As we examined in our previous post, St. Michael is an archangel, a pure spirit, created by God, sent as a messenger of importance to humanity.
By Philip Kosloski, March 2018
The most obvious question after this statement is, “What important message or task did God give to St. Michael?”
To answer that we must first look at St. Michael’s appearance in sacred scripture.
The first mention of the holy archangel does not appear until the book of Daniel. In it the prophet has a vision of an angelic being, who is identified as the archangel Gabriel:
And I lifted up my eyes, and I saw: and behold a man clothed in linen, and his loins were girded with the finest gold (Daniel 10:5)
Then Gabriel reveals to Daniel the spiritual resistance he experienced while trying to convince the Persian king Cyrus to let the Jewish people return to Israel:
But the prince of the kingdom of the Persians resisted me one and twenty days: and behold Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there by the king of the Persians. (Daniel 10:13)
In some translations the word “prince” is replaced by the word “angel,” indicating the spiritual battle that was going on. Gabriel was unable to complete the task on his own and so enlisted the help of Michael.
Later in Daniel the holy archangel returns, this time in a prophetic vision of the end of the world.
But at that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince, who standeth for the children of thy people: and a time shall come such as never was from the time that nations began even until that time. And at that time shall thy people be saved, every one that shall be found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1)
This is the first time we see Michael as one who protects the people of Israel, saving them from their enemies.
His name is never mentioned again in the Old Testament and we do not see his presence directly until the letter of St. Jude. There he is referenced in connection to an event that occurred immediately after Moses’ death.
When Michael the archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses, he durst not bring against him the judgment of railing speech, but said: The Lord command thee. (Jude 1:9)
According to Origen, this dispute was a Jewish tradition that was passed down through the centuries where Michael is seen as a protector of the body of Moses.
Michael’s most memorable appearance in the Bible is in the book of Revelation, where he is seen as the head of a heavenly army, casting a great dragon down to earth.
And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels: And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
This is probably the most powerful view of Michael, showing him as a forceful warrior able to strike Satan down, casting the evil serpent out of heaven once and for all.
Based on these scripture passages, it appears that Michael was sent to earth as a protectorand warrior. He has the power to defeat Satan and can help protect us from our (spiritual) enemies.
Yet, that is not the end of the story.
Tradition has much more to say about St. Michael and his unique role in salvation history and his mission on earth. More on that in our next post.
My name is Philip Kosloski and I am a writer, author and creator. I connect Christians to the past through traditional devotions and engaging stories so they can live with a deeper sense of purpose in the modern world.
This is my personal blog, where I invite you to explore with me the great treasury of Christian wisdom over the past 2,000 years. Together we will learn from the examples of those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and who teach us today to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).