Thursday, July 19, 2012
A Study in Angels: Part I.
A Study of Angels: Introduction
Psalm 91 KJV
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
~ A Study in Angels: Part I. ~
I. What is an angel? Where did angels come from?
The word "angel" is derived from the Greek word angelos, meaning "messenger."
(See 1 Thessalonians 4:16.)
Angels are supernatural beings distinctly separate from the race of man.
1 Corinthians 6:3; 15:39-41, Hebrews 1:14
They were created by God (Psalms 148:2-5; Colossians 1:16) sometime prior to the existence of man (Job 38:7).
They neither marry nor reproduce (Luke 20:34-36), but are "an innumerable company."
Jude 14 ("saints" = "holy ones")
a Legion of them equals 10,000
II. Why were angels created?
For ministry to God (worship).
Revelation 5:11, 12; 7:11
For ministry to man (the "heirs of salvation").
Matthew 4:11 (Mark 1:13)
Hebrews 1:7, 14
III. Does each Christian really have a guardian angel?
Scripture speaks of those angels appointed by God to watch over the elect.
Psalms 91:11, 12
The early church understood that each believer had a special angel.
IV. Specific duties have been assigned to angels.
Angels minister to the physical needs of God's people.
1. They provide protection and deliverance from danger.
Genesis 19:1, 11, 15
Acts 5:18, 19
2. Angels can impart physical strength to man in his time of need.
Daniel 10:8-11, 16-19
Matthew 4:11 (Mark 1:13)
3. Sometimes they are even sent with man's supply of food for nourishment.
1 Kings 19:5-8
Gabriel imparted skill and understanding to Daniel concerning the vision he had received from God.
Daniel 9:21-23; 10:14
Angels serve as a supernatural means of communication between God and man.
1. For the purpose of direction.
Luke 1:11, 19, 26, (Matthew 1:20; 2:13, 19, 20; etc.)
Acts 8:26; 10:3-6, 22
2. For encouragement.
Acts 27:23, 24
3. For revelation.
Revelation 22:6, 16
4. The Law was delivered by angels.
5. Visions have been interpreted by special messengers from God.
Daniel 7:16; 8:15, 16, 19; 9:21-23; 10:14
Zechariah 1:9, 13, 14, 19; 4:1-6, 11-14; 5:1-3
Revelation 17:7, etc.
6. God uses angels to execute His judgment on the unrighteous.
2 Samuel 24:16, 17
2 Kings 19:35 (Isaiah 37:36)
1 Chronicles 21:15
2 Chronicles 32:21
Ezekiel 9:2, 5, 7
Matthew 13:41, 42, 49, 50; 24:30
Revelation 7:1, 2; 8:2-13; 9:15; 15:1; etc.
7. Angels have a role to fulfill even after the death of a believer.
(See Luke 16:22.)
V. What are angels like?
Angels are spirits (Hebrews 1:14), and a "spirit hath not flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39). But angels can take on the "appearance of man."
(See Daniel 8:15; 10:16, 18.)
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
Angels have been mistaken for men and received by men of God as guests in their own homes.
Genesis 18:2-6; 19:1-3
Scripture describes cherubim and seraphim as the only angels having wings.
Exodus 25:20, etc.
1 Chronicles 28:18
Isaiah 6:2, 6
Ezekiel 1:4-25; 10:1-22; 11:22
When seen in their glory, angels may have a special brightness upon them.
Acts 1:10; 10:30
Angels have superhuman strength.
Genesis 19:1, 11
Matthew 28:2-7, 20
Acts 5:19; 12:7, 23
2 Thessalonians 1:7
2 Peter 2:11
Those angels that remained faithful to God (after the downfall of Satan) are obedient to His commands.
Angels have at times been fearful to look upon.
Judges 6:22, 23; 13:6
Daniel 8:16-18, 27
Luke 1:11, 12
Acts 10:3, 4
VI. From where did the "fallen angels" of which the Bible speaks come, if nothing God created was evil?
All the angels were created good and holy.
