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Angels


Someone recently asked me, “Do you believe in guardian angels?” The short answer to the question is yes, but not as angels are commonly depicted in TV shows, movies, and lots of religious literature.


The Bible has a lot to say about angels; in fact, Scripture mentions them approximately 300 times. From those passages, we see the strength of angels, the service of angels, and the submission of angels.


First, consider with me the strength of angels. I’ve seen Christmas ornaments that depict angels as cute little chubby cherubim. I’ve seen Christmas cards that have oddly proportioned, misshapen angels with wings on their backs. These portrayals are not not biblically accurate. Though we don’t get to know exactly what angels look like, any depiction of angels that doesn’t portray strength is not a biblical depiction. Psalm 103:20 explains that angels “excel in strength.” They are colossal beings, not chubby cherubim. 2 Peter 2:11 explains that they are “greater in power and might“ than the strongest of men. In one night, one angel slew 185,000 Assyrians who were attacking ancient Israel (2 Kings 19:35).


Angels are strong not only in their composition, but also in their number. Hebrews 12:22 describes an “innumerable company of angels.” Daniel 7:10 explains that in God‘s throne room a “thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” In other words, there were at least 10 million angels standing before Him. That is strength in number!


This massive angelic company is also well organized. Psalm 103:21 uses the word “hosts“ to describe groups of angels. A "host” is an army or troop. Psalm 103, then, is speaking of angels as a heavenly military force. The Bible explains that Michael is an “archangel," or chief angel, among this heavenly host (Jude 9). The Bible further describes “thrones and dominions, principalities and powers“ in relation to angels (Colossians 1:16) with Michael, the Archangel, leading these heavenly hosts (Daniel 10:13). Angels are strong in their composition, and they are strong in number.


Second, consider the service of angels. The primary way angels serve God and minister to us is by delivering messages. One commentator calls Michael "the messenger of law and judgment," and Gabriel "the messenger of mercy and promise.“ The messages announcing Jesus’ birth were delivered by angels: the Angel of the Lord delivers a message to Joseph in Matthew 1, and Gabriel dialogues with Mary in Luke 1.


Angels' responsibilities are not limited to delivering divine messages, though. Matthew 4 records how Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights and was tempted of the devil. After His time of intense temptation was over, “angels came and ministered unto Him” (Matthew 4:11). You may recall that angels rolled the stone away from Jesus’ grave (Matthew 28:2). Angels also opened prison doors for the apostles (Acts 5:19; 12:10). The Angel of the Lord is the one who directed Phillip where to go to preach the gospel in Acts 8:26. And in the future, angels will return with Jesus at His second coming (2 Thessalonians 1:7; Revelation 19:14).


Angels have served and will serve in many different ways, but do they serve us today in the 21st century? The answer is yes! Hebrews 1:14 explains that they are serving us now. In fact, this is the verse that persuades me to believe in guardian angels. Through a rhetorical question, Hebrews 1:14 explains that angels are “all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.”


Hebrews 1:14 means that, if you’re saved, you have a ministering spirit that God specifically sent to minister to you. Notice how "all“ the angels in that verse are included. Ministering to believers, then, is what the innumerable host of angels is doing. Luke 16 explains that when the rich man died, he was buried; but when Lazarus died, he was "carried by the angels” to paradise (Luke 16:22). When we Christians die, angels escort us into heaven. Angels' primary area of service, then, is to minister to the redeemed of God throughout the generations, in life and in death.


Third, consider the submission of angels to the will of God. The Bible describes holy angels that are obedient to God the Father. They “hearken unto the voice of [God’s] word (Psalm 103:20). They exist to "do his pleasure“ (Psalm 103:21). Angels are submissive to God’s will, in contrast to the fallen angels which do Lucifer’s bidding (Revelation 12:4).


Angels are the Lord's created beings. While they have superhuman intelligence and power, they are not all-knowing. Matthew 24:36 indicates that angels know "neither the day nor the hour“ of the coming of the Son of Man. They are amazing on many levels, but they are not to be worshipped. They are not all-knowing. They are limited in a variety of ways and, because they are created beings, are properly subject to their Creator God.


In Hebrews 13:2 the Bible describes the potential of having "entertained angels unawares.“ It is possible that an angel could take on human form so that we would not be able to detect that it was an angel. It’s an amazing thing to think that angels are sent to minister to God’s redeemed. However, Hebrews 13 goes on to explain something even more amazing. Whether we have "entertained” an angel or not, we DO have an ever-present Christ. After mentioning entertaining angels unawares, the writer to the Hebrews explains that Christ, by contrast, "will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). Though we are unaware if we have ever entertained angels, we should be very aware of the promise that Christ will never leave us nor forsake us. We should be very aware that He is with us always!


The theme of the Book of Hebrews is that Christ is far better. Angels are impressive and their role is important, but Christ is far better! Hebrews reminds us to "be content with such things as ye have" (Hebrews 13:5). If you’re saved, you have Jesus! Nothing could be better. As strong as angels are, Jesus is stronger! As wonderful as it is to think of the many ways that angels serve us, Jesus served us in a far greater way, “by giving His life a ransom” for us (Mark 10:45).


Angels are created beings, but Jesus is the eternal God. We should marvel at angels in the same way we marvel at the rest of God's creation, like the sun, moon, and stars. Marvel at all of God‘s amazing creation, but so much the more, take time to marvel at our Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16-17).

 

The above article was written by James C. Johnson. He is pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at strengthforlife461@gmail.com.


Every Tuesday, SFL publishes relevant Bible-based content. Check back next Tuesday to read the next SFL article.

 

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