By Jeannette Haley
From Genesis to Revelation, we read about the holy angels of God; in fact, so much so that most of us generally take it for granted that angels are real beings with great powers who serve the Most High God day and night. Our understanding of angels can be enhanced by a careful study of them in the Word of God, while laying aside all the faulty and sometimes silly notions about angels that originate in the imaginations of man. Thus, we need to be cautious to not take angels to extremes such as the movement a few years ago that involved what amounted to “angel worship.” There are also subversive teachings in some Christian circles that go so far as to practice “commanding the angels” to do certain feats for them; only God can command His angels to do anything! Unscriptural ideas about angels also abound in certain cults as well as in the world of the occult. The only safe ground is for us to know what the Bible says, in context, and not try to “fill in” what the Bible does not proclaim, or teach, in spite of what heretical leaders, fiction writers and movie producers portray.
In Job 38:4-7 we read the Lord’s challenge to prideful Elihu, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? In Genesis 2:1 we read, “THUS the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” In other words, “All things were made by him: and without him was not any thing made that was made” John 1:3. Therefore, no matter who or what may come against us, how comforting and encouraging to know that our God is above it all in great power and majesty.
In Genesis 3:24, we read, “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” No doubt many of us have tried to imagine what that scene looked like as we’ve pondered this sad situation. The tree of life, which only two human beings ever looked upon, was guarded by angelic beings and a flaming sword that literally moved every which way to keep fallen mankind from gaining access to it should they ever have regret and remorse, for if they had partaken of it, they would be doomed to live forever on earth in a fallen condition. One can only wonder if that fiery, moving sword and angelic guard remained throughout the preflood ages up until the Flood came and took everything away.
We know that Satan was created as an angelic cherub. As Oswald Chambers noted, God did not create Satan. He created him as Lucifer, and it was he who made himself the devil, or adversary, Satan, when pride arose in him and he rebelled against God, taking one-third of the heavenly angels with him. (Revelation 12:3, 4.)
There are an innumerable host of holy angels (messengers) who worship and serve God, and, as He commands, mankind. We all know that there are evil angels who obey Satan and work tirelessly to kill, steal and destroy on the earth, as well as battle God’s angels. (See Daniel 10). The problem is, we become so absorbed in our daily routines and ruts that our busy minds tend to shove the reality and workings of both the heavenly hosts and the demonic hoards that abound around us into the recess of our minds. Just because we can’t see them with our physical eyes doesn’t mean they’re not around us. According to one source, angels are mentioned in the Bible at least 273 times. In the Book of Hebrews alone they are mentioned thirteen times. In verse 14 of Chapter 1 we are told “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” This is a great verse to ponder!
In times such as these, when it can often seem as if everything is wrong and nothing is right, it is good to reflect on the loving care of our great God, and to remember that He does send forth His angels to minister to us. H. C. Spurgeon, in one of his sermons on the subject of angels said, “In the case before us we see Jacob in the best of company. Jacob, not cheated in Mesopotamia, but honoured in Mahanaim; not trying to outwit Laban, but gazing upon celestial spirits. He was surrounded by angels, and he knew it. His eyes were open, so that he saw spirits who in their own nature are invisible to human eyes. He became a seer, and was enabled by the inward eye to behold the hosts of shining ones whom God had sent to meet him. It is a great privilege to be able to know our friends and to discern the hosts of God. We are very apt, indeed, to realize our difficulties, and to forget our helps: our allies are all around us, yet we think ourselves alone. The opposition of Satan is more easily recognized than the succour of the Lord. Oh to have eyes and hearts opened to see how strong the Lord is on our behalf.” (Genesis 32:1, 2) Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”
Throughout Scripture we discover that there are different types, ranks, duties and abilities of angels. We also learn that while they are an unseen host, they can also appear visibly to both man and beast. Abraham recognized the men who came to him over the matter of Sodom and Gomorrah as angels from heaven, and offered them hospitality. They also appeared as men when they visited Lot, where they struck the men of Sodom when they attempted to break down the door of Lot’s house with blindness. The angels of God that met Jacob were seen by him, and he said, “This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim” (Double camp). (See Genesis 32:1, 2.) And, who can forget the account of Balaam’s ass who saw the angel of the Lord in Numbers 22:21-38? Angels have healing powers, such as the example we have in John 5:1-4 where we read of the pool of water where “…an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”
Throughout both the Old and New Testaments one can read of recorded encounters with heavenly angels who have been sent by God as messengers, or sent to guard and protect; to instruct, provide help, fight, or destroy, and for other purposes. (Psalm 103:19-22.) Angels are exceedingly great in power and too numerous to number. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” Hebrews 12: 22. When your world seems to be falling apart, and your soul is cast down, take time to consider the awesome host of heaven and meditate on that which is far greater than anything Satan can bring against us. Be encouraged by God’s faithfulness to us, and by what we are told concerning the greatness of the host of heaven in Revelation 5:11; 7:9; Nehemiah 9:6; Daniel 7:10; Revelation 5:11; 7:9; 14:1 and 19:6. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” Psalm 91:11.
Scriptures concerning prophecy and angels are a clear indication that God uses His angels to aid in the fulfillment of certain prophecies in the affairs of men. How beautiful was their appearance when they announced to the shepherds that the Savior was born in Luke 2:8-14. Angelsalso remind people of God’s Word, such as Luke 24:4-7 concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Angels give specific directions to God’s people such as that given to Philip in Acts 8:26, “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.” Then in Acts 10:3 we read of an angel of God coming in a vision to Cornelius in order to give him instructions in answer to fervent prayer.
Who can deny that interwoven throughout the entire Bible are accounts of angels that were sent by God to carry out His will on earth? Two of the most beautiful and soul stirring appearances of an angel are recorded in Luke 1 and 2, which tellof the angelic appearances to both Zacharias and the virgin Mary. The response of Zacharias was great fear, and even unbelief, but Mary was troubled at first and wondered at Gabriel’s salutation to her, but her humility, obedience and wisdom was in her response, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38b.) Note that the angels of God, when sent to man, always give clear, specific, direct and scriptural instructions, directions, or warnings. Note, too, that God’s angels never receive worship, and tell God’s people to “Fear not.”
Angels appear to people in dreams, such as in the case of Jesus’ stepfather, Joseph. (Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-22.) Angels ministered to Christ after His temptation by the devil. (Matthew 4:11). When Christ prayed in great agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, an angel from heaven appeared to Him and gave Him strength (Luke 22:43). We can only wonder and try to imagine the awesome scene we read of in Matthew 28:2, “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” Angels appeared at Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:10-11) and they will appear with Him when He returns to set up His kingdom on earth. (Mark 13:26, 27 and the book of Revelation.)
Jesus said, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” Revelation 22:12. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!