Genesis 1:31, etc.
In fact, Lucifer (Satan) and his followers were once in heaven.
Ezekiel 28:13, 14
However, they "kept not their first estate (or, principality), but left their own habitation." They rebelled against God, and a war in heaven resulted.
2 Peter 2:4
Jude 6, 7
This spiritual warfare is still taking place between the powers of darkness and light.
Daniel 10:13, 21
In the end, Satan and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire forever.
VII. What rank or place in God's creation do angels hold?
Angels are not greater than man; nor man greater than angels.
They are ministering servants of the elect of God.
Hebrews 1:7, 14
They will be judged by men.
1 Corinthians 6:3
Man was created as part of God's order along with the angels.
Psalms 8:4-5 (Actually, the word here translated "angels" is the Hebrew "Elohim" – meaning, "Godhead," as in Genesis 1:1.)
There are different ranks of angels, too. The Bible mentions two archangels (or, "chief messengers," as in 1 Thessalonians 4:16) by name.
Daniel 12:1, 2
Daniel 8:15-17; 9:21
Luke 1:11-13, 19, 26
Angels are subject to God.
1 Peter 3:22
1. They are wise (2 Samuel 14:17, 20), but they are not omniscient (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32; 1 Peter 1:12).
2. They are immortal (Luke 20:36), but they are created beings (Psalms 148:2-5; Colossians 1:16).
3. They are strong (Genesis 19:1, 11; Psalms 103:20; Matthew 28:2-7; Acts 5:19; 12:7, 23; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Peter 2:11; Revelation 5:2),
but they are not omnipotent
4. They are not to be worshipped (Colossians 2:18; Hebrews 1:4, 5, 13; Revelation 19:10; 22:8, 9) and do not accept sacrifices (Judges 13:15, 16).
5. God said that no man could see Him and still live (Exodus 33:20); but seeing an angel will not make a person die (Judges 6:22, 23; 13:6, 19-23).
VIII. It is good to recognize, accept, and utilize the significance of the angelic ministry, but any overemphasis upon their service to man is not desirable. Colossians 2:18
Angelology- The Angelic Realm-
~ GOD AND THE ANGELS ~
Angels- - Cherubs- God's Servants
How much do you really know about God's Servants?
In Colossians 1:16 we are informed that God created all things through Jesus Christ. "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him" (KJV).
Angels and demons, including Satan, are real personalities, not imaginary, mythical symbols of evil. They think, speak, and act.
1 Corinthians 13:1 mentions the languages "of men and of angels."
They are spirit beings.
Sometimes they are depicted as having wings. Of course, spirit beings do not need wings. They do not need to overcome gravity in order to move through the air. Wings are depicted only to indicate their unrestricted mobility.
Spirit beings can take human form and at times they do. Hebrews 13:2 says, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares" (KJV).
Although spirit beings are supernatural, they are limited in their powers and abilities.
Originally, all spirit beings were obedient to God and therefore were holy. Then, sometime before the present physical creation, one of the angels (Satan) led a rebellion against God (see Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28:11-15). Many of the angels joined the rebellion. They are now the "fallen angels"--the demons.
Let's focus our attention on the good angels--
The word "angel" basically means "one who is sent." In that basic definition it is sometimes applied to human beings. When applied to human beings it merely means "messenger." Here we are considering the word in its specific sense, as referring to a spirit being.
The Nature Of Angels:
Angels are innumerable. Hebrews 12:22 speaks of "an innumerable company of angels" (KJV). Innumerable does not mean "without number." It means humanly impossible To Count!
Angels are created beings, and all created beings are finite. Only God is infinite.
Angels are sexless.
They are popularly thought of as feminine, but the Greek word for angel (angelos) is actually masculine (but without a sexual connotation). Jesus said that in the resurrection, believers "neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven" Matthew 22:30 KJV. Our Lord's words are recorded also in Mark 12:25 and Luke 20:35).
