In the modern world, we have a deeply impoverished view of spiritual powers. When we think of a cherub, we picture Michaelangelo’s naked babies with wings and halo. Ezekiel actually saw them: legs like an ox, with hooves shining like burnished bronze, four wings, four faces (ox, lion, eagle, and man), glowing like burning coals. Imagine one of those showing up in your bedroom. No wonder when an angel appears to someone in the Bible, the first thing it usually says is “Don’t be afraid!”
No wonder, too, that fallen angels were able to demand and get human worship. Can you imagine refusing? It’s something even Israel struggles with throughout the Hebrew Bible. The Babylonian captivity forever cured Israel of worshipping lesser gods, but what about the Gentile world? You would expect the cure for idolatry to be some transcendent display of world-breaking power…and in a way, it was. But nothing like you’d have predicted.
Like an adult squeezing through the door of a child’s play house, infinite God became man and entered our world the way we all do, through a birth canal, bloody and squalling. So it is that St. Paul cheerfully concedes there are “many gods and many lords,” and then continues “but for us there is one God, the Father from whom are all things, for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we exist.” Once we’d met the real thing, however counterintuitive His appearance, it no longer made sense to dally with impostors. Merry Christmas!