Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Angels of Baltimore

I believe that angels are at work in Baltimore, where these events have been happening in recent days: 

In the Grays' neighborhood, the death of Freddie Gray in police custody sparked peaceful protests soon overtaken by riots, looting, arson, and attacks on police this week, from Saturday to Wednesday. The mayor of Baltimore misspoke by saying on camera, prior to a riotous night, that others would be given "space to destroy." 

It might have happened without those shocking words, that rioters would set fire to buildings, steal cars, and drive them through large fires set in the middle of public streets. Destruction ran rampant as police were told to hold back. Young men played a dangerous game of risk and disobedience against any good hidden in them.  

Yet, I believe that angels are at work in Baltimore, and there is reason to believe that and to believe that they have aided men and women of that city in recent days. I think of the many courageous men and women of Baltimore as I think of Daniel (Belteshazzar), Hananiah (Shadrach), Michael (Meshach), and Azariah (Abed-nego). Their homes were in Jerusalem, which Babylon's king, Nebuchadnezzar, attacked. He took them captive and commanded his chief official to give the men Babylonian names. It's all part of biblical history

Daniel and his friends' problem was not police, jobs, food, or a place to live. Their problem was being forcibly separated from everything familiar to them and their faith. Nebuchadnezzar did not respect their ways, but one of his men helped them. Otherwise, the men faced difficult choices every day, death threats, and temptations to give up.

Finally, their loyalty to God angered the king so much that he had them thrown into a fiery furnace. Through its open door, onlookers saw the figures of the four men and an angel with them. The king and his minions saw this and could hardly believe their eyes.

Daniel and his friends came out of the fiery furnace with no burns or any smell of smoke on them or their clothes.

I believe that everyday in Baltimore many men, women, and youth are like Daniel and his friends. Many of them are in churches where they and their ministers continually pray and reach out into their community and neighborhoods. They are like the light that Jesus spoke about and the salt that keeps things from rotting. Angels are with them, helping.   

Recently, some Baltimore gang members from the Crips or Bloods walked into a church where people had been praying and were meeting to discuss how to help quiet the city and make it safer again. The pastor reported that gang members said they wanted to help.

Jesus loves rioters and He loves gang members. He calls them to join Him. 

Maybe, like Ricky Cruz's New York City gang, Crips and Bloods members in Baltimore will realize that Jesus loves them. Maybe they will realize this as they try to help the churches bring calm.

Billy Graham said of the angels and the Mighty Savior: The Bible says that God “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11). It also teaches that the angels–although they are largely unseen–watch over us and work for our good. ...God surrounds us with a host of angels to protect us and go before us. Even when hard times come, Satan can never snatch us away from their protection....While the angels are real, we are not to become preoccupied with them or to worship them, (for)... only Christ saves us....“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). [end of quote]

I believe that God has put His angels in and over Baltimore. They are helping people of Baltimore determined to help the city rise from its ashes of Monday night's destruction. God's Son, Jesus, the Mighty Warrior (Zephaniah 3:17) is helping His own. The city may have more troubles, yet we pray that it will pull together peacefully.

Today the Baltimore O's played the Chicago White Sox before an empty baseball stadium. Fans were barred, due to the previous night's violence. So today, the team's fans stood outside the gates and watched the game. Their manager, Buck Showalter, spoke well of the team in the post-game press conference. "I want us (the team) to be a rallying point for our city," he said.A reporter later commented: "No one was in the stadium but the world was watching."

I believe God is watching and has appointed angels to help the city of Baltimore. I believe that one day God will reveal the silent and unseen victories there in recent days, including spiritual ones. All of God's victories will one day be revealed...including, I hope, souls of more people set free.  

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