Angels are strong and mighty. Psalm 103:20 says, "Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength..." Nevertheless, angels do not fight Satan and evil spirits in their own strength. 2 Peter 2:11 says, "Yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord" (NIV). Echoing this thought, Jude 9 says that when Michael the archangel contended with the devil, he did not overcome him in his own power but rather said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
Angels are inferior to God.
Hebrews 2 (NIV)
1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment,
3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.
4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.
6 But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
7 You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor
8 and put everything under his feet? In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.
11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises."
13 And again, "I will put my trust in him."And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–
15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.
17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Even though angels are supernatural, they are not to be worshiped. True worship belongs only to God. Paul wrote, "Let no one defraud you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind" (Colossians 2:18).
Overawed by the dramatic revelation that he was witnessing, the apostle John fell down to worship the angel who appeared to him. Immediately, the angel stopped him. "See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).
It happened again later, with the same remonstrance. "And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, 'See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God'" (Revelation 22:8,9).
The Orders Of Angels:
God does things in an orderly, organized way. His angelic kingdom is highly organized, with different orders and ranks.
First, there are the archangel. When Christ returns, it will be "with the voice of the archangel" (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Michael is a warrior angel. (The only one mentioned in the Bible as an "ArchAngel)
We meet him in the book of Daniel. He led the hosts that fought for Israel. One of the angels said to the prophet, "'Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. But I tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth. (No one upholds me against these, except Michael your prince'" (Daniel 10:20, 21).
Michael was his "superior officer," who alone fought on his side against the leading demonic spirits assigned by Satan over Persia and Greece. Evidently, this angel and Michael together were enough to take care of their adversaries.
Michael is named again in Daniel 12:1 as leading a great future spiritual battle in the spirit world: "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book"
We just read about Michael in Jude 9. Also, in Revelation 12:7-9 we read again the account of Michael leading the armies of Heaven in a decisive battle where Satan and his forces were expelled from Heaven and cast down to the earth. "And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him"
Gabriel is another angel called by name. He is the messenger angel. We first meet him in Daniel 8:16 "And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision" (KJV). Later, he appeared to the prophet again: "while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, 'O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand'" Daniel 9:21,22
Gabriel was very busy announcing the events surrounding the first advent of Jesus Christ, as we read in the first two chapters of The Gospel According to Luke.
The Seraphim ("burning ones") are spoken of in Isaiah 6:1,2 as the angels who attend the very throne of God.
"In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew"
The Bible also introduces us to the Cherubim ("one who is grasped, held fast"). And No, they are not chubby little baby boys with wings and bow and arrows!
According to Ezekiel 28:14, Satan himself was once a cherub: "You were the anointed cherub who covers"
Cherubim serve as guardians. "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" (Genesis 3:24 KJV).
The Old Testament, Cherubim are pictured in their guardian role. Psalm 18:10 represents them symbolically as "bearing" God's throne: "and he rode upon a cherub, and did fly" (KJV).
For interesting appearances of cherubim, read Ezekiel, chapters one and ten. Also, in Ezekiel 11:22 we read, "Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above"
On the Ark of the Covenant, God's presence dwelled between the cherubim- (see 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 37:16).
The Character Of Angels:
The good angels are "elect," that is, they are eternally chosen in the purpose and foreknowledge of God. Paul writes to Timothy, "I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism" (1 Timothy 5:21).
Likewise, the doom of the fallen angels is forever sealed.
The good angels are holy.
Jesus promised, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matthew 25:1 KJV).
The holy angels are obedient to God and accountable to Him (see Job 1:6 and 2:1).
Also, Psalm 103:20, "Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!"
When Jesus was facing the ordeal of the cross, He said to impulsive Peter, "Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53).
Had Jesus chosen to avoid crucifixion, all He had to do was call, and 72,000 angels (12 legions) would have responded.
