Angels are messengers of God sent to minister to the needs of the Saints.
HYMN: THE KING OF GLORY, HE IS GOD ALONE
Text: Genesis 19:1-13, Exodus 33:1-2, Acts 12:6-11
The word “Angel” means “messenger”. Angels are heavenly spirit beings of a higher nature than flesh and blood beings.
They are not limited by time, space and physical barriers like closed doors, walls, and other material objects. There is no record to show exactly when the angels appeared in heaven but they were with God at creation to worship Him for things, created (Psalm 148:1-5). That does not imply however that they were not created. They were created by God for specific duties (Eze. 28:14-15). Generally, they are messengers of God to do His purposes on earth.
Despite the fact that they have divine nature and are made a little more superior than mankind (Psalm 8:4-5), they are not to be worshipped. (Revelation 22:8-9).
God certainly doesn’t want us to worship angels but He does want us to be aware of them, that they are living, active spirit beings work for Him in the unfolding of His mighty eternal plan. Specifically, they are in the service of God for men.
Right form the first time the angelic ministry was revealed in the scriptures (Genesis 16:7-12), they have been seen to perform various duties on earth such as bringing down messages from God to man, acting as protectors and deliverers giving guidance and encouragement. These duties are found both in the Old and New Testaments. It is interesting to know that God has not withdrawn the angelic ministry from today’s church. They are to keep on ministering to those who will inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14). About the last function of angels to the saints on earth will be in heralding the coming of the Lord at rapture (1 Thess. 4:16).
The objectives of this study are:
- To know who angels are
- To know the relevance of angels to the Christian
- To know the function of angels
- To know what the attitude of Saints to angels should be
Q1. WHAT ARE ANGELS?
Angels are heavenly hosts who stand before God and carry out His will. They are also ministering spirits to those who are heirs of salvation. Angels are of a different but higher order than man (Ps. 8:5). They are without flesh and bones but spirit beings and not disembodied spirits, as they have bodies though not physical as humans. However, they have power to appear as physical beings when the need arises. They are not subject to death. Their number, therefore neither increases by procreation or by additional creation nor does it decrease by death or annihilation.
Angels are free from frailties and oppression which are the bane of humans. Hunger, thirst, weariness and decay known to all men are unknown to angels.
There are two classes of angels- the good and the bad. The good are those of the entire created host of them who remain loyal to God while the bad are those that went with Lucifer at his rebellion. While we do not reckon much with the fallen angels except in reference to their evil roles in their malicious assignments for their master the devil, we recognize the noble roles among men, of the good angels.
There are different orders of angels and these also reflect in specific functions which they are assigned. These include seraphim, (Isa. 6:1-7) cherubim, (Gen. 3:24), archangels (Judges 9) and guardian angels (Matt. 18:10).
Angels are powerful and mighty. Only two angles destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:13). A single angel smote 185,000 armed Assyrians in one night. They are intelligent and wise. They can appear visible and invisible and can move at inconceivable speed. Angels can also speak human language.
Q2. IN WHAT WAYS ARE ANGELS RELEVANT TO SAINTS?
A quick look at the lives of men of exploits of old in the Bible reveals the extent to which many of them enjoyed angelic companionship. We find references to such ministering angels from Genesis to Revelation. Angels have a part in God’s dispensation of Grace as well as in the Old Testament. The law was given by the instrumentality of angels- “by the disposition of angels” (Acts 7:53). Their ministry to man includes delivering answers to prayer (Dan. 9:21-23); protecting believers (Ps. 34:7; 91:11); delivering and directing preachers (Acts 5:18-20; 8:26-30; 12:6-11); fighting against believer’s enemies (Num. 22:22, 23; Acts 12:20-23) strengthening in trial (Lk 22:43); leading sinners to true Gospel preachers (Acts 10:3-8); revealing God’s truth to disciples (Acts 27:22-24).
