.

My basic thinking was that, of course, guns do not appear in the Bible. So there will be no proof-texting for either side. But weapons certainly do appear. Often. And often in the hands of angels.

No, not those Angels. Maybe we’ll get back to the 1980s later.

Cultural Equivalents

Just so we’re all clear on the basics, Biblical cultures did not have guns; but they did have swords as well as bows and arrows. Swords and such would have been the equivalent of military-grade armaments. These days, AR-15s are being called military-grade weapons. So it occurred to me to explore what, if anything, did God say about those weapons in those cultures.

I’ll share more of my findings in the coming days, but I quickly discovered that such weapons appear quite a bit, with their use often endorsed or commanded by God himself. But the one that really caught my eye was how often angels appeared armed with swords and even with swords often depicted as “flaming.”

A few examples from Scripture:

  •  So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen 3:24)
  • Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field…. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.   (Number 22:23-31)
  • And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped…. (Johua 5:13-14)

And then I thought, if an Angel of the Lord appeared today, would that angel still be sporting a sword or would he choose a weapon more fittting to the times. And if so, what would it be? An AR-15? Maybe not flaming, but smoking from frequent battle against the forces of darkness?

Hence my theory that we could safely adjust the above passages as follows and still be true to the teleos of the text:

  • So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, armed with a smoking AR-15, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen 3:24)
  • Now the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with an AR-15 locked and loaded in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field…. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.  (Number 22:23-31)
  • And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him armed with an AR-15, with the safety off. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?” So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped…. (Johua 5:13-14)

If not, why not?

I confess that when I first played these passages in my mind, I found them a little shocking. I don’t naturally seem to picture angels looking like Stallone — but with more talent — eyes steeled and biceps bulging. Frankly, I don’t think that’s the image we need to have of them either, although encounters with armed angels seem to scare the living daylights out of everyone in Scripture.

Some skeptics might claim that a sword cannot kill as many as an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine. I urge them to read 2 Kings 19 where the Angel of the Lord wiped out 85,000 in one night. Way more than the highest capacity AR-15 mag could ever hold. If you want to do some more research on angels, may I suggest the excellent Lifted by Angels by Joel J. Miller.

I’m not trying to argue that because angels can use an AR-15, so should we. There are better arguments for such guns. Nor am I trying to seem intentionally uncaring about victims of criminals who wrongly use such weapons. I realize we are not all angels, not even close. Although if the good angels have and use such weapons in their fight against the dark forces, I’d say it’s a safe bet that the other side is comporably armed else there wouldn’t be much of a fight.

What I am saying is that this little linguistic switch points out how effectively the anti-gun lobby has portrayed guns as inherantly evil and, therefore, never something that God and his Precious Moments angels would ever have anything to do with. But I just don’t see that in Scripture.

Blame It on the Duct Tape

I blame it on MacGyver, getting back to the 1980s. One of my all-time favorite TV shows, he very nearly convinced me that guns were evil. After that first pilot episode in which he actually fired a gun– there’s some trivia for you — the character shifted to become a radical anti-gun preacher, even refusing to soil himself by touching the filthy things before reaching for a fresh roll of duct tape. (Somehow I just don’t see an angel being all that intimidating, ripping open a fresh role of tape. But I digress.)

Maybe Sen Feinstein is right. At her press conference today, she and the Dean of the National Cathedral Rev. Canon Gary Hall claimed that the “cross lobby is greater than the gun lobby.” After looking at Scripture though, I’m just not at all sure that the two are in opposition — or need to be.

I’ll need to think about it some more. Maybe you do, too. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to ponder that image of the angel of the Lord appearing to Balaam and his dumb ass, armed with a smoking AR-15!

About Bill Blankschaen

Bill Blankschaen is a writer, speaker, author, content and messaging consultant, and general Kingdom catalyst. As the founder of FaithWalkers, he equips Christians to think, live, and lead with abundant faith.

His writing has been featured with Michael Hyatt, Ron Edmondson, Skip Prichard, Jeff Goins, Blueprint for Life, Catalyst Leaders, Faith Village, and many others.

Bill is a blessed husband and the father of six children. He serves as VP of Content & Operations for Polymath Innovations in partnership with Patheos Labs. He is the Junior Scholar of Cultural Theology and Director of Development for the Center for Cultural Leadership. He works with Equip Leadership, Inc. (founded by John C. Maxwell) and ministry leaders around the Pacific Rim to better equip ministry leaders there to lead with passion and greater influence.

  • Jennifer

    I love it! I always think of angels as being rather fierce beings that it’s best not to mess with. I want my guardian angel’s assault rifle to have flaming bullets to better light up the darkness.

    • http://BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

      Ahh yes. We all want the ones guarding us to have access to the best don’t we….