We are eternally grateful that our Lord chose instead to suffer and die to save us.
Jesus Christ is now in His glory in Heaven, "angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him" (1 Peter 3:22 KJV). He "is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10 KJV. See also Ephesians 1:21 and Colossians 1:16).
The Ministry of Angels: The Old Testament.
Angels are "all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14 KJV).
They are assigned to assist believers.
Angels minister to God in praise and worship. At the creation, "all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7 KJV). Psalm 148:2 commands, "Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts!"
In his glorious vision the prophet Isaiah heard the seraphim crying to one another antiphonally, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isaiah 6:3 KJV).
At the birth of Jesus Christ, the angel of the Lord (Gabriel) appeared to some shepherds who were "keeping watch over their flock by night." He told them not to fear because he came with good news. He told them where to find the Christ child. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest..." (Luke 2:13,14 KJV).
The apostle John was given a vision of the entire host of Heaven engaged in mass worship to Jesus Christ. "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Revelation 5:13,14 KJV).
Also, in Revelation 7:11,12 we see another awe-inspiring sight. "And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God forever and ever. Amen" (KJV).
Throughout God's workings with the human race, angels have been very much involved.
The angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and directed her to return to Sarah, her mistress (Genesis 16:7-12). Later, the angel of the Lord rescued her and her son, Ishmael (Genesis 21:17-19).
Angels were present when the coming birth of Isaac was announced to Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 18).
Angels were involved in God's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah and the forcible rescue of Lot and his family (Genesis 19:1-16).
The angel of the Lord stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac on the altar (Genesis 2:11-19).
Abraham promised his servant Eliezer that God would send an angel before him to guide him in finding a bride for Isaac (Genesis 24:7 and 40).
Angels were busy communicating with Jacob and helping him get out of trouble.
On his way east, Jacob had a dream. He saw a ladder that reached from Heaven to earth, and the angels of God were going up and down on it (Genesis 28:12). Jesus explained to us that He is the "ladder" that spans the impassable divide between God and man, and that the ministry of angels is mediated through Him (see John 1:51).
About twenty years after this dream, the angel of God spoke to Jacob in a dream, directing him to return home to the land of Canaan (Genesis 31:11-13). On his return journey, angels met him and his family and flock, and protected him when he met Esau, his estranged twin brother (Genesis 32).
In his desperation he wrestled with an angel all night until daybreak as a demonstration of his determination to receive the blessing he so urgently needed (32:24-32). It was Jacob who needed to exercise his undaunted faith. The prophet Hosea referred to this event: "he wrestled with the angel and prevailed" (Hosea 12:4)
And then there was Moses. As he tended the flock of his father-in-law, "the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of a bush" (Exodus 3:2 KJV).
Angels were directly involved in the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. In Psalm 68:17 we read "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place" (KJV). Galatians 3:19 says that the law was set in place by angels.
Stephen also referred to this event in his defense (Acts 7:38), and he concluded his indictment of the unbelieving council members with the penetrating charge that they had received the law by the arrangement of angels and had not kept it (verse 53)! In the same vein the Epistle to the Hebrews warns, "For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation...? (Hebrews 2:2,3 KJV).
The angel of God protected ancient Israel and escorted them in their journeys.
"And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them" (Exodus 14:19 KJV).
"Behold, My angel shall go before you" (Exodus 32:34)
"But when we cried out to the Lord, He heard our voice and sent an angel and bought us out from Egypt" (Numbers 20:16)
"The angel of His presence saved them" (Isaiah 63:9 KJV).
Read also Exodus 23:20-23 and Exodus 33:2.
After Israel completed their forty-year wandering in the wilderness, they were ready to go in and possess the promised land. As they moved north, along the east side of the Jordan river, they camped near Moab. There they encountered the Midianites. In desperation Balak, the Moabite king, attempted to hire Balaam to curse Israel.