The Bible records many appearances of angels to men. An angel appeared to Hagar to counsel her. (Gen. 16:7-12); appeared to Lot to warn and deliver (Gen. 19:12-17); to Jacob to bless (Gen. 32:24-29); to Israel to protect (Ex. 14:19, 20) to Gideon to encourage and commission (Judges 6:12); to Manoah to inform him of the birth of a deliverer (Judge 13:8-21); to Elijah to feed and strengthen (1 Kings 19:4-8); to Daniel to protect from the lions (Dan. 6:22); to Zacharia to prophesy the birth of John the Baptist (Lk. 11:11-17); to Mary, to predict the conception of the virgin and the birth of Jesus (Lk. 1:26-38); to Joseph to confirm the supernatural conception of Mary (Matt. 1:18-21); to the shepherds to inform them of the birth of the Savior (Lk 2:8-17); to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to assure them of the resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 28:1-7) and to many others (Acts 1:11, 5:19, 8:26, 10:3, 12:7-11, 27:23, Rev. 1:1, 22:16).
The ministry of angels for the “heirs of salvation” continues today and will continue till the end (Heb. 1:14, 13:2, Rev. 7:2,3). A remarkable story is of an occurrence during the First World War. A chaplain, who served in France told of some of his experiences. He was commissioned to serve with a detachment at Mons in France and during the period of fighting in that region there was a large body of English soldiers how became separated from the main army, and were just about to be surrounded by the enemy.
They saw no hope, but they made up their minds they would not surrender. The enemy was advancing down a long slope toward them. This chaplain, with thousands of others were gathered there, watching the approach of the enemy. All at once the Germans halted. Someone spoke behind him and said “look”. He turned. He stated that in space above the soldiers he saw ranks upon ranks of angels, every one of them with drawn swords. All the soldiers there saw it. The enemy halted and presently turned and retreated. Thus, that whole body of soldiers expected to be annihilated were saved. This have been documented from more than one source.
There is no question about the ministry of angels. God still sends them for the protection of His own.
Q3. WHAT IS THE MINISTRY OF GUARDIAN ANGELS?
At a point in the course of the Lord’s earthly ministry, His disciples came to Him asking Him the question, “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:1). Jesus responded by calling a little child to Him and saying “Except ye be converted, and become little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). After giving a severe warning concerning any person who would harm a child or lead him astray, Jesus showed the importance of children in God’s sight by declaring that they had guardian angels appointed to watch over them. In Matt. 18:10, He said “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven”.
According to these words, it does appear that angels are specifically assigned the responsibility of watching over every child born into the worlds and indeed protect them against those who might desire to take undue advantage of their innocence.
Although the angel’s purpose is to protect the child, it is obvious that he has not been granted unlimited authority in this respect. “If this were not so”, argued Gordon Lindsay, “no children would die in infancy”. The question is how far is the angel permitted to go in protecting a child from physical or spiritual harm? How long will the angel watch over him if he chooses to walk the dark paths of sin. Whether or not the parents are Christians has much to do with the fate of the child in this regard. According to 1 Cor. 7:14 if both the parents are believers or even one is a believer, the children are holy. In other words, children of saved parents are in another class altogether than children of unsaved parents. For that reason, Christian parents can by faith claim their children for God and commit them through prayer and faith to God’s providence.
In Gen 32, we are told how Jacob met an angel of God and how he wrestled in prayer through the night in an agony of soul. With the breaking of dawn, the angel said “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men and hast prevailed” (vs. 28). When Esau met Jacob that morning, all he could do was fall into his brothers’ arms and weep with him (Gen. 33:4). Later when Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph, he referred to this guardian angel who, he said, “redeemed me from all evil” (Gen. 48:16).
In the New Testament the ministry of guardian angels is portrayed on many occasions. When King Herod imprisoned Peter with the aim of eventually killing him, an angel of the Lord entered into the prison, awakened Peter and led him out to safety (Acts 12). Thus, it was when certain members of the church at Jerusalem were told that Peter, whom they knew was in prison, awaiting execution, stood outside their door, they said, “It is his angel” (Acts 12:15). Evidently, those in the early church were quite aware of the fact that Christians had guardian angels watching over them.
There are several other instances, but these are enough to show that God has protecting angels who watch over His servants. The guardian angels watch over them while they are children and continue to watch over them after they become adults. It seems certain that it is God’s plan that angels should attend His people all the days of their lives. They are “ministering spirits unto those who are heirs of salvation”.