      • Jennifer

        I’m hoping that an angel would be a responsible gun owner :) Background checks could be a logistical nightmare, though.

        • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

          Prayer.

        • http://BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

          If we need background checks for God’s angels, we have much, much bigger issues. :)

          • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

            Mormons have one, in D&C 129:

            4. When a messenger comes saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand and request him to shake hands with you.
            5. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand.
            6. If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear—
            7. Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.
            8 If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not bfeel anything; you may therefore detect him.

          • Jennifer

            I am not very familiar with the Mormon faith but the imagery of D&C 129 is beautiful.

  • W. R. Land

    Rev. Canon Gary Hall “stop fearing the gun lobby and fulfill their “moral duty” to restrict guns.” I have to question who this man associates and stands with, Sen Feinstein’s hypocrisy seemingly knows no bounds , supports abortion, 54,559,615 since 1973, over 300,000 last year alone and also supports unfettered access to abortion. (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8 ) According to the FBI 323 people killed by rifles, not even separating hunting rifles from semi-automatics. Not to mention the “twisting words” and calling “semi-automatics rifles” “assault rifles” . According to U.S. Army “assault rifles” have select fire (auto or burst fire) ARs are not ASSAULT RIFLES. Why is there no call to rename a “choice” for what it is murder, a group of cells … a child. the scissors that mince a child in the wound murder tools, but an AR is a murder tool . Where is this “Man’s” “moral duty” in calling for this woman to embrace her own hypocrisy (And his for that matter).
    397 million legally owned firearms in the US and 99.9 % are never used in a crime, murder or accidental shooting and yet he has a “moral duty” to attack law abiding citizens constitutional rights and side with Sen Feinstein who has
    Had a conceal carry permit herself
    for six years the top Democrat on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (or “Milcon”) sub-committee, where she apparently directed more than $1 billion to companies controlled by her husband. Mr. Blum. , if you or I did that it would be prison, she just resigned from the committee and that’s that.
    Why would a man of God support a person or a party like this that is so diametrically opposed to Christianity and religion as a whole, “moral duty” indeed

  • http://byzantium.wordpress.com Kullervo

    I think that there is a corpus of symbolism attached to the sword throughout human psychological history that is not necessarily present (or in any case not necessarily the same) with an AR-15. My point is, I think that there’s more to the sword in these images than merely its utilitarian value, which is why “updating” the image to the civilian variant of a modern military weapon system is so jarring.

    • Jennifer

      I’d also suggest that since an angel wielding a sword could kill 85,000 people in a single night, the real “weapon” is the angel rather than the sword.

  • ymoore

    LOLOLOL! You White Evangelicals love yourself some guns!

    • http://BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

      I’ll choose to ignore the racial stereotyping and simply pass on your comments to my many black Christian friends who are far more into their guns than I. But I’m glad your laughing….

      You white-robed angels and your swords!

    • Jennifer

      You made my day, ymoore. Envisioning my left leaning, gun unloving self juxtaposed with my new apparent identity as a white evangelical gun lover gave me as much of a kick as Bill’s description of the gun wielding angel. Though I am, in fact, white. And I think weapons have a place.

  • B Smith

    This post is an interesting read, Mr. Blankschaen. I’m left wondering, however, if indeed those were angels with real swords, where did they get the swords? Were they borrowed, stolen, imported to earth from heaven or just an illusional armament? I tend to think they were not physical weapons and I agree with Jennifer (above): the real weapon in 2 Kings 19 was the angel. The angel of the Lord needs neither a sword nor a combat firearm nor even a butter knife to accomplish its assignment.
    I also agree with your sentiment that “after looking at Scripture…I’m just not at all sure that [the cross lobby and the gun lobby] are in opposition — or need to be.” Throughout history Christians have found that when the cross lobby [evangelism] fails, the gun lobby [sword] is a good fallback for conversion of the theretofore unwilling.
    Peace.

    • http://BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

      You make good point about fear being the fallback position for failed faith. I’ll write more to that point shortly. It is a place where I think Christ-followers with guns tend to falter.

    • Will

      “Throughout history Christians have found that when the cross lobby [evangelism] fails, the gun lobby [sword] is a good fallback for conversion of the theretofore unwilling.”

      Do you see why saying things like that might lead a secular person to fear and hate Christianity? Threatening to murder people who you can’t covert? Why would you post something like that?

  • W. R. Land

    Thanks for the censorship

    • http://BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

      ??

  • E.K.

    What about “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”? Wouldn’t that have some bearing on our understanding of angels armed with “swords”? I think so. A material sword made of metal or such – not so much.

    • http://BillintheBlank.com Bill Blankschaen

      Good point. But why not the AR-15 of the Spirit?

  • Pingback: God, Gun Control, and the Gospel: Where Is Our Hope?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X