Balaam was a strange character. He was not known as a righteous man, only as a professional "blesser and curser," a sort of religious "hired gun."
At first Balaam refused the deal, but soon he gave in to his desire for the money. As Balaam went to meet Balak, an angel stood in his way to oppose him. Balaam should have given up the whole idea right then and there. Yes, he offered to turn back, but it did not come from his heart. Because there was no real repentance, God let him go on his own way. We read the fascinating details in Numbers, chapters 22 through 24.
Eventually the Israelites crossed the river Jordan and stood poised before the city of Jericho. The situation was tense. At the height of the drama, an angel in human form stood opposite Joshua, a sword drawn in his hand.
"And Joshua went to him and said to him, 'Are you for us or for our adversaries?' And he said, 'No, rather I indeed come as captain of the host of the Lord'." (Joshua 5:13,14)
On one occasion during the lifetime of Joshua, the angel of the Lord rebuked the nation of Israel for failing to complete the explicitly assigned task of executing divine justice on the wicked inhabitants of Palestine (see Judges 2:1-5).
On one occasion when God delivered Israel from oppressing Canaanites during the time of the Judges, God gave a song of victory to the prophetess Deborah. Her song included this scathing denunciation against the inhabitants of a town that had refused to commit themselves to the struggle against the enemy: "'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of the Lord. 'Utterly curse its inhabitants; because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the warriors'." (Judges 5:23)
Because of king David's sin in numbering the people, God sent an angel with authority to destroy Jerusalem. Early in the action, at the point when appropriate had been accomplished, God called a halt and commanded the angel to suspend the operation. This sad event is recorded in both 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21.
King David knew the power of the angels. In Psalm 35:5 & 6 he called for the angel of the Lord to chase his enemies.
Angels fed the prophet Elijah during a time of drought (1 Kings 19:5,7). How is that for excellent dining service!
The angel of the Lord directed Elijah to intercept the messengers of the ailing king Ahaziah of northern Israel and give them a message to deliver to the king from God (see 2 Kings 1:2-4). That triggered a series of dramatic events, including a directive from the angel to Elijah to allow the soldiers to escort him to the king (verse 15).
For more high adventure involving Elijah and angels, read 2 Kings 6:8-23.
Now let's move on to the time of Hezekiah, king of Judah.
When the cruel Assyrians threatened Jerusalem during Hezekiah's reign, the angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrian invaders in one night! That's that force of a nuclear bomb without harm to the environment! This demonstrates the power of even one of God's warrior angels. This event is recorded three times in sacred history: 2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:36.
The prophet Daniel records that one night the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that included angels. The pagan king called them "watchers" (Daniel 4), though he had earlier used the word, "angel," in his interpretation of the deliverance of the three Hebrews from the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3:28).
When Daniel himself had been delivered out of the lions' den, he reported to Darius, the new Medo-Persian ruler, "My God sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths..." (Daniel 6:22).
Angels were very actively involved in communicating God's revelation to Daniel concerning future events (see Daniel 7:16; 8:15-17; 9:21, 9:23; 10:5, 10:11, 10:21; 12:6,7).
As we saw earlier, angels appeared to the prophet Ezekiel in very dramatic ways.
Angels communicated God's word to the prophet Zechariah (see Zechariah 1:8-19; 2:3; 3:1-10; 4:1-14; 5:1-11; 6:4).
The Ministry Of Angels: The New Testament.
From the Biblical data, we have a vivid picture of angelic activity throughout the history of God's dealings with the human race before the first advent of Christ. We move now into the New Testament and explore the ministry of angels in this Christian era.
It is important to remind ourselves that in this New Testament dispensation angels are messengers, not mediators. There is now only one Mediator, Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). Even the ministry of angels is now mediated through Christ. We noted this fact in our reference to Jacob's dream of a ladder (Genesis 28) and our Lord's explanation (John 1:51).
Angels were directly involved in the events surrounding the first advent of Christ. They announced the conception of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus (Luke 1:11,13,19,36).