Q4. WHAT SCRIPTURAL PROOFS ARE THERE THAT ANGELS HAVE LIMITED AUTHORITY?
Heb. 2:5, 1 Cor. 6:2, 3, 15:23-28, Isa. 65:17, 2 Peter 3:13, Heb. 6:5, Rev. 11:15
In Heb. 2:5 the writer emphasizes that the glory and authority of angels are limited. The honor conferred on the Lord Jesus Christ has never been bestowed on angels. Only Christ (and none of the angels) is so honored to have “the world to come” put in subjection under Him.
God never intended to give angels rule over the world to come. Rather, angels are to minister to those who will be heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14). In the world to come even redeemed men will have privileges greater than those of angels. Redeemed men (the overcomers) will sit with Christ on the throne and reign with Him. They are children and therefore heirs of God and joint-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:16, 17). Angels were created to serve, not to rule. Men, however, were created as kings of the earth, and in God’s final destiny for them, redeemed men will one day be crowned with glory and honor.
Q5. WHAT THEN SOULD BE MAN’S ATTITUDE TO ANGELS?
It is true that the appearance of angels on the earth commands awe to some extent, but that is the extent to which they should affect us as humans. This feeling must be understood against the background of where they are coming from. For example, Moses was only in the presence of God for about forty days and forty nights and the children of Israel could not behold his face for its brightness until he covered it up with a veil. Angels who reside in the very holy abode of God must necessarily manifest more glory and command such awe. When Gideon saw the angel he said, “Alas, O Lord God! For because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face”. The Lord calmed his fears and said “Peace be unto thee; fear not for thou shalt not die” (Judges 6:22, 23). The same happened in the case of Manoah. He wanted to see the man of God whom his wife had described to him saying, “A man of God came unto me and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God and very terrible; but I asked him not whence he was, neither told me his name” (Judges 13:6). When the angel appeared to Manoah and repeated the command he gave to his wife, he “did wondrously” by ascending “in the flame of the altar”. Then Manoah said “We shall surely die, because we have seen God”. His wife, however, who seemed to have had more common sense than Manoah replied, “if the Lord were please to kill us…. neither would he have shewed us all these things….” (Judges 13:19-23).
These and many more examples of men’s reactions to angel’s appearance in the Bible notwithstanding, they remain angels, not deity. They are created beings who represent and guard the interests of God, and in many cases in relation to man. Some people even attempt to worship them like Apostle John did on two occasions (Rev. 19:10, 22:8, 9). But angels know well enough not to accept such worship. In the words of the angel on one of the occasions, see thou do it not for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren which keep the testimony of Jesus worship God. Going by the very confession of this angel, we can imagine the absurdity in some people who pray to angels for one reason or another. More modestly, some would insist on commanding angels to do their bidding. This is not also right, as angels are God’s messengers, not man’s and they only minister God’s purposes to man and also assist man achieve God’s purposes. In truth, we do not and should never mention them in our prayers to God as we cannot choose for God His channel of reaching us in answer to our requests. We must see angels as our fellow servants in the service of God.
Daily Living Application:
A proper understanding of the ministry of angels will help the Christian appreciate the diversity of awe-ness open to God to reach him. A good understanding of angels as well, will help the Christian conduct himself properly in every situation knowing that it may not be unlikely one of them is present. The word of God says in Eccl. 5:6, “Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before an angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice and destroy the work of thine hands”.
We must recognize that angels of God are on constant assignment from God for Saints even till today. Because the angels themselves are holy beings, we must be holy at all times in order to benefit from such ministrations. Who knows our commitment to our relationship with God may enhance the prospects of our having to receive express messages through such angelic being.
“Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared”.
Daily Devotional Guide:
Monday: The angels of God will guide you to God’s designed destiny
Tuesday: The angels of God deliver from any prison
Wednesday: The angels of God help to pull out garments of filth
Thursday: The angles of God bring down answers to prayers
Friday: The angels of God form a mighty wall of protection around Saints
2 Kings 6:14-17
Saturday: The angels of God can be devastating in judgement on wickedness