Angels announced the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:25-30).
It was the angel Gabriel who brought the wonderful news to Joseph (Matthew 1:20,21).
Angels announced the birth of the Savior to the shepherds (Luke 2:9-12,15).
Angels ordered Joseph and Mary to take the baby Jesus to Egypt for safety, and also to return when the danger was past (Matthew 2:13,19-21).
Angels appeared to Jesus and assisted Him after His temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:11).
Angels strengthened our Lord in His agony in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43).
Over 72,000 angels were poised to rescue Jesus at the moment of His arrest had He asked the Father for them (Matthew 26:53).
At the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the angel of the Lord rolled away the stone from the entry of the tomb and sat on it (Matthew 28:2).
Angels witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to 1 Timothy 3:16 He "appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory" (NIV). Read also Matthew 28:2-7; Luke 24:23; John 20:12.
Angels also appeared to the cloud-gazing disciples and announced the ascension of our Lord and also the fact and manner of His future return.
"Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Other angelic activities are described in the Bible. Luke 16:22 records that when Lazarus died, angels carried him to "Abraham's bosom," that is, to Paradise.
John 5:4 relates that an angel came down at a certain season to the pool of Bethesda and troubled the waters.
We now enter The Acts Of The Apostles and follow the ministry of angels in the early Church.
The angel of the Lord supernaturally opened the doors of the prison where the apostles were being held and instructed them to "go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life" (Acts 5:18,19).
The angel of the Lord ordered Philip the evangelist to go south and follow the road from Jerusalem to Gaza to the desert area (Acts 8:26). That put him in a position to meet up with the Ethiopian eunuch and share the gospel with him.
Cornelius was a Roman centurion who was devoutly seeking the true God, the God of Israel. God honored his honest and sincere search by sending an angel to instruct him to send for the apostle Peter to come and bring the gospel to him and his household. We read the dramatic account in Acts, chapter ten.
When Peter was in prison awaiting his expected execution the next day, "Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, 'Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, 'Gird yourself and tie on your sandals'; and so he did. And he said to him, 'Put on your garment and follow me.' So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. And when Peter had come to himself, he said 'Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me..." Acts 12:6-11
Not long afterward, king Herod Agrippa (the one who had imprisoned Peter) gave a flowery speech at Tyre. As he basked in the shallow adulation of the audience "the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory; and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost" (Acts 12:23).
As the ship carrying the apostle Paul lurched through the stormy waters of the Mediterranean, the angel of God stood by him, saying, "Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you" (Acts 27:23 KJV).
Angels were actively involved in carrying the special revelation of the Apocalypse to the apostle John on the island of Patmos.
Angelic involvement is mentioned at least twenty times in the Book of Revelation.
~ The Present And Future Role Of Angels ~
Angels witness our worship (1 Corinthians 11:10). Angels come into our church services from the holy and awesome presence of Almighty God.
* May they find the same awesome presence of God among us. Amen? *
Angels know and delight in the gospel (see Ephesians 3:9-10). This passage tells us that the angels now see in the Church "the manifold wisdom of God." When Satan and the angels who followed him rebelled against God, the angels who remained faithful saw a display of the justice of God in the ultimate judgment He pronounced on them. A breach had been made in God's perfect kingdom.
The angels watched as God created the human race, then as Adam and Eve and their descendants became progressively corrupt, then as God intervened with a universal flood. They watched as humanity started over again with Noah and his family. As time went by things did not look very promising. Sin became epidemic again.
Ah, Abraham. God had a man, then a family, then a nation. Plagues in Egypt. Miracles. The Red Sea. Moses. Sinai. The divine law.
To the angels it all seemed to be coming together.
Then came the set backs. Rebellion. Forty years in the wilderness.
Joshua. The crossing of the Jordan. Jericho. Divine justice on an entire Palestinian culture that become so morally corrupt that it had forfeited its privilege to exist.
Then came hundreds of years of Israelite failings, interspersed with periodic renewal under the leadership of strong judges. The overall trend was downward.
A kingdom. A tentative start with Saul. Then came David. A covenant. A strong nation. Solomon.
Oh, no! It's happening again. The nation splits in two. Wicked kings drag the people of God lower and lower. Surrounding nations despise them.
The northern kingdom collapses. Judah struggles on. Hopeful times come under Hezekiah, and later, Josiah.
But Manasseh! His long, wicked reign put the people so far down into idolatry and its cruel, violent practices that they were beyond restoration.
The Babylonians invade. Jerusalem is destroyed. The very temple of the living God is demolished. The people are carried away into captivity.
After seventy years from the start of the captivity, a remnant of about fifty thousand return and begin rebuilding. It certainly did not look promising. And he next few hundred years did nothing to raise angelic optimism as they watched the Jews struggle under one oppressor after another.
Yes, the angels watched all of this.
Still, through it all the quality of God's character that has been most prominent is His justice. Ever since the fall of Satan and his angels, the holy angels have had a fully developed view of the justice of God as they watched His judgments on the wicked.
In His Second Person, God is taking upon Himself full humanity. The Third Person, The Holy Spirit, is overshadowing a Jewish virgin. The greatest miracle of the ages has taken place-- God has become united with humanity in Mary's womb!
The angels are astir. Heavenly messengers are dispatched with astonishing news--to Mary, to Zachariah, to Joseph.
Then it happened!
In a lowly stable in Bethlehem the Son of God was born. Gabriel the angel had announced His name--JESUS! He is Immanuel -- God with us.
Excitement rolls through the universe.
The heavenly hosts burst out in thunderous praise: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14).
Angels watch over Him. They direct Joseph and Mary to take Him into Egypt, then tell them when it is safe to return.
Angels strengthen Him after His temptation. They observe His ministry. Then comes the agony of Gethsemane; an angel rushes to strengthen Him. And then the arrest. As was mentioned previously, over 72,000 angels are ready to rescue Him should He ask the Father for them. But He does not. He goes to the cross, suffers, dies, and is buried in a tomb.
Never had the angels witnessed the full display of the mercy of God. Now they see the complete revelation of God's character, and it is beautiful beyond description!
But that is not the end.
On the third day, an angel is sent on a special assignment--"roll that stone away and sit on it!" Jesus rises from the dead and walks out of the tomb. Two more angels were posted inside the now empty tomb to announce His resurrection to the astonished women.
Yes, it is clear that God does have a plan and it is succeeding--gloriously.
Thousands of Jews are believing in their Messiah. Salvation has come to Israel!
That is still not all.
The drama continues to unfold before the heavenly hosts. The good news is spreading beyond Jerusalem, beyond Judea, beyond Samaria--to the whole world! The apostles are forging ahead, becoming a spectacle to the angels (1 Corinthians 4:9). Gentiles are coming in.
The Church Universal has emerged, and it is growing awesomely.
Toward the end of the first century AD, an angel is sent to the apostle John with an inspired "video" into the future. And what does John see? "A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands" (Revelation 7:9)
Yes, "now to the principalities and powers in heavenly places" is "known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3:10).
Yes, these are "things the angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:12).
The angels will remain on duty until the end of this present age.
Jesus Christ is our Mediator. God's grace and blessings to us come through Him, including the ministry of angels.
Jesus said, "You shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man" (John 1:51).
He was referring to Jacob's vision of a ladder that extended from heaven to earth (Genesis 28:12). In other words, Jesus Himself is the "angels' ladder."
"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them (Psalm 3:7) "He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways" Psalm 91:1
Jesus warned, "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 18:10 NIV).
"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2 NIV).
Angels are also God's agents to execute divine judgment.
Revelation 16:1-9 introduces us to the seven angels who hold the seven bowls full of God's wrath, awaiting His command to pour them out upon those who practice evil.
Jesus told us that the angels do not know when He will return (Matthew 24:26; Mark 13:32). But when He does return, the angels will accompany Him. He said, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" Matthew 25:31 KJV. See also Matthew 16:27; 24:31; Mark 8:38; 13:27; 2 Thessalonians 1:7.
Jesus also said that the angels will be the "reapers." (Matthew 13:39-42,49,50).
The angels will witness the judgment.
Jesus said that whoever confesses Him before men He will confess before the angels of God, and whoever denies Him before men He will deny before them (Luke 12:8,9).
In Revelation 20:1 the Bible tells us that an angel is given the privilege to throw Satan into the pit for a thousand years.
After all the evil that Satan has done in the sight of the holy angels, any one of them would have been most happy to have that privilege!
In fact, Revelation 14:9 and 10 says that Satan shall be tormented forever in the presence of the angels. They will have an ever-present reminder of the final and permanent consequences of rebellion against a holy and just God--
In Revelation 21:17 it is recorded that angels guard the New Jerusalem.
And, finally, Jesus tells us that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7,10).
They know what will happen to people who disobey God. Each person who repents and is saved is like a person being rescued from a burning building.
If you are not right with God, you can be the next one to send a wave of joy through Heaven by turning to God from sin and being reconciled to Him by faith in His son, Jesus Christ.
It is important to recognize...that God doesn't just sit in heaven and push buttons on a control panel. He uses "messengers," better known to us by the Greek word: angels. The Biblical view of the universe is not the modern one of vast reaches of barren space interrupted every couple of million miles or so by flying dead boulders. The Biblical view of the universe is that it is teeming and throbbing with life everywhere. The cosmos is heavily populated with "legions" and "myriads" of angelic beings, of various ranks (Colossians 1:16) and "species" (see, for instance, the descriptions in Ezekiel 1:5-25 and Revelation 4:6-8). Angels are associated with astronomical phenomena throughout the Bible (Judges 5:20; Job 38:7; Isaiah 14:13; Matthew 24:29; Jude 13; Revelation 1:20; 8:10-12; 9:1;12:4) as well as with the activity of the weather: wind, storms, and lightning are spoken of in connection with the actions of God and the angels in both blessing and curse
(See: Genesis 8:1; 41:27; Exodus 10:13,19; 14:21; 15:10; 19:16; Numbers 11:31; Psalm 18:10; 104:3,4; 107:25; 135:7; 147:18;148:8; Ezekiel 1:4ff; Matthew 24:31; John 3:8; Acts 2:2; Revelation 7:1-3; 8:5,7; 16:8, 17, 18).
Clearly, the Biblical worldview does not attribute changes in weather to impersonal "forces" or "processes,"
He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers [angels], flames of fire his servants. (Psalm 104:3, 4,)
God controls the government of the universe, No wind ever arises or increases except by God's express command. Further, since angels are the powers of God, it follows that they never cease from their office of working. For God never can rest: he sustains the world by his energy, he governs everything however minute, so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his decree (Matthew 10:29)...God works continually by angels...so that all creatures are animated by angelic motion: not that there is a conversion of the angel into an ox or a man, but because God exerts and diffuses his energy in a secret manner, so that no creature is content with his own peculiar vigor, but is animated by angels themselves.
Martin Luther, as usual more pithy and direct, took seriously the psalmist's statement that the wind has wings. After a particularly severe and violent storm, he offered his opinions on the subject: "The devil provokes such storms, but good winds are produced by good angels. Winds are nothing but spirits, either good or evil. The devil sits there and snorts, and so do the angels when the winds are salubrious."
The Biblical worldview is uncompromising: God is running the world. Every atom in the universe is under His command. His Word created and sustains in Him. That is why He can assert His power and authority in such absolute terms:
I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity, I, the LORD, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)
Who can speak and have it happen if the LORD has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:37, 38,)"
Angels ... Who knew there was so much to learn of them?!